ABOUT THE FOUNDER
The founder of Early Start Autism, Melissa K. Burkhardt, M.S. Ed., BCBA, has 25 years of experience working hands-on with young children with autism, behavioral challenges, and their families. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and an Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) certified therapist.
As of March 2020, Melissa is one of 7 ESDM therapists in the state of Florida, and one of 23 worldwide P-ESDM (Parent Coaching in ESDM) certified therapists. Melissa trained under ESDM co-founder, Dr. Sally Rogers and her colleagues at UC Davis MIND Institute.
Melissa has a vast special needs preschool teaching background, with a focus on inclusion. She is a certified reading specialist, a certified Exceptional Student Education teacher, and she is also Montessori-trained.
Melissa was named 2019 Service Provider of the Year by the Community Inclusion Awards. Melissa is a national award-winning author of the book, Exceptionally Good Friends: Building Relationships with Autism.
Melissa partners with the non-profit, Unicorn Children’s Foundation, to offer a Parent Coaching Scholarship. She serves on the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) Little Owls Advisory Board. For 10 years, Melissa volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected children.
She feels that it is a privilege to team with families of young children with autism and behavioral challenges, helping each child and their family to live the highest quality of life possible.
Melissa was named 2019 Community Inclusion Awards Service Provider of the Year.
Melissa is a national award winning author of the book, Exceptionally Good Friends: Building Relationships with Autism. Her book was awarded the Autism Society’s 2015 Dr. Temple Grandin Award for Outstanding Literary Work of the Year.
Melissa with Dr. Temple Grandin
Receiving the Autism Society's 2015 Dr. Temple Grandin Award for Outstanding Literary Work of the Year
Discussing the book with Dr. Grandin
Ronald's favorite book!
The support therapists at Early Start Autism are carefully selected for their experience and knowledge in applied behavioral analysis, and child development. They have undergone extensive training in use of naturalistic, developmental-behavioral therapy. Support therapists undergo ongoing, close supervision by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and receive ongoing training on current best practices for working with young children with autism and challenging behaviors.
Early Start Autism teams with knowledgeable Occupational Therapists, and Speech Pathologists to help provide the best team and the best care for your child.