Carolyn Habel, B.A.

Carolyn graduated from York University with her B.A. in Psychology and has a diploma in Therapeutic Recreation. Over the course of her studies Carolyn has worked and volunteered in many different settings such as Southside Learning Centre in Sydney, N.S. as a tutor/mentor for children with emotional, social and behavioral challenges, Cape Breton Regional Hospital as a recreation program assistant on a transitional care unit, and a Child Development Centre as a support staff.

Carolyn’s passion and desire to continue to positively impact children with different abilities led her to work providing in-home IBI therapy to children with Autism and is happy to find a position at the Joy of Learning Centre where she can pursue her passion. Carolyn truly enjoys working with children and youth with all abilities and feels she can best utilize her skills, talent and compassion to teach as well as learn from children with Autism.

Thomas Dixon, B.A.

Tom received his Honours BA in Sociolegal studies from Wilfrid Laurier University. He also has a diploma in Criminal Justice Services from Humber College. Tom began working with the child and youth population, at the start of his working career, as a camp program coordinator. He has moved through various roles including child care to public education, a large majority of such relating to children and youth. He found his passion while working in a Children’s Aid Society residence working with youth that have developmental and behavioural characteristics. Creating a learning environment that works for the individual is an incredibly rewarding and challenging task that he truly loves. He feels so fortunate to have found a position that combines both his passion for children as well as the intricacies and challenge of providing ABA and IBI therapy.

Katherine Stover M.A.

Katherine joined the Joy of Learning in 2015 after completing her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at The University of Western Ontario. At the Joy of Learning, Katherine has worked as an Instructor Therapist and Camp Coordinator, and currently works on our Administrative Staff team.  She is also completing her PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the development of social communication skills and the reduction of disruptive behaviour in toddlers diagnosed with ASD. 

Katherine became passionate about working with children with exceptionalities after being a 1:1 camp counsellor for the YMCA of Oakville and a private respite provider. She believes that every child deserves a chance to learn, play, and grow in a positive and supportive environment.  For fun, Katherine likes to read blogs, drink tea, and eat dessert!  She also looks forward to the Joy of Learning Summer Camp every year! 

Erin Vassair, RBT, ECE

Erin is a Registered Behaviour Technician (RBT), registered with the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and an Early Childhood Educator (ECE). In addition to these qualifications, she graduated from the Autism and Behavioural Science program at Mohawk College in 2014. Erin brings with her experience working with children for many years and has had school placements at Missing Links: Filling the gaps to Autism, ROCK, and Brick by Brick, whom all provide services for children and youth with autism. Erin comes with previous experience as a camp counselor for Autism Ontario and has enjoyed providing exceptional respite care for a family who has an adult son with autism. Erin has been a lead therapist for students receiving funding from Erin Oak Kids and is also in charge of programming for many other students as well. Erin pairs exceptionally well with all of her students. She has a natural ability for understanding her students needs and bringing them success!

Dr. Christina Ricciuti, Ph.D.

Christina Ricciuti earned her first degree, a BA in economics from the University of Western Ontario, she then transferred to York University to pursue her Honours BA in Psychology.  Realizing that this was where her interests lay, she then entered graduate studies in Psychology.  Christina earned her Masters Degree in Developmental Psychology from York University, with her primary area of research and clinical practice studying how children with autism spectrum disorders learn and remember information.  She then earned a Ph.D. in Clinical-Developmental Psychology.  Again, Christina’s research focus was on language and its role in learning and behaviour, this time studying children with a variety of disruptive behaviour disorders.  Throughout her university studies, Christina spent time working in classrooms for children with severe developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorders, as well as worked privately for families doing intensive one-on-one IBI therapy with children with severe autism.  With an interest in children with a variety of developmental, learning, and psychiatric disorders, Christina spent 3 years at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry (now called the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, or CAMH) in the children’s day treatment program, where she conducted her doctoral research and received intensive clinical training.  Christina then spent 3 years at the Chedoke Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, in the Child & Family Studies Centre and the Infant-Parent Program, doing both her pre-doctoral internship and post doctoral training.  Here Christina worked with families of infants, she helped develop a parent training manual, and worked with children, adolescents and families with a variety of needs.

Following her training, Christina was a Psychologist on the 0-6 team at Halton Child and Youth Services (HCYS; now the Reach Out Centre for Kids, or ROCK).  While at HCYS, Christina earned her license from the College of Psychologists of Ontario for Independent Practice, with a specialization in children, adolescents and families.  At HCYS, Christina conducted assessments on young children with a variety of developmental, learning, attentional, behavioural and emotional needs, including autism.  She also conducted specialized assessments for youth fire-setters, ran parenting groups in the community, and provided training to professionals in the community.

Christina moved into a private practice in Oakville 5 years ago with a colleague, where she continues to work providing a high level of service to families.  She has been actively involved in conducting thorough psychological assessments, providing psychological consultation, providing individual psychotherapy and family therapy to children and families with a variety of clinical presentations.  Her approach to therapy is a combination of evidence-based cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), solution focused therapy, and systems therapy.

Christina has three school-aged children who keep her very busy when she is not working.  Her children are the primary reason for Christina’s move into private practice, so that she could maintain a flexible work schedule and be actively involved in her children’s day-to-day activities.

www.childandfamilypsychology.ca

Aline McMullen, M.Sc.

Aline has been involved at the Joy of Learning Centre since its inception in 2007. She has worked for several years as an instructor therapist and senior therapist and also coordinates the Joy of Learning Centre’s affiliated sports league, Challenger Sports. Aline sits on the board of directors for the Centre’s not-for-profit foundation, Rainbows of Joy, and organizes and participates in on-going fundraising initiatives for the foundation. Aline holds an honours degree in Medical Sciences from the University of Western Ontario as well as a Master’s degree from the department of Biosystems Engineering at the University College Dublin in Dublin Ireland. Aline has grown up her entire life interacting and learning from individuals with special needs and has continued throughout her adult life to advocate and create equal opportunities for those with a special need. 

Charu Malhotra, M.A. Psych

Charu has a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology and a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Economics. She finds working with children very fulfilling and motivating. She has extensive knowledge and experience working with children with behavioral problems, emotional and developmental disabilities from working as an Assistant Clinical Psychologist at a Medical College and Hospital in India for many years. At the Clinic, she conducted both diagnostic evaluations and interventions programs. After migrating to Canada she continued to pursue her passion of working with children and completed the Graduate Diploma in Autism and Behavioral Science from Mohawk College with Dean’s Honor in 2010. 

Charu joined The Joy of Learning Centre team through her Field Placement for the Autism program in 2010, then as a supplemental instructor and continuing on full-time in 2015. She has had the opportunity to work with children with autism at Erinoak Kids during her Field Placement. She has volunteered at Erinoak kids where she worked along side behavior therapists conducting social skills groups.

Charu takes on an active role at The Joy of Learning Centre Inc. Conducting one-on-one ABA therapy sessions and planning programming for our students. Her work with ASD and special need children has impacted her outlook on life, making her more empathetic, compassionate and sensitive to the uniqueness of each child.

Charu is a firm believer that every child has the potential to learn, we only need to find the right method to teach. Even though many children may share common diagnoses, the challenge that she enjoys is in identifying their unique strengths and developing the program to their specific needs.

Charu is a passionate cook and in her spare time she likes trying new cuisines. Some of the things she can’t do without; her morning cup of tea, dessert  and foremost her family!

Daniella Lott, B.A.

Daniella Lott graduated from the University of Guelph with her B.A., further pursuing her passion for children with a special need by attending Mohawk College for the Autism and Behavioural Science program.  When not working at the Joy of Learning Centre, Daniella actively volunteers her time with the autism community.  With a strong background in ABA, Verbal Behaviour techniques, and a certification in sign language, Daniella helps design and implement ABLLS programming and assessments.  It is Daniella’s calm energy and compassion that helps create positive learning experiences for her students.

Jane Dyer, B.Mus.Ed.

Jane Dyer has been added to our weekly curriculum as our music teacher.  Jane studied for her specialized honours degree in Music Performance at Dalhousie and York University.  She has been teaching private piano lessons since the age of 13.  Her musical accomplishments include starting the solo performance competition for young aspiring performers through the Toronto Symphony Women’s Committee.  Jane has been a specialist in choosing fine musical instruments for the home and has taught teachers how to teach group lessons across Canada.

About five years ago, Jane was asked to teach a private piano lesson to a student with autism, and she has had amazing success.  Now, she has 5 students who have autism in her weekly schedule, (one winning third place in a grade 11 Royal Conservatory) at the Peel Regional Music Festival 2010.  Jane is welcomed to our school with her knowledge and experience to work with our students and to share her musical passion.

Deborah Doherty, B.A., BSW, RSW

Deborah Doherty has completed both a Psychology degree from the University of Western Ontario, and an Honours Social Work degree from York University, and she is presently working toward M.Ed., BCBA. Deborah is the Founder of the Joy of Learning Centre, which was established in 2007. She is an experienced in-home therapist, and registered Social Worker, who had a dream for a centre-based school for exceptional children to attend, where they would ultimately become successful within the community. With this dream and her love for children, she started one of the first IBI centre-based schools for children with autism and special needs. Deborah’s vision and philosophy for the Joy of Learning Centre supports natural environment learning through combined ABA, and Verbal Behaviour techniques. The Joy of Learning Centre creates an enriched environment so that all exceptional children are able to learn, grow and reach their goals for success.

As Director of the Joy of Learning Centre, Deborah brings with her a background of 20 years in the field of working with developmental challenges, Resource Teacher, Educational Assistant, Test Consultant, Direct Instruction, ABA, and Verbal Behaviour techniques. Deborah displays enthusiasm when working with children at various levels. She also plays an active role in all of her student’s programs and daily routines at the school.

Deborah, her husband and their three children, all share the same passion and dedication to help exceptional children, and give back actively within the community. The Doherty family volunteer their time almost every weekend providing free sports programs to the autism community and their families, as well as organizing fundraising initiatives to benefit the not-for-profit corporation Rainbows of Joy.

What began as in-home therapy to several children with autism, and a dream – today has become a successful growing school with a strong team, bringing about incredible results.