[ Gretchen Schmidt Mertes Consulting ]
[ Consulting ]
[ Training ]    [ Assessments ]

I offer a wide range of educational consulting and advocacy services for students in preschool through high school.  My goal is always to keep the child at the center of the conversation, advocating for the child while teaming with both the family and school team.  I work closely with parents and district staff to develop plans and solutions that lead to growth and forward movement.  This can be provided through in-class observation and visits, modeling, brainstorming strategies, creating materials, email consultation, data collection, one-to-one work with the student, and more.  
Please connect with me so we can identify the supports that best meet your needs and goals.
Consultation may include but is not limited to:

IEP Facilitation and Writing Support
As someone who loves the IEP process and has strong relationships with both districts and parents, I am uniquely qualified to help districts write and facilitate compliant and meaningful IEPs.  It is often valuable to have a neutral person present at an IEP meeting and/or help support the team in the writing process. 

Functional Behavior Assessments and Behavior Intervention Plans
Though the main goal of a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and subsequent Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is to identify the reason for a behavior and make a plan to extinguish that behavior, a well written plan focuses on teaching rather than redirecting.  As a member of the team, I bring a lens focused on the deep teaching needed to change a behavior; identifying the lagging skills, and then designing instruction to help the student move forward.

1:1 Social Instruction – School year and/or summer
Using the work of Michelle Garcia Winner, I use Social Thinking® Methodology to teach social learning.  This approach, based on cognitive behavioral therapy, teaches participants to become social observers, in turn helping them become stronger social thinkers.  Holding to the belief that social challenges are a thinking problem and not a behavior problem, I work closely with students to help them identity and build on their personal strengths and begin to recognize that by learning about social thinking, they can make gains and strengthen their own social “smarts.”
During the school year, I meet with students weekly in the school setting.  During the summer months, one-to-one sessions may not be as frequent, but may be a bit longer in duration while I work with students in a community setting that is appropriate for a child (library, coffee shop, park, etc.)

Social Groups Summer

During the summer months, I sometimes have the opportunity to connect two or more students to form a social group.  While age and interests are essential in creating a social group, even more important are the levels of social functioning of each of the participants.  Social Thinking has mapped out six different levels of the social mind to help explain how varied the social learning needs of students can be.  These social needs are the primary consideration when forming a group, so groups are always formed at my discretion and recommendation.

Please use the Contact page for detailed descriptions or more information on my consulting techniques.

[ "Expertise and versatility of knowledge" ] 
"Gretchen's expertise and versatility of knowledge has been incredibly valuable for the evolution of both my special education programs and me as a professional.  The evolution of student success in my program has grown immensely over the years due to Gretchen's mentoring and ongoing feedback."  --Dominick, Special Education Teacher 

[ "Thrilling, inspiring, energetic." ]  
"Working with Gretchen to support our Autism programs has been a thrilling, inspiring and energetic journey! Her passion for students with Autism is unwavering and she has a drive to connect families and staff to the right resources to improve success for all.  Gretchen has provided several workshops for our district. She is a fabulous presenter from the word go. She pulls in her audience from the beginning. Gretchen is honest, straightforward, and answers questions from-the-heart and with in the field experience.  I know our staff walked out with material they could put to use the next day.  --Lori, Executive Director of Special Services