Interview with Martin Slyngstad as an autistic author, college student, and behavior specialist

This month is World Autism Month!

As we all know, Autism is a lifelong neurological development disability. Children who live with autism will grow up as adults with autism. It is so important to accept autistic people, so there is more advocacy for autistic people in the world.

During World Autism Month, my next guest as part of the guest interview series is Martin Slyngstad!

Martin Slyngstad is an autistic self advocate from California! He is an author of a book called, “Chatter Box: My Life with Autism A Mother and Son’s Perspective “. He created this book to share his perspective growing up with autism and his mom’s perspective as a parent of an autistic child. We discussed about his book, being a college student, and working as a behavior specialist. Finally, we wrapped up discussing the importance of acceptance and advocacy for autistic people everyday, not just during World Autism Month. Check out the interview I did with Martin here:

To purchase Martin’s book, click on the link here:

TV shows and movies starring autistic people

Did you know more autistic people are working in the entertainment industry?

The entertainment industry has been working on including autistic people as actors and actresses in TV shows and movies. It is still a work in progress, but the entertainment industry has been improving when it comes to starring autistic people in TV shows and movies. Here are some TV shows and movies to check out and watch that star autistic people, so you can learn about autism as a spectrum:

1. Love on the Spectrum

2. Atypical

3. The reason I jump

4. Life Animated

Do you know any more TV shows or movies that star Autistic people? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Books about autistic woman

Did you know autism is not only diagnosed in boys anymore?

For a long time, autism has been mainly diagnosed in boys. More girls and women have been getting diagnosed than before due to various factors, such as receiving a previous misdiagnosis. Now that more girls and woman are autistic like myself, here are some books to check out and read about autistic woman:

  1. Carly’s Voice

2. The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s

3. Odd Girl Out: An Autistic Woman in a Neurotypical World

4. The Electricity of Every Living Thing: A Woman’s Walk in the Wild to Find Her Way Home

Do you know any more books written and published by autistic women? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Best aspects of being Autistic

April is National Autism Acceptance and Awareness Month!

Personally, I learned being Autistic when I was in 6th grade, even though I was diagnosed with autism about the age of two. My family and I were at a family’s friend house one day, and we watched Dr. Temple Grandin’s HBO documentary film. After the film, my parents shared how I was like Dr. Temple in some ways. From there, I finally began to understand how I live differently from everyone. I was shocked at first, but learning about living with Autism helped me learn about myself a lot:

  1. I have a deep passion in my special interests. I have interests in baking, drawings, writing, and etc. My main special interest is educating and helping people with disabilities, including the autism community. It all started for me back in Colts Neck High School for a after school program for students with disabilities called, “Cougar Connections”. Ever since then, I have been working directly with students with disabilities as a paraprofessional for a few years so far. Currently, I have been in college studying Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) for my bachelor’s degree, and will eventually provide ABA therapy for clients with autism. My passions have been helping me grow my career in life.
  2. I am perseverant. No matter the obstacles I have encountered throughout my life, I never gave up and kept on going to get where I want to be at. For example, my mom wanted me to learn self-defense because it would help me improve my motor skills and self-control, so she signed me up for taekwondo classes at ATA Black Belt Academy. I was one of the couple of students with a disability that was put into regular taekwondo classes. Even though it took me more time to get down the steps when performing forms and sparring others, I earned my black belt when I was 10 years old! It was December of 2008. My older sister Samantha and I earned our black belts on the same day! It turned out to be my favorite activity of all time, and I will never forget my experience there!
  3. I am loyal and committed! I am so grateful for all of the people who are still in my life, no matter the amount of changes that have occurred. If you ask any of my friends, they can tell you I am loyal because I am always there for them through the good and bad times, no matter what. Plus, I am committed in all I do for myself and for others, such as supporting myself and others to thrive in life.
  4. I am accepting of differences. I do not really judge people for who they are because I believe people should be their real selves. The world needs all kinds of people!

What are the best aspects of yourself? How will you support Acceptance and Awareness Month? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Functional Communication Training (FCT)

Functional Communication Training (FCT)

What is Functional Communication Training (FCT)?

Functional Communication Training (FCT) is a communication procedure in which teaches an alternative behavior/response that results in the same reinforcement used to maintain the problem behavior/response. Through FCT, differential reinforcement is implemented to reinforce the new communicative response/behavior and puts the problem behavior that was maintained by reinforcement on extinction. FCT teaches a new response/behavior for the purpose of promoting functional communication.

FCT helps autistics learn to use communication strategies to get their individual needs met. For example, Josie is a 49 year old woman diagnosed with a severe intellectual disability. She has very limited language skills, but has capabilities of expressing one word vocal responses. She engages in self-injurious behavior in which she slaps the sides of her face with her hands. After a functional assessment was conducted, the results demonstrated that the function of the behavior is attention. Through FCT, Josie would learn to request attention by tapping on a person’s shoulder and verbally communicate the word, “Hi”, since she has very limited verbal language. The reinforcer would be attention, so immediate reinforcement would be provided to Josie in the beginning, and then the schedule of reinforcement is thinned overtime. By having Josie learn to request attention, then she would get her individual needs met. FCT helps autistic people improve on communication skills by using strategies to teach various ways to communicate with others in the environment.

Have you tried using FCT for your client, student, or child? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Interview with Antonio Aponte as an autistic marketing specialist/video editor and co-creator of NTICI app

Did you know autistic people have many skills and talents?

Autistic people are very driven and dedicated in everything they enjoy. When autistic people work in careers based on their special interests, it takes them far in life. This truly has for this next featured guest:

Antonio Aponte is an autistic self advocate who works with Full Spectrum ABA. He has been representing Full Spectrum through his main role as their marketing specialist and video editor. His special interests and talents of video editing and photography have driven him to help the company create an app called “Nuerodiverse Training in Creative Industries” (NTICI). To learn more about Antonio and the app he co-created for Full Spectrum ABA, check out the interview here:

To learn more about Antonio and his role with Full Spectrum ABA, go into this link here:

What are your skills and talents? Do they apply in your current career, or are you looking into a new career where you can apply your skills and talents? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

One year in the sunshine state!

Today is a special day! My family and I have been living in Florida for a year now. We arrived in Florida exactly a year ago on this date, and it was spring break for the schools during the time. When we arrived, we moved into a rental apartment complex that we ended up living in while our house was being built. Attached is a picture of our new family home we moved into four months ago:

In the past year, a lot has occurred! I gained full time work within the first month I lived in Florida for my county’s school district. Two months later, I gained work with Full Spectrum ABA on various roles. Furthermore, I have been reunited with my best friend/longtime boyfriend, and we created some fun memories so far while I have been living in Florida. Throughout the year, I have been going on adventures with my family on the west and east coast of Florida, such as visiting the beaches. In addition, I have been attending college online for my bachelor’s degree and will be finished this year in the fall. As you can tell, I am so excited for more memories to be created!

I am so grateful to be living in Florida now. I feel that living in Florida has opened so many doors for me as a young autistic adult.

What do you enjoy about Florida? Share your experiences in the comments section!

Functional Behavior Assessments

What are functional behavior assessments (FBAs)?

Functional behavior assessments (FBAs) are a systematic process for figuring out the functions/reasons for behaviors. Behaviors can be occurring for sensory, attention, escape/avoidance, and/or access to tangibles. There can be more than one function/reason an individual engages in a behavior. These assessments consist of indirect and direct assessments, as well as a functional analysis.

Indirect assessments are indirect observations in behavior analysts gather information from the client’s parents, teachers, therapists, and etc. Methods implemented during indirect assessments can include rating scales, questionnaires, and interviews. Direct assessments are direct observations of the client in their natural environment. Behavior analysts observe the client in their natural environment and record using data sheets like ABC data to learn the setting/event before the behavior and consequences provided after the behavior occurred.  A functional analysis is conducted to confirm the function(s)/reason(s) for the behavior by setting up specific conditions. Here are examples behavior analysts find out confirmed function(s)/reason(s) for behaviors:

  1. Attention- An individual or client shouts out answers in the classroom, they are reinforced from their teacher by saying “Do not shout out answers!”
  2. Escape- when an individual or client screams when a worksheet is provided during their tutoring session. The tutor gives the individual or client a time-limited break from completing the worksheet by letting them escape the demand.
  3. Access to tangibles- An individual is taken to the store with their parents. They want to buy a toy, and their parents said no. An individual starts screaming and crying to get a toy.
  4. Sensory- An individual or client spins in circles and rocks back and forth because it makes them feel good.

After functional behavior assessments (FBAs) are conducted, then behavior analysts create behavior intervention plans (BIPs) that are effective for individuals/clients.

Have you heard of FBAs before? Do you understand why they are beneficial for ABA therapy sessions? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Importance of reading

I was a guest reader for my classroom at work for Florida Literacy Week back in January 2022!

Did you know tomorrow is Read across America day?

Read across America day is celebrated by having students enjoy time to read their favorite books. In Florida, the state had their own literacy week dedicated to celebrating the joys of reading back in January of this year. No matter which state you live in, the country knows that reading is important for everyone.

In fact, reading is beneficial for peoples’ overall success in life, including people with disabilities. People are provided with background knowledge of the world through reading, which helps increase cognitive development. People connect their own lives with the characters and events in stories. Reading daily helps people increase various skills, from communication to social skills. By helping people read early on in life, it prepares them for academic success. These are the five skills essential for peoples’ overall development in life:

  1. Phonemic awareness– being able to hear and identify spoken words.
  2. Phonics– connect letters of written and spoken words.
  3. Vocabulary– words needed to communicate effectively with others.
  4. Reading comprehension– ability to understand and know meaning from stories read.
  5. Fluency– being able to read quickly and accurately.

Reading is the key for lifelong learning. These benefits mentioned will be carried on for peoples’ entire lives. Here are some ways to get students/children with disabilities to enjoy reading:

  1. Develop a special bond with your student or child by reading with them on a regular basis in their favorite place.
  2. Schedule a time to read daily with the student or child.
  3. Do some research about books the student or child may be interested in.
  4. Go on a field trip to the library or bookstore with your student or child to help them find books they would love to read.
  5. Help your student or child create a list of books they will read, so they can set a goal to read all of the books on the list.
  6. Keep it fun!

Do you enjoy reading? Why does reading matter to you? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Interview with Kevin Askew and Maribeth Edmunds about safety in schools and technology

Do you think schools are as safe as they used to be?

As we know, there has been an increase in regards to in school bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and suicide rates. Many factors are considered, such as our world’s experience with COVID for a couple of years now. Students with disabilities are the most vulnerable population to become victims from bullying, cyberbullying, and etc. To decrease these events, collaboration among the community and the right ways of using technology is key!

Based on this topic, I am so excited about these next two guests!

Maribeth Edmunds and Kevin Askew

This guest interview episode features two people who are committee members with me in the NJ Autism Think Tank. The guests are Kevin Askew and Dr. Maribeth Edmunds! Kevin Askew works for STOPit Solutions, a technology company that promotes safety in schools, work places, and beyond. He provides his perspective about ways technology can make schools a safer environment for all students, including students with disabilities. Dr. Maribeth Edmunds returns as a guest to provide her perspective as a former principal in the education system and parent of an autistic adult about technology impacting all students, including students with disabilities. Check out the interview I did with Kevin and Maribeth here:

Do you think technology will contiune to impact all students inclusively in goods ways or not? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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