From publishing her own book on how to live independently to gaining an affiliate faculty appointment at a New Jersey college, Chapel Haven has truly changed the life of Diana B.
Diana, who came to Chapel Haven from Scarsdale, NY 25 years ago, has developed a niche – writing and lecturing in a way that helps professionals, college students and parents understand, first-hand, what it’s like to have a different learning style.
That distinction was evident this week, when Diana, accompanied by Chapel Haven President Michael Storz, gave a lecture for the Center for Autism and Early Childhood Health at Monclair State University, where she is an affiliate member of the faculty. In the audience were graduate clinicians, members of the Center and local service providers. Diana’s lectures are well received at the university, because she gives first-hand insight into what it is like to have a different learning style.
“There’s nothing more powerful than having one of our own adults share the story of Chapel Haven,” said Chapel Haven President Michael Storz. “It was amazing to sit in the audience and watch her captivate seasoned professionals in a way that a CEO or any professional in the industry simply could not.”
While on campus, Diana also met with filmmaker Robert Getz and gave an interview for his documentary, entitled, “The Paper in My Pocket,” about individuals with autism, their unique differences and their experiences in today’s world.
Says Diana, “I gave clear insight on what it’s like to have a different learning style.”
Among her many achievements, Diana has gained the limelight for publishing her own book, a “Dear Abby” style book called “Dear Diana – Diana’s Guide to Independent Living for Adolescents and Young Adults With Different Learning Styles and Special Needs,” published by AAPC Publishing, in 2014. The book chronicles all the lessons Diana learned when she came to Chapel Haven – everything from every-day snafus while taking public transportation to managing stress and planning finances.
Diana, in the book’s introduction, says “All my life, I had special needs, including the need for training in social, life and vocational skills, as well as speech. I did not learn in the traditional way and was always in special education classes. So, for me, the high school diploma was a huge accomplishment, but I didn’t know what to do next.”
Diana came to Chapel Haven at the age of 20, to learn how to live apart from her Mom and Dad and have her own adult life. “With help from Chapel Haven, I have accomplished a great deal in my quest for independence,” she notes.
Diana has her own apartment, and serves as Chapel Haven’s Director of Stewardship. She has learned to manage her apartment, public transportation, her budget, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and having a social life.
When the book was published, Dr. Gerard Costa, Director and Senior Lecturer at the Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health, College of Education and Human Services, at Montclair, contacted Diana and invited her to join the university as an affiliate faculty member. Since that time, Diana has lectured several times, always to great acclaim.
To read a story about Diana’s work at Montclair University, click here: http://wiredjersey.com/making-a-mountain-of-a-molehill/