About Knowledge Counts

Our mission is to empower parents with knowledge of the evidence based practices that work for your children. Research emphatically shows parent involvement in their child’s training results in better outcomes in communication, behavior, academic performance, and independence!

Parents are the only consistent decision makers and advocates for their children throughout their life. Despite this, parents of children with autism rarely have a place to get reliable information and training!

Knowledge Counts is dedicated to fulfilling this need. Armed with knowledge and ability, parents are an informed and active team member inspiring and collaborating with teachers and therapists.

Meet Dr. Sylvia Diehl

Dr. Diehl’s education spans many fields of knowledge. Her master’s degree is in speech language pathology. She has an Educational Specialist degree in Language, Learning Disabilities, and Reading. Her Ph.D. is in Education Curriculum and Design with her major focus in the area of autism. Dr. Diehl is retired from the University of South Florida where she taught courses in autism, augmentative and alternative communication, pediatric language and many others.

Dr. Diehl is retired from the University of South Florida where she taught courses in autism, augmentative and alternative communication, pediatric language and many others. She has a long history of experience including public school settings, university settings, and clinical settings. She consults for state organizations and school systems, as well as, conducts workshops locally, nationally, and internationally. She has authored numerous journal articles and book chapters along with continuing education courses for the American Speech Language and Hearing Association along with Medbridge Education. She consults for WNET Parenting Minutes.

When Dr. Diehl is not working, she enjoys spending time with family and friends. She and her husband love to travel, swim, and play with their two dogs, Sammie and Toby. Theirs is a family whose passion is education. Her husband is a retired teacher and her daughter is a high-school assistant principal.

Meet Vicki Barnitt

Vicki Barnitt devoted her 36-year career to improving education and the quality of life for children with disabilities and their families. After a decade of teaching and providing school-to-work transition services for students with disabilities, she earned a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of South Florida, with a focus on school-to-work transition and employment for students with severe disabilities. 

Vicki is a founding member of the Florida Inclusion Network (FIN), a federal and state funded project, currently in its 25th year, whose mission is to provide professional development, support, and resources to educators and families as they develop and implement research-based, inclusive practices for children with disabilities in Florida. FIN provides services to district-level leaders, schools, and families in each of the state’s 67 districts. Vicki has authored over twenty publications on inclusion-related topics and is an internationally published author on the topic of inclusion and systems change for children with severe disabilities.

Currently retired, Vicki sits on the Board of Directors for the Community Partnership for Children in Grant County, NM. Throughout her career and volunteer work, Vicki’s greatest reward is the quality outcomes for children with disabilities and their families as they become successful, valued and complete members of every classroom, school, and community. 

Meet Miriam Showalter

Ms. Showalter holds her bachelor’s degree in Special Education and her master’s in secondary mathematics. Out of personal experience and interest in autism, she returned to complete her undergraduate degree in 2001. For most of her teaching career, she taught students with autism and related needs at an elementary school, but her teaching experience includes students of all ages in public and private settings.

Currently, Ms. Showalter is on a one-year leave from Sarasota County Schools, where serves as a case manager at a fully-inclusive middle school. Throughout her career, she provided leadership and consultation to support improved practices and collaboration. She wrote grants to provide integrated play and sensory-rich learning experiences and to give parents information in support strategies and research-based options. With eight teaching certifications, she is truly a lifelong learner, participating in countless workshops, institutes, and conferences. She served on Florida’s Math Access Points writing team, and has advocated for students during multiple legislative sessions.

When not working, Ms. Showalter enjoys time with family and friends or in contemplative solitude. She loves to write prose and make music. She and her husband enjoy playing piano and violin together, and cultivating a backyard vegetable, fruit, and butterfly garden. Their three sons (engineering graduates) are spread across the country, but love to stay in touch and play creative games.