Over the past twenty years since that initial diagnosis, I have gone from a confused and stressed out nurse and parent to a board-certified BCBA-D, and now I’ve written two books that can help parents navigate that same journey with so much less stress. I wrote Turn Autism Around: An Action Guide for Parents of Young Children with Early Signs of Autism to teach parents how to:
- Improve picky eating
- Potty train with confidence
- Desensitize your child to the dentist or doctor
- Sleep train
- Improve social skills and talking
Over the last few years, many of the parents who’ve taken my courses have seen amazing progress, and many of them are included in this book. You’ll see a variety of stories, from the explosive language growth of Michelle C.’s daughter to the progress of single mom Jenna’s son, that will help you see how my strategies can help children no matter where their current abilities may lie.
By pre-ordering, you’ll be able to access some of the book material beforehand, plus you’ll be sent a link to attend a free workshop, and you’ll have exclusive access to a video interview with Dr. Temple Grandin. I hope you love this book and share my excitement for how it will change the lives of parents and children with autism around the world.
- How kids can get worse when they’re receiving what we call “eclectic type therapy”, and what you can do to prevent that.
- Strategies from my newest book that will help children who are developmentally 1- to 5-years old.
- How my latest book can help parents who are waiting for speech or therapy services for their child start learning proven techniques that will improve their life today.
Attend a FREE Workshop!
— Mary Barbera Workshop (Sign up for a free workshop online for parents and professionals)
— Echolalia: Is Your Client or Child Repeating Words? Here’s What You Can Do
— #035: Autism Diagnosis, Waiting Lists & Early Language Development with Dr. James Coplan
— #093: Autism Detection: A Summary of Dr. Ami Klin’s Autism Work
— #078: Autism Success Story with Michelle C.
— #003: Lessons about Turning Autism Around: An Interview with a Mom of 2 Young Boys with Autism
— #024: Jenna P. (Autism Mom): Autism + Other Diagnoses and Risk of Autism in Siblings
Transcript for Podcast Episode: 107
New Turn Autism Around Book Available for Pre-Order Now
Hosted by: Dr. Mary Barbera
You're listening to the Turn Autism Around podcast episode number one hundred and seven. And today I am going to tell you all about my new book, Turn Autism Around: An Action Guide for Parents of Young Children with Early Signs of Autism, which is now available for preorder. This episode, I wanted to give you a sneak peek and tell you how this book will help you and every parent, caregiver and professional. You know, even if you're not a parent of a young child with signs of autism. I'm going to also tell you why you should preorder the book now and help me on my mission to change the way autism is detected and treated for millions of people around the world. It's all about empowering the parent. So let's get to this important episode of Turn Autism Around.
If you've listened to the podcast before, you probably know my story, how I fell into the autism world in what I say one day before Lucas's third birthday when he was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism. But I actually fell into the autism world much earlier than that when Lucas was just 21 months of age. And my husband first mentioned the possibility that Lucas might have autism. I remember the day I remember standing in the family room of my old house. And he I had just brought Spencer, my younger son, back from his two monthswellcheck with the doctor and. My husband asked me to ask the doctor how many words Lucas should have at that point, and he was twenty-one months of age and the doctor said he should have twenty five words, approximately.
So when I came back home after the doctor's visit, my husband said, how did Spencer do? And Spencer did fine. But he's like, what did the doctor say about Lukas's words? And he said, I said he should have twenty-five. And my husband's like, he doesn't have twenty-five. Oh no, no, he has twenty-five. And I was counting words like e i e i o as five words. He had this delayed echolalia script which I talk about in some of the podcasts where Lucas would say sometimes in the middle of the night, please do not feed the ducks. Quack quack, which was a little script he learned at the playground. So when I said to my husband that he had twenty five words, I was really stretching. I was pulling out words that I hadn't heard for months. I was pulling out syllables. But anyway, I told them I know he has the twenty-five words. And at that point my husband, who's an emergency medicine physician, he said, so you don't think or he doesn't think Lucas might have autism.
And I remember like almost seeing stars like I was just so like what. Never thinking about autism. Never thinking really there was anything going on with Lucas. He had some words. You know, I was a mom of two very young kids. It was winter time. You know, we were watching a lot of Barney and we were inside a lot. And I was breastfeeding Spencer and I had my hands full, but I had never thought about autism. And so at that moment, I told my husband, I never, ever want to hear the word autism again, which is kind of ironic because now I say type read, speak the word autism, hundreds, if not thousands of times a day. I don't even know if I could count I, I often joke, like, how much do I actually say it, read it, type it anyway. So.
Charlie didn't mention it again. The autism, I mean, it was like the elephant in the room, but once he said it, it was like out. But we never talked about it. We never argued about it. We just kind of were like, fingers crossed that he's going to catch up. And so a whole nother year went by. And then the preschool where he was going, he went to a two year old preschool. He started in the following September. So this is like February of ninety eight. He started in September preschool. He started speech therapy. So we were hopeful that it was just going to be a speech delay and he would catch up. But it was a whole nother year before I started coming out of denial, like pretty much when Lucas was, you know, so delayed that I'm like ball. I'm trying to get him to talk. And meanwhile, I have no idea how to teach him to talk because I wasn't a behavior analyst. I had no idea what a mand,tact, intraverbal was. It was a very confusing time.
I practically begged the speech therapist for information, for videos, for I mean, there weren't really I mean, there wasn't like YouTube or anything like that. There was just like, what books can I read? What can I do in between speech sessions? And she really didn't have a lot of advice for me. So meanwhile, Lucas, you know, I'm trying to get him to say ball. Meanwhile, the two and a half, three year old kids are coming out of preschool saying, can I go over to Johnny's house and play and all this language? And I was just like, oh, my goodness. So it took me more than a year to get out of denial till I started looking into the possibility. And then when I the Internet was just coming around to be a thing. And once I started reading about autism, I knew that he had it.
And I didn't know this. But through behavioral therapy, through applied behavior analysis type of therapy, that kids could make drastic gains with ABA. And I didn't know that. So then I felt horribly guilty that I spent a whole year in denial more than a year. And so this is really detailed in the first chapter of my book, and it's really the reason that I wrote my book, because by the time Lucas was diagnosed one day before his third birthday, 15, 16 months after my husband first mentioned the possibility, by that point he had moderate severe autism. He also had an intellectual disability. He was so far behind. He was like three years old, but speaking at a nine-month-old level. And so the gap just got so wide.
And so when I asked the doctor about applied behavior analysis, he said, yes, definitely you have to do ABA. That's most proven. Treatment for children with autism gave me a bunch of phone numbers, you know, to call and look into. But then when I asked him if Lucas could get all better or could be indistinguishable, like the book I had read, he's basically said that no, that in his 30-year career. This is Dr. James Coplan, who I did a podcast with a while ago. So you can look for that in the show, notes, all of that in the show notes. But, you know, he said basically Lucas's gap was just too big. And in his experience, kids like Lucas didn't become indistinguishable or quote unquote, recover from autism. And that made me feel even more guilty.
And so I was just like, oh, my gosh, I got us into this mess by my denial. I have to figure out how to get us out of it. And I often say I fell into the autism world, quote, quote unquote, because it had literally felt like I had fallen into a deep hole. And I had Lucas with me and I had to figure out how to climb out with him on my back in the late nineties, there really wasn't much in terms of parent training. Parent empowerment was extremely confusing. And my book, one of the reasons the main reason I wrote my book is because I needed a map to crawl out of that hole and to start climbing the mountain with Lucas. And there really has wasn't one back then and there still isn't one now.
And over the past twenty years, I became went from a confused, overwhelmed, stressed out parent in denial to I already was a registered nurse. I became a board-certified behavior analyst, wrote my first book in twenty-seven, which we're going to talk about the differences between my two books and then, you know, went on to really figure out a step by step system to help kids with autism all of all ages. But the best, best time to treat kids is at the very first signs. And when we can really turn the. Around as much as possible, so in Chapter one, I detail all of that about my story, but I also talk about how in nineteen ninety-nine when Lucas was diagnosed, the rate of autism was one in five hundred and now it's about one in 50. Plus one in six kids have a type of developmental disorder, whether that's autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, speech disorders. So one in every six children.
So what I learned over the years is this treatment ABA and using the verbal behavior approach and using the term autism around strategies, this all works for typically developing kids. It works for kids with early signs of ADHD, which are very similar to children's early signs of autism and speech delays. So I also in the first chapter talk about my story, this increase, and also throughout the book I talk about how I worked with kids, very young kids starting in 2000. Well, really, I worked with very young kids starting when I became a behavioral analyst in two thousand and three. I worked for the Pennsylvania Verbal Behavior Project, but was mostly in schools. But then in 2010, I began working with very little kids: birth to three year old kids and then three to five year old kids too. So I helped kids like Chino, who is in the first chapter, and Chino, out of all the hundreds of kids I've helped directly like hands on help directly.
Chino was the child when I started that reminded me the most of Lucas when they were both about twenty, twenty-one months of age, like when my husband first mentioned it. And then I saw Chino around the same age and he was he looked like a quiet kid. He wasn't banging his head. He wasn't aggressive. He was kind of he wasn't even in his own world. He just looked very speech delayed. But when you looked closer with one of the assessments that I have used in as detailed a little bit in my book, The Stat Screening Tool for Autism in Toddlers. And I have pre and post videos of Chino with me doing the stat with the Doll Play program, and that's detailed in the first chapter of my book, too. But kids like Chino made major transformations and we can put his pre and post videos, just short clips in the show, notes at MaryBarbera.com/107 to go to the show notes.
So many of you know me and started following me because of my first book. And you may be wondering why I decided to write another book. And how is the Turn Autism Around book different from my Verbal Behavior Approach book. So, as I said, the Verbal Behavior Approach book was published in 2007 by a small niche publisher called Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Back when I wrote it in 2006, I had no website. I didn't have a platform. I didn't even know what the difference was between a website and a platform. I had no Facebook. There wasn't any Facebook around at that point and I really didn't know how to reach people. I was a mom. I was a mom of two kids. I think Spencer and Lucas were around eight to ten years of age when I wrote the book. And when I published the book, I had a BCBA. I was board certified behavior analyst since 2003, but that's pretty much it. But I knew back then that I knew how to help kids, and I knew that a lot of the information that most of the information was in my head. And back then, in 2007, the books that I had been recommending and reading were nineteen ninety-three, nineteen ninety six, you know, really old books.
So I knew I needed to write that book and it just kind of came to me. I didn't think it was going to be this huge success, which it really has been. It's still selling better than ever. So more than fifty thousand copies in the first decade and is available in over a dozen languages. And it still is often in the top 10 or top 20 autism books, bestsellers on Amazon. Many of the top ten are very old books like mine. But the Verbal Behavior Approach book is I wrote it when I was working for the Pennsylvania Verbal Behavior Project. It's really for older kids. I mean, you can use it any age, but definitely you have to have the diagnosis of. Autism for people to look into it seriously. Older kids with significant delays, moderate severe autism, mild intellectual disability, and those are the kind of parents and professionals that I have attracted with the verbal behavior approach book. Even this podcast is most has mostly been about kids, older kids with more significant needs, non-conversational kids, kids that need to learn how to eat better, sleep better, potty train, dress themselves, shower themselves.
Because I feel like I'm an expert on all of those things because Lucas has needed to learn all of those things and he's learned it with ABA, the verbal behavior approach. But the Verbal Behavior Approach book, it doesn't cover a lot, doesn't cover anything about very young children just showing signs of autism. And there's new research by Dr. Ami Klin, which pretty much shows and I did a whole podcast on this episode number ninety-three, MaryBarbera.com/93. We'll put that in the show notes as well. But I did a podcast episode about Ami Klin's work, which shows that not in all cases, but in some cases a child presents with early signs of autism. You can prevent or reverse some speech delays or disorders. You can prevent or reverse behavioral disorders and prevent the intellectual disability that usually comes because the gap gets too wide the longer you wait.
So with that research, with even before I read about his research, I had started working on my Turn Autism Around book because I was consulting door to door with kids like Chino. I have several other clients that are within the pages of my new book. Max, who avoided a diagnosis of autism. Faith, who really did extraordinarily well, Sam and Drew. Her brother Sam has moderate severe autism. Drew started showing some issues right around the time he turned three. I think he's probably not going to ever be on the spectrum, but, you know, just some of the concerns that can come down the pike. We also feature Cody in the book whose stories are told by his mother on a podcast episode in the past. So Cody's mom, Jenna, which we'll link in the show, notes.
So Cody was a client who started out with motor delays early on. So by the time he was one, he already had a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist and a teacher on his early intervention team. But he wasn't really making any progress until he got a diagnosis of autism and until Mom started an ABA focus within the team, the early intervention team. So in addition to from 2010 to 2016, going door to door to these kids and making seeing all kinds of gains, kids not diagnosed with autism or just diagnosed with autism, very young children empowering the parents and working with the early intervention teams. In addition to doing that, I was also speaking internationally, all around the country, all around the world, you know, flying to Australia to speak to a sold out crowd of three hundred for a keynote presentation.
But, you know, there's only so much you can present in a keynote presentation of one hour, or even if I did a two day workshop, there was only so much that you could present. And I just felt like I had a lot of the answers I had. As you step by step approach based on all of my work with all of my clients, but I wasn't moving the needle and so I knew I needed to get this information out to the world. I even earned a Ph.D. in leadership in 2011 and did a dissertation on how to train adults on verbal behavior. And when people said, what, in 2011 when I graduated, and people would say, well, so what are you going to do now? And I said, I would always answer the same. I'm going to figure out how to get my message out online and out to millions of people. And until then, I'm going to continue to play Potato Head with kids like Cody and Gino and Max and Faith and all of my clients who came down the way.
So in 2014, I was on my way to and from Germany to speak and I read Jeff Walker's book called Launch. He's doing a second edition in 2021 which I'm excited about. But I read his 2014 edition of Launch and it was step by step. And they basically taught me how to get my message out online. And so in March of twenty fifteen, I started my very first course online course for parents and professionals. And we've now had parents and professionals from over 80 countries take my courses, including the toddler preschool online course, which has been helping so many very young children, both with a diagnosis of autism and without a diagnosis. Remember how I said that the rate of autism went from one in five hundred to one in 50 so that the huge increase has caused a backup waiting lists for evaluations for treatment? It's it's really common to wait in line for an evaluation from nine months to two years.
So while some of the denial is probably gone because everybody knows somebody with delays and autism, the waiting lists have now become so long that it's kind of like my year and a half in denial or my year and a few months in denial and then a few month waiting lists. It's like now we're just waiting and waiting and waiting. And as parents wait, they not only worry, but their kids fall further and further behind. So once I started the toddler preschool or course and started seeing some major transformations without ever seeing kids, without ever reviewing videos or telling, giving them specific guidance, I mean, basically that online course and community. But it's so step by step, the parents are coming in and seeing all kinds of progress. And that's why I wanted to write this second book.
And many of these kids, not only my old clients, who I was thankful to get a lot of video permission to have these videos show exactly what to do. But my online customers who bought into the online courses are also featured in the book. So some of the toddlers like Kelty's two boys, Brentley and Lincoln. Now, Kelsey took our course years ago and she helped me with her videos create the toddler preschooler course. And Kelsey is now our community manager and she was interviewed on podcast number three all the way back two years ago. So Mary, Barbara and I come for size three. Kelsey's a great asset to our community, but her kids especially well, both of her kids have made miraculous progress. And Brentley started out being very unsafe in the community. She needed to either, she's a single mom, so she either needed to carry Brentley on the back and Lincoln on the front, or she needed to have Lincoln on her body strapped to her and leash and a harness out in the community.
He also banged his head up to one hundred times a day. She was in crisis when she found my course and she was even driving Brentley to an ABA clinic an hour away from her house. So that's all detailed. But Brentley and Lincoln are doing great now, and she's learned to become the captain of the ship and she's now has other services in place as well. So this you know, the my courses, this book is going to give you the information to know what you need to do and know how you need to work with other professionals locally in your area or even at a distance to get your kids what they need right now and in the future.
And whether you have a very young child with early signs of autism, which is what the book's about. But if you have a 10 year old or eight year old who is has some needs, is not conversational, has needs in many of the areas we cover in the book, it will also be great. So in addition to Kelsey's kids, we have other online participants. Their kids are featured, Parker Landin. We even have Michelle C. who did podcast number seventy eight. Her daughter Alaina made so many gains that she's actually featured in Chapter eight on talking on basic talking, because she went from Laina, went from two words in one hour on a baseline language sample to one hundred and eighty words and phrases in an hour, within five weeks of Michelle learning from us online. The other thing that I don't really talk about that much is this was all during the covid shutdown. So Elaina was diagnosed in February of two thousand twenty. The world shut down and Michelle was left with Elaina and her baby sister to try to help her.
And boy, did she help her because she really turned things around. So Elaina goes on to be featured also in Chapter nine of how to get one and two word utterances into phrases, into conversation. Then Michelle had problems after she was done, the toddler course. She had problems with all of a sudden the Alaina was screaming for a bathtub. And so she posted within our Facebook community. And I, as you know, was Elaina held down for anything like a doctor's visit? And she said, yes, she had just had an MRI and she was held down for that. And that can often spill over into then they won't want to get a bath or you're thinking, well, how could that be very common? So we have a whole chapter on desensitization to doctors, dentists, haircuts, bath time, anything you need to put eyedrops in your kid's eyes, like how is that going to be?
And we break it all down and teach you how to break things down, teach you how to fish so that you know what to do at every step. So I knew that after I read Jeff Walker's book and created my online courses, I was really thinking like, OK, now I figured out how to get my message online. I'll just keep doing that. But then I was actually at a mastermind with Jeff Walker, who became my online mentor, and he encouraged me to write a book. And I knew that if I wrote another book, it would have to be for the parents of toddlers and preschoolers, because the transformations with the young children that I was, I wasn't even seeing, that their parents were taking my online courses and their early intervention professionals were also taking the courses. And I knew that these kids were making all kinds of progress, that this would be my next book.
So my turn to autism around book is directly going to impact those kids even without a diagnosis. Because these kids that come in, whether you're seeing them professionally for one hour a week or if you're seeing them at a clinic for many hours a week, or if you're, you know, if they're online for any parts of the world. I mean, some of these kids are getting no services. Some are on waiting lists for speech therapy. Kids in the United States, even if they get services through the early intervention system, it's often one hour, about one-hour speech, just very, very little services. And if parents don't know how to advocate, kids can even get less therapy than that. But kids with speech and social delays, especially kids with behavior issues, often get worse when you just pieced together what we call eclectic type therapy, these are all well-meaning, very seasoned professionals. But when you have autism or significant signs of autism, many times we need well, we always need always best to have a coordinated approach where everybody's working on the same goals, the same child friendly, positive strategies.
So with my new book I have I knew I knew if I was going to write one, I wanted it to be as big as possible to reach as many hands as possible. I mean, this this book took me ten times the amount of work to write. So I have a major publisher. Hay House has been wonderful to work with. I have a team to help me launch this book. It will be a hardback book. It will also be available in Kindle. And I read the book recently for Audibles. So it's going to be on Audible also. And I'll have all the handouts within the book, the assessment forms and the planning forms and all of that stuff. I'll have that available at turn autism around dotcom. That's where you can preorder the book and we will have all the resources. So I really have I'm very excited because I do think that this book will be huge.
Dr Temple Grandin wrote a beautiful forward and the book has already been endorsed by parents, professionals, thought leaders, everyone who has read it has given me great feedback, and so I'm really hoping that this is going to help a lot of people. So there are 14 chapters in the book. It's a pretty big book. We have chapters on the early signs of autism, keeping your child safe, reducing tantrums and other problem behaviors. There's two chapters on teaching talking, one on basic talking, one on advance talking, one chapter dedicated to social skills and whether your child or clients should be at a preschool, although they're benefiting what kind of goals you should have for them. And then we also have chapters on improving picky eating, sleeping, potty training and trips to the doctor, dentist and barber. That's where we have the steps that Elaina's mom took to repair the bathtub, which she did within a week. And then she was actually having Alaina request baths.
That's how easy it can be in some situations. Now, not everybody makes the kind of gains that Elena made, but we have lots of stories of lots of different success. And each child, we really want to reach his or her fullest potential to be as safe as possible, as independent as possible, and as happy as possible. In throughout the book, I talk about how I really want to empower at least one parent, if not both parents, to become the captain of the ship and to coordinate care and learning. The leading ideas behind the new book are these parents need to be empowered to catch and treat the earliest signs of autism. Also signs of ADHD, speech delays, learning differences. If it turns out not to be autism, you are going to be well into learning how you can advocate for your child forever and how to be his best teacher and have a happy child who's not crying and not whining and not tantrumming.
The second idea is that parents of young children with signs of autism can't afford to be in denial or in waiting in line for nine months to two years for evaluations and diagnosis and treatment. But you can get started by just the information in the book and now it's only available for preorder. So you really do want to check out the online courses as well. Number three, parents of older kids who are still not conversational or those with problem behaviors and self-care deficits need help, too. And this book will provide a map and step by step directions to move forward. It's hard when you're writing a book if you're not writing to a kind of a target audience. So my target audience is really parents of young children from ages one to five and early intervention professionals.
But there are so many great strategies and assessment tools that will help all kids that are functioning in the one- to five-year-old level in terms of talking or sleeping or eating or problem behaviors, and which kind of really goes with the podcast and my courses. I really am dedicating my life to helping kids within like the VB-MAPP range, which is one-to-four-yearolds, one-to-five-yearolds. And whether that's my twenty-four-year-old son who is still functioning within the VB-MAPP levels in many areas, specifically language. But he continues to get better and better as we work on different things, like he's getting better with answering why questions now. And so the journey is going to be different for older kids and it's going to be different for every child. But I think this book will really give you a guide to get you started. Another idea is the techniques in the book are all given in my paid courses, but now be available in a book too, and it will help to reach more people. I will say that the book plus the courses is going to be your best option because in the courses we give you all this video tutorials of what to do.
But in many situations, like with me with Jeff Walker's book launch, I was able to take just the book and I was able to launch. And then in a lot of cases, I think, especially if you have professionals on board who already know about ABA and verbal behavior, you might be able to just take the book and run with it as well. Another idea, the autism movement is I want to see and I want to change the way autism is detected and treated. It is never too early to start looking for signs and treating the signs, and it's also never too late. And as I said, my goal is for each child to reach his or her full potential. OK, so why I'm talking about the book is actually going to be published on March 30th, but it is available now today, starting in mid-January for preorder.
So why should you go to TurnAutismAround.com and preorder the book? So a couple of reasons. If you preorder the book now, you can get started immediately helping your child or clients because you're going to get some access to some great bonuses, including exclusive video interview with Dr Temple Grandin. You'll get access to some of the book right now. And you will also be able to attend a free workshop. And if you act right now, preorder the book. You can also join my book launch team and help me spread the word and get the approach out to millions of people around the world. So I hope this podcast helps energize and motivate you to preorder the Turn Autism Around ebook today at Turn Autism Around dot com. I really am excited. I hope you are, too. And I hope this episode helped you understand why I wrote the book and to get excited because I'm excited. And I think you, as an avid podcast listener, are going to really benefit. So thank you very much.
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