Rick Lavoie served as an administrator of residential programs for children with special needs for 30 years. He holds three degrees in Special Education and holds two Honorary Doctorates in Education from the University of Massachusetts (2003) and Mitchell College (CT – 2007). He has served as a visiting lecturer at numerous universities including Syracuse, Harvard, Manhattanville College, University of Alabama, University of Melbourne and Georgetown. His numerous national television appearances include The TODAY Show, CBS Morning Show, Good Morning America, ABC Evening News, and Walt Disney Presents.
He has served as a consultant on Learning Disabilities to several agencies and organizations including Public Broadcasting Service, New York Times, National Center for Learning Disabilities, USA Today, Girl Scouts of America, Child Magazine, INSTRUCTOR Magazine and National Public Radio.
In 2009, Rick was the recipient of the Learning Disabilities Associations of America’s Samuel Kirk award.
He has delivered his message to over 500,000 parents and professionals throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. He has the distinction of having delivered Keynote Addresses for all three of the major special needs advocacy organizations in the United States (Learning Disabilities Association, Council for Exceptional Children, Children with Attention Deficit Disorder).
Rick’s intensive experiences at residential schools provided him with a “living laboratory” in which he developed and refined his methods and philosophies related to the education of children and adolescents with special needs.
Rick is the author of the book “It’s So Much Work to Be Your Friend: Helping the Child with Learning Disabilities Find Social Success (Touchstone/ Simon and Schuster, 2005). The book addresses the direct link between learning disabilities and social skills issues that many children face. Rick provides specific strategies for parents, teachers and caregivers about how to assist the child in making and keeping friends. The Library Journal praised the book as “a breakthrough.”
Most parents and professionals know Rick through his videos "How Difficult Can This Be? The F.A.T. City Workshop", "Last One Picked, First One Picked On: The Social Implications of Learning Disabilities" and “When the Chips are Down: Learning Disabilities and Discipline”. These classic, award-winning films have brought Rick’s sensitive and compelling message to countless thousands throughout the world. After viewing the videos, former First Lady Barbara Bush stated, "You really wowed us! I only wish that every parent and teacher in the United States today could also see your program."
His recent videos “Beyond F.A.T. City: A Look Back, A Look Ahead” and “It’s So Much Work to Be Your Friend: Helping the Child with Learning Disabilities Find Social Success” are among the most widely distributed films in the educational media.
His newest book and PBS DVD on student motivation “The Motivation Breakthrough: 6 Secrets to Turning On the Tuned-Out Child” (2007)were recently released and were featured in USA Today.
Rick and his wife, Janet have three grown children and live in the shadows of historic Fenway Park in Boston.