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April 11, 2022

Episode 42: 4 Keys to Supporting Children With Autism with Rose Griffin

April is Autism Awareness month! Do you know and love a child with autism? Stay tuned! In this episode, DJ hosted Rose Griffin, a speech language pathologist, behavior analyst and the Autism Outreach Podcast host to talk about the resources available to parents as well as tips and tools you can utilize to work together with your autistic child to learn both academically and socially.

Listen in as they discuss steps to take after an autism diagnosis, how to assist your child through networking and support groups for parents; what to do if you are noticing struggles which may be having an adverse impact on their educational performance; how finding an advocate is helpful to navigate all the needs that may arise; and how your autistic child may benefit from speech therapy to help them find their voice.
Rosemarie Griffin, MA, CCC/SLP BCBA, is an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She divides her time between a public school and her own private practice, ABA SPEECH.  She is the founder of ABA SPEECH. ABA SPEECH offers therapy services, courses, consultations and products geared towards helping autistic students find their voice. Rose is also the host of the Autism Outreach Podcast, a weekly show all about autism and communication. She is a sought after speaker who enjoys connecting with audiences at the local, state and national level. Rose is passionate about the mission of ABA SPEECH, which is to help all students become more independent communicators.
• [2:38] Rose explains how & why she became a speech therapist and when she started working with autistic learners.
• [5:07] “The CDC just came out recently with a statistic that it is one in 44 people who are diagnosed as autistic.”
• [13:22] Rose shares several websites that offer great resources for parents of children with autism.
• [16:45] “An autism diagnosis doesn't automatically mean that the student is going to receive services. So just because a learner has autism, doesn't mean that they would qualify for services and educational environment, it just really has to be a team decision, you have to do the evaluation, you have to see where they're struggling,”

Do you have an autistic child? What resources have you found to support you and your child? Share them with us and tag us on Facebook or Instagram @littleheartsacademy!

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Guest Information

Rose Griffin


DJ Stutz  0:13  
You're listening to Episode 42 of Imperfect Heroes, Insights Into Parenting, the perfect podcast for imperfect parents looking to find joy in their experience of raising children in an imperfect world. I'm your host DJ Stutz. Some of you might know that April is autism awareness month. And in honor of that I have two episodes this month, discussing issues for people who love or just know someone with autism, or other neurodivergent issues. And I begin with Rose Griffin, who is amazing. She is one of only 500 people in the whole entire world, who is both an A S H, a certified speech language pathologist. Get that one out, and a board certified behavior analyst at the same time, she works in a public school as well as her own private practice. She is the founder of ABA speech, which offers therapy services, courses, consultations, and products geared toward helping autistic students find their voice. Rose also has a weekly podcast about autism and communication, which is called Autism outreach podcast. She is passionate about helping all students become more independent communicators. There's so much to learn. So let's get started.

I am joined here today with Rose Griffin. And she is a teacher. She's a speech specialist. But, Rose, I'd like to have you tell us a little bit about what you do.

Rose Griffin  2:02  
Yeah, absolutely. So I've been a speech language pathologist for 20 years. And I'm starting to say that I'm season because this is not my first rodeo. I've been doing this a while. And 10 years ago, I became a board certified behavior analyst. And I've been duly certified for the past 10 years. And I really love that because it allows me to help autistic students in such a specific way. And there are less than 500 people worldwide that hold both of those certification. So I really love it. And I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. But my mom was she was actually a teacher. And she gave me a career test because she was teaching a class. And it said that I should be a speech therapist. And I didn't even know what that was back in 1997 When I was a senior. So I went ahead and we had a family friend that was a speech therapist, and I did a ride along with her. And I got to see speech therapy in the home environment with older people. I saw it in a school, a nursing home. And I just thought, wow, this is such a cool profession, where you're really helping people. And back when I first started, I worked with older people, younger people. And then when I started to work with autistic learners, I just really felt passionate about helping them and that really has been my niche area in the area I have focused on for basically the past 20 years.

DJ Stutz  3:15  
Wow, what an honorable thing to have. And to have both licenses is pretty amazing. I've got one of each come to my classroom. And okay, there you go. Fantastic. I love them both. And I'm so interested in this. I have had autistic kids or kids with autism, the autism doesn't define their kidness. But quite often they are you know, you're not supposed to have a favorite, but you always wind up with one or add. It's usually one of those kids. They're actually I think they're fun to have around. They've got great senses of humor, they have attributes that are so endearing. And it makes me kind of not really, you have to consider it, but I don't. It doesn't bother me with the tasks that proved to be more challenging for them. So I was so excited when I saw you. April is autism awareness month and so I thought it was a perfect month to have you on. I'll have another expert on in a couple weeks that will also be dealing with an aspect of autism. Let's talk for a little bit about what you can do what a young mom or maybe you have a niece or nephew that is somewhere on the spectrum or a neighbor friend. There's so many ways that we are connected to autism and and it's not just a child that can be autistic. I've had parents that are autistic and so learning to manage with them. It really helps to have Some of that background.

Rose Griffin  5:02  
Absolutely. And you know, Autism is a spectrum. So it's going to present differently and in different people. But it is the CDC just came out recently with a statistic that it is one in 44 people who are diagnosed as autistic. So when I first started really speaking a lot in the field, it was probably 10 years ago, I started doing trainings. And I used to say, one in 200. And something that was the incidence rate 10 years ago. So now it is one in 44. So we definitely have a loved one or a friend has a loved one who is autistic. And so you know, everybody has their own challenges and their own strengths. And so I always love that quote, that if you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism. I think that's so true. Because everybody, everybody is Have you heard that before? Yeah. But that's so true. Yeah, right, everybody's so individualized. And so I think the most important thing is, I'm a parent of three kids, they are all typical language learners. But if you have a gut feeling that your child needs support, like I actually just talked to somebody this week, she found me on Instagram, I have a decent sized Instagram following. And she was just really concerned about her son, her son is two, he's in speech therapy, he's not yet talking. She thinks he may have autism. And so she's just really kind of concerned about. And he's not making a lot of progress with speech therapy, so much so that the speech therapist said, let's take a month off of speech therapy, because he's not talking and he was before. And so I don't necessarily think that's the right idea, we need to find a better fit. But I was just talking her through making sure that you tell your pediatrician that you want to get an evaluation, because the thing is, if you have that diagnosis, it may lend itself to you getting more support and more support for your child, I think that's the main thing is that every autistic person is going to have their own strengths and areas where they may need support. Even as autistic adults had somebody really amazing on my podcast, Dr. Kerry macro who was non speaking at four, and he went on to get his PhD, and do TED Talks. And he's done consulting with HBO. And he's a public speaker. That's how he makes his living. And so when he said his people may look at me and say, You don't seem like you have autism, which really isn't the best thing to say something to somebody, but people don't know that. But he says, You know, I have a lot of supports that are sensory related. And they're things that he has to deal with as an adult. And that's just part of his autism. So for us to see him up there speaking, we can't see the areas that he needs support, but he shares that about his journey. So I think that everybody's going to have their areas of need, just like any individual. And just once you get that diagnosis, then you can have a roadmap. And there's a lot of questions. And there's a lot of people out there telling you what to do and different interventions, but you just have to try to trust your providers, ask questions and make sure it's a good fit for your family.

DJ Stutz  7:52  
I think listening to his TED Talk would just be so helpful. I am intending to do that now. Maybe I can get that link to his TED Talk. And I'll put it in our show notes. Yeah, because like you said, even if you don't have a child with autism, you are going to know somebody that does. And so whether it's someone you know, from church or in the neighborhood, or maybe it's your child's classmate at school, I think I find that sometimes we'll get kids who are more neurotypical, and they will see a child who has autism in their classroom doing different things, getting different supports. Sometimes I see them get jealous. Well, I want that, you know, okay, let's do it for you, too. I don't want my kids getting too jealous, because then that sets up friendship issues. But sometimes just some of the odd things they say and do. Or the way that they try to enter play, or communicate can be a little difficult for especially a young class. So I've always taught either kindergarten, and then I've done some preschool work as well. Okay, so we're dealing with really young kids who just see different difference, right? I don't know how to put words to it. Yeah. And so then you might hear them say, Oh, I don't like so and so. Right. And so we try to educate them and work them along this year. And last year, I've been teaching pre K for the school district that has mostly children with learning differences. We'll have some typical kids in there for balance, right? It's been really interesting watching how that all comes together. But oh, I've got great kids.

Rose Griffin  9:44  
Right? Yeah. I did just preschool one year and it was the same. We had typical peers with students who were on IEP s. And it was really cool because down the hall, there was a typical preschool classrooms, all the learners there, were just coming for And so we would have our group of students who was a mix of students go down to that classroom, we kind of do reverse inclusion. And so we would have students who had trouble entering like the circle time, you know, like the centers time. And so what we did for one of the students is we did a video model of him entering into a center, because he could do it, he was just a little hesitant to do it. But he did want to play with other kids. And so we videoed it, and then we would talk about it and we would practice it kind of roleplay and speech therapy. And then before we would go down, we would, I would show him the video. And then he would practice entering a center because I was always amazed before I have my own kids, how sophisticated three year olds are with their play with their friendships with knowing what you do at each centers, one of the kids would just walk around and be like, Can I play with you? Can I, you know, and he's like, so outgoing. I'm like, oh, man, this kid's got it made. It's so easy for him that part of life. And some people just really struggle with that, you know, autistic or not, it's hard for some people to socialize on that level, especially now with COVID. And with the barriers we've had the past two years as school bass people, because I work three days a week in a school. So it's definitely been a struggle now more than ever, and I'm sure you're seeing that with your little ones that you're working with.

DJ Stutz  11:08  
Yeah, I've been lucky. So I'm just outside of Denver. And we've been in person all year this year. That's great. And in fact, I've been in person for basically a year and a half. We came back from remote after the Christmas break last year. Okay. And so I've had about a year and a half that we've been in person, that's really helped.

Rose Griffin  11:32  
Yeah, yeah. Same. I've been back in person too. We just we've been wearing masks and things like that. But obviously, when it all hit, we took off April in May. But then the following year, we came back, just the special education students came back. So it was like a very quiet building. But it was almost easier, you know, just to be back and get the kids in their routine. And us too. So yeah,

DJ Stutz  11:53  
I'll be back. We haven't had to use masks for I think since February. Okay. And yeah, boy, doesn't that one. We're talking about speech and that true deal. It just really make and sometimes I'd have to say, pull your mask. Put it back up. But I can understand what you're saying.

Rose Griffin  12:13  
Yeah, no, it's hard for some students. Yeah. I mean, it's been a barrier for just a handful of my students. But I think that I think I will have some students just the district that I work, and I think I will have some students that will continue to wear a mask, but I think other students will be very relieved. It hasn't really affected a lot of my autistic learners. I mean, just a handful of students that I work with who have speech sound disorders, so they're just hard to understand. That definitely has been a hindrance for them. Yeah.

DJ Stutz  12:41  
Yeah. I've got one little guy who's on the spectrum. And He only speaks in whispers.

Rose Griffin  12:47  
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's his his what he feels comfortable with.

DJ Stutz  12:52  
What when he gets more comfortable I've got now he started to use his what? His big papa. That's what he calls it. His Oh, yeah. Cute. So once in a while, he'll use it with me, but he has to be super with you before he'll do that. Oh, yeah. I love my babies. So when we're looking at that, let's talk about those really early indications may be that a parent might think, what's going on?

Rose Griffin  13:22  
Yeah, there's a really great website called Autism navigator that has a lot of information for parents. There's another really great website that is local to my area here in Ohio, which is called milestones. And it's an organization was started by two parents who have autistic children. And they met in a therapy room, which I think is so great in how you're just like out talking to parents. And they started this amazing organization, there's a great conference every year and all these things but and there's information on their both those websites for parents, but you know, if your child doesn't look at you, you know, now we know that we don't want to make direct goals for eye contact, because some autistic people note that it's difficult for them or uncomfortable, but it is an indicator of autism, if you if you call your child's name, and they are not looking at you rarely showing enjoyment and activities with you, that's a major thing that we actually target in intervention, that idea of joint attention and, and shared activities. I just saw a student today, who is three, and I see him in his house. Yeah, you're so sweet with it with my private practice ABA speech, and we just worked on a lot of joint attention. So through games and through songs and through books, because that really that idea of connection before communication is so important. I think so many parents and parents that I work with too, are just they want their kid to talk, you know, and it's hard as a provider to say, well, there's some steps like we definitely you know, want to encourage all forms of communication just like you said, your students sometimes he probably is whispering sometimes he's using his big papa voice. He's still communicating on both days, but it's really hard for parents to wrap their brain around that so I do a lot of parent coaching. When I'm in people's homes, because it's just hard to navigate, especially if it's their first child, especially if they've never had a child with any kind of special education services, I mean, you know, working at the preschool level, there's just so many rules in the evaluation in the IEP. And yeah, there's so much that goes into that. So those are all indicators, not imitating, not pointing, kind of like you said that some students may have a way that they like to play with things, right? Like, we kind of think of that where a student is lining up the cars instead of playing with them like another peer would, I mean, those types of things, or if they have this activity, they always play with it the same way. That may not always be an indicator, but those are things to think about. And then, you know, more from a standpoint, like holistically, not just communication is, do they have sensory needs that are above and beyond? Are they upset by loud sounds? Do they not like to brush their teeth is toileting really delayed? I mean, those are all things that parents are really kind of struggling with, and how to support their little ones. So I think you really have to trust your gut. And if you really want to have your child evaluated before, they're, you know, when they're three, you can definitely have your public school district, do an evaluation for three. And obviously, an educational model versus the medical model is definitely different. But if it was my child, I would definitely try to get them evaluated, just because I know I would want to get them to support that's going to help them become independent communicators.

DJ Stutz  16:26  
And I think you bring up a really interesting point that I think I wasn't aware of until I was teaching more kids within that spectrum and learning more about it. There's a difference between an educational diagnosis and a medical diagnosis. Can you talk about that for a second? Yeah,

Rose Griffin  16:45  
I mean, definitely the breakdown of services is, let's say, we have a student who's in school, and they're actually doing okay, and the parent is really concerned, and they get an outside evaluation, and they get an autism diagnosis, that autism diagnosis doesn't automatically mean that the student is going to receive services. So just because a learner has autism, doesn't mean that they would qualify for services and educational environment, it just really has to be a team decision, you have to do the evaluation, you have to see where they're struggling, is it having an adverse impact on their educational performance? I think that's something that parents don't understand is that if your child doesn't, and this is like for any child, not just autism, because I do see a lot of kids on working on speech sounds to is that if your child has, let's say, an AR problem, but they're not, it's not affecting their spelling, they have friends, they're doing great in school, the school district is not going to probably see that student for speech therapy, because they don't qualify under one of the qualifying conditions where they would receive special education. But that doesn't mean that that student may not benefit from speech therapy, it just means that you would have to seek out speech therapy in a private practice setting is what it would mean.

DJ Stutz  18:01  
Yes. And I think probably the most basic question that you'd want to consider, especially if you're a parent and trying to understand why is the answer to the question, is this affecting their ability to learn in school?

Rose Griffin  18:15  
Right. That's why parents have a hard time with because I think sometimes parents if I wasn't in this field, I think they think, Well, I mean, just some people that I've talked to, it's like, well, if it was really a problem, the school would say something. It's like, well, your child may benefit from that. But then we as public school employees, depending on your district, we can't say, oh, yeah, your child doesn't qualify, but they definitely benefit from OT, or they would benefit from private speech. I mean, sometimes you can say those things. But sometimes as a public school employee, if you say those things, it's, you're implying that there's a need. And you're implying that we financially are going to fund that therapy, which just gets into a really tricky situation, right? That's just kind of how it is, when you're working in a public school, because I work in a middle school, high school, so I'll have parents that are like, oh, you know, my child has an AR problem. And I just talked with them about well, you know, if your child was on an IEP, that's under special education services, we'd have to do an evaluation. It's not having an adverse impact. And there's just definitely a difference. And I think if you're not in this field, you just don't understand that.

DJ Stutz  19:17  
Right? Well, it's like any other field. I'm married to an engineer doesn't mean that I have any understanding. Right? She designs buildings. As far as I go, right? Pretty much the same with me. I really get little kids. Yeah, I understand them very well. He does not. So yeah. It's pretty much where ever so it's really important, I think, to really listen to those who do have the expertise and ongoing education and all of those pieces so that you're on top of things and then you can really pay attention to them. And you're the parent though bottom line. Yes, and So, if you think that your child needs extra services, and the teacher isn't really seeing it, or the evaluation isn't showing it, you can always go through your pediatrician. There are organizations that can help. I know in Colorado, we have child find, which Yeah, and I think that's pretty much nationwide or close to it anyway. But and they'll evaluate your child for you do an evaluation. And ours in Colorado, they'll started about two and a half so that when they turn three, if they qualify, they can get services right away.

Rose Griffin  20:38  
Mm hmm. Yeah. And there's definitely an early intervention to you know, if your child is not yet talking, and they're one, you know, there's definitely early intervention services where they'll come out, evaluate, see if you need services, as are usually here in Ohio, delivered in the home environment, so parents can have parent coaching and all of those things. But yeah, I mean, it's just a lot to navigate for parents, you're worried about your child, you want to support your child, you love your child, you don't want them to struggle. And it's just a lot to navigate. So I'd say reach out and try to find a provider that you like, and especially if your child's little, you should definitely be in the therapy, you should understand what's going on in the therapy, especially if this is all new to you.

DJ Stutz  21:17  
Yes, I did an interview, gosh, a few weeks ago, with a lady who is the parent advocate, a special needs advocate. So she not only works within a school district, but she also has a private practice on the side. So that if it's something based within school and school requirements, and all of that she can help the parent navigate that. But then she can also outside of school, help them navigate the systems that are out there. Oh, side of the school, so and some insurances will pay for something like that. Some will not. But yeah, if you're really unsure, and you're like, I don't know where to go, I don't know what to do. If you can find someone that's a parent advocate. Have them help you along. I think that you get results a little faster. I know I used when my youngest son is off the charts, ADHD. And so we were having an adventure, right? Yes. A journey. Yes. Well, he's a cop now. And he's very happy in school. Yeah. But we were struggling getting him the services that he needed. And right, someone told me and introduced me to this lady who was a parent advocate within the school. And, man, it was amazing how fast things happened once I connected with her.

Rose Griffin  22:43  
Oh, yeah, they know the questions I actually took. So rights law is a website, you know, special ed law, they have like a course and have books. And I actually, I took those courses, and I joined this organization called COPPA, which is for advocates. So there's people that are professionals, there's attorneys, there's advocates, it's a really nice group, the questions they ask on there, but absolutely working with an advocate, I think is helpful just to kind of navigate all those needs. And that's what's hard, too, especially if you have a child that it's kind of tricky to know how to support him. You know what I mean? I think that's where the school teams really kind of struggle and need some support. But I think yeah, I think advocates are really important part of the team. I work with advocates all the time in my job. Yeah,

DJ Stutz  23:26  
that's great. They're great. I am so appreciative of them, even both as a parent, so how much they helped me with my son, but also as a teacher, sometimes they're able to help me really understand better, what is specific to this child, because like we said, if you've met one, you've met one. And so every child depending on where they are on the spectrum, or it might be they're not even on that spectrum, but they have a different neuro divergence in how they're developing. That when you have an advocate, I always appreciate them coming in and kind of clarifying some things for me. Definitely. Yeah. And then I think too, there are other aspects for me as I'm looking at it. So there's the parent education piece, or I even like to say adult education piece because grandparents, aunts and uncles, how many times have I heard one of my parents say that grandma and grandpa are just saying, Oh, you just need to be Listen now with them and they'll straighten right up.

Rose Griffin  24:40  
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Adult education. I like that. I always say there's just room for growth, right. Everybody's on their own. When I do presenting I present often and I always wanted my slides is I always show a picture of me from my first year of speech therapy. That's something I've been doing. I posted it on Instagram and it got like 500 likes or something crazy because I have short, curly hair, and it's blond, which it was bad. It was highlights in the whole thing. But anyway, I use it kind of to be funny. But I say, you know, where are you on your journey? Because everybody's different, right? You might be a speech therapist who's brand new to working with autistic learners, you might be somebody who has been doing it for 20 years, but you still feel uncomfortable with certain areas of intervention. And so everybody's kind of on their journey. And I think if we just meet people where they're at and try not to judge and just try to support them, that's going to be helpful for that child, which is good. And what it's all about.

DJ Stutz  25:30  
Yeah, for dealing with people, period. Yeah. Me somewhere they are. Yeah, and move on. With that piece, I think there are organizations and things that a parent or a grandparent aunt and uncle, maybe my child's best friend is somewhere on the autistic spectrum. And so I can get more information and get educated gets support. Sometimes you really need some added support just for your own sanity. And then also, the other piece of the puzzle that I think is really important, is we've got the adult education, but then we need something like sibling or child education, so that the other kids that are involved with this, whether it's a cousin or whatever, but they're heavily involved, that they have an understanding of how to interact and how to help them manage through and process what's going on. And I think those are sometimes harder to find.

Rose Griffin  26:39  
Yeah, yeah, like a community we know. And like in our region, this milestones organization has like an online conference, which has been nice. I mean, that's one of the kind of bright spots with COVID, if there's any is that some of the conferences that I used to travel very far to, or just take up my whole day, you know, even if it was here in Ohio, are now virtual. So that's actually kind of nice. But most areas do have some type of ranch of the Autism Society or their parent groups. And I think that type of networking and support for parents is really, really important. I think anytime you have something going on in your life, it's nice to I mean, even for me, like I have an online business, so I belong to a mastermind where I can talk to other people who are having an online business, it makes you feel less alone, it makes you feel like you can ask questions, and it makes you feel like these people get what I'm talking about. And so I think as parents that sense of community, no matter what is going on in your family life, I think it's important.

DJ Stutz  27:34  
Absolutely. And I think trying to find these kinds of groups with the internet being so available, you know, kind of cliche to say,

Rose Griffin  27:44  
Google it. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah, oh, it's out there. I mean, you can find people and I have a course called start communicating today, which I had in mind for parents and professionals. So the idea if your child is a toddler, or preschool age student, and they're autistic, or just not yet speaking, that you can start learning strategies that will help your child now but a big part of that is you get access to a private Facebook community where people ask questions, and I go in and do coaching. So I want people to feel supported, because it's one thing to take a course and have information, but you're just kind of watching it on your own. And everybody has their own level of wanting to get out and ask questions. And some people ask a lot of questions. Some people just hang back, but I know they're reading the information and taking it in. But it's nice to have that sense of community. And that sense of engagement for when people are ready to take in that support.

DJ Stutz  28:33  
Yeah. I enjoyed the group coaching more than the one on one, because I think it helps you see, I'm not in this alone, right. Oh, you had that wackadoodle thing happened? Who right now? And how did you handle it? Right. And so it's not just whoever is monitoring are leading the group? We're learning from each other all the time. Yeah, I really think if you can find a group situation where you can share whether it's online or in person, I think there's a huge benefit to that.

Rose Griffin  29:10  
Yeah, absolutely. Agreed. Yeah.

DJ Stutz  29:13  
So I have this child, somewhere on the spectrum. Some are further or more deeper down than others. And I'm trying to manage other kids in my family. And I just feel so over whelmed What are two or three things that could be maybe a takeaway for our listeners of just some easy strategies, just to help you manage if you are going to give them three suggestions.

Rose Griffin  29:46  
Yeah, I think the number one thing is if your child is autistic, and they are getting services, and you think that those are positive services where your child's making progress, the number one strategy would really be to make sure that you're communicating with those people frequently because I think That's the most important thing is to have that collaboration between parents, the autistic individual, the group, the team, so that things are going great at school or things are going great in therapy for us to communicate and know what they're doing. And being able to generalize that into the home environment. Now, not everything is going to be like that some parents will want to sit down and work with their kids. But some people may not, you know, there might be little tidbits that you can work on to generalize into the home into the community. So just making sure that you have an open dialogue with your providers, I think is really, really positive. Number two, I think for autistic learners would be does your child need visuals in the home, not going to, but a lot of people will benefit from visuals, this is something that I can get from the pantry, or this is the tooth brushing routine. And I have a picture for each part of it. Or this is how I wash my hands, and having visuals present to help your children kind of navigate. And then something that I think is nice, just for a shared activity with your child is reading a book together, it doesn't have to be every night, or it could be singing a song in the car, it doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be some Instagram picture, perfect type of play situation, right that we all kind of see on Instagram. And either we go, Oh, that's amazing. Or we go, oh, I don't look anything like that. Social media can be a double edged sword, right. But just making sure you try to have that type of literacy, I think with your child, because when you do that shared book reading, and you know, you don't want to make your kids set, like that's definitely something that try to coach parents with literacy shouldn't be a situation where we're like, sit down, we're doing a book. I mean, that's just all wrong. We don't want to do it that way. So maybe you just have a functional routine where it's bedtime, and you read a really short story together. And maybe it's the same book, maybe your kid likes the same book, or maybe you have a couple books, when my kids were really little, I was actually very good about rotating books in their book bin and doing it by holiday, they're all kind of getting older now. So I don't do that as much. But just having those types of opportunities, because those are just such nice shared communication based opportunities with your loved ones.

DJ Stutz  32:09  
I agree. And another thing that I it's very normal for a child, when you're looking at your pre K to kindergarten may be years, or even beyond to really fixate on some theme, whether it's airplanes or rocket ships, or cars or whatever princesses and it seems like when a child has autism, they will they can even further focus on that one thing, right? And so if you really want your kiddo to relate to something, so I want you to sit down and read, and he's really into space, but you're trying to read a book about Hansel and Gretel. I don't know, I'm just thinking of things. But you know what I mean? Yeah, no way related to that you're gonna have less of a possibility of them retaining that attention, right? Find out what they love, and then go with it. Yeah. This was about two years ago, I had a little guy. And he was crazy about cars, just cars, cars. Didn't matter what theme we were working on. I had to manage some kind of car in there, you know? And we were working on alphabet. And I got a bunch of those matchbook type yours. And I just went to the secondhand store and was able to find a buttload of them. Yeah. And I just glued the letter on the top of the car. Oh, yeah. And then when he knew the name, then he could play with that car when he got the letter. Right. And that worked really well for him. So I think, maybe some ideas of

Rose Griffin  34:00  
Yeah, yeah, taking their special interest. I mean, that is something that autistic adults have even shared is that they might have a special interest that is their special interest. So trying to tie that I have a free webinar for toddlers and school aged kids. And I talk about that a lot is find out what your learner loves and enjoys, and embed that across the session. So your example is exactly right. We want to make sure that what we're doing is fun and functional. It's like school and therapy should be fun. It shouldn't be a time of it's time to work and it's time to learn it. Especially with really little kids. We want it to be play bass. We want to tie in their special interests. We want it to be fun and engaging. So yeah, playing with toys I love for communication using a farm toy. That's very fun because it lends itself to all the different animals and playing in the farm using bubbles, especially with summer coming up. It may sound super simple, but if you have bubbles and some sidewalk chalk that can be really, really fun and just let it Kids play with it the way that they kind of feel comfortable playing with it. That's something that is kind of hard for parents, some parents feel really rigid, they don't want their child to play with something a certain way. And that can be really hard as a provider, because you want your kids to find enjoyment out of things. It's not, it's not really play, if you're not doing with it what you want, you know what I mean? So that can be hard for parents too. But every play is different. And children should just be able to learn and relax and do things the way that they please.

DJ Stutz  35:28  
I agree. I agree. So now we're maybe getting our kids into school? Have you ever had an experience where you were working with a parent, and a child's teacher, and the teacher was a little more rigid and expectations and stuff, and really wasn't getting the child or really willing to move around? Like, how to bring a car into a space theme? Or whatever? Moon buggies by the way, is the answer. But how would you help a parent maybe in that situation?

Rose Griffin  36:12  
Yeah, I mean, I really haven't just because my whole career has been really focused on specialized settings. So I have worked in Publix. And now I work in a in a very just typical public school. But the people that I work with are very highly trained, like the teacher that I work with now used to work in a specialized ABA program for students with autism. So she's all about all the things we're talking about today. My also worked in a public school that was a public school program, but it was special is almost like a consortium, it was a very rural area, we have a lot of Amish people in this area. So it was like very rural out in the country. And this whole consortium, there would be smaller districts who maybe had like one autistic student, and they would send their students to this specialized program that was within a public school, which was nice, because we can do inclusion, and the kids were having a really well rounded experience. But they were also getting very, very specialized services, because the staff at this particular in these classrooms were very trained, and how to help ot sport autistic learners. So I really, I haven't really experienced that. But I would just just like you said, like at the beginning, like everybody's on a journey. So when I'm working with a staff member, who maybe is having some hard times adopting or embedding communication across a student's day, I just tried to frame it up. Okay, well, where are we at, I know that this may not be the gold standard, how I want it, I'm not gonna get really upset about that, I'm just going to try to systematically help the student have a more robust communication experience across their day. And me, as a provider, I just see that as an opportunity to grow to coach the teacher to reinforce them to build rapport. Obviously, I've been working in the same district 10 years. So it's, like, very easy for me, because I just is a very small district. I've worked with the same people for a long time. And you know, just getting to a rhythm of things. Yeah.

DJ Stutz  38:00  
Well, and then you've built up that trust,

Rose Griffin  38:03  
right? Yeah, exactly.

DJ Stutz  38:06  
I had a couple years ago, again, maybe three or four. So I had an A, that would come in and help with some of my special needs kids, which was so funny, because she was very, very rigid. And I came into the school district just a little later in the year. So I started in November, because their teacher moved on to other pastures. But the aide was saying, Oh, this boy, and he's so hard. And, and he he's, you know, bigger, and you have to be on him. Oh, but I'm blah, blah, blah. Yeah. Well, let's see how this goes. Right. And so he came in, and she had him sitting down in a

Rose Griffin  38:52  
cube chair. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Sure. Yeah. But then

DJ Stutz  38:55  
tray on top of it. Now was like DUSTRY. Velcro. Terrible, isn't it?

Rose Griffin  39:04  
And well, it's against the law. Really? Yeah.

DJ Stutz  39:07  
I told her you do this all the time. This? I don't think this is legal. No, if we don't Dota Yeah. All right. So my second week.

Rose Griffin  39:19  
Yeah. Oh, geez. No, cuz you're

DJ Stutz  39:22  
not, you know, you're kind of nervous. Being brand new. But yeah. For me, all that matters is what's right for the kids. And, yeah, he came in and just sat down. And I said, Hey, bud, how you doing? I'm doing good. Alright. So he's in our circle carpet. Yeah. Putting him so he wasn't sitting with the kids. He was behind. I could go on. Anyway. So she came in and Oh, you'd need to get in your chair. And I think he's good.

Rose Griffin  39:51  
Yeah, yeah. Oh, good for you. Yeah, sometimes it's hard to say those things. But you know, I had a family that was telling me while the other speech I was seeing this child in the home And the other family. And one day I came to see this little guy who has autism, and he has a lot of energy. So he's running all around. And, and he's to at this point, you know, so we should be. And I came to the door one day, and I could hear him kind of crying. And the parents had put him in a highchair. And they were like, well, we want them to be able to attend to like what you're doing. And I was like, well as like, that's not how I do therapy. I was like, that's not I can't make him communicate. I said, you have to let them down. And they said, Well, I'm so sorry. That's what the other speech therapist is doing. They were taking him to a private speech therapist. And I said, Well, that's not right. There might be some therapies like feeding therapy, or you know, a practice or therapy where you're doing that, and I am not, I'm not even sure because that's not my area of expertise. But for general speech therapy would never restrict a student's movement. And I hear that often I had somebody in one of my courses start communicating today. And she's a first year speech therapist, and she was telling me something very similar, which is so sad. She said, Well, my supervisor, if the kids get up from circle time, which I mean, a lot of autistic learners do, right? If the circle time is not engaging, quick, short, they know it, they're going to get up. And so she was like, Yeah, our supervisor just goes over and picks them up and brings them back over. I was like, Oh, I wouldn't do that. I just wouldn't put my hands on kids like that you really can't make a kid learn, right? You have to make it an engaging environment. So yeah, it's sad that those things are taking place. But it's good to talk about that. Those are things that are not right. And if you see them to be brave, and to say something,

DJ Stutz  41:27  
and that's okay. And you do have to be a little brave, it can be really intimidating. Yeah. So I've got one little guy that's like that this year. circle time just isn't what we have found that works for him. But again, it's that individualized thing, if he sitting at a table near our circle, and he's got something to color that relates to what we're talking about. Yeah. Like, yeah. And he'll shout out the answers to questions. He's listening. Right, doing so much better. Be right. He doesn't have to sit still in that circle. He's able to go and he loves. Oh, he's an amazing artist. Actually, I haven't just coloring but we let him express himself that way. And I might ask a question about the story we're reading. And he's like, ah, he'll answer. That's cute. I think you really need to look for ways to work around, and maybe sitting at the circle time, or maybe sitting at this height, or learning or whatever. Yeah, it might make sense in some ways. But if they see the whole picture, though, they see that it's okay. But yeah, another thing you brought up that I thought was a really good point was, you said he was too and he had a lot of energy. That's appropriate for me to Euro. Right.

Rose Griffin  42:51  
Right. Yeah. And it's hard because parents just get, they get worried. And so they want him to attend. And I would just have to coach parents and say, like, can't make your child talk. So I would do play bass therapy, you know, I'm a BCBA, too, but the way that I do therapy is probably really more play based. Then he was getting a BA, and they would say, like, wow, he says, so many things spontaneously during play. And I would always go back and show them. You know, when we played with these toys, he said all these things on his own, because I have like a running record of spontaneous language, especially when a student's not saying a whole lot of things. Just to show parents. Wow, isn't that amazing? You don't have to make a child set. You're encouraging. You have activities that they'll like and enjoy. And just like you said, with your student, it's like, he's there. He's participating. He's doing it kind of on his own terms where he feels comfortable. And that's his journey to communication. I think it's great that you are recognizing that as a staff, that's awesome. Well, thank you.

DJ Stutz  43:50  
If people want to get a hold of you or learn more about what you do, where do

Rose Griffin  43:55  
they go? Yeah, come and visit me at Aba I also have a weekly podcast called Autism outreach. Every Tuesday, a new episode drops. It's all about autism, and communication. And I have a really wonderful course for parents and professionals called start communicating today, which is all about preschool, and toddlers and how to help your students start communicating right now a lot of actionable tips and strategies because I am seeing clients every week I saw some clients today. And so I like to give tips and strategies that parents feel comfortable implementing and that school teams and clinical based providers can also do so make sure to come in and visit me.

DJ Stutz  44:36  
I would highly suggest that. And I love that when they take your course they're going to come away with specific actions that they can try. And they can tweak maybe a little bit depending on their kiddo and they have a starting place to move forward. And I think that's where a lot of parents get frustrated as they don't know what to do next. Right. They don't know what to do now, let alone next.

Rose Griffin  45:04  
It's overwhelming. Yeah, it can be. It's a nice community and course, and yet people are really enjoying it.

DJ Stutz  45:11  
I love it. I love it. So I always ask my guests the same question at the end of our show. And that is, how would you describe a successful parent?

Rose Griffin  45:23  
Yeah, I think a successful parent has a good ongoing communication with their child. So that means that when you know, every day that you maybe have a shared activity, it doesn't have to be anything monumental. It could be when you're in the car, it could be before bedtime, whatever works for your family, and just that you have that ongoing communication, because as a parent with any relationship, sometimes relationships are great. And sometimes they're Rocky. And that's for any type of relationship we have. But I think that when we have that ongoing communication, and that your children feel comfortable coming to you and talking to you about things and that you remain calm, and neutral, and remember that you are once I think of all the things that I did, and growing up and I turned out, okay, I think is that I think that ongoing communication is really, really important across across the lifespan. That's perfect.

DJ Stutz  46:13  
I really like that. So rose Griffin, thank you so much for spending a little time with us. And with my listeners, you have so much to offer. And I'm so glad that you saw fit to spend your time here and share with us.

Rose Griffin  46:27  
Thanks for having me,

DJ Stutz  46:29  
anytime. Wow, that was so much information. And rose gave us four great takeaways. So the first one was, be sure to really communicate with your child's advisors and their specialists that they're working with, be open to them and share information as much as you can. The second one was consider using visuals in the home. So pictures of them brushing their teeth, or going through the process of even putting the toothpaste on the toothbrush and getting it wet. And the whole process you can do that. Anything that you have them doing on a regular basis, have visual showing them what to do. And if you can have a picture of them doing it rather than some clipart. It's better, but if you can't get one of them actually done it, go ahead and use the clipart it's better than nothing. The third one was do something fun, like reading books together or singing silly songs together. Those are fun. And then they like repetition a lot. And so having a song that you sing all the time is fine. They enjoy that. And you know, it's not just autistic kids that enjoy that. All of our little guys enjoy that. And the fourth one was to key in on their interest so that you can work together to learn both academically and socially. Stephanie's information along with the information on the autism navigator website, which is awesome. I checked it out and the Rights Law website are all in our show notes. And while you are looking for the show notes, go ahead and leave us a rating and review and take the time to give the podcast a five star rating. Taking the time to give the podcast a five star rating and review makes the podcast easier to find. And we are then able to help more families. Have you hit the follow yet. Make sure you are following the podcast so you don't miss anything. And the follows along with the ratings and reviews help people find us. 

Are you up to date on all things Imperfect Heroes, you can register for my free newsletter at and never miss a beat. Hey, be a part of my Instagram family. Follow me at imperfect heroes podcast. And you'll get helpful hints and tips and information on upcoming episodes. And I even pop in once in a while to do a live and I'll be looking for you. Next week. My guest is Stephanie Ryan and she has a PhD. And she is a scientist but she studies how people learn scientific principles. And she's really targeted our youngest learners in this endeavor. She's amazing. She's so upbeat and happy. I really had a good time talking with her. And she shared so many great ideas on how to develop the mad scientist in your child. So tune in next week to see what I'm talking about. And until next time, let's find joy in parenting.

Transcribed by

Rose GriffinProfile Photo

Rose Griffin

Founder of ABA Speech

Rosemarie Griffin, MA, CCC/SLP BCBA, is an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She divides her time between a public school and her own private practice, ABA SPEECH. She is the founder of ABA SPEECH. ABA SPEECH offers therapy services, courses, consultations and products geared towards helping autistic students find their voice. Rose is also the host of the Autism Outreach Podcast, a weekly show all about autism and communication. She is a sought after speaker who enjoys connecting with audiences at the local, state and national level. Rose is passionate about the mission of ABA SPEECH, which is to help all students become more independent communicators.