Widely recognized for her vision and innovation, Dr. Barbara Firestone, is the President, CEO and founder of The Help Group. With commitment and passion, she has dedicated her life's work to helping children with special needs realize their fullest potential. In 1975, Dr. Firestone established a nonprofit special education day school for children with developmental challenges including autism that would evolve into the family of agencies known today as The Help Group. Under her leadership, The Help Group has become the nation's largest and most comprehensive nonprofit of its kind serving children with special needs related to autism, Asperger's Disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, mental retardation, emotional and behavioral disabilities, and abuse and neglect. Its innovative autism programs include specialized day schools that educate more than 750 students on a daily basis, ranging in age from 3 to 22 with all forms of autism.
Dr. Firestone believes that the message of hope and help is an extremely important one for children and families living with autism. Given this commitment, she spearheaded the effort to launch The Help Group National Autism Foundation to promote autism awareness, early identification and intervention, inner city initiatives and the expansion of education and treatment opportunities for children, adolescents and young adults.
With an impressive list of achievements, contributions to the field and honors, Dr. Firestone was appointed Vice Chair of the newly formed California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism and Chair of its Early Identification and Intervention Task Force. Recently, Dr. Firestone collaborated with UCLA Semel Institute to create The Help Group – UCLA Autism Research Alliance, which is designed to enhance clinical research in ASD education and treatment and to contribute to the development, greater understanding and use of best practice models by educators and clinicians.
All of Dr. Firestone's efforts are grounded in her belief that dignity, hope, opportunity and love are the birthrights of all children.
Dr. Firestone resides in the Los Angeles area with her husband David, and has two children and three grandchildren.