Laura McGaughey is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, which is a nationally recognized certification. She has trained hundreds of dogs of all types with behavioral issues and placed six service dogs and one therapy dog while working with Freedom Service Dogs of America. This interview is very special to me because Laura trained our service dog, Aussie, prior to her joining our family. Prior to Aussie’s arrival, I knew very little about service dogs, especially dogs that could be supportive to kids on the autism spectrum. In this episode, you will hear about the differences between a service and emotional support dog, some of the do’s and don’ts in the service dog world, and how Aussie transformed my family’s lives for the better.
To learn more about Freedom Service Dogs of America, please visit their website at https://freedomservicedogs.org/. Laura McGaughey can be reached through Facebook @LauraMcGaughey.
Jeff Snyder is the proud native of Seekonk, MA. He was diagnosed with autism in 1990 and since then has achieved multiple successes in his life in areas of education, long-term employment, independent living, and speaking engagements. Jeff Snyder believes that when an individual has awareness of their own autism then they are in turn able to inspire others to chase their own dreams.
You can be in touch with Jeff through these social media handles:
Meet Catherine Hughes. Hailing from a small town southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, dubbed “the most boring town in Pennsylvania,” Catherine Hughes is the daughter of two English professors. She is a passionate advocate, innovative storyteller, and community strategist.
Catherine is an international best-selling author and/or editor of multiple books including It’s Going to be AUlright: Testimonies from Ausome Women Raising Ausome People, You Are Not Alone: Stories, Resources and Hope from Autism Moms, several books in the Made to Overcome series, Becoming an Exceptional Leader: Inspiration from 14 Accomplished Disability Changemakers, Mental Health DisABILITY: Perception vs. Reality (by Louis Bianco), From the Inside Out: An Autistic Person’s Journey to Creating Inclusive Employment Opportunities (by Mary Nixon Hahn), and We All Belong: Musings on Inclusion, Acceptance, and Kindness.
Her long-awaited memoir, Imprisoned No More: A Mother and Son Embrace Autism and Journey to Freedom released in August 2020. She presented her father’s poetry (Seeking Utopia: The Art, Poems, and Passages of John J. Tomko) on what would have been his 77th birthday (1/16/21). The release of both of these books (and all of her other projects) fulfill the promise she made to her father in his final days.
Catherine has managed a blog and social media platforms as The Caffeinated Advocate since 2018. If you were wondering about her caffeine of choice, she’s always loved her Dunkin’ but is now a sponsored “barista babe” for Coffee Over Cardio. Birthday Cake is her CoC java of choice. Who doesn’t need a little caffeine and cake in their life, right?
In August 2020, Catherine not only released her memoir, but also founded The Caffeinated Advocate, LLC. She is the Chief Inspirational Officer (CIO), and offers a wide array of services as an author, editor, coach, consultant, speaker, and trainer. She is a Certified Master Life Coach, with certifications endorsed by Transformation Academy of Clearwater, Florida.
For over seventeen years, she has provided comprehensive support and passionate advocacy to individuals and self-advocates, their families, and surrounding natural supports throughout their communities. She considers herself a servant leader, one who cultivates, develops, and maintains relationships with grace and grit in order to create, enhance, and promote services and programs that transform lives. On a personal level, her calling (not a career) allows her to give back some of what has so graciously been given to her family. She proudly serves as the Director of Family Support and Community Engagement at Achieving True Self, supporting families across the Northeastern U.S. Living with her in that “boring” (ok, it’s not actually boring) town and very much not boring household are Mama Betty, Christian, and their pets Callie, Cookie, Candie, Hannah, Maddie, and Raven the Cats — yes six cats — and the one and only Abby Dog.
Beth Irtz is more than just a special guest on this podcast; she is Amanda’s mother and grandmother to her children. Beth Irtz spent her entire professional career as a nursing home administrator, dedicating her service to improving the lives of elders. She truly understands what it means to care for and understand the human being first – and the diagnosis second. Beth Irtz is the President and Chief Guide of Focus Consultation, Inc. where she continues to be the voice for the elder care experience. You can learn more about Beth Irtz on her LinkedIn and Facebook pages.
Get ready to hear about the importance of mental health for moms and why asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Christina Abernethy is a two-time best-selling co-author, most recently including You Are Not Alone: Stories, Resources, and Hope From Autism Moms; a book that is filled with inspiring stories, helpful resources, and hope for families to let them know that they are not alone in their journey. Her first co-authored book is Made to Overcome: Chronic Illness. She is the founder of Love, Hope and Autism and is proud to be the coordinator for Changing Spaces Pennsylvania, a movement to build accessible restrooms with powered height adjustable adult-sized changing tables across communities to promote inclusion.
Contact information and resources shared in this episode are listed here:
Love, Hope & Autism
Changing Spaces Pennsylvania
Original Recording Date: January 24, 2021