Communicating skills for life

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by Michele Nielsen ’99

As a communicative disorders/Spanish double major, Lisa Iland Hilbert ’08 finished her studies at Redlands with a Proudian honors thesis that examined how those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are viewed and treated in Argentina. Lisa, who received her master’s degree in speech and hearing sciences from the University of Washington, speaks frequently at international autism conferences in Mexico and Colombia, presenting in English and Spanish.

Lisa is the owner of Social Bridge, a Seattle company that specializes in helping young adults on the spectrum develop social, job and life skills. Her methods promote the generalization of skills learned in therapy so clients can use them in daily life. “Entrepreneurship was a good route for me,” says Lisa. “At Social Bridge we look at the ecological validity of what we teach, making sure it is relevant to real life. Today, being able to use a Google map may be more important than being able to sew on a button, or iron clothes, which are the life skills commonly found on standard assessments.” Adapting to the needs of the adult autism community, Lisa has developed unique specialties. “I’ve really enjoyed helping LGBTQ individuals on the spectrum at times of transition in their lives, too.” Lisa is involved with austism charities in Seattle, including the Seattle Children’s Autism Center Guild and the Junior League of Seattle.

Lisa also works with communicative disorders students from Redlands through internships. She and Katie Wickersham ’16 had the opportunity this spring to present their current research at the California Speech Language Hearing Association conference. Lisa guest lectured by Skype for professor Cindy Wineinger’s May Term course on autism for graduate students, and recently hosted a Bulldog Summer Send-off in Seattle for incoming college freshmen. “There are so many things young alumni like me can do to work with Redlands students and give back in a meaningful way. I felt honored to stay connected to Redlands by participating in this year’s Hunsaker Scholar selection committee.”

Recently, Lisa visited Guatemala with Global Visionaries, a youth leadership organization, as a chaperone trip leader. Coincidentally, she met fellow Bulldog Kaitlyn Dreissnak ’20, a junior leader on the trip and incoming Redlands student. Lisa and a team of teens worked at a residential hospital in Antigua, and she got to use her professional skills and Spanish to engage with patients, sometimes dancing, singing or using alternative methods of communication.

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