Dr. Francesca degli Espinosa started working as a tutor for a little girl with autism in 1996. She was a first-year psychology student and knew virtually nothing about Applied Behaviour Analysis, teaching or disability, but fell in love with all three: ABA, teaching and children with autism. Over the past 20 years she has taught hundreds of children, and in the past ten years, hundreds of master students seeking certification as behaviour analysts around the world: UK, US, France and Italy, her home country.
One of the greatest challenges that families faced over twenty years ago was securing funding to ensure their children received what was considered, even back then, the most effective educational intervention for autism, as indicated by published scientific research.
Evidence in support of Early Intensive ABA intervention has continued to grow since then, to the point that today most US states mandate that insurance companies provide it to all young children with autism through certified behaviour analysts. Unfortunately, despite the increasing evidence, UK families today face the same challenge they did back in the 90s, they often have to fight to secure evidence-based ABA education for their children through lengthy negotiations with the local authorities and when unsuccessful, are forced to finance themselves what should be a fundamental right of every child with a disability: the right to effective treatment.
Francesca believes that The Playhouse Foundation represents a beacon of hope for those families who do not have the means to offer their children the only chance they may have to learn vital skills to function as effective members of their social community: to be able to communicate their choices, to look after their own personal needs, to understand language and to learn to manage their own behaviour. Through its tireless efforts and successful results, The Playhouse Foundation has shown that collaboration with local authorities and families is possible, when all involved share one common goal: the improvement of human life.
It is with great enthusiasm and humility that Francesca accepts the role of Ambassador of The Playhouse Foundation as she believes it to be both an honour and a privilege to be part of such an incredible initiative.