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

COVID changed our world in ways we may have not even realized yet. Are you worried that your child may be experiencing a speech delay from COVID isolation? I have Rachel with me today to talk about the effect the March 2020 lockdown had on her son Everett.

Rachel has been in our lives since she was a teenager and later was a mother’s helper for me when she worked with Lucas. After about a 10-year loss of touch, she is back and now is the Program Director for Turn Autism Around. Because of her experience as an educator and working with children with autism, she was not concerned about autism as a diagnosis for Everett. However, as time went on, she knew he was significantly delayed in natural speech progression.

Like many families, during the COVID lockdown, there was less opportunity to leave the house, and Rachel and her family were mostly home together. She notes that even when she did leave the house, Everett stayed home with dad. This meant Everett was having less opportunity to experience language in natural environments. He was hearing less diverse language and seeing fewer people. Because of this, Everett was 18 months old with only 10 words that were pop-out words, and he had no echoic control.

Rachel has listened to every episode of the podcast and taken all of my courses so she is as prepared as it gets. Everett had been cleared on the M-CHAT for risk of autism, so working seriously on speech was the obvious step. She used strategies from the book and the course to really work with him, so much so that speech therapy wasn’t necessary. Activities she did with Everett included singing songs, the shoebox program, Mr. Potato Head, and putting items in bags. She made talking exciting. However, she didn’t start seeing big improvements until they were able to get out of the house and back into public settings. This change in an environment, new sights, and sounds jump-started his speech back on track. Everett’s speech improved, even more, when he began daycare.

Rachel and her husband wanted to start Everett in daycare to expose him to a more diverse environment and provide an opportunity for him to talk with peers. She shares some of her top tips to look for and questions to ask.

  • Are you able to enter the building? COVID may cause restrictions to look different in every facility, but it may be important to you to walk your child to class.
  • What is the discipline policy? Does their discipline policy align with your system at home?
  • Are their routines and expectations in alignment with your child’s age and development? Do they expect a two-year-old to sit crisscross for an extended time period or do they encourage exploration and movement?
  • Are there 8 positives to every negative? It’s important for children to be supported and have a positive environment.
  • Do you have access to the classroom to see your child? Some centers do not allow you to enter the building unless you’re picking up your child, which may hinder your ability to visit or observe your child at the daycare or school.


While at this time, autism is not a concern for Everett, and his speech delay is gone, for now, anything can happen to any kid at any time. Rachel talks about her experience with a tooth-brushing aversion that developed shortly after he started daycare. Rebuilding the tolerance for this task is all about pairing it with favored things and making it exciting and fun again. There are so many options that I talk about in my book and courses that you can use to regain compliance with necessary tasks.

In today’s episode, I said, “No therapy is better than bad therapy”. This is important because we do not want to unpair all of the things we are teaching at home. The tips Rachel gives about finding a daycare can even be used when finding the right therapist or therapy center. Even more than that, anyone can provide great therapy to their child when they have the right training. Information in this podcast, my book, and my online courses can provide you with the tools and set you on the path to being the best therapist and advocate your child can have!


Rachel is a married mom of a 2-and-a-half-year-old boy and a second baby boy due soon. She has an elementary special education degree as well as a Reading Specialist masters’ degree. She has recently become the Program Director for the Turn Autism Around programs. She used the program herself when her oldest son, Everett, was not using vocal language on time.


  • Can COVID be the cause of your child’s speech delay?
  • Onset of aversions to activities and what to do.
  • Choosing the right daycare, for any child.
  • Anyone can provide good therapy to their child with the right training.
  • Is it autism or speech delay?
  • How to help my toddler with speech delay.
  • How to get a toddler to brush their teeth.
Want to get started on the right path and start making a difference for your child or client with autism?

Transcript for Podcast Episode: 144
Does my Toddler have Autism or is it a Speech Delay due to Covid Isolation? : Interview with Rachel S.
Hosted by: Dr. Mary Barbera

Mary: You're listening to the Turn Autism Around podcast episode number one hundred and forty four. Today, I have a very special guest, Rachel Smith, who I have known for half of her life, over half of her life. And she now is the program director for my company. But today we're talking all about her son, Everett, and his speech delays and Rachel's background as a special ed teacher. We talk on a variety of things about how COVID affected its ability to speak, how she was pretty confident it wasn't autism. But these techniques that I'm teaching throughout the podcasts and my book and my courses all helped to increase his language, how she had to suddenly repair toothbrushing, which happens suddenly kids freak out about certain things and and how she kind of got around that. And I think a big chunk of our conversation is around how to pick a day care, a school environment for your child, whether the child is typical or whether your child or clients have autism and how to pick an environment that's positive and that's going to be the best fit for him or her. So let's get to this special interview with Rachel Smith.

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: Thanks so much for joining us today. Rachel, it's great to have you here.

Rachel: I'm so excited to be here.

Mary: You are one of the few people that I know of in the whole world that has listened to every single podcast front to back, every single word.

Rachel: Every single one, though it's exciting to be on now. Yeah.

Rachel's Fall into the Autism World:

Mary: So, OK, well, since you have listened to everything, you know how we usually start describe your fall into the autism world.

Rachel: So I always wanted to be an educator. My parents will tell you from the time I was young, that was what I was going to do. But really, I got started when I started volunteering around the age of 14 at Aaron's Acres, which is actually where we met through Lucas and just really enjoyed being a part of that. And then I went on to actually come to your house and work with Luke and be a mommy helper and hang out and be an extra set of hands. And then we lost touch for a little bit.

Mary: For 10 years.

Rachel: Yeah a little more than a little bit, but ended up becoming a special education teacher and then went on to get my master's in reading. And that's my fall.

Mary: Right, right. And then you know, when we lost touch for ten years and then you were in your mid 20s and you started... I found you on

Rachel: Yeah.

Mary: Which is a national registry kind of organization that I found therapists and caregivers and babysitters and nannies. And that's really when I found Rachael again. And I remember her name and I usually remember people that are really good or really bad. And so I talk to my friend and I was like, hey, do you know this person? And I said, her first and last name. And she's like, Oh, yeah, she was a mommy's helper for us after Aaron's Acres. So anyway, now, Rachel, over the past couple of months only has transitioned from really doing a lot of care with Lucas and now transitioning to soon to be full time with my company. But right now, the program director and doing a wonderful job. So. And also at the time of this recording, which is very early September, Rachel is nine months pregnant. And so by the time this gets aired, we hopefully will have a very healthy baby joining her family. So today we really want to talk about her first son, Everett, who, you know, I've known Rachel all throughout her pregnancy. So he started to not have any signs of autism, really. But but was more on the speech delayed side. But he was also a COVID baby, COVID toddler. So, you know, things started to happen revolving around COVID shortly around his first birthday.

Did COVID cause Everett's Speech Delay?

Rachel: So we had to cancel his first birthday party, which I was so excited for, and then shut down happened. And it was just kind of like, all right, we can't do this. And then my husband was home, working from home for about a year. And any time I would go out, Everett would stay home where before we were going to the grocery store together, going to story time, going to music and all of that went away. And right around the time that he probably would have started speaking, it just wasn't happening. And I was around the time he was about 18 months old, got pretty concerned. He should have been, according to what everythings on CDC Milestones, he should have been trying to repeat us and saying certain things, and he had maybe 10 words by the time he was two.

Mary: But they were like more pop out words.

Rachel: Yeah.

Mary: She didn't she couldn't get him to talk. I didn't see him for that year. I saw him a little bit when he was a baby, but I didn't see him. But Rachel had taken my courses and she was involved with videotaping her son Everett for our toddler course. And we have videos of toddlers with and without autism in the course. And we have a lot I would say about half the people that introduce themselves in our toddler course community say they don't have a diagnosis of autism yet. They might be worried or waiting. You weren't necessarily worried necessarily about autism?

Rachel: No. And I you know, because I knew what to look for because of this work. And having gone through the courses and read the book and listened to the podcast. I knew that he was super engaged. He wanted eye contact. He wanted to play with you. So I wasn't worried necessarily about autism, but I was concerned that the words weren't happening the way that they were naturally supposed to happen. You know, and then you think, is this COVID? He hasn't been around people? Is this he's only been around dad and maybe we're guilty of just giving him. I know he wants milk from the refrigerator. I'm just going to give it to him versus making him use his words. But I had done Mchat on him a few times at 18 months they had us do it at the doctor's office and he scored a zero, which is no risk. And then as he continued to not talk, I and we got closer to his second birthday, I would do it again. I did it a couple more times, like a total of three. And every time he was scoring zero. But I have a nephew who's four days older and was putting lots of words together. And here's Everetttt still, you know, pop out words that I can't even get him to repeat to me. So it was it was definitely concerning.

Mary:Let's talk about the Mchat a little bit. So I do talk about the Mchat a little bit in my book, and it stands for the modified checklist for autism in toddlers. And it is valid for kids 16 months to 30 months. And I also did a video blog on the Mchat, which we can link in the show notes. This is just a screening tool. I believe there's like twenty three questions like, does your child enjoy bouncing on your knee or does he point to show you things like pointing to up in the sky to show you airplane? I also have a guide: Is it autism, ADHD, just a speech delay or typical toddler tantrums? We can link that in the show notes as well. That's a free download guide. So it sounds like you were doing the right thing. You had gone to your pediatrician, you had asked about screening. The screening was negative and these techniques work. But I remember he was, two, and he only had ten what I call pop out words. And I was thinking, when did my typical son Spencer talk? And I remember being really nervous because I was breastfeeding Spencer and I don't know, probably a coincidence. But when I weaned Lucas shortly after his first birthday, he started regressing, which I didn't notice, you know, so I was like, so I remember saying, like, I was going to just keep breastfeeding Spencer until he could talk. And basically that's what I did. But I didn't realize that I thought that was twenty one months. But we looked at Spencer's baby book and it was twenty seven months before he really started talking. And probably when I got echoic control which echoic control is means you disable the child says Ball. And that's usually when we see the floodgates open for language is when you get echoic control. And that doesn't mean like sit in the sterile room and go say ball, say I love you. It means that's why my program is so much focused on multiple control, part mand, part tact, part echoic, part keep it fun, keep it light. And you were doing those type of things.

Rachel: Yeah when I took him for his two year appointment, I said to the doctor, he's, I know he's not speaking like he should be, but here's what I'm doing. And I told him about the corse and you know, this is what I'm doing. And we have a shoe box and we're looking at pictures and we're really engaged and we're singing songs and we're looking at a potato head. And he can he can do all of the things and he'll put them. He's engaged, but he's just not talking to me yet and I said, like, what do you recommend? And the doctor was like, Well, I could refer you to speech but they're not going to do anything that you're not already doing. He said an hour on Zoom for a kid who is so and Everett is on the go all the time for a kid who's on the go all the time, he's not going to sit for an hour and look at a computer screen to a person he doesn't know. He's like, honestly, mom, I wish all my moms were doing this because that's, you know, going to get him talking. He said, when you're concerned and you want to start, you let me know. And I said, OK, so let's you know, I knew that I wasn't just waiting. So I said, let's give it six months and see what happens and where he's talking within that six month timeframe. So.

Mary: Right. So what what do you think was the was the real key to get him talking? I know he started daycare, but he was he was talking a little bit more. But do you think it was daycare and exposure or do you think it was just time? And finally it clicked.

Rachel: I think a mix of both. I think exposures definitely helped. My husband and I even noticed that, like going to the grocery store or running into like a quick convenience store, he would start labeling thing. So I noticed with exposure, we were definitely starting to see more language. We went into Ollies and there was a Mickey book and I remember him pointing across and he was like, Mickey. And I was like, and we're buying that, you know? And then from there it was like anywhere we went, he would say, bubbles, we would buy bubbles. Chalk was a big one. Like if I could get him to say it while we were there, we would buy it. Now, he's a pro at putting things in the cart, you know, but I don't know that we would be where we are had we not been working with him and then adding in that exposure.

Mary: Right, right. So a lot of it sounds like it was related to COVID and just the stop of going out. He was just like home with you and your husband, and the very few other people that he got exposed to. And as you're talking, I remember hearing in a lecture many, many years ago, and I don't even think I've ever talked about this or it's in my course at all. But OK, so I have talked a fair amount about tacts, which are labels. So a mand is a request and a tact is a label. And a lot of kids on the spectrum, they get very good at tacting. But it's weird because it's abnormal for me to be sitting in this room and say cup, pen, you know, picture, wall, clock. It's weird because there's no reason for that. And and if I'm saying clock or 12, 12:14, and even if I'm saying 12:14, it's like that's kind of tact. But it's also a defective mand for your attention. Like, we shouldn't be talking about the fact that it's 12:14, unless that's really important for some reason, you know. And so I think I learned that basically attacks that are also mads for attention are more when a situation changes like in a new environment or if you're sitting in a classroom and all of a sudden the dog walks in the hallway. That's unusual, right? If you go to a store and you don't remember ever being at a store and there's Mickey, that's a change in your environment. So that was like an advanced it's a mand for attention. But it was also a tact because even if you have a Mickey book at home, it's stationary, it's there. It's not exciting. And so as you were talking about his change in environment, which caused the language to go up, that makes a lot of sense. And so that's one of the reasons that if you are doing a shoe box program where it's just cut, it's slid into it, have pictures. You don't want to just use the same pictures. You want to get new pictures, any pop out words. We get pictures. You maybe try magnets or or 3-D objects in a box. I remember one of the conferences I was at was like, you know, how they used to have me, that I'm dating myself now where you pull out this picture frame and it basically flips the picture so that it's like a change so you can get more spontaneous tact versus what is it? What is it? You know, so because you really want especially with little kids and older kids, but with first words, you want it to be a combination of that's exciting. That's Mickey how, you know, thats a book and to get your attention at the same time. So that makes a whole lot of sense.

Rachel: Yeah, because I remember even when I would ask you. All right, well, what else can I try? I'm trying just like putting things in the bag and like making it appear was exciting and, you know, not just doing the same thing over and over to build that language.

Mary: And I do have a podcast and I believe a video blog on echoic control and kind of those techniques of making it more exciting, like if you can't get your child to speak or your clients get a brown paper bag and we can link that in the show notes. So anything I say we're going to link in the show notes will be there will be at That'll be your the champion listening to all the podcasts. OK, so you also started we're going to talk about daycare and how you chose a daycare and that sort of thing. You also told me that toothbrushing at some point kind of was great and then it wasn't. Was that before or after you started daycare, was that after?

Activity Aversions and What To Do:

Rachel: Yeah, that was recently. I know...we can start there. We..he would like any time we'd walk past the bathroom for a while, he wanted to brush his teeth and was excited. And so we were like, alright, great, we have a toothbrush here. And then one day it was just like a fight. You know, you want to brush his teeth before bed. And my husband and I were like, what is going on? He was like freaking out and crying. And I was like, this isn't how we do things, you know, like we don't do the crying. We don't do the screaming. So I was like, all right, I got to figure this out. So I was like, OK, right now we're really into profiterole. So we got videos and he could watch video while we were brushing his teeth. And then I bought a new toothbrush that had chase on it.

Mary: Is that a Paw Patrol character?

Rachel: Yeah, that's his favorite. His favorite one. And he is totally back into it. We don't even need to watch videos anymore. We were able to wean those away and just brush our teeth. And he's excited to go in and grav the toothbrush. And, you know, it's it's a lot more enjoyable. So.

Mary: So why do you think he started to fuss about toothbrushing?

Rachel: I honestly have I don't know, I, I wish I did, because then I think I would have figured it out sooner because it took me a couple of days to be like, all right, this is miserable of him freaking out. I don't know if it was just a change of routine. I think he knows that things are changing. Mommy's belly is getting bigger, life is looking a little different. So I just I think probably a variety of things. But I think that happens with kids like one minute.

Mary: They go through a phase or something. And then and one of the things that can happen, and I don't know if this was the case or not, but in Chapter 13 of my new book is all about desensitization and repairing of things. And Michelle C. who's in podcast seventy eight. We can link that show notes. She all of a sudden was in our group and she said her daughter Elena was freaking out with a bath. Yeah. All of a sudden. And so I went in and I said, when there's a sudden change in something like a bath or toothbrushing, there might have been a recent episode where a child was kind of forced to do something like a medical exam where they were held down or like he had already started day care. You know, maybe do they brush their teeth at school...

Rachel: Now that you say that? Actually, I think my husband and I had like an actual date night, which never happens. And I think it was a change in routine with, like, my sister brushing his teeth and maybe she did it differently. And then he was like, nope, I'm done. So. Right.

Mary: And so that's great. So when you have a freak out, OK, you have to think about like what happened. Did somebody hold them down? And in Elena's case, yes, she had just had an MRI, so she was held down and you were thinking, well, how in the world could last week's MRI and hold down affect bathtub? But it definitely can. And that's why my approach is very much don't force child, you know, no crying. We want a child running to the toothbrush, not freaking out. So if they're not running, it's your job to figure it out. Then we repair by buying a better toothbrush, maybe an electronic toothbrush, maybe not doing any toothpaste, maybe trying a different toothpaste, kind of just doing like, OK, watch Mommy. So one, two, three, four five. OK, your turn. One, two, three. Pairing it up with a video. I mean, those are all great techniques. And in my book I basically have the outline of what Michelle did for Elena and by a week later she was asking for more baths and that sort of thing. Sounds like a similar thing that happened for Everett.

Rachel: I actually remember that part of the Chapter 13 and being like, OK, we need to figure this out because no one's happy when your toddler is freaking out to do something that you have to do. Like we have to brush our teeth, we can't not brush our teeth, but it also doesn't have to be miserable. So, you know, we were started out on the couch we were brushing out on the couch while he was distracted by the TV. And then now we're back in the bathroom. We don't need a distraction. He just likes his toothbrush. So it definitely was a little bit of a process, but it's much more enjoyable for everyone now.

Mary: Cool and we can put the desensitization podcast in the show notes and some of them. OK, so let's talk about choosing a daycare. Yeah. And then we'll talk about dropping him off in daycare and how that went. But choosing a daycare is very similar, the same to choosing a preschool, choosing a regular school, choosing an autism school, choosing a therapy company. I did do a video blog on the topic with some you know, I don't remember the exact points. We could link them, show notes as well, because that is a really good one. So just in general, when you started thinking about daycare and you decided that you were going to put him in part time, what kind of things were you looking for?

Choosing the Right Daycare For Your Child:

Rachel: So I wanted somewhere that we could go in and look. And with COVID, that was kind of tricky. A lot of places were doing like virtual tours or, you know, you met with someone who was sitting in an office on Zoom and you couldn't see the room and you couldn't see the kids and the interaction. And that was really important to me to see having been a teacher like what the environment in the classroom look like. So that was one of our number ones, was that we needed to be able to physically see it and take him with and kind of see what he was, if he was interested. So another big one for us was like, what did their discipline policy look like? You know, as far as like if he does something, are we being stuck in time out? What does that look like? Because if time outs not done well, then it's pointless. And we don't really use it for our two year old right now because it's a hard concept to understand. So it was important to kind of figure that out. And where we did pick uses a lot of like redirection. And when we were in the building, the teachers were positive, the kids were happy. It was important to me that we didn't walk into a place where there was a bunch of screaming and crying kids. You know, they were excited to be there. So that was really important, knowing what their policy was, if he wasn't interested in what they were serving for lunch that day, like, are you going to force him to sit at the table until he eats? Just things like that? Because I didn't want to unpair all the things that we do at home. You know, like he's a pretty good eater. He's a pretty easygoing kid. And I wanted to make sure that wherever we were sending him was going to be good for him long term, because the reason we really started was for him to get some interaction with other people besides Dad and I. And I wanted it to be worthwhile for everybody, for him to be there. So that was important.

Mary: Yeah. And I think the number one thing I've said this in lectures for many, many years. If I'm picking daycare A or daycare B and I go and I don't even think about like not even being able to go in, which that is definitely something else to think about. But daycare A is like a stop that if you don't cooperate, I'm putting the toy away. You need to sit criss cross applesauce. How many times do I have to tell you, get away from your friends. You need to have more space like these are the kind of negative, negative, negative, negative. And then you go into classroom B, that's all I like the way you're sharing. Oh, hands down. Everybody is so awesome. Happy Monday. And positives. 8 positives to every negative. We've talked a lot about that.

Rachel: And that was the feeling I got in the classroom that we were in that he was going to be in the kids. There was five little boys and they were all gathered around the book and so excited. And the teacher was like, yeah, like, come look at it. Like, let's talk about it. And it wasn't like, oh, you need to be sitting down like, like they're two, you know? So I was really excited to be able to see that and witness that before he was there.

Mary: Yeah and now in this day and age, there's you know, Apps. I said I'm super impressed by how nice they keep Rachel and her husband informed of any issues.

Rachel: Yeah, we have... There's an app and they let us know what he ate and diaper changes and you know, how he napped. They send pictures, which is really nice because it's the first time we've really been away from each other, him and I. And so it's nice to get pictures throughout the day and know what kind of activities he's doing so that I can talk to him about it, especially when he first started. He wasn't really talking. So it's not like I could be like, tell me about your day, because he couldn't. And so it's nice to go to ask him questions and know what he's doing throughout the day.

Mary: Yeah, so dropping kids off at daycare or preschool for the first time or the first time in a while, you know, if you've been home schooling since COVID then and whether or not you have a little toddler like Rachel, who is maybe a little speech delayed or a typical child or a child with severe autism, I mean, the drop offs can be not good. In fact, I just saw were recording this in early September and I just saw, you know, one of my Facebook friends dropped off her daughter and she's screaming and she has autism. And it's like that is heartbreaking. And it doesn't mean that it's a horrible place, but at the same time. And there's not a whole lot of choices for some people in some areas, with some kids with some disabilities, there's just not like here's option a and here's option B. They're both great. But this one's a little better. I mean, some of these places I remember the first special ed setting I looked at when Lucas was just diagnosed. I mean, nothing horrendous was happening, but it was like kids were taking off their shoes and I was just like, oh my God, Lucas is going to do that. And it it looked like the kids were really impaired and he was going to typical preschool for a year before that. And I remember just going out to my car and sobbing like I just couldn't envision putting him there, you know, putting him there. But but let's talk about just dropping him off and you know, how that went and how you were feeling.

Rachel: So, again, I feel really lucky in the place that we ended up. I have a lot of friends who are dropping kids off and they're not even allowed in the buildings with COVID, especially like it's you pull up and somebody is taking your kid out of their car seat and in the building. And it's you know, or you can walk them up to the door and then someone's grabbing them and taking them in. And so I've felt really lucky that we've been able to walk him into the building and say our goodbyes. It was really important to keep it short when dropping him off. It was very much like reassuring him that I loved him and hugs and kisses and I'll be back and saving my own tears until I got to the car. I really liked that his teacher was very much like involved in the handoff. And even though the first couple of times there were some tears on his part, but she was hugging him and consoling him and he wasn't just like left to stand and cry, which was really important to me because I've seen that, too, where kids are just left at the door and mom's gone and now I'm sobbing and nobody even making me feel better. So and then they would let me know through the app, like, OK, it's been five minutes and he's playing in fine. So I don't know how to make me feel so much better. A lot of it. Then as we got to dropping him off more often, it became more I think he made me feel bad, like he knew that I felt bad when I was leaving him. But as soon as I would leave, like I would hear him stop crying as soon as the door was shut and I was like, OK, you're fine. Now, a few months in, he's walking himself into the building, running into the classroom. They have little like ID cards, and he's handing his ID card to the teacher and smiling and is like waving and bye bye mama. And so that feels really good to know that he's happy where he is.

Mary: And I would say anybody that's dropping a child off somewhere and they're crying on the child's part, then there's definitely, you know, probably crying on the parent part, too. But, you know, I prefer like a no cry ever, you know, but as long as the child's safe, there is communication and the crying is going down. So like the first day, crying might be ten minutes. The second day crying might be eight minutes, five minutes, four minutes and then gone. And if the child's only going, say, Tuesdays and Thursdays, you know, there might be crying for a couple weeks on a Tuesday because that's going to be less reset and stuff like that. Like if the child is crying, just making sure that they're safe and that the crying goes away, like if the crying and as a parent not to hover or go back in five or 10 or 15 minutes later to console the child. Because if you do that, even if you're leaving your house and your child's home with dad and you're the mom and you're leaving the house and you hear crying, and if you go back, if you keep going back, that's way high intermittent reinforcement and that crying will continue. I remember when I used to go visit Lucas is this autism and day school which was like an hour away. Like if I be at a meeting there and I pop in to see him in the classroom, now I'm going home. But he's not you know, there could be some like separation or crying from around that. So I would preventively bring a snack for him. And so then I go in, I'd see him and I'd say, Mommy's going home. You're going to take the bus. Here's a little snack while mommy leaves. I'll see you later. And so that way, I was basically pairing me, leaving with something he really liked. So like that might be another idea. Like if Everett really like stuffed animal or something, maybe he could take the stuffed animal with him. And I think the best thing is pick a positive environment, if at all possible work with and if you're in a negative environment, then it's your job as the parent and as the advocate to turn that around. And that's going to be a lot of work. And then just to have open communication to try to get it better and better.

Rachel: And I remember. I asked you, what should I be looking for, you know, those kind of things and the other thing I really like about where he is, which you talk about, too, is they have an open door policy. So I am allowed to go into his classroom. If I wanted to, it would probably be hard on him for me to leave. But I can see what they're doing. There's no like. Nope, sorry. He's here for the day. You can't see him. And I think that's important. Like as we talk about different therapy programs and stuff, too, like, you know, a lot of times they're like, OK, I'm going to take your kid to this closed door and then you might hear them, but you can't. It's nice to know that I have access to him if I need to.

Anybody Can Give Great Therapy to Their Child if Trained Right:

Mary: And also a note, as you're saying, that is if you're having home therapy, it's not OK for you to be all positive and to follow my techniques, maybe take my online courses. This has actually happened is, you know, a few. I could give you a few examples where this mom, you know, was following my course, finally gotten to the front of the line for ABA services. ABA starts and they're like, OK, we're taking him in his bedroom. We're closing the door with the table. And there was crying for an hour, hour and a half and talk about unpairing the situation. And then, you know, the mom comes on the online community is like, is this OK? And then no, it's not OK. I mean, you can't afford to unpair everything. Plus you are your child's voice. And so you need to turn that around and and you need to be a part of that transfer of information and supporting your child through that. Another example of another onlineparticipant. She was driving. She was doing my course driving 70 miles each way for an hour speech therapy session, and they wouldn't let her in the room. You know, our policy is that you stay out here in the lobby. Why don't you go shopping as they're dragging Johnny back and he's screaming that there's no...what is the point? Like no therapy is better than bad therapy. And now that you have the tools, you have the book, the podcast, the courses, you know how to do good therapy or you can learn how to do good therapy in relatively short time. But it's tough and I think COVID definitely complicated the situation for Everett for sure.

Rachel: Yeah absolutley. And It was obviously not something we were expecting or knew how to handle. Anybody ya know a worldwide pandemic. But having these tools in my toolkit definitely helped, even with my husband, like not an educator, not someone who is in the field and...

Mary: And not somebody who's ingested all this information about child development either.

Rachel: Exactly. But he is watching me or me, like, hey, what do we do here? You know, like even like the shush and give that you talk about so often like we use that and we've gotten, you know, tantrums decreased tremendously because we don't just give in. And it's just so helpful for parenting in general.

Mary: Yeah. And you're posting more about, you know, the speech delay that happened and how these same techniques work. And you're getting a lot of high school friends, your college friends are reaching out to like my child... Because one in every six kid kids has some kind of developmental disorder actually diagnosed. Like Everett doesn't have a diagnosis. His speech delay is done for at least for now. Right. But, you know, your eyes are wide open. I mean, anything can happen to any child at any moment. But I think you realize, I mean, between your special education knowledge and your autism knowledge, I mean and your child development knowledge and just knowing how to be positive and an advocate for your child, it sounds like you're well equipped for forever it and for the new baby who's coming so soon. OK, so to wrap it up, know part of my podcast goals here is not to just help the kids, but also for parents and professionals out there to be less stressed and lead happier lives. So what do you do for self care or stress management?

Rachel's Advice:

Rachel: So this is probably the hardest question you asked me as a mom to a toddler and pregnant with number two. I think the most important thing I've learned to do since becoming a mom is asking for help when I need it, letting my husband know, like I need to tag you in here or we need a night out or I need a few hours to myself, you know, definitely getting better about advocating for myself as well and what I need. Yeah.

Mary: Yeah. Well, that sounds good. All right. Well, thank you so much. I, I'm glad you got the opportunity. Come on. I'm sure we're going to have you on again. Good luck with baby number two, And well, we'll be hearing more about Rachel, keep my podcast listeners up to date with baby number two. And thanks so much for your time.

Rachel: Thanks for having me.

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.