Autism Podcast: The Top 10 Episodes of 2021

We are closing out year 3 for the Turn Autism Around podcast. Annually, I pick and list in numerical order my top 10 picks for the year. My goal for my autism podcast is to empower both parents and professionals to better help kids with autism and toddlers with signs of autism. 2021 has been full of incredible interviews with parents and professionals, as well as some info-packed solo episodes sprinkled in.

In this list of my top ten episodes of 2021, I share the impact they’ve made on myself and the community, important tips for parents and professionals, and some hot topics in the autism community.

#1:  Episode 114, Diagnosing Autism: An Interview with Developmental Pediatrician Dr. Cheryl Tierney.

#2: Episode 116, Autism Dad Advice | Interview with Dr. Charles Barbera.

#3: Episode 117, Interview with Dr. Temple Grandin on How to Turn Autism Around.

#4: Episode 132, ABA Therapy: Four Myths and Truths.

#5: Episode 138, Teaching Toddlers with Autism Using the Turn Autism Around Approach: Hot Seat #3 with Lauren.

#6: Episode 144, Does My Toddler Have Autism or Is It a Speech Delay Due to Covid Isolation? : Interview with Rachel S.

#7: Episode 149, My Autism Journey with Lucas.

#8: Episode 150, Autism Success Stories: Navigating Autism as a Military Family with Melissa L.

#9: Episode 151, Armando Bernal on His Journey as a BCBA Therapist with Autism.

#10: Episode 152, Amanda DeLuca and Kirby Morgan: How to Advocate For Your Child with Autism in an IEP Meeting.

I hope you have enjoyed this year of episodes as much as I have. I am wishing you a Happy Holiday and Happy New Year. I will be right here with another great episode to start off season 4 on the first Tuesday of 2022.


  • What are my goals for my autism podcast?
  • What are my picks for the top 10 episodes of 2021?
  • What are my takeaways from episodes in 2021?
  • A look at interviews with parents and professionals.
  • How am I tackling the controversy of ABA?
  • What can you expect from my podcast, book, and online course and community?
  • How can you find my top 10 episode picks of years past?
Want to get started on the right path and start making a difference for your child or client with autism?


#156 Turn Autism Around Podcast Transcript

Transcript for Podcast Episode: 156
Autism Podcast: The Top 10 Episodes of 2021
Hosted by: Dr. Mary Barbera

Mary: You're listening to the Turn Autism Around podcast, episode number one hundred and fifty six. This is an annual thing. This is our top 10 autism podcast episodes of 2021. I've done this two other times in 2019 and at the end of 2020. So this is my special episode where I get to pick the top 10.

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.

What Are My Picks for the Top 10 Episodes of 2021?

Mary: This is our last episode of 2021, and I want to first start off by wishing you a happy holiday and a happy new year, which is coming up very soon. As you know, if you've been listening to my podcast since 2019 for three years now, the goal of my autism podcast is to empower both parents and professionals to better help kids with autism and toddlers with signs of autism. And like I said, if you've been listening for a long time since 2019, when I first started this podcast, I want to thank you for continuing to listen and to support my work. There are two other top ten episodes in 2019. We did a top 10 episode of My Autism podcast episodes, and also in 2020, we can link those in the show notes. So if you're just starting out with me, you may want to go to those two podcasts and listen to this one and catch yourself up on the best of the best, or at least from my opinion. It is really hard to pick out the top 10 out of over 50 that I've done this year. If you have been listening for a while but have never written a podcast review, I would love it if you would post that on Apple Podcasts or wherever you are listening. And if you want to tell me about your success you're having from my podcast, my books, my online courses, or any information that you've gotten from me over the years. I would love it to. If you'd fill out a short survey at Mary Barbera dot com forward slash success. In the past, we have chosen people for hot seats and given out a few prizes to for those who have shared success. Again, that's Mary Barbera dot com forward size success. So the top 10 autism podcast episodes for 2021 are listed numerically in order of when they first aired. So I think the first one is was aired in February, and so it's not by order of preference. It's like, I said, very hard to narrow down, but here are my top picks for 2021.

Number 1: Episode 114

Mary: The first one is episode number 114, which was diagnosing autism and interview with developmental pediatrician Dr. Cheryl Tierney Avis and I have known Dr. Tierney for years, potentially probably a decade or more. Dr. Tierney read my draft book before it came out and on her podcast episode or shortly around that time. She did write a blurb for the book and she also through a grant from Hershey Medical Center. She purchased 100 copies of the book through a bulk order, and we can link that in the show notes to if you want to consider buying my turn autism around, book in bulk. She routinely has in the past given out the verbal behavior approach book to parents, and now she's giving out the term autism around approach. Book out some things I learned in episode number one hundred and fourteen from Dr. Tierney, which kind of surprising is all. There are only about 700 developmental pediatricians in the whole United States, which was shocking and kind of makes sense where we're having such a problem getting kids evaluated and diagnosed. I didn't realize, but Dr. Tierney is a sleep expert. Actually, did some work in her fellowship with Dr. Ferber, who is known for his sleep techniques. There is a chapter in the term autism around book on sleep. So we talked about that sleep chapter and we also talked about how parents that are trying to get their kids to sleep and using the crying out method that is never a good idea, according to Dr. Tierney. She said it is an outdated technique and not helpful for children, and that there are better ways to get children sleeping independently that don't lead to, you know, crying it out a version which is one of the reasons she liked my book so much. And the chapter on sleep is because I have a totally child friendly approach, so that is our first of the top 10.

Number 2: Episode 116

Mary: Let's move on to our second episode from the top 10. And that is episode number 116 with autism dad advice. And when I interviewed my husband, Dr. Charles Barbera, this episode was a great discussion between both Charles and I and how our views have changed, how our life has changed. Lucas is now 25 years of age, so we were, you know, first time parents and kind of how we evolved with autism and how we have worked together to create the future we all want in the future. We want for Lucas, the future we want for ourselves and for our typically developing son, Spencer. So during the interview, Charles and I talked about how to handle things when one spouse is in denial like I was when he first mentioned the possibility of autism. He said in his episode, He doesn't. I asked him, How do you get somebody out of denial? Like I was in denial for over a year, like? And he didn't get me out of denial. I wish he would have. We would have gotten to treatment sooner. But you know, we were navigating the whole, the whole autism world. But he said that he doesn't ever want to say, you know, he didn't want to say to me, and he wouldn't recommend if one spouse is in denial that you say, you're wrong. It's definitely autism or you're wrong. It's definitely not autism. And going with that, I'm right and you're wrong. Instead of that, he encourages spouses to gently lead to the truth and being there for them when they come to the same conclusion. So maybe instead of focusing on it's autism, he focused on, Well, let's get a speech evaluation. Let's get speech therapy. Let's put him in toddler preschool. Let's you know, now the toddler preschool, you know, when the director called us in and the teacher called us, you know, OK, now we have experts, outsiders who are noting some delays. Charles also in his episode, which I think was really good. I mean, it's back here in the video studio. So like my episode, the top actually the very top pick from 2020 was my interview with Spencer. My typically developing son Aaron is right back here in the video studio that I have in my house. And so Charles and I were kind of going back and forth and I asked Charlie, like, you were so pessimistic on the drive home from the hospital. You were saying things like, he'll never go to college, he'll never get married. He'll never, you know, learn to drive. And I was crying upset, telling him, you know, don't say those things. And that was very pessimistic. I mean, he was right. Lucas has not, you know, will never drive or go to college or get married. But there are a lot of kids, kids that I've known personally through the autism world and a lot of my clients who are driving and going to college. None of them are married yet that I know of, but I do know other autistic adults that are married and have a wonderful life. So I pointed that out, and he was kind of embarrassed by his pessimistic outlook after receiving Lucas's diagnosis. And he realizes now that all you really want is for your kids to be happy. And Lucas is very happy. So I think the overall advice from Charles was for dads who are who have a child who's newly diagnosed to pay attention to the milestones and be proud of your kids as they achieve milestones even if they're delayed. It might look differently than you thought, but you need to celebrate the milestones and try to keep you know your family intact and try to really tackle it head on as a couple if you are in a two parent house. So that was a great episode.

Number 3: Episode 117

Mary: The next episode was the very next week episode number 117. It's my interview with Dr. Temple Grandin on how to turn autism around this show. 117 came out on March 30th, 2021, which was the exact same date that my book turned autism around came out. And Temple Grandin wrote the foreword for my turn autism around book. So this interview that I did that we played and aired on the date my book came out was actually recorded a few months before that. And it was really great to work with Temple to, you know, contact her and to talk on the phone. We talked on the phone three separate times as she wrote the foreword for my book, it's just been an absolute honor to get to know her better, and we had two episodes with her in 2021. We had this episode number one hundred and Seventeen, and then we did an episode with Temple and a coauthor for her new book In The Fall of Twenty Twenty One. But this episode, which aired on March 30th, is really special because Temple discusses how her mother was her first and best teacher and advocate. Much like my message to parents about how they need to become their child's best teacher and advocate. Temple also talks about how her biggest concern for children now is the long wait list to be diagnosed and then again, a waiting for services. And this is why she agreed to write the foreword for my new book when she found out that it really was targeting very young children even before the diagnosis, and right after she became interested and said, Yes, I want to write it because she has gone lecturing all over the world, and she often gets questions from parents about very young children. Temple herself was very severe at two and three. Her mother was told to institutionalize Temple, and the mother really gave it her all, hired a nanny to keep her engaged, had her in a special school in somebody's basement, where working with other kids with Down syndrome and really focusing on her talents, her love of animals, her love of art. And it's just a really great episode. It is actually one of our highest downloaded shows as well. So that is 117 with Dr. Temple Grandin, and we're going to put all of these in the show notes all of these links. So if you're driving or exercising and you're like, I can't remember all of those. Just search for Mary Autism Top 10, 20 21, it should come up. Or if you can just remember one link. That'll have all the show notes listed on the same page.

Number 4: Episode 132

Mary: OK, our next top 10 is number four, and that is episode number 132, entitled ABA Therapy four myths and Truths. This was a solo show that I felt was important to do because as of late, especially in the past six months to a year, there has been a lot of ABA controversy. And so I've done several shows, including the solo show, where I talk about the form, myths and truths. I've also done other shows with other behavior analysts, and we'll talk about some of those other shows in a minute. But in the episode on the four myths intrusive baby, I talk about how I truly believe that my specific ABA approach, which uses Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior and my turn autism around approach, is child friendly, and it is so important to get into the hands of parents and professionals. Because not only does ABA and my approach to ABA, specifically work to increase talking, decrease tantrums, solve picky eating sleep, potty training problems and a variety of other things. It also sets up healthy relationships for parents and professionals with children who need ABA. We cover some of the controversy, and I really am glad that I'm really coming out and standing behind ABA. Although in the episode I do say that all ABA, all the treatment packages for ABA, some of them are not producing really good outcomes. The children are not progressing. They're continuing to have major problem behaviors. So they're continuing not to have communication skills, not to be potty trained. And so if you are getting ABA or you're providing ABA as a professional and it's not working, I would really urge you to come into my world a little bit more deeply. Read my book, Attend a free online workshop. Consider joining my online course and community. There is a better way it is through ABA, but is through really incorporating a lot of the the newer ABA strategies that I embrace.

Number 5: Episode 138

Mary: Number five on our list is episode number 138 teaching toddlers with autism using the term autism around approach. It is hot seat number three with a mom named Lauren. So in the past I have done three hot seats so far. And this hot seat, one hundred and thirty eight was with Lauren. And in this episode, what's great about the hot seats and I plan to do more of these hot seats in 2022. What's great about the hot seats are these moms actually Lauren from episode 138. And I did hot seat number two this year as well with swapping. That was episode number one hundred and thirty four, and that Swethana was a child with who an intermediate learner. But Lauren's child is just three years old with diagnosed with severe autism in both of those episodes, though both are the hot seats from this year. I really I got the information ahead of time. The mom sent me the one page assessment form from the book, and my course is the one page plan. They sent me the self-care checklist they sent me, Swethana sent me the intraverbal subtests, and so I really went through step by step of how we would look at the whole picture, both for Lauren's child as well as for Swethana's child or both girls, actually. And we went through and I showed them what I thought should be the priorities we discussed each child strengths and needs, and we created an appropriate plan that is something that I really for the hot seats I would really look at. The show notes carefully because we, these moms are incredible. They gave us permission to upload their exact filled out, completed assessment forms and planning forms. It's so important for parents and professionals to kind of see the guide and see how things can be turned around. No matter if you have an early learner like Lauren's little girl or if you have an intermediate learner, meaning VBMAPP level two and three, which was Martinez child. In both of these hotseat calls, we also discuss the importance of working collaboratively with any professionals that you may have in your child's life. So that episode episode number one hundred and thirty eight is really one that you should watch before we leave the hot seats. I just want to tell you, in addition to the data sheets which you can see and kind of how I filter everything through the four step turn autism around approach, both Lauren from 138 and Swethana from 134 were podcast listeners to start with. And then they both joined our online courses and community. And at some point were asking good questions and kind of at a crossroads in some ways. And so I invited them to do the podcast hotseat. As I said, I do plan to do more hot seats in 2022. So if you want to apply for a hot seat first, read my turn autism around approach, book and or take at least one of my courses, then apply at

Number 6: Episode 144

Mary: OK. Number six on our list of the top 10 is episode number 144. Does my toddler have autism or is it a speech delay due to COVID isolation? This is an interview with Rachel, who was very pregnant. She was also in my studio. Rachel actually has worked for my company for a while, and she's worked with Lucas in the past and she was very pregnant at this interview and she has had her second baby boy. But in this episode, Rachel and I discuss COVID isolation and the effect it had on her young child, Everett. And when we think about like, the episode I did recently on the past year with Dr. Catherine Lord, she talks all about how COVID isolation has really just clogged up the system. More made people wait more. It's hard to diagnose when everybody's face is covered with masks and shields, and the child won't tolerate it. And so all kinds of problems, but little Everett. It was having a speech delay. It was, and Rachel, who was working with me, used all the methods from my courses and read my book on draft and used all of the techniques with her typically developing toddler. Now Everett was scoring We did M-CHAT which I did a video blog on the M-CHAT. We can link that in, the show notes. He was scoring fine in terms of autism, but he definitely had a speech delay, and she really feels like it was a lack of exposure to typical peers, lack of exposure to grocery stores into library circle time and all the kind of things that Rachel as I special education teacher by training would have done with her son, but, you know, if you think about the kids that are two and three and four, they've spent all or most of their life or half of their life in isolation, and this can really look like delays. It could possibly look like autism, too. So since the airing of the episode, ever, it has had communication delays removed from his paperwork at the pediatrician's office and then now has met or exceeded all of the CDC milestones for his age group. As I said, Rachel just had her second son named Ronan. So in the episode with Rachel, we discussed how using my methods, such as Shush and Give procedure, expanding ever its vocabulary by using the shoe box program and potato head. Desensitization techniques for all of a sudden Everett got weird around toothbrushing. And so she was able to use the desensitization techniques in Chapter 13 in my book and a bonus video within my courses, and also how she was preventing problem behaviors and teaching her husband also how to use these techniques so that Everett would be calm and happy. And I gain the skills both in speech and socialization. And finally, we discussed how to pick the right daycare or preschool for your child and what to look for when searching for care.

Number 7: Episode 149

Mary: OK, number seven on our list of the top 10 is episode number 149, which was my autism journey with Lucas. Now, episode 149 is one to watch instead of just listen to, in my opinion, so you can always find the episode. By This episode was very different than most, as I highlighted specific moments from my journey with Lucas, with pictures, with posts. It was all part of a 25 day autism social media challenge that I did. Kate from Finding Cooper's Voice, who was on episode number 70, years ago, probably in 2020. She started this twenty five day challenge and we would get a prompt every day, like post a picture of your child with an animal or post a picture of you when you were pretending like everything was OK, but it really wasn't and write about it. So we posted a picture and wrote about it. And then I put all of these pictures in a photo album on my Facebook business page, and then I decided to kind of go through them one by one, and that's episode number one hundred and forty nine, which I received a lot of really good feedback for that one again. It's definitely one you want to watch instead of listen to.

Number 8: Episode 150

Mary: OK, number eight on our list of the top 10 is episode number 150. This is an autism success story, and it's with Melissa, who is part of a military family her and her husband were and her husband still is in the military, and they were living in Japan overseas with her three young boys and her middle son started showing signs of autism. Her husband was deployed and she was really struggling to manage the needs of all three boys in a foreign country. And then, once he was diagnosed with autism, they decided to move back to the United States to get care. But how they navigated getting a diagnosis and setting up services moving internationally with three little boys, including one with autism. We discussed her success using my online course to turn autism around in terms of safety. In terms like communication and reduction of problem behaviors while she was still in Japan alone. And then as she moved back and found a BCBA who has known me for years and has been a follower of my work, we discussed how to set up services like ABA with like minded providers who know how to implement the verbal behavior programing that I talk about in my first book, as well as the term autism around approach, which I talk about in my second.

Number 9: Episode 151

Mary: OK, we're coming down to the wire. My number nine pick is episode number 151 with Armando Bonneau, who and this one is on his journey as a BCBA therapist with autism. So it was a really special episode. I've gotten a lot of great feedback. I was able to connect with Armando, who is...he was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, and his mother was told that she should teach him sign language because he wasn't probably going to talk. And now Armando is fully conversational. He has a master's degree. He is a board certified behavioral analyst and a special education teacher. He is engaged to be married. He is just a delight, and he has his own podcast now. So he posted about his own podcast and I have interviewed at least five, if not more, autistic adults. I've interviewed dozens of board certified behavior analysts, but I've never interviewed both an autistic person who's also BCBA. And it was a great, great interview where Armando shared his unique perspective on ABA. We talked about the controversy, what he says when people say ABA is abuse. I also enjoy getting to discuss how he feels, when that parents should be so involved in their child's therapy and invites them to come watch whenever they would like. I also say that parents should have access to see what is happening during therapy, if at all possible. We discussed topics like how he found out that he had autism and how much he disclosed that when he was in high school and college, and how he struggled socially and how he feels like he still does struggle at times, as well as just navigating a work and life. And now he has a fiancee. One of my favorite lines from this episode with Armando was when he said that his fiancee knows that he got. She got him a great present when he flaps his hands. He was just a sweet guy. So one hundred and fifty one is the episode with Armando.

Number 10: Episode 152

Mary: And our final top 10 episode is number 152 with Amanda DeLuca and Kirby Morgan. How to advocate for your child with autism in an IEP meeting. In this episode with Amanda and Kirby, we discuss the importance of an IEP and an I-FSP, which comes before an IEP. If your child needs services before the age of three, we also discuss how important it is for parents to have a seat at the table for their IEP. The fact that they can request a draft to the IEP that they don't have to sign anything on the day of the IEP meeting. We talk about the list of questions in the first couple of pages of the IEP in terms of does your child have a communication needs? Of course, that's going to be checked. Yes. Is your child blind? In most cases, no. But there is another question that comes up a lot. Does your child have behaviors that impede his learning or the learning of others? And I have been through many, many IEP meetings as well as, you know, teaching about IEP. And that question does the child have behaviors that impede his learning or the learning of others almost in all situations that should be marked? Yes. And that would trigger more behavioral support in school, more behavioral assessment to see what kind of support is needed. So we talk about, you know, even the checking the little box. This episode is just filled with important information for both parents and professionals, whether you are preparing for your first IEP meeting or your 10th. We talk all about how we need to collaborate as a team, as you really keep the bar very high for your child.

Mary: So thanks for listening to this very special episode of my top 10 favorite episodes from 2021. Don't forget. I would love it if you would leave a podcast review, if you can. I'd also love to hear about your success, and I hope to read anything you want to tell me about how my work may have helped you at I wish you a very Happy New Year in 2022, and I will be starting right with the first Tuesday of 2022. For year number four coming up for the term autism around podcasts. Thanks so much and have a good one.

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 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 for all the details. I hope to see you there.