#125: Elizabeth’s Autism Story & How ABA Strategies Helped Her Son

Elizabeth’s autism story started with an eating concern. Her young son was stuck on baby food jars, and when he saw solid food, he’d have a visual choking reaction to it. He literally gagged at the sight of food. Because Elizabeth only knew children with autism who were non-verbal or were on the severe side of the spectrum, she didn’t connect her son’s unusual reaction to food as a symptom of autism.

In her state, Elizabeth was able to find an early intervention specialist to help her with her eating concerns, but then the pandemic closed everything down. Like many parent advocates, she went looking for information on how to help her son, and by July of 2020, she’d found my toddler course online. Elizabeth is an active member in my course Facebook group, and even though we’ve never met before this interview, I feel like I know her because I’ve watched her journey over the last year.

As a minister, Elizabeth’s in a unique position to find ways to make church and community spaces more friendly to children with autism. She is excited to explore some of the ways to create more welcoming spaces for children with autism. The phrase, “Work like it all depends on you, and pray like it all depends on God”, is one that really resonated with me as we were talking in this interview.

It took Elizabeth’s son several months before she saw any progress in his language or eating abilities. She cautions parents to remember that each child’s journey with autism will look different. With consistent teaching and reinforcements, Elizabeth’s son began to make learning  and language progress. While your journey may look different, Elizabeth encourages other parents to give themselves some grace as they grow on this new path.

TODAY’S GUEST

Elizabeth is an ordained Presbyterian minister. She holds her Masters of Divinity degree and has a special interest in the fields of art, religion, and reconciliation. This past year her research has turned to focus on learning more about how to support her toddler son, as he has been dealing with eating concerns, speech delays, and other early signs of autism. She looks forward to sharing more about her journey of utilizing the Turn Autism Around Approach at home as well as collaborating with a local team of professionals to meet the needs of her son. She is the mother of two incredible, gifted boys.

YOU’LL LEARN

  • How picky eating can appear in children with autism from a young age, and why it’s now considered an autism red flag.
  • Elizabeth didn’t see significant progress in her son until she had learned enough from my course to have a good grasp of the entire therapy process.
  • How my book and courses can help even very young children who are showing early signs of autism.
Want to get started on the right path and start making a difference for your child or client with autism?
SIGN-UP FOR DR. MARY BARBERA’S FREE TRAINING

Not sure how to write a review? Here’s a video.

Transcript for Podcast Episode: 125
Elizabeth's Autism Story How ABA Strategies Helped Her Son
Hosted by: Dr. Mary Barbera

Mary: You're listening to the Turn Autism Around podcast episode number one hundred and twenty-five. Today, we have a special guest, a member of our online course and community. She's also a member of our book launch team, and her name is Elizabeth. So before we get to introducing Elizabeth and this really great interview with her, I do want to encourage anyone who hasn't gotten the book yet, Turn Autism Around: An Action Guide for Parents of Young Children with Early Signs of Autism. You can get this anywhere. Books are sold around the world. You can get in hardcover, audible and or Kindle, and it's already selling really great. It's sold over thirteen thousand copies in under a month out. So we have over eighty five star Amazon reviews. It's really the reaction to it has been incredible. So you don't even have to buy the book. You could just look at the first chapter here, the second chapter by going to Turn Autism Around and hit the book resources section.

Mary: Give us your name and email address and we will send you the book resources, including some videos, some chapter in writing, a chapter on Audible and all the book resources for free. So TurnAutismAround.com. So let me tell you a little bit about Elizabeth and her introduction. She's going to be pretty brief. So Elizabeth is an ordained Presbyterian minister. She started having concerns about her, her son when he was two, eating concerns and some other early warning signs of autism. And then the world shut down. And so in her search, she found my online course and community. And she's been a very enthusiastic member, seeing a lot of results and a lot of transformation within her child and family. So she has some important messages. And we talk all about how to address some of these issues and how the strategies she's learning in the course are not just good for very, very young children, but they're also good for older children who have significant needs in the area of talking, tantrums, eating, sleeping, potty training. It's all in the book at Turn Autism Around dot com. So let's get to this great interview with Elizabeth.

Mary: So, Elizabeth, thanks so much for joining us today.

Elizabeth: It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you, Mary.

Mary: I feel like I already know you, even though we've never met in person on video or live-in person. But you have been a real supporter of my work and a real outspoken advocate to get things started for kids. So can you please just start out by describing your fall into the whole autism world or when you started to have some concerns?

Elizabeth: You know, it's really interesting, Mary, because all of this happened for me in the midst of this past year when. Right. We experienced the covert covid pandemic of being locked down and it just felt like life was very isolated. And so it was actually in the midst of that time, we'd been having some concerns about my son, especially about eating. And so I do want to say that's one tremendous gift of this program, is learning about how eating concerns are connected to is definitely a red flag to be aware of. So he'd been having some eating concerns. We really weren't making a lot of progress, but we just got started with birth to three. Early intervention into early intervention. Lists were coming to the house and then suddenly it's like, OK, nobody can come. We're all stuck here. And I honestly did a Google search. I did a Google search and I found out about your program. Like many other people in the community, I found out about the opportunity to do the workshops. And, you know, I'd heard the word autism. And it had only ever been connected with very specific things, often connected with severe intellectual disability, just a lot of real red flags that I wasn't seeing in my son. So I had no idea. I wouldn't have made the connection if I didn't start reading before and thinking more.

Mary: When you were Googling, you are Googling autism?

Elizabeth: Actually, I was actually I was so like one of our early intervention lists had just said the word to me. So it said the word. But she really didn't know. I didn't know. The only thing I knew was, again, like kind of my actually being an elementary school student and knowing a few students with autism who were more severely impaired by their autism. And that was the only thing I knew. And so but I found out about this course and was very intrigued that did the workshop and then decided to do the course and move for the toddler. Preschooler course. Yes.

Mary: Yes. Which I have two different courses which are now in the second course as well. But I have the toddler preschool or course which a lot of people find their way kind of even before the diagnosis. And so your son wasn't diagnosed with anything except for some delays and he had early intervention come in. And you were basically stuck at home with no services. You were searching for help, right?

Elizabeth: Yeah, searching for help, searching for information. And also just really, I felt pretty helpless because we knew there was an eating concern and we were doing a few different techniques of like having him play with food. But nothing was, it wasn't going anywhere, you know. And I just felt like I was continuing to do the same thing and was not reaching. He wasn't progressing. So I felt really frustrated, very alone.

Mary: And back in the spring of 2020?

Elizabeth: Yes, yes, this was back in the spring.

Mary: And before you go on, because one of the things I learned and I consider myself pretty much of a feeding expert in this area, but one of the things I learned as I was writing my new book to an autism around Chapter 10 is all about is called Solve Picky Eating. And as I was writing it, I reached out to Dr. Keith Williams, who is a feeding expert in international feeding expert who I learned a lot from, and he reviewed the book, specifically the chapter on feeding. And he was also on my podcast. And it's really a great podcast, episode number ninety-five. But one of the things I learned is that in twenty nineteen there was a study in that I can try to link this in the show notes, but there was a study done in twenty nineteen that actually showed that picky eating is a now a diagnostic indicator for possible autism. It is a red flag, it's a bona fide red flag like before that we always thought that kids with picky eating, you know, were more at risk for autism, but this actually showed that to be true. So if you have a two year old who's showing some signs of autism, but a two year old that's showing some signs of autism, plus picky eating or having feeding problems like not swallowing well, not progressing from baby food to real food, like what kind of feeding concerns was your son doing?

Elizabeth: Yeah. Oh, my goodness. OK, so he was stuck on the baby food jars. He and I think as I'd share, shared if anyone had saw the little success story I shared. I brought this cupcake to him for his first birthday. And, you know, every parent is so excited about that moment. And he just cried. He was scared of it. He also did something that I had no idea what it was, which was a visual choking. You would see solid food and visually have a reaction to it. Now, he's not doing that anymore. I'm happy to say that's been nagging time. Yeah. Gagging Exactly. Gagging at the sight of food. And honestly, I yeah. I'd even know to look for that or really understand it. So for a while we just really weren't doing much at all other than just continuing the baby food or whatever we could we could try to puree for him. But yeah, he's like soft textured food. He's still very much like soft texture food, although he's been growing with his palate, which is a good thing. So and

Mary: You are not a first-time mom with your son?

Elizabeth: No, I have an older son and in a way, I think that has been helpful because although there's obviously similarities, my older son. Yeah, he transitioned quite easily. And so I knew there was an issue. He also my older son. Addition to an open cup at nine months, we just transitioned out of the bottle. That's my accomplishment for my son. And that was that, as I know many of you listening to this know how hard that can be. Those were indicators that there was more going on for him and that that my younger son needed more support, needs more support.

Mary: So what kind of gain? So your son is how old now?

Elizabeth: He is two and 10 months.

Mary: This is right around two when you are a little before two.

Elizabeth: Yes.

Mary: He started to show concerns and delays and you found my course. And so in the past. So you've you have been in my courses for not a year?

Elizabeth: Yeah. It's not been a year yet. Actually it started in July, so started with in July. And did the toddler course. Also, I want to say this to parents. If this might be helpful for you. It really took us it took me a while and obviously my son a while till we really could kind of get to the table and make progress like I had to do. And everybody's different. But I had to do a good amount of the work of the course. And you want us to do that. We go through a certain at least through the third module. I think it is. I had to really understand a lot of concepts. And I was just bring him to the table, reinforce that that, reinforce the table. And he was doing a lot at first. And I know for us as parents, that can just be really frustrating because we feel like this isn't working. But if he was, I'd say twenty-six months. Twenty-seven months, not much was going on. And then it was like right before two and a half, I had enough in my head to kick in gear the teaching and it felt like he was at this place developmentally where he was ready to. And that is where the floodgates opened for us.

Mary: Yeah. So what happened? What did that look like? The floodgates opening.

Elizabeth: Yeah. So for those of you who have participated in the courses, you know that we reinforce the table and their specific learning materials that we use and what we did a lot in the beginning and still continue to use, I just use them in different ways now, our flashcards. So I put the flash cards on the table. And again, this is working with my son who had joint attention. He was able to look at do things with me, but the focus was not there. But suddenly I was telling him or with the shoebox program as well as with the flash cards when he attacks with the flash cards, you know, duck, duck, duck. And it was I'd give him the duck and he was instantly able to match. So I knew I knew what I thought I knew, which is that the receptive language was there. But I also realized he needed the visual without the visual. We'd been doing a lot of speech therapy. But and again, it was wonderful. It was good, but it was one hour.

Elizabeth: And so we started with it with the flash cards on the table. We did the shoe box program where you're holding up a flash card, real life picture of his favorite things. I'm saying milk, milk, milk. He grabbed it or he'd say it first, grab it, put it in the shoe box. And then the big thing is I started doing puzzles with him. And I'll tell you, at first I was sad. It was like he couldn't get it and he couldn't understand the clicking. Within a week, he could put those puzzles in. He memorized every shape. He knew what the Pentagon was. He knew what the rectangle was. It was he knew all of his letters. And I realized like that was his super I call it a superpower of that visual memory. Yeah.

Mary: A lot of kids, Lucas, my son, he had hyperlexia, which is an interest and ability with letters and numbers before you can really even speak. And so a lot of times we don't want to like get them super obsessed with that and that can have its problems. But yeah, if the child likes letters and saying the letter names is usually really easy, a, b, c, they're all one syllable. It makes sense. And a lot of kids really do well with visuals. And with puzzles and matching, and so that's why table time includes not just focus on speaking, because some kids, it takes weeks or months or sometimes years to get word approximations, to get words. But sometimes it can happen a lot quicker, especially if the child already has some words, some what I call now pop out words. So it sounds like you had a period of time, only a few months where it was super confusing. And then you stumbled upon my courses, which now my toddler preschool course is in my book, Autism Around, which makes it a lot more accessible that people really can borrow it from a library. They can get it at a very low cost get with a free Kindle trial or free audible trial and really start to make headway right away.

Mary: And it sounds like once you enter the courses, you were persistent and you were you were driven to watch the modules to do it just when you buy any course. It's not the money exchange is going to do anything you actually have to watch and yes, do it. And not all kids are going to make rapid progress. Like what? I did a podcast interview with Michelle, which is another mom who got stuck in the middle of covid shutdown without services. And that's episode seven to eight. We can link that in the show notes. And I've done multiple interviews with moms like you and her. Michelle's daughter made all kinds of progress in thirty-three days. She went from, you know, the floodgates opened in thirty-three days and sounds like your son took a few months, but, you know, a few months is certainly great.

Elizabeth: So. Yeah. And I think, you know, also as having you can compare where we compare our children to other kids the same age and sometimes that's really helpful in order to see those early warning signs. But it's also just helpful to remember that that kids, whether on the autistic spectrum or not, develop at different times and sometimes. So you really I think as a parent, we want to stay as positive as we can be. But, yeah, I mean, my son was not doing animal sounds, for one example, Mariotte. It wasn't until, like, we started with animals at the table and suddenly he could do all the animal sounds. And that's, I think, what's really important to me, because I'm very close to all of my early intervention. Most therapists and I, I really wanted them. And I've been a bit big advocate of your program and sharing it with them, too, so that they can also try to incorporate these techniques with their kids that they can see, OK, if we have a child with an early eating issue, maybe we need to try this other approach or get our in my state, we have a child psychologist who can do ABA therapy with the child through birth to three. We I wasn't told that immediately, nor did I know to think of that. So parents, that might be something for you to think about if your child's still in birth to three program while you're waiting to get services.

Mary: Now, a lot of times, like I had a contact with our birth to three contract agency in my county from two thousand ten to twenty sixteen, and I was a board certified behavior analyst. I would go in for behavior, but only people that really, you know, like one of my first clients through the bathrooms, too. And he had he did so much banging his head on hard and soft surfaces that he actually had an open lesion on his head. And so they were like, oh, boy, we need a behavior analyst or behavior person. But for these kids, like your son, who you don't even have a diagnosis at this point, you know, you can still request ABA and it may take a little work and it may take a lot of advocacy, but in some cases you can get it. And now autism ABA funding for kids with a diagnosis is covered and mandated to be covered in all 50 states. So you might have to do a little bit of pushing. But I think your first step, if you're sitting out, if you're listening, whether you're a parent or an early intervention professional or professional that works with older kids that are that are still functioning in a one-to-five-year level, I think the first best step is to just to read the book and see some of the stories, see some of the procedures, see how simple it laid out and then definitely.

Mary: I think the online course where you where you can see videos and you can really make some headway and it's different when you explain in a book, when you see it on a video on you, and then you can go into the community and be like, hey, he's still throwing Mr. Potato Head. Like, I don't know what to do. It's like, OK, he's throwing potato head. OK, so, you know, Kelsey's son was throwing potato head and not sitting at the table for six weeks, and he's made all kinds of progress, so everybody's on their own trajectory. So, yeah, one of the frustrations I have is, is and this podcast is for parents and professionals. I'm talking to both groups as well as grandparents and other concerned people is, you know, the parents are learning all of this and then they're trying to, like, give tips or spoon feed early intervention professionals. But like especially when you get to the other course of Verbal Behavior bundle where your intermediate learners and teaching prepositions and pronouns and. Yes, no, it's like, no, you can't like the professional actually needs to take it. Because a lot is going to get missed in the translation, and I really encourage both parents and professionals to read the book and do the courses together or independently, because it is a new ABA approach. It is more simplified and it is really proven with hundreds, thousands of people from over 80 countries who have who have done it. Yeah, and so do. Your son has early intervention professionals still coming in.

Elizabeth: Yes. Although we're transitioning out from that. And it was one of those early interventionists who mentioned the term autism to me. And we did go ahead. And I had my son diagnosed it during this period to be evaluated. And that was I'll just say it was it was a different kind of experience because part of it was virtual. Part of it was in person. One really helpful thing for me, one of many about being part of the online courses and also that you'll experience as you read the book, is learning the techniques of how to do table time, for example, so that when I took my son to be evaluated there at the local children's hospital, I had an idea of what they were doing, what they were saying. I felt like he was able to show to some extent what he could do, and it really made me feel less alone in that process. So really grateful for that.

Mary: Yeah. And also before table time, which is the third step of the approach, we have assessment, which is the first step. So you are ready you are learning how to assess whether you're experienced in assessment or have an education background or not. You're learning how to assess. So that way when you go for an assessment, you know how to do it. I tell the story lots of places, maybe on this podcast in the past where when Lucas was three, I brought him in and they asked me to fill out a form like, can he touch his body parts? And I was like, yes. And then they brought him. And they're like, Yeah, we're not seeing touch touching his body parts. Can you tell can you show us how you get him to touch his body parts? And I was like, oh yeah, you have to sing the Barney song and do first. We touch our head and then our toes and then our belly and then our nose or whatever. And you got to sing the song. You have to show him as like that's not touching body parts receptively. Yeah. But as a parent who doesn't know the situation and you don't have an education background, you're a minister, right?

Elizabeth: Yes, I am a pastor. I did a liberal arts education in my background before then. So I've taken maybe the introduction of child psychology. Right. So that's about it. Other than raising, you know, raising my older son and what you just know generally. But oh, yeah, a lot of this was very new to me. I will say I know where we're closing in with our time, but with birth to three and the this my service coordinator told me she's like, if you ever step down from the ministry, I hope you'll consider like therapy work. And I found that interesting. But I think they just realized how passionate I am about learning what I have learned through your course and from other resources to help my son. So.

Mary: Yeah, so. So you're moving over to three year old services. Are you getting ABA? Is that the plan or how does that work? And you're in which state?

Elizabeth: Yeah, we're in West Virginia. And so we found they're actually just started last year, a center just five minutes away, which is crazy. And I've connected with the BCBA there and they start services at three. So my son has the opportunity to start there in August, September. So he's been doing a little one on one with her and also with the BCBA. Well, she's not a BCBA excuse me, with the child psychologist in birth to three.

Mary: Yeah. And that's another, I think misconception is and there's people from all over the world listening. So there's not BCBAs down the street in many places that people are listening and that it really doesn't take master's degree in education or a BCBA to put these practices in place step by step. We're positive. We're child friendly. We're always thinking about prevention of problem behaviors, always thinking about helping the parent, empowering the parent to see the whole picture, helping the child and eating and sleeping, potty training, whatever the situation is, we want a child to get better in areas where they're having difficulties, you know, increase their strengths, decrease their weaknesses, use their strengths. So are you still what kind of keeps you up at night now? Anything?

Elizabeth: Yeah. Oh, gosh, a lot. I do what I want to mention. I really love the way that your programs have incorporated the wisdom of other people. So when you were mentioning about, you know, you don't be the BCB like five minutes away, I remember your interview with Temple Grandin and about how her mother had people come and work with her. And that's really stood out for me. I'm a pastor, but we have a lot of people in the community. And as we can, we've had people and I've heard of others that I'm going to ask that to be able to help and put some of these things into place. So I do I want to encourage people to think about who you can bring to your team.

Mary: And it could be a church volunteer, the Boy Scout or Girl Scout, that needs service hours. College students who need experience, mommy's helpers, you know, it could be an older sibling who has the time. I mean, you might have to really kind of put your head together. A lot of the grandmothers are joining, reading the book and joining the courses. And they're like, let's let me help. And so we have an interview where we can put the Temple Grandin interview in the show notes. We have an interview with Grandma Diane, who's been a big part of our community and helping her daughter with the grandson. And it's just, you know, I think as a pastor, you see you see that people in the community want to help and you might be able to mobilize that in a more formal way. I've seen some churches like I can think of one church around here that does really they had me come in and speak years ago and they are doing a special needs Sunday school and they are incorporating things and to try to make it more inclusive and more supportive.

Elizabeth: And definitely there's I mean, there's a lot of I think there's more of an awareness and then there's a need for even greater awareness that unfortunately and the stereotype is this is not my experience, but the stereotype is that kids need to be quiet in church. Right. But how for communities of faith to know transitions, how do we provide a transition for kids so that it's not just, you know, thinking about the different needs that we've had, that in the congregation that I serve and the lots of educational moments of having a more thoughtful about the way that we do things and that there's not just one way to do things. How what kind of toys can we have available for kids? A lot of churches are starting to do things like called pray grounds where they provide, you know, softer but different kinds of toys or ways of worshiping in a specific part of the sanctuary. And I think having that awareness of the needs of kids on the spectrum with that is very important. And I I'm aware of communities of faith working to do that. And I've certainly been able to do some of that work here as well.

Elizabeth: Mary, you asked me the question, what keeps me up at night? I think I think we all I see my son making gains, and that makes me so delighted. I see him still getting stuck in various ways. I think it's just the, you know, how far is he going to go? But what I'm really I'm just very delighted and grateful for the whole host of people that have come around us, around my husband and I and both our boys to support him. I really feel very grateful for the host of professionals that we have working with us and also just my son's uniqueness. I have a unique family background. My husband is from Indonesia. I am from upstate New York. And so we already have, you know, a lot of different in terms of culture and other things that we're weaving together and just. Really eager to see it's like both the worry and the joy of what will be, though.

Mary: And one of the things that, like I realized on literally the way home from getting the diagnosis is, you know, my husband was saying things like, I guess he'll never get married, he'll never go to college. And that, you know, when I was like, would you stop? Like, even back then, that was awfully pessimistic. And I did actually interview my husband recently for a podcast. And we talked about that. I'm like, one was being really pessimistic. And he's like, yeah, it's kind of embarrassing to think back that I was like ruling out everything. But like, you have a two year or 10-month-old who the sky's the limit. There's nothing there's nothing off the table as a possibility anymore for your older son. You don't know how his future is going to turn out either or any of our future. So it's like I just want to empower parents and professionals that are listening.

Mary: Even if you have typically developing kids, you have no idea what tomorrow's going to bring. And I mean, as a pastor, you know this better than anybody. And so just enjoy the progress and the strengths and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And I just interviewed somebody that's going to be airing right before you, Amy McFarland. I just interviewed her earlier today and she has a son also named Lucas. And we talk about all the similarities and her son is living alone, driving, and she still has worries and she still has things that she does to help him. We don't know what the future's going to be, but what we all we can control is that we put in the right processes to give our kids the best chance of not having severe language disabilities, not having intellectual disability, if we can prevent it. And if we can't like my son, Lucas has intellectual disability on top of autism. It's not for lack of trying. But, you know, had I known what I know now, I think we could have made some headway with reversing that, preventing that, and then also trying to prevent or reverse any behavioral issues that come along, which you're trying to do with feeding and gradual exposure and all that stuff that I think your son's future is a lot brighter than it was for the kids that were born in the 90s. So, you know, if you're listening, like, just really try not to worry so much, that would be my advice.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah. And don't go and get lost in the guilt move forward in in the positive. And that's been a great gift of all of your work with parents.

Mary: Yeah. So if you could sit down with parents of one to five year olds or even, you know, you probably don't have enough experience in the world, in the autism world to give advice for older kids parents. But, you know, for parents who are concerned or just kind of diagnosis, I mean, hopefully we've been talking all the time about, you know, just put one foot in front of the other. Any other advice if somebody just, like, doesn't want to deal with that? Like, I get I get the I just want to be a parent. I just want to leave it to the professionals, like, really, do I have to do all this? Like, I don't have I don't have the time and the energy. I don't have the resources. Like what would you tell them.

Elizabeth: Yeah. You know, deep down you don't you know, you don't have a choice, I mean, and you just really don't. And even though some days are going to be better than others, you you're going to have to do the work that your child needs. And no matter what it is that they need and like as we've already said in the program, the incredible gift is there's a lot of resources out there. So find the resources that seem to work well for your child and don't get overwhelmed. I do keep a journal. I find it really helpful. And I continue to work with the team that of people that support my son's progress. And, you know, I think they call it therapy for a variety of reasons. It's not only really for him, it's also for the family and be involved to learn, learn those things. And also realize at the end of the day that there's that I'm a minister. So I'll call it Grace. There's the grace of what's going to happen that's just not about how much work you put in either and just about the work and what what's possible for your child. So believe in that and also believe those days where you just you know, you just can survive. You just make it that it's not just what you do. It's not only what you do. You have a team there to support you. And that's been the godsend for my family.

Mary: Now, the old adage, work like it all depends on you and pray like it all depends on God. Exactly. That's kind of out of your control in the end. But one thing you can control are your thoughts and your feelings and your actions and your positive attitude because your child only has one life, but so do you. And so you can't become engulfed with it and just moving forward in a positive way. So I think that's a great message. So wrapping up here, part of my podcast goals are for parents and professionals to be less stressed and lead happier lives. So in addition to journaling, do you do anything on a daily basis or even just in general to reduce your stress?

Elizabeth: Yes, well, I've actually been working a lot on nutrition, both for my son, but also for myself, for the whole family. So that's been something big that's been really helpful for us. Even just increasing your water intake, you and it's amazing how much that can be helpful. I'm also a runner, so I enjoy doing that when I can. Getting out and our family loves hiking. So that's something that we do together. And I also research. So that's what led me to Mary's work and to others. So sometimes it's helpful to have that space to do the research so that you can continue learning. And I've found that as been a stress reducer for me.

Mary: That's interesting because most people would think like learning would add to your stress, but you're finding the opposite. And I agree with you like I am a learner. I am learning all the time. I'm taking online courses to learn how to do a webinar, how to do this or how to do anything. And so I agree. I think learning and finding your groove really and once you start to see progress, it's so reinforcing.

Elizabeth: Yes, yes.

Mary: You want to keep doing it.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And it's you know, we've also really found that when the stress level in our house is lower, everybody's doing better. So it is you know, we don't you don't want to you don't want to be like, oh, we've got this problem. We've got to attack it. Also, think about the other parts of your family life where there's stress because that's been helpful for us. And I wanted to add that in and really work on everybody's stress level and lots of positivity. It's I I'll say I think that's been a gift of learning more about my son, his sensitivity, and makes me more aware of how my actions, my husbands, fathers, sons, his how we all impact each other. Right. Especially this past year. So I try to keep the stress low and forgive yourself for those times when it just doesn't work as you hoped.

Mary: Yeah. Give yourself some grace. Excellent. So your episode, this episode is going to be one twenty five. So MaryBarbera.com/125 to get all the show notes to actually watch Elizabeth in the interview. But if you want to listen, you can listen anywhere podcasts are streamed. And so it's been a great pleasure to have you on today, Elizabeth. I, I definitely think in the future I might want to have you back on maybe with a panel of pastors and ministers and religious people to talk about religion and autism and how we can get congregations to be more supportive of those on the spectrum. I think it would be a great episode. And I just learned that you were a pastor today, so we might have you do that in the future episode. So it's been a great pleasure to get to know you better. So thank you. Thank you for sharing your story and for all of your work in helping your son and helping the professionals that work with your son to learn more to help him reach his fullest potential.

Elizabeth: Thank you, Mary, and thank you for what you do. Of course. Thank you.