Sex & Relationship Series: Making Sex Education Meaningful for Neurodivergent Individuals

Let's talk about sex

Um, what did you say? Yes, you read this correctly. Talking about sex can be such a taboo and touchy (pun intended) topic. Dr. Jamie Barstein, a psychologist who runs the "Let's Talk about Sex: Exploring Intimate and Healthy Relationships for Young Adults on the Spectrum" class with AdvanceLA, joins me in this episode. We talk about how sex education for young adults with learning differences, autism, and neurodivergence has gone and what's missing to make it relevant and meaningful today. Jamie and I had so much fun that we decided to make a Sex & Relationship series. We tackling dating next, so stay tuned. 


To find out more about Dr. Barstein's young adult class with AdvanceLA, click here

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Laws Related to Transition, Challenging Traditional Legal Practice, and Preserving People with Mark Woodsmall

Uncategorized Mar 26, 2021

Preserve the people

In this episode, I interview Mark Woodsmall, founder of Woodsmall Law Group, special education attorney, father of a son with autism, and downright awesome person. While we discuss important laws relevant to the transition of disabled students to adulthood, Mark shares his unique mindset and philosophies that guide his legal practice, which are unconventional. Mark believes that the practice of law must be different when supporting individuals who need ongoing support in that being aggressive and adversarial may only work once. What happens when you have to go back to the same people the next year (or the year after) and need support? Fundamentally, Mark believes in preserving the people, all the people involved in a child's life. From the child to the parents, to the IEP team, to all the professionals involved, Mark believes that when collaboration, respect, and relationships are nurtured (yes, even at the legal level), the child (and eventually, adult)...

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Communication Challenges, Presuming Competence, and Supported Decision Making with Darlene Hanson

interviews professionals Mar 19, 2021

Everyone communicates, we just have to listen

In this episode, I interview Darlene Hanson, a seasoned speech and language therapist who has helped limited communicators find and use their voice for decades. Darlene helps us understand that everyone has something to say and we can understand them if we listen. This interview is jam-packed with mindsets that are critical for any ally or professional who supports neurodivergent or disabled individuals. From presuming competence, to the difference between unreliable vs. limited speech, to considering supported decision making as a replacement for conservatorship, Darlene's thoughts and words challenge current belief systems and are a call to action to change how we support individuals with communication challenges. Darlene is a beacon for this community, helping individuals who are often unseen and unheard find their voice and place in this world. Spending time with Darlene is always a joy and I always walk away with...

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Transition Assessments, Key Employment Skills, and Informed Choice with Bruce Bloom

It's about the apple, not the apple slices

In this video, I interview Bruce Bloom, a Vocational Expert, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Certified Autism Specialist, and CEO of Bloom Consulting. Bruce is an incredible resource and a light in the disability community, proudly placing over 1500 disabled and neurodivergent individuals in competitive employment over the past 10 years. Bruce's passion for his work and expertise is evident. His knowledge of the vocational space, especially as it intersects with disabilities, is sought after across the nation. School districts all over the nation hire him to conduct transition assessments. He's a legend. Bruce was instrumental in informing and shaping my approach to transition assessments and continues to offer his generosity of time and talent today. For this, I am truly and deeply grateful. Watch the full interview to understand one of Bruce's mantras, "It's about the apple, not the apple slices." 


Check out Bruce and all...

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What is a College Consultant? When Might One be Helpful? | An Interview with Dr. Eric Endlich from Top College Consultants

interview professional Feb 08, 2021

It's not just about college admissions

In my interview with Dr. Eric Endlich from Top College Consultants, I learn that a College Consultant is not just about someone that helps you get into college. Rather, they offer a formal process to fully understand a student. Combine this understanding with the expertise of a College Consultant, and a plan is formed to adroitly usher a teen into their next phase of young adulthood, whether this means immediately going to college after high school or not. 

Here are just a few things that Eric takes into account:

  • Who is the student? What are their goals/hopes/dreams? What is their learning profile? What accommodations and supports (if any) were provided in high school? What are the student's grades and testing scores? What do we know about the student's neurological and emotional profile?
  • What kind of school does the student want to attend? What kind of college experience do they want? Would the student feel more comfortable at a...
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How Does Reading Develop? Can Reading Problems be Treated? | An Interview with Anne Perry from Lindamood-Bell

Geeky magpie

In this week's interview, I had the privilege of interviewing Anne Perry, Center Director of Lindamood-Bell's (LMB) Pasadena learning center. A self-proclaimed lifelong educator and geeky magpie, Anne sees her role as making complicated things simple. She fulfills her promise as she spends time helping me better understand how reading develops, which I learned, is a complicated process. 

How does reading develop?

It turns out that our reading skills start with hearing sounds in utero. These sounds, which are further explored through singing, talking, and playing with infants, set the foundation for our overall language acquisition. Sounds are the first component of reading. 

Enter school. Now, sounds are paired with symbols (letters) and an old part of the brain that was once used primarily for survival is tasked with a new read. Symbol imagery (holding an image in your mind) is paired with sounds with added rules (phonemic awareness)....

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What is CBT and is it Effective for Individuals with Neurodiversities? An Interview with Dr. Nicole Pickering

Hello, Dr. Nicole Pickering

It's wonderful to be surrounded by wonderful colleagues who like to geek out with me. I've known Dr. Nicole Pickering, Director of the CBT Treatment Center, in the Los Angeles area for many years and she's always generous with her time and talent. I've been hearing lots of chatter in my sphere about whether Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment modality for individuals with neurodiversities, so I asked Nicole if she'd come on my YouTube channel to chat about it. Lucky me. She did. 

The nuts and bolts

Let's start with what CBT is. CBT is an evidence-based approach that has been scientifically proven to relieve anxiety-based (and other) disorders. Anxiety-based disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), phobias, tic disorder, and body-focused repetitive disorders (Trichotillomania, skin picking). 

CBT focuses on...

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What is The Glenholme School? An Interview with Lisa Berman

What is The Glenholme School?

It's always great to discover another wonderful placement for my clients. I had the chance to speak with Lisa Berman, Director of Marketing and Community Outreach, at The Glenholme School. The Glenholme School is a therapeutic residential and day program in Washington, Connecticut. Serving 10-21-year-olds on 110 acres of pristine property, The Glenholme School is able to offer a variety of therapeutic and athletic activities, while also providing a setting that grounds, calms, and relaxes.  

Lisa shared that the Glenholme program is built on the following pillars: kindness, respect, responsibility, honesty, and fairness. These pillars guide their program and promote the supportive and nurturing environment that allows students to heal, feel safe, to belong, and to grow. 

Who does best at The Glenholme School?

Students who do well in The Glenholme School program have average to above-average intelligence with learning...

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Squashing Fear and Reclaiming Life for Neurodivergent Individuals | An Interview with Arolyn Burns


What is trauma? In my line of work, I've run across this repeatedly and see the paralysis it delivers to my clients. It seriously breaks my heart. So, with the desire to improve my own skills, I reached out to one of our local experts and a wonderful colleague of mine to talk about trauma.

Arolyn Burns is a Licensed Therapist and the Director of The "A" Treatment Center. She specializes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, fears, and phobias. Arolyn's bag of therapeutic tricks reminds me of Mary Poppins' carpetbag, unbounded, and without limits. From hypnotherapy to EMDR to using rocks for grounding, Arolyn is a creative and masterful therapist, individualizing treatment to help her clients face their fears. 

Arolyn uses the term "whiteout" to describe what fear feels like when traumatized. When triggered by fear at this level, it's like snowfall is blocking a person's entire vision, the person can't think, and then shuts down. Trauma is an event that...

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CLIMB | An Insider's View of a Residential Program for Visually Impaired and Developmentally Disabled Adults

We are family

CLIMB has been supporting the independent living of adults with visual impairments and developmental disabilities for over 35 years. Located in the quaint towns of Sierra Madre (CA) and Alhambra (CA), CLIMB offers residential living and day programming that empowers choices and promotes independence. In an interview with Alexis, Director of Operations, and Joanne and Janet, two long-term residents of CLIMB, I became more acquainted with this special and unique organization. Fun fact: I discovered that Alexis is the founder's daughter and that Joanne and Janet have known Alexis for the majority of her life. CLIMB continues to be family owned and operated today. 

More than a place to live

CLIMB is organized into two main arms. CLIMB-Inc. is the residential arm, while CLIMB Transition Services is the day program arm. CLIMB offers personalized residential living options, where adults can live with peers in houses or independently in apartments. Individuals can...

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