Welcome to Jordan!

The global team from Canada, the USA and Algeria has finally arrived in Jordan. We’ve unpacked and are very excited to start this journey.

After a great traditional Syrian breakfast made with homegrown vegetables and fruits at a local family’s house, we had an orientation session where we got to know each other through some fun activities. One of the things that impressed me the most was learning about our local coordinator, Essam’s artistic talents.

(Traditional Syrian breakfast with a local family)

We shared stories about ourselves and our experiences in this field. It was a wonderful start and I already feel connected to the team. We are all here for the same reason–trying to help children with autism and their families get the support they need to participate in their community.

(Getting to know each other through an image description activity designed by local children)

The community where we are staying in northern Jordan is beautiful and friendly. Even people who don’t know us invite us to their homes for cups of tea or coffee. I am amazed by the generosity and hospitality and feel lucky to be here.




Ready, Set…Go!

We are excited to announce that our northern Jordan program is officially getting started. Over the next three months, we have a great global team on the ground with us in northern Jordan, training families and teachers in evidence-based practices for autism support and inclusive education, equipping participants with support and self-care practices, and connecting with a welcoming and enthusiastic community near the Jordan-Syria border. Starting next week, we will have daily updates to share on our blog. In the meantime, with the help of some of our favorite local volunteers/artists, we are excited to introduce you to the northern Jordan team!

Melissa Diamond, Executive Director

Melissa is the Executive Director of A Global Voice for Autism and is joining the northern Jordan team to supervise and launch the program site. Melissa has overseen the growth of A Global Voice for Autism from a single project to nine program sites and four project sites worldwide. Melissa is a Rotary Peace Fellow and holds a Masters degree in Conflict, Security and Development from the University of Bradford. She has been actively involved with the community in northern Jordan over the past five years on both personal and professional levels and looks forward to working with the community to support families of children with autism.

Essam Obeidat, Local Coordinator

Essam Obeidat is a Jordanian father of a son with autism and a strong advocate for the acceptance and inclusion of people with autism in his community. Essam works as a photographer and graphic designer from the Ministry of Education and his recognized for both his artistic abilities and humanitarian efforts in his community. Essam brings extensive experience organizing initiatives in Jordan and is a leader and inspiration to other autism families in his community.

Christina Schoch, BCBA

Christina is a BCBA who will be joining us from Miami, Florida. Christina has been working with individuals with intellectual disabilities since 2001. She started working at a group home for children with severe behavioral issues. From there, Christina pursued a career in applied behavior analysis and was awarded her Masters in 2011. She passed the BCBA exam that same year and has been working with children on the autism spectrum ever since. She has lived in Naples, Italy and currently lives in Miami with her husband Jason, her son CJ (who will be joining us in Jordan!) and two German Shepherds.

Dana Ghresi, RBT

Dana is a Jordanian-Canadian Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) who is joining our team from Dubai. Dana has experience conducting skills assessments and implementing individualized plans for the individuals she serves. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Sociology from the University of Western Ontario in Canada and an Autism and Behavioral Science certificate from Algonquin College in Canada. She has been working as a behavior therapist for the past three years, delivering sessions and support in homes, schools and centers. 

Susan Ainsleigh, BCBA (Virtual Support Consulting Lead)

Susan is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who will be joining our team from Massachusetts in August to facilitate participants’ transition in to the Virtual Support Consulting program. Susan is a special education teacher and BCBA who brings more than 25 years’ experience as a teacher, therapist, supervisor, director and trainer. She currently teaches full time at Bay Path University and consults for programs and families across the Middle East on autism-related topics. Susan founded the ABA Division at the Jeddah Institute for Speech and Hearing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where she lived and worked for 8 years. She now lives outside of Boston with her husband, Terry. She is excited to be a part of this project and to bring services to families in need.

Chahinez Bouazza, Monitoring and Evaluation

Chahinez is a medical doctor from Algiers, Algeria with extensive experience designing, implementing and evaluating program efficacy and identifying areas for improvement. In addition to her work in the medical field, Chahinez is the co-founder of Effet Papillon, Algeria’s first personal development organization. The organization supports students and teachers throughout the country in their personal development and partnered with A Global Voice for Autism for the launch of the Innovative Teachers Academy in 2016. Chahinez will be assisting with data collection, family intakes and program evaluation to ensure that the program is as effective as possible in the northern Jordan community.