Special Needs Speaker Bios

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Dr. Paul Cates  

Dr. Cates has a master’s degree in special education and a Ph.D. in curriculum development.  He is the author of "Neurological Impairment: Important Information for the Special Education Teacher", and he has written and compiled a pre-school curriculum for children ages 2 to 6. In the past he has hosted his own radio program "Strictly For Parents", and he developed the "U-Fly-It" toy, a toy designed to develop visual-motor coordination. Dr Cates has devoted much of the last 18 years to the pursuit of excellence in childhood development, education and spiritual training. 

            Dr. Cates feels that God has created each child uniquely with a specific learning style, gifts, and talents that can be used to serve God.  The main focus of Dr. Cates’ work is the educational evaluation of children to determine an individualized curriculum. The curriculum is designed to meet the specific needs of the child, and provide a homeschool or Christian school schedule to optimize the family or school time and effort.  Because of his background in special education and his working with children with learning disabilities, Dr Cates’ testing and curriculum planning is especially important to those families who have children with special needs. He and his wife Isobel have six children: Peter, John, David, Kirk, Linda, and Ann and are blessed with four grandchildren.

Dr. Amy Davis

     I am a Christian and the owner of Crossing Back to Health where I specialize in treating Autistic Spectrum Children. 

    My son Alex is 11 years old and the love of my life.  Alex has Autism.  Because I live with ASD, I know what challenges you face every day.  I have committed my life to helping my son and all those battling ASD.  To put it simply, at my clinic treating ASD is not just a job….it’s personal.  

    Because Autism is a new epidemic it is also emerging in our understanding of its cause and effective treatments.  I look at Autism from the medical perspective and my protocols involve basic medical assessments (individual and family history, lab testing for nutritional and biochemical deficiencies, food allergies and environmental toxicities).  From there I then work with the families to implement an individualized plan, “roadmap”, that aims to treat the causes of the symptoms we encounter with our children.

    I am a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Medicine and internal medicine residency at University of Alabama of Alabama – Birmingham School of Medicine.  I have practiced privately and now am the owner of Crossing Back to Health.


Dr. Gail Doell

         Gail Doell received a BS degree in Biology from the State University of New York in 1971. She went on to receive an MS in Zoology from Washington State University in 1975. In the ensuing years Dr. Doell taught biology, anatomy, and physiology at Texas Christian University, Lindenwood University and St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.

            Upon graduation from the University of Missouri-St. Louis School of Optometry in 1985, Dr. Doell was awarded such diverse honors as the Dean’s Award, the Bausch& Lomb Scholarship for Contact Lens Excellence and the Harold Kohn Memorial Award for Original Research.

            From 1985 through 2002, Dr. Doell served as Assistant Professor at the UM-St. Louis School of Optometry providing instruction in the Primary Care and in the Pediatric and Binocular Vision Clinics. In addition, she lectured extensively in Systemic Disease, Ocular Anatomy and Physiology, and other courses in the Optometry Curriculum. Currently, Dr. Doell serves as Adjunct Assistant Clinical Professor of Optometry.

            Dr. Doell was a founding partner of Webster Eye Care in 1992. She is thrilled to further serve children and adults with binocular vision and learning concerns at the Center for Vision and Learning.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Doell has resided in University City for 20 years.


Dr. Stephen Guffanti, M.D.

           As a medical doctor, teacher, tutor, author, and homeschooler, Stephen Guffanti, M.D., brings a unique background and tremendous insight to his talks. His audiences, parents of children of all ages, and beginning as well as veteran homeschoolers, also love him for his warmth, humor and sincerity. Not only is Stephen a doctor, but he is also ADHD, and from the unusual perspective of being both he talks to parents of ADHD children, bringing hope and understanding. Unique about Dr. Guffanti is that he has helped his patients find and follow their passion as a step in their treatment towards better health.  Born with a passion for education, Dr. Guffanti, dyslexic and a kinesthetic learner, has served as the medical director of a clinic specializing in learning disorders, where he discovered 70% of those children labeled ADD or ADHD were misdiagnosed.  

             Following his passion for education, Dr. Guffanti has focused on creating education that meets the needs of all children. He is the author of the Rocket Phonics reading program and the book Does Your Child Really Have ADHD? This is the book about which parents say, "This saved our family."  Rocket Phonics, a reading program so unique it has a patent pending, uses the strongest phonics system available in a revolutionary way, with revolutionary results: In a recent UCLA study of home school families using Rocket Phonics for three months, students using Rocket Phonics improved their reading skills by an average of 8.9 months. Dr. Guffanti's newest book is The Purpose of Passion.  

R. James Ottomeyer III, DC, NMD

     Dr. Ottomeyer is a 40 year old accomplished Christian physician who has been in practice for over 14 years. He and has a wife, Kerrie, have 4 beautiful children, Jessica, Jay, Lauren and Blake. He has a Baccalaureate degree in Human Biology from the University of Iowa. He also has a Doctorate degree in Chiropractic Medicine from Logan College of Chiropractic. Since graduating from Logan College he has received 2 post-graduate degree’s in Sports Medicine and Acupuncture. In 2001 he graduated with his second Doctorate degree which was in Naturopathic Medicine from John Thomas College.

         Dr. Ottomeyer is the owner of Frontier Integrated Health Center, Inc. This is a multi-disciplined facility where medical doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, naturopathic physicians and acupuncturists work together to facilitate the best, most holistic health care available today.

     Dr. Ottomeyer also has had the privilege to serve on the O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce, serving as the president, vice president, and secretary. He has served on the League of Chambers as president, and vice president. He was president of the Elder Board of Joy Community Church and vice president of the Library Foundation Board. Currently he is serving on the; board of the St. Charles County Vision Leadership Program, the board of John Thomas College and the St. Charles County Community Assistance Board and his second tenure with the O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce..

     In his spare time you will find Dr. Ottomeyer enjoying the company of his wife and 4 children, trout fishing, golfing, coaching soccer and baseball, camping, boating and waterskiing. Dr. Ottomeyer has been blessed with a very successful practice, good health and a loving family. Service beyond belief is the motto of his business and his life. Serving God, his family, his business, and his community is what drives his life.

Maureen Taylor, Ed.D., NCC, LPC 

            Maureen Taylor, Ed.D., NCC, LPC, has been active as a private clinician in the area of child abuse/neglect, PTSD and Attachment Disorder since 1994. Her primary focus has been on children aged 3-12 who have been victims of abuse/neglect and who have been removed from their families of origin.           
            Dr. Taylor received her Doctorate in Education, with a specialty in counseling, from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, in 1996. She began her education in the treatment of Attachment Disorder in 2000 and continues her education in this area through on-going attendance at workshops and conferences.
            Dr. Taylor's treatment model for children with Attachment Disorder incorporates Narrative Therapy, EMDR, and cognitive therapy, under the umbrella of a systems approach. This model has been found to be quite effective with this population of children and their families.
           Dr. Taylor also advocates for the children in her care be educating teachers and school administrators about Attachment Disorder and academic strategies that optimize student success. In addition, she consults with a local adoption agency on attachment and adoption issues.
           Dr. Taylor is the proud mother of three children and the grandmother of four grandchildren


Dr. Matthew E. Worth

     Dr. Matthew E. Worth is a St. Louis native and one of only 650 Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologists in the world. In addition to being in private practice for over 12 years, he serves as a Professor of Clinical Neurology, teaching both chiropractic and medical physicians across the country and in Europe.  Dr. Worth’s practice specializes in the evaluation and treatment of brain-based disorders. 
For the past ten years he has also served as a consultant for Neurology Consultants/Midwest, providing evaluation and management services on difficult cases for both medical and chiropractic physicians across North America.  In addition, he is certified as a court appointed expert witness in the field of neurology and physical medicine. 
     Currently, Dr. Worth is in the process of researching/writing two papers for publication:  Effects of Vestibular Canal Activation on Spinal Stabilization
and “Plasticity and Learning”. 
Dr Worth is married and has a 15 month old daughter.  His wife, Jackie, is expecting their second child who should be born just before the expo.  He and his wife plan on homeschooling their children.

Carlita Boyles 

     Carlita Boyles is a Christian wife and mother, and the author of the new homeschool math curriculum, Math on the Level.  Together with her husband, John, who is the editor and illustrator, she has developed a program that gives parents the tools to teach their children at each child's level of maturation using real-life family-centered activities instead of textbooks.  Carlita has a passion for helping parents confidently teach children in the way that the children learn best. Her talks are focused on equipping parents to be better teachers.
      Carlita's interest in helping homeschooling parents is a reflection of her background in education.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development and a Master of Arts degree in Special Education.  She also holds a California Multiple Subjects teaching credential and a California Specialist in Learning Disabilities credential.  For over 12 years, Carlita taught in California public schools, primarily in classes for children with learning disabilities, and has worked as both a Resource Specialist and a Special Day Class teacher.  With the birth of her oldest daughter in 1993, she left the public school setting to become a homeschooling mother.   She and John live in Windsor, California where they continue to homeschool their three delightful children who are in 4th, 7th, and 9th grades.  They love the freedom and flexibility of being a home schooling family and are grateful that God has allowed them this joy.
Wendi Dicken-Bradshaw

Artistic Director, Concert Arts Association; Conductor, Choral Arts Singers; Assistant Director, Townsend Music School; Vocal Coach, Stages St. Louis Repertory Theatre

     Wendi Dicken-Bradshaw is a home school mom, an adoptive mom of two, stepmother of two and grandmother of one. She has dealt with issues such as Reactive Attachment Disorder, developmental delays, speech and language delays, vision problems, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and tired mom syndrome.
     Wendi began her performance career as a youngster in Southwest Ohio in such shows as the Sound of Music and Peter Pan. At the age of 13, she founded the Heritage Community Theater in Cincinnati, a program for outreach to the local community for children and teens. She studied voice with Joan Moynagh and Russell Hosler. In addition, she has worked with such notable conductors as John Wabrick, William Bausano, Thomas Schippers, Boris Goldovsky, and Margaret Hillis. Wendy holds degrees in vocal music and performance from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
     Along with a professional opera and musical theater performance career which has spanned the United States and Europe, Wendi has directed musicals for schools and theaters in Ohio, Missouri, and Montana. She has sung with and conducted the Glacier Orchestra and Chorale. She has also served as Music Director for several churches in Eastern Missouri, as well as directing the Flathead Valley Children's Theater. Wendi has worked with children and adults of all abilities for over 25 years, and is committed to bringing the joy of music to everyone!
     In addition to serving as Artistic Director for Concert Arts Association and Musical Director for Choral Arts Singers, she has served as an instructor of voice and piano at Townsend School of Music in Ballwin, Missouri since 1987. Wendi also writes curriculum and teaches Sing Broadway classes for Stages St. Louis Repertory Theatre in Chesterfield, Missouri. She has composed original music for the Concert Arts Association. Under her careful direction, Concert Arts Association has grown to include a youth choir, music theory classes for all ages, Kidz Muzik, and will soon add music classes for children with special needs.

Dawn Griffin

           Dawn Griffin is a wife and a homeschool mother of two children. She has run Cornerstone Montessori Preschool for the past 11 years. After becoming certified in S.P.I.R.E, Specialized Program Individualizing Reading Excellence in 2002,  Dawn also started a successful tutoring business. She currently serves the homeschool community as the leader of the O'Fallon Christian Home Educators and as the  co-director of the O'Fallon Christian Co-op.  


Kelli Kellen

Kelli Kellen has been home schooling her two special needs children for 13 years.  A military spouse, Kelli has home schooled in 5 different states and presented on various home school related topics in over 20 different states.  Kelli was formerly a Marketing Manager and Product Manager for K12.  She is currently the Administrative Director for Wheelchair Sports, USA. 


Leaps & Bounds


Lisa Cooseman OTR/L, MS, CRC
     Lisa has worked with children from 0-18 years of age with a wide range of disabilities.  Her practice has taken her into schools, community settings, and families' homes.  She has received training in the areas of handwriting, oral motor, and sensory processing.  She has also been trained in strategies to use with children on the Autism Spectrum.  Lisa is a certified rehabilitation counselor with experience in life skills training and transition planning  with  adolescents.  She currently serves as an adjunct faculty member to the Occupational Therapy Program at Maryville University University, where she earned her degree in Occupational Therapy.


Jaimie Poston

     Jaimie Poston is a speech language pathologist who received a Masters Degree in Communication Disorders from Truman State  University . 

She has experience with school-based, in-home, and  community-based therapy.  She currently is a First Steps provider and provides speech and language services for children of all ages at Leaps and Bounds, Inc. 

Jaimie has experience with children with a variety of diagnoses, including: speech/language delay, speech/language impairment, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, apraxia of speech, hearing impairment, and seizure disorders. 


Carrie Salyer MS, OTR/L

     Carrie earned her Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy from Washington University in St. Louis.  She has provided therapy to children ages 0-18 in the school, home, and community setting.   Carrie has received training through a variety of courses taught by leading OT's from across the nation.  These courses have included  numerous sensory integration therapy techniques, visual-vestibular therapy, oral motor/feeding, handwriting, and craniosacral/myofascial release.  In addition, Carrie has been instructed in strategies to use with children on the Autism Spectrum. She is also trained in the Therapeutic ListeningTM programs.


 Susan Lesch


               I am a Christian wife and mother.  My husband Matt and I have been married for 14 years.  We have two beautiful children, Caroline, 11 and Sam, 9.  Matt and I are both St. Louis natives.  I attended the University of Missouri, St. Louis where I received a degree in business administration.  Before having children, I worked for many years as a cost analyst for the Boeing Corporation.  . 

            When our daughter, Caroline, was born I started working part-time and we were blessed to have my Mom take care of her on the days I worked.  We had planned on continuing that when our second child was born but God had other ideas. 

Our son Sam was born with Down Syndrome and congenital heart disease.  During Sam’s first three years of life he had 3 major heart operations and more minor surgeries than I can remember.   Needless to say, I didn’t end up going back to my part-time job as planned.  I began my next career as stay-at-home mom. 

My husband and I both spent many hours at the computer trying to find the best possible way to educate Sam.  When Sam was 4 months old, we took him for the first time to see Bob Doman at the National Association of Child Development (NACD).  NACD has since provided us with advice on child development for everything from crawling, walking and talking to reading, writing and arithmetic for the past 8 years. 

Contrary to NACD advice, we decided to try Sam in public school.  I hadn’t really considered homeschooling either of our children.  I went to public school so that’s what I was used to.  The schools in our area have a very good reputation so we felt very comfortable with that decision. 

Sam did okay in kindergarten.  He would go in the morning and I would do his NACD program exercises with him in the afternoon.  First grade was a different story.  It quickly became very clear to us that all day school was an environment he wasn’t going to be able to learn in.  NACD continued to gently suggest homeschooling and after 3 months in the 1st grade we decided to do just that.  

I’ve now been homeschooling Sam for just over a year.  In that year, he has gone from reading at a kindergarten level to a 2nd grade level.  In math, Sam is doing addition and subtraction.  His handwriting is also steadily improving.  He also enjoys his other subjects especially science .  One day a week, Sam participates in classes at a local homeschool co-op with typically developing children without needing an aide.  My husband and I both believe, advice from NACD and homeschooling have worked together to help Sam achieve these successes. 



 Molly Nesham

            Molly Nesham, Center Director at Mathnasium of St. Peters, graduated from General Motors Institute, which is now Kettering University , with a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering.  Molly has used her creativity and math skills in a variety of applications. She helped develop an Unattended Assembly Cell at Allen-Bradley and a robot that makes Nerf footballs. Molly has also designed computer programs for quality control of products ranging from medical image scanners to Oscar Mayer Lunchables.          
           After 10 years in industry, Molly began teaching math and science for Grades 7-12 at private schools. She then home-schooled her four children. The two oldest are now in college.  For more than three years, Molly also has mentored and coached teams in the FIRST Lego League.
          "I inherited a love of problem solving and math from my mother, a physicist at NASA for more than 47 years, and I want to pass it on. The Mathnasium method is a great way to ignite young minds."

Kim Perry

     Kim Perry is a loving mother of four who has been home schooling for more than seven years. She is currently working toward her associates' degree in theology at the Centre for the Ministering Arts.
     Kim also serves
on the board of the H.E.L.P.S. Home School group of North St. Louis County. In her free time, she acts as an advisor on a committee for the St. Louis Special School District . The committee is made of representatives from the  private, home school and parochial schools in St. Louis County.
     Kim’s recent failures and then successes with a Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet make her a valued resourse for other home school moms.

 Margaret Porch 

     Margaret Porch is a home school mom of four children ranging in age from 22 to 14.  Her oldest is presently in seminary in Louisville, KY; her second two are attending Lindenwood University University full time; and her youngest, now in 9th grade, is still being homeschooled.   All of her children have learning struggles - from dyslexia to sensory problems to ADD / ADHD to just bull-headedness - leading her to study extensively on ADD / ADHD and dyslexia.  She has a degree in Physical Therapy, is trained in PACE (Processing and Cognitive Enhancement) and Interactive Metronome, and currently works part time for Dr. Matthew Worth, using the latest technologies to bring children up to their full potential.  She is also putting together a book called "Brain Games" which provides multiple in-home activities to help children with learning struggles. 
     Margaret and her husband, Michael, are the leaders of the St. Charles County Christian Home Educators.

Ken Schmidt, B.S.

Founder and Director of Restored Hope Remedial Services


            Ken Schmidt, a learning disabilities specialist from the Kansas City area, first spent thirty years teaching in public and private schools. He worked also in school administration for eight years. Ten years ago, Ken founded Restored Hope Remedial Services, a learning center for children with learning disabilities. He has been working with children with disabilities, researching and applying state of the art techniques and therapies to remedy the types of problems he had encountered in his daily classroom teaching. Ken currently offers extensive testing to home school families at unusually low costs. This allows families to determine exactly what their child’s areas of weakness are.


Mary Sullivan, O.T.

         Mary Sullivan is a fun mom of two who does occupational therapy groups in her home. One group, which is called Ready to Write, features handwriting training for school-aged children. The other group, which is called Ready to Run, features sports and fitness training to school-age children with disabilities.

      Mary Sullivan graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy and first worked in an adult and pediatric hospital setting in Kentucky for 4 years. She then worked at St. Louis Children's Hospital for 17 years delivering therapy services in the neonatal and pediatric intensive care unit, the rehabilitation unit, the neurology floor, the burn floor, the cardiac floor and the psychiatric floor. Mary is certified in Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests, and Listening Therapy. She has done extensive outpatient therapy with children. She attends various continuing education workshops and local study groups to further her skills. In the 2000, Mary has now began her occupational therapy private practice featuring individual testing, handwriting, fine motor, gross motor, and sensory self-regulation training. 


Patty Yager 

     Patty Yager has been a home school mom for 14 years. She has six kids - five of whom have been adopted from Central America and Eastern Europe. Through her failures, struggles and desperate prayers, God has shown her solutions to some of the problems home schoolers face in their day. Patty currently has a ministry of helping other home schoolers pick out the curriculums that are best for them and find professionals, books and ideas that will help them solve their problems. She also helps moms develop specific strategies for the management of their day - including allowing other families to come into her home on school days for team teaching or observation.

David Day, MA, CCC-SLP

David obtained his Masters degree in Speech Pathology in 1978 from SIUE.  He worked as a Speech Language Pathologist for Special School District of St. Louis County from 1978 through 2007, evaluating and treating children in grades kindergarten through high school.  He is currently a Speech Language Pathologist with the Miriam Learning Center.  Dave is also a consultant in training for Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), a social intervention treatment for children who are on the Autism spectrum.