IG live transcript
(typed by me and filled with errors; always open to ways to make things more accessible so please let me know any tips/tricks/etiquette)
Neurodiversity: a perspective of an actually autistic SLP
With: @thanksmorris and @allisonthehuman
Transcript starts at 51:37
Hello friends theres quite a lot of you joining im so excited, hi
Hi yeah my work ipad didn’t work I had to switch back to my phone
How are you doing?
Good there are a lot of dogs running around so they might be loud
Aww that’s okay they can be part of the conversation Well we have quite a few people already here idk if you want to wait a bit or go ahead and get started?
I mean we might as well get started it just records it right?
Yeah, so, so ally is an SLP, she is an SLP and we have been talking a lot just together about neurodiversity and having her come on and share her great perspectives with you guys because we have very different perspectives and I love um Im just so excited to learn from you ive said it all day long on my stories, so why don’t you just go on an tell us about you and your journey becoming an SLP, um yeah, go for it!
So I am- I guess Ill kind of start with the SLP thing and just work along, in high school, senior year, I wanted to be an interpreter, study Spanish, I was in AP Spanish and I wanted to major in linguistics and learn a bunch of languages. I had to do a project where you research 3 careers similar to what you thought you wanted to do. And I found out about speech pathology because of course nobody knows what it is, at all, so. Luckily I found that out really close to the timeline that I needed to figure it out for college. So I was able to start- I did a double major- so I was able to start my linguistics classes first semester. I did my undergrad with linguistics and communication disorders, in new paltz, SUNY New Paltz, which is a state school in NY. It’s the happiest place ever, everyone who goes there loves it.
So yeah I did my undergrad in three years, I did like 6 classes a semester and summer classes and winter classes and everything, to sae money and because I knew grad school, clinical fellowship (were in the future) and I didn’t want to be in school forever.
So then I went out to the university of Utah in salt lake city for my graduate program. And then when I was done with that in 2018 I moved to Portland and did my clinical fellowship in early childhood special education. since then I’ve been jumping around through acute care, outpatient rehab, pediatric, adult, literally everything; which is why I like being a speech path. And then as of this week im officially back where I did my clinical fellowship at an educational service district. So I am going to be doing some autism evals and just general evals for our intake team and then some speech groups and community speech team and stuff like that, so that’s the speech piece.
And I feel like im just rambling? So
No that’s what were here for!
Growing up I met all of my developmental milestones; to my knowledge at least, im a triplet, so we were born two months premature and it makes a lot of sense to me that im autistic, so yeah that’s obviously a common thing in our case history, things to be aware of, developmental history, but yeah.. I didn’t have accommodations or an IEP growing up, I was kind of labled a difficult child, I think my pediatrician gave my mom a book called, it was like “how to deal with your high maitenence child” or something
So yeah I have a lot of things looking back that are glaringly obvious, to me now, but the way that early intervention and identification of autism and all these different things just- was not the same now and then, just very different things.
I didn’t really think much about it until undergrad. I was in my capstone class, one of my diagnostics in speech pathology classes and we were talking about sensory diets one day. And it was this new article like “sensory diets, so cool” and I remember talking to my mom later that day, and I was like
“mom this is so cool I feel like I needed one of those:” and she was like “what” “no you didn’t” and I was just like okay fine whatever, I didn’t think anything of it for a while.
And then when I was in my clinical fellowship I was mostly working with autistic students and families with autistic kids and I was in a lot of self-contained preschool classrooms because one of my roles was consulting with those teams. So yeah I just got thrown into it. I have a lot to say about self-contained preschool classrooms but now’s not really the time, so yeah.
It was a lot of “these kids are doing this and I used to do that” and these kids are requesting in a certain way or having an aversion to this certain thing and I would feel like “I understand that, I did that”
And I found myself actively resonating with my students and I noticed that a lot of the staff I was working with didn’t have that obvious, “oh”.
And then last November, I started working at a children’s hospital so I was working mostly with 18mos-4yr olds. The whole clinic was birth through 18 so I did see a lot of different patients but, the bulk of the people I ended up seeing were initial new evals for kids who were referred-usually from their pediatrician- who were “we suspect autism” or maybe no ones mentioned it. But a lot of those classic case histories where the speech path tends to be the first person to bring up “red flags” (again red flags isn’t my favorite term but another time)
And so I was just having conversations about autism, and development, and sensory processing and typical and atypical and all of that just like 10 hrs a day. Crawling around on the floor with these kids and talking to these parents who a lot of them were barely older than me sitting there like “omg, omg”. And by the end of it I was really leaning more towards, “okay im autistic” I had started to talk about it with close friends and had extensive discussions about it with my partner and I just got to the point where I was like “im fine and look im like them and im okay and im here” and it was a weird dynamic but im ultimately glad that I found that out and had that awareness.
In march of 2020 I got an actual diagnosis from a psychiatrist, so yeah.
Yeah, I mean interesting that it kind of came full circle from you working with these little-er ones and seeing these patterns that you could kind of remember, even like the sensory diet.
It would flash like I would see the kids do it and I would have this familiarity with it but I didn’t know why, it was so weird.
Yeah and I know we’ve talked and I just love getting to talk to you and hear your side of everything. I mean I’m a speech pathologist but I haven’t gone through it in the pathway that you have. And I think you know for those kids with autism or adults or anybody that you can connect with on a deeper level or even like you talked about with being able to connect with their families and their parents; because there’s a grieving process that you know I see parents go through, that for me to try and explain and try to bring a lot of positive light to it sometimes it- isn’t it doesn’t help that connection, you know.
Autism is a positive thing, it’s a great thing, I still grieved so much about it and about myself you know, that’s why we need more discussion and education and talking about these things. Stuff like autism with these complicated histories around stigmas and all of that it’s a hard thing to talk about. And I think as speech oaths we have an absurdly large scope of practice, which is like an amazing thing, but also there are things that vary program-to-program and experience-to-experience. I had a half semester course in grad school on autism, and obviously we talk about it in every other course, like its as a whole engrained into our education, but to specifically focus on it, half a semester in grad school is not cutting it. So I think everyone just feels like they don’t know what theyre doing, myself included before I better understood autism. We don’t want to talk about it because we don’t know, but at the end of the day it is our scope of practice and we can be competent in it.
Yeah absolutely, and I know you have questions that you fielded already that we can go over, but I do want to ask you about what you just said; about feeling competent. What is-and this might be a really broad question so just tell me if its too much-but what would be like the first thing that maybe feel like we want more, for anybody, what’s a good first resource or first question we should ask related to education, in your opinion?
Yeah, I was looking in to a lot of stuff today. It’s kind of hard because there’s so many different branches of education with autism. There’s early childhood/developmental periods and then there’s like adolescence and adulthood. You know there’s so many things to consider, but I would say to start, seek out resources made by actually neurodivergent or actually autistic people.
There seems to be this feeling that this doesn’t exist and I felt like that for a while too, but it comes down to seeking those out and not only that but really looking in a critical lens at what your resources are. Are you learning from an autism speaks article at you didn’t know?
I had no idea about all the issues and problematic stuff with autism speaks until I was actually diagnosed myself.
And so its like were not always questioning the sources and I think that gets us into trouble as SLPs. There are a handful of things that I have in my highlights on stories with neurodiversity training and neurodiversity vocab and things and other accounts online who do those things currently.
Some good things/concrete methods and approaches for early childhood that I like are things such as hannen “it takes two to talk” and you know hannen is great,
Yeah I love hannen
And floor time is another thing. Floor time is more of a less structured play approach but it has a lot of great concepts and face to face communication.
Somebody today told me about something called Play Project, one of my colleagues the autism specialist that in working with. They have a bunch of online trainings this month (Play Project) and it looks pretty affordable just looked at it quickly today. But those are some good places to start in general, its hard to say because there’s so much professionally about autism but autism historically has left out the social aspects and the community aspect and so I think its important for providers to understand that there is a whole community that they may or may not be a part of right now but that we can understand them and bridge that gap and direct families to those resources without taking away from the fact that we can be experts on this but we also acknowledge that we don’t always have all the answers.
Paused transcript at 37:10 [will continue and add to post as i have time this week!]