Heather Erba, MEd, PhD

development & asd specialist

I am thankful to say that I truly love my work! I have worked with children with disabilities and their families my entire career in positions covering much of the field of special education: 1:1 classroom aid, classroom teacher, behavioral therapist, job coach, inclusion and behavioral specialist, adjunct university faculty, research coordinator, family education specialist, and ASD and developmental specialist. Each of these roles have provided me with important insights, skills, and knowledge that guide my practice as a developmental specialist. Although I have worked with children with a wide range of neurodevelopmental disabilities, my speciality and focus is with young children with autism spectrum disorders specifically and generally those with social cognitive challenges. My work with children and families is challenging, rewarding, and allows me to stay on top of the current research in a constantly evolving field. I have long dreamed of having a developmental clinic and ConnectEd represents a huge personal career goal.

I’m a local girl raised in Los Gatos, received a B.A. from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and teaching credentials at San Jose State University. After working with my first students with ASD as a 1:1 behavioral therapist and classroom teacher, I became obsessed with the high quality work being done in North Carolina. I received a Masters of Early Childhood Special Education and a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with an emphasis on young children with ASD. While in North Carolina I had the amazing experience of working and training closely with Division TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication related handicapped Children). My graduate research explored alternative treatment use in children with ASD, intervention and supports for children with Fragile X Syndrome, and efficacy-based EI programs for young children with ASD.

After completing my graduate work at UNC-CH I moved home and accepted a position as a Research Scientist at the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford University. I coordinated a national study exploring early childhood brain and behavioral development in children with autism, Fragile X Syndrome, and developmental delay. Although I love research, I missed working hands on with children and families so I left Stanford to accept a position as Family Education Specialist at the Kaiser Permanente Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic of Northern California Kaiser. I worked closely with the clinical director to develop a regional family education program for children with ASD and trained clinicians to support the needs of this booming population. Most recently I worked as the ASD and Development Specialist at the Center for Developing Minds. During my 4-years at the CDM I was responsible for the co-creation and development of a successful developmentally based programs supporting social cognitive development in young children from 3-12 years old. Each of these diverse experiences have shaped my understanding and appreciation of development in all children, across domains, and ability. I am humbled and honored to be part of such a diverse and talented team at ConectEd. I am committed to my ongoing education, staying on top of the research in the field, and learning from the families I work with along this journey.
On a personal note my husband and I are proud parents of four children ages 8-14. We work to juggle our busy lives, share our goals, and embrace each fleeting moment. My experiences as a parent in the area have supported my understanding of options

for all children. In between family commitments, school work, and our jobs we enjoy exploring the beautiful California coast, hiking and skiing in Lake Tahoe, and quality time with family and friends.