About Mary

and Stepping Stones

Educational Services

Mary Orlando final.jpg

Hi there, and welcome to

Stepping Stones!

My name is Mary Stone and I am a special education author, advocate, trainer, and presenter.

My aim is to empower families and teachers to find equity and inclusion for their children in all educational and life experiences, and to foster accessibility within community organizations. 

I was first introduced to the world of special education when my youngest son was diagnosed with a Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NVLD). Once I had the diagnosis, I really thought there was going to be someone who would tell me what to do in order to help my son. But there wasn't. 

With a lack of guidance in finding services and supports to set him up for success, my husband and I felt as though we were on our own. We didn't know where to go, who to see, what questions to ask, or how to ask them. I knew that I needed to help my son but I didn't have the resources - let alone the vocabulary - to get started. It was completely and utterly overwhelming.


I wanted my son to be a part of the world - not isolated from it - and in his early elementary years we were observing that just the opposite was happening. Navigating the educational system in the hopes of helping him was like being in the middle of a thick forest, with little light and no trail in sight. We could hear his classmates gathered together, growing and learning with one another, but we couldn't find the map to get there. By the time he reached 2nd grade, I realized that if I wanted to be able to help him achieve his goals, I would have to learn more. I decided to go back to school, enrolling at UW-Milwaukee in the Exceptional Education program.
I knew that this choice would enable me to help my son, but I didn't realize how it would continue to change my life. 

Slowly but surely, my family began to illustrate our map. Developing the vocabulary and voice to speak up for my son' needs added color and clarity to our picture. With this guide in hand, our path started to illuminate. Opportunities for my son to learn alongside and in community with his peers increased. I was able to advocate for him, and as we grew together, he was able to learn how to do this for himself.  


But as I continued to study, I became more and more aware of the depth of inequities for individuals with disabilities. I was so frustrated and I knew that there had to be other families that needed a map too. While I recognized that our map was unique to us, I also knew that there were some common, key practices that would work for all, and that others could benefit from learning how to create their own map for their child/student with special needs. I realized that my work could support children and families beyond my own. Inspired, I moved forward. 


I received my Early Childhood Special Education Teaching Certification and went on to complete my Masters Degree in Exceptional Education. I began presenting to the community, starting at my son's school, and over the last 15 years have presented at conferences across the United States and facilitated trainings to students, parents, teachers, administrators and community organizations on diverse topics in Special Education. I knew that I had found my purpose, and I desired to keep learning, keep spreading knowledge, and keep fostering empowerment for others. 

My drive to share my services with the greater Milwaukee area and beyond was the impetus for founding Stepping Stones Educational Services LLC. Through my company, I provide:

  • Trainings to students, parents, schools, community organizations, and businesses in understanding autism and other developmental disabilities

  • Consultation to teachers and schools to foster inclusivity in the classroom

  • Curriculum Materials and Books to further dialogue and deepen relationships 

  • Coaching to families to empower and enliven self-advocacy 

  • Talks and workshops at conferences and events 

Developing our map changed the course of our lives for the better. Currently, my youngest son is in his Senior year of college working toward his Bachelor's Degree in English and Creative Writing, I work full time in the Department of Exceptional Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and I am filled with joy to be offering my services to students, parents, teachers, schools, and community organizations. Through Stepping Stones, I work to bridge the gaps between children's needs and receiving the resources and supports they deserve.


I believe that by working together, we can create communities that support, empower, and celebrate individuals with disabilities. 

My personal and professional experiences have brought healing, happiness, and hope in this life-long journey. Please let me know how I can support you and your loved ones as a stepping stone in your journey. Feel free to contact me today. 


Praise and Awards

Mary is the 2007 recipient of the CEC June Hartenhaler Team Collaboration in Special Education award.

"I just completed a three day training with Mary Stone for an upcoming academy for students on the autism spectrum. This is the second time that I have been through the training but it didn't matter. The information was new and so applicable for the group. We participated in such thought provoking discussions and problem solving real life situations. The time flew by. As a former Special Education teacher, Elementary Principal, and Director of Instruction means that I have been through and conducted many training sessions. Mary is a natural. Students come to us from multiple situations and with various needs. Often, teachers are at a loss for what to do to support all of the diverse needs. All schools should consider starting their school year with a training session with Mary Stone. She clearly loves children and believes in success for all. I would highly recommend her. If you want a very knowledgeable professional with loads of experience and compassion, this is the person for you! Stepping Stones is a wonderful service!"
- Jane

"I feel as though Mary was very passionate about what she was teaching and she is experienced in it as well. She made conversations amongst the class easy and welcome.

It was such an open environment, I really loved it.

- Kayla

"Mary is more than a mentor, she is a friend. She entered this field with personal experiences, and her work continues to glow with inextinguishable compassion. She thoughtfully continues to help me find my own light, meeting me with care and trustworthiness. I would absolutely recommend her guidance for any personal or professional endeavors." 

- Brenna 

"Mary is the first teacher I felt that I actually connected to.

She wanted nothing but the best for us and did whatever she could to help us

learn and always gave positive feedback and suggestions. Super encouraging too!"



"Mary is very personable and understanding. She is also very knowledgeable and

eager to share tools and strategies to support students with special needs and their families and caregivers. Mary gives lots of real world examples from her own experiences. She truly cares about special education." 

- Anne

"Mary was very knowledgeable of the material and provided so many awesome examples to help me better understand the material being covered. I was highly impressed with her way of teaching and would recommend Mary and Stepping Stones

for your next professional development session."

- Ellie