Autism Spectrum Specialists and Therapists in Kansas City
Jeanne Holverstott, MS, has worked as an autism specialist for 17 years. Jeanne co-founded New Leaf Therapy Group in January 2015.
Education and Experience
Jeanne obtained a Master’s Degree from the University of Kansas, specializing in Autism and Asperger Syndrome. The University of Kansas offers one of the few programs in the country that focuses solely on autistic individuals. Jeanne’s background is in special education; however, she recognized from the beginning that providing supportive services in the community would be critical. Jeanne is not a counselor, or therapist, or psychologist. She is an autism specialist, trained to support autistics in their daily lives.
Her background includes working with children, adolescents and adults on the spectrum for more than 17 years. Jeanne has experience as a paraeducator, home therapist, teacher, in-home service provider and a community-based specialist.
Jeanne sees clients all over the globe, using Zoom.
Jeanne believes autistic individuals need not be “fixed” or remediated. Jeanne works with autistic clients to help them manage the predominately neurotypical world. She seeks to create a therapeutic environment free of ableism.
Jeanne has particular interest and expertise in working with adult autistic women, serving approximately 15 autistic women individually and/or in a women’s group.
While professional training, credentials, and ongoing experience certainly should be prioritized when seeking out help or advice, Jeanne has been told by autistics that they have chosen her for reasons that have a little to do with expertise and experience and a lot to do with feeling understood, being treated as an equal, and not being made to feel “othered”.
Jeanne understands that our society has defined autism as a “thing”, to be ridiculed or pitied on television, to be cured if Autism Speaks had any say, to be doubted if you are a woman seeking a diagnosis. Autism is not a list of can’t, won’t, and don’t, or deficits, delays, or discrepancies. Autism is not induced by vaccines, nor should it be “cured” by any means.
The pejorative qualities assigned to autism are upsetting because of their persistence, inaccuracy, and quiet, inevitable destruction. Jeanne used to believe that NTs could think what they wanted to about autism as long as my clients did not internalize those (most likely) negative thoughts and feelings about themselves.
The reality, however, is that society’s ableism and a client’s internalized ableism are not mutually exclusive nor can they be un-intertwined. Perhaps that is obvious, painfully obvious. Hopefully, though, the evolution of Jeanne’s thinking highlights her commitment to understanding autism as best Jeanne can and to equipping my clients with more than simple strategies to deal with the infernal NT world and the esteem to do so with confidence. That work is messy.
Jeanne typically finds sentiments of this nature hyperbolic or self-aggrandizing in a bio. So, why Jeanne has broken my own rule and included such thoughts? To infuriate her rule-governed clients! She kids. No, Jeanne recognizes that autistics spend too much time searching for someone to believe them, only to find someone who invalidates them, via accident, purpose, or neglect. Jeanne hopes these thoughts convey, or at least suggest, that she is different.
Autism Specialist Services
Have you watched Love on the Spectrum with the autism expert who provides social, emotional, and dating advice? That is not Jeanne. Literally and figuratively. Jeanne speaks with clients as equals, not as infants. Jeanne speaks with clients ascomplex, whole people, not as static, broken projects.
• Conducting problem-solving support services for teenagers and adults with ASD, for both individuals and families
• Moderating weekly groups, age ranges 12 to adulthood
• Teaching classes about ASD at Johnson County Community College
• Improving the quality of life for adults with ASD. For instance, preparing for job interviews, developing daily living skills, and maintaining routines to live independently
• Directing the ASD screening clinic