About Sylvia

Sylvia van MeertenSylvia van Meerten, MA.
My name is Sylvia van Meerten. I have been working in the autism field for more than 12 years. I have learned a lot from people on the spectrum and I am proud of the ways I’ve been able to help. I find joy in listening and helping people find practical strategies to achieve their goals. I find satisfaction in helping families find new ways to communicate and love each other. I enjoy helping college students to navigate confusing social situations and to organize themselves for their next steps. I also love to teach neuro-typical folks to respect and appreciate the unique perspectives of people with autism. I like to make visuals and write notes to explain our weird world.

I completed my Masters in Counseling Psychology at The Union Institute and University where I specialized in family counseling. I have a limited license as a professional counselor in Michigan, under the supervision of Julie Boyd, LPC. I believe that people on the spectrum have a lot to contribute. The rest of us do too. If you’d like to talk about group or individual coaching, family strategies, or summer camp please email me or give me a call!

Want to talk about resources, staff training, program development, activity groups, homeschooling, or home programs?

You can contact me!

sylvia@empowerautism.com

Phone: 828-458-0313

@empowerautism

My Current Projects:

Camp Tall Tree and Chasing Summer
Camp Tall Tree is an overnight camp for kids with autism and their siblings in Michigan. I started it with my business partner, Scott Arizala, in 2013. We recently started Chasing Summer as a parent nonprofit for Camp Tall Tree. Through CHasing Summer, we also run programs for teens/young adults on the spectrum who want to get a job or move out of their family home. We offer professional workshops for teachers, summer camps, and other youth development professionals. Scott and I wrote a book about autism and inclusion and it will be published January 2017!

Dragonfly Forest
This is a camp for kids with serious illnesses and disorders. I got to design their autism sessions, which have grown significantly each year! Summer camp is such a blast (swimming, boating, ropes course, archery…), and campers and staff with autism really contribute to our program. I get to speak at camping conferences for Dragonfly, and help other camps learn to welcome campers with autism. See a photo essay about Dragonfly Forest on TIME magazines website.

The Adventure Zone
This is a cool out-door ‘activity trail’, that I designed for the Cradle of Forestry, while I worked for the Autism Society of North Carolina. It is autism-friendly, and visitors can make a visual schedule of stuff to do, use a cool trail map, and look at clearly-written directions at each activity station.

Soapboxing: When I get fired-up about stuff, I write articles. A recent one is in Issue 38 of The Autism File–it’s about autism and summer camp.

Past Jobs (Autism-Related)

The Spectrum
This is another partnership with Dragonfly Forest. We implemented a series of after-school clubs and activities for kids with autism, and another series of clubs for adults with autism. These are no longer running because we wanted to bring our focus back to the Delaware Valley where the majority of Dragonfly fundraising takes place.

The Adventure Club
This is a project for the Autism Society of NC. It is an after-school program the is funded under the Innovations Waiver in Buncombe County. Kids (and their one-on-one staff) meet daily after school and go on theme-based adventures with friends.

The Autism Community Center of Asheville
This was a resource center for people with autism, and their families. It was thrilling for me to design programming for this exciting place. Our activity groups allowed people to do high-interest stuff, with other people who like similar things. Also, it’s was my job to go hiking, cook, and and play video games with kids…How cool is that!? The Center no longer exists, but it inspired me to create The Spectrum Project (website coming soon).

Autism Society of North Carolina: I was a Services Coordinator, and put together home-programs for families with autism, and managed state and federally funded services for people with autism. ASNC is a great organization, a

I’ve worked privately for many families in Michigan, New York, Washington, and North Carolina. Each of them is unique, brave, compassionate, and in varying states of overwhelmed. I salute you all.

In the Media

Check out my tutorial videos on Expert Online Training