Hi there! I’m Tara, and I’m a speech/language pathologist who has specialized in autism for over 20 years. I’m so glad you have found my website. I hope you will take some time to look around and explore! My goal is to provide value through resources, materials, and trainings. These will help special education teachers, speech/language pathologists, and parents of young autistic children.

Educational History

I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Communicative Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. My minor was in Early Childhood Education. After working exclusively with autistic children at the elementary level for several years, I went on to obtain an Autism Certificate from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. I’ve attended more professional development workshops, seminars, and courses than I can count. I can never get enough when it comes to learning!

Teaching Experience

I’ve specialized in autism for my entire career. I spent several years at the early elementary level in Wisconsin and Colorado, where I addressed both the language skills and the academic skills of my students. Then, I enjoyed co-teaching in an autism classroom at the early childhood level (mainly with children ages 3 to 5 years) in Minnesota for another decade. One aspect of my job at the early childhood level included doing initial evaluations, from speech/language evaluations to full autism assessments. The parent connection at the preschool level was something I really enjoyed! I decided to leave the classroom in the fall of 2023 in order to run Autism Little Learners full time. It’s been an amazing way to reach more autistic children than I could have in a single classroom. Sharing strategies and resouces that work with both educators and parents of young autistic children has become my passion!

How Autism Little Learners Started

I started Autism Little Learners in March of 2019, about 6 weeks after I lost my dad to leukemia. My dad was one of my favorite people in the whole world. He was my biggest fan! The grief was so deep and so raw after he died that I needed something to distract my mind from the pain. Prior to that, I had been thinking about starting a store on Teachers Pay Teachers. This is because I already made so many of my own materials for my classroom. It can be so difficult to find good resources that are at the right level. Especially for 3 and 4-year-old autistic children! I figured that I couldn’t be the only one having this issue. So I started creating resources and activities for educators and parents of young autistic children. 

A Little Bit More About Me

Hiking and biking are two things that I absolutely love. Especially, when I can go on adventures and do those things in the mountains out west! If you follow me on Instagram, you will start to notice my love of travel, as I share lots of pictures.

I also love being on the water, camping & going fishing (even ice fishing 🎣) with my fiance, Jason. I have two grown children (Sophie, 26 & Nate, 29). I’m also a stepmom (almost) to two teenage boys (Owen 18 & Evan 15).

Global Connections

My dedication to autistic children and children with other special needs has a global reach as I partnered with the Island of Hope in Dmitrov, Russia in 2015 and 2016.  I worked side by side with educators and parents to teach them how to work with autistic children.

Another way that Autism Little Learners has made an impact globally, is through an online training for teachers and parents in Turkey. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Wearing A Mask” social story was translated into over 12 languages. The story helped educators and parents in several other countries (South Africa, Philippines, Poland, Germany, Canada, France, England, Ireland, Russia, Portugal, Mexico, Vietnam, and Pakistan).