Amy Sutherland: What Shamu Can Teach Us About Training

ABA is happening all the time, changing and shaping human behavior. In this interview with Amy Sutherland, author of What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage, we discuss lessons learned in the animal training world and how they directly translate to modifying human behavior.

At the heart of the animal training discussed in Amy’s book is B.F. Skinner’s work on positive reinforcement, something I have discussed many times on the show and in my books. The short and quick of it is that behavior happens because it is reinforced. Whether it’s the behavior you want or don’t want, if it’s happening, it is because you’re reinforcing it.

Amy goes on to talk about how she has used positive reinforcement techniques in her own life and marriage to better improve those relationships. With positive reinforcement, she learned to stop nagging and to instead reinforce the things she wanted from her husband. This works with your kids, your friends, your spouse, your parents, and even your pets.

In the book, Amy gives 5 tips for teaching behaviors and we talk about three of those today on the podcast: go back to kindergarten, the “new tank” syndrome, and the principle of trying something different. Amy goes into detail as to how these relate to real-life situations and problems you may encounter when working on behavior.

While in this episode we are discussing things Amy learned about animals, it is truly the foundation of everything I discuss in turning behavior around. So whether you’re working with a child with autism or not, positive reinforcement and building these reinforcements on an individual basis is going to work to build the behavior you want and eliminate the behavior you don’t want.

TODAY’S GUEST

Amy Sutherland is the author of four books, the most recent being Rescuing Penny Jane: One Shelter Volunteer, Countless Dogs and the Quest to Find Them All Homes (Harper Collins) and What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage(Random House), which is based on her popular Modern Love column.

She is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe and lives in Charlestown with her husband, one shelter dog, Bernice and her rescue finch, Rennie.

YOU’LL LEARN

  • How behavior reinforcement translates across all animal species.
  • How to use behavior reinforcement not just with your children but with all of your relationships.
  • A few tips from Amy’s book.
Want to get started on the right path and start making a difference for your child or client with autism?
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Transcript for Podcast Episode: 145

Amy Sutherland: What Shamu Can Teach Us About Training

Hosted by: Dr. Mary Barbera

Guest: Amy Sutherland

Mary: You're listening to the Turn Autism Around podcast episode number one hundred and forty five today. I have a really special guest, Amy Sutherland, who wrote the book, What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage. And we're going to get to her intro in just a minute. Before we get to that, I just wanted to give a shout out to a reader of Turn Autism Around: An Action Guide for Parents of Young Children with Early Signs of Autism, just came out this past spring. And an Amazon Review, five star review by Tweakerbeaker said "this is a perfect book for those who are not fortunate enough to have ABA therapy available for whatever reason or for those who want to get started while on the long wait list. We then went on to couple it with her online course, referring back to the book as needed. We have seen such great changes in a short time." I love to read these Amazon reviews, podcasts reviews, and if you want to just read the first chapter of this book, listen to the second chapter and get all the free assessment forms, planning forums that are in the book. Just go to turnautismaround.com. OK, let's get to this intro of Amy Sutherland, who wrote this really great 2008 book called What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage. I read it back then. I reread it recently in preparation for this interview. Amy and I talk all about positive reinforcement for animals, for humans, how to shape behavior, what she learned by being a journalist in the animal training field. It's a really fascinating interview. It's a great book. And we tie it all into how to better work with children with autism, but also how to improve our relationships and be happier as human beings as well. So Amy is, like I said, a journalist. She is a regular contributor to The Boston Globe. She wrote four books, including This What Shamu Taught Me book. She lives in Charleston with her husband, and she is just a really fascinating guest. So let's get to this really amazing interview with Amy Sutherland.

Welcome to The Turn Autism Around podcast. For both parents and professionals in the autism world who want to turn things around, be less stressed and lead happier lives. And now your host, autism mom, behavior analyst, and bestselling author, Dr. Mary Barbera.

Mary: OK, thanks so much for joining me, Amy. It's really a pleasure to have you here.

Amy: Thanks for having me, Mary, I really appreciate being on.

Mary: Yeah, I'm a big fan of your work for over a decade now, so why don't you tell our listeners, I know you're not in the autism world, but tell us how you got involved with animal human behavior and also the field of ABA?

Amy Sutherland's Intro Into Animals and Behavior:

Amy: Well, I'm a journalist and sort of I'll give you the quick version is I always was an animal lover, grew up with them with lots of pets. And then I got an Australian shepherd. And they always tell you when you get an Australian shepherd, if you don't give them a job, they're going to come up with their own job. So I started going to a trainer then who was doing clicker training, which at that point was still.. It was known, but not widely known. And I just sort of stumbled upon her. And I found that so intellectually engaging that I just kept going to class after class. And then I had an assignment where I went on to the set of one hundred and one Dalmatians. It was the second one, whatever that one was, anyhow, if anybody remembers that movie. But it had Glenn Close in it again and there were a ton of trainers on the set. Obviously, every what people don't know when a movie is, every animal has one trainer. So. So, yeah. So if you see six dogs in a scene, are six trainers usually hiding all over the set, giving those dogs cues. And you if you look carefully, you can see because where the dogs are looking. But anyhow, so all these trainers had gone to the school I had never heard of called the the Exotic Animal Training Management Program at Moorpark Community College, which goes by the awful kind of acronym of EATOM, and that's their Harvard. And everybody in the training world knows about it. And it just seemed like an impossible thing. And so when I was looking for a book idea, given my love of animals in training and also just humans too, because I knew there would be plenty of drama, I spent a year and a half following the students going through that program, which was like going into a magical kingdom where they learn to work with cougars and macaws. And we even had a hyena and baboons and big snakes. I mean, it really was nuts and it was magical. But I also sort of learned a whole new way of thinking by spending so much time with them, which was I knew would be interesting, but I didn't expect that to happen to me.

Mary: Well, so when.. So this is the book that came out of that experience?

Amy: Well, there was a book before that, which is a direct journalistic book called Kicked, Bitten and Scratched. OK, that's the book of the time I spent at the school. And then I wrote as a way to help promote that book. I pitched a modern love column on how I had started using basically exotic animal training, thinking in my own marriage to improve it. So I wrote this column, a modern love column for The New York Times that became insanely popular, which is still kind of blows me away. But and that then led to that book. So that book is a much more in-depth description of how I changed and how I applied, what I learned at the feet of exotic animal trainers, watching them work with every species under the sun into using that thinking with humans.

Mary: Wow. So the book is called What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage. And it I read it more than a decade ago. It came out in two thousand and eight and I read it a decade ago. I just read a lot of the book after Amy agreed to be on the show. So I love the book. I love the story. Love kind of how you fell into the whole world of animal training and then wrote such accessible literature book and articles on how we can use and we do use whether we know it or not or like it, we use the animal procedures of shaping changing positive reinforcement in all of the techniques that I talk about in my courses for children with autism are used across animal species. Absolutely. Some people have a real problem with that, that some people are like, you know, she's trying to treat us like dogs. And this is like dog training.

Humans are Animals, Whether You Like it or Not:

Amy: I know. I know. I mean, there's I mean, part of it there's multiple reasons. One is this overarching idea, which is actually incorrect, that we are not part of the animal kingdom. Like it or not, you are. We're Homo sapiens. Right. And a lot of Western tradition has taught us that we're not and that we're the boss of everything. So to be compared to an animal is always denigrating. A lot of it, too, is ideas of old school training, which weren't so nice and nobody would want to be treated the way some early animals were trained and like, say, circuses and early zoos. And then the other thing is just sort of a lack of some general knowledge, which is, you know, I'm not surprised people don't know this, but the way progressive animal training came about is it took the ideas of human psychology from B.F. Skinner and borrowed them into their work. And it was the marine mammal trainers who for the first time working with animals were confronted with animals they couldn't physically get their hands on. Right. So they can't push them or make them sit if they don't want or I mean, so they had to they had to come up with Plan B and plan B was supplied by B.F. Skinner and his research in how animals best learn through reinforcement.

Mary: And I talk about Skinner's nineteen fifty seven work called Verbal Behavior, because my first book is called The Verbal Behavior Approach, but he has several other books and a lot of writings done right in the early to mid nineteen fifties. Nineteen thirties like in that range. He wrote a lot about how. Any behavior can be changed and strengthened and weakened and so you're saying that then at that point the animal world was like, wow, he's on to something because with a whale or a cougar, how else are you going to train them or get them to just not attack people or get them? Well, right. And stuff. So the animal world really embraced B.F. Skinner, right before the psychology human world.

Behavior Basics: How Reinforcement Works Across All Species:

Amy: I think so. I mean, because the marine mammal trainers proved essentially that it worked, you know, and then they also proved not only that they could they could train and teach and work with dolphins and other marine mammals using well timed reinforcement with markers and all that. But they showed the range of things they could teach. The range of behaviors was dramatically bigger than anybody who was using negative old school training could get. And that opened the eyes of a lot of people, especially like in zoos. Zoos didn't want to use punishment. So when they saw that they could get behaviors using positive training also started to realize they could get before they could gain things that they hadn't thought of before or like animal hold still for a blood draw or how they have. But they had trained their dart frogs to jump on the scale to get weight of frogs. So the impossible things just didn't seem possible.

Mary: Yeah. So how did you and I do want to mention to you said about clicker training, which was Karen Prior developed that. Right. Click a marker to mark a good behavior which signals that reinforcement is available. So for a dolphin who's going to jump up and touch a mark, he touches the mark when you can't feed him a fish, right. When his nose is on the right, there you click and as soon as his nose matches, touches and then that signals to him or in the Dolphins case, you whistle so that the dolphin can hear it. And then he knows that the next time he comes around, he gets a fish because he did that behavior right. So in the two nineteen nineties, two thousands, Karen Pryor and some other people, including Theresa MacKean, who I had on my podcast, we can put that podcast in the show, notes on Tag Teach, which is teaching with acoustical guidance, and basically took Karen Pryors clicker training with animals and moved it to clicker training with humans. And I became certified in Tag Teach and did a presentation and and all that stuff. So I just want to explain to everyone that this clicker training and if you are training a dog, getting training, obedience school or whatever, you want to look for these positive methods, the clicker training, a positive message not will shock the dog or will put a collar on and will pull it back and choke the dog. We want to look for a very positive animal training techniques.

Amy: Is that fair to say? Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, just as a side note, I after I wrote these books, I went and I volunteered with shelter dogs for ten plus years and I worked with the most difficult dogs. And the only reason we could really do anything with them, work with them is because we use positive training methods. And that is also also revolutionized the shelter dog world because of using positive training. So just to show you how important and good it is.

Mary: Right. And to treat each animal, whether that's a little child with or without autism or a dog, treat them more like a whale where you can't physically touch them and guide them because you want behavior to be elicited by the by the animal. Right. And not prompted and not definitely not in any way forcefully prompted because getting into punishment techniques. OK, why don't you tell our listeners some of the things you did differently with your husband than when you after you learned all these animal techniques?

Applying Behavior Modification Techniques into Your Life Across All Areas:

Amy: I think the fundamental thing I changed my life with my husband and with people in general, I will say other people in my life is sort of using those sort of basic rule that you get what you reinforce. Right. So I started to consider my own behavior and how I might have been inadvertently reinforcing stuff I did not want from my husband and other people or how I was inadvertently reinforcing, you know, missing, reinforcing what I did want. That's the the part a lot of people miss, especially married people. They pay a lot of attention to what they don't want. And then what when something good happens, it just kind of goes right past them. Right. So anyhow, just just that simple rule to understand that you get what you reinforce. It's so simple, but it takes a lot of thought and self-control. I like that kind of tension like something simple, but that's hard to do so.

Mary: So what did you do about nagging? Were you having a problem with nagging and then...

Amy: Well, yeah, I'm married, of course. I nag, you know, be part of your vows. Like I vow to nag for the next 50 years. But you know, the problem with nagging, it's attention to what you don't want. Right. It's negative, you know, negative reinforcer. And also the other thing is one of the things I loved about animal trainers is that if something didn't work, they always tried something else. And that is a fundamental problem with nagging, though, is the word is that you're repeating yourself. So if if you have to keep saying the same thing. It's not working. And that alone, forget whether it's reinforcing or not, that alone should tell you to stop. So I pretty much stopped.

Mary: Mm hmm.

Amy: I mean, it's impossible to stop 100 percent,

Mary: And I think in the book that I just read, you talked about an example is your husband was looking for his keys. And normally you would you would have before you learned better...

Amy: Oh God yeah.

Mary: You would like drop everything, help and look for his keys...

Amy: Yeah. And I learned that that's attention, is almost always reinforcing even negative attention, which is hard for us to understand. But it's true even though we get scads of examples of it in our life. Right. But yeah, I learned that I was sort of I was not only reinforcing it, I was sort of making I was sort of like pressurizing it by getting involved right now. Something that was a simple oversight was becoming this huge drama between me and him. And so clearly, the bottom line was I wasn't helping. I wasn't getting what I wanted. I wasn't helping. So I just learned to not say anything. And if I can do it, any woman can.

Mary: OK, so ignore the stuff you don't want. Right. And give positive attention when your husband or your friend or your mother or your sister is doing something that you want to see more of. And that's the example I give a lot, is if a child, whether they're have autism or not, if they're playing quietly, you're more likely to just leave them alone. And then once they start crying or hitting their sibling, that's when you intervene where it should be the opposite. They're being good. They're being quiet. They're playing nicely. You should be interjecting. And it does take some work and it does take some habit training to your brain to be like, hey, every, you know, five minutes, ten minutes, 30 minutes. I need to go in and give attention and give praise for things going well and stuff. Right. Instead of reacting to the squeaky wheel. OK, so I think there's a lot. In fact, when you were mentioning about the school that you went to, I happened to be on a plane with somebody sitting right next to her and she... Turns out I was studying something about B.F. Skinner and and we got to talking. And she was an animal trainer and she had studied at that school and and she was either on the way home from transporting a walrus or a seal. And she and I hit it off and actually remembered she worked at a zoo and I tried to contact her years later and she was like off that day. But like, it was a really great exchange. But, you know, one of the things she told me is, is like all of the medical procedures that. Yeah, basically amazing, you know, and I'm thinking if you can train a cougar or a walrus to extend their arm or their flipper or whatever it is for a blood draw, then you should be able to you know, a lot of my work is on desensitization. I have a chapter in my book on desensitization to aversive events like going to the doctor, dentist, haircut's, you know, and there's there's such an overlap. But did you see a lot of medical procedures done when you were at the school?

Behavior is Individual:

Amy: Yeah, a number of the students had to train behavior for a final grade and a lot of them worked on injections. They weren't actually injecting, injecting anything, but they were desensitizing the animal to get injections. And one of the things that's interesting about that is that it was different for every species, how they had to do that and not even in some practical ways to like could they go into the enclosure with the animals. And that's a different setup. Right? Sometimes if, like I remember there was a goat, Wendell, this kind of African goat, and the whole thing was to get him to hold still because he goats are kind of like busy active animals. And then you have animals like the baboons learning. So they need to they could go in with them. But I don't think they were doing it for this. But, you know, the animals you can't go in with, they train them to stay up against the enclosure and hold still while they do these things to them, which is pretty miraculous. And the way they desensitize them was not and was not only different species to species, but one of the things that I found really interesting about the way animal trainers think is they thought of each animal as an individual. So there was not a set, like there was a protocol, but how fast it went depended on that animal and it wasn't set in stone, right. So if they were having trouble desensitizing, it might be because they were going too fast. It might because there weren't enough steps. It might because they were the the animal was more comfortable with one trainer than the other. You know, it just went on and on and on. So that's the thing is that everybody wants a recipe for these kinds of things. And when I saw people work with these animals, what they constantly were doing were responding to the individual animal and always rethinking what they were doing. That's always staying flexible.

Mary: Yeah. And individualizing it. And pretty much, if you like, my idea is if you see problem behavior, the demands are too high and the reinforcements too low. So many cases you're rushing the steps in. In my book, for example, on the desensitization chapter, there was a mom who all of a sudden her child didn't want to get into the bathtub and, you know, freaked out. And I was like, oh, that's weird. Maybe she was held down for something. Yes, she was held down last week for an MRI. OK, still, though, she was aversive to getting in the bathtub. OK, so now we have to go backwards and we have to maybe have her play outside the bathtub, reaching over, maybe get new tub toys. So she's fully clothed, playing in the water. Now she's like maybe in her bathing suit, maybe. Right. Like, I don't know what's going to work, but here's some ideas to try. And then a week later, she was asking for more bath time. And so I got the mom to go like, OK, what are the steps that you used? What worked for her? And they are actually in Chapter 13 of my book, the actual steps that worked for that one child. So whether you're talking about a child or a goat or a walrus,.

Amy: Right? Yeah.

Mary: Different Species. But it's also the individual and maybe the demands are too high maybe the reinforcements to low. But in a lot of cases, I agree. I think people are pushing too fast.

Amy: Yeah. Yeah. The best trainer in the country, perhaps in the world is this man named Ken Ramirez, who used to be head of behavior at the Shedd Aquarium and then has gone on to do all this incredible stuff, including training butterflies to fly over the London Philharmonic Orchestra and a huge stadium on cue so this guy can do anything. But he says whenever something isn't working, it's almost always because the reinforcement is too low or not often enough. It's not good enough, not often enough. So that's always the first thing he says he thinks about.

Tips from Amy's Book:

Mary: Yeah, well, I agree with him and I actually have read some of his work, and he is an amazing human as well. So, OK, so you talk about a couple of things in your book that I thought would be good for for our listeners. On page 106 of the paperback, What Shamu Taught Me are five tips. We're just going to go over three tips. So what do you mean by when you say go back to kindergarten?

Amy: Go back to kindergarten, means essentially that either for some reason you haven't done a behavior for a long time or you're having trouble with the behavior or the context has changed or whatever. And it just means you've got to step back. Humans don't like that, but sometimes that's the way it goes. Right. And you just have to it's just like think to yourself, like you used to speak French. I used to speak French. I used my example and but I can't. It's been ten years since I've been there. I can't assume that I'm going to get off the plane and speak French again like I did. Right. So I go back to kindergarten and I start playing tapes and I, you know, so that it's not people gain behaviors and they lose behaviors. And when they lose them for some reason, don't think about it so much. Just go.. You just go back and start up again.

Mary: Yeah. Yeah, I see this. I mean, many parents, including myself, have experienced regression in their child, developmental regressions. And then there's also, you know, where a child is almost potty trained now all of a sudden he's having accidents or this little girl who all of a sudden was fearful of the bathtub or all of a sudden, you know, gets sick and starts sleeping with their parents now doesn't want to sleep in their own bed. And it's like, well, I don't want to go back to a year ago when I started potty training or he was sleeping. It's like maybe you don't have to go back a year, but you can't just go like what happened last week, I want back, like that.

Amy: Yeah, yeah, right. The other thing is usually when you go back to kindergarten, it typically moves at a much faster pace than when you had to go through it the first time. Yeah.

Mary: And I think another good point that you make is about like speaking French and you don't do it for a while. I think us as autism parents, we get paranoid like, oh my God, it's another regression. It's like, you know, it may be natural to lose skills, especially if they weren't practiced and they weren't fluent.

Amy: Yeah, well, I think it would it maybe would help those parents too, to like I mean, it's just behavior. And too often when we're thinking about behavior, we're talking about it because it's a it's a problem behavior. But behavior runs through our lives constantly. And there's all kinds of behaviors that we we might do this stuff with. But because we don't think of it as a problem, it just goes like right past our head, you know, like every time I go downhill skiing, I got to start on the Bunny Hill again. Right. So it's the same idea.

Mary: Right. Right. I like that. OK, so go back to kindergarten. I think that was a good explanation. OK, you have another new thing that I saw when I was reading it. The new tank syndrome.

Amy: The new tank syndrome speaks to when you have something dialed in. I can't remember the example I use in the book, but you still say, you know, you train animal in certain behavior and then..well here, I'll use this from the dog world. I say talk about dogs and make people uncomfortable, but whatever it is that people will train dogs for competition. Right. And they train them in their homes or they train them in, you know, outside, then they take them into the competition area, the building with spectators. OK, you have changed everything about that. You're cue's...you're now asking your animal to do something in an absolutely brand new setting, which is totally distracting. They've never heard this, or the scent. So you can't expect that you can take behaviors and just transfer them here and there to multiple context without some deterioration.

Mary: Yeah. So is there a way I know with kids with autism, new school classrooms, new teachers..

Amy: Right.

Mary: From year to year, new building from you know, and so like as a behavior analyst in the human world, I would be like, OK, take pictures of the new environment, go visit the new environment, you know, get a picture of the teacher, meet the teacher ahead of time. Like, these are some strategies that I would use. So is there are similar strategies that you would use to kind of prevent some of the new tank syndrome or you just have to be...

Amy: I think I mean, I think it's great to try things like that to prevent it. I think it helps you to just for one to know that it can happen and just accept it. Right. That it might be a problem the first time and that you then work through that. I mean, because you can show pictures and you can you know, you can do I mean, a lot of trainers will take animals and train them in the different situations as a way to avoid that happening. But usually there's still something that still fundamentally different, especially like if it's animal that's going to have to do cues in front of an audience. I mean, you're going to hire a whole school group to come in to help you desensitize. So I think some of these things help you if you just understand that they can happen and why they can happen.

Mary: Yeah, I like that. And how about the principle of try something different?

Amy: Why do humans have so much trouble with this? I swear to God that it was a real you know, the thing is about humans is that if we try something and it doesn't work, our first reaction is to do it harder, louder, longer. I mean, we just cling to these things we're trying to do. And in the animal training world, they help new trainers learn to fight that urge by saying when planning doesn't work, use plan B, Plan B doesn't work. Use Plan C if it's not, if you have to keep trying it, it's not working and you've got to come up with the next plan.

Mary: Yeah, yeah, I remember way back in nineteen ninety nine when we started ABA programing for Lucas, the behavior specialist, there wasn't a behavior analyst back then, but she would say, you know, when we start a program, we start color identification or we start imitation or whatever we want to get in the program, have them master it and get out and it kind of stuck with me because as a behavior analyst now I see or I have seen in the past where people have been working on same different or colors or color, green versus red for months. It's like obviously whatever you're doing here doesn't have the prerequisite skills. There's not enough reinforcement, you don't have the right procedures and you have to do something different. If it is the animals, whether it's a human, a human animal or another type of animal, they're not making progress. You know how frustrating it would be for a cougar to extend its paw to do a blood draw. And what you're working on is not producing anything, right?

Amy: Yeah.

Mary: It's a waste of time for everybody. And it can be frustrating for the animal.

Amy: Well, I could say and it can be frustrating for the trainer and that's how you can really end up with this. Right, because everybody's frustrated.

Mary: Mm. Yeah. So kind of always have a plan B and try to make progress if it's not every day. Certainly, you know, you can't be going a week or two without any progress toward the right stuff because then obviously something isn't right.

Amy: Right. Yeah. And you know, as I mentioned, that like in human interactions to just sort of generally speaking, what I mentioned, that's why nagging, doesn't.. Nagging doesn't actually work. So I needed a plan B, but first I had to realize plan A wasn't working. But you just see a lot of the way people, couples and parents and family members interact in this repetitive way to try to get each other to do what they want. And then it's you know, if you're caught in that cycle and you've been doing the same thing forever, you need a plan B.

Mary: Love it. So how can people follow your work? This is one of four or five books that you wrote and but you haven't really written a book for a long time. And so what are you doing now and how can people follow you?

Amy: Well, I've sort of changed hats again. I've kind of done that multiple times in my career. I still love animals. And but I am currently writing a standing piece for the Boston Globe book section, which is a Q&A with prominent authors about their own reading. So that's the behavior I'm writing about now, and that is the species, writers that I'm talking with. And I have to admit, though, that I have snuck in as many animal leaders and behaviorists in the country as possible to my work at the Globe. And for the example of Frans, Frans de Waal, he's a famous he writes great books about animals. If you're an animal lover and he is a I think, an evolutionary biologist in Atlanta. But anyhow. Yeah, so that's that's I just do animals in my personal life.

Mary: And I don't own any pets. So I am actually I really love learning about Tag Teach and your work because it all makes sense. And I feel like the better I would get at training an animal, the better I could help kids with autism, especially kids without a lot of language, without language comprehension. You know, you can't explain something to a child, young child without a lot of language comprehension and.

Amy: Right.

What Makes You Happy? A Self-Care Tip:

Mary: You know, there's just this is just a positive, child friendly way to incorporate all the steps for all the skills that you would ever need. So I would highly recommend people pick up the book. What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage. It is an old book, but it is a goodie. And I, I know I loved it so. And we can follow Amy's work at the Boston Globe as well. So part of my podcast goals are for parents and professionals to be less stressed and lead happier lives. So do you have any self care tips or stress management techniques that you use in your daily life that might help others listening?

Amy: Well, one of the things I learned with exotic animal trainers, it's actually something I talked about for the animals. But then I apply to myself and you'll see why it's that they would think about. They would talk about like if the animal was overall happy, they wanted to it wasn't just about the training they wanted for the animal to be in a good state, to sort of be open to learning. Right. So, like, did it have enough activity? Did it you know what? What were the things that made that individual happy and did it have enough? So I apply that to myself. I think what makes this animal, Amy Sutherland, happy, and I especially think about it when I'm sort of somewhat under stress and I'm talking about simple stuff like getting walking enough, sleeping enough. I listen to a lot of music...Did I get enough music, you know, just think like what? What does your personal species need?

Mary: Love it. Love it. Well, thank you so much. It's been a true pleasure to get to talk with you today. I think my listeners will really love this interview and hope to keep in touch with you in the future. So thanks again for joining us.

Amy: Thank you, Mary. This was fabulous.

Mary: If you're a parent or an autism professional and enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to come check out my online course and community where we take all of this material and we apply it. You'll learn life changing strategies to get your child or clients to reach their fullest potential. Join me for a free online workshop at MaryBarbera.com/workshop where you can learn how to avoid common mistakes. You can see videos of me working with kids with and without autism. And you can learn more about joining my online course and community at a very special discount. Once again, go to MaryBarbera.com/workshop for all the details. I hope to see you there.