Teacher, Psychologist, Consultant, Mentor:
Dr. Suzanne Jacobsen is a psychologist, educator and behavior analyst. She is an advocate for the rights of children with special needs, and the establishment of educational programs that allow them to reach their full potential. Her passion was first inspired by her experiences growing up with a brother with spina bifida, and grew when she found out her youngest had special needs. Over the last decade, Dr. Jacobsen has established three centres for the treatment and education of children with autism spectrum disorders and other complex developmental disabilities in the Vancouver area. She continues to focus on helping children with special needs excel while encouraging their parents to strengthen their advocacy skills on behalf of their children.
Over a long career serving children and families with special needs, Dr. Jacobsen has provided psychological and diagnostic assessment services throughout the province of British Columbia. She worked as a preschool teacher prior to returning to university where she completed her degree and training as a teacher. She taught children in grades one through six in regular classrooms with the inclusion of children with special needs.
After completing her psychology training and courses as a reading specialist, she was first a school psychologist and then Coordinator of Learning Assistance, Learning Disabilities and Behaviour disorders in a large school district. She has taught graduate level university courses and supervised numerous students in UBC Psychology and Special Education programs as well as Douglas College practicum students.
After the birth of her son, she designed and provided consultation for a secondary learning centre for a large school district. Over 12 years working as a psychologist for Sunny Hill Health Centre, she accepted the role as Director of the Development and Behaviour Program for six years. She combined part-time work at POPARD (Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders), the original EIBI (Early Intensive Behaviour Intervention) program and private assessments over the next few years of her varied career.
At the request of many parents, she founded ABA Learning Centre in Richmond in September 2004. ABA Learning Centre was the first centre-based program in the lower mainland to provide applied behaviour analysis intervention for children with autism (see www.abacentre.ca ). She also founded GABA (Group ABA) for preschool age children located originally in North Vancouver. (GABA has grown to become Group ABA Children’s Society with programs now located in Burnaby, Richmond and Vancouver see www.gabaprogram.ca/ and www.fawkesacademy.org). After working with a small parent group she designed and, for two years, supported the Phoenix Academy of Learning as the first school in Vancouver for children with autism (no current affiliation between PALs and Dr. Jacobsen). She also designed and is providing the behaviour analytic support to Fawkes Academy, a distributed learning school for children with complex developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.
She has provided supervision for a many individuals completing the requirements to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts. She currently has a doctoral level practicum student in his second year of practicum participating in the assessments of children and youth with complex developmental disabilities, anxiety and other emotional/social difficulties.
Dr. Suzanne Jacobsen discusses her very personal journey as a mother whose son was diagnosed as autism spectrum disorder, PDD-NOS, while, at the same time, assessing children who are suspected to have the a complex neurodevelopmental disorder.