Autistry Studios Staff


Janet Lawson, LMFT, CEO/Executive Director

Janet is a Marriage and Family Therapist and has worked with adolescents and young adults for many years. She has a Masters in Library and Information Science (Indiana University) and an MS in Counseling Psychology (Dominican University). She worked for several years in the film industry and was a Producing Fellow at the American Film Institute. She is a Phi Beta Kappa – Summa Cum Laude graduate of UC Berkeley, with a major in Film Studies. Blog Posts
Dan Smiles

Dan Swearingen, COO/Director of Studio Operations

Dan was educated as an astrophysicist but has mainly worked in software development for private industry and government projects. Outside of work Dan has always loved building things and Autistry Studios leverages and challenges all his skills. Dan’s job is to maintain technologies for the students to use in their projects and teach the students how to (safely) use them. Blog Posts

Sara Gardner, LMFT, Clinical Director

Sara is a graduate of Mills College and has a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University. She has years of experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum. Sara is an accomplished role-playing gamer and has developed a therapy model for working with young adults using role-playing scenarios. She is also an avid equestrian and quite skilled with LARP weapons. Sara oversees the Autistry intake process, is a therapist/mentor in the workshops and also counsels clients in individual sessions.

Reina Carmona, ACAP Mentor

Reina received her Bachelors degree in Communicative Disorders and a Minor in Special Education at San Francisco State University in May 2018. Previously she’s volunteered with numerous organizations that work with children on the spectrum. She became interested in Autism through her experiences working in the field and is now hoping to make it a concentration in her future practice as a speech-language pathologist.

Phil Lewis, Core Workshop/ACAP Mentor

Phil is an award-winning landscape and fine-art photographer. He has years of experience as a computer teacher in Austin, a co-teacher at an International Baccalaureate school in Durango, and working one-on-one with students at a full-inclusion school in Los Angeles. In these settings, he worked closely with students across a wide spectrum of ability. Phil has a passion for equity, social justice, and inclusion. It is this passion that led him to join Autistry Studios as a mentor.

Michaela Callahan, Core Workshop/ACAP Mentor

Michaela is currently in the Liberal Studies program at Dominican University of California. She intends on doing the five plus one program to get her teaching credential to teach both k-8 and special education. Michaela currently volunteers at an elementary school teaching younger grades in the mornings. She has always known she wants to work teaching others, so Autistry is perfect for her. When Michaela has downtime, she loves to take pictures and go anywhere with water. She loves the rain and enjoys to be outside whenever she can.

Adjunct Staff


James Dinkelspiel, Mentor

James began volunteering at Autistry in late 2015 and returns to us in the summer months. James was first introduced to Autistry when his older brother Chris began attending. James is currently attending UC San Diego studying engineering. 


Camille Schilling, OT Intern / Mentor

Camille graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Human Development from UC Davis. During her undergraduate studies, Camille worked with young children with autism. The meaningful relationships she developed with her clients along with her interests in psychology and anatomy strongly influenced her desire to pursue occupational therapy. Now that Camille is interning at Autistry Studios, she is excited to learn about the occupations and interests of young adults with autism.

Blue Gardner: Dog

Woof woof.