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Meet the Parent Support Team!

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Anja Wilson

Autism Parent Navigator

Anja is Founder of M.A.D. Mom’s Advocating Daily for Autism, Cortland’s Corner, Anja’s Advocacy Avenue, and author of “Unapologetically Embracing Autism”, and “Cortland's World”. 

 

Born in Columbia, SC she is a single parent to son, Cortland who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of three. An alumna of the University of Tennessee, her passion for advocating for Autism was born because of Cortland’s journey. A passion that is built on a foundation of advocacy, where she aims to be a powerful and strong voice for those that cannot advocate for themselves by promoting the embodiment of advocacy, empowerment, education, commitment, and community.

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Carissa Stevens, MA

Autism Parent Navigator

Carissa is the mother of three. Her desire to advocate for families and children with autism began after her son was diagnosed with autism in 2017. 

Carissa graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Arts from Webster University in Management and Leadership.  

 

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Weezy Knott

Autism Parent Navigator

Weezy Knott is married and has two boys, one of which was diagnosed with Autism back in 2013. She has a heart to serve others, especially those in need.

 

Weezy has made it her mission to help her son improve his quality of life through research, advocating, and finding him the therapies that would help him have a successful future.

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Laura Sigman

Autism Parent Mentor

Laura is a busy mother to two daughters. Her daughter Creelynn was diagnosed at age 3 with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

During the last eight years she has dedicated her time to learn and advocate for her daughter's needs.  She is looking forward to sharing everything she has learned to help other parents. 

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Cortney Heuer

Autism Parent Mentor

Cortney is the mother to two active teenagers.  When not driving them and watching their various activities such as dance and robotics, she is involved in advocacy on many levels. 

Cortney and her daughter Grace, who is Autistic, are empowered when educating the public about the disabled experience and being a caregiver.   

Cortney is passionate about helping fellow parents and especially interested in celebrating neurodiversity and inclusion.

Cortney earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Missouri Kansas City and prior to becoming a full-time caregiver has worked in a variety of social service settings including as a birth doula.

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Takia Barnett

Autism Parent Mentor

I am a mother of three beautiful children, a daughter and twin boys, two of which have autism. I have an associate in arts and will soon be receiving my bachelor’s degree in business administration. 

 

I am a chef and own my own food business where I provide catering, private chef services, meal preparation, and cooking classes. I am also a media service specialist and technical support specialist for one of the world’s largest tech companies.

 

I have been helping families navigate life with their children with special needs since first discovering my daughter’s developmental delays almost 7 years ago. I am passionate about helping cultivate a world where people with disabilities are fully accepted and supported.

Meet the Research Team!

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Robert Hock, PhD, LiSW-CP

Principal Investigator

Dr. Hock is an Associate Professor at The University of South Carolina in the College of Social Work's Children, Youth, and Families specialized practice area. He has previously served as the social work discipline director for the South Carolina Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities. His publications focus on the treatment of autism spectrum disorder, and children and families in mental health settings. 

 

Dr. Hock received his Master of Social Work, with a certificate in Clinical Social Work with Families, from Michigan State University, where he also earned his Ph.D. in social work.

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Brenis Aaron, LMSW

Research Assistant

Brenis has experience as a Registered Behavior Technician working with children diagnosed with ASD; and, she is passionate about working with children and families.

 

Brenis graduated with a Bachelor of Science from North Greenville University and with a Master of Social Work from the University of South Carolina. Brenis enjoys spending time outside with her family, friends, and dog.

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Abigail Mojica, M.A.T.

Research Coordinator

Abigail graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from the University of South Carolina-Aiken and an M.A.T. in Special Education from the University of South Carolina. She is currently working on her PhD in Special Education at USC. Abigail has been working with individuals with disabilities and their families for over 8 years in K-12 and higher education settings.

 

As a parent of two children with autism, Abigail is dedicated to helping families access services and resources that will improve their quality of life. She enjoys traveling with her husband and children, reading, and spending time with family.  

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Tamara Grimm, LISW-CP

Graduate Research Assistant

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Megan Streetman, LMSW

Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator

Megan Streetman is a Licensed Master Social Worker. She received her degree from Winthrop University in 2017. Upon graduation, Megan worked for a hospice agency for 4 years where she provided social and emotional support to families as well as helped families access needed resources. After some time off to spend time with her children, she returned to the social work world.

 

Megan has a passion for research and working with families in the community. She worked as a research assistant for the Healthy Child Development Program with Dr Kristen Seay at the University of South Carolina. Megan coordinated with community partners to help in recruiting efforts and lead families through the program. Megan is excited to be involved with the Autism and Family Lab to help spread the word on the support that can be provided to families of kids with autism. 

 

In her free time, Megan enjoys spending time with her family which consists of her husband, two kiddos, and 3 dogs.

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Heather May, BS

Graduate Research Assistant

Heather graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree from Pennsylvania State University in 2018. She is currently a Master of Social Work candidate at the University of South Carolina. Heather is passionate about promoting social equity, and working with parents, families, and children.

Heather enjoys reading, being outdoors, and spending time her family and friends.

Tamara is a PhD student at the University of South Carolina, College of Social Work. She also completed a graduate certificate in Women & Gender Studies at USC in conjunction with her PhD coursework. Her research areas include gender related health disparities, gender bias in medicine, and the use of holistic health practices as adjunctive treatment for mental health disorders. Prior to beginning her PhD, she served as Lead Women Veterans Program Manager for the VA Healthcare System serving Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan for over 8 years. She has also worked in community mental health, holding various roles such as: clinical supervisor for a criminal justice ACT team, clinical supervisor for a case management team, and case manager. Tamara is currently a therapist in private practice and teaches MSW level courses at the USC.

 

Tamara received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and comparative religion, with a minor in Women’s Studies, from Miami University in Oxford, OH (2003). She completed her MSW at the University of Cincinnati in 2006.

In her free time, Tamara enjoys teaching yoga and spending time with her two rescue pups, Harry and Eddie

 

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Nicholas Zammuto, BSW

Graduate Research Assistant

Nick is currently pursuing his Advanced-Standing Master in Social Work as a graduate student at USC. He received his undergraduate degree from there as well in social work. He, in the Fall and Spring, is completing an internship with Bryan Psychiatric Hospital for completion of his degree.

 

Nick enjoys participating in his local soccer league, and taking down time with his wife.

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Emma Keady, BA

Graduate Research Assistant

Emma graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychological and Brain Sciences from George Washington University. She is currently a Master of Social Work candidate at the University of South Carolina. Emma has experience working with children with special needs, and most recently worked as a registered behavior technician in Florida. She is excited for this opportunity to work with the lab!

 

Emma loves to hang out with her cat, travel, and find new places to eat.

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