Parent Coaching for Autism Families with The Autism Mom Coach, Lisa Candera

Lisa Candera is the “Autism Mom Coach”, she’s a lawyer, has a podcast, has a 15-year-old son with autism, and helps coach and support autism moms. 

Life Coaching

Lisa became a Life Coach through The Life Coach School with Brooke Castillo’s model. I am super familiar with this model and find it to be a really great resource. She sought out this certification when she herself was at the time, post-COVID, experiencing struggles as a mom with a son with autism and felt exhausted of all options with therapy and other resources. She saw a need for herself, and then brought it to other autism moms. Her program is based on the belief that you have more power than you think when raising a child with autism.

Single Moms and Autism

Parenting is hard. Single parenting is hard. Being a single mom of a child with autism… really hard. There are so many challenges as a parent, forgetting to throw autism into the mix. Lisa offers her ideas and support to single moms out there parenting children with autism. One big one: You don’t have to do it alone. You are NOT responsible for everything. Think of one thing you don’t really have to do and don’t want to do…cancel it. Take it off your plate. Or what about that person offering to help but you keep saying no…why not say yes? Accept the help however big or small it may be. You deserve a break and to feel less responsible for all things.

Catastrophizing the Future

“What happens when I’m dead?” This a question nearly all autism parents have asked themselves time and time again. Usually when things are going badly and you’re thinking if this is happening now…it’s going to get worse or harder or whatever negative though. Lisa calls that spinning. And she says thinking the worst in a bad situation does nothing, even if it’s a valid thought. Making a plan for the future is important but it’s best not to think about it when you’re handling a stressful situation. Kick it out of your mind. Then at a more appropriate time you’ve blocked away for dealing with this scary idea, make a plan that suits you so that next time you know you’ve taken care of it…and that’s the best you can do.

The Autism Mom Coach

Lisa Candera has an awesome podcast, The Autism Mom Coach, where she covers topics and struggles like the ones we talked about today. She also has courses and 1 on 1 coaching services available on her website! Be sure to check her out, and be on the lookout for her next appearance on the Turn Autism Around Podcast.

Parent Coaching for Autism Families with The Autism Mom Coach, Lisa Candera

Lisa Candera on the Turn Autism Around Podcast

Lisa Candera is a full-time single mother of a teen with Autism and OCD, a life coach for moms raising kids with Autism, host of The Autism Mom Coach podcast, and a lawyer.  Lisa created her coaching program based on the deep belief that parents raising children with autism have more power than they think:  Autism is part of your life, but it does not get to control it.  You do, and Lisa wants to teach you how you can show up in your life as the parent you want to be, even when parenthood looks nothing like you imagined. In her 1:1 coaching program, Lisa teaches her clients how to manage their minds, regulate their emotions, and self-soothe their nervous systems using cognitive behavioral tools, a polyvagal informed approach, and her real-life, in-the-trenches experiences as a parent raising a teenager with Autism. 


  • Coaching and advice for autism families.
  • Navigating support and services when your child gets a new diagnosis like OCD.
  • Brooke Castillo’s Life Coaching Model.
  • Autism Challenges for Single Moms and Single Parents.
  • What to do if you’re catastrophizing your future?
  • Tips for co-regulating yourself and your child.
  • A podcast recommendation: The Autism Mom Coach.
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


Lisa Candera – Turn Autism Around Podcast Transcript

Transcript for Podcast Episode: 213

Parent Coaching for Autism Families with The Autism Mom Coach, Lisa Candera

Hosted by: Mary Barbera

Hosted by: Lisa Candera

Mary: You're listening to the Turn Autism Around Podcast, episode number 213. Today we are going to talk to Lisa Candera, who is a mom of a 15 year old with autism. She is also a lawyer and most importantly a life coach to other moms. She has a podcast and a website and 1 to 1 coaching through I loved this episode. Lisa is so funny and she's so insightful on so many different areas. So let's get to this really great interview with Lisa Candera.

Intro: 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, Lisa, it is so nice to meet you today. Thanks so much for joining us.

Lisa: Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

Mary: Yeah, I was checking out your website and getting more and more excited for this. So we are going to talk all about coaching autism parents and getting them into the right mindset to be the best people for themselves and also caregivers for their child. But before we get into your expertise and your areas of interest, let's talk about your fall into the autism world.

Lisa Candera on the Turn Autism Around Podcast

Lisa: Sure. So my son was diagnosed around the age of two. And so well, prior to that, it's, you know, it's a story that you've heard before, but progressing, you know, as expected, around 18 months, you know, things started to he was getting just more and more escalated, more and more frustrated. And you can really see the frustration and that he was trying to communicate something, but he wasn't. And so I wasn't really thinking anything really, you know, at the time. But I did, you know, at his to his pediatrician, I said, no, he's not talking. And he's really frustrated. And now I got the response that you've got like first time mom, you know, he's the boy, the whole thing. I'm like, Yeah, that's great. And he's banging his head against the wall. So that to me seems a little off. So can we take a look at this? And from there we got, you know, a speech therapist, you know, intervened. We got early intervention. We had, you know, signs of red flags and then eventually getting a formal diagnosis of autism at the age of two. And so from there, my son matriculated into our local public school where he was, you know, supported with one on one aides. And that lasted until COVID, essentially. And so, yeah. And so he was doing pretty well. I mean, there were lots and there were always challenges along the way. But, you know, we got through them. By the time COVID hit, his anxiety was already tracking up. And with the loss of the support and the virtual learning and just that disconnect between being at home and being in school at the same time, he would say things like, I'm in two places at once, but nowhere.
Mary: I think a lot of us felt like that. Right.

Lisa: And he would just have panic attacks every morning. He would open up that computer and look at the screen and just see like all the like, did you check in the homework assignment and just, you know that sensory experience? And he would panic. And then there was no teacher to provide that reassurance that he was always seeking. And, you know, I was useless. Right? Because you're not the teacher, you don't know.

Mary: Right. And you know, your son is how old now? 15?

Lisa: He's 15.

Mary: So COVID hit around?

Lisa: He was 12.

Mary: Yeah. Yeah.

Lisa: And so. Right, so right, exactly. So I call it the perfect storm. It was anxiety. It was hormones. It was, you know, COVID, the loss of support. And then with that, the emergence of a new diagnosis of OCD. And so that really for us was the perfect storm, which resulted in he's no longer in a mainstream public school. He's in a therapeutic environment with many more supports. And we have... I mean, we just spent three months living in Rhode Island while he was in an intensive OCD program. And so it's so interesting because I remember when he was two and wanting to do everything I could possibly do as quickly as I could possibly do it, because that's what you're told. Right. And having no idea what to do, no idea if it would work and just throwing it all against the wall and then to find myself like 11 years later in the same position with the emergence of a new diagnosis, and then, you know, autism and anything else just makes it complicated, right? There's no straightforward way. And so that's where we are now.

Mary: Okay. So in terms of where he falls on the autism spectrum, he can talk. Is he conversational?

Lisa: Oh, yeah. He's what you would call high functioning for sure. You know, he's a kid that, you know, you wouldn't know until you knew. Right. And so, like, you start to have a conversation with him, he might start looping on something. He might bring up the same thing over and over. That kind of thing, like me might, like, detect it. But if he's in a really high state of anxiety due to his OCD, you're going to know something's up. You're just not going to know what.

Mary: Yeah, and I did do some shows, a podcast very early on on high functioning and low functioning and how within each child are their strengths and needs and, you know, day to day and depending on the situation and the environment and the other comorbid diagnoses, you know, it can really look different. And that high functioning kids definitely have a lot more comorbid or co-occurring diagnoses like OCD. Have you ever looked into PANS or PANDAS?

Lisa: We did it at some point and that was ruled out.

Mary: Yeah, Yeah. That's the other thing. When you do have acute onset and or worsening exacerbation of OCD and or tics, which my son had, then the PANS could be looked at. And I did a podcast interview with a patterns expert, which we can link in the show notes. But like you said, you, you have ruled that out. And so now it's a therapeutic environment and I'm assuming there's medication also on board. I did.

Lisa: Oh, there is medication, Yeah.

Mary: Yeah. And then it gets tricky because it's not just one medication and you're trying different things. I interviewed Dr. Michael Murray, who's Lucas, a psychiatrist who's also a dad of a son with autism. And we can link that on the show notes all about medications and autism. And he's just really brilliant and really has done a lot for Lucas and so many kids locally. So I like to bring that up, too, in case there's others out there that are struggling with OCD and autism.

Lisa: It's really complicated. And I mean, look, we've been treated at an autism hospital and we were treated at Bradley, which is like one of the places in the country where you go for severe OCD. And what I was told straight out is that autism is different. Right. When it comes to autism, and medication like this is what we think the medication does. And then we see what it does to a child with autism like it. You know, unfortunately, it's a I feel like sometimes it's more art than science, but that is the way it goes. And then but, you know, biochemistry and hormones and you add all of that stuff in. And so the medication thing becomes a huge challenge.

Mary: Yeah. In the Dr. Murray episode, we talk about a genome mining test, which is this genome mined and gene site, which is like a swab in the inside of your mouth. And then that shows which medications are better for a child or person no matter what the diagnoses are. And I know that. Has your son ever had one of those? Yeah.

Lisa: Yeah. We've done that.

Mary: And that really can help you know especially when you have a child that can't report side effects. Yeah. You know, so it sounds like your son is definitely getting the best of the best. And I just wanted to like, drip these things in because.

Lisa: I know.

Mary: So many people are struggling out there.

Lisa: I think the best thing that the gene site test told us, my son was a very fast metabolizer. And so that was a helpful thing to understand in terms of like, you know, getting the correct therapeutic dose with a medication. It's really complicated when it comes to medications. And I always tell parents it's like ultimately we're the experts on our children. We are the people with them day in and day out, seeing the side effects. You know, I was told repeatedly that, no, this medicine would not cause X, and I am keeping notes and here's what I'm seeing. So maybe it's not the medicine, but let's just see, let's just see.

Mary: Yeah, exactly. I love that. Okay, so now let's talk about your transformation. So you are a practicing attorney and you now also provide 1 to 1 coaching for moms and maybe dads, too. But how did you transform? We have a podcast. You are really getting into the space of helping people virtually like I am. So how did you transform into that autism coach Mom?

Life Coaching: The Autism Mom Coach

Lisa: Yeah, so I think it's like with all things like autism and special needs, like you see a need and then you create it, right? And so for me, what happened is I got into now my son was 12 or 13 years old and he was transitioning. This was before COVID or, you know, as COVID was coming on, but he was transitioning into middle school and his anxiety was tracking up. And I went to his middle school orientation for parents and I saw this middle school and how big it was and the changing schedules and all these different expectations. And I panicked. I was like, How am I going to get him through this? Like I had been white knuckling it up to that point and I was just like, Holy crap, like, I work full time. How am I going to do this? And it was more from the emotional standpoint of managing the anxiety that I knew that he had and he was having more of it. And so I was like, I need a better way of doing this. Like I can't just keep white knuckling it. And I had tried therapy in the past and that was fine. But for me, it's like there was no mystery here as to why I was feeling anxious and I wanted a better way of showing up in my life. And, you know, sometimes when I went to a therapist, I spent a lot of time explaining autism to them or explaining our challenges. And I just was not, I just that's not where I was. And so I had just happened to be listening to a podcast which was, you know, with a lawyer podcast, actually, but she was a life coach and I like the tools. And so that's really how I came into it. And so I liked it so much and I really found it helpful in my day to day life with my son and managing our own stuff that, you know, I just went full out. I'm like, okay, like let's get certified. And so then I got certified and just so I could understand the tools better myself. And then, I mean, there's such an unmet need in the community of autism parents, like everything I see in terms of parent support, it's really like how we can help our children. But it's like, but what about us, right? Like BCBAs more than like therapists. They get trained actually on emotional regulation and things like that when they are working with their clients. Well, our children are our clients in some respect, right? And we're with them day in and day out. And as like, how do we support ourselves? And so I just really. I found so much benefit from these tools and I just saw such a need in the community to help other moms that were going through the same thing and know, hence the autism mom coach was born.

Mary: Awesome. Who did you train under to become a certified life coach?

Lisa: The Life Coach School.

Mary: Yeah. With Brooke Castillo. Love that. Love her. Yeah. I will link her in the show notes. Really? I found her years ago through a podcast, and she really has a really unique model I can compare it to. A little bit. And I'm not an expert on either of these. I'm not a certified life coach through Brooke Castillo. But also the act, the acceptance and commitment therapy, like I think those like I had Jonathan Tarbox on that we can link in the show notes like mindfulness. And I think the combination though, and your expertise as an autism mom, I'm actually really excited that you are trained through Brooke’s model and I've used it and you know, maybe we can even at some point have you back on the show to actually go over the model.

Lisa: That would be awesome.

Mary: So that would be great.

Lisa: I agree. And so I loved the model because, you know, it's based on CBT therapy, right? Think, feel, act right, that think, feel, act cycles right in the middle of it. But it was like I felt like my life was happening to me and I had no power and like it had been hijacked by autism. This gave me another viewpoint. But in addition to studying the model, I have studied ACT therapy really through the OCD and, you know, the ERP counseling that my son got.

Mary: What's ERP stand for?

Lisa: Exposure response.

Mary: Okay. And CBT is?

Lisa: Cognitive behavioral therapy. Yeah.

Mary: So I don't like to use all these acronyms. Yeah, it's a lot. But the point is, that the model created by Brooke Castillol is a very layman's term and can be used for anybody with any struggle. Like if you're BCBA out there, I mean, you could use it. You could use it for weight loss. You could use it for, you know, if you're feeling lonely or depressed or getting in fights with your husband or whatever, you can use it to basically coach yourself.

Lisa: Exactly. It's a self coaching model. And so, like I said, I did study the model and I still am. I want to know, I'm in that program. But in studying the model, I also found that there was another piece missing for me as an autism mom. So it's great to be like, Oh, like your thoughts, create your feelings, so just change your thoughts and you'll feel better. That shit doesn't work, and Brooke does not teach that, by the way, at all. But I needed something more to help me regulate myself. Like when my son literally escalated yelling, screaming, when things turned up. How could I regulate my own nervous system? And so from that, I also I'm in an immersive course with Deb Dana studying poly vagal theory to be poly vagal informed as a coach. And this really helps you understand where you are in your nervous system stage. Am I activated? Because when I'm activated, when I'm in a fight flight, I only have access to certain thoughts. I only have access to certain ways of reacting. And once I can notice that in myself, it's like, how can I anchor myself back to some more regulation and safety? Because once I'm able to do that for myself, I can offer a co-regulating presence to my child who is also escalating. So in my practice, what I like to teach my clients is when they go high, we go low, or at the very least like we hover around neutral. And while, you know, the thought, feel, act, oh, you know, that can help you, but sometimes it's like you, you also need another way because it's happening in your body. Your body is reacting to, you know, a sense of like, you know, danger or threat. And it's like, how can you help yourself in those moments to, like, bring some grounding to yourself?

Mary: Yeah, Yeah. So important. So you say on your website and your website is the and you say on your website that you are a single mom and we have a lot of single moms here listening, but we also have a lot of couples. So in your practice as a life coach and as your experience as a single mom, what are the unique challenges that single parents have? Single moms particularly.

Single Parenting Challenges with Autism

Lisa: Yeah, I mean, so it's interesting. You know, I have single moms and I have couples, ya know moms who are married in my practice. And I would say one of the challenges I see I'll start actually with my married couples and me also when I was married, is the people not being on the same page. Sometimes that can be difficult, right? Like one parent has one way of responding to a behavior and another parent has another way. And then when both parents are kind of elevated, right, trying to broker like what that's going to look like, which is really hard because like when you're in an elevated state, when you're in a fight flight state, you're not listening like. For other people like, right. You're just you're not available for it. And so one of the things that I work with my couple clients on is how you can communicate wants and needs when you're in a regulated state. So that means some planning. That means before shit hits the fan. You're talking about this stuff, right? And so my biggest challenge myself is like one of the easiest things about being a single parent is I get to make all the decisions. One of the hardest things about being a single parent is I get to make all the decisions right? It's like that idea. And I have felt this so many times of like not having anyone to hold it with these huge responsibilities. Medication, hospitalizations, out of district placements. That and so what I teach my clients, single moms, married moms is that when you make a decision how you can have your own back, how you can commit to supporting yourself through that process no matter what. Because so many of my clients and I think this too, is like there's a right or wrong decision. And it's like, well, how do you know what's right or wrong? You don't. You're just making a decision based on what you know now, your best information. And your job is to commit that in the future you're not going to go back in time and slap the shit out of yourself because, oh, it didn't work out right. Like, you really have to commit to having and supporting yourself because we make so many decisions in this journey and that if we are always undermining, you know, always doing that to ourselves, we erode our own confidence and our own ability to make decisions.

Mary: Yeah, I love that. And there are so many decisions even without autism in the picture.

Lisa: Yeah.

Mary: You know, and every single decision will, will make your, you know, will change the trajectory of your life. But then when you add autism and then, you know, COVID and OCD and it can get quite overwhelming. But I like what you said about like, don't second guess yourself. Don't constantly be beating yourself up like, I should've, woulda, coulda because it's like you got to move forward. And if that doesn't work. Take data and in fact when you were exactly trying to convince the doctors that the medication was having side effects that they weren't aware of or weren't seeing is, I have a system and I talk about it in my book and and a couple of places, and I have a video, a short video blog, which I want to link in the show notes. But it's it's basically taking a physical calendar. So I just got my 2023 calendar a couple of weeks ago. And and we keep track of medication changes. We keep track of any sleep irregularities, any behavior problems, even slight agitation and doctors appointments. And I literally bring this physical calendar with me to doctors appointments. And because of that, we also know that Lucas needs allergy shots. He's on this like over 10th year of allergy shots because we know that. His behaviors can go up. We know that he's a rapid metabolizer of Inderal, which he's on for a fighter flight. So he goes into fight mode. I actually, since I've been a little kid, have passed out from pain and stuff like that. So we're a bad combination. Like thank God we got Lucas's major problem behaviors, you know, down to zero like, especially his aggression to zero, because I'm like, he's going to physically hurt me and I'm going to pass out and die.

Lisa: Well, it's so funny you say that about the calendar because like I said, I'm an attorney. And for four years I was doing white collar, you know, internal investigations. I worked for the government and I did investigations for them, too. And so the lifeblood of any investigation was a Chron, a chronology. And so I literally have a chronology on my own child, like the date of appointment, what the person said, what happened, what happened. Right. And so when I'm talking to these doctors and I'm like scrolling through, I'm like, listed, I'm like, I'm hearing you and I'm seeing this data. So let's talk.

Mary: Yes. Yes. Cool. All right. So on your website, you have three kinds of... it's a very good website, actually. Three kinds you wonder whether you are doing the right things or giving enough support to your neurodivergent child? So we talked a little bit about that. Like when your children are very little, you know, even with my approach and my book and courses and stuff, I'm like, you know, it's really great if you can take action immediately at the first signs and start turning things around as best as possible. But it's also never too late. But, you know, how do you support moms who feel like, am I doing enough? Am I doing the right things?

Autism Moms: “Am I Doing Enough”?

Lisa: Yeah. So I like to back it up with them and just be like, Of course, of course that's what you're thinking, right? And of course, like and so it's like you are in, like you're in a fear response, right? You are being hyper vigilant. You are trying to protect yourself, you're trying to protect your child. And so your mind is just going to everything I can possibly do. And when I say to them is, when will you know it's enough? Right. Like, when will you know? And it's like, well, and you know, sometimes what the answer is. It's like, well, when they catch up or when they're normal. Right. And so it's like let's just get that out on the table, right? I was like, well, what if the goal right isn't right? Like, it's like, what is the goal here? And so for some parents, it's like I want them to be on par with like their neurotypical peers. And that's like, okay, but like, like, let's just like unwrap that, like they're not neurotypical, right? And so, like being like, real and all only realistic, like in downplaying it, but it's like you're putting a lot of pressure on all of these things that you're doing to create these certain outcomes for you and you're not going to like that's just going to drive you crazy, right? And so, like, I really just try to talk to them about like, what's the next right thing for your child? Like, what do they need right now and how can you provide that right? And it's like, that's all you really can do, right? Like it's like you can try like lots and lots of things all at once, but like, that's most likely going to bombard your child. It's going to overwhelm them. And so it's like, of course you feel this way. You are afraid that you are behind. You were afraid that there is something wrong, that there's something to catch up on. Like what? If you can just slow that down and just focus on what you're doing? Because I find that when parents do that, they actually get more results than when they're sort of harried and they're trying to like, Let's do this, let's do that. And like and they're just consuming and consuming and like, it's like, it's not sort of landing as much.

Mary: Yeah. And they're spending night after night, you know, going over the Internet. And we have actually an episode coming up in the next week or two with Ruth, who just joined my online course maybe two months ago. But she told me that she listened to every single one of my podcasts. I was like...what?

Lisa: You're like, I haven't done that.

Mary: Over 200 podcasts. Over a million downloads, and she's listened to every single one of my podcasts. And she told me that right after she joined my chorus and she has a five year old and and I was like. You have to get out of the quote unquote "sea of free". Yeah. And start taking action, you know, one step by step, because you spend a lot of time, you know, floating around and questioning and, you know, even like medications and placement. You don't want to try all of these things at the same time. You know what I mean? Like, try something, give it a good try, take good data and see if it's working. If it's working, it will motivate you to keep going in that direction.

Lisa: And that's why I talk to my clients about that all the time. Constraint. Right. Like it's the opposite of what we've you know, I think especially after the diagnosis, it's like do as much as you can as fast as you can. You know, it's like the fact is, neuroplasticity is for life. Right. And so constraining myself to like what's working now, what's helpful now. Right. And going at it, I feel for me has been more productive than trying to throw so many things at my son because he gets overwhelmed and then he shuts down. He's like, nope, not performing. Sorry.

Mary: Yeah. Yeah. So also on your website, you have a statement. Do you live in fear of your child's future? How catastrophizing about what happens to them when they are older and bigger when they fall off the service cliff or when you are no longer around to protect them? And I know this is like a huge, huge thing.

Fear for the Future and Catastrophizing

Lisa: I actually have a podcast episode on this. I think it's called I Need to Live Forever. And so this is one of the things I find with parents is like, like when I'm talking to them, especially about their triggers, like, you know, what their child's behavior is. It's like you're never just dealing with the behavior because what I see is like, well, if he's doing this when he's five, what's it going to be like when he's ten or 15? I mean, if he's ever going to live by himself and like, what happens when I die? Like, so like they're on the playground and like, Charlie won't play with, like, Abby. And now it's like, well, he's going to be alone forever and I'm going to be dead. And so what I really teach my clients is like, okay, like recognizing like, that's your soundtrack. That's where your mind is going and redirecting it. Redirecting it. Because there's literally no upside to that. Like, I've never seen the parent who did that and was like, You know what? I'm going to create a special needs trust right now in my will. Like, no, they're just spinning in their heads. And so that's one of the things that I like to it's like, okay, listen, if that's if that's an issue and you want to talk about that and there are steps that you can take, we could go there, but you're not available for that right now because you are spinning and you're not like with no good outcome. And so that's the thing. It's like for all the time that we give our parents wishes that we have and we say we don't have any time. If we took the time, if we could create like we could create time for ourselves by redirecting our mind from all those catastrophizing thoughts, because when they happen, they kind of shut us down and make us feel useless and helpless. And they don't help us in the present moment, which is like the only moment we have, right. Like and so, so that's where my work with my clients is really just showing them the power that they haven't any of these moments to bring themselves back and like, yeah, like these are real decisions to be made for sure... not going to sugarcoat that. And you can do that when you're not in this elevated state.

Mary: Right. Right. I think those are all excellent points. And, you know, I have a 26 year old at the moment who has moderate, severe autism and needs lifelong 24/7 care. Am I panicking about me dying? No. I mean, we do have a special needs trust. We do have a will, we do have a kind of a plan. But at the same time, I also know through this work, through going for a special needs trust and guardianship and all that stuff, I know that your money or some money can pay for people to manage Lucas's care. After I'm gone. So there's people around. There's people that care about Lucas, and there're people that can be paid to make sure Lucas gets quick care. You know, I can't control everything. That's the other thing as you're talking. So this is, like, so fascinating, but, like, you have no control over what things are going to be like in 20 years. You have no control when you're dead, how things are going to go. So you might as well just enjoy the moment, enjoy the time, make some plans, Definitely get a will. Definitely. If your child needs 24/7 care, get guardianship, get all of those things in place and know that, you know, there are kind people out there. There are good people out there, there are systems. Are they perfect now? Yeah. There's no crystal ball to look forward to. There's no crystal ball to look backwards. What if I would have done this X, Y, and Z, blah, blah, blah, You know, So I just, you know, I, literally could talk to you for hours on end.

Lisa: We'll do it. Between my podcast and your podcast, we can do it. Well, you know, I like to tell what my client is like, like kicking the terrorists out of their brain. Because here's the thing: like our brains, we are built, we have a negativity bias as part of our survival. Like Dr. Rick Hanson says, our brains are Velcro for the negative and Teflon for the positive, right? We look for the negative and then we have that confirmation bias that comes in and just finds us all of the evidence of the things that we already believe. And then we're catastrophizing and then we're doing all or nothing thinking. It's like all of it's like, I think negative thinking is like a gateway drug to all of these others, like thought errors that come in and then they just become part of the way that we operate, in the way that we think. And we think that that's just how it is and we keep finding evidence of it. And so in my work with my clients, like, I just like try to break that sh** all apart, like, okay, like let's take a look at what's really happening here. And so one of the first lessons that we talk about is like, what's the circumstance? And you'll know this from Brooke's model, like, what is actually the circumstance and what all your thoughts about it and what are those thoughts creating for you? Because you actually have some choice here about what you decide to think, how you decide to look at things. And that doesn't mean like you just have happy thoughts about everything, but it's also like you don't have to go down this road that you've been going down either. Like, you do have a choice.

The Autism Mom Coach Podcast

Mary: I love that. Kickin the terrorists out of your brain. Love it. So you have a podcast. What's the name in the podcast?

Lisa: The Autism Mom Coach.

Mary: The Autism Mom coach. And you have a podcast. There's some great stuff we're not going to be able to cover any of the topics, but people can go there. You can see, you know, when you want your child to be normal, how to tell your child that they have autism. I mean, there's so many great topics. I'm definitely going to dive in. And Lisa and I are discussing me being on her podcast as well. And then you also provide your main thing that you provide as 1 to 1 coaching. And that information about how you do that is all on your website at the So before I let you go, part of my podcast goals are for parents and professionals, not just to help the kids, but to help the parents and professionals be less stressed and lead happier lives. So I mean, that's basically your whole.

Lisa: That's my jam. That's my jam.

Mary: That's right. Yeah. Yeah. But to sum it up, do you have any self-care or routines in your life to help you do that that you would recommend to both parents and professionals?

Lisa: Yeah. So I actually just did an episode on this and it's already a very popular one. I've gotten a lot of feedback about it. It's called When Things Suck, and what it's really about is like when you're in it, like when you're just in it. Like what? Like what are the little things like that. Like at the very least things that you can do for yourself. And so as simple as it sounds, it really gets critical just taking the time to breathe on purpose. Deep breath in and deep breaths out that actually signals to your nervous system that you are safe. That is a cue that you can, you know, for self-regulation. Another thing is sipping water, just drinking water and staying hydrated. Because when your stress levels are up, you're producing more adrenaline and cortisol that dehydrates you. When your brain is dehydrated, it gets grumpy, you get a headache. Right? And so it's a little like you can do that, right? No matter what's happening, you can sip water, you can breathe. And so I always try to take my clients back to like, what are your non-negotiables? Like, what can you do no matter what? I am a big fan of creating boundaries and saying no. My clients tell me it all comes on me. I'm the person. I'm responsible for everything. I do everything. It's like, okay, but what might you not be able to do? Like, like when somebody, like, offers to, like, know to do something for you, why not say yes to that? Why not cancel? Like, you know, that appointment if you don't really want to go? It's like, where can you purposely make time for yourself? Because again, that confirmation bias, it all falls on me. And then what I see is that my clients then take it al onl. Right. So like, you make it come true for yourself. And so I always like to talk to my clients, but like, what can you let go of on purpose? Like, what can you say no to? Like, how can you say yes to yourself and then no to something else? Like not in an adversarial kind of way, but like in a loving, supportive kind of way. Yeah. And then on this note of like, self care. By the time this podcast comes out, my free mini course will be out. It's called Keeping Your Cool During an Autism Meltdown. And I will teach them before, during and after the process. And throughout the framework, I'm teaching different self-care concepts and tools that parents can use at every stage of the framework in order to support themselves. So again, they are regulating themselves and then able to offer a co-regulating presence to their child.

Mary: Love it and that will also be available at the website. And Lisa also shared with me that her best friend is a BCBA so she is very ABA friendly and really I think you're just a wealth of information. I'm so happy to have met you and had you on the show and I would not be surprised if I have you back in the future. You have a wealth of information.

Lisa: Yeah we can coach together. I will. I just do want to say about my best friend who is a BCBA, so I will offer this to all of you when I have been at the height of it, when things have been the most intense in my house, you know, physically intense, just everything intense, I would always try to sort of like conjure up, like, what would my best friend do? What if she were in this house right now, not taking anything personally? What if she was making my son's behaviors mean anything about her or her parenting? What if she wasn't thinking 20 years in the future? What would she do? I literally just try to bring that energy into my body to just down regulate me, because when we're in the moment, we're taking it personally, we're making it personal. Our stress is going up and we're meeting our kids where they are, and it's like we're in the death role. And so she always would say to me, I really tell her stories about him. She's like, this is fascinating. And I'd be like, I hate you, but you're not wrong. And I have something to learn from that. So I'm not going to hate you. I'm not going to resent you because I knew that she was saying it with love. So I'm going to bring in some of your energy. And that was life saving for me and my son.

Mary: Yeah, well, it sounds like you have a great, great son and you're doing an amazing job not only to help your son, but to help other moms along the way. So thank you so much, Lisa Candera. We're going to chat in the future, I'm sure. Have a good one.

Lisa: Definitely. Thanks so much, Mary.

Mary: If you're a parent or an autism professional and enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to come check out my online course and community where we take all of this material and we apply it. You'll learn life changing strategies to get your child or clients to reach their fullest potential. Join me for a free online workshop at where you can learn how to avoid common mistakes. You can see videos of me working with kids with and without autism and you can learn more about joining my online course in community. At a very special discount. Once again, go to for all the details. I hope to see you there.