In 1994, Laura Pickard completed a few high school volunteer hours at a respite center in Atlanta, Georgia. It was there that she met and fell in love with two young brothers on the autism spectrum. The following year on an airplane ride, she was seated next to a woman in search of an Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist in the Charleston, South Carolina area. It was then that she decided that special education was the professional path she wanted to pursue.
Twenty years later, Laura has taught in Africa, worked at Stanley Greenspan's Floortime School in New York, taught children with emotional disabilities and developmental delays at various special education schools, and was the school principal at a 12-month nonpublic special education school in Maryland. Through it all, one thing has remained true, her passion for working with individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities. Laura has watched as her student's lives have drastically improved with the development of early intervention programs across the country. She has also observed the school systems become better equipped with supporting children and their families as they progress through their school careers. But Laura has also seen her students complete their education and have little support once they've graduated from high school.
In 2014, Laura enlisted a group of dedicated team members and created Independent Grounds Coffee House, which serves to provide students with the proper skills to seek and maintain employment once they graduate from high school.