About Catherine Faherty

At age fourteen, while volunteering for a summer camp program near Chicago for differently-abled children, Catherine Faherty knew immediately that this would be her life's work. Her formal education and training was at Eastern Michigan University in the mid-1970's, which featured at that time, the first facility in the nation built specifically for teacher training in special education with a laboratory school for students with special needs; Rackham School on the EMU campus. There she worked hands-on with students every day before and after her classes, as she studied to become a special education teacher. From the beginning, she learned through "hands-on" experience.

Before settling in North Carolina, where she has been since the mid 1980's, Catherine worked in a variety of settings, from a Montessori School in St. Louis, Missouri, to developing a middle school self-contained classroom for students with learning disabilities in Powder Springs, Georgia. She was hired in positions that required her to create new programs, where there were none before. Catherine thrived with the freedom to discover and create, according to each of her student's unique needs and strengths. And so did her students. One of her fondest memories early in her career include teaching, in one year, a 15-year old described as a "learning-disabled non-reader" to read - and well! 

Catherine Faherty, classroom organization

Landing in Asheville, North Carolina, in the mid-1980's, Catherine created a premier model classroom for students with autism at Bell Elementary School in Buncombe County. On the side she taught motivational seminars for teachers and other professionals and eventually joined the internationally recognized TEACCH program in North Carolina  as a TEACCH Psychoeducational Specialist/Trainer, bringing along many strategies and programs she developed in her classroom, which were adopted and now known as many of TEACCH's well-known practices.

At the Asheville TEACCH Center where she worked from 1990 through 2012, Catherine Faherty supported adults and children on the autism spectrum, and their families and community members as a parent consultant and child therapist; mentor and coach for adults on the spectrum; and trainer and consultant to teachers, school administrators, therapists, and other professionals - locally, nationally, and internationally.

In 1991, Catherine Faherty started a social group to bring autistic/Asperger adults together in the Asheville area to meet one another with the purpose of nurturing self-understanding and developing relationships - among the first of its kind, which continued, uninterrupted until 2015. 

Shortly after beginning this "Social Group" in Asheville, Catherine felt strongly that the most important professional growth experience for professionals and parents would be to simply listen to what autistic individuals have to say. Consequently, an outgrowth of this early Social Group for Adults was to include the "Adults Autism Panel Discussion" into most of Asheville TEACCH's trainings, as early as 1991. Extremely rare (truly unheard of at that time in typical teacher trainings) this in-person panel discussion was consistently rated as the most favorite and eye-opening experience by teachers who attended those trainings. Back in the 1990's Catherine championed the right of autistic individuals to speak for themselves - and urged others to listen.

Catherine went on to initiate new types of groups at the Asheville TEACCH Center: one which encouraged older autistic adults to serve as mentors to younger individuals; a Happiness Study Group; women's groups; and groups for Spanish-speaking parents. In partnership with Carolyn Ogburn, Catherine developed a group for newly diagnosed adults and their family members; and self-advocacy study groups for teens and adults on the spectrum with their advocacy partners.

Catherine Faherty’s book; “Communication What Does It Mean To Me?”

Catherine Faherty has written manuals used in TEACCH trainings, was instrumental in the development of several teacher training models since 1991, and is the author of the books: Asperger’s…What Does It Mean To Me? (Future Horizons, 2000) translated into nine languages - now updated in a second edition published in 2014 Autism...What Does It Mean To Me?. Her book Understanding Death and Illness and What They Teach About Life (Future Horizons, 2009) which was named the Autism Society of America’s 2009 Outstanding Literary Work; and handbook Communication: What Does It Mean To Me? (Future Horizons, 2010). 

Catherine Faherty is a TEACCH Certified Advanced Consultant, and is a member of Carol Gray's Team Social StoriesTM, one of a select group of professionals world-wide, authorized by Carol Gray to provide training to parents and professionals in the art and science of writing and using Social Stories.

Catherine Faherty on TV in Crete

Catherine provides and consults extensively throughout the United States and abroad. She has worked in Canada, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Kuwait, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, and Singapore. 

Catherine is a Greek-American whose father emigrated from southern Greece near ancient Olympia; her mother's parents fled Asia Minor (the Aegean coast of Turkey) in the early 1990's during the lead-up to the Asia Minor Catastrophe. Growing up with a strong Greek heritage, Catherine spearheaded the Greek Autism Project (1995-2006) to raise funds to translate some of the first books on autism into Greek at that time, and to support Greek professionals with autism training. Proceeds from the Greek translations of Catherine Faherty's books are to be donated to non-profit autism organizations in Greece. She offers free public lectures in Greece, which have been supported by various local organizations in Athens, Thessaloniki, and in Crete.

Catherine is a sought-after mentor to professionals new to autism, and to those at any stage in their career who wish to deepen their knowledge and practice with their students or clients on the autism spectrum. She mentors professionals around the world, via online technology. Interested professionals are welcome and happily invited to contact her about mentoring.

To inquire about Catherine Faherty's services, catherine@catherinefaherty.com.

© Catherine Faherty 2012-2015