suzanne o'rourke graphic

April is Autism Awareness Month and IMESD is highlighting our Autism Consultants!

Suzanne O’Rourke is an Autism Consultant who has worked for the agency for five years. 

Can you describe your job? I partner with educational teams throughout many school districts to help support students on the spectrum access their education. I provide strategies, resources and training to educate and support teachers, assistants and support staff who work directly with students with autism.

How does your work contribute to student success? Autism can present many challenges to a child’s daily life. I impact children’s lives by providing strategies and tools that educators can use to design a learning environment that best meets students’ needs. Evidence-based strategies and support can help children navigate their environment with more success and can carry beyond their school years into adulthood.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy interacting with children and sharing their successes! I have a unique opportunity to serve students, often over several years, watching their progression and cheering loudly from the sidelines! I enjoy collaborating with district teams, problem solving and using creativity to focus on a student’s individual needs.

I travel long distances (i.e. John Day and Prairie City) and log many miles traveling to rural school districts to serve students. I love my challenging job working with amazing adults and children every day and I have the most beautiful “commute” in the world throughout Eastern Oregon.

What is something people may not know about Autism Spectrum Disorder? Autism does not have to be a disability. ASD traits can contribute to accomplishing great things! Autistic strengths can include focus, expertise, creativity, honesty, attention to detail, tenacity and resilience and many other positive qualities. "I am different, not less." - Temple Grandin