With April as Autism Awareness month check our interview with leading pioneer in the field Laura Kasbar who as a mother of 7 including two autistic children is the founder of the revolutionary new learning program Gemiini Systems, which is changing the lives of non-verbal autistic children around the world giving them the ability to speak and providing hope to thousands of families who, without Kasbar’s program, would give up all hope otherwise.
These videos were created by Kasbar out of sheer necessity, with her son Max as Laura’s muse. At age 3, Max, who was autistic, had the language skills of a 10-month-old baby. He and his twin, Ana, had been diagnosed with autism at age 2. While Ana had begun to say a few words, Max said none. Kasbar’s efforts to make her son speak drove her to tears. But she didn’t give up. The idea for the videos came when she recognized that her son needed a visual aid, a medium that would not be as intrusive as a three-dimensional person – something that would help him focus and learn. Kasbar and her husband stayed up into the wee hours of the morning making these videos. She would have him record her saying the words, enunciating them, and show them to Max. She told him to focus the camera on just her mouth so Max could see precisely how the word is said. In 2 days her son was speaking select words and by 8 years old he was completely caught up with his peers.
Hi Laura, please tell us a little about yourself?
I am first a mother of 7 amazing children who mean the world to me, and secondly the CEO of Gemiini, a program that is bringing the gift of language and reading to the world.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
I only need one: tenacious.
How did you get in the industry?
I really never planned to be in special education at all. I did homeschool my children, so I came up with innovative ways to get the point across. Once my twins were diagnosed with autism, you know the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” And in this case, “Necessity go this mother inventing!”
Tell us about your company Gemiini Systems?
Gemiini is located in Spokane, Washington, with subsidiaries in Orange County, California and Amman Jordan. We deliver clinically proven language and reading therapy to people around the world, in 5 languages.
How do manage such a busy life and a beautiful big family?
I make every minute count and include my family in everything I do. My husband works with me as does my eldest son.
Where did you work before this?
I have owned my own business my entire life. I was a general contractor for years and the experience running crews and putting out fires on a daily basis gave me the managerial skills I need for Gemiini.
What’s your favorite quote?
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
What’s your favorite Gemiini success story?
We get so many videos and letters from parents with little children who do phenomenally well with Gemiini, so it is hard to pick. But, I think one of my favorites is a child who was 10 years old when he started. He had been in therapy his entire life and still couldn’t speak. His mother kept at Gemiini for 2 years and then finally, he started to speak and within a few months and he even got the chatty award at school. This speaks as much about Gemiini and how it is about the love, determination and commitment as the mother who stuck it out for 2 years to get these results. Some children and adults take longer. The most important thing is to not give up too soon.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Mary Magdalene. She was there at the end, when nearly all the apostles ran away. She had no fear, only love and faith. Legend says that she was taken to heaven 7 times a day while she was still living. She wasn’t always perfect, in fact she was decidedly imperfect.
Who has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?
Of course my children. 90% of what I do every day I do for them of because of them.
Name one your strengths?
I don’t take “no” for an answer.
How do you spend your spare time?
I guess I don’t really think of “spare” time. All of my time is spent deliberately. Even when I am just snuggling with my 5-year-old, it is deliberate “mommy time.” But, if you mean what do I do to have fun? I love to be on the water, to roller skate, go skiing, and to spend time with family and friends.
Do you have a role model?
Thomas More was a spectacular human being.
What’s next for Laura Kasbar?
The world! Gemiini will develop a tool for every language for every child in the world.
How do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope to move more into public relations and awareness and let others take over the business side of Gemiini. There is so much awareness about special needs that is still to be done.
Do you support any charities?
I love the charity KultureCity. They do wonderful things for acceptance and safety in Autism.
Where our readers can follow you?
We have a blog on gemiini.org that discusses where we are going and what we are doing each week.
Favorite Music: Chopin
Favorite Holiday Destination: I have never been yet, but I would love to go to Tahiti.
Favorite Song: The opera Rigoletto is a favorite.
Favorite Movie: A Man for All Seasons