ISAAC'S Autism in the Wild Podcast is a weekly program produced by The ISAAC Foundation. Our host, Holly Goodman, is joined by fellow autism parents and local professionals who lend insight to all topics related to autism. Our goal is to create content that is easy to listen to, informative, and brings a smile to your face.
We are currently recording podcasts over ZOOM.
We'd love to hear your opinion on great topics and have you on our podcast. Plus it's all audio - no video so you don't even have to get ready!
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In this episode of ISAAC’S Autism in the Wild we talk to parents that all are raising both children on the spectrum and children that identify with the LGBTQIA+ community in some way. We have seen a large number of our kiddos with autism questioning their own identity or genders as well as several of the neuro-typical siblings exploring their identities as well. We discuss this connection and determine if we feel these are attention seeking behaviors or simply valid self exploration. We also discuss the challenges of parenting these children-the process of switching pronouns/names, and dealing with the critical views of extended family or communities that are less accepting.
This week on ISAAC’S Autism in the Wild our host Holly is joined by another VERY special guest, her son Tyler. Tyler is 17 years old and was the only child in the family to have spent time with Isaac as they were only 11 months apart in age.
Tyler is an aggressive advocate for those with autism and other special needs. He is very close to his brother Caleb and acts as a mentor to him which, as a 17 year old young man, comes with its pros and cons :) We joke, but you will hear throughout this episode, what a passionate and kind young man Tyler is.
We discuss Tyler’s early memories of Isaac, how the ISAAC Foundation has impacted him throughout the years, and the struggles that he has experienced. Take a listen, we are sure you will be inspired by some of the charismatic gems of wisdom Tyler shares in-between the curse words.
One last book that I’ve been pushing is: Divergent mind thriving in a world that wasn’t designed for you
by Jenara Nerenbeg who is a female autistic author
This week on ISAAC’S Autism in the Wild our host Holly is joined by a VERY special guest, her daughter Kelly. Kelly is 11 years old and has been raised in an “autism house” since day one. Her older brother Caleb (13yrs) has ASD 1 and now through Holly’s recent marriage she has gained an 18 year old step-brother, Cooper, who is more significantly impacted.
On this episode we discuss what life is like as a neuro-typical kid in a home where autism is present. As Kelly will divulge it is not all roses and sunshine, despite that, Kelly has a very optimistic view of her life and the challenges autism presents in general. Kelly is a very kind, empathetic young woman that is a fierce advocate for her brothers. She discusses the issues that have arisen as a result of autism, how she has dealt with those issues, as well as what she sees in the future for herself and her brothers with autism.
In this episode we discuss the cringe-worthy compliments we have received over the years. Sentiments like “God gives special children to special people” and “You are such a great advocate for your child” are meant to be confidence boosters, but over time can grate the nerves of a special needs parent. So listen in and hear some of the well meaning comments that have irked our parents over the years!
In this episode of ISAAC’S Autism in the Wild we are joined again by our friend Becky Gardner of “A Life of My Own” Executive Function Coaching. Several parents have also joined us to ask her questions about executive function as it relates to their own children. Listen in and learn along with our parents, some strategies to help launch our children successfully!
Becky Gardner, Becky@alifeofmyown.com
In this episode we are joined by Desiree Kameka Galloway of The Autism Housing Network. Holly had first learned of their work as well as the Madison House Autism Foundation a few years back while attending a conference about “Life After High School.” Holly was so impressed with Desiree’s presentation and has used their site as a reference to our families for years. The ISAAC Foundation has been receiving more and more calls from parents regarding concerns for long term living situations for their adult children in recent years so we reached out to Desiree to see if she could explain some of the housing options that exist and what the Autism Housing Network can do to help families as they determine the long term plans for their loved ones.
Madison House Autism Foundation
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This week on ISAAC’S Autism in the Wild our host Holly is joined by Sydney. Sydney is a 27 year old self advocate that just relocated to Spokane from Alaska. We cover it all in this episode: from her diagnosis as a child, to her career in Alaska, and now how she is settling in to life in Spokane. Sydney is an ambitious young woman with a strong sense of self and will be a great ambassador for self advocates in Spokane, we are happy to have met with her and look forward to collaborating with her again soon!
In this episode we discuss bullying, we have talked about this in the past in other episodes but felt that we had enough content to re-visit and dedicate an entire episode. We have three moms joining our host Holly and all of them have dealt with bullying to some extent when raising their children. Each of the parents recount the situations and share how the issues were resolved. We also discuss how the world has changed and cover how the bullying of 2021 compares to the “bully standards” of the 1990s when we were living the middle/high school experience.
UPDATE: Be sure to listen after the closing statements, we get a little update from Holly regarding Caleb’s rocket project in school
Power of words: TikTok video by _iamdiosa_
Welcome back to Part Two of our 100th episode special recording! We have a great group of parents together–in person–for the first time since before the pandemic. In this section of the recording we discuss our favorite podcast episodes and discuss how podcasting has affected each of them.
If you are interested in joining us on a podcast and telling your story please complete this form and we will be in contact to get you scheduled so you can meet the network of amazing families we work with!
Join us for a special episode of ISAAC’S Autism in the wild, our 100th episode!
To commemorate we held our first group in-person podcast recording since before the pandemic. It was amazing to see people’s faces again and enjoy some of the camaraderie we have been missing out on (including opening up some One Tree Cider).
For this episode we are joined by parents: David, Michelle, Maria, Angela, Chevy, and Karly, some of the voices you regularly hear and a few newer ladies we know you love! Full Disclosure-with a group this size we barely got through introductions before we had to wrap–so this is a two part special! Listen in to this part and part two which will be available immediately!
This week we are joined again by Becky Gardner, Executive Function Coach at A Life of My Own. We previously discussed finding and maintaining motivation for your loved ones with autism or other special needs (See Episode 89-Motivation)to help them set and achieve goals. In this episode we take the conversation a bit deeper and discuss the reasons they may be getting stuck and how that is not a reflection of their motivation, and more so a manifestation of their frustration. Listen in to learn strategies for determining what is holding them back from making progress and how to get “un-stuck”
Becky Gardner, Becky@alifeofmyown.com(425) 484-0773
The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
In Two Worlds, by Ido Kedar
The Reason I Jump
Today we are very excited to introduce our listeners to a truly inspirational self advocate, Tracey Cohen. Tracey reached out to us to share her resources with the intent to educate and inspire individuals, families, professionals, and anyone willing to learn about Asperger syndrome/autism. She wants to share her story to prevent others from the hardships and pitfalls of her past. We asked her to be on our podcast and share her story and we are so glad to have made this connection. Listen in, and we are sure you will be just as captivated with her and her story as we are!
There have been many misunderstandings in Tracey’s life. The most impactful misunderstanding was learning she was on the Autism Spectrum at the age of 39. A lifetime of feeling unheard and misunderstood suddenly had a name and a reason. Since her diagnosis Tracey has continued to study and learn about her diagnosis and how it influenced the choices that were made for her growing up.
Tracey currently helps facilitate a non-profit meetup group for adults on the spectrum, this group is based out of Michigan, however, all events are currently online so are available for anyone on the spectrum to take part in.
She has also written and published three books, all which can be purchased in print or audio/kindle.
Finally she is featured on the website: Growing Up Autistic where she shares her story, accolades, and links to her work.
To reach Tracey directly please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In this episode we are joined by two moms that both have young-adult children that are preparing to launch towards independence. Phara has a 23 year year old son and is currently preparing for their second-attempt at launching her son into independent living. Gerriann has an 18 year old son who is just graduating high school and will be continuing in the school system through a transition program.
We discuss with each parent the issues they are facing, the barriers to employment/living situations they are encountering, and the programs they have been utilizing to make positive progress. We also have a conversation about the needs of the parents and the importance of finding a support network and planning for the future.
Do you have a child that just hates taking their medication? Then this is the episode for you! We are joined by Amanda Hansen, a local special needs mom and friend to the ISAAC Foundation, to discuss the creative avenues she has found to administer medication to her son Trevin. Listen in to learn some of the tricks she and Holly have learned over the years and laugh along with these mom’s as they discuss the trials that did not end so well.
Did you vaccinate your child along a traditional vaccination schedule? We chat with a few special needs moms in this episode that have varying views regarding vaccination. We discuss how they worked with their doctors to protect their children from disease in a way that was most comfortable for them and their children. We also dissect information from both sides of the vaccine debate and dip a toe into the controversial topic of Covid-19 vaccines. Listen in to hear the decisions these parents made to ensure their children meet public school vaccine regulations, stay safe from disease, and how they handle the criticism of others with differing views.
This week on ISAAC’S Autism in the Wild podcast Holly is joined by an amazing mother, entrepreneur, and advocate for the nonverbal community, Dr Stephanie Vavilala. We were honored to zoom chat with Dr Stephanie about the amazing facility she is opening as well as the services she is currently offering in St. Augustine Florida through her LMH practice Therapeutic Expressions and her nonprofit organization Sabita Speaks. Listen in as we discuss important programs that have been created to fill the many gaps in special needs care across the country and the release of Dr. Stephanie’s book, Sabita Finds Her Voice which serves as a flagship for educating the youth about AAC Speech Devices and how they can better bridge the gap between the verbal and non-verbal populations.
Dr. Stephanie Vavilala, Ed.D, LMHC, BCBA, RPT-S is the CEO and founder of Therapeutic Expressions and Awetism Wonderland (an autism therapy center), as well as the author of the children’s book Sabita Finds Her Voice. She is the mother of a daughter who has autism and is non verbal, Sabita. Stephanie’s daughter inspired her to become a leader in the space of special needs. Her therapeutic style is holistic, empowering, and action-oriented. She and her daughter reside in St. Augustine, Florida.
The main link that Stephanie uses as a one-stop shop for her initiatives: https://stephanievavilala.com/
Sabita Speaks: A nonprofit which seeks to raise awareness around AAC devices for non-verbal folks: https://www.sabitaspeaks.org/
The website for her main practice (which isn’t limited to special needs) is here: https://therapeuticexpressions.com/
Purchase Sabita Finds Her Voice: https://www.amazon.com/Sabita-Finds-Voice-Stephanie-Vavilala-ebook/dp/B092Q2GFTW
Welcome to another episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild. This week we are discussing therapy interventions. While we have discussed many of these interventions at length in the past we have a unique viewpoint we would love to share. Gillis Williams, aka “GW” is joining Holly again to discuss his view of the therapy interventions he received as a child. They discuss which interventions his family sought out and which were the most beneficial and enjoyable from his viewpoint.
This week on ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild, Holly is joined by three special needs parents and they are discussing the fights that just aren’t worth fighting. These are the tasks that at one point in their life were worth an argument, but now in hindsight, were not worth the time/energy invested. We discuss topics like wearing appropriate footwear, screen-time, and dinner table etiquette.
Huge thanks to our new podcast voice, Nicole, who shared a gem of wisdom with us “Don’t accept criticism from someone you wouldn’t ask for advice” this sentiment was a great voice of reason while discussing the constant criticisms special needs parent’s tend to find themself surrounded by.
Today we are joined by Gillis Williams or GW of “Autism Chose Me.” GW is an incredible self- advocate for persons affected by autism spectrum disorder. Listen in as we discuss the controversy between the “light it up blue” and “red instead” movements and discuss how both missions have impactful goals that are beneficial to the autism community.
When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with autism. From grade school to high school issues I had included listening problems, struggles following directions in class, and repetitive behaviors such as flapping my hands and repeating random words or sentences. I also struggled making friends because kids in school didn’t understand my behaviors. Even my teachers, who tried to support me in all the ways they could, didn’t understand me either. However, with my supportive family at my side, we worked TOGETHER to get me help. They placed me in occupational and music therapies in grade school that assisted kids with disabilities, and also with hard work and dedication, I have become a successful speaker and entrepreneur, something that scientific research 15 years ago stated that hardly any autistic individual would have been able to accomplish. Most importantly, I have made friends along the way that understand me and support me. Without my family and friends for support, I would not have had any helpers throughout my life to “HELP” me overcome and accomplish! As the great Mr. Fred Rogers stated, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Social Media Advocates to look up: @paigelayle @reberrabon_bon @blackautisticking @raincloud.heart @resident_cryptid @autistic.alex @evelyn.jeans @lafilledani @autienelle
One of our most downloaded episodes of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild has been our “Dirty Looks in Public” recording. It seems that no matter where you are in your autism journey, you have a story to share about that time you were in public and felt the shaming glances from strangers, judging you and your parenting abilities. It is inevitable, and it is one of the worst experiences as a special needs parent. Today we are joined by a new panel of parents and talking about all of those cringey moments, how we dealt with them in the moment and how we would like other’s to respond when we are in a moment of meltdown at Target.
In this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild, we are joined again by Becky Gardner, Executive Function Coach at: A Life of My Own to discuss motivation. Finding and maintaining motivation is a tricky task in a nuerotypical brain–so for our loved ones on the autism spectrum we have to really dial in to determine which means of motivation will be successful. It is a process and can be discouraging, however the benefits to finding a sustainable intrinsic motivation can be life changing.
Self-Determination Theory of Motivation: Why Intrinsic Motivation Matters
Courtney E. Ackerman, MA., 2-15-2021 (Synopsis of Ryan and Deci’s work on Self-Determination Theory and Intrinsic Motivation)
Drive. By Daniel Pink (book)
– Autonomy: “Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” Control is by others, from outside (extrinsic motivators) – in some situations this leads to compliance but does not lead to desire. Autonomy is from within (intrinsic) – by definition it leads to a true desire to engage with the activity.
– Mastery: “One source of frustration … is the frequent mismatch between what people must do and what people can do. When what they must do exceeds their capabilities, the result is anxiety. When what they must do falls short of their capabilities, the result is boredom. But when the match is just right, the results can be glorious.”
– Purpose: “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”
TED Talk: “The Puzzle of Motivation” By Dan Pink
Although used in a different context, the science is valid and the research applies.
Executive Functioning –
> Smarts: Are We Hardwired for Success? (Book) by Chuck Martin , Peg Dawson, Richard Guare
> Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential (Book) by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare
Collaborative Problem Solving –
> Rethinking Challenging Kids: Where There’s a Skill There’s a Way, Stuart Ablon https://youtu.be/wgNpGThLl2U
> Changeable: How Collaborative Problem Solving Changes Lives at Home, at School, and at Work (Book) by J. Stuart Ablon
In this episode of ISAAC’S Autism in the Wild we discuss thing’s we wish EVERYONE knew about autism. In our day-to-day as autism parents we are frequently coming in contact with people that just don’t understand our children. Often times a stranger will witness our child’s moment of anxiety-driven meltdown and make the assumption that the child is simply choosing to misbehave. On the flip side, a person may meet a child with high functioning autism and ask “What is his/her special talent?” No matter how well intentioned there is a true lack of understanding regarding autism that directly impacts societies view on their abilities. Listen in as we discuss the main issues these moms wish everyone understood about autism.
Beyond Behaviors by Monda Delahooke, Phd
On today’s episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild we discuss fidget spinners with a panel of autism moms. Even though we all agree certain fidgets can be very annoying we see the value in them. We discuss the different types of fidgets, how they use them effectively, utilizing them in and out of school and more.
It has officially been one year since Covid-19 restrictions have been part of our lives. This means every single person has experienced a “Lockdown Birthday Party.”
Today our panel of special-needs parents are discussing hosting birthday parties when the traditional idea of a party is not allowed. What did they do for their kiddos on their special day? What do they wish they had done? What has the pandemic forced us to learn about the traditional idea of a party?
We know that on the whole, our children on the spectrum receive many more corrections each day than a nuero-typical child. In a world of “don’t do that” and “it is better if you do it this way” it is hard to achieve a high sense of self esteem and maintain confidence in yourself. We have discussed building self esteem in passing while recording other episodes but wanted a chance to discuss this topic as a whole. So, we invited a panel of parents that discuss the challenges their children-on all ends of the spectrum have faced regarding growing and maintaining self esteem.
The Covid vaccine is becoming more and more available. When it becomes available to our kiddos with autism will you be first in line-or not interested?
This is the question we posed to a group of parents in this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild. Listen in to hear the factors these parents are considering while deciding if they will vaccinate their children against Covid-19.
**Note to listener: during this episode a parent needs to leave to tend to a child with an injury. Rest assured the injury was very minor, the child received mom’s TLC & snuggles and has fully recovered!
In this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild we discuss choosing a therapy provider. Generally therapy providers are on a long waitlist and you take what you can get. With Covid-19 shaking up schedules we have a rare opportunity to access providers and appointments that were not previously available. With this new opportunity comes its own challenges. How do you choose between several therapy clinic options? We are joined by two autism moms with different therapy needs and backgrounds who discuss the path they took to formulate their child’s therapy schedule.
Previous Podcast: Episode#66 Navigating Wait Lists
In today’s episode we talk about ways to keep your children entertained when the weather just doesn’t allow you to go outside. During the covid-19 lockdown we are all stuck inside, alone, and our kids are starting to climb the walls! How are you keeping your kids busy and entertained when the outside world is closed? We discuss this with several of our autism parents and discuss different activities that have been successful in our homes. Toward the end of the program we also dip into outdoor winter activities and found that most of the resistance to outdoor fun–actually comes from ourselves as parents. Listen in and see if you agree!
Laser Tag: (several variations available online, this is the one that we purchased) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07ZPGM6NQ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_image_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Full Disclosure, this episode originally started out as a “recipe share” program. Our goal was to find those perfect gems in the culinary world that are nutritious and every member in the family will happily eat and enjoy. In recording this episode, we realized that this is basically NEVER the case. We had this discussion with several of our autism parents and between the 5 parents, all of our ideas were “no-go” items in one or more of each other’s households.
What did we learn from this epic fail? We learned that we are all very similar in different ways, and all share the same struggle of cooking for picky eaters. Listen in as we desperately try to find ONE food that all of our kids will eat, as I have already given away–we don’t find it (unless ketchup and cereal counts as a meal), but we have an exceptionally entertaining conversation as we tried to get there! And as an added bonus, this was recorded within earshot of Caleb, Holly’s son, who made several cameos in the episode with his delightful interjections. Enjoy!
This week ISAAC’S Autism in the Wild checks in with a few parents to see how they are keeping sane during these insane times. We are now over 9 months into the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss how our own self care looks as we have settled into the new normal. We discuss alone time, sleep, hobbies, social media and more. We also explore how our thoughts on self care have changed as we’ve adjusted to the decline in social interaction.
On this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild we discuss group homes. Over the years we have heard many polarized conversations regarding the care of those with disabilities. Often times a group setting is the most beneficial placement for a child with behavioral issues. We are happy to talk with Judi, from Visions for a New Beginning, who has started group home facilities in the Spokane area that find that happy medium between structured group home and a happy loving family home. Visions for a New Beginning has 5 locations in the Spokane area, all housing children that needed more support to address their behavioral and emotional needs. Judi is there with open arms to take in these children and help them find the structure and comfort they need to excel.
Listen in as we discuss some of the stigmas surrounding group care facilities and learn how Judi has seen these obstacles and worked to provide loving caring support teams to assist these children.
Visions For A New Beginning
In this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild we discuss support options for parents with children on the spectrum. Thanks to technology there are many more outlets for parents than there were in the years past. We discuss these opportunities with a couple of autism parents; Phara, mother to a young adult male, and David, father to a school-aged girl. We talk about the emergence of facebook support groups, programs through local non-profits (including The ISAAC Foundation’s Parent Nights Out), and focus on the emotional aspects of parenting a child with special needs.
Arc of Spokane: Parent to Parent Program
DADS Move: Support Groups
Facebook Groups: There are a ton of specialty groups out there, just search by keywords (autism/asd/special needs/neurodiverse/etc. local to your area.
*tip*If your child is diagnosed as ASD 1 be sure to look up “asperger” as many of these groups were formed when asperger was still a clinical diagnosis.
Special Kids of Spokane
You Too? Support in Spokane for Parents with Special Kids
The holidays are only a few weeks away so gift buying is in full swing. Today we are joined by a few special needs parents that are discussing gift giving. Which toys are a hit with their kiddos, which are a miss, and how to make the holidays special on a budget.
Famous Joe’s Vendor Emporium, 9126 E Sprague Ave, Spokane Valley, WA 99206
On today’s episode we discuss the ISAAC Foundation Station Visit program. We are joined by Lt. Matt Cowles of the Spokane Police Department, and Lt. John Goodman of the Spokane Fire Department. Joined by Holly of the The ISAAC Foundation, this group helped to create the Station Visit program that generally takes place every other month at both a Spokane, and Spokane Valley fire station (big thanks to the Spokane AMR first responders for their contributions as well!).
We discuss why the program was invented, the curriculum that is covered, and we share some fun anecdotes from past visits. If you have a loved one impacted with autism or other special needs this program is pivotal in creating safe perceptions of emergency personnel in case the day comes where they need to interact.
In this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild Podcast Holly has a conversation with a few of our local moms to check in during the quarantine to see how they are holding up. We began with episode with no plan, just a chance to share their successes and epic fails while parenting their special needs child during this unique time. We discuss Covid infections, social media, self care, virtual learning and more.
Join us for some laughs, woes and tips for surviving during this next round of quarantine.
About Camille with KidsCare Home Health Therapy:
Camille Farris M.S. CCC-SLP, based in Denver, Colorado
Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist with KidsCare Home Health specializing in speech, language, and feeding therapy
KidsCare has operations in Texas, Colorado, Idaho, and Oregon
Employment Settings for SLPs. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.asha.org/students/employment-settings-for-slps
Gleason, J. B., & Bernstein, N. E. (2013). The development of language. Boston,, MA: Pearson.
In this COVID-19 world we live in we are forced to accept a lot of “new-normals.” One of the challenges that affects a lot of our families is online schooling. Online school has been tough for a lot of us, but despite the issues we are looking to discuss hidden little gems of wisdom we have learned over the past few months. Hidden inside the uprooted schedules, changes in scenery, and endless questions presented to the parents who are now teacher aides…we have found MANY unexpected “WINNING” moments. Listen in as Holly, of the ISAAC Foundation, discusses these bright points with a few parents of children with special needs.
Our Guest: Becky Gardner of A Life of my Own Executive Function Coaching
816 W Francis Ave, #446 Spokane, WA 99205
After receiving an autism diagnosis one of the “go-to” therapy interventions that will be suggested for your child will likely be ABA therapy. But what is ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis)? How does it work? What benefits will it have for your child? These are a few of the questions we discuss in this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild today while chatting with Jeff Kalles of Lilac City Behavioral.
Center of Excellence Providers by county in Washington State: https://www.hca.wa.gov/assets/billers-and-providers/index-coe-applied-behavioral-analysis.pdf
Provider List: https://theisaacfoundation.configio.com/ShoppingCart.aspx?com=detailview&iid=487
Lilac City Behavior Services, PLLC
318 E Rowan Ave STE 201
Spokane, WA 99207
Phone: (509) 844–2429
Join us as we talk with a fellow autism mama that has made her way through the sometimes disheartening game of waitlist navigation. We discuss strategies for getting therapy while waiting for the “perfect” therapy regimen to fall in to place. We also cover ways to work your way up the list, how COVID-19 has affected the local wait lists, share stories of our experiences, and find the humor in our missteps.
There are so many therapy options available for our children with autism. Over the next few months we are will be interviewing local providers that offer each of these services to give you a better understanding of what each of these therapy options are and how they can benefit your children.
In this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild we are delving in to Music Therapy with Carla Carnegie of Willow Song Music Therapy in Otis Orchards, WA.
Carla is the primary manager and therapist for Willow Song Music Therapy Services. She is an experienced board-certified music therapist as well as a musician. She is trained on the violin, accordion, guitar, piano, percussive instruments, as well as vocals.
She has extensive experience working with older adults, individuals with neurologic disorders, individuals with mental illness, and military veterans. Carla holds high standards for the practice of music therapy and has based her work on the latest evidence-based techniques.
Carla received her degree from Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon with her Bachelor’s of Music in music therapy. She also holds a Bachelor’s of Music & Composition degree from Whitworth University in Spokane WA. She completed her 7 month clinical internship with Earthtones Music Therapy Services of Portland. She has recently completed her Neurologic Music Therapy training. Carla, wife and mother of 4 grown children, resides in Otis Orchards, WA and is dedicated to providing Music Therapy services to individuals and organizations in the Inland Empire area.
Beyond her experience as a Music Therapist, Carla is an active composer and is dedicated to her community. She serves as a pianist at two local churches as well as at the Brighton Court Assisted Living facility. She volunteers for VASA Lodge and is an active member of St. Andrew’s Society and Spokane Folklore Society. She is also a member of the band Crooked Kilt, a celtic band, where she lends her violin and accordion playing talents.
Willow Song Music Therapy
E. 21101 Wellesley, #102-103, Otis Orchards WA 99027
Please check out this video detailing a functional mri that shows just how much your brain responds to music to understand visually the impact of music on your brain. https://youtu.be/jkMlOrxYqWA
This week we have a great panel of parents discussing the ins and outs of friendship as it relates to their kiddos with autism. There is a common myth that children with autism generally do not crave the attention of peers and will not seek out friendship. Although that may be true to some capacity for some of our children, it is most definitely not the case for all children with autism. Many of our children still enjoy and seek meaningful friendship with their peers, it just may not always look the same as it does with our neurotypical children.
Listen in to hear us discuss the Friendship Algorithm which was brought to us through the TV sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.” Although this algorithm was written to be comical, it is actually a great tool to approach friendship and learning the boundaries and intent of your actions to make and maintain friends.
Finally we share stories of friendships gone well…and not so well, and how these particular parents handled these situations.
Extra-curricular activities are often an important outlet for all children to take part in during their school year. These opportunities bring about the benefit of physical activity, social and emotional communication with peers, a sense of community and more. But are all special needs extra curricular activities created equal? And how do we find activities our kiddos are actually interested in participating in? Today we discuss with a few autism parents what activities they have tried, which were successful, and which were duds!
Contact Info for some of the programs we discussed:
There was just so much more to cover on the topic of anxiety and its relationship to Executive Function that we decided to record a part 2 to this topic. In this episode, we dive into the 12-areas of executive function and talk about how anxiety manifests where struggles exist.
Becky Gardner comes to A Life of my Own with a holistic, collaborative approach created from a unique and varied background.
With a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy, which has its roots in purposeful, meaningful work to increase independence in Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), she brings a student-focus and student-driven approach to this work.
Having a deep Social justice / Neurodiversity core belief system brings a focus of self-determination and self-advocacy. This was further developed during work at Bellevue College’s Disability Resource Center, determining individualized college accommodations for students with disabilities so that they may have equal access to course materials.
Operating from a strengths-based educational model brings emphasis in student empowerment and nurturing their belief in their own self-efficacy. This was developed / enhanced while working with Sara Gardner (no relation, autistic creator of the current Neurodiversity Navigators program), and from working in and around the Autism Spectrum Navigators program at Bellevue College since its conception, Becky was the adjunct faculty for the Executive Functioning course, and co-taught other courses including Self-Advocacy.
Having experience working through her own disability / executive functioning deficits, and having two neurodiverse adult children, brings an understanding of the day-to-day events and efforts that go with these experiences.
Working with college, high school, and middle school students at varying stages on the continuum of independence, brings rich and varied experience to this work.
A Life of my Own is the natural culmination of this prior work and life experience.
Becky is excited to offer her skills and experience to a wider group of young adults to improve their understanding of what ”adulting” / independent living looks like, and to assist with increasing abilities in necessary areas leading to independence – and their feeling of A Life of my Own.
A Life of My Own
If you have a child with anxiety (neuro-typical or special needs), this is a podcast that you’re going to want to listen to. Find out how challenges in executive function lead to severe anxiety.
Whether it’s traveling by air, car or RV, this fun group of moms give some fantastic strategies to help make your next family vacation successful at any age.
This week we are talking with Roni, our Sibling Spotlight Facilitator at the ISAAC Foundation. Sibling Spotlight is a specially designed program for kids of all ages who all have one thing in common. They each have a sibling touched by autism or other special needs. The goal of the program is to provide a healthy support system and coping skills through fun and engaging activities that ultimately help them navigate this complicated journey. This is a monthly program, offered exclusively by the ISAAC Foundation, where young people come together in a fun and safe environment to interact with peers, mentors and program facilitators.
We are discussing the importance of sibling support and how to determine if your neuro-typical children are struggling with living in an autism household.
To view details about our Sibling Spotlight program or to register your child for the 2020-2021 session visit the ISAAC Foundation’s site here: https://theisaacfoundation.configio.com/page/siblingspotlight
This week I had the pleasure of talking to a few parents that were willing to share their experiences with a CPS investigation into their own families. We discuss the events leading up to their reports, their experiences while being investigated, and how both of their cases eventually were closed.
This is a scary and sometimes embarrassing situation that special needs families often find themselves in. Our hope is that by sharing these stories we can help to support each other, as well as urge more intensive training for mandated reporters so that these unfounded reports are less common in our community.
Watch for PT 3 where we will discuss this topic with John, a first responder and an autism dad, who has been involved on both sides of a CPS investigation.
If you have questions for Holly or our CPS contact, Meg please reach out to: email@example.com
This week we talk about ways parents have trusted their gut instincts when it comes to understanding problems and needs related to their child with special needs. You might think this only relates to families who have children who lack functional communication. This isn’t the case. This week you will learn from my guests that even when your child is highly verbal, parents must still trust their gut when it comes to many different situations involving their special needs child and their ability to adequately self-advocate for themselves.
My long-time friend, Meg, joins me to share her knowledge as a social worker within the system of Child Protective Services (CPS). She shed a lot of light on:
Becky Gardner joins us for another episode to walk us through all twelve areas of executive function and how they impact the success of our children.
As Becky shares, Executive Functions are complex, higher level of thought processes that allow a person to accomplish higher level tasks throughout their day. Everyone has them and everyone has executive functioning strengths and weaknesses. The different combinations of these make us unique and different in how we go about things.
In this podcast, we learn about all twelve executive function areas and how they impact our kids.
If you believe your loved one would benefit from the expertise of Becky Gardner, she can be reached at
A Life of Your Own
In this podcast, executive function extraordinaire, Becky Gardner, joins us to talk about the challenges that executive function deficits can pose for our children; and I don’t just mean our kids with autism. If you have felt concern about any of your kids’ ability to focus, initiate tasks, plan and prioritize tasks, manage time, define and achieve goals, then you DEFINITELY need to listen to this podcast. Executive function challenges affects just as many neuro-typical kids as those with special needs.
Becky shares about her professional background as an Occupational Therapist and how this lead her down the road to becoming an executive function coach.
Interested in learning more about Executive Function and how Becky can help your child use their strengths to over come their challenging areas of executive function?
In this week’s episode, I was able to interview three amazing local first responders: 911 dispatcher Raegan Hays, Lt. Matt Cowles of the Spokane Police Department and Lt. John Goodman of the Spokane Fire Department. John and Raegan are not only first responders, they are also parents of wandering children with autism. In this episode our first responders walk us through a call reporting an eloping child from the time the call is placed to the time a child is located and reunited with their family. Lt. Matt Cowles also lets us know how and when CPS becomes involved.
In this week’s podcast a group of parents joined me to talk about their experiences when their children have wandered from home and required the assistance of first responders to bring them safely home. Tune in to hear:
Stay tuned for Part 2 interview with first responder interviews with: 911 dispatcher Raegan Hays, Lt. Matt Cowles of the Spokane Police Department and Lt. John Goodman of the Spokane Fire Department.
Are you a parent who religiously gives gifts to your child(ren)’s teachers each year? In this podcast, a group of parents join me to discuss how they handle Christmas, Teacher Appreciation Day, and end of the school year gift giving. I won’t lie. This year, I felt that the only appropriate gift for these poor teachers was WINE!
I asked my guest parents:
The best part of this episode is that two of our guest parents are also teachers so were willing to answer all of my other burning questions:
In this podcast, we discuss the language and symbols most commonly used within our autism community and how it relates to our loved ones touched by autism. We discuss why parents choose certain language and how it can help and, at times, hinder our ability to effectively communicate information about our loved ones; specifically when engaging in discussions with individuals in our community who may have less knowledge of the disorder.
Ever wonder why things seem to escalate so quickly at home right now? With routines and structure changing so radically during our Stay Home, Stay Safe order, I asked my friend Jeff Kalles (BCBA) from Lilac City Behavioral Services to join me to discuss some general concepts that might help parents navigate escalation at home.
You can find Jeff Kalles at Lilac City Behavioral Services. His clinic is located on the north side of Spokane at 318 E. Rowan Avenue. If you are interested in getting on LCBS’s wait list for ABA services, please click here.
If you enjoyed this podcast, check out our LIVE @ Lunch interview that Jeff Kalles on YouTube.
In this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild, a group of autism parents join me to discuss this very emotionally charged topic: if you could cure your child from autism, would you? It was a fantastic discussion of parents respectfully sharing their thoughts and feelings on this sensitive topic. Our hope is that this podcast sheds light on both sides of this discussion and may help individuals who sit at one end of these two extremes to hopefully see the perspectives of those who live in the middle or even the other end of this debate. Our hope is that we can all grow in empathy and compassion of others within our autism tribe.
*This podcast is intended to be a respectful discussion. Rude and hurtful comments will be removed out of respect for our guests who were brave enough to openly share their perspective in this podcast.
On this podcast, a group of autism parents join me to discuss personal pet peeves related to the public’s perception of autism and different myths and stereotypes that we hope to change.
This is a jam packed episode filled with amazing content. The first half is a group of parents who joined me to tell us how they deal with explosive language and behavior as well as ways we use self-care to decompress.
For the second-half of the episode, Roni Gross, special education teacher and Sibling Spotlight extraordinaire, shares with us:
This week we discussed where parents would like to see more community inclusion and, in an ideal world, what would that look like.
In these complicated times, it’s easy to be taken advantage of with out without a disability. Family members join me to share examples of times their loved one has been socially prayed upon by those who lack good intentions. These families share:
A group of parents joined me to discuss some of their experiences with their special needs child and integration in the general education setting. In this episode we discuss:
On this episode, a group of parents joined me to talk about their favorite school accommodations and how they have helped their children over the years. The reality is that your favorite school accommodation is what works best for your particular child and this looks different person to person. However, I find that if you don’t know what options are available, it’s hard to know what to advocate to have in place for the best IEP or 504 for your kiddo.
A list of known school accommodations can be found on our website at: https://theisaacfoundation.configio.com/ShoppingCart.aspx?com=detailview&iid=478
This week’s podcast may not be what you expected. Just because our loved ones are affected by an autism spectrum disorder, doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of being naughty like every other kid. This week, a group of autism parents join me to share their laugh-out-loud stories we hope will improve your mood.
In this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild Podcast, a group of parents joined me remotely to talk about various television, movie, and theater characters who depict autism and whether they are truly helpful in educating the public about autism spectrum disorders. We also talk about the gaps in portraying those that are more significantly impacted by autism and other disabilities.
In this unique episode, we virtually connected our guests (due to the need for social distancing) to discuss the pros and cons of participating in weekly therapy visits. In this episode, we talk about:
On this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild, special guest Mary McDirmid, SpecialCare Planner with Mass Mutual (and more importantly – Special Needs Mama) joined me to give me the crayon explanation of all of the confusing numerical and alphabet terms associated with investment accounts that may be put in place to support individuals with special needs. We specifically talk about:
…and so much more…
Mary McDirmid, ChSNC
The loss of adult relationships after an autism or other diagnosis is really not that uncommon. Since friendships are often forged based on common interests, hobbies, and kids, these connections can become fractured when our paths take a different turn after a diagnosis. In this podcast we talk about situations where friendships have ended and where new friendships have been formed. We also talk about defense mechanisms that might be in place to protect our hearts from hurt and rejection.
In this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild, we talk about different ways parents have experienced conflict with school administrators and ways they handled and potentially resolved these conflicts. We wrap up the episode with some words of wisdom learned through these conflicting encounters.
As special needs parents, we celebrate milestones that other parents might take for granted when raising a neuro-typical child. However, with progress often comes periods of regression which can be heart wrenching and depressing to endure. In this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild we talk about regression and how it looks for different families AS WELL as some positive experiences that parents have encountered from periods of regression.
For years I have struggled with complicated emotions of whether to work outside the home to earn an income to help support my family and the added expense of raising a child with special needs versus staying home to be able to dedicate more time to my children and pursue additional interventions for my struggling child. It was no surprise that there was a tremendous amount of parent interest in participating in this topic discussion. In this podcast you will hear different parent pro and con perspectives related to working outside the home as well as perspectives from parents who staying home to focus their attention on raising their children.
*this episode contains adult language.
Marriage takes work. This is a common sentiment that rings true for most couples. In prior episodes we have discussed the toll that can be taken on a marriage while parenting your own children with special needs, but on this special episode we focused on an additional niche, parenting a step-child with autism. Or on the opposite side of this topic, working with exes and new step-parents to your child. Emotions can run high when discussing health/safety/discipline needs with an outside yet permanent second party.
Listen in as our panel of autism parents discusses their personal journey through parenting their children/step-children with special needs and maintaining/rebuilding their personal relationships.
It is no secret, having a child with autism can be hard. Hard on your emotional health, family dynamics, and ultimately can be hard on your marriage. With the average divorce rate in America hovering around 50% adding the strife of chronic doctor/therapy appointments and the stress of paying for said appointments can bring many couples to the brink of divorce.
On the flip side, many parents say that the need for constant communication regarding their children with special needs has strengthened their marriage by forcing them to delve in to the uncomfortable topics and promoting healthy communication across the board.
Listen in as our panel of autism parents discusses their personal journey through parenting their children with special needs and maintaining/rebuilding their personal relationships.
Tanya Holmes has been a regular guest on ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild podcast since it’s launch in 2019. Each time she joins me, she brings her unique experience as not just a mother, but also a primary school counselor and teacher. While Tanya’s demeanor is soft and more reserved, she is not afraid to challenge her school district when it comes to advocating for the needs of her child in the classroom and fighting for the IEP she knows her child is legally entitled to have. Tanya has taken more IEP workshops of any parent I know – which is why I refer so many of my struggling families her direction. I call her my IEP legal eagle.
I have had the pleasure of getting to know self-advocate Taylor Crisp since the summer of 2019. Don’t let Taylor’s quiet demeanor fool you. While timid at first, Taylor is not afraid to open up about her experiences growing up in a time where fitting in with her peers meant hiding her autism diagnosis from her friends. Taylor is also a mother and shares some of her experiences raising her young daughter.
In this episode, Taylor and I talk more about:
15 years ago, college opportunities for individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders was practically unheard of. In the few cases I came across, the opportunity was made possible by a dedicated parent who attended each class with their loved one to help provide the one-on-one support their child needed. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. There are many universities within Washington and throughout the United States that are either specifically for students with special needs or universities who have added programs that support these individuals.
In this podcast episode Doug Piehl, retired national director of college planning for Thrivent Financial, joined me to discuss the options he saw in his position with Thrivent and things parents can be doing to help prepare not just their child with ASD but also their neuro-typical child for post secondary education. Believe it or not – you can start planning as early as 8th GRADE!
Doug Piehl, while retired, may be reached at Piehldouglas@gmail.com for specific college planning questions.
Carter Crandall of Blythe Interiors, is not just an Interior Designer, she is an autism mom. Carter joins us this week to discuss elements within our environment (both at home and in classrooms) that should be considered when working to make spaces MORE sensory friendly. Carter tells us that ALL spaces can be made to be sensory friendly for all people (at the same time) and these interior adjustments don’t have to break the bank!
As promised, you can learn more about Carter and Blythe Interiors at: https://www.blytheinteriors.com/carter-crandall
As parents, it is difficult to agree on every single decision when raising children. It becomes even more difficult when you raise children with special needs. In this episode, we discuss:
I believe that one of the most difficult conversations that a parent must have is on the topic of planning for a life-long special needs dependent upon your death. In this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild, a group of parents joined me with our special guest Randi Johnson, Attorney at Law, to discuss a variety of issues such as:
As promised, our guest Randi Johnson of Lilac City Law may be reached for further questions or to schedule a consultation at (509) 624-1610.
In this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the wild, I had the pleasure to sit down and interview Clara’s (episode 23, Perspectives Over Time) daughter, Sophie Strom, who was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder as a young girl. Sophie, now in her twenties, tells us what it was like growing up in a time when very little was understood about ASD. Sophie shares her experiences overcoming sensory processing challenges and insights that parents raising young children will not want to miss. There is no way that you will walk away from this podcast NOT feeling absolutely inspired.
Two common sayings you might here me say are: hindsight is 20/20 and wisdom is wasted on the old. There are so many times that I have looked back at a moment or phase in my life wishing that I could change my response to a situation or that I could somehow share some of my current wisdom with my younger self. In this podcast a group of parents joined me to share some advice and words of wisdom that they hope might help other parents along their autism journey.
In this weeks podcast, I was very fortunate to have an autism mom veteran join me. Clara’s daughter Sophie, now in he early twenties, was diagnosed in a time when there were very little knowledge and resources available to families. It’s moms like Clara that helped pave the way for better services and inclusion for the younger generation of children diagnosed with ASD. In this podcast you will learn about her journey and advice she wish she would have had when Sophie was younger.
While the decision to have more children may be easy for some families, it can become complicated for others – especially when you have a child touched by autism. Statistics tell us that parents who have a child with autism only have a 2-18% chance of having a second child affected, this information does weigh into some family’s decision as to whether they want to add more biological children to their family. In this podcast, a group of us shared our experiences and thoughts when we made the decision to have more children.
This is a question that I am often asked by teachers and close friends. What do you do when you notice red flags for autism in a child, but the parents don’t seem to notice or are in denial? A group of parents joined me in this podcast episode to explain ways they’ve encountered these complicated questions and how they handled the dilemma of whether to tell or remain silent.
Many parents experience grief after an autism diagnosis. These stages of grief mirror the same stages that grieving parents experience after the physical death of a child. In this podcast, we talk different stages of grief and its impact in our lives and relationships around us. We also talk about how we circle back to grief phases at different stages of development.
Over the years, my friends and family have enjoyed reading many of my hysterical stories that I affectionately call my Adventures of Sockpants & Super Heroes. In this episode, a group of parents joined me to share some of their personal autism bloopers from months and years past.
This is an topic that we will continue to record. There are just so many bloopers that will help you feel even more connected to your autism tribe of parents.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll do just about anything to get a decent night of sleep. In this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild you’ll find that you’re not alone if you have unconventional strategies to encourage sleep as well as hear more about:
I think that all parents feel guilt in some capacity when it comes to raising children. Unfortunately, the feeling of guilt sometimes runs a little deeper when your child has special needs. In this podcast, a very authentic group of parents joined me to discuss ways that parent guilt (and a bit of rage) has manifested in their lives. We hope that this podcast helps normalize any feelings of guilt you may be feeling. We will continue to podcast on this important topic moving forward as we discuss other ways guilt manifests within a family. In the meantime, we hope this podcast episode helps you feel that you are not alone.
*we apologize for the poor audio quality of this podcast.
In this episode, I sat down with Rachael Leonard who not only is a parent to two amazing young people with an autism spectrum disorder, she also has spent the majority of her carrier working to support clients in a supported living environment. Rachael shares with us:
Our goal as parents is to help our special needs loved one become the best they can be. CBD has been a hot debate for many years. In this podcast we discuss why some parents have elected to give it a try. Here’s what you’ll find:
This is one of my favorite podcast recordings so far. In this laugh-out-loud episode, a group of autism parents joined me to commiserate about the challenges of having a picky eater. We shared a variety of stories and strategies such as:
If you listen to the end, I shared a recent account of my last family dining debacle in at Denny’s.
Conflict is never easy, especially when it arises within your own family. In this podcast a couple of dads spent time with me talking about how conflict within their extended family arose related to:
We set a new guest attendance record for this fun podcast recording where we all shared stories about family activities that may not have gone exactly as expected. Trust us, it does get better with time and some therapy interventions under your belt. In this podcast you will find some insight into some family activities that you might find will work for your special needs family such as:
Our focus this week is on caregiver self-care. Self-care is difficult for any parent to fit into their day – but it often becomes more challenging for parents of special needs kids when respite care is hard to come by. In this week’s episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild Podcast, a small group of moms joined me for a lunch hour to discuss:
Dr. Laurie and I dived into the confusing world of AAC communication and what this means for our kids with language disorders. You’ll learn:
***The second half of this podcast is dedicated to specific information regarding Dr. Laurie’s current research projects at WSU. Families with young children starting as early as 9 months of age (with and without concerns of ASD) can be part of her program to help further research on language development in young children. The second project focuses on developing a screen process for assessing language in young children, once it it is present. This program is for children ages 2 to 12 years of age.
This post will be updated with contact information for research program participation as soon as it is available.
*we apologize for the poor audio quality of this recording.
In this episode, a group of parents joined me to debate whether its possible to make it “fair” when raising both neuro-typical and neuro-diverse kids. Join us for:
The feeling of isolation is real for many parents who have a loved one touched by autism. In this episode of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild a group of parents joined me to discuss:
*We apologize for the poor audio quality of this podcast. Thank you for bearing with us as we upgrade our equipment for future recording sessions.
A therapist is a pivotal part of a child’s development. In this episode, a group of parents join me to discuss the circumstances of when changing therapists becomes appropriate. We cover in this podcast:
*We apologize for the poor audio quality of this podcast. Thank you for bearing with us as we upgrade our audio recording equipment.
Parents are often faced with making very difficult decisions when it comes to the welfare of their children. Choosing to explore the world of pharmaceuticals for their child is often one of them. In this podcast I was joined by a large group of parents who shared with us:
Have you ever wondered if you are accessing enough therapy for your child? A group of diverse parents joined me to discuss:
If you’re an autism parent, then you know what I’m talking about. Public scenes or outburst happen from time-to-time, and I have a fun group of autism parents join me in episode #1 of ISAAC’s Autism in the Wild to: