Gene McConnachie, PhD Retires from DDA
If you are a parent whose child was diagnosed in the 1990’s, you know that there was not much in the way of supports and services for our families back then. Little was understood about ASD and treating challenging behaviors, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) was not widely endorsed much less covered by insurance and it was almost impossible to find skilled providers to serve us. Lucky for us that at that time, Gene McConnachie had recently completed his graduate work under Dr. Ted Carr, a pioneer in the field of Positive Behavior Support (PBS).
Gene began his work in Seattle with the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) in 1993 as a clinical psychologist at two of our state’s Residential Habilitation Centers (RHC), Rainer and Fircrest. In 1996, he moved into Field Services, providing direct service to clients and families in their homes and for the past two decades, Gene has been a significant figure supporting DDA case managers, consulting with parents about behavior supports and how to navigate the DDA system, building local resources and partnerships to enhance supports to prevent clients from needing psychiatric or DDA institutional placements, teaching Positive Behavior Support to our community partners, and providing quality assurance for these services and supports.
In Gene’s twenty years at DDA, waiver services expanded to include the Children’s Intensive In-Home Behavioral Support (CIIBS) and Individual and Family Support (IFS) waivers and for fifteen years Gene’s Behavioral Support Team (BeST) program is still going strong. He trained upwards of 1000 residential support and other staff on PBS implementation within the context of DDA policies.
Gene has also played a major role in our region through his board participation in the annual Washington State Co-occurring Disorders Conference, ensuring that DDA clients and stakeholders received relevant training at a conference that would otherwise have been more exclusively focused on co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. In addition, Gene served on the Seattle Public Schools Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council and collaborated closely with the King County Developmental Disabilities Division. Nationally, Gene has served on the leadership team of the Home and Community PBS Network and on the Board of Directors of the Association for Positive Behavior Supports.
Today, as many of our kids diagnosed in the 1990’s are transitioning into adulthood, Gene is retiring from DDA. I asked him if he had one wish for families served by DDA, what it would be and he said this:
“That DDA services are preventive instead of reactive so that we could assist families to navigate the many challenges to having a healthy family life from birth on, and prevent the trauma, turmoil, and much of the burn-out our parents experience raising a child with IDD. We provide mostly reactive services after much client and family anguish, stress and trauma have already worn families down.”
To Gene McConnachie, our friend, colleague, advocate, and ally, we owe you a world of gratitude and wish you all the best! Till we meet again . . .
While retiring from DDA, Dr. McConnachie is semi-retiring from work! He will continue to serve families living with ASD and ID in his private practice. You can find more here: