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  • Patricia "Patty" Vela, MA

    < Back Patricia "Patty" Vela, MA Chief Development & Outreach Officer Patricia "Patty" Vela holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Southwestern University and a Masters degree in School Psychology from Trinity University. After 14 years of practicing as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology for NISD, Ms. Vela entered her second career, non-profit development and fundraising. Prior to ACN, Ms. Vela worked for a large non-profit in San Antonio. However, she always missed working alongside children with disabilities and their caregivers which made her excited when this opportunity became available. She joined the ACN team in March, 2017. Ms. Vela is a daughter, mother, friend, bibliophile, frustrated artist, lover of music, and enjoys Gilmore Girls and HGTV a little too much! She has also developed a passion for retaionally-based or conscious parenting as she has spent more time at ACN and can often be found down internet rabbit holes of leaders in this field. Patty is a proud aunt to 2 neurodivergent children. (210) 435-1000 ext. 5002


    < Back STATE & FEDERAL SUPPORT About State & Federal Support State and federal support programs can be tricky to navigate. Thats why we have compiled a list of all the right places to call for options for individuals with autism and their families. Our resource library provides information on the different types of support available, including Medicaid waivers, social security benefits, and state and federal programs. STATE & FEDERAL SUPPORT Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRCs) 855.937.2372 Web: State Agency over Medicaid Waiver Programs like CLASS, HCS, and MDCP Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities 512.437.5432 Web: E-Mail: 6201 E. Oltorf, Ste. 600, Austin TX 78741 Note: TCDD does not provide any direct services Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation Services 800-628-5115 Web: Vocational and employment services, independent living services; Early Childhood Intervention is under this department; technology and resource center. Previous Next

  • Tiffany Fresher

    < Back Tiffany Fresher Chief Executive Officer Tiffany Fresher has been with Autism Community Network since 2016. Prior to her tenure at ACN, she served as Chief Financial Officer at the Jewish Federation of San Antonio/Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Vice-President of Operations and CFO at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, and worked in public accounting at two San Antonio firms in tax and auditing. Tiffany earned a BBA in Accounting and Finance from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Tiffany, and her husband Mike, live in Fair Oaks Ranch and have five children between the two of them (kind of a Brady Bunch situation); two of whom are undergraduates at Texas Tech University and one in graduate school at the University of Connecticut. In her free time, she enjoys watching sports, especially college football, enjoying her many animals, playing tennis, and spending time at the coast. She is very passionate about serving the children and families of San Antonio and South Texas. She has worked diligently to increase ACN’s reach in the community and enhance quality of life programming for children and their families. (210) 435-1000 ext. 5001


    < Back AUTISM DIAGNOSIS About Diagnostic Services Most of our diagnostics are handled in-house, but if for any reason you need more support, our autism diagnosis resources provide information on where to find qualified professionals who can diagnose autism. These resources can help families get started on the journey to understanding and supporting their loved ones with autism. DIAGNOSTICS Assessment Intervention Management (AIM, LLC) 210.838.5351 Web: or E-Mail: 7410 Blanco Rd Ste. 400, SA TX 78216 We provide a wide array of psychological assessments (ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism, Neuropsychological, Learning Disability, etc.) for families. However, we specialize in customizing the evaluation to fit the needs of the family. Since we all come from a school background, we write our evaluations to match what the schools want. Autism Community Network (Us!) 210.435.1000 Web: 535 Bandera Rd, SA TX 78228 ACN provides diagnostic evaluations for children as well as parent and professional education and training. In addition, ACN provides resources to families through its website, social media outlets and outreach events. ACNs goal is to help children with autism maximize their potential by working to expand autism awareness, improve early diagnosis and better connect families to the care and support available in San Antonio. For information on workshops, trainings or resources please call. Many forms of insurance are accepted, including Medicaid. BAMC Interdisciplinary Autism Team 210.916.2395 Sheri Sharp, Pediatric Speech Pathologist EFMP, Dept. of Pediatrics, Brooke Army Medical Center Ft. Sam Houston, TX 78232 Sees only Dept. of Defense beneficiaries and accepts only TRICARE. This interdisciplinary team includes pediatric speech-language pathology, child and adolescent psychology and developmental-behavioral pediatrics. We see children from the greater San Antonio area and outlying military installations throughout the region. Dr. Carrie George, Ph.D 210.593.2136 E-Mail: Clarity Child Guidance Center 2135 Babcock Rd., SA TX 78229 Licensed Psychologist and Licensed Specialist in School of Psychology (LSSP) specialize in the assessment/diagnosis of developmental disorder, particularly autism spectrum and mood disorders; provides therapy for higher functioning Asperger’s Disorder. Provide therapy for children with mood and disruptive behavior disorders between the ages of 3 and 17 years. Insurance accepted: Tricare, Medicaid, Aetna, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, CHIP, Community 1st, Life Sync and ComPsych, Texas True Choice, United Behavioral Health and Value Options Health Insurance plans. Business hours: 9am to 5:30pm, Monday through Friday and testing only occurs on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Many forms of insurance are accepted, including Medicaid, Aetna and Tricare. Dr. Jeri Penkava 210.403.2343 Web: 1046 Central Pkwy South, SA TX 78232 Services provided include evaluations; medication management; alternative therapies - nutritional; sound; and herbal therapy; Acupuncture; EEG bio-feedback; Children’s Yoga; and group therapy. Also employed are relaxation techniques, and hypnotherapy with patients. New patients must go on their website under “New Patient Forms and Links” and fill out each form and then either fax or email the completed forms as well as your insurance card and copy of your photo ID (email to: ). Existing patients can follow the same link to schedule an appointment. Does not accept Community 1st, Amerigroup or Humana. Multiple insurances are accepted. In the case that yours isn’t, they provide competitive private pay pricing. Dr. Michelle K. Ervin 210.916.3400 Developmental Pediatrics SAMPC 3551 Roger Brooke Dr., Brooke Army Medical Center Ft. Sam Houston TX 78234 Sees only Dept. of Defense beneficiaries and accepts only TRICARE. Dr. Sean P. Meagher 210.292.5648 MDOS/MCCS 1100 Wilford Hall Loop, Lackland AFB, Texas 78236 Developmental Pediatrics, SAMHS Sees only Dept. of Defense beneficiaries and accepts only TRICARE. Dr. Stephen Greefkens 210.916.0765 Developmental Pediatrics SAMPC 3851 Roger Brooke Dr., Brooke Army Medical Center Ft. Sam Houston TX 78234 Sees only Dept. of Defense beneficiaries and accepts only TRICARE. Harkins and Associates 210.692.3439 Web: 4118 Pond Hill Ste. 200 Shavano Park, TX 78231 Dr. Patricia Harkins, MD, Developmental Pediatrics. Do NOT accept Medicaid, Beech Street, CHIPS Programs, Fiserv Health, Health Smart, Unicare and Harrington Maddox Child Psychology, PLLC 210.762.4228 Dr. Katherine Maddox, Ph.D., LSSP Web: Email: 117 W. Craig Pl. San Antonio, TX 78212 Dr. Maddox specializes in providing psychological evaluations for children, adolescents, and young adults. When parents have concerns about their child's development, emotional/behavioral problems, social skills, or academic performance, a psychological evaluation can provide parents with valuable information such as diagnostic clarification, treatment needs, and recommendations on how to help their children achieve their goals. Dr. Katherine Maddox is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology. Her areas of specialization include providing diagnostic evaluations for children and adolescents with symptoms related to emotional, behavioral, developmental, and learning problems. Comprehensive Autism Program 210.704.4708 If your child needs a diagnosis of Autism or needs a diagnosis verified, we offer a multidisciplinary autism evaluation which is a four to eight-hour, full evaluation. This consists of evaluations by neurodevelopmental pediatrics, neuropsychology, audiology, social work, speech/language pathology, and occupational therapy. To schedule an evaluation, please ask your child’s primary physician to fax a referral to 210.704.4637 with attention to Autism Clinic: Needs Formal Diagnosis. Comprehensive Autism Program at The Children's Hospital of San Antonio 333 N. Santa Rosa Street Goldsbury Center for Children and Families, 4th Floor (4b) San Antonio, Texas 78207 Previous Next

  • Carrie Alvarado, PhD, OTR

    < Back Carrie Alvarado, PhD, OTR Chief Operating Officer Dr. Carrie Alvarado serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Autism Community Network (ACN). Carrie has a PhD in Infant and Early Childhood Development with an emphasis on Infant Mental Health and Developmental Disorders. Dr. Alvarado is the creator and director of the Earliest Connections Clinic, our diagnostic program geared toward early identification and therapeutic intervention for high-risk infants and toddlers. Additionally, Carrie leads the DIRFloortime and PACT therapy/teletherapy programs- intensive intervention programs supporting families impacted by autism through dyadic coaching using both in-vivo and reflective video feedback modalities. Dr. Alvarado's primary research interests are in Sensoriaffective Integration and attachment, clinical use of reflective video feedback, and in optimizing parent-mediated interventions via the modality of telepractice. She completed her dissertation on establishing preliminary validity of a new clinical assessment and coaching tool, the Sensoriaffective Interactional Attunement Scale (SAIAS), geared toward promoting enhanced use of sensoriaffective signaling between caregivers and their children. Carrie is also currently engaged in development of another scale, the Emotional Intelligence and Praxis in Play Scale (EIPPS), focused on evaluating the presence, sophistication, flexibility and organization of themes of emotional intelligence in child-led, symbolic, dyadic play. Dr. Alvarado was the first in the United States to become a Pediatric Autism Communication Therapy (PACT) Accredited Practitioner and she serves as an Associate with PACT UK. Carrie is a DIR®Floortime™ Certified Expert Clinician, and she serves as an Assistant Faculty for the Profectum™ foundation. Dr. Alvarado has also served as the lead for the Clinical Advisory Committee for STAR Institute, in Colorado. She is Core Faculty for the Fielding Graduate School of Psychology and Adjunct Faculty for the UT Health OTD Program. Dr. Alvarado is passionate about building bridges where none yet exist, about innovating and expanding the boundaries of our knowledge, and about meeting families and fellow clinicians where they are and empowering them to find the gifts they all have to give. Carrie is the proud mother of three young women and wife to her compassionate husband for 24 years. She enjoys time at the lake, snuggling with her many beloved pets, and listening to Huberman Lab podcast on repeat. Carrie is also a proud niece, cousin and first cousin once removed of beautifully inspiring, neurodiverse humans who made and make the world a better place to be a part of. (210) 435-1000

  • An Interview with an Autistic Police Officer | Acn Home

    < Back An Interview with an Autistic Police Officer James Ward-Sinclair Oct 12, 2019 A Bit about Ben: Before we go on, one of the interesting things I thought worth mentioning about my interviewee today was how, despite receiving a diagnosis at a young age (in fact, mine and Ben’s mums met at a support group when we were kids), Ben by his own admission doesn’t know much about autism and says that he wouldn’t class himself as being part of the ‘autism community’. To Ben, being autistic just meant a confusing school life, where social struggles caused him to be ‘isolated’ and communication challenges left him being viewed as ‘a complete looney and weirdo’. Ben says that he just ‘didn’t have an awareness’ and he was ‘treated badly by people for it’. Things eventually got so bad that after three incidents in which he was kicked, pushed over and had pins pushed into him, Ben no longer could stomach education and refused to return until he could change school (something which he eventually did). However, despite this leaving him with a somewhat lukewarm impression of the spectrum, his interview turned out to be very inspirational and more positive than I anticipated – but then again, I should probably let you be the judge of that. An Interview with an Autistic Police Officer: James: Question 1: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Ben: I affirm James: So you say that social struggles are one of the biggest challenges you have. What made you choose a public sector job? Ben: When I was in school I would never have thought about being in the police. I think it was around that time [year 10] I learnt to play the guitar and that was ultimately what kind of changed things, in as much as I suddenly had something I could have a common interest in. Forming bands and stuff meant that I was able to generate this social circle that I never had before and my confidence massively improved. I developed a personality that wanted to be part of a community and I already had experiences which gave me motivation to do something good. Then very, very quickly I knew that I wanted to be in the cops. James: What was the next step after you had made this decision? Ben: Once I knew, I wouldn’t do anything else. Getting into the cops was hard but I wouldn’t be disillusioned. It’s intense and requires you to have some academic skill and there’s a lot of waiting. You have to be patient because you could wait 6 months to join and I think people who struggle under pressure would struggle with the application process because it is intense. There’s a telephone interview which isn’t very natural. They don’t ask you about a business or your past experiences. All the questions are based around competency and values that you must have, and they are very specific and don’t allow much room to present your individuality. One of them is openness to change . You then attend an assessment day at the police college; where you do 4 role plays, two written exams, another interview and it’s like phwar, you’re really pushed and by the time you are on the brink of it, your mind is racing and you’re fatigued. It’s dead tough. James: Most autistic people like their routine. So, when you say they are looking for openness to change, did this or the realization of routine breaking, irregular shifts deter you? Ben: I mean I suppose I do have my routines. I always get dressed the same way, always have the same shower and I suppose that when I’m dealing with a job, there’s a lot of paperwork which I always do in the same order. But all the stuff that I have a routine for, like getting ready, how I park my car, where I put my keys, you repeat on the night shift too. In the day, you get up, go to work, you do your shift, then when you’re on the nightshift you get up, go to work do your shift. The actual work in the nightshift doesn’t make a difference. James: So maybe I’m reading into this, and, correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you have your routine, it’s not a schedule, it’s how you do things, that’s the routine. Ben: Yeah, it doesn’t matter the time of day it’s the order. It’s subconscious. James: So does autism help or hinder in the police? For example, It’s said that autistic people have a strong sense of justice. Do you feel this is true and does it help you? Ben: Interestingly enough, I had a conversation with my inspector the other day. I said I find it hard deciding what I will and won’t investigate. We could get a shoplifting, a pick pocketing, a domestic assault and a burglary and we have to be very critical with what we put to the side to ensure that we do the most critical offences. I find it hard to tell people who have been pickpocketed that we haven’t got the resources to send someone out to look at all the CCTV, locate witnesses, interview people on the street and I imagine that must feel terrible. It makes me sad, but that’s how things are with funding and staff at the moment. So yeah, it does help me to do a good job, to motivate me to catch the criminals but it’s probably more of a hinderance – because telling people I can’t investigate sometimes goes against everything I stand for. It’s an uneasy feeling. James: would you say that the police is a good job for autistic people or would you say… Ben: I think it’s important that autistic people are given the chance to be in the cops in the same way that the police should be a mix of all ethnicities, sexualities and religions, because the fabric of the community is just as diverse and we should represent who we are policing. Also, there are many autistic people who will need support. They are victims of crime so why can’t they be soldiers against crime?… [Editor’s note: although the interview took place over the phone, I imagine that it was at this point Ben put a monocle on, started stroking his chin and his brain turned on the philosophical switch] ….but then, I suppose it would be unfair for me to turn around and say that every autistic person can be a cop – because I don’t think that’s true. You have to be realistic. Some people who are autistic are regimented and you don’t get that in the cops. In a split second they could say you’re working another [shift] and you are going to really struggle. Also, the autistic spectrum opens up difficulties and strengths in all areas but generally those challenges are detrimental in terms of safety and managing workloads and it won’t always be clear-cut…. But I suppose that’s the same for everybody; nobody’s the same, so I guess that it’s unfair to say that every autistic person would be a fantastic cop in the same way that it would be unfair to say everybody would be a fantastic cop. However, when you have a Jewish community, it helps to have a Jewish officer because they will have stronger ties. But, when it’s an autistic person, that person only represents one kind of autism, potentially, in the country. You’re a fantastic representative of yourself but the spectrum is so broad and big you’ve not got the entire target audience…. do you get what I mean? James: I do. So do you think it’s important for autistic people to disclose? Ben: It’s personal choice. I haven’t but that’s not because I’m ashamed or embarrassed but because I manage my own autism. If it’s the case that you find something really really difficult then disclose and the force will support you and utilize you because of your different background for a certain community, or to help with learning. The force is aware that there are autistic people in it and they will provide help if you want it. So, should people disclose? It depends what’s right or wrong for you. James: Finally, and most importantly, who is the best cop in TV and movies? Ben: …all I can think of is Bruce Willis and he did a pretty bang up job in all 7 of his movies but my favorite cop film is End of Watch – except for the last 10 mins which I thought was a bit OTT. Previous Next

  • Cathy Kersey

    < Back Cathy Kersey Accounting Manager Catherine “Cathy” Kersey comes to Autism Community Network with over 18 years of experience in accounting. She moved to San Antonio in 2023 from Lubbock, TX where she worked as an Executive Finance and Account Manager for 13 years for a finance company. She comes to San Antonio with her husband and two dogs and is excited to explore San Antonio’s culture and restaurants. When not working, she loves to travel with her husband and experiencing new adventures. She is an avid animal lover and has been known to pick up a few strays here and there. She is also passionate about rescuing dogs and helping them find their forever homes. (210) 435-1000 ext. 5009

  • Wishlist | Acn Home

    < Back Wishlist Empowering families, one gift at a time. Explore our wish list! The spirit of giving is alive, and you have the power to brighten someone's day in the most meaningful way. We invite you to join us in making a difference by selecting a gift from our carefully curated Amazon Wish List. Every item on this list holds the potential to bring joy and comfort to the lives of those we serve at Autism Community Network. From educational tools that spark curiosity to sensory items that soothe, your thoughtful gesture can create a positive impact that lasts far beyond the moment. How to contribute: Visit our Amazon Wish List Choose an item that resonates with you. Complete your purchase, and it will be sent directly to us. Experience the joy of knowing you've made a positive difference! Your gift, no matter how small, has the potential to make a big impact. Let's get started

  • Programs | Helping Hands

    Our Services Autism Screening & Diagnostics The goal of our clinical services is to provide expert autism diagnostic medical evaluations backed by the latest research to children up to age seven. All assessments are offered in English and Spanish and can be provided in-person or via telehealth. Read More Innovative, Evidence-Based Therapies ACN offers the latest neurodiversity-affirming therapies targeting our clients' individual needs. Working with our expert therapists, you will develop unique goals tailored to your child and your personal family journey. Therapies are available in-person or via telehealth. Spanish may be available upon request. Read More BIG Futures Programming Autism Community Network provides innovative and engaging autism support services to families and individuals living with autism. From Camp Ausome! to our Fam Jams, we provide a way for autistic children and their families to socialize, engage in collaborative projects, and develop meaningful skills and relationships. Read More Training and Mentorship/Educational Programs Every week Autism Community Network provides training, educational programs, and learning opportunities. ACN is proud to be a teaching facility for the future leaders in autism care. Join us every Friday for Coffee and Connections, sign up for our blog, or share our event calendar with your network. Read More

  • Alma Patricia del Angel, MD

    < Back Alma Patricia del Angel, MD Chief Medical Officer & Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician Dr. A Patricia Del Angel graduated from medical school at the Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas. She did her pediatric residency training at Lincoln Hospital and Mental Health Center/New York Medical College, where she also served as chief resident. In addition, she completed a fellowship in child development-behavioral pediatrics at King Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles, and received her specialist certification in infant mental health from the Early Childhood Center at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. Dr. Del Angel has most recently served as a pediatrician at People’s Clinic in Austin and as a developmental-behavioral specialist in the pediatric residency program at UTMB Austin. Previously, Dr. Del Angel was the clinical director of the Southwest Area Children’s Hub in Los Angeles for thirteen years. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Del Angel is the proud aunt to two neurodivergent children. (210) 435-1000

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