Helping Neurodivergent Children Learn More Effectively

Touro NYSCAS Alum Casey Winderbaum Shares Her Passion for Working with Children and How Touro Shaped Her Approach to Teaching

May 31, 2024
NYSCAS alum Casey Winderbaum
NYSCAS alum Casey Winderbaum

As a founder and owner of Casey's Special Education Services, LLC, why are you passionate about special education? What is your mission?

For two years, I taught different charter schools in Washington, DC, but I was also tutoring on the weekends. While working with a young child with autism, it was amazing to see the huge strides that were made through my individual tutoring sessions. We focused on core academic skills like counting and the child was able to comprehend more material in a shorter period. While it was challenging at times, the gratitude from the families I work with or seeing a student reach a major milestone was deeply fulfilling. After thinking about the next step in my career, I decided to form an LLC. Since opening Casey's Special Education Services, LLC, in October 2022, we now have over 21 special education teachers on our team who offer specialized instruction/special education tutoring services within 11 counties located in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

Could you share a pivotal course or professor from your time at Touro NYSCAS that shaped your approach to teaching?

Professor Carole Beckford, a former NYSCAS psychology chair, was an incredible educator. I still think about many of the things she taught me daily when she led my independent study course, including how she would break key projects down into more digestible steps and she consistently gave me invaluable feedback. She essentially gave me access to a thesis graduate level course as an undergrad student, and I spent the semester researching a topic and then writing a paper about it. We had many back and forth discussions and she took the time to really mentor me, while urging me to think about how I would continue to advance my career after leaving Touro.

What are some of the specific challenges in the special education field that you address in your role?

Some of the challenges include ensuring we’re offering individual and personalized tutoring sessions that address academic and social emotional challenges such as self-regulation or academic regression due to Covid-19. We also work closely with each student’s parents to review school processes and logistics to ensure that where the child is currently being educated is the right fit for their specific needs, in addition to focusing on Individualized Education Program (IEP) planning and execution, ranging from reviewing IEP drafts to also helping families best prepare for meetings with their school district.

In what ways do you incorporate innovative teaching methods or technology into your education platform?

We look at each child from this perspective—they don’t need to fit into a mold, but we can shift our approach to teach children in the way their brains work best. We use ever-changing learning programs including Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP), which is a therapeutic approach using motor learning principles and a voice output communication aid to give non-verbal children with autism and other developmental disabilities a way to develop independent and spontaneous communication; TouchChat which can be used to enhance the communication of children both on the Autism Spectrum and with significant intellectual disabilities; and the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), which helps children with little or no communication abilities to communicate using pictures. Additionally, we use online literacy programs for specific reading intervention.

Can you share a success story from a student you have worked with?

One inspirational story that comes to mind is when I met child who was two and half and was diagnosed with autism and severe dyspraxia, a disorder affecting movement and coordination. She also had very low muscle tone, difficulty with fine and gross motor activities, and everything related to movement was very delayed to the point that she could barely walk and was minimally verbal. We consistently met one-on-one for tutoring and incorporated music into our learning lessons, and ultimately, she has made major advancements including now being able to read three letter words, count to 30, and narrate pictures in books. I truly believe this amazing progress I witnessed is because I was able to offer her a level of instruction that made sense to her and took the time to figure out the best ways to engage with her based on her specific needs.

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering entrepreneurship?

Always have a very clear tangible plan in place and outline steps on how you’re going to execute it. Without those clearly defined steps, an idea is just an idea and not a plan. I would also say to learn everything you can about every aspect of running a business from taxes and the overall business structure to contracts. It’s important to reach out for help when you need it and to consult with professionals and other people in the field, complete market research regularly, and work on a SWOT analysis, a tool that can help you to analyze what your company is doing well and how to set up a successful strategy for the future so your business can grow over time. It’s important to note that while being an entrepreneur gives you more flexibility in terms of not having to be in an office 9-5, you likely won’t see a high level of success unless you’re committed to working long days to get your business off the ground. It’s key to set your own boundaries to balance your other important life responsibilities as well.