Demetra Hajidiacos M.Ed., B.Ed., B.A. Hons

Education Consultant & Co-Founder

Demetra has a Master's Degree in Education (Curriculum, Teaching and Learning) and a passion for helping children, families and institutions navigate the world of autism.  She provides support in a broad range of topics including educational planning or IEPs for students; she also assists with care plans for newly immigrated families, and funding applications for students (Level 2 or 3).  All students entering Autism Learning Centre are given a complimentary consultation from Demetra and she directs families to the appropriate professional on our team.  In addition to having 20 years of experience as a classroom teacher, Demetra has attended training sessions in ABA (through St. Amant), DIRFloortime (through Autism Outreach) and Relationship Development Intervention (RDI).  In 2008 she completed a one-week course in RDI that was held in Glassboro, New Jersey.  In addition, she is also a certified Early Childhood Montessori Teacher (NAMC).  As an educator, Demetra borrows from research-based therapy models and uses her understanding of how classroom systems work to prepare her students for greater success at school.  




Leanne Howlett Ph.D. Student (Child Dev.), ASD Cert., B.A. 

Autism Specialist & Co-Founder
Leanne holds a Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders  from the University of North Dakota where she also completed a post-baccalaureate program in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Leanne is a Certified DIRFloortime Provider, working with newly diagnosed children, helping them to engage with others and regulate their emotions.  She also runs several Social Skills groups for children and teens, helping children on the spectrum understand the nuances of conversations, friendship skills and perspective taking.  Leanne is currently working towards completing her Ph.D. in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities at ICDL Graduate School in Maryland, USA.  She holds a Psychology degree from the University of Manitoba and has extensive experience working with children on the autism spectrum including working at St. Amant as an ABA tutor and at OHEYS as a camp leader. In addition, Leanne has worked with individuals in crisis through Klinic Community Health Centre.  Leanne uses her wealth of education and experience in the field of autism to provide clinical support to children and families.   



Naomi Goerz RSLP, MSc., SLP (C), B.A.

Speech-Language Pathologist 


Naomi holds a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology and a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Linguistics and Psychology.  Naomi has a particular interest in treating paediatric speech and language disorders, helping to address the communication challenges facing children with developmental delays.  This includes supporting articulation skills, language development, and social communication.  Naomi's professional philosophy is to provide services through family-centered practice.  She believes in the importance of building strong client-focused relationships, and collaborating with families to determine the best intervention goals and treatment frameworks.  Naomi is currently leading the Social Explorers program, working on social skill development for children in preschool and early elementary school.  She is also now accepting new clients for 1:1 services!  


Marcie Smeltz M.S., B.A. 

Behavioural Consultant 


Autism Learning Centre is the leading private provider of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Therapy in Winnipeg.  Marcie Smeltz began implementing ABA programs in Manitoba in 1999.  In 2001, she was one of the initial therapists who offered services through St. Amant's pilot ABA program.  In 2003, she began working as a consultant in St. Amant's preschool ABA program where she remained until 2014.  Her background includes providing one-on-one instruction, parent and staff training on ABA principles and procedures, and providing program supervision and consultation for families and schools throughout Manitoba.  Marcie earned a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Sociology from Brandon University, Manitoba, in 1998 and received her Master's Degree in ABA from St. Cloud State University, Minnesota in 2010. Marcie has a wealth of experience in the field of autism and strives to meet family's needs with immediate behavioural improvements.  With close to two decades of experience working successfully with families and schools, Marcie is a trusted household name in the field of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) in the autism community.  


Leah Borchers M.A., B.A. Hons

Therapeutic Drama Instructor, I Can Pretend!


Leah is a Drama Therapist and Canadian Certified Counsellor. She received her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Psychology and Theatre from the University of Winnipeg, and earned her Master of Arts in Drama Therapy from Concordia University.  Leah has additional certifications in the methods of Developmental Transformations and the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music. She specializes in Drama Therapy with children and youth, and is passionate about the use of play and creativity for therapeutic purposes.  Leah currently teaches in our therapeutic drama program I Can Pretend! in the public school system and in the adult sector.  She is enthusiastic about working with students of all ages and, in addition to her off-site teaching, is excited about doing some teaching at the centre this upcoming school year! 




Loc Lu

Therapeutic Drama Instructor, I Can Pretend! Education Director


​Loc teaches in our popular therapeutic drama program, I Can Pretend! on Sundays.  I Can Pretend! has a long-standing tradition in Winnipeg of providing affordable, recreational programming to children and teens with autism, building on self-esteem, team skills and social skills through teacher-led imaginative play (younger students) and working with social scripts (older students). I Can Pretend! has graduated hundreds of students over the years and is a first-stop program for families struggling to find affordable recreational programming for their children and teens with autism.  Loc has extensive experience as a theatre instructor and is the current Education Director at Prairie Theatre Exchange (PTE).  He is formally trained in physical theatre technique, mask, clown, film and forum theatre.  Loc has worked with students of all ages and walks of life. He has facilitated workshops and camps for several of Winnipeg's leading arts organizations and programs including MTYP, PTE, Artists in the Schools, Aboriginal Arts Training Program, Green kids, and Monica's Danz Gym.    



Michelle Yaciuk M.M., MTA, MT-BC

Music Therapist, Owner Prelude Music 


Michelle is a certified Music Therapist in both Canada and the United States and has been a practicing music therapist for 10 years.  She received her Masters in Music Therapy from Western Michigan University, and has advanced training in Neurologic Music Therapy and Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit Music Therapy. Michelle and her team specialize in working with children and adolescents with various diagnoses to create a strength based treatment program with therapeutic outcomes.  The goal is for individuals to be respected and their voices heard.  Michelle is an Instructor of Music Therapy at Canadian Mennonite University.  She has been a judge for the Best Children's Album award for the Juno Awards, and she is creator of Melodies & ABCs, an inclusive parent/child music program for children 6 and under.  In 2014, Michelle was awarded the Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Emerging Business. Prelude Music is located at 1700 Corydon Avenue.  For more information and to book a therapy session, please visit Prelude Music Therapy Winnipeg




​Nicola Schaan M.O.T., B.Sc. Hons  

Occupational Therapist O.T. Reg. (MB)


Nicola holds a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and is registered with the College of Occupational Therapists in Manitoba.  She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree with honours. She has worked for a variety of organizations specializing in providing services to children and young adults with developmental disabilities, including Autism Services of Saskatoon, Rehabilitation Centre for Children, and is currently also working as the Occupational Therapist Program Facilitator at Gaining Resources Our Way. Nicola's practice is informed by current evidence-based interventions that explore self-regulation, coping strategies, problem solving, and social skills using models such as Zones of Regulation and Social Thinking. In addition, Nicola is a registered yoga teacher with a focus on mindfulness and trauma informed care. Nicola will be teaching an Independent Living class for young adults and is accepting clients for 1:1 services. 




Angela French B.Ed., B.A. 

Certified Manitoba Teacher, Instructor, Academic Tutor


Angela is a Certified Manitoba Teacher with a Major in History and a Minor in Psychology.  She has experience working with children and adolescents with autism both within the classroom and through summer camps as a camp coordinator and counsellor.  Angela is passionate about supporting students by working one-on-one and building relationships.  Angela follows curriculum in creative and engaging ways and establishes a positive learning environment which promotes healthy social and emotional growth for all students.  Creativity, collaboration, reading comprehension and the development of many more essential literacy skills all play a significant role in securing this environment.  Her mission is to encourage every child she works with to wonder, discover and enjoy learning.  Angela plans to adapt and accommodate for the diverse needs of every young learner by providing them with options on how to showcase their meaningful learning experiences.    





Chelsea Stephenson B.A. Psych.

Academic Tutor, Classroom Assistant


Chelsea is a graduate from the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.  She has volunteered as a classroom assistant in the school system helping with reading and other curricular outcomes.  She has worked in childcare system and has experience implementing appropriate programs for children of all ages.  Chelsea hopes to continue her schooling as she has a strong interest in psychology and child development.  Chelsea tutors students (Grade 1 - 12)  at the centre after school and works on a wide range of academic skills including, reading, writing, math, public speaking and printing. 


Deena Robak

Instructor, Academic Tutor

Deena will be graduating from the University of Winnipeg in spring of 2018 with an Honours Psychology Degree and a Developmental Studies Degree.  Deena is aspiring to be a School Psychologist and she has a strong passion for child development and interacting and engaging with children.  Deena has plenty of experience working with children of all ages in various settings.  She has gained experience from coaching the Special Olympics Active Start Program and doing respite care for children with developmental, intellectual and mental health histories.  In addition, Deena was a case manager for Community Living Disability Services and she worked on the Klinic Community Health Centre Crisis Line and Manitoba Suicide Line.  Deena teaches our School Readiness class for preschool aged children, assists with various programs run at the centre and does Academic Tutoring for children of all ages.