"Interests and talents can turn into careers. Developing and nurturing these unique abilities can make life more fulfilling for a person with Autism."
Dr. Temple Grandin
TACT was founded in 2016 by parents very much like many of you reading this -- parents inspired by both the strengths and challenges unique to their child.
In 2009, Claire and Danny were blessed with a beautiful son. The first few years his progress was “on track,” however around the age of three they began noticing his speech was behind, he was toe walking and few other “differences.” They visited a few doctors and he started speech and occupational therapy to work on his sensory developments. Fast forward to 2015: Their son is in the first grade and growing into a remarkable young man. He's becoming an extremely creative and innovative thinker, however, there are clearly some continued difficulties. After years of working with doctors and teachers he is placed on the Autism Spectrum. He’s not alone. In 2014 the CDC reported that 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 168 girls) are diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum.
As parents, Danny and Claire started looking into programs to build upon their son’s strengths to help him build confidence and social and emotional awareness. They couldn’t find anything outside of the doctor’s office. So, they began developing T.A.C.T.
Danny Combs has been teaching for over a decade. He started his career working in the music industry in Nashville, TN. There he worked with platinum album selling Grammy and Oscar winning recording artists. However, he had a passion for education. He decided to leave the music industry to start teaching private lessons and inner-city high school students. He won several awards, including a Grammy Enterprise Award for his program in Nashville and became a published educational author, arranger and songwriter. In 2013, he moved with his amazing family to Denver, CO. He has a Master’s degree in Teaching Music and Bachelor’s degree in Guitar. He is a fourth generation wood worker and mechanical tinkerer. In 2015, after his son, Dylan, was diagnosed with Autism he began putting together the idea of T.A.C.T.
Claire Combs grew up in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, NC. Her family is one of educators, artists and engineers. This inspired to her get her Bachelor’s degree in business and art at Wheaton College in Illinois. After college, she worked in Nashville doing graphic design and marketing with one of the pioneers of the wellness movement and online health coaching. When Dylan was born she became a full time mother and crafter. She has been a fan of fiber arts for most of her life and enjoys a variety of crafts including knitting, quilting, crocheting and sewing. She is the mother of two amazing children, Dylan and Ellie.
Becky Mershon is a Colorado native, mother of three and Registered Nurse. She became interested in TACT the moment she heard about it. Her oldest son is on the spectrum and like many parents of children with special needs she had researched and tried a lot of different programs/therapies to help him thrive. She finds the vision of TACT so inspiring that she could not wait to find out more about it. She loves that this program aims to instill a true sense of pride, accomplishment and practical skills in our children. Focusing on what is possible for our kids and not solely on the struggles they face is empowering and therapeutic.
Kerry McCowen is a Texas native with a rural background who moved to Colorado in 1976 where he has been employed in the energy business for 43 years. Mr. McCowen originally served as a volunteer for TACT, teaching in the automotive section of the organization. His grandson is on the spectrum and resides with Mr. McCowen and his wife Deb. Having a full time child with special needs has driven him to perform much research on the disorder in order to understand and help his grandson improve. He was introduced to Danny and Claire Combs at a TACT meeting early on where he was able to interact with Temple Grandin and volunteered to help immediately. Mr. McCowen holds two Bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Management from the University of Phoenix as well as serving in and holding the title of District Engineer in the energy business. He has been a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers for 35 years. His focus is on helping all children on the spectrum to learn skills that will serve them for a lifetime. He is a father of two and Grandfather to his buddy Kyle.
Michelle Rice is originally from Macksburg, Iowa and now calls Colorado home after 30 years yet continues to hold those midwest ties close to her heart. When Michelle and her husband Stan were introduced to the wisdom behind T.A.C.T., it was an indescribable moment; like minded thinkers who align fully with her family’s core beliefs! As a mother of two teenage boys on the spectrum, she is strongly focused on advocacy, independence, employability, and continuous progression on their individual spectrums. Michelle has been working in Special Education for about nine years, with most of that time spent at the secondary level. Previous to working in the schools, Michelle was employed as a certified EDDA in a pediatric dental practice serving children and teens presenting with various needs. Continuing education is a passion that has helped her learn how to support varying characteristics of the Autism Spectrum. Michelle has taken the Registered Behavior Technician course, attends conferences yearly such as PEP, Peak 2 Peak, and Courage to Risk which offer strategies for executive functioning, behavioral approaches, and scaffolding curriculum. Both of Michelle’s sons participate in sports programs through Special Olympics Colorado and the NSCD. Colton is a Junior and enjoys basketball, soccer, and flag football through the Special Olympics Unified Schools program and has lettered in all three sports. Mason is a Freshman and enjoys weekly rock climbing and kayaking through the NSCD. She believes that T.A.C.T. is a posture-changing doorway into an inclusive world.
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