Marion VanArsdell is an Early Childhood Special Educator who taught for many years in the Integrated Preschools in the public school system in Northampton, Massachusetts. Each year her inclusive classroom served children with and without special needs in a developmental preschool.
She became very interested in the learning challenges faced by young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and took a sabbatical year to study program models that provided specialized support for children with ASD. Working with colleagues, she then created an Intensive Special Needs Preschool that provided a full day program that combined structured teaching in a small group setting in the morning with an integrated preschool experience in the afternoon.
The program became a model and she presented workshops at conferences and professional development days. In 2001 she received an award from the National Education Association Foundation for her work with children with autism and for her role as a resource to other staff in the school system.
Marion has participated in writing workshops and a weekly writing group for many years. During the years of creating the program for children with ASD, she found that the children she taught often appeared in her writing. After her retirement she refined and expanded the stories in order to share the understandings she gained. She is an advocate for combining different teaching approaches to address the individual needs of children on the autism spectrum.
Since her retirement, Marion has served as a Special Education consultant and workshop presenter. She continues to write creative non-fiction and has a middle grade historical fiction manuscript about the Underground Railroad as her next project.
She and her partner Michael Kane are both active in the community of Northampton and enjoy time visiting with two adult sons, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren