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With over three decades of experience in behavior interventions and programming along with sensory motor information, Joanie Armstrong began her studies at the University of Central Missouri, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in education and a lifetime teaching certificate. She went on to obtain a Master of Science in guidance counseling and psychology at Missouri State University in 1987, and subsequently joined their staff. She is also licensed as a professional counselor and by the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Starting out as a teacher in the psychology department at Missouri State University, Ms. Armstrong came to her current work in 1990, at which time she was teaching an introduction to psychology course. Project Access, a program funded by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to give assistance to teachers who have students with autism, had been launched at the university just two years prior and they were looking for another autism resource specialist. While she was skilled in teaching, presenting and fostering good relationships, Ms. Armstrong had little practical knowledge about autism as it was only just starting to emerge properly as a diagnosis.

Undergoing intense training in autism spectrum disorders, Ms. Armstrong attained the position of autism resource and behavior specialist with Project Access in 1991. She continues to hold this position and additionally became the director of Project Access in 2005. Attributing much of her success to her excellent colleagues, she also feels blessed to have become good friends with a number of parents of the autistic children that she works with. Ms. Armstrong notes that being let into the lives of these families has been among the most professionally rewarding aspects of her career.

Alongside her primary responsibilities, Ms. Armstrong is a regular contributor to “Comfort Corner” with Access Express. She has also maintained professional affiliation with the Council for Exceptional Children, the Missouri Council of Administrators of Special Education and the Missouri Licensure Organization. Living her life by the motto “If you have a choice between being right and being kind, choose kind,” Ms. Armstrong is hoping to find a kindred spirit in the near future who is passionate about what they do and looking for a long-term position.


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