Shaping the Future: Influential Women in Autism and ABA Therapy

March is Women’s History Month. It’s a time to celebrate the accomplishments of women in all walks of life.

In the area of autism and contemporary applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, many women have made a lasting mark. They’ve broken barriers. They’ve conducted significant research, and they’ve paved the way for better understanding and treatment of autism.

Today, we spotlight seven women who have shown us what it means to lead with passion, dedication, and commitment. They are making a difference, and their work continues to inspire future generations of women in the field.

1. Temple Grandin: The Trailblazing Voice in Autism Advocacy

Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is a name synonymous with autism advocacy. Born in 1947, she was diagnosed with autism in early childhood. Despite the challenges, she went on to become an esteemed academic and animal behaviorist. She has gained recognition for writing books and delivering speeches on autism and animal behavior. Today, she is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University.

2. Greta Thunberg: Championing Climate Action and Autism Acceptance

Greta Thunberg is a Swedish environmental activist. She has gained global recognition for her efforts to fight climate change. She’s also known for being openly autistic. She has referred to her autism as her “superpower,” and has discussed how it has helped her in her activism by allowing her to focus intensely on topics that interest her. Greta has used her platform to advocate for acceptance and understanding of autism. On her Facebook page, she identifies herself as an “Autistic climate justice activist.”

3. Breanna Clark: Shattering World Records and Autism Stereotypes

Breanna Clark is an American Paralympic athlete who was diagnosed with autism at age 4. She competes in T20 category races, a classification for athletes with intellectual impairments. She has represented athletes with autism on an international stage. Off the track, she’s been an advocate and role model for people with autism.

4. Ronit Molko: A Powerful Force in Autism Therapy and Entrepreneurship

Ronit Molko, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is another luminary in the field. She is a thought leader and subject matter expert in autism spectrum disorder, developmental disabilities, and behavioral healthcare. She co-founded Autism Spectrum Therapies (acquired by Learn It Systems) and is a LEARN Behavioral board member. In this All Autism Talk podcast, she talks about how ongoing research is helping us better understand the unique challenges girls with autism face.

5. Devon Sundberg: Shaping the Future of ABA Therapy and Autism Awareness

Devon Sundberg, MS, BCBA, co-founded the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism (BACA). She has made significant contributions to the field of behavior analysis, both through her work at BACA and as the founder of the Women in Behavior Analysis conference. In this All Autism Talk podcast, she shares how raising three daughters helped open her eyes to how gendered life can be — and about the need for more women in the autism field.

6. Hanna Rue: Pioneering Innovations in Autism Treatment and Research

Hanna Rue, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is chief clinical officer for LEARN Behavioral. Her research interests are broad and include the identification of evidence-based practices for the treatment of autism. Her influence in the field of autism is evident in her wide-ranging work that spans clinical care, research, and advocacy. She has made significant contributions to STEM fields, sharing her insights through various platforms, including top-performing podcast episodes about autism, and extending her influence and reach in the autism community.

7. Sabrina Daneshvar: Revolutionizing the Field with Innovation and Compassion

Sabrina Daneshvar, Ph.D., BCBA-D, serves as the senior vice president of clinical services at LEARN Behavioral. Her research interests include video modeling and teaching social skills. This work has contributed to developing innovative strategies for improving social skills in children with autism. Sabrina has also taught, mentored, and trained many graduate students pursuing their degrees.

These are just a few women who have helped to shape the field of autism and ABA therapy. Their work underscores the importance of early intervention, peer support, and recognizing the diverse signs and symptoms of autism in girls and women.

We celebrate these women and everyone who has made contributions to advance our understanding of autism. They provide hope and inspiration to countless families across the world affected by it.

Celebrating Women in Autism this International Women’s Day

For decades, women have played a crucial role in diagnosing, understanding, and treating autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As ASD becomes more prevalent, women continue to be instrumental in developing and refining treatment through vast areas of research. There is much to be recognized, not only for women’s incredible contributions to the autism field but also for their experiences living on the spectrum.  

In honor of International Women’s Day, check out our top five All Autism Talk podcast episodes featuring notable women.  

1. Dr. Temple Grandin – Navigating Autism

2. Dr. Ronit Molko- Girls and Autism: Diagnosis, Treatment, and New Research

3. Devon Sundberg- Women in Behavior Analysis

4. Jennifer Cook- Female Life on the Spectrum

5. Adrienne Bradley- Race and How it Impacts ABA and Our Community

All Autism Talk is a leading autism podcast that offers friendly conversation with inspiring individuals in the autism community. To learn more about All Autism Talk, please visit https://www.allautismtalk.com/  

Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Debra Moore – Navigating Autism

Dr. Temple Grandin returns to the podcast to discuss her latest book, Navigating Autism, which is a collaboration with psychologist Debra Moore, who has done extensive work with children, teens, and adults on the autism spectrum. This episode highlights Dr. Grandin’s powerful personal insights and wisdom with practical support and help from Dr. Moore. In this lively conversation, Drs. Grandin and Moore delve into a number of topics, from how to teach your child basic skills to what you can do to identify and stretch your child’s strengths and interests. The authors also share their belief that many educators, parents, and caregivers underestimate their kids, and they offer advice on what parents can do to help their child reach their highest potential. 

Interested in ABA services for your child? Contact Us: https://lrnbvr.com/contact

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All Autism Talk (allautismtalk.com) is sponsored by LEARN Behavioral (learnbehavioral.com/learnacademy).

10 Top-Performing Podcast Episodes About Autism

In a year when the pandemic kept many families at home and on their screens, many Americans turned to podcasts to fill their downtime. At LEARN Behavioral, we’re no exception.

We recently reached our 100th podcast milestone on All Autism Talk, where we’re connecting the autism community one podcast at a time. In celebration of today—International Podcast Day—we’re launching a new podcast with Temple Grandin discussing her latest book, Navigating Autism: 9 Mindsets for Helping Kids on the Spectrum. We’re also bringing you 10 of our highly popular episodes:

 

1. Temple Grandin – Parenting Kids with Autism

In one of our most-listened-to podcasts, Temple Grandin, PhD, an American scientist and animal behaviorist who has been a trailblazer for people with autism, shares advice for parents raising kids on the spectrum. Drawing from her experiences growing up with ASD, she talks about everything from sensory overload and excessive screen time to the need for more 1950s-style “old-fashioned methods of parenting” full of “teachable moments.”

 

2. Female Life on the Spectrum – Insights from Jennifer Cook O’Toole

Jennifer Cook O’Toole was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at age 35 and is raising three children on the spectrum. She’s the author of seven award-winning books, including Autism in Heels: The Untold Story of a Female Life on the Spectrum. In this engaging and, at times, humorous podcast, she explains why diagnosis has been widely missed in girls and women.

 

3. Addressing the Cultural Needs of Families with Autism

Corina Jimenez-Gomez, PhD, a behavioral scientist at Auburn University, and Lauren Beaulieu, PhD, a behavior analyst for Newton Public Schools in Massachusetts, team up on this podcast to talk about cultural competency and the importance of cultural responsiveness in ABA. They bring personal experience to the conversation, with Corina sharing stories of her experience as a mom and Venezuelan native, now living in Alabama, and Lauren discussing her marriage to an Italian immigrant. Both say relationship-building is an important part of navigating what can sometimes feel like a clash of cultures.

 

4. Early Identification of Developmental Delays in Children – Dr. Sharief Taraman

Dr. Sharief Taraman is a neurologist at Children’s Health of Orange County (CHOC). In this episode, he discusses how diagnostic screening can help identify developmental delays in children. Early identification and diagnosis, he says, can help families get the right treatment right away.

 

5. What to Expect from ABA Service Providers – with Dr. Hanna Rue

Hanna Rue, PhD, Chief Clinical Officer at LEARN Behavioral, eases parents’ minds in this conversation about what they can expect when it comes to applied behavior analysis (ABA) providers. How do providers apply our understanding of how behavior works to real situations? How do they help increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease those that are harmful for learning? Listen in to learn more.

 

6. The Role of Genetics in Autism, Explained

Wendy Chung, MD, PhD, director of clinical research at the Simons Foundation Autism Research Foundation, works as a molecular geneticist and physician and is something of a genetic detective who traces an individual’s symptoms to a particular genetic anomaly. In this podcast, she breaks down what we know about the causes of autism.

 

7. Autism Resource Mom – Autism Support and Information from the Best Expert, a Mom

A mother’s intuition and drive to advocate for her kids can make her the best expert when it comes to her child’s care. That’s something Debora Smith understands to the core. She’s raising a son on the autism spectrum, and she founded Autism Resource Mom, a nonprofit organization that helps families navigate the complex world of autism. Listen in to find out how she’s turned her passion into helping others.

 

8. Autism, Aggression, and Self Injury – Exploring a Mother’s Journey with ECT

More than a decade ago, Amy Lutz and her husband, Andy, struggled with a predicament no parents want to face: how could they safely keep their autistic 10-year-old son living at home any longer, considering his violent rages? Amy, a founding board member of the National Council on Severe Autism, discusses their exploration of the controversial procedure of electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT.

 

9. Making Social Skills (and Minecraft) More Accessible for Kids with Autism

As a single father, Stuart Duncan has been all about his kids. His oldest son has autism, and Stuart noticed that kids on the spectrum need a space online where they can play games without getting bullied. So, the Canadian dad quit his job to create Autcraft, a Minecraft server for kids with autism. His virtual community has given people on the autism spectrum the self-confidence to socialize on a safe gaming platform.

 

10. Medical Insurance for Autism Treatment – Understanding the Changing Landscape

Will your health insurance cover your child’s autism treatment? In this podcast, Amy Weinstock, Director of the Autism Insurance Resource Center at the University of Massachusetts, breaks down tools that can help families find out whether they are covered.

 

 

Find dozens of more episodes from All Autism Talk wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or on LEARN Behavioral’s website at www.learnbehavioral.com/learnacademy/allautismtalk.