Founding Board and Board of Directors

FOUNDING BOARD OF AAMSE


Rick Rader, MD, FAAIDD, DHL (hon)

Dr. Rick Rader is the Founding President of AAMSE. He is Director of the Morton J. Kent Habilitation Center at Orange Grove in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Dr. Rader functions as a medical futurist in trying to predict the future medical problems of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities as they age. He is crossed trained in both internal medicine and medical anthropology.

He has authored over 50 articles on neurodevelopmental disabilities and has lectured extensively all over the world on the dynamics of the special needs community. Dr. Rader was a member of the Surgeon General's Task Force on Healthcare Disparities for People with Mental Retardation as well as serving as a consultant to the NIH's Office on Rare Diseases. He serves as a medical consultant to Special Olympics. He is an adjunct professor of Human Development at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as well as serving on the Genetics Advisory Board for the State of Tennessee. He serves on the board of the American Association on Health and Disabilities. He was the first physician elected as an honorary member of the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association. He is a member of the New York Academy of Science.

He is the Editor in chief of Exceptional Parent Magazine, the world's most highly respected magazine devoted to parents and professionals raising and supporting individuals with significant and complex disabilities. Under his tutelage the magazine has won innumerable prestigious awards for editorial excellence. Dr. Rader is the President elect of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry and a Fellow of the American Association on Mental Retardation. He was the first appointed Special Liaison for Family Healthcare Concerns at the Presidents Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Dr. Rader is a past recipient of the Exceptional Physician of the Year Award granted by parents of children with special needs.

Sandra Fornes

Sandra Fornes is a Co-Founder and Director of the Hidden Angel Foundation (HAF), a nonprofit organization whose primary goal is to promote the use of multi-sensory environments (MSE) in an educational and therapeutic recreational setting to enrich the lives of individuals with cognitive, emotional, and/or physical disabilities.

Sandra’s work with individuals with disabilities has ranged from designing and developing multi sensory environments to the development of accelerated workforce programs for individuals with MR including the development of a Job Retention Model for individuals with cognitive disabilities. Sandra has developed and managed the Industrial / Organizational Psychology and human resource development programs for the Jotralair Group as well as their Philanthropic activities. Sandra has published numerous articles in conference proceedings around the topic of workforce development and workplace issues for individuals with mental retardation and disabilities.

Sandra holds a BSc and a MSc in Psychology as well as an MBA. Sandra is a doctoral candidate in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. She is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), The National Rehabilitation Association (NRA); the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), a division of the American Psychological Associations, and the Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD).

Linda Messbauer

Linda Messbauer graduated from New York University with a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. She has extensive experience working in the field of Developmental Disabilities. Linda has worked in early childhood to adult services and has been a private consultant to both public service agencies and private corporations. She started her career in the field of Geriatrics some thirty years ago. In 1992, she established the first Multi-Sensory Environment in the United States at Lifespire, Inc. in New York and, since that time, has participated in research on the efficacy of the MSE approach to recreation, therapy, and education. A great believer in lifelong learning, she is currently pursuing an advanced diploma in Applied Behavior Management through the New York Institute for Applied Behavioral Management, Long Island, N.Y. Linda is a pioneer, an international speaker and trainer on the subject of Multi Sensory Environments.

Sue Gallagher

Sue Gallagher, EdD, has provided organizational leadership for non-profits in the field of developmental disabilities for almost 20 years. She has a background in pastoral ministry and a doctorate in adult education and human resource development. Her research interests include learning theory, spirituality, complexity, and identity. Dr. Gallagher is currently the Associate Director at Miami Cerebral Palsy Residential Services in Miami, Fl, and has seen tremendous growth in individuals with severe and profound developmental disabilities who are medically fragile through the use of the facility’s multi sensory environment.

Dr. Gallagher teaches Research Methods in the PhD Program in Practical Theology at St. Thomas University, Miami, FL. She is studying how learning occurs when different epistemological ways of knowing are integrated.

Gillian Hotz, PhD

Dr. Gillian Hotz is the Co-Director of Pediatric Neurotrauma Program UM/JMMC. Assistant Professor Daughtry Family Department of Surgery and the Director of the Snoezelen® Program, Miami. Dr. Hotz has been involved in clinical and research activities for adults and children with brain injury for over 15 years. She has authored many articles, developed neurocognitive assessments for traumatic brain injury and presented at many international and national conferences. She is currently studying Snoezelen® therapy for children with severe brain injury.

Dr. Hotz holds a BSc in Psychology, MSc in Speech Pathology and a Ph.d in behavioral Neuroscience from Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Hotz is a member of the Florida Injury Prevention Advisory Committee, the Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program: Research/Outcomes Committee, the Florida Committee on Trauma, American Society of Neurorehabilitation, International Neurotrauma Society, The American Psychological Association, The American Speech Language Hearing Association, The Brain Injury Association, and the Aspen Neurobehavioral Group:Pediatric TBI Group

Jason Staal, Psy.D.

Jason A. Staal, Psy.D., is a assistant professor of Psychiatry of the University Hospital and Manhattan Campus for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Supervising Psychologist. Dr. Staal conducts multi sensory environment clinical trials based on the integration of the theory and practice of behaviorism and multi sensory environments. His inpatient research focuses has been the use of multi sensory environments with geriatrics and the nursing staff who provide care for the people with dementia and late life depression and anxiety. Dr. Staal has published articles in peer reviewed journals, lectured in the United States, The Netherlands, England and Canada and he has appeared on numerous television and radio shows and in the Science Times of the New York Times. He writes, teaches behavioral psychotherapy and is in private practice in New York.

Susan Berry

Susan Berry has been a principal since 1996 at Escambia Westgate School in Pensacola, FL, she graduated from Troy State University in 1973 with a B.S. in Special Education K-12 and Elementary Education. She received her masters in Administration and Supervision from the University of West Florida in 1983. Mrs. Berry taught Special Education for 23 years before becoming a principal at Escambia Westgate School. Mrs. Berry will be the first principal in the state and nation to have a state of the art sensory complex on her campus which will help all students at Westgate increase student performance. She has ten years experience as a principal and 33 years of experience in education.


BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Dr. Janice Ryan, OT, AAMSE President

Dr. Janice Ryan has been working in the field of occupational therapy for more than 30 years, focusing on the application of sensory integration in the treatment of children with autism, learning challenges, and developmental delays.  She has been researching body, mind, spirit aspects of human systems dynamics since beginning her doctoral education in 2004.

As a Certified Human Systems Dynamics Professional, the “Adaptive Action” model is Janice’s mindfully present intervention plan. It is by seeing, understanding, and positively influencing current patterns, that adaptation and system self-organization can be facilitated with a client or learner, by the practitioner or teacher. 

Janice has successfully applied her teaching philosophy to clients within and outside of multi-sensory environments, as well as to caregivers, special needs adults, paraprofessionals, graduate students, and in leadership of professional organizations. 

Janice specializes in mental and cognitive health throughout one's lifespan, and applies a mindful therapeutic approach to treatment that has also been called "compassion-focused therapy." She earned her Master of Occupational Therapy from Texas Women’s University in 1985 and Doctor of Occupational Therapy from Creighton University in 2007.

Janice is serving as AAMSE President for the 2018-2019 year.

Dr. Rick Rader, MD, FAAIDD, DHL (hon)., AAMSE President Emeritus

Dr. Rick Rader is the Founding President of AAMSE. He is Director of the Morton J. Kent Habilitation Center at Orange Grove in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Dr. Rader functions as a medical futurist in trying to predict the future medical problems of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities as they age. He is crossed trained in both internal medicine and medical anthropology.

He has authored over 50 articles on neurodevelopmental disabilities and has lectured extensively all over the world on the dynamics of the special needs community. Dr. Rader was a member of the Surgeon General's Task Force on Healthcare Disparities for People with Mental Retardation as well as serving as a consultant to the NIH's Office on Rare Diseases. He serves as a medical consultant to Special Olympics. He is an adjunct professor of Human Development at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as well as serving on the Genetics Advisory Board for the State of Tennessee. He serves on the board of the American Association on Health and Disabilities. He was the first physician elected as an honorary member of the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association. He is a member of the New York Academy of Science.

He is the Editor in chief of Exceptional Parent Magazine, the world's most highly respected magazine devoted to parents and professionals raising and supporting individuals with significant and complex disabilities. Under his tutelage the magazine has won innumerable prestigious awards for editorial excellence. Dr. Rader is the President elect of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry and a Fellow of the American Association on Mental Retardation. He was the first appointed Special Liaison for Family Healthcare Concerns at the Presidents Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Dr. Rader is a past recipient of the Exceptional Physician of the Year Award granted by parents of children with special needs.

Dr. Cindy Potter

Dr. Cindy Potter specializes in physical therapy for children and adults with developmental disabilities. She holds a B.S. from Allegheny College, M.S. from the University of Pittsburgh (Physical Therapy/Developmental Disabilities), and Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Slippery Rock University. She is the sensory consultant and a physical therapist for Merakey/Allegheny Valley School in western Pennsylvania and maintains a clinical practice treating children and adults with developmental disabilities in various settings. She is Chair of the Pennsylvania State Licensure Board of Physical Therapy and is a former Associate Professor and Chair of the Graduate School of Physical Therapy at Slippery Rock University. She was an adjunct faculty member teaching pediatric physical therapy and health care systems at Duquesne University. 

Kerry Rice, M.S., CCC/SLP

Kerry Rice is a nationally certified speech-language pathologist, holding a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a licensed SLP in the state of Connecticut. She is an active member of the Connecticut Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA). 

Kerry received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication Disorders from Bridgewater State College (MA) and a Master of Science Degree from The College of Saint Rose (Albany, NY). Kerry has received training in a variety of methods to facilitate effective communication including Lindamood-Bell, PROMPT, Social Thinking, and most recently, training in the use of Multi-sensory Environments while on a fellowship in The Netherlands. 

Kerry has extensive experience in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating a wide range of communication disorders, including: autism, apraxia, articulation, auditory processing, intellectual disabilities, fluency, receptive/expressive language disorders, and social pragmatics. Kerry has a special interest in working with school-aged children and their families to achieve maximum communication potential. Kerry is AAMSE Secretary for the 2018-2019 year.

Erica Finney Skidmore, Psy.D.

Erica Finney Skidmore is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Chattanooga, TN. Dr. Skidmore received her Doctorate in psychology in 2007 from The School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. While in graduate school, Dr. Skidmore was trained in the DIR Model/Floortime, developed by Stanley Greenspan. Dr. Skidmore has over 10 years experience working with children on the Autism Spectrum and their families using the DIR Model to address sensory processing difficulties, behavior issues, emotional dysregulation, attunement problems, and social challenges. In her private practice working with children and adults, Dr. Skidmore utilizes trauma-informed modalities that integrate mind, body, and spirit to help patients address problems related to anxiety, mood disorders, interpersonal problems, and trauma. Dr. Skidmore lives in Chattanooga, TN with her husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs, and a rabbit. She enjoys hiking, movies, and watching her boys play soccer and basketball. 

Candice Jackson

Candice Jackson is the Quality of Life Coordinator for Grace Healthcare Support Services. Candice is responsible for planning, creating and implementing Multi-Sensory Rooms (MSRs) and Mobile Sensory Carts (MSCs) in Grace-supported facilities.  She provides orientation, leadership and continuing education to Multi-Sensory Leaders and staff members. Currently, she provides support for 14 grace-supported facilities. Grace Healthcare Support Services mission with the Multi-Sensory Environments is to improve the quality of life for all residents. Candice is AAMSE Treasurer for the 2018-2019 year.

Dr. Anthony M. McCrovitz

Dr. Anthony (Tony) M. McCrovitz (Advisory Board Member, ISNA-MSE liaison)is a licensed mental health counselor with clinical training and specialization in child development and the designing of positive, proactive treatment plans, successfully rooted in holistic bio-psychosocial models.  His work is grounded in a philosophy of Gentle Teaching and he is dedicated to advocating for individuals with disabilities.  

He holds a doctorate in Organizational Psychology from Walden University and re-specialized in Clinical Psychology from Adler University. He has a master’s in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University of Chicago and a master’s in Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University. 

In addition to teaching college and graduate courses throughout his career, he is Executive Director of both Globe Star, an agency he co-founded in 1996 that provides Quality of Life Services and programs, and  Quality of Life Institute, Inc., a non-profit organization that supports caregivers with research and resources, creates Gentle Teaching-based training materials, and offers learning opportunities through webinars and workshops.   

He has served as president of the Indiana Counseling Association (2016), is the current president of Indiana Professional Counseling Foundation (2018), and an active board member of both the International Snoezelen Association (ISNA-MSE) and Gentle Teaching International.

Sky Holcomb

Sky Holcomb graduated from Abilene Christian University with a BSED in Physical Education/Speech in 1977 and later earned her Special Education certification. This is how Sky shares her professional MSE experience: I retired in June of 2017, after 29 years of teaching Special Education in Texas. I worked with students with moderate/severe disabilities in a self-contained classroom, as well as being blessed while working in Life Skills and working with children diagnosed with Autism.  My heart belongs with all of my precious students to this very day. Autism remains in a special place of my heart.

My classroom was recognized by the Texas Educational Agency two consecutive years in a row as one of the most “Promising Practices of Classrooms” in the state of Texas by addressing the sensory needs of my students using a Multi-Sensory Environment (MSE). The principle of the MSE classroom was “to have a direct effect on the student’s sensory system and create an atmosphere conducive to a learning environment”. I worked closely with and incorporated the knowledge of my amazing therapists from our district (VI, OT, PT and SLP). Incorporating and joining the knowledge of the therapists to my classroom activities on a daily basis is what made my room successful.

As a “Promising Practice” classroom we agreed to set up the classroom in conjunction with the state so that over 400 therapists, teachers and administrators came directly to our campus/classroom and receive a presentation from our team (Administrator, OT, PT, VI and myself) on the Why/How’s of how our MSE room was successfully engaging students in learning and view the MSE in “action” with the students. We were beyond blessed and touched with the knowledge of knowing numerous Multi-Sensory Environment rooms were set up across the state. We realized that we were not only touching the lives of OUR students, but also touching the lives of students across the State of Texas and visitors from other close states (Arkansas and Oklahoma).