Meet our Team!


Demetra Hajidiacos


M.Ed., B.Ed., B.A. Hons

Demetra has a Master's Degree in Education (Curriculum, Teaching and Learning) and a passion for helping children, families and institutions navigate the world of autism.  She provides support in a broad range of topics including educational planning or IEPs for students; she also assists with care plans for newly immigrated families, funding applications for students and entrance exam preparations for children entering private schools.  All students entering Autism Learning Centre are given a complimentary consultation from Demetra and she directs families to the appropriate professional on our team.  In addition to having 20+ years of experience as an educator, Demetra has attended training sessions in ABA (through St. Amant), DIRFloortime (through Autism Outreach) and Relationship Development Intervention (RDI).  In 2008 she completed a course in RDI that was held in Glassboro, New Jersey. Demetra is a certified Early Childhood Montessori Teacher (NAMC) and together with Leanne Howlett also proudly owns the adjacent business The Prep Montessori Daycare.  As an educator, Demetra borrows from research-based therapy models and uses her understanding of how classroom systems work to prepare her students for greater success at school.


Leanne Howlett


Ph.D. Student, ASD Cert., B.A. Avd.

Leanne is an Autism Specialist trained in the United States and has nearly two decades of experience helping families reach their goals. Leanne's specialized autism training includes a Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders from the University of North Dakota where she also completed a post-baccalaureate program in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Leanne is also a Certified DIRFloortime Provider and oversees several Social Skills groups for children and teens, helping children with autism understand the nuances of conversations, friendship skills and perspective taking.  Leanne is currently working towards completing her Ph.D. in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities at ICDL Graduate School in Maryland, USA.  She holds an Advanced Psychology degree from the University of Manitoba and has extensive training working with children on the autism spectrum including working at St. Amant as an ABA tutor and at OHEYS as a camp leader. In addition, Leanne has worked with individuals in crisis through Klinic Community Health Centre.  Leanne uses her wealth of education and experience in the field of autism to provide clinical support to children and families. Together with Demetra Hajidiacos, Leanne also proudly owns the adjacent business The Prep Montessori Daycare


Leah Borchert

Therapeutic Drama Instructor

M.A., B.A. Hons

Leah is a Drama Therapist and Canadian Certified Counsellor. She received her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Psychology and Theatre from the University of Winnipeg, and earned her Master of Arts in Drama Therapy from Concordia University.  Leah has additional certifications in the methods of Developmental Transformations and the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music. She specializes in Drama Therapy with children and youth, and is passionate about the use of play and creativity for therapeutic purposes.  Leah currently teaches in our therapeutic drama program I Can Pretend! in the public school system and in the adult sector.  She is enthusiastic about working with students of all ages and, in addition to her off-site teaching, is excited about doing some teaching at the centre this upcoming school year! 


Katharine Doerr

Academic Tutor

B.Ed., B.A.

Katharine is a certified Manitoba Teacher with a major in English and a double minor in Psychology and Theatre. Katharine has experience working with a wide range of ages and abilities from primary grades to the post-secondary level at the University of Winnipeg. Her practice emphasizes creative and research-based approaches to teaching literacy and numeracy skills, while establishing positive relationships with her students. Katharine plans for the academic and emotional needs of each learner by focusing on strengths and creating student-centred learning opportunities that are engaging and fun! 


Dryden Dilts

Classroom Instructor

Dryden is a theatre student in the process of finishing his four-year Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at the University of Winnipeg with a focus on performance and a minor in English studies. He specializes in accent and voice work, which essentially means he loves doing silly voices! Growing up in a household with a younger brother on the spectrum, Dryden has always had a very personal connection to those with autism and their unique learning needs. When not at home with his brother, in the classroom or tutoring, he also works as a children's entertainer. Dyrden firmly believes in the empowerment that theatre gives to all who take part in it, and is committed to meeting people where they are and helping them find their own unique ways of expressing themselves.


Angela French

Instructor & Tutor

B.Ed., B.A. 

Angela is a Certified Manitoba Teacher with a Major in History and a Minor in Psychology. She has experience working with children and adolescents with autism both within the classroom and through summer camps as a camp coordinator and counsellor.  Angela is passionate about supporting students by working one-on-one and building relationships.  Angela follows curriculum in creative and engaging ways and establishes a positive learning environment which promotes healthy social and emotional growth for all students. Creativity, collaboration, reading comprehension and the development of many more essential literacy skills all play a significant role in securing this environment.  Her mission is to encourage every child she works with to wonder, discover and enjoy learning.  Angela plans to adapt and accommodate for the diverse needs of every young learner by providing them with options on how to showcase their meaningful learning experiences.    


Christine French



Christine graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Physical Education degree. She has several years of experience teaching children including as a certified water safety instructor.  In addition, Christine has experience running youth camps and is enthusiastic about helping children achieve their social, emotional and physical goals.  Her patience and understanding for children's unique learning needs informs her teaching practice. Christine aspire to bring out the best in all of her students and help them reach their fullest potential in a safe and welcoming environment.


Kate Friesen

Academic Tutor & Teaching Assistant

Kate is crossing the hall from The Prep Montessori Daycare where she worked full-time as a classroom assistant during her school summer break.  Kate is a student at the Canadian Mennonite University where she is pursuing a Social Science degree.  Kate has experience working in an inner-city children's program and has also volunteered at a local elementary school.  She loves working with children of all ages.  In her spare time she enjoys spending time outdoors, camping, hiking and playing sports.  Kate will be tutoring students academics 1:1 as well assisting in our after school Academic Program, Classroom Stars, and our weekend Therapeutic Recreation Programs. 


Costa Ginakes

Academic Tutor

B.Ed., B.A.

Costa is a Manitoba Certified Teacher with a Major in Music and Minor in Religious Studies. He has worked with students with autism inside classrooms and as a respite worker. Costa likes to engage students' personal interests in assignments and building kinship. Costa grew up with learning disabilities, and has a personal understanding of those struggling academically. He hopes to improve confidence in children seeking help at Autism Learning Centre. 


Naomi Goerz

Speech-Langauge Pathologist

RSLP, MSc., SLP (C), B.A.

Naomi holds a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology and a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Linguistics and Psychology.  Naomi has a particular interest in treating paediatric speech and language disorders, helping to address the communication challenges facing children with developmental delays.  This includes supporting articulation skills, language development, and social communication.  Naomi's professional philosophy is to provide services through family-centered practice.  She believes in the importance of building strong client-focused relationships, and collaborating with families to determine the best intervention goals and treatment frameworks. Naomi is currently leading the Social Explorers program, working on social skill development for children in preschool and early elementary school.  She is also now accepting new clients for 1:1 services!   

Naomi's services are covered under insurance.

To book your appointment with Naomi, please phone (204) 226-7247.


Emily Hiebert

Classroom Assistant

Emily is entering her fourth year of studies at the Canadian Mennonite University. After she completes her Bachelor of Arts she hopes to enter into the Occupational Therapy program at the University of Manitoba. Over the past few years Emily has worked for the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities in their recreational program as well as with Trailblazers Life Choices working in their residential program for adults with disabilities. Emily had found her passion in this work as well as other areas such as singing, traveling and being outdoors. Emily will be completing her practicum requirement with Autism Learning Centre and cannot wait to see what this year and it’s new opportunities and experiences will bring!


Loc Lu

I Can Pretend! Education Director

​Loc directs our popular therapeutic drama program, I Can Pretend! in the schools and other sites.  I Can Pretend! has a long-standing tradition in Winnipeg of providing affordable, recreational programming to children and teens with autism, building on self-esteem, team skills and social skills through teacher-led imaginative play (younger students) and working with social scripts (older students). I Can Pretend! has graduated hundreds of students over the years and is a first-stop program for families struggling to find affordable recreational programming for their children and teens with autism.  Loc has extensive experience as a theatre instructor and is formally trained in physical theatre technique, mask, clown, film and forum theatre.  Loc has worked with students of all ages and walks of life. He has facilitated workshops and camps for several of Winnipeg's leading arts organizations and programs including MTYP, PTE, Artists in the Schools, Aboriginal Arts Training Program, Green kids, Monica's Danz Gym and here at ALC! 


Sari Hochman

Occupational Therapist & Child Sleep Consultant

O.T. Reg. (MB)

Autism Learning Centre welcomes Occupational Therapist Sari Hochman to our team! Sari hold a Master's degree in Occupational Therapy and a Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology and has been working as a pediatric Occupational Therapist for over 10 years. Sari is also an experienced yoga instructor and Child Sleep Consultant. She strives to help her clients by addressing the whole person and using creative interventions that are both fun and practical for her clients. Sari has worked in a variety of settings including: Provincial Outreach Therapy for Children, private and public schools systems, and private therapy. She aims to provide a family-centered approach and collaborates with families to come up with specific and measurable interventions. Sari has a focus on fine motor skills, sensory-regulation skills, self-care skills and social skills. Sari also likes to use yoga, visualization and breathing exercises to help children get to know their bodies and themselves better. Sari can also combine her skills as an OT and yoga instructor to provide mindfulness strategies to help with anxiety and worry. 

Sari's services are covered under insurance.

To book your appointment with Sari, please phone (204) 226-7247.


Shannon Remillard

Outreach Coordinator

Shannon has worked with children and adults with disabilities, including autism, for over 25 years.  She is current in tracheotomy care, gastrointestinal feeding and site care, seizure patient care, emergency first aid and defibrillator training, and CPR.  Shannon is the proud parent of 5 children, 4 of whom are foster children.  She has fostered 12 children over the years, several with disabilities. Shannon is thrilled to be working in an outreach capacity, reaching out to schools and organizations in the community and providing resources and support.  


Deena Robak


B.A. Hons (Psych), Dev. Studies

Deena graduated from the University of Winnipeg in the spring of 2018 with an Honours Psychology Degree and a Developmental Studies Degree. She has a strong passion for child development and is aspiring to be a School Psychologist. Deena is dedicated to interacting and developing relationships with children. She has plenty of experience working with children of all ages, and has gained experience from coaching the Special Olympics Active Start Program and doing respite care for individuals with developmental, intellectual and mental health histories. In addition, Deena was a case manager for Community Living Disability Services and she also worked on the Klinic Community Health Centre Crisis Line and MB Suicide Line. 


Marcie Smeltz

Behavioural Consultant

M.S., B.A. 

Autism Learning Centre is the leading private provider of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Therapy in Manitoba.  Marcie Smeltz began implementing ABA programs in Manitoba in 1999.  In 2001, she was one of the initial therapists who offered services through St. Amant's pilot ABA program.  In 2003, she began working as a consultant in St. Amant's preschool ABA program where she remained until 2014.  Her background includes providing 1:1 instruction, parent and staff training on ABA principles and procedures, and providing program supervision and consultation for families and schools throughout Manitoba.  Marcie earned a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Sociology from Brandon University, Manitoba, in 1998 and received her Master's Degree in ABA from St. Cloud State University, Minnesota in 2010. Marcie has a wealth of experience in the field of autism and strives to meet family's needs with immediate behavioural improvements.  With over two decades of experience working successfully with families and schools, Marcie is a trusted household name in the field of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) in the autism community. 


Michelle Yaciuk

Owner, Prelude Music


Michelle is a certified Music Therapist in both Canada and the United States and has been a practicing music therapist for 10 years.  She received her Masters in Music Therapy from Western Michigan University, and has advanced training in Neurologic Music Therapy and Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit Music Therapy. Michelle and her team specialize in working with children and adolescents with various diagnoses to create a strength based treatment program with therapeutic outcomes.  The goal is for individuals to be respected and their voices heard.  Michelle is an Instructor of Music Therapy at Canadian Mennonite University.  She has been a judge for the Best Children's Album award for the Juno Awards, and she is the creator of Melodies & ABCs, an inclusive parent/child music program for children 6 and under.  In 2014, Michelle was awarded the Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Emerging Business. Prelude Music is located at 1700 Corydon Avenue.  For more information and to book a therapy session, please visit Prelude Music Therapy Winnipeg