A Meeting of Cultures A determined SLP brings autism awareness, acceptance and treatment to an entire island. In the Limelight
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In the Limelight  |   April 01, 2016

SLP Sheryl Rosin (left) began developing programs in St. Kitts for children with autism after providing treatment to Mathieu and his mother, Mauricer Marshall.

A Meeting of Cultures
Author Notes
  • Shelley D. Hutchins is content editor/producer for The ASHA Leader. shutchins@asha.org
    Shelley D. Hutchins is content editor/producer for The ASHA Leader. shutchins@asha.org×
  • Visit the Leader blog to read a post from Mauricer Marshall, the first parent with whom Rosin worked.
    Visit the Leader blog to read a post from Mauricer Marshall, the first parent with whom Rosin worked.×
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Autism Spectrum / In the Limelight
In the Limelight   |   April 01, 2016
A Meeting of Cultures
The ASHA Leader, April 2016, Vol. 21, 26-27. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.21042016.26
The ASHA Leader, April 2016, Vol. 21, 26-27. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.21042016.26
Name: Sheryl Rosin, PhD, CCC-SLP
Title: Certified autism specialist, private practitioner, professional education instructor
Hometown: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Speech-language pathologist Sheryl Rosin literally lives out her favorite quote, attributed to Steve Jobs: “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” Rosin travels the country teaching workshops on her passion: play-based interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
And never did her favorite quote come so alive as on a professional trip to the Caribbean, which resulted in her helping an island’s families and health professionals learn to recognize and intervene with ASD.
In 2014, the president of the University of Medicine and Health Sciences (UMHS) in St. Kitts invited Rosin to visit and discuss teaching part of the university’s behavioral course for medical students. During her trip, the president asked her to meet with friends who tried unsuccessfully to get a diagnosis and treatment for their nonverbal son, Mathieu. Rosin made recommendations, but Mathieu’s mom, Mauricer Marshall, said services like those suggested weren’t available on the island.
At the time, Rosin was using grant money to train Nova Southeastern University graduate students how to implement play-based treatment using a method called the PLAY Project www.playproject.org to 20 families of children with ASD in South Florida. The funds allowed her to offer free treatment for Mathieu if his family traveled to Florida.
“I thought I’d never hear from them again,” Rosin says. “I got an email from the mom the day after I got back saying she and Mathieu were coming for six weeks!”
Rosin, along with eight of her students, provided 21 hours a week of treatment for the entire six weeks. The model trains parents to apply the ASD interventions at home, giving Marshall tools and resources to continue working with her son once they returned to St. Kitts. Marshall committed to treatment wholeheartedly—and her dedication didn’t stop there.

Marshall began taking her son everywhere to show off his new communication skills. It caused a culture shock on the small island, where tradition dictated keeping children with special needs at home.

Watch Mathieu and his Mom come for their first session with SLP Sheryl Rosin to set a baseline assessment.
See Mathieu show off his improved communication skills after his six-week intensive treatment with SLP Sheryl Rosin and her graduate students.
“It worked better than expected,” says Rosin. “Mathieu was [initially] nonverbal and left [treatment] speaking in three-word phrases and more engaged with others.”
After returning to St. Kitts, Marshall began taking her son everywhere to show off his new communication skills. It caused a culture shock on the small island, where tradition dictated keeping children with special needs at home. People came forward wanting help for their children. Marshall again reached out to Rosin and asked her to set up a program on the island for other children with ASD.
Thanks in large part to Marshall’s influence, Rosin returned to St. Kitts in January 2015 to meet with the prime minister, chief education officer and minister of education. The government officials agreed to set up the program and helped find sponsors to support the project. UMHS provided facilities and Rosin developed a proposal.
That fall, Rosin worked with 45 professionals—teachers, caregivers, nurses and the island’s only pediatrician—for 15 hours on recognizing and assessing ASD. She also hosted a free clinic to evaluate other children, which drew 11 families.
“It was a long—but amazing—day,” she says. “I diagnosed eight of the children, but realized I couldn’t just leave them with this diagnosis.”
So a few months later—almost one year after her initial meeting—Rosin returned to implement phase two of her plan. This time she offered two-day training to eight of the professionals from her original 45. With the training, all eight passed the test required to earn Autism Certificates from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards. The government paid for all their exams and class materials.

“This play-based model goes way outside their comfort zone. I learned their way of doing things, but also asked them to be open to my approach.”

At another free clinic, held over two days with Rosin’s new certificate-holders helping, 12 of the 14 children they observed received ASD diagnoses. Rosin praises the parents who brought their kids to the clinics and can’t wait for phase three—opening a diagnostic and intervention center—to begin in September.
Rosin will return in July to help those eight certificate-holders prepare for the center’s fall opening. Although getting to this step seemingly happened in a whirlwind, Rosin says it wasn’t quite that easy. Promised support and donations occasionally fell through. And differences in cultural beliefs and traditions prevented her from convincing everyone of the value of play-based treatment.
“This play-based model goes way outside their comfort zone,” says Rosin. “I learned their way of doing things, but also asked them to be open to my approach. And I showed pre- and post-intervention videos with other parents feeling uncomfortable with this type of play at first—including the Marshalls—but they all got amazing results.”
Eight certified people can change the lives of a lot of families, Rosin says.
“I thought this would end with that first family,” she admits, “but Mathieu’s mom was such a great force in getting resources for her whole community. When she left Florida, she sent me a message saying this treatment changed her marriage, her husband’s attitude and the whole dynamic of her family. She wants those same changes for her entire island.”
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April 2016
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