Category Archives: Autism

The Silo: A Mother’s Intuition (John Starley Allen)

Author John Starley Allen shares a gripping and true story about how his mother’s intuition and the obedience of her sons to her words of caution most likely saved their lives. This story reflects the need for trust between parents and their children.

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The following is a true story about an incident from my childhood. After the story, I offer a few words of commentary.

 

The Silo: A Mother's Intuition, John Starley Allen“Hey, John, let’s run out to the silo,” my older brother, Sam, called out as he ran past me.

“Wait up!” I ran as fast as I could to catch up to Sam.

My brother and I lived on a big farm in the country with our mother and grandfather. We loved the fresh air, the open space, and the green fields that turned gold in the fall. But most of all, we loved the silo. To me, it looked like a giant soup can without the label.

As we got closer to the silo, I could see its rusty patches, dents, and cracks. I once asked Sam about them. He explained, “You know how Grandpa’s face is kind of wrinkled and how he has brown spots on his hands? It’s because he’s old. Well, that’s how it is with the silo. I bet it was shiny and smooth when it was new.”

For two boys with active imaginations, the silo represented all sorts of things. Some days it was an ancient castle. Sometimes we pretended it was a tall skyscraper or a pirate ship. I especially enjoyed standing in the center of it and yelling as loud as I could, then hearing my echo bounce off the curved walls.

When we reached the silo, Sam said, “Let’s play spaceship.” For the next twenty minutes, we pretended to soar through space and discover new planets.

We took turns climbing to the top of the steel ladder rungs welded inside and outside the silo, pretending that we were on the spaceship’s observation deck. Just as I had spotted a new planet, Mother’s voice brought both would-be space explorers back to earth.

“John! Sam! Time for supper.”

During supper, Grandpa asked us what we had been up to.

“We were playing spaceship in the silo,” Sam said.

“You boys sure enjoy that old silo, don’t you?”

“You bet,” I said. “Grandpa, can I ask you a question? Back in the old days, what was the silo used for?”

“Well, it was kind of like a big closet to store things in,” Grandpa said. “When this farm was in full swing, we needed somewhere to store all the feed for the cattle.”

My eyes grew big. “You mean you filled the whole silo with just feed? You must have had a lot of cattle!”

“We did. I remember when my papa had the silo built. I was just about your age. It was new and shiny, and one of the tallest things I’d ever seen.”

After supper, I cleared the table, and Sam helped Mother wash the dishes. When the dishes were done, Sam asked if we could go out and play.

“No,” Mother said. “I want to talk to you both. Let’s go into the front room.”

From the look on Mother’s face, we knew that she had something serious on her mind. We followed her into the front room and sat down.

“I know how much you enjoy playing in the silo,” she began, “but today I had a strong feeling. Right before I called you in for dinner, I felt that you shouldn’t play in it anymore.”

“But Mom, that’s our favorite place to play!” Sam cried.

“Yeah, Mom!” John frowned.

“I know you like playing there. But I can’t deny what I felt. I had a strong impression—call it intuition–that you shouldn’t play there anymore.”

“So that’s how you feel about the silo?” Sam asked.

“That’s right. I can’t give you any other reason except that I strongly feel you shouldn’t play there anymore.”

Later that night, when we were both in bed, I asked Sam, “Do you really believe what Mom said about the silo?”

“Yeah, I do.”

“How come?”

“I’ve never told anyone this, but do you know Bobby Morrison?”

“The tall kid with red hair?”

“That’s the one. Well, last year he and I planned how to cheat on a history test. I’m not going to tell you what the plan was, because I don’t want you trying a dumb stunt like that.”

“If it’s so dumb, why did you do it?”

“Well, I’m getting to that part. When the test started, I remembered what mom had once told me. She said, ‘You know it’s wrong to cheat.’ After that, I just couldn’t go through with it.”

“So what’s the big deal?” I asked.

“The big deal is that Bobby Morrison got caught cheating…and he got into a lot of trouble.”

I thought about what Sam had said for a moment, then asked “So you’re not even going to sneak over to the silo?”

“No.”

“Well,” I said reluctantly, “I guess I won’t either.”

The next few days were hard for us. We had to think of new games to play that didn’t involve the silo. One afternoon Sam said, “Let’s put a puzzle together.”

“Aw, who wants to do that?” I groaned.

“Do you have any better ideas?”

Since I didn’t, we set up a table on the back porch and started working on a puzzle. But I had a hard time concentrating—my eyes kept wandering in the direction of the silo. The good old silo. “Too bad we can’t play there anymore,” I thought miserably.

“Hey, stop daydreaming,” Sam said.

Before I could reply, Mother came out with a pitcher of cool lemonade.

As the three of us drank from frosty glasses, we heard a low rumble. The ground trembled, and the puzzle pieces on the table started doing a crazy dance.

“Look!” I pointed at the silo.

It wobbled and leaned to one side. The rumble grew louder while another sound filled the air—the sound of metal scraping, grinding, and ripping. A great cloud of dust rose up as the silo crashed to the ground.

Grandpa came running out of the house. “What in the world?” Then he saw the silo. “Oh! Oh, my!”

That night, I lay in bed unable to sleep. I kept thinking about my mom and the silo. And I realized my mom was a person I could trust.

Building trust is a huge part of being a parent. If you can earn your children’s trust, many other things will fall into place.

…………………….

A Splash of Kindness, John Starley AllenIn my mom’s case, she had a feeling—an intuition— that she trusted concerning the silo. And because she trusted her impression, she passed it along to my brother and myself. The fact that we abided her counsel—albeit not without some grumbling—shows that because of past experiences, we already trusted her.

She was not one who issued frivolous commands or who let her current temperament—frustrated or sanguine–dictate the kind of punishment she meted out. Her punishments were measured, consistent, and always “fit the crime.”

(On a side note, I have a friend who recalls his father regularly administering belt whippings. The father would come home after work, tired and frustrated, hear from him wife about some infraction—major or minor—committed by my friend, and a belt whipping would ensue. Even at a young age, my friend instinctively knew that something wasn’t right about regular whippings. It was more about his dad relieving frustrations than about teaching his son how to live a better life. And the sad result of this was that my friend lost any kind of trust in his dad.)

When I witnessed the silo overturn and crumble, that forever “sealed the deal” on the issue of trusting my mom.

So later on, when she would tell me of the dangers of drugs, or the pitfalls of hanging out with the wrong kind of friends, I believed her. I distinctly remember going to a particular party as a teenager.

As I was heading out the door, I think she must have had one of her impressions and realized the kind of party I was going to attend. She said to me very simply, “Don’t do anything you know I wouldn’t approve of.”

Her words rang through my head for the rest of the night. And so when I was offered a joint of marijuana, a can of beer, or a swig of vodka someone had appropriated from his father’s liquor supply, I declined. I wasn’t the life of the party, but I felt at peace knowing that I hadn’t let my mom down.

Through the years I knew that if my mom offered advice, it was heartfelt, well-thought out, and something that merited my attention.

My mom wasn’t the kind of person who constantly offered advice on any and every subject. But when she did, you knew that she honestly felt it was important for her to express her viewpoint.

And whenever she did, in my mind I would see the image of the buckling, crumbling silo… ###

 

In addition to A Splash of Kindness: The Ripple Effect of Compassion, Courage and Character, John Starley Allen is also the author of a holiday novel, Christmas Gifts, Christmas Voices, as well as a singer and songwriter. [website]

Helping Fathers to Be Dads (Michael Byron Smith)

When Michael Byron Smith‘s son was in preschool, he drew a picture of a person with a second, much smaller person in the upper corner of the page. When asked about his drawing, the younger Michael replied, “It’s my dad; he’s thinking of me.” A child’s need for a father that’s present and involved couldn’t be stated any better than that. Welcome to “Helping Fathers to Be Dads.”

Helping Fathers to Be Dads, Michael Byron SmithEvery child needs the security of knowing they are in their father’s thoughts, yet the truth remains that, in too many cases, those needs go unmet. Some experts refer to this sort of unmet needs as Father Hunger. Quality research clearly indicates how the absence and the lack of involvement of fathers with their children comes at a dear cost. Present, involved, loving and nurturing fathers are needed now more than ever. Michael Byron Smith is sharing that message with fathers at every opportunity.

This is Mike Smith’s second interview on The Changing Behavior Network. He’s the author of The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Needs, and he also hosts a popular blog for fathers, “Helping Fathers to Be Dads.” Catch the interaction in this interview between Mike and host Jim Sutton as they discuss Mike’s experiences of being the oldest of six children raised in a home with no father present. The lack of a father’s support left them in very difficult circumstances.

The Power of Dadhood, Michael Byron SmithListen in also as they discuss their take on how individuals differ in how they handle adversity and how they recognize and take advantage of opportunities when they come. They also discuss how turning points can create permanent changes in the directions of not only one’s life, but in the lives and futures of their loved ones. Mike will also share about the impact of The Power of Dadhood and his blog for fathers.

Michael Byron Smith is a retired Air Force colonel and a former military pilot. He’s also a retired civilian engineer for the US government in the aerospace industry. Mike and his wife, Kathy, live in Missouri and are the proud parents of three children and grandparents of four. (28:50)

www.michaelbyronsmith.com

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BONUS: From his book, The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Needs, Michael offers “A Dad’s Self-Inspection Checklist.” Download it immediately and for free HERE.

 

What is it: ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) or Asperger’s? (Dr. James Sutton)

This article is being re-posted. It first appeared on an older blog of mine: “It’s About Them.” Later, it was included with a batch of over four dozen articles posted on a popular article site. Visits and responses to these sites indicated quite an interest in the question and challenge of accurately addressing the social, emotional and behavioral differences between the conditions of Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. In this piece, I give a psychologist’s take on the differences they would present in children and teens. (The two photos here were taken a number of years ago when I presented my training program, “The Oppositional and Defiant Child,” in South Dakota.)

At the time of this article, the DSM-IV-TR was still in effect as the primary diagnostic reference. Currently, the DSM-5 includes the former diagnosis of Asperger’s or Asperger’s Syndrome in the classification of Autism Spectrum Disorder. –JDS

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JamesSutton, Oppositional Defiant DisorderThe line separating ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and Asperger’s Syndrome sometimes can be quite fine. That being said, I can’t see where I would diagnose both conditions in the same child or teen, although I’ve seen it done. In the case of these conditions, I believe it’s best to stay with one diagnosis or the other.

First of all, it’s quite possible that behaviors characteristic of ODD will continue without ever being diagnosed. Short-term interventions might bring just enough compliance for a child to clear a hurdle, such as doing just enough work at the end of the school year to pass–barely. Everyone then draws a sigh of relief and takes a break, until the next hurdle.

Opppositional Defiant Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger's Syndrome

A child with Asperger’s Syndrome, the highest level of functioning on a diagnostic continuum called Autism Spectrum Disorder, is less likely to slip through the cracks undiagnosed. Youngsters with Asperger’s tend to have unusual mannerisms that, over time, are bound to be recognized and addressed.

Let’s compare these two youngsters on five characteristics: Etiology, Language and Communication, Social Awareness and Interaction, Capacity to Adapt, and Nature of Noncompliance.

Etiology: The behaviors characteristic of ODD are mostly related to temperament and the youngster’s perception of and reaction to circumstances and events close to them. External events can influence behavior dramatically, a critical notion in intervention. There are many theories as to the causes of Asperger’s, but genetics and organicity (brain chemistry and neurology) are thought to play a big part. With these children, issues of the condition are thought to be more internal than external.

Language & Communication: Although Asperger’s youngsters might have strong language skills, they are apt to comment inappropriately and even talk incessantly about a topic of their interest. The tone, volume and even the precision of their speech can be affected. They also have trouble with communication that contains humor, especially when it is subtle. ODD kids, on the other hand, “get” the message in humor, can have excellent language and communication skills, and can use them well. In fact, they’d often rather talk than do–which is precisely the problem.

Social Awareness & Interaction: ODD youngsters tend to be socially aware and responsive. They can participate in groups, enjoy athletics and are good leaders (partly because they don’t care to be compliant to another leader). By contrast, Asperger’s youngsters don’t handle social contexts well at all. In fact, they tend to isolate. Avoidance of eye contact is a big issue, and it is diagnostically significant. These youngsters often fail to sense a group code of conduct, something that can be reflected in their interactions.

Capacity to Adapt: ODD children and teens can and do adapt pretty well to new and unique situations. It’s interesting to note, however, that new and unique circumstances often put a temporary halt to defiant behavior, as the child is not yet “comfortable” enough to be defiant. (There’s a hint for intervention.) Youngsters with Asperger’s Syndrome don’t handle change well at all. Change for them is uncomfortable; it’s apt to bring on significant tantrum behavior and even meltdowns.

Nature of Noncompliance: ODD youngsters generally understand the compliance expected of them. They just don’t want to do it. There can be a strong quality of arrogance and passive-aggression in their noncompliance. Asperger’s kids, on the other hand, can distract themselves from compliance. They don’t necessarily intend to refuse, but the job doesn’t get done. They also can have trouble distinguishing that a compliance request is a specific direction, not a suggestion.

As one can readily see, treatment of these two conditions would be quite different. ###

Dr. James Sutton is a child and adolescent psychologist and former Special Education teacher. He is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. His books on managing defiant behavior include The Changing Behavior Book, What Parents Need to Know About ODD, 60 Ways to Reach and Difficult and Defiant Child and If My Kid’s So Nice … Why’s He Driving ME Crazy?

 

Mindfulness: A Primer (Anonymous)

BTCounselorThe internet brings all kind of news. Some of it is good; some not. Here’s something that ended up in my Facebook “mail.” I thought it worth sharing on the Network.hand
Mindfulness-based counseling and therapy is receiving a lot of focus today (pun intended). This brief set of instructions can be very helpful in not only bringing an anxious person’s attention to the here-and-now, but in helping them to control and redirect impulsive reactions that might only make a situation worse. (That one benefit alone is huge!) And, since we have five fingers on either hand, the count-down shouldn’t be difficult. The person who shared this referred to it as “grounding.” I’ll go with that. Enjoy … and share. –JDS

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Tip to Help with an Anxiety Attack

Look around you.

Find:

FIVE things you can SEE;

FOUR things you can TOUCH;

THREE things you can HEAR;

TWO things you can SMELL, and

ONE thing you can TASTE.

###

 

Children of Divorce: Let Them Love Their Other Parent Without Guilt (Rosalind Sedacca)

BTAboutThemWe’ve all heard again and again warnings for parents to not badmouth their former spouse to the children following the divorce. Clearly, while it’s tempting to put Mom or Dad down for the way they’ve hurt you in the marriage, venting to the kids puts them in a very uncomfortable position. They love both of their parents and don’t want to hear about the ways your Ex misbehaved or initiated your divorce.

RSedaccaPhotoBut there’s another factor that doesn’t get as much attention worth bringing up in this same conversation. And that’s forbidding or discouraging your children from expressing love or talking about their other parent around you. Kids naturally want to talk about their lives including things they might have done with their other parent, especially the fun times. If they’re made to feel guilty when bringing up the subject of an adventure with Dad, a shopping spree with Mom, new place they visited or a fun movie they’ve watched together with their other parent, they feel repressed. Consequently, they stop sharing, don’t open up about their feelings as readily, and close up around you. That’s not the path to healthy parent-child communication. Once that door is closed, it can take years of therapy to pry it open again, if ever.

How Do I Tell the KidsPhotoAll parents need to be aware that when a child expresses love, admiration or respect for their other parent, it doesn’t diminish their love for you. Competition for affection between parents, divorced or otherwise, is a no-win road to alienating your children. Parents who are supportive of their children’s relationship with their other parent, even when that parent forms a new romantic relationship with another partner, enable their children to express themselves freely. When children don’t have to guard themselves from “saying the wrong thing” in front of Mom or Dad their relationship with you is more flowing, natural and trusting. And they’ll come to respect and acknowledge you more for your maturity as they themselves age.

And when children do express disapproval of their other parent, don’t chime in with your own negative agenda. They may want to vent, but they’re not looking to handle your emotional baggage. Judgments creating guilt, shame or blame can back-fire on you and close the door to trusting communication. Be a caring listener, supportive in helping them find solutions for their challenges. Divorced or not, that’s what parents are for.

*** *** ***

Rosalind Sedacca is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – with Love! To learn more about the ebook, go to www.howdoitellthekids.com. For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, free ezine, coaching services and other valuable resources for parents, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.

“My Brother is Different:” The Sibling Side of Autism (Guest: Barbara Morvay)

BTRadioInt

We hope you enjoy this program as Dr. Sutton interviews childhood disabilities specialist Barbara Morvay. The topic is a good one, and certainly one that needs even more attention today.

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Although we’re better at questions than answers, much has been observed, researched and written about autism. We know it is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, and we know that raising and teaching an autistic child present patience and skills-stretching challenges daily.

But what about the siblings of an autistic child? What do we know of their concerns, fears and feelings regarding their autistic brother or sister? Additionally, what specific things can we do with the “normal” siblings to help them adapt, adjust and become as resilient and emotionally fit as possible?

Parents have been asking these questions for some time, but there haven’t been many answers. Until now.

Our guest on this program, Barbara Morvay, has written a ground-breaking book that squarely addresses the siblings of an autistic child, My Brother is Different: A Sibling’s Guide to Coping with Autism. In the book (enthusiastically endorsed by autism advocate, Temple Grandin) and in this interview, Barbara addresses the thoughts “normal” children are afraid to think and the questions they are afraid to ask. Barbara does this by empowering the best counselors a youngster will ever have: Mom and Dad.

Barbara is a retired educator of 37 years. As a Special Education teacher and later principal and superintendent of schools specializing in the education of special needs students, Barbara knows first-hand the challenges involved, but also the victories.

As testimony to her expertise, Barbara was appointed to The Richard Stockton School of New Jersey Board of Trustees, and she was appointed by Governor Chris Christie to the New Jersey Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism. (27:23)

http://www.mybrotherisdifferent.com

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Handwriting: A Case for Cursive and HFT (Guest: Treyce Montoya)

TMontoyaphotoAt least 46 of the states in the U.S. have eliminated classes in cursive handwriting from the public school curriculum. Many folks, including our guest on this program, believe the removal of instruction in that skill is a mistake, and that we will be paying a price for it.

Our guest, Treyce Montoya, holistic psychologist and experienced handwriting expert, analyst and forensic specialist, strongly believes that cursive handwriting brings more benefit than communication value. For instance, the “connectedness” of cursive writing supports a youngster’s emotional and behavioral health.

TMontoyabookTreyce has developed a therapeutic intervention called HFT, Handwriting Formation Therapy, that helps youngsters control volatile emotions like anger and rage. A controlled study in Texas proved the Montoya Method to be successful with chronic juvenile offenders. The results speak for themselves: There has been zero recidivism with these youngsters. Subsequent work with this method continues to produce strong, evidence-based results.

Consistent with her extensive experience and expertise, Treyce has written many books on the subject of handwriting and what it means. Today we’re featuring her book, Teach it Write NOW! Understanding the “Handwriting and Brain Connection” while learning the Montoya Method. (27:17)

www.BooksbyTreyce.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

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My Brother is Different: The Sibling Side of Autism (Guest: Barbara Morvay)

Although we’re better at questions than answers, much has been observed, researched and written about autism. We know it is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, and we know that raising and teaching an autistic child present patience and skills-stretching challenges daily.

But what about the siblings of an autistic child? What do we know of their concerns, fears and feelings regarding their autistic brother or sister? Additionally, what specific things can we do with the “normal” siblings to help them adapt, adjust and become as resilient and emotionally fit as possible?

Parents have been asking these questions for some time, but there haven’t been many answers. Until now.

Our guest on this program, Barbara  Morvay, has written a ground-breaking book that squarely addresses the siblings of an autistic child, My Brother is Different: A Sibling’s Guide to Coping with Autism. In the book (enthusiastically endorsed by autism advocate, Temple Grandin) and in this interview, Barbara addresses the thoughts “normal” children are afraid to think and the questions they are afraid to ask. Barbara does this by empowering the best counselors a youngster will ever have: Mom and Dad.

Barbara is a retired educator of 37 years. As a Special Education teacher and later principal and superintendent of schools specializing in the education of special needs students, Barbara knows first-hand the challenges involved, but also the victories.

As testimony to her expertise, Barbara was appointed to The Richard Stockton School of New Jersey Board of Trustees, and she was appointed by Governor Chris Christie to the New Jersey Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism. (27:21)

http://www.mybrotherisdifferent.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

“My Brother is Different:” The Sibling Side of Autism (Guest: Barbara Morvay)

THIS IS A REPOST OF AN EXCELLENT INTERVIEW WITH BARBARA THAT AIRED AUGUST 12, 2012.

 

Although we’re better at questions than answers, much has been observed, researched and written about autism. We know it is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, and we know that raising and teaching an autistic child present patience and skills-stretching challenges daily.

But what about the siblings of an autistic child? What do we know of their concerns, fears and feelings regarding their autistic brother or sister? Additionally, what specific things can we do with the “normal” siblings to help them adapt, adjust and become as resilient and emotionally fit as possible?

Parents have been asking these questions for some time, but there haven’t been many answers. Until now.

Our guest on this program, Barbara Morvay, has written a ground-breaking book that squarely addresses the siblings of an autistic child, My Brother is Different: A Sibling’s Guide to Coping with Autism. In the book (enthusiastically endorsed by autism advocate, Temple Grandin) and in this interview, Barbara addresses the thoughts “normal” children are afraid to think and the questions they are afraid to ask. Barbara does this by empowering the best counselors a youngster will ever have: Mom and Dad.

Barbara is a retired educator of 37 years. As a Special Education teacher and later principal and superintendent of schools specializing in the education of special needs students, Barbara knows first-hand the challenges involved, but also the victories.

As testimony to her expertise, Barbara was appointed to The Richard Stockton School of New Jersey Board of Trustees, and she was appointed by Governor Chris Christie to the New Jersey Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism. (27:21)

http://www.mybrotherisdifferent.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

“My Brother is Different:” The Sibling Side of Autism (Guest: Barbara Morvay)

Although we’re better at questions than answers, much has been observed, researched and written about autism. We know it is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, and we know that raising and teaching an autistic child present patience and skills-stretching challenges daily.

But what about the siblings of an autistic child? What do we know of their concerns, fears and feelings regarding their autistic brother or sister? Additionally, what specific things can we do with the “normal” siblings to help them adapt, adjust and become as resilient and emotionally fit as possible?

Parents have been asking these questions for some time, but there haven’t been many answers. Until now.

Our guest on this program, Barbara  Morvay, has written a ground-breaking book that squarely addresses the siblings of an autistic child, My Brother is Different: A Sibling’s Guide to Coping with Autism. In the book (enthusiastically endorsed by autism advocate, Temple Grandin) and in this interview, Barbara addresses the thoughts “normal” children are afraid to think and the questions they are afraid to ask. Barbara does this by empowering the best counselors a youngster will ever have: Mom and Dad.

Barbara is a retired educator of 37 years. As a Special Education teacher and later principal and superintendent of schools specializing in the education of special needs students, Barbara knows first-hand the challenges involved, but also the victories.

As testimony to her expertise, Barbara was appointed to The Richard Stockton School of New Jersey Board of Trustees, and she was appointed by Governor Chris Christie to the New Jersey Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism. (27:21)

http://www.mybrotherisdifferent.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK