Founder and Executive Director: Karen Kaye-Beall
The Foundation for Autism Support and Training was conceived and developed by Karen Kaye-Beall, a professional consultant in the autism field and a mother of two adolescents with autism. As a licensed marriage, family and child therapist, hoping to address the diverse needs of children with autism and their parents, Ms. Kaye-Beall founded the Center for Autism Training and Support (CAST) in 2001, which now provides a range of services that employ the evidence-based, credible approaches and techniques that Ms. Kaye-Beall recommends to her clients and provides for her own children. CAST is located in Maryland and serves approximately 30 children and teens with autism. CAST’s staff of approximately 45 employees receives on-going training in various aspects of the treatment and management of individuals with autism.
Through the years, Ms. Kaye-Beall also realized that the majority of adults and children with autism have seldom been appropriately supported with augmentative and alternative means of communication, even though the ability to function well in life hinges on the ability to communicate choices, wants and needs. Augmentative communication improves overall communication skills, self-concept and self esteem, provides motivation, reduces frustration and behavior problems, increases participation in daily life, facilitates education by making learning interactive instead of passive, and changes expectations of others in relation to the potential of persons with autism. In 2007, Kaye-Beall also founded the Autism Speech, Communication and Reading Center (SCRC) to help parents access resources that might increase their children’s functional communication abilities and reading skills. SCRC provides techniques in functional speech and language development as well as assessments and consultations for using augmentative communication devices with young children, adolescents and adults.
As Ms. Kaye-Beall’s own children have grown older, she and husband Tom have become increasingly aware of the issues and challenges that shape and define their future as adults, and the nature and extent of support that adults with autism may require. Of all the practical issues surrounding the growing adult populations with autism, the need for quality residential options seemed most pressing and least addressed. Thus, Karen and Tom Beall organized and incorporated FAST to meet the residential placement (and other) needs of this population, both locally and ultimately nationally.
The Foundation for Autism Support and Training (FAST) is the organization that Karen Kaye-Beall and her husband Tom Beall have founded to both continue and elaborate on her professional and parental interests in addressing these issues.