2018 APM Awards: Celebrating Our Terrific Autism Community Today and Tomorrow

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.

– Edith Lovejoy Pierce

It’s time to say hello to a bright new year filled with opportunity and promise!

As I look back on this past year, I am inspired by the vibrant and devoted autism community that has developed within the Autism Parenting Magazine community. For the past six years, we’ve coordinated with more than 1,500 autism specialists, scientists, educators, advocates, autism parents, and people who are on the spectrum, all of whom have generously shared their expertise.

As many of you may know, Autism Parenting Magazine received the respected Gold Award from the Mom’s Choice Awards a few years ago, and this year the magazine was ranked #5 for ‘Top 20 Parenting Magazines and Ezines to Follow In 2018’ from thousands of parenting magazines. We are honored to receive this kind of recognition and would like to share this award with our many contributors, including you, our devoted readers.

Several years ago we made it a tradition to present special awards to key contributors here at the magazine. As always, it was a challenge to select only a few contributors to receive this honor as we work with and respect the honesty and guidance of all of our writers. Everyone deserves to be celebrated.

We would like to highlight the following contributors selected for this special recognition for 2018:

Top Autism Rights Writer
Pam Mines

Pam Mines and her husband Perry have three children: Michelle, Sydnee and James Perry (JP). In 2005, JP was diagnosed with a developmental delay, and soon after diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Their daughter, Sydnee, joined their family in 2008 after her biological mother, and Pam’s god-sister, passed away from complications of neurofibromatosis (NF). Sydnee also has NF as well as ADHD. She founded JP Jumpers Foundation to positively impact families affected by autism, special needs, and unique circumstances.

She has written a book, God Chose Me: An Interactive Book to Promote Family Building, with her daughter, Michelle as the illustrator. In 2014, Pam led the legislation to establish “JP’s Law” (SB367) in Virginia. This law gained bi-partisan support and established a special identification card at helps law enforcement understand when they may be engaging with someone with special needs. The training programs she has led trains law enforcement on how to safely, responsibly and successfully understand some responses of those with special needs.


Top Autism Therapy Writer
William Killion, Ph.D., BCBA

William Killion is a speech and language pathologist with 40-plus years of direct experience with individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism. After receiving his BS in speech pathology with a minor in psychology, Dr. Killion went on to attain a MEd in special education and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology. He is the owner of Functional Skills ABA, LLC, a practice that services many areas of South Carolina, and he has served as an adjunct psychology professor and consultant to psychiatric and behavioral facilities for behavioral plans for children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

He is a BCBA at Springbrook and the author of the Functional Independence Skills Handbook, or FISH Developmental Program, which is a curriculum for ABA used in 83 countries and translated into many languages. Dr. Killion is a frequent national speaker on ABA and how to address significant negative behaviors.

Top Autism Safety Advisor
Sandy Fields, BS

Sandy Fields is a parent of a child with severe disabilities and assisting families has been a lifelong passion. She has worked as a professional special education advocate for a federally-funded Parent Training and Information Center for over 18 years and was a parent support volunteer for several years prior. Sandy has served on several boards of directors for disability organizations, on state committees, and as a local long-term care ombudsman.

She also founded a parent information group and helped to establish a recreational horseback riding program in her local area. Sandy has a great knowledge of special education rules and disability regulations as well as a wide variety of general parenting, autism, and other disability-related resources. She holds a BS in psychology from Indiana University and regularly engages in ongoing professional development activities.

Top Autism Advocate
Derrick Hayes

Derrick Hayes is an author, motivational speaker, and paraprofessional in the Muscogee County School District in Columbus, Georgia. Derrick Hayes gives an AUTISM interview by asking six questions through each letter in the word AUTISM to give readers insightful perspectives from parents, experts, entrepreneurs, and other leaders in the field.

Top Autism Solutions Writer
Debra Moore, PhD

Debra Moore is a psychologist who, prior to retirement from active practice, worked extensively with children, teens, and adults on the autism spectrum. She coauthored The Loving Push: How Parents and Professionals Can Help Spectrum Kids Become Successful Adults (2016) with Dr. Temple Grandin.

She contributed two chapters (one coauthored with Dr. Temple Grandin) to The Nine Degrees of Autism (2015) and wrote the chapter Internet and Gaming Addiction in Youth on the Autism Spectrum: A Particularly Vulnerable Population in Internet Addiction in Children and Adolescents: Risk Factors, Assessment, and Treatment (2017). She also facilitates the groups Autism Spectrum Across the Lifespan, and Autism Spectrum HELPING HANDS Mentors on LinkedIn.com.

Top Autism Safety Writer
Angela Nelson, MS, BCBA

Angela Nelson is Rethink’s executive director of family and clinical services and has been with Rethink since 2011. She currently supports parents utilizing Rethink through their employee benefits program from their employers. Angela leads a team of skilled clinicians in conducting parent consultation, which includes supporting families as they sharpen their teaching skills in their own homes and providing tips along the way.

She provides educational content for Rethink and collaborates on the advancements of the Rethink platform. Angela also conducts supervision for candidates pursuing their board certification in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). 

Top Autism Health Writer
Joshua Garrin, Ph.D., CPT, CHC

Joshua Garrin holds a Ph.D. in health psychology, an MS in cognitive and counseling psychology, and a BS in general psychology and journalism. Following the completion of his doctorate in 2014, Joshua was the recipient of Walden University’s Harold L. Hodgkinson Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research for his inquiry on health beliefs, outcome expectancies, and stress appraisal in college seniors.

In addition, Joshua was the recipient of Walden University’s 2015 Presidential Alumni Research Dissemination Award for having published his award-winning dissertation research via multiple literary channels. In 2017, Joshua published The I-Way To Well: Mapping The Seven Selves Of Health Motivation (Motivational Press, 2017), an overview of the tools that he uses to help his clients recalibrate their motivational “compasses” for more self-determined journeys to optimal well-being.


Top Social Skills Writer
Monica C. Hudnall, MA, CCC-SLP

Monica C. Hudnall specializes in autism spectrum disorders and culturally/linguistically diverse populations. She has provided treatment in public schools and early intervention, serving 18-month to 21-year-olds with mild to severe communication impairments in the San Francisco Bay area. She has presented at the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA) Annual Convention and is a volunteer board member of CSHA-District 4.

Top Communication Advisor
Rebecca Eisenberg, MS, CCC-SLP

Rebecca Eisenberg is a certified speech-language pathologist, author, instructor, and parent of two children. She has been working in the field of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for more than 15 years in a variety of settings and currently works with both children and adults with autism and other varying disabilities who have complex communication needs.

She also writes a blog, called Gravity Bread, for parents that focuses on using mealtime as learning opportunities for language. She is a children’s book author of The Monkey Balloon, and she will be releasing two more children’s books this summer titled My Second Year of Kindergarten and A Tale of The Monkey Balloon. She has also published multiple games and a workbook for children with special needs through Super Duper Publications. She can be reached via email.


Top Autism Solutions Writer
Melissa M. Root, PhD

Melissa M. Root is president and founder of Root Success SolutionsTM, LLC, and a certified school psychologist in Connecticut. Dr. Root is a co-author of Picture Perfect: Video Self-Modeling for Behavior Change, available from Pacific Northwest Publishing and through her website. Dr. Root holds a professional certificate in video self-modeling and trains families and professionals on how to use the technique. She presents internationally on video self-modeling as an effective tool for positive behavior change.

Top Occupational Therapist
Kelly Beins, BHSc, OTR/L

Kelly Beins is a seasoned therapist with more than 23 years of experience in occupational therapy (OT). Kelly received her BA in psychology and her bachelor of health sciences in OT from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. She received her specialty certification in sensory integration in 2005 and has an extensive clinical background combining OT and sensory integration with behavioral health interventions.

Kelly is a newly published children’s author of a book series about a young sheep named Ovis with sensory processing disorder, and she approaches her work with an intuitive, empathic, and playful style while implementing the most current evidence-based interventions available. Kelly also owns and operates her own group private practice in Frederick, MD, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

Top Personal Narrative Writer
Kimberly Reeves, MEd

Kimberly Reeves is a professor of biology at Whatcom Community College in the Pacific Northwest US. A firm believer in the value and strength of community, Kimberly has served as a board member of Families for Autism Care, Education, and Support (FACES) Northwest, a local summer day camp for children with autism in Whatcom County, Washington, has consulted with her local school district, and assists with her son’s Special Olympics activities.

She provides informational support to families processing an autism diagnosis or struggling to understand and navigate their rights and responsibilities as parent advocates and guardians as outlined by the federal government. She and her son Ryan are currently co-authoring a book, Raising Ryan, and are enjoying this experience together.

Top Parental Advice Writer
Deanna Picon

Deanna Picon is the founder of Your Autism Coach, LLC, which provides personalized guidance, comprehensive support programs, and seminars for parents of special needs children. Her personal mission is to empower parents as they advocate for their children while balancing productive work and family lives.

She received her BA in psychology and BA in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University. Deanna is a parent of a nonverbal young man with autism. She is the author of The Autism Parents’ Guide to Reclaiming Your Life, available from Amazon and through her website.

Top Education Writer
Ginger Strivelli

Ginger Strivelli is the mother of six grown children, including three who are on the spectrum. She lives with two of her daughters in North Carolina. Ginger is an artist, writer, and avid world traveler.

Top Autism Food Writer
Jo Cormack, MA, MBACP

Jo Cormack is a qualified and registered counselor specializing in child feeding. She is a doctoral researcher (researching picky eating) at Bishop Grosseteste University in the UK. Jo is the author of Helping Children Develop a Positive Relationship with Food: A Practical Guide for Early Years Professionals published by Jessica Kingsley.

Top Young Writer
JaMar Taylor

JaMar Taylor is a 10-year-old boy from Washington state. Diagnosed with autism around the age of eight, he began using his imagination to write unique stories. JaMar became a published author at the age of 10. He loves to use what he calls his “unique brain” to create humorous and informational content for others. JaMar also enjoys sharing a different perspective on many topics, including autism.

This article was featured at Issue 84 – The Journey to Good Health and Well-Being

Amy KD Tobik

Amy KD Tobik, Editor-in-Chief of Autism Parenting Magazine, has more than 30 years of experience as a published writer and editor. A graduate of Sweet Briar College in Virginia, Amy’s background includes magazine, newspaper, and book publishing. As a special needs advocate and editor, she coordinates with more than 300 doctors, autism specialists, and researchers to ensure people diagnosed with autism receive the services and supports they need for life. She has two adult children and lives in the Carolinas with her husband.