In 2010, Valerie decided to fulfill a desire and studied to become a pastry chef. She trained for two years, with Chef Joseph Scarmuzzi. Upon completion of her baking and pastry studies, she completed the Chocolatier Certification from Ecole Chocolat. During the time that Valerie was practicing her new skills, her son, Blake, an adult with autism, became extremely interested in the pastry and chocolate world as well. In 2013, after Blake had graduated from high school, Valerie and Blake started The Chocolate Spectrum, an artisan chocolate company. In 2014, she introduced The Chocolate Spectrum Chocolatier Training Program in order to include other adults with developmental disabilities. Today they have eight Chocolatiers, some of which are gainfully employed by the company. They make delicious chocolate for all occasions.
Valerie has been a speech and language pathologist for over 38 years. She was the founder of Dimensions Therapy Center. She was the recipient of the Stevie Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 for her work with autistic and special needs children and then, in 2015, she won the Stevie For Female Innovator of the Year for her work with adults. She is the author of Autism and Computers: Maximizing Independence Through Technology and Always Leave Them Laughing, which is a fiction-based book that deals with the subject of autism and what will happen when 1 out 67 individuals are adults with autism. She has lectured all over the world on this subject of technology and computers. Presently, Valerie is an adjunct professor at Nova Southeastern University, where she teaches and directs the autism courses for the Department of Speech-Language Pathology. Valerie is also the mother of a 24 year old son with autism. She is also the President of the National Autism Registry, on the Advisory Board for the US Autism and Asperger Association, and is the President of the Florida Association for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists.
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