Dr. Heather MacKenzie

Reaching and Teaching Children with Autism and other Special Needs


My biography

Heather MacKenzie, Ph.D., is a Canadian speech-language pathologist and educator who has spent a large part of her career developing and implementing approaches for enhancing learning in children with special needs.  She has a special interest in understanding autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  A major focus of her work with children has been on understanding them and how they approach learning and then using this knowledge to optimize their development.

She has developed the Learning Preferences and Strengths (LPS) model designed to determine each child’s learning preferences and strengths and then ‘harness’ them to improve the child’s learning and development.

She has also developed a program (spark*) to teach behavioral, cognitive and emotional self-regulation to children with special needs.

Heather’s books and materials arise from several decades of clinical work as well as current neuroscience.

Heather has published five books since 2008.  The first, Reaching and Teaching the Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, concentrates on planning and implementing the Learning Preferences and Strengths model with children with ASD.  The second, One Story at a Time, is about how to plan, implement and evaluate shared storybook-based intervention with children.  The most recent book, The Autistic Child’s Guide, introduces spark* (Self-Regulation Program for Awareness and Resilience in Kids). spark* is an extension of her child-centered, mediational approach to teaching and learning. She has also written spark*EL, an upward extension of the spark* program. spark*EL is for children 10 to 13 years of age. In order to help parents and practitioners integrate self-regulation activities into everyday life, Heather wrote Self-Regulation in Everyday Life.

Heather has provided workshops and presentations all over North America, in the U.K., United Arab Emirates and Singapore.  She and her work have been very positively received.

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