About Karen Kaplan

Alone we can do so little: Together we can do so much.
— Helen Keller

My Philosophy

I practice the art of possibility thinking. One of my most inspirational role models was Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller's teacher, who never gave up. My father taught me that "Anything is possible if you are not afraid to ask."  I see amazing opportunities when there is a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to finding and traveling the path. Although I am solution-oriented and outcome-based, I appreciate deeply the frustrations that families, faculty and organizations experience in developing effective programs and services. 

When there is a shared understanding between partners, there is also great opportunity.

Parents are valued experts

Autism presents a complex set of challenges on many levels. Each person is different, and solutions can be found when everybody works together and where the parent is valued as one of the experts.

I facilitate connections. For me there is no better reward than when a family finds the right provider, practitioner, program, method, strategy, piece of equipment, assessment tool or other activity that helps their child come closer to reaching his or her full potential.

Professionals play a key role

Whether you are directing a school or center, building a private practice, or designing an adult program, there are many key elements to consider when creating a sustainable organization.

I enjoy seeing a dream, special project, or innovative idea become a reality so that those with ASD and other special needs have choices to help them lead a happy and meaningful life.


I have more than 35 years of experience working in the field of Autism Spectrum disorders with children, teens, adults and their families. I have engaged with schools, residential programs, vocational and nonprofit day programs, addressing the challenges of Autism and other similar learning differences. I have joined faculty at Universities to help mentor and educate teachers and therapists.

I am also the Executive Director of Offerings, a nonprofit organization empowering communities locally and globally to build special needs programs. I founded the Autism Lecture Series in 2009 and the Special Needs Resource Fair in 2010.

My positions have included:

  • Executive Director at Wings Learning Center, a school for children 5-22 years old with Autism Spectrum Disorders, located in Redwood City - current position

    1. Served as a teacher in the Autism Spectrum Certificate program, now mentoring teachers for Alliant

    2. Serve on the board of directors at Jessica's Haven

    3. BS and MS in Speech Pathology from Arizona State University

    4. Minor in Special Education and Educational Administrative Credential

    5. Founded and directed a residential school sereving children with ASD in the Sacramento Area for 20 years

    6. Directed a private school for emotionally challenged teens for 4 years in Sacramento

    7. Executive Director of Oak Hill School, a day school for children with ASD in Marin County for 5.5 years

    8. Served on the board of CAPSES, the California Association for Private Special Education Schools, for over 10 years

    9. Served on the board for Parents Can in Napa, California

    10. Volunteer speaking, lecturing and consulting

    11. Author of many articles for the special needs web site www.specialneeds.com

I have spent much of my career life designing, developing, implementing and expanding programs in both the public and private sector. I currently help support non-governmental organizations in Indonesia through my non-profit, Offerings, by educating, mentoring, training, and connecting them to resources.

I work as a consultant with schools, both private and public, adult centers, colleges and universities, and families addressing the needs of those living with ASD and other developmental challenges.