Will Overfelt is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst with nearly twenty years of experience working with individuals with autism and other disabilities. Will began his career working in group homes for older adults with disabilities in Tennessee as a student at East Tennessee State University. Will says, “I started working in group homes to pay my way through undergrad. At first, it was just a job and I was studying a totally different major, but I became really curious about how these older adults with tough behaviors had ended up in these situations. I picked up a few classes in special education one semester, and quickly realized that these people had ended up with pretty bleak lives because of poor educational opportunities and lack of services early in their lives. The sobering part was realizing it didn’t have to be this way and they could have had very different lives”
Will graduated from ETSU with a concentration in special education just before moving to Asheville. After working for The Autism Society of WNC in Asheville, and developing an interest in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Will went back to grad school at Western Carolina University for a Master’s of Arts in Teaching in Special Education and subsequently a post-master’s Education Specialist degree in special education administration. Will later completed coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology and completed his clinical supervision under Dr. Dennis Reid as part of the process to be board certified in behavior analysis. Will worked in public schools for fifteen years as a teacher assistant, teacher, behavior consultant, autism specialist, and a special education administrator. Will has also been an adjunct professor in the education department at the University of North Carolina at Asheville for the last five years.
When asked about what sets his practice apart from other clinicians Will says, “The thing that I’m most proud of in my practice as a behavior analyst is my years of life experiences being with people facing real problems in real life and seeing how daunting their daily lives can be—it’s easy to consult with people and give them some canned, textbook advice, but it’s another thing to try to help people through very challenging situations when you really know what it’s like to be punched or bitten by a student or to change an adult’s diaper. Real life is hard and support plans have to be realistic for families, schools, or paid support staff. That’s why I chose to work for FIRST- because that is what we do here—support people in their daily lives with practical solutions.”
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