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Annette Y. Dahlman, Ph.D.

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Annette Y. Dahlman, Ph.D. Obituary
Dr. Annette Dahlman passed away at home early on the morning of Sunday, January 9. She was 81. Since 2004, Annette Dahlman Ph.D. had been the director of research and evaluation of the Southwest Special Education Local Plan Area, a consortium of school districts and charter schools in Los Angeles County, serving over 12,000 students with disabilities and their families. Dr. Dahlman spent her entire professional career focusing on individuals with developmental disabilities. She had a bachelor's degree in business, a master's degree in education, a Ph.D. in human development and psychology and a post doctorate in behavior management and applied behavioral analysis. She was trained at the University of Southern California as an existential psychologist and after working with children with developmental disabilities she found that the single problem that most impacted a child's learning was their behavior. She documented her findings and titled the publication: "When Love Is Not Enough". Dr. Dahlman joined Dr. Ivar Lovaas at UCLA and participated as a research psychologist collecting data at Camarillo State Hospital on individuals with behavioral problems and autism. Dr. Dahlman taught elementary school through college level courses. She was director of the Kennedy Child Study Center in Santa Monica, where she started the California Association of Private Special Education Schools (CAPSES). Concurrently, she was a member of the administrative staff of mental health services at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica. She became the associate director of the Dubnoff Center for Child Development in North Hollywood, CA. During this time she served on the president's committee on mental health. Dr. Dahlman served on the subcommittee for President's Committee on Mental Retardation (PCMR) under President Kennedy and subsequent presidents until she was asked to serve on the President's Committee. During her tenure, the committee authored Public Law 94-142 (Education of All Handicapped Children Act). She was in Washington when President Ford signed that landmark legislation which gave children with a handicap rights to go to public school. Dr. Dahlman then developed research on Prader Willi Syndrome (a complex non-hereditary birth defect resulting from an abnormality on the chromosome) while she created and managed group homes for children with behavioral disorders including children with Prader Willi Syndrome, Autism Spectrum disorders and other severe behavioral disorders. (For her research on Prader Willi Syndrome, Dr. Dahlman was awarded the most significant research at the International Congress in Medical Deficiencies in Toronto, Canada). While managing these homes she created programs for operation within them, including behavior management, nutrition and exercise. She worked with the foremost authority in obesity George A. Bray, M.D., and Albert A. Kattus, M.D., cardiologist and author, and clinical professor of medicine, UCLA. Changes in nutrition, behavior management and exercise proved to be a significant means to better health and in light of the findings Dr. Dahlman developed the Weigh to Live System, which was franchised through hospitals at many locations throughout the nation. Dr. Dahlman collected data on 84,000 patients who attended the Weigh to Live System over 22 years. Dr. Dahlman's was a member of the Kennedy Foundation Board and the Kennedy Library Foundation Board. She served on the boards of eight companies, which included a broad variety of businesses from an architectural firm to a meat packing company. She continued in her field of education and served as a consultant for the California Department of Education's Early Education "Infant and Youth" program. Dr. Dahlman conducted numerous workshops and trainings on all aspects of disability awareness, services, and education, and was the keynote speaker for school districts, conferences, statewide organizations and parent groups speaking on parent-professional partnerships and other related topics. Dr. Dahlman lectured at California State University, Los Angeles and Northridge campuses, University of Southern California and Mt. St. Mary's College in the Special Education Master's Program. She developed an online course on the Foundations in Autism Spectrum Disorders designed as a foundational course to be taken by para-professionals, general education and special education teachers, as well as school administrators and parents. In 2010, Dr. Dahlman launched an online program for teachers on autism spectrum disorders which was certified by the California Commission for Teach Credentialing. Dr. Dahlman had been the recipient of many awards including the Mayor's Award from the Los Angeles County Commission on Disabilities. Dr. Dahlman had teaching credentials in general ed and special ed as well as psychology. She earned a psychotherapist license and was trained in psychoanalysis at the Hampstead Clinic under Anna Freud. Dr. Dahlman combined her education in business, education and psychology during her career. Her special interest in autism fulfilled her lifelong direction to help children with developmental disabilities, especially those with autism and their parents. She worked actively locally and nationally for the cause of children with special needs. Dr. Dahlman is survived by her five daughters, Kathy Nenneker, Judith Rhodes, Barbara Reynolds, Annette Thompson and Amy D'Ambra; five son-in-laws, Chuck Nenneker, Judge Randy Rhodes, Mark Reynolds, Douglas Thompson, and Anthony D'Ambra; twelve beloved grandchildren, Chaz and Katie Nenneker, Alyse, Michael and William LoPatriello, Nicole, Douglas, and Sarah Thompson, Evie Rhodes, Elizabeth, Caroline, and Anthony D'Ambra; and countless wonderful children whom she loved and helped throughout her long and productive life. A rosary will be held for Dr. Dahlman on Friday, January 14 at 7:30 at Saint John Fisher Catholic Church, 5448 Crest Road, Rancho Palos Verdes. Services for Dr. Dahlman will be held on Saturday, January 15 at 10:00 at Saint John Fisher Catholic Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Special Children's League, please note: Annette Dahlman Memorial Fund, SCL, PO Box 2526, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA 90274. Please sign the guestbook at www.dailybreeze.com/obits. You are welcomed to leave the family a message or share memories at mcnerneysmortuary.com.

Published in Daily Breeze on Jan. 13, 2011
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