Dr Mitzi Waltz: Autism consultant, trainer, author and researcher
I provide services as an autism researcher, trainer and consultant, expert witness, and freelance writer and editor from my base in the Netherlands, throughout the EU and the UK.
I am available as an autism and disability consultant, considering issues at the individual, service or policy level in a variety of areas, including housing, education and social care.
I have acted as an expert witness in several civil and criminal cases in reference to autism or other disabilities. This work has included:
- determining how autism or a related condition may impact an individual’s behaviour, understanding, capacity for consent, or decision-making ability
- evaluating staff training and working procedures, particularly those that may have contributed to avoidable staff or student/service user injury
- evaluating education, support and care plans
- advising courts and law firms on working supportively with witnesses, victims and defendants on the autism spectrum
I have testified in UK Crown Court, and can provide references upon request.
I am also a frequent conference speaker, and available for bespoke staff training sessions.
I have developed and provided training programmes for schools and services, ranging from the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) Level 3 training programme for education staff working in autism to Masters-level courses. I have co-authored national training resources for school staff in England.
Hello, Dr. Waltz,
I am a speech-language pathologist in the U.S. and I am writing a grant proposal which will allow me to visit Amsterdam this summer. The focus of my visit is to observe how children with autism receive services and I’m planning to visit the Centre de Hartenberg to learn more about the use of Snoezelen rooms with students with autism. Do you have any thoughts on whom I might contact to visit places that serve children with autism in this way? I came across your article that mentioned Ark Stichting as a day center for children with autism. I would also consider schools, etc. if there are opportunities available. Any feedback would be most appreciated. Thank you for your time and consideration. Kerry Rice
Stichting Ark caters for children who are denied a school place (of whom there SHOULD be fewer and fewer since last year). I would certainly recommend getting in touch. You should contact the Dr Leo Kannerhuis, which is a national centre and can can give you some pointers about people to contact in the Amsterdam area (http://www.leokannerhuis.nl/)–their main office is not located in Amsterdam but they have a polyclinic here (http://www.leokannerhuis.nl/cli%C3%ABnten/aanbod-amsterdam/algemeen) that offers some services. Other services may be provided by ambulant care providers at home, or at school–schools are locally administrated but specialist services are regional, so get in touch with the Amsterdam education department ands the regional centre (links here: https://www.amsterdam.nl/onderwijs-jeugd/speciaal-onderwijs/). The NVA is the largest national organisation for parents of autistic children (analogous to the ASA in the US) and is also a good place to get started: http://www.autisme.nl/
Good luck with your project!
I heard about your book on Pervasive Developmental Disorders. I am a adult almost a senior citizen. Is your book only on kids with this problem. Have you any resources for me. I have had many misdiagnosis but a talented doctor reassessed me and this makes sense. Still it is hard.
Dear Kristi: I’m sorry that I missed your post, I had not checked my messages via WordPress for a long time! My book is geared towards parents of children/teens. I would look for books for adult women with autism spectrum disorders or Asperger syndrome – I think you will find much there that resonates with your life experiences! The most important thing is to accept your limitations (we all have some) but celebrate and build on your strengths. This may be detail-orientation and focus but may be creativity–your diagnosis can help to explain some things but you are more than a diagnosis 😉 I quite like Sarah Hendrickx’s work, amongst other authors. Best of luck–it’s never too late to get to know yourself better and have a happier life.
How can I help? How is autism education in Amsterdam?
I am a parent, my son is 14 and a special education teacher specialized in autism too. Would like to work with parents to educate on behavior management techniques in different environments.
Any way I can help, especially in summer I would be honored.
489 738 0264
Inclusive education is still in its infancy here, but it is quite hard to get permission to work in the Netherlands unless you are fluent in Dutch–you can apply for posts online, but they look for a specific degree form that is only offered in the Netherlands and Germany. The only option for an overseas teacher relocating here is either to retrain, having first completed a full Dutch course and passed the national NT2 language exam, or to seek work in an international (English-language) school–most of which do not accept children with significant special needs. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!
Hi Dr Waltz
I have seen a lot of your work and I wondered how I may be able to assist with working in Netherlands to educate and promote inclusive education and societal awareness. I have visited Amsterdam numerous times however in my last trip I took my autistic daughter who was unfortunately mistreated because her disability is hidden and not visible. I can not express my feelings. Nonetheless I know Amsterdam is a lovey place however I wanted to know what areas of work or titles of jobs I should be searching for to promote inclusion for hidden disabilities.
I hope to hear from you directly via my email.
If you are an EU resident, there may be some opportunities in the Amsterdam area related to the ‘passend onderwijs’ initiative, which seeks to make Dutch schools more inclusive. This is a bit of an uphill battle: updates on progress can be found here: https://www.passendonderwijs.nl/ and elsewhere. There has certainly been a growth in the need for specialist teaching assistants and educators as a result, although the segregated Dutch education system is quite resistent to change.
There are somewhat fewer paid opportunities in community-based work, and these typically require specific qualifications e.g. a Dutch degree in sociaal werk/Sociaal Pedagogische Hulpverlening, jeugdbescherming (child protection). There are some policy posts now and then with national organisations such as the NVA.
best of luck with your efforts,
dr Mitzi Waltz
Thank you for response in this matter. I will definitely look into the advice you have given. I am translating the link to English as it’s in Dutch. I am in the UK. I intend to learn Dutch. I have heard i Amy face obstacles due to most jobs requiring fluency in Dutch! I am happy to live anywhere in the Netherlands to make a difference ..Thanks again for your advice.
Dear Dr. Waltz,
I am currently studying Sport Studies at the Hanze University in Groningen, Netherlands and I am doing a research involving the prevalence of patients suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder. I would like to know if the number of patients suffering from ASD in your clinic is increasing or decreasing over the past few years.
I would appreciate any given information related to this matter. Thank you!
First, I’m not a clinician, I’m a researcher. Also, please be careful with your language use around autism: ‘suffering from ASD’ is a usage that people with autism generally would not appreciate 😉
There is no evidence for an increase in incidence of autism, but increased prevalance in a clinical population should currently be expected due to improved diagnosis (including newly diagnosed adults whose autism was not recognised in childhood) and, hopefully, increased life expectancy due to deinstitutionalisation. That said, there are still major issues with health disparities and inequalities for people with autism–although autism should have no impact on life expectancy, there is a large and measurable problem, presumably due to lack of treatment for non-related medical problems, poor institutional care, poor community care, abuse/neglect, and suicide due to depression (which often relates to the other factors mentioned). Those working in clinical practice need to be aware of these issues, and may need to make adjustments to clinical practice to address them–for example, considering how they communicate with and provide information and therapeutic services to people with autism. The recent Westminster Autism Commissoin report, which draws on research from the UK and Sweden, is a useful starting point: https://westminsterautismcommission.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/ar1011_ncg-autism-report-july-2016.pdf
I hope this reply is helpful–please feel free to contact me again if you have questions.
dr Mitzi Waltz
Dear Dr. Waltz,
I am in the Washington, DC area, a lawyer who has spent my career largely focused on public policy and programs in disabilities. And I am a mother of a young adult with autism spectrum disorder who increasingly needs my support as he struggles with semi-independence and reaching his potential. His father and I disagree strongly – his father sadly focuses on his limited and co-occurring mental health issues as his primary challenge, and thus has spent his lifetime searching for the perfect medication that will “fix” our son. We have been divorced since he was 5.
I read your article about Mothers and Autism: The Evolution of a Discourse off Blame and it resonated so strongly. I find myself at a crossroads in my career – no longer willing or able to make “excuses” for the time I must have away to ensure my son has what he needs and is integrated in the community – and not institutionalized as his father would prefer and continues to attempt.
I have to believe there are other parents, most often mothers, struggling with similar issues – it is the opposite of mothers of neurotypical children. We mothers of neurodiverse children, I think often, find our children need us even more as they get older – and the pressure to help them achieve their potential increases as we envision when we will be gone. Instead of having the freedom to pursue our professions in a more focused and successful way when our children are in their early twenties and older, our children often need us more. At times it seems like a backwards progression to neurotypical families.
Yet the myths of being super mom, and the heroine, and person to blame when something goes wrong – they all persist. I am not a researcher but I have a lot of professional experience and the credentials of a mom – do you have any suggestions for qualitative research that might shed light on the challenges for professional moms as their children get older. I plan on interviewing moms, but from your perspective, is this an area that is missing and could help public discourse and awareness? I think we all tend to isolate – still – and think we can handle it all until one day we simply can’t.
I think one of the reasons that so many mothers (and fathers) of adults with autism find themselves in this position is that, unlike parents of other children with disabilities, we are constantly sold the belief that our children can (and should) be ‘fixed’. Far too much time is spent in that pursuit, rather than in planning and organizing for their adult future. So while parents of young people with Down syndrome or cerebral palsy are often already making plans for their child to have an independent adult life by the time they are 12 or 13, we are still focused on fighting the school system, trying yet another diet or pill. Many of the services and supports for disabled adults are little-known in our community, and many states have cut the budgets for these, while we were looking elsewhere. We tend to organize in the autism world rather than in common cause with disabled people, and so existing services may exclude people with autism or be inappropriate for them.
an you pl send me the complete reference of your publication
Waltz, Mitzi. (2019). Metaphors of Autism, and Autism as Metaphor: An Exploration of Representation.
I would be very grateful, as want to include in a paper.
This was a 2014 conference paper, from the Making Sense Of… series, held at Oxford. Not sure how best to reference it but I have uploaded the full text to academia.edu I think
Dear Dr. Waltz,
My nephew is 11 years old. He was diagnosed autistic when he was 2-3 years old. He attends a day school for autistic children in North London.
On the whole, he is calm at school and in his interactions with others. However, with his parents, both separately or together, he is violent and badly behaved (head banging, melt downs, bad language etc). I think his parents are at breaking point as all their efforts to help him do not seem to work.
Given this limited information, do you have any idea why his behaviour might be so different in the company of his parents vs other adults?
Do you have any ideas on how they can help improve his behaviour?
Meltdowns at home after things hold together all day at school are, unfortunately for parents, very common. The cause will depend very much on the child, the school and the family, but possibilities include (and there might be more than one right answer…):
1. School is very structured and he always knows what to expect there, but home is not (whose home is?)
2. He’s working extremely hard to manage his behaviour at school and when he comes at home all that stress is released – unfortunately, in the form of challenging behaviour.
3. He may be picking up on verbal or behavioural messages from his parents that he finds unsettling. That doesn’t mean they are doing something ‘wrong,’ just that perhaps there is something happening between them, or between child and parent – roles, expectations, etc. – that he finds really hard to understand or manage.
4. There may be a major difference between the sensory environment at school and at home.
5. He may have stress-management strategies available to him at school that are not available at home.
I would recommend talking to school about the issue, and for the parents to spend a day or two observing at school (preferably in a way where he is not aware of their presence, because he might find it very strange for his parents to be in the school environment) and then discuss what the differences are between the two environments, the management styles of staff and parents, the expectations etc.
There is another possibility, of course… that the reports that parents are receiving from school are not completely accurate.
Best of luck,
Thank you so much for your quick reply. I will pass on your comments to his parents.
Dear Dr. Waltz,
I am from India and planning to move to the Netherlands by this month end (July 2021) with my family to complete some assignments related to my job. It will be 2-3 yrs stay.
My daughter is 3yrs and 7 months old. At the time of birth she was diagnosed with Congenital rubella syndrome and because of this she has some issues and development delay –
– moderate hearing loss (by birth) in both the ears and that’s why wearing hearing aids
– language, speech and development delay because of this
– have some sensory issues as well
I am a bit worried whether near Amsterdam area we get any therapist (OT and speech) or any play schools for special need child as English as primary language?
I got to know that in Netherlands there are schools for special need children but these schools use Dutch language only.
Do you have any idea to whom we can connect or any organisation where we can check?
I am afraid if this decision of relocation to Netherlands will be in favour of my daughter or not.
Dear Nitin: Health insurance is mandatory here and should cover OT and speech – your GP will need to examine her and make a referral. It is a good idea therefore to bring a copy of her medical records. I would advise talking to the insurance company in advance to see if the basic insurance (basispakket) will be sufficient or if you might need to pay a small extra premium. You have a choice of several health insurance companies – the basispakket cost is the same for all.
In addition to that, as you are legal residents she (and you as parents) should be eligible for additional help through the city – this is called a personal budget (persoonsgebonden budget- PGB) and can be used to cover things that health insurance does not.
There is good day care provision in the Netherlands but finding English-language provision is a bit harder. Although she is too young for school now, you might want to contact Amsterdam International Community School, which is a partly city-funded private school for English-speaking children. I think they start at age 5 but it could be age 4… They do take children with special needs but as with any school or is important to advocate for your child – make sure an individual education plan is created and followed. They will also know a lot about childcare and play opportunities that other parents who have relocated from abroad use. There are also the British American School in Amsterdam, another English-language private school in Amstelveen (close-in suburb) that is especially popular with families from India, and 2 English-language schools in nearby Haarlem. Please feel free to contact me again when you arrive. I can refer you to (Dutch) organisations for parents and children with disabilities who can give you more personal advice and support.
Best of luck with your move. This is a great country for young kids, lots of parks, playgrounds and family activities. It’s important to learn some Dutch but most Dutch people speak some English, often quite well.
Thank you so much for your quick response. Definitely feeling better now and more confident for this relocation. I will definitely reach out to you once I will be there.