Our Multidisciplinary Clinical Team
The clinicians at ASPIRE Center are passionate, dedicated, and creative,
and they are among the most talented in the field.
and they are among the most talented in the field.
Shana Nichols, PhD
Shana Nichols, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist and researcher who has worked in the field of autism spectrum disorder for over 15 years. She founded ASPIRE Center for Learning and Development in Melville, NY, in 2010, an outpatient center which provides a range of services to individuals, families, schools, and organizations including direct services, consultation, workshops and training. She is also on the professional advisory board of the Autism Women’s Network, the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association of Long Island and Westbrook Preparatory School, in Westbury, NY. She currently specializes in adolescence and growing up, the experiences of females with ASD, and dual diagnosis and mental health interventions. Dr. Nichols has extensive expertise in cognitive and diagnostic assessment, treatment, consultation, and family work and she conducts applied research associated with her clinical programming. She is also Director of Psychology Training at ASPIRE, and supervises post-doctoral and graduate level trainees in clinical psychology, school psychology, mental health counseling, social work and special education. Dr. Nichols received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada and completed her internship and post-doctoral training at JFK Partners Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities in Denver, Colorado. She is licensed by the States of New York, Colorado, Missouri, and Iowa, and provides consultation and therapy via the internet. Dr. Nichols was a recipient of the Canadian Psychological Association Certificate of Academic Excellence in 2005 Award for her Ph.D. thesis work. She has received research and service grant support for her work in sexuality, puberty, and ASD from the Organization for Autism Research, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and Autism Coalition, and for her recent work in fitness and healthy living for ASD from the Jack Manning Memorial Foundation. She is the lead author of Girls Growing Up on the Autism Spectrum, A Girl’s Guide to Growing Up on the Autism Spectrum ( under contract with Jessica Kingsley Publishers), and is a co-author of the set of therapeutic manuals Fighting Worries and Facing Fears: A Coping Manual for Children with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Families (Brookes Publishers). Dr. Nichols is a sought-after speaker at conferences from the local to the international level (e.g., Canada, Japan), and speaks on topics related to autism spectrum disorder such as mental health, engaging youth in therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches, group therapy, sexuality and relationships, girls issues, social skills development, and diagnostic assessment for bright individuals. She has been featured in Psychology Today and interviewed for ABC News Nightline’s special on girls with ASD. Dr. Nichols has spoken about her work at the Annual Autism Society of America conference for the past eight years. Her dynamic teaching style includes the use of small groups, video segments, and practice exercises that demonstrate the essential skills for achieving the course objectives in school, clinical, and professional environments. When not writing, speaking at conferences, and working with clients and families, Shana pursues her other interests including competitive horseback riding, photography, writing children’s fiction, and trying to read as many books as she can.
Samantha Leigh Maietta, LMSW
Licensed Social Worker
Coordinator of Therapeutic Services
Samantha Leigh Maietta, LMSW is a Licensed Master of Social Work. She received her Master's degree from New York University's Silver School of Social Work and a dual Bachelor's degree in psychology and professional writing from University of Hartford. Samantha's clinical training has entailed providing evidence-based treatment at Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. These competitive placements served to strengthen her unique dedication and expertise in child and family psychotherapy, specifically around concerns associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders and ADHD. Samantha utilizes an integrative approach to treatment, which incorporates aspects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). She is excited to continue building her career in social work as a part of the ASPIRE Center family, where she contributes talent and passion to promote wellbeing in individuals with ASD, ADHD, and co-occurring disorders. While away from the office, Samantha enjoys reading, singing, painting, and spending time in the park with her dog, Tucker.
Lynda L. Skinner
Lynda Skinner is a highly skilled professional who maintains dual roles at ASPIRE by bridging ongoing communication between our families and clinical team while also overseeing the center’s broad operational processes. She contributes a uniquely balanced skillset in client support and organizational management, which is a product of her extensive work within both private and non-profit sectors. Lynda joined the ASPIRE Team in order to pursue her passion for facilitating the receipt of innovative, individualized services by individuals and families within the local and broader community. Over the past decade, she has attained wide recognition for executive leadership within the small business sector, enduring community outreach, and her fundamental role in developing the programming and infrastructure for one of the New York metro area’s most prominent equine-assisted therapy practices. Lynda’s enthusiastic and progressive approach also characterizes her time spent outside of the workplace, particularly through ongoing efforts in animal rescue and dedication to continual expansion of knowledge around family impact of ASD, ADHD, and broader social, emotional, medical, and mental health conditions.
Alyson (Sheehan) Skinner, PhD is a New York State Licensed Psychologist and ASPIRE Center's Director of Clinical Training. She earned her doctoral degree in counseling psychology, with dual training (child and adult), from University at Albany, State University of New York. Over the course of the past 10 years, Dr. Skinner has held positions among a diverse range of hospital, educational, and community-based settings. Her areas of proficiency entail comprehensive psychological evaluation, evidence-based individual, family, and group therapy, and psychotherapy process/outcome research. Complex diagnostic assessment, educational advocacy, and guidance around individually-driven supports and services comprise a cornerstone of Dr. Skinner's commitment to the growth of clients and advancement of the field. Her primary areas of clinical specialization include ADHD and executive functioning deficits, Autism Spectrum Disorder, body-focused repetitive behaviors (trichotillomania/hair-pulling and skin-picking), and the interplay between these conditions, co-occurring mental health concerns, and family-related stressors. When conducting treatment, Dr. Skinner uses a highly personalized, integrative framework that incorporates components of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and third-wave approaches (e.g., DBT and ACT), family systems, interpersonal therapy, and mindfulness. She is actively involved in community outreach and psychoeducation, most recently presenting on the topics of ADHD Supports and Service Planning, Disruptive Behavior Management, and ASD from a Family Perspective. Her dedication to ongoing research, advocacy, and efforts in public awareness is reflected through authorship for newsletters and professional journals, national and local association leadership, and professional supervision for trainees across various mental health training programs.
Nicole M. Wallace, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Nicole M. Wallace, LMSW is a New York State Licensed Social Worker, receiving her Master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. Throughout the course of her training and subsequent clinical practice, Nicole has gained extensive experience providing individual and family therapy to a diverse range of populations in both educational and behavioral health settings. She relies upon evidence-based strategies in incorporating a comprehensive and individualized primarily drawing from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), family systems, modern psychodynamic conceptualization, and mindfulness exercises. In addition, Nicole completed extensive training in Sand Play Therapy, becoming one of the first clinicians in the State of New Jersey to acquire certification in this specialized technique. Although she has successfully treated clients experiencing an array of mental health issues, particular clinical concentrations include Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, anxiety, and trauma-related symptoms. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys practicing yoga, cooking, and reading a good book.
Alisa Sandler, MS, CCC-SLP
Licensed Speech-Language Pathologist
Licensed Speech-Language Pathologist
Alisa Sandler, MS, CCC-SLP is a New York State licensed and American Speech and Hearing Association accredited speech-language pathologist. Alisa received her bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University and her Masters of Science from Teacher’s College Columbia University. Throughout the course of her career, she has gained experience working with a variety of clients ranging from toddlers to adults in medical, educational, and private practice settings. Alisa’s most recent clinical experiences have focused on the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with receptive/expressive language delays/disorders, executive functioning disorders, pragmatic language disorders, written language disorders, dyslexia, autistic spectrum disorders, and higher level cognitive-linguistic language disorders. Alisa has participated in the development of language curriculums in classrooms and home language programs for parents, as well as trained interns, teachers, and other professionals on language development and disorders in children. Alisa also enjoys reading, writing, baking, and spending time with her family.
Danielle Zito, PsyD
Psychology Post-Doctoral Fellow
Danielle Zito, PsyD, a recent graduate from Long Island University’s Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, joined the team as ASPIRE Center’s 2016-2017 Psychology Post-Doctoral Fellow. She specializes in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), anxiety disorders, stress management, and weight management. Dr. Zito uses an evidence-based approach that integrates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), mindfulness, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and other empirically validated treatments. She is thrilled to be joining the ASPIRE team and is excited to serve the Long Island population by conducting individual therapy, group therapy, consultation, and evaluations. In her free time, she enjoys singing, dancing, acting, and spending time with her friends and family.
Danielle Francois, MS
Doctoral Psychology Extern
Danielle Francois, MS is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Psy.D. Program at Long Island University's CW Post Campus. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Franklin and Marshall College, as well as a Master of Science degree in Psychology from Binghamton University, State University of New York. Ms. Francois’ clinical experience includes working with children, adolescents, and adults across multiple settings (e.g., school, home, outpatient center, inpatient units) and presenting with a number of developmental (Autism, ADHD) and mental health concerns. She has a particular interest in behavior therapy as a modality of treatment and has extensive experience with parent training. Ms. Francois is currently completing her doctoral dissertation, which involves developing a measure of parent-child conflict about technology use. She is excited to join the ASPIRE team for the 2016-2017 training year!
Krista Nelson, BFA
Doctoral Psychology Extern
Krista Nelson, BFA is an advanced doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology (Health Emphasis) Program at Yeshiva University, with a concentration in Child Psychology. She studied Psychology at Columbia University through the Postbaccalaureate program and holds a BFA in Dance with high honors from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Prior to her postgraduate studies, Krista gained over ten years of experience as a dance instructor for children and adults while working as a one-to-one aide in an early intervention preschool. Her predoctoral training experiences have included provision of psychotherapy and psychological testing in a community-based clinic, inpatient psychiatric hospital, and college counseling center. Krista has particular interest in the integration of mental health care services with medical conditions and their sequelae, as well as in assessment and treatment for co-occurring neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions. Furthermore, she has drawn from her dance background in beginning to explore the use of movement therapy as a component or adjunct to evidence-based psychotherapy. Krista's current doctoral research is focused on improving asthma outcomes and asthma symptom perception in children ages 10-17 years old, in addition to the research-related projects that she has acquired since beginning her position at ASPIRE. She is thrilled to contribute her unique background and knowledge through collaboration with the ASPIRE team!