Making ABA More Compassionate with Celia Heyman

Celia Heyman is a Board-Certified Behavioral Analyst, pursuing her doctorate, and fellow autism mom who advocated for her son to get the best compassionate ABA services to help him reach his fullest potential. Celia’s son was diagnosed with autism in 2004 after she noticed he wasn’t talking as much as his older sibling. He was eighteen months old at the time and did display other symptoms such as playing and manipulating items in strange ways, not responding to his name, and being very comfortable playing on his own.

Initially, he started receiving services through early intervention. These first sessions were stressful and full of tension. He would run, tantrum, and scream when the providers would come to his home. It was not a good experience for anyone, and he had a hard time meeting his goals. He needed more compassionate ABA and Celia eventually found a center that provided it. Because of his early interventions with ABA, he is excelling as a young adult.

Because of her son’s positive experience with ABA, Celia eventually decided to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and she now teaches Compassionate ABA Care to parents and providers, including ABA providers.

What is Compassionate ABA Care? Compassionate ABA care is building rapport and trust with a client so that they are more likely to work with you and reach their goals. It’s really understanding their situation and doing your best to connect with them. A child may have trauma from a past negative experience. It’s important to be responsive to the child, and not just follow your program or script. It’s also important to look at the practices we were taught in the past as they may not be applicable today.

The most important thing, especially when just starting out with a new client and practicing Compassionate Care, is to build a strong, positive relationship with them. If the child trusts you, you are more likely to get them to work towards their goals, and ultimately, reach their full potential.


Celia L. Heyman is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.  She has been providing behavior analytic services to learners ranging from pre-kindergarten to grade 12.  Celia continues to consult with school districts and families; providing training to teachers, paraprofessionals, and parents.  Celia’s clinical work involves the dissemination of the practical functional assessment to address problem behaviors. Celia is a professor with Capella University’s graduate behavior analysis program.  Celia enjoys mentoring and tutoring aspiring behavior analysts.   She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in behavior analysis at Capella University.

Transcript for Podcast Episode: 127
Making ABA More Compassionate with Celia Heyman
Hosted by: Dr. Mary Barbera

Mary: You're listening to the TurnAutism Around podcast, I'm your host, Dr. Mary Barbera, and today we have a really special guest, Celia Heyman, who is a mom to a son with autism who's 18 years old. She is also a board-certified behavior analyst and she is a professor with Capella University's Graduate Behavior Analysis Program. We talk about a lot of things, including what is compassionate care. We talk about her fall into the autism world, her transition to being a behavioral analyst, what students in the field really need. And we also talk about how to respond when people do not like ABA and how we need to switch really changed the field to make it more compassionate, more positive. We got along great during this interview, and I think you're going to love it. So let's get to the special interview with Celia Heyman.

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 behavior analyst and bestselling author, Dr. Mary Barbera.

Mary: OK, we have Celia Heyman here. Thanks so much for joining us today, Celia.

Celia: Thank you. It's nice being here. Thank you so much.

Mary: Yeah. So we've met a couple of times in the past at conferences, but I've been seeing you a lot on line. And I know we have a lot of similarities in our journey of being both parent and professional. So first, why don't you tell our listeners how you fell into the autism world?

Celia: Well, I got into this field under unchosen circumstances. I have two children and my second child was diagnosed on the spectrum. And prior to working in the field, I was in finance. So I was doing something completely different. And I remember the first time someone said to me, your child has autism, and he needs ABA. And I remember the first thing I respond back was, what's ABA? I laugh about it with that because it really does remind me of the journey that I've gone through and all the learning that I have done and the people I've met along the way.

Mary: Right. What year was this when your son was diagnosed?

Celia: Yes, he was diagnosed in 2004. He was one. So he's 18 years old. Yes. And so when he was diagnosed, I think I was maybe I spent a week just wallowing and then I got to work, made a phone call.

Mary: And I when he was diagnosed, how old was he?

Celia: He was 18 months.

Mary: And what were some of the symptoms or why were you worried about where was somebody in denial? Because Lucas was diagnosed in 1999. So this is like five years later and 18 months is super early.

Celia: Yeah. And I think part of it was because he was sick. He's a second trial and our first child, he spoke earlier than the average and they always say you shouldn't compare it, but you do compare, you do notice the differences. So the biggest symptom or the biggest market was the lack of speech. And we did bring that up to the pediatrician. And many times, I would be told, don't worry about it, he's a second child. His brother is talking for him. People are doing things for him. He's the youngest. Maybe true, maybe not true, but we were still very concerned and then we started really looking and being very observant about all symptoms. And we did see other markers that came out, such as a lack of joint attention playing and manipulating items in a very strange way. So he was lining things up, staring at objects at the corner of his eyes, not responding to his name. He was also very comfortable being by himself and all of those things together made us very concerned, but it was the lack of speech that jumped out that got us concerned first.

Mary: So he was diagnosed at 18 months. And were you able to start, ABA, right away?

Celia: We weren't. We got in touch with New Jersey early intervention. And at the time we got very, very few hours. And it was not ABA. It was instructed not it was not it like some sort of a play therapy. I don't even know the label they use. They use at the time. But it was not really working. The therapist or the person would come to the home, put a lot of demands on him trying to have him comply to an instruction without the opportunity to establish rapport with him. And I remember he would cry, he would tantrum during session. And I would remember saying to my husband, oh, no, was therapy time again. And my husband is like, wait a minute, wait, wait, wait, time out. Why are you stressing about someone coming into your home to supposedly help you? There's something not connecting. I said you're right. Why do I feel so stressful? When is the day of therapy? I shouldn't feel that way. I should be relieved that, hey, someone's coming into my home and the session should not be filled with tensions and crying and distress. It shouldn't be that way. And so my father in law said, and to my father in law at the time, he was working in New York City and he knows nothing about autism, but he had a colleague who has a child autism. And his colleagues said, wait a minute, your daughter lives in Princeton, check out Eden Autism Services. And I said, let's check this out. And it's ten minutes away from where I live. And we pass by it on Route one going into Princeton all the time. We just never know what this Eden house is. Isn't that like a place where you get coffee? What is this wawa house? And so we went in there and we spoke to a lady named Diane Bendery, said she was probably one of the first batch of BCBAs back in 2000, 2001. She's a speech language pathologist as well. And I'm giving her a shout out because she was one of my angels, as you may not know this, but she was one of my angels. And she assessed Brendan and said he needs ABA. This is what you need to do, call back my case manager in early intervention. And I said I just saw Diane Andresen. This is what she recommended. And my case manager, New Jersey Early Intervention, said, whatever Diane needs, we'll get for you.

Mary: Wow. Well, that was lucky. Yes. And how many months did it take for you to Eden?

Celia It was just luck that my father-in-law said,

Mary: Was it three months, six months later? Just a couple of weeks?

Celia: It was it was three plus months. Yeah.

Mary: Yeah. And that's what I see now is people waiting and I used to say, like, if the therapist rings the doorbell and the child starts screaming, there's a problem. It's not supposed to be like your husband said. It's not supposed to be stressful. It's supposed to be helpful. And these are not bad people. They are not malicious. They just don't know how to weave ABA principles into kids who have tantrums, whether they're on the spectrum or not. And unfortunately, around the country and certainly around the world, there's very few like early intervention systems that have any ABA support, let alone like an abundant supply of any behavioral support.

Celia: Right. And even though we lived in New Jersey at that time, that was still very well. It was a low shortage, a shortage of BCBAs.

Mary: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Because it's 2004. I became a behavioral, so I was one of the first one thousand and 2003. It's really a new field, a new special certification. It's only been around for about two decades. So how is your son doing now? And he's eighteen.

Celia: He's eighteen. He's going to post-secondary. So he is registered at a local community college. He wants to give that a try. He knows he doesn't want a desk job like his dad. So I said, hey, that's half the battle. He's great with his hands. He's been doing a lot of trade, professional exploration. So he's been doing auto-collision. And he loves working out in the field, so agriculture, farming. He just recently got certified as a lifeguard. So for him is finding his passion and to be motivated, reading comprehension is really difficult for him. He has inattentive in attention. So things are tough. And I think that he's he finds it challenging because if you don't know, Brandon, you would have all these high expectations of him. And you have to get to know a little bit about Brandon to realize what his challenges are and what he's good at. And he's one of those where we say he has a disguised diagnosis because at first, he might come off like he doesn't have one or he doesn't have any challenges. But he really does know, and he's come to terms with that.

Mary: You said something that I literally had to get my pen and write down for your son it's about finding his passion and being motivated. And that's what the key is for every child and every adult. Find your passion and be motivated. And for every single person out there, that doesn't necessarily involve going to college or having a full-time position or having whatever you're thinking is kind of a quote unquote normal life. So it was I love that when you said and it's true for all of our kids. OK, great. So he knows he has a diagnosis of autism. Does he disclose that? How did you tell him he had autism?

Celia: He's actually quite proud of it now. He will tell you I have autism and paying attention is really difficult for me. Reading comprehension is tough unless I'm reading something I really enjoy. Yeah, and I love swimming and surfing and skiing. That's why he is so blunt. He's totally honest and we're trying to help him. And I mean he's going through some interviews and he's like, Mom, I just want to be honest. I said, OK, but you shouldn't also tell someone what you don't want to do and what you don't like to do. You should tell them what you like to do and what you might be good at. But you can also be honest about what things are difficult.

Mary: Yeah, that's amazing. So in the process, you became a board certified behavior analyst, which is very similar to my journey. It's also very similar to Amy Macfarlane, who was on the show a couple of months or so ago, and she talked about her son, Lucas. We can link that in the show notes. And so her Lucas is in a similar position. I think he went to some community college. He is working a trade. He's living alone. And he's Lucas is age twenty-four. And then Amy, the mom, was in business and she transitioned to become a behavior analyst. So how did you what year and what did you decide to go from finance to, ABA? What prompted

Celia: so things where I'm working and early intervention and then we've got ABA and things were working and then I was working really long hours in the city. And so we had a nanny at the time and she's a lovely lady, but she wasn't able to tell me what was going on in early intervention so that I can help generalize the skills. And I said to my husband, I don't think we're really using early intervention to the best that we can. And so we've decided that I'll take a leave from work. And I did that. I took a year off and then my boss is like, You ready to come back? I'm like, no, it's another year off. And I end up staying with him for about two years, attending all the conferences, read all the books. And then I met a group of people through my journey. Some of them are in special education, some of them are in behavior analysis. And I said, I want to continue doing this field. And so I said goodbye to finance and I had a decision to make. Do I want to go back for a different degree in special education or do I want to go for my certification and behave in analysis? And so all my friends will be was at the time, all my mentors, all my all the people working with Branda. Though I come over to this side and even during the time I was with them, I was at home. I was when I was at home, I was in session. I was taking data and my therapist might be a loved it because they were so efficient. And then when they left the home or when they didn't come join a particular day, I would be running the trials. So we were going through and mastering a lot of skills because I'm helping to analyze the skills that's being taught, and so I worked for early intervention for four years in the Central Coordination Office, although I was the first point of contact when families call in, did that for four years and I said, OK, I want to continue pursuing some of these opportunities. And I went back to school. Make the long story short, I went to university here at Lawrence of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and I got my certification in 2014.

Mary: And now that's cool. And along the way, you read my qualitative study, The Experiences of Autism Mothers Who Become Behavioral Analysts, a qualitative study that was published in 2007. I can we can link that in the show notes. And you said very similar to your journey. And it is while I'm saying, OK, I have this similar journey and Amy and you and a number of people I know, but it is an unusual journey. So what do you say to parents who might have two or three year old newly diagnosed child who say, like, I don't want to go Olin, I want to leave it to the professionals? What do you what do you say?

Celia: Well, I say first of all, you got to do you got to do you can't be married, Barbera. You cannot be Amy MacFarland and you cannot be Celia Heyman. You have to do you and you have to do you because you want to give your very best, whatever that means, if it means that you do some of it. But it's still better than being you and providing the best, doing your very best, your best effort. And that's good. If you need someone if you want to do it all, that's great too. If you need to go half and half, that's great too. What I do say and I tell parents is that your child who just received that diagnosis will have a good life with the right supports and the help. Things will be better. Things will not be the same. We cannot predict what's going to happen to our child one year from now, two years from now. So don't today do what you can at the moment put into committed actions. Now, the second thing that I tell parents is that they are not an extension of your arm. Neither is our typical developing children. They're not an extension of your arm, which means that you can't control every single thing. You can only do the best you can

Mary: And you have to take care of yourself. This is my first book. I talk about putting your oxygen mask on first and you have to take time for yourself because, I mean, we were all in, especially in the beginning, and I still know that we're both all in. But if you let just autism and your child consume you, you won't reach your goals, whatever they are. So that's important, too. And the other thing I want to talk about, what you talk a lot about compassionate care and in terms of professionals. And so what do you mean by compassionate care and why is it so important?

Celia: I'm going to share with you some of the pitfalls that I've experienced as a consumer of practitioners disseminating behavior, analytic services, and when I say that I am not talking about the practitioners being unkind people, I am going from the viewpoint that they didn't have the right tools. They didn't quite understand it, or maybe they didn't have supervision or supervisors or managers to show them a different way. So I just want to make that clear. So this is the pattern of what I've experienced. My child is problem behaviors, regardless of the topography or the shape and form, have often been accidentally shaped by people. And there is a lot of use of force prompting for children for him to comply. And although he might be emitting that correct response, a lot of times it's because this prompt it and much stronger than he is. So he's going to do what you make him do or it is being done because of negative reinforcement, meaning that he will do it just to get you away from him. So learning from force, prompting from punishment, from extinction, learning from negative reinforcement. And we need to stop that. That's where the trauma can be built, that's when relationships are not built. One of the key markets that I look at at a practitioner is when they come to my home, does my child run to them? That's a big sign. Or do they run away from them?

Mary: Right. The doorbell rings and they're screaming like, that is not good. That does not mean they're a bad person. And maybe in the beginning, because when other people rang the doorbell, they screamed, maybe in the beginning it's going to take a session, two sessions, five sessions to have mom or a parent or a caregiver with this therapist to work together. And I am still hearing stories. I love this discussion of why I hate this discussion because this should not be happening. But it is happening all around the country and the world is I hear stories of people do my online course and then and then they finally get off the waitlist for ABA. And my course is all about parenting and having the child run to you and having the child run to the door and having mom sit there at the table with the practitioner. You're doing fun things that have already been there, like gradually passing the baton off. And what I'm hearing in the groups is, is we got off ABA, we got off the waitlist, and now ABA is coming and they're taking the child in a closed door room and the child is crying. And then these people are like, I don't you know, I just I just spent three months on a waitlist and this is what I'm getting. And I'm like, no, it's going to unpair everything and is not good. And it's like, I don't know how to turn this this situation around. It's like a systems issue. And so compassionate care is the opposite, is what I'm saying to do what Celia's saying to do. And you're a professor at Capella and like so you're trying to train graduates to have compassionate care, to work slowly, to pair things up to meet the child where they're at. And they may have past trauma from not good therapy, and these are not bad people just yet. So how do we fix this?

Celia: Yeah, it starts with training, not just in the classroom, but it starts with awesome quality supervisors and mentors. It starts with the people who are already doing it, modeling the right behaviors when they interact with the learners and when they interact with all the stakeholders, like other professionals on the IEP team and parents. It starts from us. Every time I talk about supervision, the people that I talk about it with, they always say, oh my God, I'm so scared I'm never going to supervise. And I said, well, that's a great fear because that's going to keep you and ground you and make sure that you incorporate humility when you do decide to supervise someone, because it's a huge endeavor that should not be taken lightly. Because every single supervisory that you miss supervise, you just provided a bad model. And when you have bad models, that's when it disseminates. You know, that's not what we want to do. And so compassionate care is being responsive to the child, not just following your program record, because it's on the task analysis. Right? It's establishing rapport, establishing trust. And when you've done all that, then you earn the right to teach the not before.

Mary: And it could take weeks. It could take even months preparing. And I had Bridget Taylor on the podcast probably a year or so ago, and we can link done the shows. And she did to also talk about compassionate care. And I think her and Linda LeBlanc maybe wrote an article on compassionate care. We can link that in the show notes. We can link Bridget Taylor's interview in the show notes as well. And I think the listeners here, like we're kind of preaching to the choir because if you're listening and you're this far into the podcast, you believe in what we're saying and you want to turn things to be more positive and to have the kids make more progress, they're not going to make progress if they're crying and they're not going to make progress if they're tantrumming and throwing themselves on the floor. And it's going to be worse the older they get, if these things are being shaped up now. And that's why I am just so on a mission to get kids even before they're diagnosed, even just kids with a little speech delay, kids with ADHD. It doesn't Matter. We have to really infuse behavior analysis into parenting, because even though I had a master's degree before I had kids and you were well educated before this.

Celia: You are a nurse practitioner, right? Do you still practice in that field?

Mary: No, I have a master's in nursing administration, so I was never a practitioner. And then I was right before I moved and had Lucas, I was working at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia as a nurse manager. So I was always in the management. And interestingly enough, I was in the management and always on a neurologic floor, like neurology, neurosurgery, head injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes, where we'd have to teach people how to talk again and swallow and work with multidisciplinary teams on multidisciplinary goals. So and to manage people. Twenty-four, seven. So I my whole life, I could feel like I was being primed to manage the people in my home coming in to help Lucas, working with multidisciplinary teams, shaping skills and working in the neuro field where I know like the first year after an injury or after a stroke is your critical time to make the most progress when your brain is the most plastic. And so it's been an interesting background to get to this awesome background. Yeah. And so I don't I maintain my nursing license, but I don't work as a nurse. But my nursing background has been huge, especially with potty training and feeding and all that stuff. It's been really huge. So let's talk a little bit about the students and kind of like what they struggle with and like how did they get interested? Usually when I interview people like you, Celia, it's like either their child has it or they answered a little ad in college to work with a child with autism. I mean, is that how your students are finding ABA?

Celia: Well, the first class I often ask them is like, why are you here? Because I want to know about them. All right. I mean, we often don't forget about that. And this is also true when we do parent training, we got to find their motivation. The full time contingency or the motivation sometimes get overlooked when we deal with adults and we just expect them that they want to learn. No, no, no. They're very busy people. So I asked my you know, I asked my students why they're here. And a lot of times they're there because they know someone with autism or they know someone with a disability, whether it's their own child or maybe their sibling or maybe they are and an uncle or maybe they want an education. And then they got to work with children with disabilities. And they want to go to special ed, but is because of those reasons, so they come to us already with an intention to be in the helping profession. They're not coming to us because they want to, be rich and make money because they're in the wrong field. That's your primary motivator, right? So they already want to be in a helping profession. And then I oftentimes will thank them for being in class, first of all, because I teach at night and that's generally 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm for most people in the United States, sometimes even more challenging time zones. And I thank that because I know that everyone has competing contingencies, they are taking care of their parents, they are taking care of their own kids. They are working full time and they have to juggle different classes. So I would thank them for that. And then I'll let them know if this is a serious profession. We're working with a vulnerable population of learners. So when we are working with a vulnerable population of learners, we have to be very serious about our learning. So I said for two hours, you've already decided to be here. Make sure you have the supports aligned. Make sure you have your babysitters aligned. You tell your spouse that you cannot be destroyed unless the house is on fire. Right. And be engaged and advocate for your learning.

Mary: Yeah. So before covid were you in person with these students or have you been right?

Celia: So at Rider it was all in person and traditional brick and mortar, at Cappella it's distance learning. So we've always been in remote. So in a way we were already the infrastructure is already set up, right? Everything is already set up. So we did very well in covid and actually we were able to a lot of students transfer to our program because everyone is doing the remote.

Mary: So I took online learning to get my certificate in ABA through Penn State. And this was back in 2002. I mean, we didn't have it wasn't really online. We literally got a box of binders with PowerPoint slides and VHS tapes, literally, like that's how long ago was. So we've come a long way. But I think it's super important that the people that are teaching ABA students and our supervisor mentoring are listening to us talk about how to be more compassionate, how to work with not only the families, but the other providers who are going to be in schools and early intervention systems and all want what's best. And we need to make, have the children make as much progress as possible. And so sometimes that's tough, especially if there's no behavioral analyst around with any input.

Celia: And I'm just going to echo this is something that I've been doing. So I teach a course for behavioral assessment and this is what I've been doing. But I'm going to echo Dr. Greg Henley about what he had shared in the past. So when I teach behavioral assessment, I teach from a historical perspective. So I'm going to teach you everything that you need to know that is now literature. And then I'm going to ask you this and tell you what the newest technology is. And I'm going to share with you my experiences as a practitioner. And I'm going to share with you the kind of practice that I do that I can defend it and some of the practice that I have done in the past that I have let go because I can no longer defend that. And I come from a position where to let the students know that you might have different supervisors and different managers that might practice a certain way. And you need to understand why they're practicing this way. You need to understand how others are practicing as well. But at the end of the day, when you become certified, you need to be able to defend your work. You need to be able to defend a piece of work that is ethical and compassionate. And you're not going to be your supervisor. You're not going to be Celia Heyman you're not going to be this person, but you're going to get pieces of all the people that have trained you and you're going to be your own board-certified behavior analyst. But you need to defend your practice. At the end of the day. You need to be able to be OK, that you can showcase what your work is and be transparent. And I tell my students all the stuff that I'm doing now. If my families give permission, I will be very proud to showcase it to the world on YouTube if televisable.

Mary: Right. And one of those practices that we were trained to do that I'm sure you and I no longer do is escape extinction and keeping the demand on and having a child cry for long periods. And we talked about this on Megan Miller's podcast, which we can link in the show notes, and she's been an advocate to stop behavior analysts from using that at least as a regular procedure. I mean, there might be some cases where a little bit of that might be needed, but it's like it's been as a procedure.

Celia: It shouldn't be it shouldn't be the focus of behavior change.

Mary: And that is in my first book, the Verbal Behavior Approach on, you know, I have the page memorized page thirty-seven. It's a chart of like preventative strategies, which I want to spend ninety five percent on, and then reactive strategies and like ignore keep the demand on, you know, as like I don't believe in that anymore. You talk about like what you used to do, what you could defend at that point and now that is right.

Celia: We want to get better and the science evolve. I mean, why would we I mean, the medical field doesn't continue doing what they're doing for the past hundred years. Oh, my God, that would be awful.

Mary: I was not really using escaped extinction. I remember one time I was with the behavior project and one of the behavioral analysts that was working under me. She's like, oh, I just had like a forty-five-minute extinction burst with this kid crying in a school, in the classroom. And I said to her, what does this TVB map look like, like in terms of milestones, barriers? She's like, oh, I have no idea. And it's like. You're not doing anybody any favors, I mean, it's anywhere it's traumatic for a child to be crying. It's traumatic for the if this behavior analyst is sitting in a corner letting a kid scream, I mean, it's disruptive for the other students. It's like we just have to really think about any process we're having in place that, like you said, if that was on YouTube and I do want to get into this a little bit because, you know, I I get mostly five-star reviews on the podcast and my books, but occasionally I get a one star. And these are people that hate, hate ABA and hate the fact of even treating autism. I actually just pulled up to one-star reviews that I got in April and I'm just going to read one of them. Do not listen to this podcast. It was posted on April 17th, Doctor. And she has in quotes I have a PhD so I can call myself. Dr Barbara is spreading harmful rhetoric about the medicalization of autism and promotes treatment that increases risk for trauma. ABA is harmful and there are plenty of other options for helping your autistic kid. And so when you see that and you see the top 10 books right now, like my book Turn Autism Around is in the top 10 usually. And I check frequently because the Amazon numbers change every three hours. So they have me on a very variable ratios reinforcing. And so, so but if you look at the top 10 books in the autism category on Amazon, you will find the majority of top 10 books are anti ABA. They are they are some form of facilitated communication, rapid, rapid prompting method. They are memoirs of people with high functioning autism. I haven't read all of them, but I have read some of them. And and really, I think that's a big problem in the field. And I would love your reaction. Like, what do you say to people who hate ABA or think ABA is harmful?

Celia: Yeah. So first of all, my initial reaction is sad, because I'm sad that they have experienced something that got them to provide that impression and it is their experience. So it's not a true or false thing, it's what they're telling us. So first of all, I am sad that that had that experience. I'm sad that that type of trauma loss was even made available. And again, it could be delivered by practitioners who just don't have the tools or the knowledge or the skills. So I'm sad that I'm also going to be sad for the new consumers, for the mom who just received that new diagnosis, who might not have had the opportunity to speak to Dr Barbara or speak to Celia Heyman or speak to Lisa, whomever, or Bridgette Taylor and take that perspective and say, oh, stay away from ABA, close the door on ABA. And I feel sad that mom, too, because then that mom half might have lost an opportunity of an intervention that could be very effective to bringing positive outcomes for the child now. So I sat on those two front. So the question I I that wakes me up is what can I do as a small citizen in this world, as a small citizen of the world, autism of the world, applied behavior analysis. And that's why I went into teaching. Build capacity. Built the generations of aspiring behavior analyst to do better so that we can lessen these aversive experiences for consumers. Yeah, I don't know because I don't know if I have the skill or even the energy or the right to change that perspective. That is their perspective. I can never change that. But I could maybe change the potential harm by building capacity and training our practitioners coming out.

Mary: Right, and I love everything you said, and I totally agree, and I I would add one other thing, because that's the first time I ever read a one-star podcast on my podcast. But and if you're listening and you've gotten this far to the podcast, I think everything Celia's saying is brilliant. One of the things is that I think we need to flood the podcast reviews with five stars to show, like not just this podcast is good, but I loved Cecelia's discussion or Mary Telia together or or something. And two, if you like something, if you listen to this podcast, subscribe, leave a five-star review. Leave a review for my book because the more and that's not just like I want to sell more books like that has nothing to do with it. Like really I, I've spent my life creating the contents of my new book and I've spent a year writing it and a year promoting it. And I believe this book is going to change the way autism is detected and treated around the world forever. And I don't mean to sound cocky and like I got a four-star review on my podcast the other day and they're like, I love the guest that Mary has on, but she talks too much. She promotes too much. It's like if I think I have the answer that I have spent my life on and I have it available then, and I am a full-time producer of content. You know, if you're listening to this podcast and you just want to hear Celia's story and not hear all Mary talks about her book, it's like I feel like this is part a part of the answer.

Celia: It's like I'm educating the practitioners on this and you're educating the consumers on that at both ends need to be addressed both as need a lot of work and support. Right. When my child was diagnosed, I didn't have any of the resources of mainstream media. I had to go and find things. I happened to have done a lot of research in my other career. So I am familiar. And researching is not an establishing operation for me. It's not universal for me, but for some moms and for some caregivers where English might not be their first language. They're living in a foreign country. They don't have access to all the all the social media places. They need that in mainstream. They needed to access the information easily. Right. And that's what you're doing.

Mary Yeah. And that's why it's important to keep my book in the top 10 again, not for me to make more money. This is really like I am not about the money. I mean, I need my company needs money to continue to spread the word like. But my mission is to impact millions around the world.

Celia: And I've been calling about ableist before and I don't know what that really means. There are different definitions about it. But like, if I am teaching the skills, I'm improving and I'm teaching skills for Brandon. I did the same for my Matthew. I did the same for any child. We all need to learn skills, if that is ableism. Then come on.

Mary: Well, yeah.

Celia: I'm teaching skills so that my sons have the communication skills to get their needs met. My sons can have the toleration skills when they need to wait for their stuff. My sons have the stamina skills to learn more skills. My sons will have the cooperation skills to learn more stuff. Why do we want to learn more stuff? Because we want to meet our passion. We want to live a life of values. Right. Values based actions. That's why.

Mary: Yeah. And one other final point on this is those people that put the podcast reviews up, we don't know if they have a diagnosis of autism. We don't know if they're self-diagnosed. We don't know if they ever had treatment or ABA treatment. I think some people just get into this mode where they don't like the sound of ABA. They don't like they've heard about bad ABA and they haven't experienced it. I think some people have experienced it. But there are also some I, I know probably a handful of autistic individuals who became board certified behavior analyst. So I wouldn't just assume that the person who writes a nasty review somewhere who hates ABA is actually was a past consumer of ABA. I wouldn't assume that. I wouldn't assume not. And I appreciate you saying you're sad. And for anyone that's been harmed by procedures or by systems, I do feel sad. But we have to move forward and the way to move forward is to make ABA accessible and a step by step for consumers, and that's kind of our goal and for students and for professionals and so I think it's a good thing to talk about, not to dwell on. And I don't argue with people, but if they do put nasty comment on my page or on my ads, you know, I'm spending money on ads. I'm not going to debate whether ABA is good or bad. I know my type of ABA Celia's type of ABA are great and are very easy to defend. Could go on YouTube at any moment. And so I don't get into battles and I don't try. And it's like trying to change somebody from the radical right or the radical left and bring them all the way to the other side. And like you said, we just don't have the time.

Celia: I read those comments and I read some of their post on social media. And for me, I reframe those as an I treat it as motivation to do better, that's all. And I told my students just use it as a motivation to do an MO, to learn and to do better.

Mary: Yeah, yeah. OK, so I love this conversation and I just want to end. Well, first of all, is there any way for people to follow your work or, you know, learn more about you?

Celia: Yes, actually I am. I'm like a nomad because I work for different organizations and so I work for FTF Behavioral Consulting. The website is And in this company I'm a fellow. And so I support my consultive to implement the practical functional assessments and skills based treatment. You can also check out what the PFA is about by going into That's another Web site. OK, if you are an aspiring behavior analyst and you want to know more about the science, I'm also an administrator for a ABA study group. It's called ABA Study Group on Facebook. And currently we have over forty-six thousand members worldwide of students, of academia. And I've been running, facilitating a book club to review every single chapter in the third edition of Applied Behavior Analysis Group and do it every other week and all the sessions are recorded. I also have several mock exams for students who are preparing for the exams, so I've gotten some good reviews back for one of my one hundred fifty question marks. So everything is free on the on that website, so.

Mary: Yeah, yeah. So I'm so glad I asked you and yeah that's great. And maybe we could talk about maybe going on that group for like a live interview or something about my book.

Celia: I'd love to. I love to. I love to have you on. We have a society of ABA at Capella university. That's really a big outreach. So I'll love to talk to you offline about that and getting you on the study group as well.

Mary: Yeah, that sounds great. OK, so to wrap it up, part of my podcast goals are for parents and professionals and students and anyone listening to be less stressed and lead happier lives. So do you have any self-care tips or stress management techniques that you use?

Celia: Oh, absolutely. I've been I always say I'm a student of the contextual behavioral science, and so I'm a student of relational frame theory and I'm a student of inceptions commitment training. And I use those strategies to stay healthy, mentally. Physically. Yeah. And everything that I do, every action that I take, it's values based. So do they align with my values of building capacity? If it's not, it might be the bottom of my to do list. Does it align with a quality relationship with my family, my children, my spouse? If it does stays on the list? Does it align with the values of a lifelong learner, which I want to be if it does, stays on the list? So everything that I do is aligned to a values that I have. And this way I can just put away all the noises and distractions.

Mary: Wow, I love that. I really enjoyed this this interview. So thank you so much for spending the time with us. I'm sure my listeners are going to get a lot out of it.

Celia: Thank you so much for having me on.

Mary: If you're a parent or early intervention professional working with young children with signs of autism, or if you're a parent or professional helping older children with moderate to severe autism, you'll definitely want to order my new Turn Autism Around book today. You'll get access to all the book resources that will help you right away for all the details, go to