Monday, January 3, 2011

The NOAH Project

The NOAH Project was very different.  It received attention from CBS out of New York before it was even opened.  A reporter, researching autism treatment programs, read our website and insisted on doing a piece on us.  He seemed as anxious to see us finally open in October 2002 as several of the parents were.  Within just a couple weeks after opening the filming crew and reporter came down from New York City.  They spent a day filming us: our students in their program, many of the parents were interviewed and I also answered several questions.  The segment aired nationally on November 24, 2002, between 6:00 and 6:30 PM, with John Roberts as anchor.  As a result of the televised segment with CBS Evening News we had hundreds of calls and were able to create a waiting list of families from around the world who wanted their child to attend.  In fact, we started discussing the build-out of an international school with a local developer (an associate of my clients) who had multi-use land and wanted to develop an entire international community around the school.  Her vision for Dallas was that of becoming an international center for medical research and she felt this would be a great boost with autism ("a medical mystery") on the rise.

It was a long road in the development of this school.  While the vision for the school came in an instant, the work needed to bring it to fruition took some years.  During 1998 and 1999 I did the initial research, wrote articles in local magazines and had meetings with the attorney to get the organization set up and the Board members in place.  In December 1999 The NOAH Project's non-profit Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Texas. Following that filing we (the initial Board members) had brainstorming meetings, did market research and strategy planning, plus provided a free public speaking series.  The attendance at the speaking series was sometimes as high as 500 people.  Its purpose was to provide families, educators and therapists with an alternative way of working with our special kids, in addition to teaching about special nutritional and diet needs for these children and special therapies such as Auditory Integration Training.  We built community in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, a place for sharing ideas, discussing challenges, supporting one another and constructing the most positive attitudes and beliefs about our children. 

The Federal non-profit status, called a 501(c)3, was approved by the Internal Revenue Service in October 2001.  The man who anonymously contributed to the school and made it all possible was named in the application for the 501(c)3 as the major contributor. The determination from IRS and his willingness to contribute allowed us to move forward with the school, seeking an appropriate site.  It was another year, October 2002, before the building was completed and the school opened.  The building specifications were extensive and considered "special-use" as all the childrens' individual play/work rooms were sound-proofed, every two rooms shared a bathroom and all rooms were monitored constantly.  Each child's room also had an observation room attached and outside of every two rooms was a computer station for the recording of each session with the child.  The security system was state of the art because these kids are known as escape artist, even under the best of supervision.

Because of the one-on-one method of working with each child and the intense training and feedback required for each child facilitator/teacher it was a costly program.  We knew this and budgeted for this from the start.  The program included meeting with each child's parents every two weeks, goal setting meetings every week (the children were progressing very rapidly) and constant feedback sessions to the facilitators as well as the parents if they were wanting to be trained so as to continue the program at home in the evenings and on the weekends.  The annual cost per child to run their program was $100,000.  We decided on an annual tuition of $20,000 with the remainder to be absorbed by contributions initially, then research grants, foundations and additional individual contributions once up, running and observable.  It was the belief of the major contributor that NIH, universities and foundations would best be able to understand our program and the differences from the public school system if they could actually observe it in progress.  Thus the order of the funding priorities was set and the business plan in place and well documented.

I wanted you to have a good picture of the school and the program before getting into the details of my case and the drawing of time lines and events.  This is something the jury was not allowed because of the Motion in Limine which did not allow us to talk about the school, the children, their progress or ANY "bad acts" of the two men who falsely accused me, including the bad act of falsely accusing me!!  The prosecution filed this 10 days before trial....that Motion guaranteed the prosecution a win for many reasons which I will discuss further in future blogs.

Take a tour of The NOAH Project below....

Child's program, she is looking in one way mirror at herself

Child's program

Child's program, great eye contact, a great invitation to our world!!

Child's program

Child's program - the best way to make that connection is to wholeheartedly join.  When we join they are no longer in their world alone. They are not forced or told to look at us, we are positioned to get eye contact and we make sure that eye contact (sometimes just fleeting) is the most welcoming and non-judgemental connection.  We never move against a child but go with them.


Observation room, outside each child's work/playroom, with one-way mirror looking into room

Monitor room, 2 people watching all rooms all the time, rotate personnel every hour to stay fresh

Computer station for recording session's data outside child's room

Children's work/playrooms on both sides of hallway, computer station outside. The purple rooms are the observation rooms, the shorter cubicles are the computer stations, and the child's rooms are just beyond (attached to) the observation rooms. All sound proofed so as to quiet their environment.

My Nate working with teacher at computer - increased his speech

My Nate walking with a teacher, good eye contact, trusting relationship


  1. Very interesting, Audrey.

    And I remember that Aunt Helen and Uncle Warren in Tennessee 'happened' to catch the segment about you and the Noah Project on TV. I think they called Mother on the phone immediately!

    We all saw the video of it later. It was really good.

    It's incredible that that whole wonderful project - and you - were sabotaged so horribly.

    I look forward to reading more.

  2. Love all of the photos! You really created a special place for these kids. I know that the LORD will bring justice.