Ellen Doman’s involvement in neurological rehabilitation began in childhood under the mentorship of her father, Robert J. Doman, MD, a prominent Physiatrist who developed successful therapies for patients suffering from brain abnormalities and injuries. From age twelve through her teens, Ellen accompanied her father to the rehab clinics where he taught her about diagnosis and rehabilitation, and allowed her to participate in hands-on therapies for severely brain-injured patients. By the time she entered college, Ellen had experienced years of training in rehabilitating a wide spectrum of brain disorders in patients of all ages.
Attracted to the fields of mental health and education, Ellen earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Albright College, then went on to St. Louis University to obtain a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Over the next decade, Ellen applied her unique synthesis of education and experience to positions ranging from Social Worker for a girls’ reform school, to Director of children’s programs for Philadelphia United Cerebral Palsy, to several years as Principal for Philadelphia’s three Doman Developmental Academies (private schools for special needs children).
In the 1980s, Ellen moved to North Carolina to run a treatment center for abused children who had been removed from the foster care system due to severe behavior problems and other complex issues. Here she pioneered diet and educational strategies achieving excellent results with the children, many of whom displayed significant jumps in IQ scores. Her success at the treatment center led to lecturing at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and area school districts on topics including the etiology of hyperactivity and the impact of diet on behavior.
Ellen’s career continued to reflect her interests in both mental health and education. She served as Director of Social Services for a large residential treatment facility in Florida housing 360 people ranging in age from four to forty. She then moved to California to work with the National Association for Child Development founded by her brother, Bob Doman. Years later, Ellen returned to St. Louis and opened her own private school for brain-injured and learning disabled kids, including those with Down syndrome. She went on to become Director of Education at a large facility funded by Catholic charities for abused, neglected and emotionally disturbed children, directing the educational programs for 150 residents and day students. Like many of her previous positions, this job required constant advocacy on behalf of the children, fighting for the rights of those who were doing well to be placed in regular schools.
Ellen left the residential facility in the late 1990s to work for the state mental health Wrap-Around Services, an innovative program sending Behavior Specialists into the homes of children at risk to help the families learn strategies to improve their child’s behavior in order to avoid state residential placement. While still working as a Behavior Specialist, Ellen opened a new chapter for NACD in West Chester, PA, where she now serves full time as a Neurodevelopmentalist and Director of Curriculum for NACD.
Ellen currently enjoys a full caseload of NACD clients of all ages and abilities including severely brain-injured clients, gifted youngsters, and a 73-year-old stroke patient. She loves the fact that NACD is constantly evolving, finding new and more efficient ways to solve problems. Having raised five children of her own, Ellen says, “I chronically have the mother hat on my head saying ‘Isn’t there another way to do this?’” And, after decades of professional experience with children severely damaged by poor parenting (or none at all) she finds “NACD parents are a constant source of amazement for me. You get really spoiled working with NACD parents because there’s no such thing as a bad parent in NACD. It’s a tremendous blessing to get to work with everybody.”