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About Sarah Wayland

Sarah Wayland, Ph.D.

  • Special Needs Care Navigator
  • Certified Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®) Consultant
  • Parent Coach
  • Internationally Acclaimed Speaker

Dr. Wayland received her Ph.D. in 1990 from Brandeis University in Cognitive Psychology; she worked at Northeastern UniversityUniversity of Maryland School of Medicine, and University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Study of Language. More recently, she earned her certification as an RDI Consultant.

She has been deeply involved with disability support organizations in both a professional capacity and as a parent. She has met countless providers, educators, and parents. Her contacts can help you too. She is an active member of the Special Education Citizens’ Advisory Committee of Prince George’s County, Maryland having served on their board from 2007-2018, and served on the executive committees of the Individual Differences in Learning Association and the Parents’ Place of Maryland. She was also a Board Member for The Arc of Prince George’s County for 4 years. She was appointed by the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools to serve on the Special Education State Advisory Committee from 2012 – 2015. She co-moderates an international listserv for parents of twice exceptional children (children who are both gifted and learning disabled), GT-Special (click on the GT-Special link in the sidebar), and is a member of the GT/LD Network. She is also a Parents’ Place of Maryland Special Education LEADer of Prince George’s County.

She has helped organize numerous conferences designed to help parents and professionals learn more about ways to help their children, and, with Dr. Katharina Boser, has given presentations on the use of technology in supporting children with disabilities. Based in part on this work, she and Dr. Boser co-edited a book with Matthew Goodwin called “Technology Tools for Students With Autism: Innovations that Enhance Independence and Learning”.

More recently she co-hosted the Parenting Autism Summit with Penny Williams. They interviewed 32 experts on parenting and autism and posted their interviews online so you can better understand and guide your child with autism.

She has taken many trainings that inform her approach to helping families. Those that have the biggest impact include:

  • RDI® (Relationship Development Intervention) – a developmentally sequenced family-focused program that helps children with autism and other social communication challenges learn the skills fundamental to making and maintaining meaningful relationships with their parents, other adults, and their peers – RDI ProgramCertified Consultant since 2013.
  • Parent Child Journey – Developmental Pediatrician Dr. Dan Shapiro developed this parent education program to help parents identify the source of their child’s challenging behavior and learn what they can do about it – Parent Trainer since 2013.
  • Collaborative & Proactive Solutions – Ross Greene’s non-punitive, non-adversarial, trauma-informed model based on the premise that challenging behavior occurs when the expectations being placed on a kid exceed the kid’s capacity to respond adaptively, and that some kids are lacking the skills to handle certain demands and expectations – 1-day workshop (2007) and 3-day Advanced Training (2015) in Collaborative & Proactive Solutions.
  • PEERS® – a manualized social skills training intervention for kids and young adults with social challenges. I am certified as both a Young Adult Provider (2017) and a School Based Professional Provider (2018).
  • SPACE (Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions) – a parent-based treatment program for children and adolescents with anxiety, OCD, and related problems developed by Dr. Eli Lebowitz at the Yale Child Study Center. The treatment focuses on changes that parents can make to their own behavior by learning to respond more supportively to their anxious child and to reduce the accommodations they have been making to the child’s symptoms.

As the parent of two wonderfully exceptional children, Dr. Wayland has learned a lot about how to get what her children need, and how to make sure her time and money are well spent. She wants to make sure that no parent ever feels as lost and confused as she and her husband did when they embarked on their journey as parents. To that end, she has been working with Dr. Dan Shapiro to educate parents about effective strategies for raising their challenging children, while also learning about themselves.

While on their journey to help their children, Dr. Wayland and her husband learned of a program, RDI, run by some very dedicated service providers in their local public school system. “RDI was life-changing for our whole family; we are now able to teach our children the skills they need, within the rhythm of a normal daily life. This was especially profound for us, as we felt our lives had become anything but normal. Our experience with RDI drove me to become an RDI Consultant. I want to share what we have learned with other families, so I can give them what RDI gave us: Hope.”

“Fantastic presentation. So helpful and insightful. Dr. Wayland has so much wisdom and experience to share and it is truly a gift to those willing to listen.”

“Sarah hit a home run with this workshop. Great job! Great info – really very helpful!!!”

Workshop Participants

Resource Navigator
• RDI® Consultant
• Parenting Coach •
• Speaker •

Watch this interview I did with Dr. Rachelle Sheely of the RDI Connections Center in March of 2014, where I talk about my background, my journey with autism and how I came to RDI. I also talk about the book I co-edited, Technology Tools for Students With Autism.



Guiding Exceptional Parents, LLC

P.O. Box 174
Riverdale, MD 20738-0174