Melissa Richardson began teaching in the late 70’s, knowing nothing about children with disabilities until her own son was diagnosed and placed in special education. At that point, she began seeking information.
That journey, which began with feelings of hopelessness and despair, has actually lead her down a path of blessings, and is the reason why she founded the West Texas Autism Center.
After seeing her son progress, she opened a private learning center for children and adults with disabilities. During her career, she also worked as an academic advisor for college students with disabilities, an educational diagnostician and an adjunct instructor.
For the last 10 years, she has worked as an autism specialist. She serves on the State Autism Network and speaks at state and national conferences. Three years ago, Melissa won the Springboard Ideas Challenge at Abilene Christian University for her business plan related to social skills development for adults with autism.
She has also served as a board member for King David’s Kids Autism Support Group and received the Elite Educator Award for service to students with special needs. Melissa began the West Texas Walk Now for Autism Speaks in 2004 and co-chaired the event for eight years.
This event has raised over a million dollars for autism research, advocacy, and family services. She has also gone to Washington D.C. to advocate for increased insurance coverage for families affected by autism. She holds a Master’s Degree and certifications as a Principal, Educational Diagnostician and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.
She has received training at Texas Tech University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Johns Hopkins Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, and the New England Educational Institute in Cape Cod.