Learn about our featured artist Hannah Kandel

Hannah Rose Kandel’s mother had a very typical and happy pregnancy. At nine months of age, her parents started to see some warning signs of possible hearing loss or autism. Her father is a neurologist and her mother has her master’s degree in Special Education. Hannah had the BAER (Brain Auditory Evoke Response) test done at Naples Community Hospital. The test was negative, meaning that her hearing was fine. Hannah’s parents took her too many different doctors and she was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disability-Not Otherwise Specified). Hannah didn’t sleep very much, had stopped talking, and was unable to know where her body was in space. Her parents put together a multidisciplinary team; speech/language therapist, an occupational therapist, and a neuro psychologist. Intervention therapies were started immediately!


Hannah has had a very unusual educational journey. Her parents were always trying to find the right programs to challenge her in social, academic, and independent living skills. She was able to learn language using the PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) developed by Dr. Andy & Lori Bondy. Dr. Bondy came to her home and helped her family and therapists learn this mode of communication. Hannah was mainstreamed for preschool and kindergarten while also attending ESE (Exceptional Student Education) classes.

Hannah started “talking” when she was around 5 years old. She had what her parents called “Hannahisms” – interesting ways of how she viewed the world. Such as, she called arm pits “tickle pits”. When she juiced oranges she called it “making the oranges dizzy”. And she loved to take the paper off all of her crayons because she wanted to have “naked crayons”.

After many years of special education, Hannah was mainstreamed full time at Seacrest Country Day School. She had an aide/shadow teacher with her in the classroom. The plan was to fade the support but she ended up needing the support the whole 7 years she attended SCDS.

Hannah has four big events that have happened in her life so far. The first one is her 2005 Bat Mitzvah. She studied for two full years so she could become an adult in the eyes of her Jewish Community.

The second event was getting her service dog HoneyBun. HoneyBun got her service training from Paws Assistance Dogs right here in Naples, Florida. Hannah and her mother trained with her for two years. She loves HoneyBun so much! Hannah says that HoneyBun keeps her calm. Her responsibilities with HoneyBun include feeding her, walking her, and making sure she is loved.

The third event was when her artwork was chosen to be put on a United Nations postage stamp. Hannah’s artwork was called “Crazy Love”. Everyone in her family flew up NYC to attend the Opening Bell at the NY Stock Exchange and to attend the UN Worldwide Autism Awareness panel discussion. People from all over the WORLD were in attendance. They wore headphones so they could understand all the different languages. After this experience, Hannah did a lot of public speaking at schools, rotaries, and religious groups.

Hannah’s fourth event was in 2013 when she started working on getting a traditional high school diploma with the online American School. She completed and received her High School Diploma in Jan 2015. Hannah started working on her AA Degree at FSW (Florida Southwestern State College) in the summer of 2015.

Hannah really likes working and earning money! She has worked at an organic grocery store/cafe/clothing store for 4 & 1/2 years and worked at a local movie theater too.

She is currently a student at the Dan Marino Foundation Program on the campus of FIU in Miami. She is working on getting her certification in MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist). The program has 4 classes in the areas of health, employment, MOS, and internship. She will finish the program in June 2018. Along with being a student, Hannah is now making ANI message bracelets to assist in bringing more awareness to society about individuals with additional needs. To learn about these powerful bracelets and how you can assist in getting the messages out just click on ANI.

Through the years Hannah has developed many hobbies; she danced for 20 years (ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, Irish Step), took art classes and cooking classes, did horseback riding, theater, and gymnastics. She works out almost every day & joined WeightWatchers to stay healthy in her mind and her body. Hannah would like to become a children’s book author.

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