My sequence of leaps journey
My name is Maia Claire Garrison and I am the Owner/Artistic Director at Reel.Dance.Music, a community dance studio in West Orange, NJ. I founded Sequence of Leaps in 2018. If you're an Autism parent, my story is probably similar to yours. At least some aspects of it. Before my son was born, I had a vibrant career working as a dancer, choreographer, performance artist and dance educator in New York City and abroad. I thought surely, I would get back to work when my son started pre-school. Only he kept getting kicked out.
It all started adding up when Salif was diagnosed with Autism at age 3. At the time, I was enrolled in the School Health Education program at New Jersey City University pursuing a Master of Science Health Sciences. When I learned of my son's neurological disorder the rug got pulled out from under me. Overcome with feelings of dread, I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about ASD, speech delays, ADHD and Special Education.
In 2014, for a host of Autism related reasons, I dropped out of Graduate School and relocated to Altamonte Springs, Florida where I was able to earn a certification in Dance K-12 from the Florida Department of Education, along with certificates in Child Growth and Development (CGDR), Culturally Competent Nursing Care (CCNC), Health, Safety and Nutrition (HSAN), and Special Needs Appropriate Practices (SNP).
Four years later, while teaching at O2B Kids in Altamonte Springs, I began developing educational programs for children on the spectrum. In collaboration with Speech Innovations of Central Florida I launched A Berry Special Day, an immersive educational event for children with Autism. In 2019 we moved back north and settled in New Jersey. It has taken me four years to get back to my Sequence of Leaps project. A professional and personal venture that is so very dear to my heart.
I know first-hand the struggles and challenges Autism families face. Sequence of Leaps strives to offer a multitude of educational programs, soul nourishing events and resources to support and make a difference in the local Autism community.