who know ACC
When our son was first diagnosed with Autism, we didn’t know what to do but we found Johanna. I believe finding Johanna was a “god-send” to us. She helped us understand what was going on with our son, helped us navigate his needs with school and most importantly, helped my son understand himself. It is immediately clear that Johanna has a huge heart and every person she helps has a piece of it.
After a couple years of working with Johanna in therapy and participating in her social group, “Tag Team”, our son was doing so well. We were going through a financially strained time so we stopped going for a while. Johanna still kept in touch with us but about 6 months went by without us seeing her.
Through a group email, Johanna referred us to a volunteer tennis program for kids with Autism. Our son likes to play tennis and this was a great opportunity we took advantage of. While driving to the first class, I told our son we might see Johanna. He asked me why we hadn’t seen her in a while. I said, “Well, Johanna costs money sweetheart.” Our son then replied, “I have money mom, I can pay for it. Can we go back to the group?” With tears, I said he wouldn’t have to do that. I’ll work something out with Johanna……and that’s exactly what we did.
Our son won’t even spend his money on a toy he wants. He has been saving his money and just doesn’t want to spend it. Yet, he very quickly offered HIS OWN money to be able to be with Johanna and her wonderful group again. If that isn’t the biggest testament to the positive feelings and outcomes from being with Johanna, I don’t know what is.
Where to start… Our family is quite unique, complex and in all fairness not easily understood. We have three children with special needs and in need of special love and care. We were introduced to Mrs. Banks by an employee at our sons Occupational therapy facility and she has been a Godsend ever since. Johanna has passion and energy and a deep rooted genuine love for her families that literally cannot be expressed through words. She has gone to schools with us and advocated for the best interest of our children and even helped us amend IEP’s. She has called hospitals, DJJ, School faculty and staff and even Insurance carriers and battled for us and the needs of our kids many times. She has also called us randomly, on a Tuesday evening, or a Friday morning just to see how our family was doing or asking for updates. Her professionalism and understanding of the "mental health machine" is vast and precise.
I can't help but imagine that some people will be reading this because they are feeling stuck or feeling helpless knowing they have a child that needs help he/she isn't getting. I imagine some of those same people have spent countless hours on hold or in waiting rooms or at appointments just hoping the next person they talk to will actually help. We have faced all those same challenges over the last decade and more often than not we left feeling defeated and no better off. There are no manuals or pamphlets that guide you through the jungles of the mental health world, but... sometimes, someone comes along that understands your plight and understands the terrain and they help you find the resources you need to make progress. Johanna Banks became exactly that for us. She fought for us and taught us how to fight the fight and even how to win. She helped us understand how our 15 and 12 year old ASD/DDMD children thought and felt and how to work with them better. Under her care and guidance we have made a great amount of progress with them both. It's not a smooth road and there is no easy button, but with the right guide and support you can move forward. I doubt we would ever have gotten our children the help they needed without Johanna by our side. She is a knowledgeable and highly motivated professional with the heart of a lion. If you feel lost or overwhelmed and you need someone on your team to be a beacon in the darkness, she should be your first choice without hesitation.
Jason and Jessica and Family
I want to take this opportunity to share our incredible experience with Johanna Banks. Johanna was and is a Godsend to my family and to my daughter who was diagnosed with autism while she was in college. Being diagnosed in college is stressful in itself, not to mention my daughter was in a very intense and high pressure medical program. She was experiencing major depression and anxiety and needed more specialized and professional help. From the moment I spoke to Johanna I felt an instant connection. She was very concerned and ready to help. Her kind and helpful spirit came through so strongly on our very first phone call, I knew she was a perfect match for my daughter. She immediately made herself available to talk and listen. Her expertise gave my daughter the tools necessary to start the process of coping with school and the ability to pick herself up and get back to a "good" place both mentally and physically...
Over the last year, because of Johanna's ability to walk my daughter through difficult situations, not only did she successfully complete the medical program she was in, but also graduate with honors from college. She went above and beyond by working with the university's disability services office and her professors to ensure there was a proper plan in place. Without Johanna's constant (daily) support and encouragement, none of this would have been possible. She treated my daughter as if she were her own. Johanna is by far the best in her field. She has a special way with young adults. She encourages, supports, and is always available to listen, which I feel is very important for young adults with autism as they grow, develop and make the transition to adulthood. Our family is forever grateful to her for all she has done and continues to do.
We could not have found a better advocate for Abby. Early on, we were concerned about Abby’s behavior, but chalked it up to individual differences between our children. After months of evaluations and therapy through the CDSA, Johanna came and met Abby, listened to our concerns, and made recommendations about further testing given her concern for Abby’s developmental delays. Our concerns were validated as Abby received her diagnosis in December, shortly after her 2nd birthday. We were crushed and felt defeated. Our spirits were broken. Through the ups and downs, Johanna, has listened and encouraged us. Since then, we have seen specialists, therapists and sat through our first IEP meeting. Johanna has been instrumental in Abby’s success. Her recommendations are in the best interest of Abby, while taking the rest of our family into consideration.
In times of desperation, Johanna has simple, intuitive ideas to make our daughter’s daily tasks possible. Our most recent struggles with daily activities were often overwhelming not only to Abby, but the whole family. Johanna was able to talk with us on the phone, listen to our primary concerns, and come prepared with ideas that worked. Abby, like other ASD kids, is standoffish to most folks, but is accepting of Johanna’s approach. She sat with Abby and explained the steps, then walked her though the steps. The change in Abby’s behavior towards dressing and toiling was miraculous. Where others have failed, Johanna succeeded. She was able to gain Abby’s trust and intuitively knew how to connect on her level. The results speak of themselves and last week Johanna celebrated with us as Abby dressed herself from start to finish!
As parents, we struggle with balancing our attention between all three children. Johanna was a sounding board for our perceived shortcomings and provided us with ways to engage each of our children individually. She also explained Autism to our advanced 6 year old, who was often frustrated with her sister’s quirks and attention she demands. Johanna’s words stuck with Audrey. Although sibling rivalry remains, she is able to understand her sister’s condition and thus has increased her capacity for empathy.
Our family could not have found a better advocate for Abby. She will always have a special place in our family. We are excited to continue working with Johanna as Abby’s challenges evolve.
The Faggart Family,
China Grove, NC
Our family has had such an amazing experience working with Johanna! Her guidance and hard work have been vital to both the success of my son and our family.
Our son, age 8, has made huge advancements since we’ve met with her. Johanna was able to accurately identify his challenges, create goals for him, and provide solutions and modifications. His comfort level and confidence have dramatically improved!
As a parent, her knowledge and support is beyond what I imagined. She has helped us, as parents, to have a better understanding of his challenges and the proper supports for his specific needs. We no longer feel overwhelmed, but empowered when advocating for our son.
Johanna is a wealth of knowledge and full of love and dedication. I highly recommend working with her!
Having known Johanna as a colleague for the past several years, I have developed a great deal of respect for her knowledge, her compassion, and her enthusiasm for the people she supports. Her training and experience with schools and mental health systems, as well as her background with the TEACCH program, makes her uniquely qualified to help families navigate the learning and behavioral challenges often posed by developmental disabilities, particularly those associated with autism. Her friendly and optimistic style is a welcome and important addition to any education or treatment team. I will be referring people to her regularly!
Angie Owen-Killar, MA, LPA
Psychological Support Services, PLLC
I have had the extreme pleasure of working with Johanna Banks to support teachers and families in structuring supports for students with autism; in addition to connecting them to community based resources that provide wrap around services that enhance outcomes for students. Johanna’s background as a licensed clinical social worker has provided a well-needed lens into the additional supports necessary and available, while her experience has assisted in providing stakeholders a better understanding of the processes to acquire such supports. Also, her previous work experience through TEACCH has made her an asset to any school system as she has a passion and wealth of knowledge in the area of autism. We worked closely on the district’s Autism Problem Solving Team to provide a variety of services to students, parents, teachers, and administrators to ensure every child has access to a rigorous, engaging curriculum and systems of care that cultivate the potential well being of every student. She was an integral part in the development of parent trainings and teacher make and take sessions; in addition to observing individual students in need and working with classroom teachers to support change.
Parent support, training, and student participation are a cornerstone of Johanna’s work and continuous efforts in meeting the needs of individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorder. Her collaborative nature confirms her belief that education is a shared responsibility of home, school and the community. In this respect, Johanna has provided countless hours modeling and coaching teachers and parents to provide effective and consistent differentiated instruction structures that are supportive of the learning of each individual with autism, along with her creating and maintaining partnerships with outside organizations, support groups, and community agencies to further support the whole child. The classroom management techniques provided help to ensure consistent and appropriate structures and disciplinary actions tailored to each individual student, along with supporting evidence-based social skills strategies/programs to increase adaptive skills.
The array of autism-support services and staff development that Johanna can provide educators and parents help to improve public understanding and support for students with autism, while providing educators a way to better relate to the diverse population of disabilities represented in schools. She is simply amazing!!
Cabarrus County Schools
The VERY BEST find ever was a recommendation from our 19 year old daughter’s psychiatrist. It was Johanna Banks, LCSW . We hired Johanna to coach our daughter who has high functioning autism and ADHD. Our daughter had just started her first semester in college and was struggling socially and academically. She wanted to drop out.
Johanna met with our daughter and us individually to learn our concerns and history. She then began working with our daughter one on one at college and via face time to teach and coach her on independent living skills in school and her personal life. Johanna also communicates with the staff and administration and teaches our daughter to advocate for herself. Johanna’s kind, empathetic personality and counseling and autism training has been the unique quality we have needed to help our daughter get to the next level in adulthood and independent living.
The especially incredible part of this help has been Johanna's ability to coach my husband, me and even our kids by phone and face time. She's been a life saver and it has transformed our relationship with our daughter. I no longer have to be a nag. Johanna works with our daughter which allows us to get out of the way so she can become more independent. We can be parents of a young adult and can walk alongside and love her as she grows. Our daughter is so much more willing to listen and calmly work with us. It's taken years of frustration out of our relationship and we are healing a lot of painful hurts. It's a slow process and after three months of work we are seeing a huge payoff.
We plan to continue with Johanna and we recommend her to any family with an adult son or daughter on the spectrum in school or making the transition to adulthood."
Eastern North Carolina