"Dave’s approach utilizes real-world situations, natural consequences, and creative play to help children manage anxiety, tolerate frustration, and navigate social interactions. He is skilled at untangling complex neurodivergent issues and building a unique approach to address them. Dave helps children to see their own potential and grow their confidence and competence."
Melanie Hayes, Ed.D.
Associate Marriage & Family Therapist and Creator of Big Minds School for 2e Children
Walnut Creek, CA
"As parents of a child with special needs, we believe that Dave Macarchick's innovative, flexible, and eclectic approach has been of invaluable benefit to our son's development. Dave has worked with our son in a variety of areas, including communication, working memory, motor planning and living skills, and in each case, Dave's playful methods turn the work into fun. Our son has grown from a wary first grader, afraid to try difficult things he felt he might fail at and reticent to talk to anyone who may not understand him, to a socially outgoing, happy, always-ready-to-try-something-new participant in the world around him. Our son has blossomed under Dave's care, and we are extremely grateful for all he has learned, and the fun, communicative, eager-to-learn person he has become over the years. Dave Macarchick has been central to this progress, and we could not recommend him more highly."
Dori T, Parent
San Rafael, CA
"Most specialists had told us they did not know what to do with the unusual combination of severe autism and cystic fibrosis that made attendance in a school program problematic for our son. When, at age 12, we ultimately decided to educate our son at home, we really had tried everything available. An educational specialist recommended Dave to help us with our home program. He was the first person that I felt truly saw our son’s potential for learning and understood how to connect with him. Dave helped us to build a home program by building a real connection with our son and then teaching us and other providers how to help our son learn. He taught him to swallow pills, tolerate trips to the dentist, to communicate his needs and to curb his impulses. Ultimately, Dave facilitated our son’s transition to independent living with a well-trained group of committed caregivers. Something we never imagined could happen. Dave’s impact on the quality of our son’s life is immeasurable."
Jennifer F, Parent
Mill Valley, CA
"The first time Dave came over, my son had been refusing to go through a certain doorway for months. Dave immediately made it into a fun game, and within a few minutes had him shrieking with laughter as he chased Dave through the door. From then on Dave came to our house weekly to help him with navigating the world – making games and challenges with communication, negativity, compliance, sibling issues, etc. Dave had an amazing ability to enter my son’s world and help him use his own interests as a frame to engage as well as challenge him. He was also a tremendous support in guiding both me and my husband in how to better parent and respond. When Dave first started working with my son we were not sure what the future held. Twelve years later my son is thriving at college, majoring in computer science and making both the president's and the dean's lists. Dave gave him the tools and confidence to navigate his challenges and shape his outlook on society. Dave helped our son navigate the challenges of his autism, providing him along the way with social tools, combined with a sense of humor and fun, which have enabled him to make a continuing positive impact on his college community."
Eliza P, Parent
San Rafael, CA
"It is rare to find someone who can dive right into the heart of what a child needs. His easy honest style, supported by humor and a deep understanding of how kids work creates a connection with a child where he feels safe and cared for. I am so grateful to have someone with Dave's skills as a resource. Each time I send him a family I'm confident that they are in great hands."
Diane Provo, Provo and Associates
Corte Madera, CA
"Dave has been a great support for my fourteen year old, since he was in kindergarten. My son has struggled many times both at school and at home with emotional regulation, and Dave has provided a tremendous amount of wise and thoughtful feedback at our toughest moments. He has an incredible sensitivity to the needs of children that are challenged, and both my boys think of him in the highest regard. Dave is fun, friendly and very talented. If you need help with your child, he is the person to call."
San Rafael, CA
"When Dave pulled up to our house, I knew immediately he would be a good fit to help our son, who was struggling with strabismus in his left eye. Our three sons (ages 3, 5, and 6) were biking in our driveway and, once Dave arrived, my stiff-parenting instincts kicked in. I told them it’s time to go inside to start our session, shutting down the good times in the process. Dave quickly took over and said “let’s take a vote - who wants to go inside?" (no hands go up). "Who wants to stay outside and do some biking?!” (enthusiastically, all hands go up). The fun continued outside and Dave successfully launched a successful working relationship with our family.
To combat our son’s strabismus, eye patching his right eye (which is 20/20) is the optimal therapy for him, however he was completely resistant to this approach. The reason was simple: he was virtually blind with the patch on and it surfaced a host of feelings for him, such as fear and loss of control of his environment. On that very first visit, Dave successfully patched our son’s eye for the first time ever - a huge milestone. In subsequent sessions, our son went from patching for a few seconds to a full 90 minutes per visit. Dave’s approach is what changed our son’s attitude and level of comfort with something that was exceptionally difficult for him.
Dave leverages his 25 years of experience as a neurodiversity consultant to meet his clients where they are and create an environment in which they can thrive. It appears Dave’s quiver is endless. He uses a “play” approach to align with our son and establish trust. He then uses his constant learning to toggle between play and what he calls “Dave Challenges” to motivate him to do accomplish his goals for the session. In one approach, Dave creates a game where he retains ultimate control of the structure but lets our son work within those confines. If our son keeps his patch on, the game continues, if he takes it off, it stops. This provides our son with motivation to accomplish what he needs to do within a fun environment.
Dave once told me that 90% of the time he knows what’s going to work during session - and that 90% of the time he’s off the mark. After that, improvisation takes over. This sums up Dave well - he comes to every session with an open mind and is able to pivot seamlessly to a new approach if one is not working. He looks around the environment to see what props he can use. If needed, he adjusts depending on where his clients are from a mental and emotional standpoint.
While patching has been our main goal, Dave has also been able to help us with our son’s fine motor and speech skills, a testament to Dave’s wide breadth of experience. Dave is a master at being able to quickly empathize with a client, tune into their motivations, and draw out the best in them. He has been a wonderful asset to help our son address his critical life skills. Thank you, Dave!"
Greg M, Parent
"Dave has an unique way of connecting with kids so that they will talk. We were dealing with a stubborn behavior situation where we felt the parent/child relationship was being jeopardized by constant questions/requests from us which was causing our child to shut down. Dave was able to come in and be a neutral/objective interface between us (parent/child). We had sought more traditional psychotherapy but it took the therapist months to build up a relationship before she was able to even discuss the issue, whereas Dave got right to the point in our very first meeting. He's direct, honest, and committed to working with kids to open up and work out through their challenges. He worked through the behavior, and taught our child how to communicate more openly to get the feelings out which is what ultimately led to the end of the stubborn behavior."
Cathy S, Parent
San Rafael, CA
"Dave Macarchick has done phenomenal work with my son, who has fragile X syndrome which presents as autism. He is incredibly creative, fun loving and engaging working with special kids, and is able to draw my son and others out of their shells and get them to engage with others. Of all the people that has worked with my son over the past almost three decades, Dave is the most talented. Every time Dave sees my son, I am amazed at his ability to use humor, game playing and other techniques to enable my son to converse and participate in activities with other people."
Jules L, Parent
"We want to thank Dave for his dedication to our students. He has been with us since we opened our doors in 2014. We've collaborated with him on developing our curriculum and goals in every discipline. Dave has said, "yes," to every challenge we have put in front of him and brought his insight, creativity and passion to these challenges. Dave has an amazing ability to understand the population we serve. It is a gift that cannot be taught."
Marjorie McMorris, Founder and Chair of The Helix School
Mill Valley, CA