This past weekend marked the 4th annual holiday get-together for the staff of The Child Development Center of America. I am writing because I am so proud of our staff and the work that the Center has accomplished in such a short time.

The only attendees at the first-annual party were: Karen Vossen, kind and efficient Autism-Mother-Expert and our Practice Administrator, her husband John, my beautiful and patient wife Jackie, and myself. By the second year, we had a new ‘intern’, Ryelle Seymour, who has since gone on to the University of Central Florida and is working towards a law career. Last year, we taught  even more young students who were interested in working with, and learning about, developmentally-challenged patients.

This year’s staff also included:
Kelsey Bragg, who was recently accepted to a prestigious Physician’s Assistant program. Her patient skills will be well-served as she studies for a Master’s Degree at Drexel University – Hahnamen Medical College in Philadelphia.

Bianca Gabbara, who graduated with a BS from NOVA University, and is a planning a career in Applied Behavior Analysis. She has great organizational skills, which is a plus in such a chaotic specialty.

Julian Guzman-Ballen, a former patient, who is a graduate of Lynn University, and is presently performing post-graduate studies at FAU. He is a fast, pleasant and efficient worker, and we learn from each other every day.

Daylin Benguria, our Spanish-speaking Assistant Practice Administrator, and big sister to a beautiful ASD little girl. Her understanding and patience enhances our work, and she has one of the best memories of anyone that I know.

Lisa Martindale, our loyal bookkeeper and experienced mother of 4, including an improving ASD son. Her know-how has been passed on to many of our parents.

This past year, we saw over 800 patients in our practice, from all over the world. I believe that we have helped almost all of those patients toward improvement, at the least, and recovery at best. Dr. Evan Mehlman, our resident psychologist (soon to be moving to his own office) remarked, “This is the hardest working, most interesting group of people that I have ever worked with. It has been a great learning experience that I will miss a lot.”

I know that each one of the young people who work with us will go on to help countless others in the future. It may be in autism; but even if it isn’t, the people with whom they come in contact will receive great service. I am lucky to have their enthusiasm and bright minds. When asked if I would miss one or another staff as they move on, my thought is this: I am happy to have been exposed to their passion and inquiring minds, and that is good enough for me. I am sure that we shall continue to grow and have other new ‘interns’ to take their place, with their special knowledge and skills.

Even though we do not have much time to socialize at work, this party made us realize that we are truly a family. We cover each other’s backs. When one of the staff’s children is sick or having problems, the rest pitch in – never missing a beat – and patient care continues a the highest level. We are very close, we all have special strengths, and we work together to help address this new epidemic that is affecting our world.

Happy Holidays to all of our readers, patients and their families. Thank you so much for letting us be part of your lives, and your child’s recovery.

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      Pediatric Special Needs Medicine
      Functional and Integrative Children’s Care

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