Top Autism Specialists Recognized in Autism Awareness Month

The International Board of Credentialing & Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) is recognizing outstanding professionals that dedicate their lives to autism during Autism Awareness Month. Throughout April, the IBCCES will feature these individuals through their Members Site for Certified Autism Specialists to recognize each day. Each week, the Outstanding Autism Specialists will additionally be featured on the IBCCES News Blog for recognition worldwide. IBCCES has selectively chosen these individuals based on their background, qualifications, achievements, and continuous work in the field of autism.

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Building Bridges, Linking Lives, and Healing Hearts

By: Elayne Pearson, Special Needs Preparedness Specialist, Author/Life Coach/Motivational Speaker

February brings to my mind cold and prickly weather, but also warm and fuzzy thoughts of Valentine’s Day. It’s a favorite holiday of mine because I think we all need to express our love and appreciation more. Okay, at home, more love and at work, more appreciation.

“Ah love, it’s a grand thing,” Lady Cluck wistfully observes, while gazing at the dreamy Maid Marion in Disney’s Robin Hood, and I truly agree with her.

For years, our home rang with the delightful music and scenes from that show and many Disney classics, because Heidi, our beloved little girl with Down syndrome, adored all things Disney. A few years later her sweet personality shifted into anxious and baffling behaviors (before most had even heard the word autism) and our videos went from being a simple joy — to a deep need of Heidi’s to collect and constantly carry with her.

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Featured Autism Specialist: Walter S. Knauff

Walter S. Knauff, M.Ed, NBCT, CAS, LCSW-C
Clinical Social Worker, Special Educator

City/State:          Silver Spring, MD                             

School/ Organizations:  Private psychotherapy practice; Autism Resource Services, Silver Spring International Middle School (Montgomery County Public Schools)

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Featured Certified Autism Specialist: Marybeth Blanchette

Marybeth Blanchette, MA, CAGS, BCBA, LBA, CAS

School Psychologist, In-Home Behavior Therapist

City/State: Providence, RI

School/Organizations:  Providence Public School Department District Autism Team (School Psychologist), Northeast Behavioral Associates, South Eastern MA Region (In-Home Behavior Therapist)

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“Hand in Hand” with Elayne

Elayne Pearson

From Planting Seeds to Harvesting Success

The other day a neighbor offered me some fresh garden produce and I happily accepted. My husband and I haven’t taken the effort to build up our rather alkali soil to produce a decent garden, so I truly appreciated the gift.

Later, after I saw the box of zucchini squash and some odd looking green bell pepper-looking things, I realized I would need to actually create meals with them. (Silly me, I had imagined my delivery box would contain picture perfect long carrots with the frilly green stems on top like Bugs Bunny eats, and shiny red tomatoes that make any salad or sandwich even better — both requiring little preparation.) Heck, I wasn’t even sure if some were cucumbers or zucchini and if those odd looking green items were mild green bell peppers or hot and spicy peppers. Yet, I felt compelled to use them. You see, I was raised with the old pioneer adage: “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

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“All Autism Wedding” to be Officiated by Dr. Stephen Shore

September 25, 2015, SAN DIEGO – International “Autism Expert” and IBCCES (International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards) board member Dr. Stephen Shore will be officiating an “all autism” wedding this Saturday in San Diego. The couple being married, Anita Lesko and Abraham Nieslon, are both on the autism spectrum, and will be joined by a wedding party (ring bearer, harpist, wedding cake baker, groomsman, usher, etc.) who also have ASD.

The two met in the spring of 2013 at an Asperger’s support group. The ceremony is scheduled to take place at San Diego’s Love & Autism: A Conference with a Heart, a conference organized by Dr. Jenny Palmiotto to bring awareness to the fact that every individual – including those on the spectrum – wants to be loved.

“Through the power of love, this conference demonstrates that individuals with autism can have fulfilling and meaningful relationships such as marriage – just like everyone else,” Shore said.

“For two individuals who have gone through their lives feeling alone, it is beautiful that they have finally found companionship and understanding,” Plank, told PEOPLE Magazine in an interview. “It gives hope to those of us on the spectrum who wonder if we will ever find our other half.”

Lesko, 54, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 50, which shed some light for her on why she may have been perceived as somewhat different throughout her life.

“We’re trying to show that autistic children can grow up and have a happy, fulfilled life, just like everybody else,” Lesko told PEOPLE. “It’s not uncommon for people on the spectrum get too comfortable – get in their comfort zone, and it becomes scary for them to step out of their shells. Abraham and I have stepped far beyond our comfort zones to get where we’re at – and in the process, we learned how to be spontaneous.”

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Good Read: Apps for Autism

Contributed by IBCCES Board Member Lois Jean Brady, SLP, AT, CAS, Author, Developer, & Producer of Autism Today TV & Newspaper

One of the greatest things about today’s technology is that it has given educators and parents opportunities to connect with individuals on the spectrum in a way that books, flashcards and other traditional techniques never could. Since its release in April 2010, the iPad has quickly become one of the most effective, motivating, indispensable learning tools ever for those on the autism spectrum – and just about everyone else!  In the past few years, we have seen an explosion in what mobile technology has to offer for the special needs population. Apple has incorporated terrific new accessibility features, developers have created fantastic apps, and companies are producing accessories to meet the needs of every user. But, the most impressive of all, is the way this technology is opening new possibilities for the special needs population: many users are showing capabilities that defy our expectations.

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NPR Highlights First Certified Autism Center

September 18, 2015, JACKSONVILLE – Jacksonville NPR affiliate WJCT announced the designation of the Jacksonville Speech and Hearing Center as the first IBCCES Certified Autism Center yesterday on their morning show, First Coast Connect. Executive Director of the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) Michelle Killian and President of Jacksonville Speech and Hearing Center Mike Howland appeared on the program to make the announcement. This designation means that at least 80% of the JSHC staff has undergone a rigorous training process that will assist in providing speech pathology and audiology services for those who have autism.The nonprofit is the first healthcare provider in North Florida to undergo this training for its staff. 

To listen to the NPR segment, please click here. 

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