Our Team

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 Naomi Swiezy, Ph.D., HSPP

Alan H. Cohen Family Professor of Psychiatry
Professor of Clinical Psychology in Clinical Psychiatry
Director, HANDS in Autism®Interdisciplinary Training and Resource Center
Program Director, Christian Sarkine Autism Treatment Center

Dr. Swiezy joined the faculty at IUSM in 1998. She is a Professor of Clinical Psychology in Clinical Psychiatry with a named professorship as the Alan H. Cohen Family Professor of Psychiatry. Dr. Swiezy has spent a number of years directing programs and services at the Christian Sarkine Autism Treatment Center at Riley Hospital. In 2004, Dr. Swiezy developed the HANDS in Autism (Helping Answer Needs by Developing Specialists in Autism) training model and currently serves as Director of the Center bearing the same name. HANDS in Autism was initially developed to provide intensive and hands-on coaching and training of staff and professionals working in educational environments with individuals across the autism spectrum while also facilitating networking, collaboration and training support across school, medical, family and community systems. While with an emphasis with ASD, the application of principles is noted as useful across disabilities, settings and lifespan issues. Foundational support for the Center was provided by the CDC as well as by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and added philanthropic support. Dr. Swiezy has served as a board member and committee member to a number of hospital and community organizations. She is an editorial board member of Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders and a standing reviewer on an NIH committee. Dr. Swiezy presents and publishes widely in the area of autism and the development of the HANDS in Autism Center. She is the PI for an NIH multisite RO1 to study effects of a manualized parent training program for which she helped conceptualize and author. HANDS in Autism has rapidly expanded programming to facilitate bridging of various systems and the growing of local capacity and sustainability in use of evidence-based practices.

Specialties: Dr.Swiezy specializes in Applied Behavior Analysis, staff and caregiver training, and the behavioral assessment and treatment of autism spectrum and related disorders as well as global systems change and implementation efforts. She provides consultation in clinic as well as in the community through home intervention and school contracts and collaborations.

Neal Tiffany Neal, Ph.D.

Assistant Director

As a school psychologist and autism team leader in a public school corporation and special education cooperative, Dr. Neal was actively involved in both academic and behavioral assessment and intervention, as well as Response to Instruction (RtI) across educational settings from preschool through high school. In addition, Dr. Neal has been involved with and presented on studies across a number of different areas related to neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, and developmental psychology. She has provided school-based trainings related to functional behavioral assessments (FBAs), behavioral interventions, observational methods, data collection, ASDs, and RtI. Dr. Neal’s training efforts have focused on training across disciplines, diagnostic considerations, and how to develop collaborative partnerships within school systems and between schools and families. Dr. Neal serves as a board member with the Autism Society of Indiana (ASI) and is the region IV representative for the Indiana Association of School Psychologists (IASP). She currently provides support on a multisite parent education/training study in the role as independent evaluator. In addition, Dr. Neal provides trainings and consultations to school districts and communities across the state of Indiana.

 Leslie Meyer, M.S.Ed.

Special Education Specialist

Leslie Meyer has B.A. in Psychology and Women’s Studies from Purdue University and a M.S. in Special Education from Simmons College.

Leslie has worked for the New England Center for Children (NECC), a worldwide leader in Autism research and education as both an educator and therapist. Upon first joining the Center, Leslie spent time working in the residential facilities and with students attending the Day School. She handled the case management of multiple students inclusive of curriculum development, data collection, behavior programming, and home training under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

After working at the school in Boston, Leslie applied and was accepted to transfer to NECC’s sister school in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. For 2 years, Leslie worked overseas in the public schools. There she helped open two transition classrooms within the public schools where students from The New England Center for Children-Abu Dhabi could attend for integration into the general education classrooms. She completed her Master’s Degree while overseas and obtained her Initial Teaching License as well as an endorsement for teaching Sheltered English Instruction.

Leslie’s particular interests and expertise span from working with students age 5 up to age 22. She is familiar with developing and implementing curriculum for all areas of life, from early development to independent living skills throughout the community. She has conducted multiple FA’s, FBA’s, and presented a thesis on feeding selectivity in children with autism. She is particularly interested in curriculum adaptation within the public schools, helping to ensure each student has the tools necessary to access the general curriculum.

 Joe Risch, M.A.

Special Education Specialist

Joe Risch has a B.S. in Elementary Education and Special Education from Butler University and an M.A. in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis from Ball State University.

Joe worked in Avon Community School Corporation teaching as an intermediate level special education teacher. Joe also taught in Metropolitan School District of Washington Township in a primary aged life-skills classroom for students with autism. These positions give Joe experience working with students ages 5-14 with a diverse range of disabilities. This background also provided Joe with the opportunity to receive training in the Orton-Gillingham-multisensory approach to teaching reading.

Joe’s interests include the use of evidence-based practices and data driven instruction to improve student’s academic and behavioral performance. Joe has presented at multiple national conferences on the topic of evidence-based practices in an inclusion classroom. Joe has also previously been the recipient of the Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Grant, which provided him with the opportunity to study woodworking in Italy.

Cindy Humm, M.A.Ed.

Transition and Community Specialist

Cindy Humm earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education/Learning Disabilities/Behavior Disorders from Bowling Green State University and her graduate degree in Public School Administration/Supervision from the University of North Texas. While living in Dallas, Cindy trained in the TEACCH Methods of the University of North Carolina. Her classroom in the Dallas Public Schools served as the elementary model. The training and visually structured teaching activities are methods that have stayed with Cindy over the years in her work as a reading interventionist, tutor, and educator.

Upon moving back to the Midwest, Cindy became trained in the Orton-Gillingham instructional approach for students with reading difficulties. She first worked as a reading interventionist and later trained in all Lindamood-Bell multisensory processes. This training led to a full-time position with the Carmel Clay Schools where Cindy returned to structured teaching, working with middle school level students on the autism spectrum. Cindy spent many summers working as a teacher in the social skills program provided by CCS for students with language difficulties. In that program, she became familiar with ABA therapy. This, coupled with her early TEACCH training, led Cindy to believe in a multidisciplinary approach with shared information across disciplines to best understand and plan for successful strategies.

Cindy's most recent endeavor as an educator was with the Julian Center, through the satellite school program of IPS, where she spent four years serving residents of the shelter in a K-12 classroom. This experience provided Cindy with a rich framework and honed her ability to multi-task and work with students of diverse backgrounds, ages, and abilities. At the Julian Center, Cindy became acutely aware of the intense need for vocational training for clients with disabilities.

Cindy believes strongly in VR and is most excited about employment opportunities for the clients of HANDSmade within the IU and Riley Hospitals and campus. The Transition Specialist is definitely her "dream position" and Cindy is very grateful to bring her unique skill set to the the HANDS in Autism team!

Wendy Studdard, M.S.Ed.

Lifespan Education Specialist

Wendy Studdard has a B.S. in Elementary Education with a certification in Kindergarten from Indiana State University and a Master’s degree in Special Education from Indiana University.

Wendy worked as a first grade teacher in Boca Raton, Florida at Saint Andrews Lower School. Wendy also taught in Indianapolis Public School District in a mild disabilities classroom and as an inclusion teacher for upper elementary aged students. Wendy moved on to teach in Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation as a resource teacher in at the elementary aged level and a primary aged life-skills teacher. Wendy is a certified tutor in the Orton-Gillingham multisensory approach to teach reading and has experience with FBA’s, PBIS, Lindamood-Bell, and Structured TEACCH.

Wendy is looking forward to using her many experiences and educational background to work with children and adults within the Hands in Autism organization.

Natalie Rollman

Special Education Support Specialist


Iryna Ashby

Instructional Designer

Iryna Ashby has an equivalent of MA in Linguistics and Translation Studies from Ukraine. While in the US, she received BA in Psychology with the focus on Clinical Rehabilitation from IUPUI and MSEd in Learning Design and Technology from Purdue University. She is also currently pursuing PhD in Learning Design and Technology (Curriculum and Instruction Department, Purdue University). Her research and design interests include online learning and competency-based transdisciplinary education

Iryna has extensive experience in design and implementation of online and onsite learning opportunities for higher education and adult learners in a variety of settings and will utilize her knowledge and skills to improve learning and professional opportunities of professionals working with individuals with ASD and related disorders

Ryan Wolfe

Multimedia Specialist


Sarah Wright

Media Specialist

Sarah Wright has a BFA in Electronic Art & Animation from Ball State University.


She has worked for Wiley Publishing on the For Dummies book line, and has been the primary illustrator for the "Adventures in Tech" line of books. Sarah has also worked as a freelance designer, illustrator and animator.


At HANDS in Autism® Sarah uses her skills in print and digital media to create effective communication materials to disseminate information to a variety of stakeholder types. She enjoys working for a non-profit with purpose that allows her to make a positive impact on the local and global community.

Blaine Garman-McClaine

Behavioral Study Technician


Heather Blaisuis

Office Manager


Kurt Kurt Bassett

Program Assistant

Kurt is a Program Assistant for HANDS in Autism®. At HANDS, he helps produce materials to send out to families and school, medical, and community personnel in the state of Indiana.

Before HANDS in Autism®, he worked at the DOE where he delivered mail to the staff and made a weekly schedule for our division.

Kurt has also interned for The ARC of U.S.

Briana Dean Shenesse

Program Assistants

Briana Dean is a senior majoring in General Studies with a concentration in Rehabilitation and Disability and a minor in Psychology at IUPUI. She joined the HANDS in Autism® team in August as a Life-Health Sciences Intern. Following graduation in August of 2018, she plans to further her education with aspirations of becoming a social worker or mental health counselor. Briana is looking forward to expanding her understanding of state and national policies for individuals with disabilities and will support and assist in various projects during her time as an intern.

Cristina Torres

Program Assistants

Cristina Torres is currently pursuing her B.S. degree in Psychology with a minor in Pre-Occupational Therapy at IUPUI. After attending IUPUI’s Motor Activity Clinic, Cristina was inspired to expand her knowledge of individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She joined the HANDS in Autism® team in August as a Life-Health Sciences Intern. In this role, she will support various projects and program efforts. Cristina looks forward to gaining new experiences while working alongside individuals with autism.

Hanna Smyth

HANDSmade Mentor


Maheen Ali

HANDSmade Mentor

Maheen Ali is a sophomore at IUPUI working towards a B.A. in Medical Humanities and a B.S. in Neuroscience.  After graduation, Maheen plans on attending Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) where she will pursue her medical degree with a specialty in psychiatry, neuroscience or pediatrics.  Maheen enjoys spending time with friends and family as well as painting and travelling as much as possible.  Maheen is looking forward to becoming an active contributor to the HANDS in Autism® team by working with individuals with disabilities and their families.  Maheen will be a program mentor providing support to the consumers in the HANDSmade™ program.