Special Connections Academy was founded by a DIR®/Floortime™ therapist and the parents of Gabriel, a child with autism and intellectual disabilities.
They saw the benefits of DIR®/Floortime™ through his experience.
The connection between the family, the therapist and Gabriel was the engine that propelled his social-emotional development and allowed real learning.
He was finally able to succeed and feel happy. So, they decided to make DIR®/Floortime™ available to other individuals and families in a school environment.

Mission and Vision

Special Connections Academy’s mission is to provide individuals with Autism and other developmental disabilities an educational environment that fosters socio-emotional, developmental and academic growth. The goal of our program is to collaborate with families and the community to enrich the lives of our students and help them live to their fullest potential.

We ENVISION a community where the individuality of the population with special needs is accepted and appreciated.

Board and Team

Rodrigo Lombello
Rodrigo Lombello Board Member and Co-Founder
MBA - Kenan-Flagler School of Business at the University of North Carolina, Member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, CMA
Monica Lombello
Monica LombelloBoard Member, Co-Founder and Administrative Director
B.A. Business, Marketing and Advertising from ESPM, Brazil , DIR®/Floortime™ Practitioner Certificate Level 1
Marina Aviles
Marina AvilesBoard member, Co-Founder and Educational Director
B.S. Exceptional Student Education/Reading and ESOL Endorsement DIR®/Floortime™ Practitioner Certificate Level 3 (Advanced), FEAS (Functional Emotional Assessment) Certificate
Bernadette Berardino
Bernadette Berardino Lead Teacher
B.A. Psychology from FAU, Exceptional Student Education Teaching Certificate, DIR®/Floortime™ Practitioner Certificate Level 2 (Intermediate)
Ellen Kluyber
Ellen KluyberLead Teacher
B.S. Public Health from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Exceptional Student Education Teaching Certificate, DIR®/Floortime™ Practitioner Certificate Level 1
Ingrid Garcia
Ingrid GarciaBoard Member
Masters in Early Childhood Special Education from University of Miami, B.A. Psychology from FAU, Florida Teacher Certification, Center Director of Easter Seals Child Development Center-North
Dave Nelson
Dave NelsonDIR®/Floortime™ Consultant
M.S. in Counseling and M.A. in English Literature from Georgia State University, MBA from Duke University, Administrative Director of The Community School, Expert Trainer DIR®/Floortime™ Provider Certificate