Breaking Down the Barriers of Autism
Born and raised in southern New Jersey, studying at Nova’s Fort Lauderdale main campus was attractive to Gabrielle Haliburton (M.S. ’05) for a number of reasons. “I enjoy the diversity of South Florida, and Nova reflects that. It’s like a melting pot.” Also, as a working professional, Haliburton needed a program that would accommodate her lifestyle. “I needed a program that could allow me to continue working while working on my degree. Nova was able to offer me a flexibility other schools could not.” Finally, Haliburton says, “I wanted the classroom experience. Although Nova was able to offer me the blended format of online and face to face classes, I wanted to get to know my professors and classmates.”
Haliburton started the M.S. program in Speech-Language Pathology in the fall of 2002. Though hard at work and school, she hoped to gain clinical experience. She began as a teachers’ aide at Nova’s Baudhuin Oral School, now the Baudhuin Preschool housed within the Mailman Segal Center for Human Development. Haliburton’s clinical experience would set the scene for her current career path. “I had never worked with children with autism before. In 2002, the community at large was just learning about people with autism. It was an eye-opening experience that made me want to learn more.”
After her clinical experience, Haliburton applied as a graduate assistant to Dr. Barbara Zucker, a director within her program. She assisted and informed students, faculty, staff, and patient’s families about various therapy materials. Following graduation, Haliburton returned to New Jersey to acquire more work experience. However, her academic journey with Nova was far from over. In 2007, Haliburton was accepted to Nova’s doctor of speech language pathology (SLP.D.) program. She will graduate in May 2012.
Back home in New Jersey, she has acquired more clinical experience, which includes providing treatment to adults and children with higher functioning autism, providing speech therapy, and addressing extreme behaviors. She also found time to teach language acquisition and mentor post-baccalaureate and undergraduate students at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. In addition, she mentors students through ASHA’s (American Speech-Language Hearing Association) STEP Program.
Haliburton enjoys the unique challenges of her experiences, stating that “each have their own issues. Working with individuals who have autism, observing how the profession has changed over the years to serve those individuals better, and being part of that change is rewarding.”
Currently Haliburton works as a speech-language pathologist with St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center in Lawrenceville, NJ on a per diem basis. She also provides evaluation and treatment to students with special needs at Burlington County Special Services. She looks to the future for a more permanent appointment within the tri-state area school system or university setting, while maintaining her status as a speech language pathologist. “I hope one day to be able to manage my caseloads while teaching and mentoring students on a full-time basis.”