Darla is the heart and soul of the American Autism and Rehabilitation Center. A Registered Nurse by education, she started HemaCare Plus, a specialty pharmacy, out of a deep desire to provide superb care and resources to the bleeding disorder community. After her grandson was diagnosed with autism, and finding very few resources in the community to assist him, she learned first-hand how difficult the road can be for special-needs families. Watching her grandson and daughter struggle, her vision grew beyond her bleeding disorder patients, as she felt a calling to open the American Autism & Rehabilitation Center
Her passion for every child with a disability runs deep. Her goal is to see every child or adult with special needs grow into happy, healthy, well-educated, self-sufficient and productive citizens of society. If you happen to see her, you will get a glimpse of the passion she has for her patients, the children, and families at the center. Darla will be quick to tell you that, “Staffing highly educated, extremely passionate, extraordinary directors of every department, and then entrusting them to hire and train support staff to carry out the mission, has allowed the center to thrive in astonishing ways. The success and positivity verbalized by hundreds of families, is directly related to the compassion and extraordinary staff that we have. They truly connect with these precious children. They are incredible.”
Partnering with Kevin and Troy, she continually works hard and with great passion, to provide hope and change for the special needs community.
As head of the Therapy Department, Julie leads her team of therapists by example with a passion for functionally helping patients. She graduated with her Masters from the University of South Alabama in 2008. Her experience in pediatrics has included both inpatient and outpatient settings, including NICU, behavioral health, sensory and feeding. She is thankful for a career that has allowed her to help many children and their families and is certified in some of the most cutting-edge modalities to treatment including iLs (advanced practitioner), Interactive Metronome, the SOS Approach to Feeding, Talk Tools, the DIR® approach to pediatric feeding, SIPT, ADOS Testing, and Craniosacral therapy. Julie has also completed a level 1 mentorship program with Lucy Jane Miller at the STAR Center in Denver, Colorado and has served as an adjunct professor for the Occupational Therapy department at the University of South Alabama. She is an active member of the Alabama Occupational Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association.
While not at work, Julie usually can be found on a yoga mat, an outdoor adventure, or traveling with her husband Kevin. She loves spending time with family, reading, volunteering in the special-needs ministry SOAR at 3 Circle Church and spoiling her dogs. She is a huge proponent of animal-assisted therapy and has trained her golden doodle, Louie, to work at the clinic as a therapy dog and participate in animal-assisted activities with clients and families.
Meet is our dedicated Co-Founder and Vice President, who also serves as our Director of Marketing. With a steadfast commitment to our mission, Kevin ensures that our center’s marketing messages resonate with medical professionals, insurance payers, patients, and their families within the special needs community. His primary goal is to ensure that every patient has unfettered access to the unique care and education offered by the American Autism and Rehabilitation Center, empowering them to lead more enriching and satisfying lives.
Kevin’s journey has been defined by his unwavering connection to individuals with diverse needs. He has spent most of his life working alongside patients with bleeding disorders and several years immersed in the world of special needs, igniting a profound passion for each and every person he encounters.
Beyond his professional dedication, Kevin finds solace and joy in his personal life. He relishes precious moments spent with his beloved wife and son, embarking on exciting outdoor adventures together. An avid adventurer, Kevin thrives in activities like scuba diving, hiking, hunting, fishing, and exploring new destinations. Furthermore, he channels his compassion and energy into ministry, showcasing his unwavering commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of others.
Kevin’s multifaceted interests and profound empathy are the driving forces behind his contributions to our center and the broader community.
Markus graduated with his Masters degree from Murray State University in clinical psychology in 2008 and began his career working in the field of psychotherapy and diagnostic testing, primarily with children and teenagers. He then finished his applied behavior analysis coursework through Florida Institute of Technology in 2013. After this time, Markus has worked as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in several capacities. This includes working with adults with intellectual disabilities in residential facilities, provided behavioral supports for individuals from a variety of backgrounds, and work with children in the home and clinic settings providing ABA treatment. Markus has held ABA management positions since 2016 and he looks forward to continuing this work with the families and staff of American Autism and Rehabilitation Center.
Troy Dyess is currently the Director of IT for AARC, managing and overseeing the technology needs of every department. Troy has a background in emergency services, having joined Spanish Fort Fire Rescue Department in 1994. Serving as an officer within the Department since 1996, he served as Assistant Chief from 2001 until his promotion to Deputy Chief in 2014. Troy has served on the Board of Directors of Spanish Fort Fire Rescue since 1997 and held the position of Board Treasurer since 1998. Troy serves as the Secretary of the Baldwin County Fire Chiefs’ Association. In addition to time in service at Spanish Fort Fire Rescue, Troy is currently a Deputy Coroner for Baldwin County and serves as the District One Director for the Alabama Coroners’ Association. Troy has also worked with local ambulance companies, including Medstar as an EMT. Troy has 16 years of experience in the finance industry where he spent the last eight of those years as the Chief Operating Officer of a locally owned bank. At the core of every position he has held, Troy truly loves helping people.
While he is not busy with his professional duties, Troy enjoys spending time with his wife Amy. He loves the beach, being on the water, fishing, traveling and volunteering with emergency services.
Laney Thompson graduated from Mississippi State University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Educational Psychology. Before pursuing a master’s degree, she worked as a speech-language pathology assistant servicing adults and children in North Alabama. She attended graduate school at Jackson State University and received a Master of Science in Communicative Disorders in Speech-Language Pathology in 2021. She has worked with clients across the lifespan in a variety of settings, such as inpatient and outpatient facilities, private practices, and school systems. Her experience includes planning and implementing treatment for clients of all ages with deficits in speech and/or language, swallowing disorders, hearing loss, and voice and fluency disorders. In addition, her experience includes treating children with varying disabilities such as, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy. Her goal is to provide quality speech-language and feeding therapy to enhance overall communication skills and meet the needs of both patient and family.
During her free time, she likes to snuggle with her dog, Spud. She also enjoys spending time with her family and playing games with her niece and nephew.
Patricia has been with us since May of 2018. She graduated from the University of Montevallo with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2015 and a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology in 2017. She has worked with both children and adults in acute care, inpatient, and outpatient settings. Her experience includes working with early language intervention, school-aged language intervention, swallowing disorders, and Alternative Communication devices. Patricia has specialized training in the diagnosis of swallowing disorders and extensive background in communication devices (allowing non-verbal children the chance to have a voice) and adapting those devices to meet any visual and access method needs. She enjoys fostering speech and language skills in a child-led environment, and loves helping children who have complex communication needs find a way to voice their wants, needs, and opinions! Her joy comes from watching her parents’ and kids’ faces light up when they recognize they can communicate with those around them.
When not at work, Patricia enjoys spending time with her three kids, Ella, Joey, and Daisy and her husband, Brian. They can be found on any given Saturday watching movies, walking trails, fishing, or watching football.
Wendy Moorman, B.S., Business Administration, is AARC’s Director of Operations providing daily operational oversight of staff and patient services. She received certification in Occupational Health Practice Management from the N.A.O.H.P. and has served as the Director of Occupational Health Services at Wilson Memorial Hospital in Sidney, OH where she maintained a staff of over 30 and worked with area business and industry clients to meet the health and safety needs of their employees. Wendy also performed as the Human Resources Generalist II, responsible for Hiring and Benefits at Council on Rural Services in Piqua, OH. In this role, Wendy served an employee population of over 400 staff that provided Head Start, Early Head Start and private daycare services in a seven-county area. Throughout her career, Wendy has served as the president of the Shelby County Ohio Women in Networking, the Advisory Board for the Shelby County Ohio Safety Council and is an associate member of Shelby County Charity League whose main objective is to provide clothing and Christmas gifts to the less fortunate children in Shelby County through annual fundraising initiatives. Most recently, Wendy was the owner and sole proprietor of a home-based e-commerce company before moving to Alabama and joining AARC in spring of 2021.
Wendy lives in Daphne with her husband, Sean. They have 4 adult children and one grandchild. When not working, Wendy enjoys going to the beach, cooking, spending time with friends and traveling to Ohio as often as possible to see family and friends.
Emma graduated with a bachelor’s degree of psychology with a minor in Spanish language from Auburn University in 2019, focusing on human behavior. Emma completed a master’s degree of education in Special Education (K-8th) with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis from Vanderbilt University in 2021. At Vanderbilt, Emma had a curriculum concentration in high incidence disabilities and emotional/behavioral disorders. Emma has experience working with children 18 months-18 years old with autism spectrum disorder, emotional/behavioral disorders, and other developmental disabilities in the school, home, and clinic settings. Emma has worked as a behavior technician with clients, trained and supervised behavior technicians, conducted behavioral assessments, provided ABA training to parents, teachers, and caregivers, collaborated with other healthcare providers, and provided behavioral supports to individuals with a variety of backgrounds since beginning her career in June 2021. Emma began working at the center in January 2023 and looks forward to continuing her career in ABA with families and staff at American Autism and Rehabilitation Center.
Gabby is a graduate of the University of South Alabama, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Professional Health Sciences (2014) and her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy (2015). She has been working as a pediatric OT since 2016, but she developed her love for working with special needs children and their families as a teenager volunteering with the Special Olympics in her hometown of Gautier, MS. Gabby has experience with a variety of therapeutic approaches, including the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, Get Set for School, SOS approach to feeding, and vision rehabilitation, and is always looking to learn new techniques to better serve her patients and their families. Gabby’s philosophy as a pediatric OT is that by helping children develop meaningful relationships and creative thinking skills, their growth and independence can be fostered. Gabby is passionate about leading with a servant’s heart and is dedicated to advocating for an accepting and inclusive world for individuals with different abilities and special needs.
When she is not at work, Gabby enjoys traveling on road trips with her husband, Gabe, and being a dog-mom to her rescue dog, Joey. She is eagerly anticipating the arrival of their first child, John William, this summer! She considers football season her other true love, and she spends her Saturdays and Sundays cheering on the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the New Orleans Saints.