- I met Dr. Sarah Williams on TikTok, where she has a huge following. She’s a BCBA-D with both a master’s and a doctorate in applied behavior analysis, and she is also a black woman. We talk about not only social media and her business and supporting families with and without a diagnosis, but also the unique challenges and obstacles of families who are black, and professionals, especially BCBAs, who might be having some challenges in a mostly white field.
Barriers for a Black Person with Autism
One of the biggest challenges Dr. Sarah sees in her work with black families is a lack of resources, and also a lack of knowledge of the resources that are available. There is also a stigma around diagnoses, which can lead to not being accepted by family members and the community. There are also strong religious aspects, as well as trauma and a lack of time to dedicate to treatment programs.
ABA in the Black Autism Community
Black professionals make up just 10% of all BCBAs. Through her social media presence, Dr. Sarah has been able to touch more families and bring awareness of ABA resources. Advocacy should always be focused on the solution and a willingness to work together to make positive strides in the field.
Advice for Black Families with Children on the Spectrum
Education is key and Dr. Sarah believes when a community is educated on the resources available to them, they’re more likely to accept and receive needed intervention and treatment. Clear communication is also important, as getting a late diagnosis can greatly impact the long-term success of the child when they reach adulthood.
Dr. Sarah N. Williams on the Turn Autism Around Podcast
Dr. Sarah N. Williams-Katuli otherwise known as Dr. Sarah Nicole is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst and has contributed to the field of Behavior Analysis since 2006. She holds both a Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Applied Behavior Analysis. She has been honored to provide support to many families that require services for a member of their family that has been diagnosed with a disability. Some of the diagnoses include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Intellectual disability, and individuals that require mental health services.
She has worked in the school, home, and regional center settings. Such experiences have allotted her the privilege to collaborate with a wide range of professionals (i.e. speech therapists, occupation therapists, teachers, advocates, licensed social workers, and licensed psychologist), various cultures, and behavioral concerns. She prides herself in delivering cultural and trauma-informed support.
Her business Dr. Sarah Nicole Consulting LLC provides behavioral online consultation to parents with and without a diagnosis. Her online consultation provides an individualized person-centered approach. The support is based on the values and the goals of the client utilizing behavioral strategies derived from acceptance commitment therapy, behavior skills training, and principles of Behavior Analysis are utilized.
- How Dr. Sarah fell into the field of ABA.
- How Dr. Sarah uses her presence on TikTok to bring awareness to autism in the black community.
- The importance of education and knowledge of ABA resources in the black community.
- How more black representation in the field of ABA can help more families access the resources needed for their children.
- Advice for families with children on the autism spectrum.
- Autism in Black Families: Interview with Maria Davis-Pierre from Autism in Black
- Diversity in the Autism Field with Dr. Fumi Horner
- ABA Therapy: 4 Myths & Truths
- Autism TikTok- Parenting Without Power Struggles with @thefamilybehaviorist
- Doc Sarah Nicole.com
- Doc Sarah Nicole on TikTok
- Mary Barbera on Facebook
- Mary Barbera on TikTok
- Mary Barbera on Instagram
- Mary Barbera Workshops
Dr. Sarah N. Williams – Turn Autism Around Podcast Transcript
Transcript for Podcast Episode: 199
Trauma-informed ABA Therapy and Supporting Black Children with Autism
Hosted by: Dr. Mary Barbera
Guest: Dr. Sarah Williams
Mary: You're listening to the Turn Autism Around Podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Mary Barbera. And today we have a special guest, somebody else I met on TikTok recently with a huge following over there. Her name is Dr. Sarah Williams and she is a BCBAD. She has both a master's and a doctorate in applied behavior analysis, and she is also a black woman. And today we talk about not only social media and her business and supporting families with and without a diagnosis, but also the unique challenges and obstacles of families who are black and also professionals, and especially BCBAs who might be having some challenges in a mostly white field, so it's a great conversation. Dr. Sarah produces very entertaining videos on TikTok, and when I got down to talking to her for this interview, she is a solid professional as well. So I love this interview. I hope you do, too. Let's get to it.
Narrator: 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: Okay, Sarah, it is so nice of you to join us today. Thank you so much.
Dr. Williams: Thank you for having me.
Mary: Yeah. So I do not know you well at all. We just began interacting. So why don't you tell me and tell all the listeners here about your fall into the autism world?
Dr. Williams: Oh, my fall into the autism world has been amazing for me because it was kind of ironic. I honestly needed to get a third job because I was in the process of getting married and I needed to finish my last semester of college, my undergrad and I needed some more money. So I was able to get this position with this school, which it was an inclusion class. So some individuals were on the spectrum, some individuals did not have a diagnoses. And so I was there supporting this one individual who was like in kindergarten or something like that. And I just fell in love with this. And the teacher was like, Well, how did you like where did you come from? You're do amazing. I'm like, Really? I do really good at this. So I was like, Let me find out what this actually is and how I can excel and what are some things that I need to do. So I pretty much went to sort of get my credentials for kinesiology because I was going to do adaptive physical education or should I get my master's degree in applied behavior analysis? And I chose applied behavior analysis and I've been in it ever since.
Mary: And you also have a doctorate in applied behavior analysis. And where did you get your advanced degrees?
Dr. Williams: I got both of my advanced degrees at the Chicago School Professional Psychology.
Mary: OK I know people who've gone there.
Dr. Williams: Yes, but it's a lot. I went to the Los Angeles campus and I actually was one of the first cohorts for the master's program. And I think it ended up being like the second or third for the program.
Mary: Wow. So you've been a BCBA since 2013. Did you say?
Dr. Williams: 13, yeah.
Mary: Well, I beat you by a decade. I'm 23.
Dr. Williams: Oh, nice.
Mary: Paper and pencil testing.
Dr. Williams: I was just going to say.
Mary: That's really dating me, but that's okay. That's okay. So you've been in the field a very long time as well. And I recently found you on TikTok and I know I had Mandy Grass on the show and actually I have found you through her page. So Mandy Grass, we can link her in the show notes for you. And you, you are connected with Mandy over TikTok. You probably don't know her, just like you don't know me right in this whole other world. So you have over 200,000 followers and when did you start and why did you start on TikTok.
Dr. Williams: Yeah, so I started on TikTok because I was kind of playing around with social media. I was trying to figure out different ways to market my business and I was like, Oh, I really enjoy like the music aspect, the short portions of it, because I love music. That's kind of part of my life.
Mary: Yeah. You said your TikTok videos, which is cool, and lip sync and your videos are great. We'll link them in the show notes. How people can follow you and me on TikTok, but go ahead.
Dr. Williams: Absolutely. Yeah, it's kind of I was like, wait, I can like this. I could do my two loves, disseminate behavior analysis and do music stuff. This is amazing. Like, I'm always in the car and I'm like, like, that'd be a that makes sense to behavioral analysis. So anyway, so I kind of started doing that and I did a video, I did two videos because I was like, Well, we can't really show clients, so how can I show skills and still be able to kind of like show it as a model and be able to explain to people like how to do something? I was like, well, you know, you do you do this thing called duetting, so let's duet it. So I ended up duetting this one to 2 individuals, one about tantrums of one about fighting, and they just went it completely viral.
Mary: So, and you started when?
Dr. Williams: I started in November of 2021.
Mary: So we're coming up on a year, but that's pretty amazing growth. So yeah, duets are when you see somebody else's video and then you have something to add.
Dr. Williams: Yeah.
Mary: Yeah. So does this say I know how much it takes me and my team to produce every day we produce content on TikTok and like, are you are you spending a lot of time on this?
Dr. Williams: I've gotten better and better, especially with TikTok, because they're pretty quiet, short. And so it doesn't take too long. What I do is I usually will have a day full of like TikTok, so I'll just have a couple ideas I want to do and I just will just binge them and just have them to my drafts and I'll later release them. So it does take time to kind of considering like what you want to say and how you want to say it because you have stated in such a short amount of time, but for the most part, not too much.
Mary: And I know. Are you finding, you're finding other behavior analysts, I'm sure. Are you getting mostly positives or are you getting backlash? I know there's a lot of controversy about ABA. I've done 4 Myths and Truths about ABA. We've been trying to educate people that there are instances where ABA is not what Sarah and I would be recommending that you're calling ABA. And so do you get a lot of backlash or negative?
Dr. Williams: Not anymore. When I first started, it was very much like, you know, ABA is abuse and you shouldn't do this. And, you know, the autism community does not like this, but then I kind of kind of befriended someone who people think is quite unique. But for me, I kind of really enjoy her because I really communicate with pretty often in private, you know, and she represents herself as an abuse survivor. And so we have really deep conversations. We go back and forth, have conversations about, okay, let's talk to me about this. Just like, well, you thought about I was like, this is kind of how I was always brought up as a BCBA. So for me, I've always been like trauma informed, culturally sensitive and just person center, like, you know, just being able to understand individuals and break it down, not just be just about behaviors, but. So yeah, initially I got some backlash and every once in a while against get something, but for the most part people just recognize that. I'm just trying to show it in a different light and a different way and tried to show it in the exact way and address some of the nuances that you see and realize that, you know, it may not be for everybody. And it's not my job to convince you to get ABA, and my job is just to educate you about it. And that's something that's going to benefit your family. Then so be it.
Mary: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Great. So you work in L.A. and you have different jobs or you have your own business, like when did you start your business and what is that all about? Like, how do you support parents?
Dr. Williams: Yeah. I think I feel like a true L.A. person, Southern California native. You always do multiple things. You're always juggling something. So for me, I do my own business, which is primarily focused on parent consultation. It's remote services right now. I'm navigating to the insurance aspect of it right now, but it's primarily remote and I provide just direct support in regards to kind of troubleshooting, like looking at what are your values in life, what are we trying to do, what are some goals that we can put in place and how can we promote behavior change, right? Limit what you're looking for that makes sense for you and your family. So I do a little bit of that, but I also do some assessments for school settings. I do functional behavior assessments for school settings just to kind of keep influence in my behavioral talk and knowledge. And I also work for a regional center, which is very specific to California. I know there are a couple in different states, but it's primarily a California thing where it's provide funding for individuals with special needs and it's free funding for them. But it could be through ABA or it could just be through respite services, it could be housing services, it could be anything they want. So I do a little bit of that, but I am transitioning from the regional center to focus primarily on my parent consultation business.
Mary: And your website is.
Dr. Williams: Doc Sarah Nicole dot com. You can find me everywhere with Doc Sarah Nicole dot com.
Mary: Okay Doc Sarah Nicole dot com. We'll link that in the show notes as well and you might get people reaching out to you from this. Okay. So you talked briefly about cultural and trauma informed approaches. And for those of you listening, may not know that Dr. Sarah is a black woman with a Ph.D. and a BCBAD. And we have done a couple episodes. I interviewed Maria Davis Pierre, who was the founder and CEO of Autism in Black for episode 99. And I also did a diversity podcast with Dr. Fumi Horner. That was 142. We can link both those in the show notes, but I do want to turn because I feel like you have such expertise just being from the, you know, a minority population that is in represented just and isn't families that are black are not as supported as white families. That is actually proven. And then also professionals in a mostly white profession.
Dr. Williams: Yeah.
Mary: So just generally let's talk about families and like what are some of the obstacles and barriers that you have seen for families that are not white?
Dr. Williams: Yeah, so I would say the biggest and I've been in different settings, even in the home settings, school setting, in the resource center setting. And I think the biggest difference is resources, then knowledge of the resources. And then from there, whether or not once they receive the resources, whether or not they're able to be accepted by their family members, that's also a thing because a lot of times in the black community we have stigma as we're like, well, I don't know, I don't we shouldn't give diagnoses because we put that on our record. They're going to now change us and talk to us differently and we're just going to be mistreated, which have some truth to that. And then there's also the really strong religious aspect of the black community, and it's like, just pray about it, you'll be okay. And then there's the trauma part of it. And that's the part that a lot of people don't talk about is we're just afraid that if we are part of something that is telling us we need to do something a certain way, and then we do that and it still doesn't benefit us then. Is that does that make sense? And that's what I see the most struggle with the black community. And I try to explain to them and they are a little bit more open to listening to me because I'm a representation of them that they barely see as well, especially. And I feel there's not many black representation, especially with BCBAs, we're 10%, 10% of all BCBAs.
Mary: That's even from my experience going to conferences. I would have probably expected 5% like literally. And I mean, I'm not questioning your stats, but I mean, it is a very white profession. So, you know, I'm glad that we're able to talk about this because you do represent and you do know the nuances. And just like I'm a parent, so families trust me. You know, more so in some situations because I am a parent, too. So. So you do see that. And it's interesting about the religious aspect and the, you know, don't want to diagnose and especially in inner cities you also have poverty and you know other things that are getting in the way that you might not have the education, the access to, really. I remember when I fell into the autism world, it was like, I have a master's degree in nursing administration. I'm married to a physician. I have written, you know, multiple papers and emails. I have a computer, I have AOL access, I have a car, I have money for a babysitter. I have my parents nearby that can help me. And it's like if this is what I'm going through. What is the mom with English as a second language with no car and no computer doing? And that was way back. But I don't think it changed that much.
Dr. Williams: Exactly. No, it really hasn't. It's just been a different year. That's the only thing that changes, right. And think about it, especially when they're talking about, you know, populations that are in poverty. You think about all these services that we have, especially if it is ABA there seems to be a lot of hours, then that's kind of a speech, NOT, and all these different kind of services and who has time to do those right? Like and what time of the day do you have to do it? And if your schedule, your work schedule changes all the time, then what? What do you do? Because a lot of times ABA services are very specific, okay. Through 3 to 5, you know, like we're very specific in our time because.
Mary: And you need usually at least when I participated on both the giving or receiving end is you need a somebody 18 or older to act as like the custodian guardian of the child while ABA services are provided. And so there goes the 15 year old sibling who's going to watch them till you get home from work. And so there's another barrier that I don't think we've ever addressed on the show, but and then who knows how common these things are.
Dr. Williams: And then remember that in your household you're already trying to do something different. But the black community probably is not questioning, right? They're like, I'm not really sure about this. So maybe your family members within your household itself are already kind of like, I'm not really sure. I'm not completely on board with this, but this is what you want to do so be it. So it's challenging. It's challenging because you want to be able to branch out and do what's best for your child. Right? That's literally what parents want to do. They want to make sure their child is okay. And especially within the black community, especially the black men and black boys, there's certain things that we can't do being outside in the community. And you're stimming and no one understands what even a stim is and it looks suspicious. You know, you're already being profiled. It can have some concerns or let's say you have limited communication skills and you're trying to communicate. You're not providing eye contact. You're not doing those typical social skills that someone who is providing you with the command is wanting you to respond to immediately. Then, you know, and all these different things can get you, you know, maybe potentially some trouble. So those are some additional things that as a black professional, I see as like, okay, so let's try to like see this. How can we do this? How can we adjust our support for you to make sure that we adjust your values to also be able to be represented within the community setting and still feel like you're not in danger? To be honest, you know, those are some things that we really think about.
Mary: And that's some excellent points, is that you know, in terms of Black Lives Matter and police reform and I mean, my son Lucas is 26 now. He still is not conversational. And in the past, from behaviors that have escalated to aggression, that hasn't happened. Knock on wood. I always knock on wood for many years. But you know, any child of any race. If they get to be 200 pounds and they're aggressive in the community, you're at major risk of all kinds of things. We did a show with a captain from a police force who does police education. We can link that in the show notes. I think we addressed the race issue there as well in that show. But if you're a black individual with those kind of delays and issues and problem behaviors, you're very much at risk. And the other thing that we don't discuss much is, you know, my books and my online courses and everything are for young kids or kids functioning as a young child. So moderate, severe autism, the higher functioning kids, quote unquote, because we don't really like to use those terms. Right. High functioning versus low function. But the conversational kids, the kids that can go out into the community by themselves or maybe even drive but don't have like really great problems. Problem solving skills are also at risk, white or black, but more so black kids. Because, like you said, the eye contact may not be great. They may be stimming. They may be stimming when they get upset, even though they are in a junior college, you know.
Dr. Williams: Absolutely.
Mary: It's so complicated.
Dr. Williams: Yeah. And I think that I think when you're a parent with or a family member of someone who has special needs or in the profession, we automatically get used to it. Right? We automatically give grace. We recognize who this person is. We're very accepting. But honestly, the world itself is not always as in something as we would like it to be. So we have to kind of recognize that everyone is different, especially when we're talking about autism. We know there's a spectrum. Everyone has their own kind of, you know, representation of themselves. And it's important for us to recognize that not only are we meaning to be sensitive with race and how that affects just us in general in our company, but how do we address specific behaviors and specific responses to other people? So it kind of reminds me and I don't want to go on a tangent, but it does remind me of that one individual. I cannot remember his name, but there's one individual. He went to a grocery store and he had a mask on, but it was like a full, like ski mask and he was like was young male. And I don't necessarily know that he was on a spectrum, but he was unique. Let's just say he was eclectic and things that he liked to do. And he went to the store and they misunderstood and thought that it was a robbery or something, and he ended up losing his life over that. And the only reason why I see such prominence like the example, is to give people things of like sometimes you think something so small and something so simple that if people knew him, they knew that, Oh yeah, he wore that mask all the time. That's not a big deal for him at all. But to someone who doesn't understand and who automatically leads with fear or leads with misunderstanding, then it becomes this bigger thing that it doesn't have to be right. So those are just added things that the black community has to think about in addition to how am I going to support my child, my son, or my daughter in the school setting at home? You know, how are they going to be learning how they're going to be communicating? How are they going to be doing X, Y and Z? What type of social are they going to make friends? You know, like just the simple things that we normally expect or hope for our children. It's a little bit extra. Are they going to be able to make it home tonight? Yeah.
Mary: So what advice would you have for a black family who has a child on the spectrum? Are there any strategies or tips or things that they could think about doing to help keep their child and their family safe?
Dr. Williams: Yeah, you know, honestly, I think it's kind of a staple in black families already, but I think it's doing the same thing. Educate, educate, educate and model. You know, it's like, okay, so what happens if this happens? Like, what can we do here? And what about this specific situation? And then educate the community. So what type of things can we provide our support, our individuals to identify that maybe this individual has some, you know, additional needs supporting support as some people use little cards or little placards. A lot of times they're a lot more discreet nowadays or not so obvious, like a large badge anymore. But doing those things when you are seeking support. We are getting resources, making sure that your resources are actually geared towards your individual and your family needs instead of just something that's on an assessment, just checking off boxes. Right? Because sometimes in communities and in people, running businesses is very easy to just, okay, we need to work on this. We need to work on that. But no, this is the core of my family needs. I'm afraid that if my son walks to school, X, Y, Z, my son is aggressive in that setting. We really need to work on that and decreasing that. So it's not misunderstood. And I think that's the biggest thing would be communicate, seek resources, communicate with each other, with each other within your own community, but with other communities too, because in those resources you may not be able to reach within your own limited community.
Mary: I think that's great. And I love, you know, educate yourself and it's like, you know, with my courses and my book, I actually want to read this stat from my book because it really does illustrate that families, black families especially, are not getting the early access to diagnosis, not getting the early intervention they need. So this was a paper with Dr. Ami Klin and colleagues. It was pretty recent, 19, 2020, I believe it was published and I referenced it in chapter one of my book, Turn Autism Around. And this paragraph says, Sadly, the situation is much more critical for children of color because on average, they're diagnosed and treated even later than white children in the United States. A recent paper reported that 27% of white children with autism spectrum disorder also had intellectual disabilities. That's an IQ lower than 70, while so 27% of white children, while 47% of African-American children and 36% of Hispanic children with ASD also have intellectual disability. So the rate for having intellectual disability is almost double for black children. And that is that's very scary. And it's not because black children have a special gene that causes intellectual disability. My son has intellectual disability. I did a blog on intellectual disability. You know, even if you do the best of the best treatment as early as possible, there is a chance that your child will not progress in some areas and have an intellectual disability. I also know people with autism who have an intellectual disability, an IQ of 60, for instance, that are driving and, you know, going to junior college and probably going to get married. So it's not like a clear cut this is going to destroy your life. And it doesn't have to, obviously. You know, I'm all about it doesn't matter. But the fact that it's twice the rate or almost twice the rate for black children means that they are not getting the early treatment. And I'm all about like learn yourself before a diagnosis as early as there are delays, because it might be early signs of ADHD, it might be early signs of giftedness, it might be COVID shut down and you're isolated. It could be, you know, drug abuse or fetal alcohol syndrome that's mimicking something. But all of these strategies are positive, child friendly, and we just have to help families of any race. I mean, we have people in my community from over 90 countries. So it is like all different languages, all different races. I mean, here we're talking about black and white and Hispanic. But if there is a will, there's a way. If there's a mom or dad out there or grandma or somebody that can learn and reading my book, attending a workshop and considering joining my online course is is really going to get you, you know, farther along. Not that you don't need professionals because you probably will, especially if you get a diagnosis of autism. But there's a lot you could do even without a diagnosis.
Dr. Williams: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think I think not pigeonholing yourself into one little thing. And I think two things are worth noting, too, with the statistics with black community as well is one, it's the hesitance to seek support or to seek help from specific professionals. Right. We're used to being within our community one. Right. So then when you get a diagnosis, you may have it may be later on or you may have not gotten all that early intervention, which we all know that early intervention is very beneficial. But also it's the test taken to write. A lot of these are standardized testing. And if some of the things aren't really understood by certain communities or certain things are taking maybe a little bit more literal or less literal. And it's important to recognize that all these standardized tests doesn't necessarily meet the requirements of what it's supposed to be or what someone's response is supposed to be. And we see it all the time that people in the black community get misdiagnosed, especially black women. Black women in the autism community are misdiagnosed all the time. Right. People don't see it because it presents differently and different races. So that's also something to think about. So it's always it's not something that's always one easy to accept. I haven't met anyone yet in my life that wants their child to be diagnosed with anything. Okay. But I do think that sometimes it does help and provide that answer that maybe someone seeking. But I do think that it's recognizing that not every culture is going to respond the same. And it's not just the black community, it's a black and brown community. I see it with a lot of different cultures. I have conversations with one of my Korean friends as well. She's like, you know, that's very similar in our in our field to in our community as well. I'm like, oh, well, okay, that's good to know. But I guess my point is, is. We have to recognize that stats, there's a reason right? There has to be some truth to it. So why is that? And how can we get to the bottom of that? And why is it more prominent in certain cultures and communities than it is in others? And how can we work on that? How can we help and support that community?
Mary: And I agree. And it's just a matter of if you're a parent listening or if your professional listening doesn't matter what the races get parents to really say, you know, you don't even have to like stand in line for a diagnosis. There's just a lot you can do to really get moving with trying to increase talking, decrease tantrums, improve eating, sleeping, potty training, you know, like, that's my mission. And, and I know that's your mission too, Sarah with working with and without a diagnosis. So let's switch gears a little bit. In terms of black professionals, you said there's 10% of BCBAs who are black. So what kind of supports out there or what kind of, you know, how can we get more black individuals in the field and knowing about it?
Dr. Williams: You know what? I think representation. I think that's also why I've been successful with social media things, because people see someone that looks like them and is doing something similar today, what they are doing and or something that they're looking into doing and they're like, okay, nice. Because sometimes we, you know, we go to these conferences and we don't necessarily always see a representation of ourselves, especially when we're sitting on panels. You know, we go to a lot of different symposiums and it looks different, which is fine because we're just looking at more research. But I think looking to your community as well, there is a conference FABA, black applied behavior analysts, which is a new and up and coming conference that has a lot of representation of us. All the presenters were of the black community except for a few, and also it's even inclusive too. So it's not necessarily you have to be black or you have to be of a race in order to be part of it. But it's just a different perspective to be able to see your representation and be able to have that community and feeling like you're part of something and you're with something and looking at the statistics, at least on the board, that seems like only 10% like that can't be true. Someone had told me that I went and looked and I was like, wow. And you know, everybody identifies as different things. But to be in a profession that used to be all male dominated and all white male dominated and being a woman and black and trying to recognize that. Am I in this? Am I in the right field? So I continue to be doing this, am I really helping? And to see that people just reach out to me and say, hey, I just I see you. Thank you. I think it's really important. So I think it's just continuing to reach out, continue to collaborate. I mean, that's just really how our field works anyway, is through who, you know and how can you connect and make new relationships and things like that. And I think that's just really what it comes down to. And it doesn't necessarily matter what race you are per se. It just really matters that you're doing good work and you're doing quality work to support others for sure.
Mary: Yeah, I like that. So let's talk about advocacy that's on your bio is having expertise in that area. What do parents and professionals need to do to advocate better for their kids and their clients?
Dr. Williams: Yes. Okay. So I've been at meetings and settings with a lot of advocates say a lot of individuals that call themselves advocates. And sometimes it's extremely combative. And that's not the way. That's not it. I've learned when you're in a when you're in a meeting or a setting and everything's combative or back and forth, a lot of stuff doesn't get said and done and you misappropriate. So my key things are, one, have the individual that you're advocating for being the up front foremost person that you're always bringing the conversation back to. And then I like to do an easy method of what's the problem? Why is it the problem and how can we fix it? I find that if you always go with those for little thought processes, who are we here for what's the problem? Why is it a problem? How can we fix it? A lot of people in the room are always willing to kind of come together and because it leaves more of a logical, direct position compared to an emotional position. Right. We're all human. We all want we're all passionate about something and we all want to make sure that we're heard in that particular setting. But if it is presented in a little more competitive way or a little bit less collaborative way, it sometimes is not really received really well. So I find that being able to kind of communicate what is it, what is my values, what is our ultimate goal? This is what it is. How can we get to that solution? What steps do we need to do in order to get to that? It goes a long way.
Mary: Yeah, I love that. How about collaboration? We've both seen some pretty great collaboration and some pretty bad information actually goes in hand with advocacy. But are do you have any additional tips on how can we collaborate better? Is it is it just putting the person at the center figure out what the problem is? Or are there additional things to think about?
Dr. Williams: I would say when it comes to professionals, I think the additional thing is stepping aside and realizing it's not about you. It's really about the individual. And also that maybe you have something to provide that is an input. You see it, you present the information, you explain to them why it might be beneficial. But if the other individual, the person who is receiving this information, is not willing to take it on and be okay with that. And I find that a lot of times professionals are like, No, but I know this is going to work, this is going to be great. And you're like, Why aren't they doing this? And I find that once you kind of step back and realize that, let's just pause and it come eventually. It has to be part of that. And I think with professionals too, as long as we're not very now this is my and this is yours now or more like, okay, so how can your field help my field? Okay, I see. I understand. So we're working on similar goals like this, the behavior analyst and speech community, right? We work on similar things. We work in communication. But there are certain aspects of speech that I don't know about that I need your expertise on. And there are certain aspects of why I'm teaching a specific skill about functional communication. So why can't we just talk and have a conversation about it and then blend? And honestly, the best and the quickest progress that I've ever seen with individuals is when all the professionals collaborate. And then once the professionals are on board and the family sees that all the professionals are collaborating, then the parents are on board. And then therefore you just have this beautiful team that is just doing nothing but focusing on our ultimate goal, which is that individual and giving them what supports they need.
Mary: Yeah, I often hear like leave your ego at the door. Coming into an IEP meeting or a collaboration meeting at all. And I like your answer to the advocacy question, really. Just keep bringing it back to this particular student and this particular family. You know, I said it in one of my recent interviews is the parent may only have one seat at the table and there may be. Six or eight professionals, but they should have 50% say at least they are the ones that are in it for the long run. And we have to not just consider the child, but also the family values and what the family wants, no matter who they are.
Dr. Williams: Yeah, absolutely. I've always was told that your clients is everyone. It's not just the individual that who's receiving services, it's the family, it's the parents, it's the caregivers, it's the grandma. It's whoever is part of that process. And if you look at it that way in a more broad setting, then you're realizing that, okay, it's the whole you're looking at the whole person and not just compartmentalizing certain things.
Mary: Yeah, yeah, great. Okay. Well, this has been super helpful, I'm sure, to listeners. It's been a great discussion. Hearing your insights there, I'm really glad that you've been able to be on the show and I like to end each podcast the same way. So part of my podcast goals are not to just help the kids, but also to help the parents and professionals listening be less stressed and lead happier lives. So what tips do you have? Self-care tips, stress reduction methods that you use for yourself to keep your stress at bay and to lead to happiness.
Dr. Williams: Now music is number one. It is always my number one go-to. I listen to a wide range of music, just being able to clean my house and have the music on, sit in my car with the music on. That's number one. But the one thing that I have found that I absolutely love is getting a massage. I have a monthly subscription or prescription to a place. I get a massage. And the reason why I love it is because I'm completely shut off. It's just the phone's gone. The computer's gone, everything's gone. I get a massage, and it's my 45 minutes of just silence, and that is my best thing. Obviously, exercise is always great and fun, but music and massage for me that's always been my go tos. Besides of obviously hanging out with my family and just cutting off work talk.
Mary: Well, I love that. That's a unique response. I had never had a massage. I mean, I have had massages, but I've never had that as an answer. I think that's a great idea for both parents and professionals. So I love that. Thanks so much for your time today. Everybody join Dr. Sarah Nicole. And so it's Doc Sarah Nicole on TikTok, Instagram and her website. We'll link everything on the show notes, but I will be following you. I'm going to try to duet you soon and I'm newer to TikTok, but I plan to collaborate with you in the future and I look forward to seeing where you go. You're. You're such a dynamo in the field and it's been a pleasure.
Dr. Williams: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. This has been amazing.
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 Mary Barbera dot com forward slash 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 Mary Barbara dot com forward slash workshop for all the details I hope to see you there.
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