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Heather Walker

I grew up in rural middle Tennessee and attended school in the same district where my Mom was a special education teacher and later a behavior specialist. From early on I was taught compassion and understanding for individuals with different abilities and I have never forgotten those lessons. I left home after high school and moved to Memphis, Tennessee where I attended the University of Memphis and completed a bachelor’s degree in political science. After college I worked at a financial company for six years in various positions, including training, marketing, and communications.

In 2008, everything changed. I lost my job and was forced to evaluate my career path. I joined M-Power Behavioral Services as Vice President of Operations and began a master’s degree in Special Education with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go the University of Memphis again, where there was a fully approved Behavior Analysis program. During my Master’s practica I worked for five different agencies serving toddlers to elderly individuals with a wide range of behavioral difficulties. I gained skills in assessing and treating severe problem behaviors, such as aggression, self-injury, property destruction, etc., developing early intervention programs, addressing feeding, sleeping, and toileting issues, evaluating and diagnosing intellectual and developmental disabilities, and providing behavioral services in a variety of settings.

After graduation I passed the BCBA exam and promptly moved to the Buffalo area for my husband’s job. I currently work at The Summit Center as a Lead Therapist providing insurance-based behavioral services in clinic, home, and community-based settings. During my time at Summit I have also consulted in classrooms at Summit Academy and a local school district. I enjoy helping teachers, staff, and families work together to implement treatment plans across settings to meet behavioral goals. My specialty areas include working with adolescents and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, specifically individuals with co-morbid mental health concerns. My goals as a student in the Special Education PhD program are to broaden my skill set to include academic interventions and to prepare myself to teach college students to make big differences in the lives of individuals and families struggling with behavioral difficulties.

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