School of Medicine

The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders names Anna Laakman director of education and training 

Anna Laakman joins The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental DisordersSanta Ana, Calif., Feb. 19, 2016 — Anna Laakman, who brings extensive experience establishing best-teaching practices at one of the nation’s most distinguished autism centers in the U.S., has joined The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders as director of education & training.

In her new role, Laakman will develop innovative training opportunities for those who interact with and serve individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, such as caretakers, psychologists, behavioral consultants, school personnel, medical professionals and social workers.

“We are excited to bring Anna Laakman on board and add her expertise in the field of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders to our team,” said Catherine Brock, The Center’s executive director.

“Anna will help ensure that The Center remains a leader in assessment, diagnosis, care coordination, family support and education for children touched by one of these disorders,” said Don Cardinal, Ph.D., The Center’s advisory board chair and faculty member at Chapman University’s College of Educational Studies. 

The Center is a collaboration of the UC Irvine School of Medicine, CHOC Children’s Hospital, Chapman University’s College of Educational Studies, the Children & Families Commission of Orange County, and the William & Nancy Thompson Family Foundation.

Laakman joins The Center having served most recently as training core manager for the Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Missouri, where she worked with parents, teachers, first responders, and providers to teach best practices in autism. Laakman has extensive training and expertise in evaluating children and has consulted with others nationally and internationally on the use of tools associated with an ASD diagnosis, including the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI). She received a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University in sociology and communication and a master’s in special education at the University of Missouri with a specialty in autism. 

For more information about The Center, please visit:  

About The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Founded in 2001 (originally as For OC Kids), The Center is home to a team of experts in the field of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. Since its opening, The Center has been a leader in clinical services, research, education, and outreach, serving clients from birth through 22 years old.

In late 2012, a catalytic investment by the Thompson Family Foundation and the Children and Families Commission of Orange County provided $14.8 million to expand The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders. 

The Center was established to provide help and hope to children, adolescents, young adults and their families challenged by autism spectrum and other neurodevelopmental disorders through excellent clinical care, innovative research, quality education, and community engagement. For more information, please visit:

Tom Vasich / UC Irvine Strategic Communications