A Round of Applause for Our Special Contributors

As some of our readers may remember, Autism Parenting Magazine received the esteemed Gold Award in the category of Family/Parenting from the Mom’s Choice Awards® in 2014.  Proud of our contributors for their great effort and dedication to serving families affected by autism, we were inspired to create a special means for recognition.  And because of positive feedback, we have decided to make this a yearly event.

First, we need to thank everyone who has contributed in making Autism Parenting Magazine a success. It takes all kinds of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences to connect with our audience — physicians, scientists, inventors, educators, writers, artists, young people, moms, dads, siblings, and people who are on the spectrum. Together, our contributors form a distinctive, award-winning publication.

Selecting only a dozen people to receive this year’s honor was a challenge as we have grown to more than 200 contributors.  Every participant really deserves applause.

We would like to highlight 12 people handpicked for this special recognition for 2015.


angelinam-awards angelina_m_Top Assessment and Treatment Writer

Top Assessment and Treatment Writer
Angelina M., MS, BCBA, MFTI

Angelina works as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, specializing in assessing and treating children and adolescents with autism, down-syndrome, and other developmental delays. She began her career in Applied Behavior Analysis in 2006, following her youngest brother’s autism diagnosis, and has since worked with dozens of children and families. She also writes a blog about her experiences as both a professional and a big sister. Her brother, Dylan, remains her most powerful inspiration for helping others who face similar challenges. 



david_sponder_Top Dietary Advice Writer

Top Dietary Advice Writer
David Sponder, Licensed Educational Psychologist, BCBA

David is a Licensed Education Psychologist who has been working with Individuals with Special Needs for over 30 years. In addition to the L.E.P., David holds a Master’s Degree in Special Education and Teacher Specialist Credential for Children with Severe Handicapping Conditions. His specialty is working with children with developmental, emotional, psychiatric and behavioral issues.  He is the only person in the world who obtained certification in the three major approaches to working with Autism Spectrum disorders: ABA, Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) and Developmental, Individualized, Relationship-Based (DIR/Floortime) methods


Sarah Kupferschmidt

sarah_kupferschmidt_Top Behavior Analysis Writer

Top Behavior Analysis Writer
Sarah Kupferschmidt, MA, BCBA

Sarah has her Masters in Psychology with a specialization in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who has worked with hundreds of children with autism and their families since 1999.  She has clinically supervised and trained hundreds of staff on how to implement treatment strategies that are based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), she conducts parent coaching and training in the form of workshops for families and teachers on a variety of topics (e.g., safety skills, toilet training, language development, using technology to teach, and challenging behavior) just to name a few. She is a Part-Time Professor and Co-Founder of Special Appucations, which is an mhealth company that develops solutions for children with special needs using ABA to inform the instructional design.  Sarah has appeared on Hamilton Life, CP24, CHCH news, the Scott Thompson radio show, The Bill Kelly radio show and on A Voice for All on Rogers TV and Mom Talk Radio.


amy wagenfield

amy_wagenfeld_Top Occupational Therapist Writer

Top Occupational Therapist Writer
Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCE

Amy is the Research Coordinator at the Els Center of Excellence in Jupiter, FL and Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Rush University. She received her BS in occupational therapy from Western Michigan University, an MA in human development from Loyola University Chicago, and a PhD in education from Walden University. Amy presents on and publishes widely in peer-reviewed and popular press journals, magazines, and books, on topics relating to occupational therapy, interprofessional collaboration with designers, and access to nature. She is co-author of Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces, published by Timber Press.


estherb-awards esther_hess_Top Educational Advice Writer

Top Educational Advice Writer
Esther B Hess, PhD

Esther is a developmental psychologist and executive director of Center for the Developing Mind, a multidisciplinary treatment facility that supports children, adolescents and their families with developmental and/or regulatory disorders in West Los Angeles.


Eric Chessen eric_chessen_Top Autism Fitness Writer

Top Autism Fitness Writer
Eric Chessen, M.S.

Eric is the Founder of Autism Fitness. An Exercise Physiologist with an extensive clinical and educational background in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Eric has spent over a decade developing successful fitness programs for individuals and groups on the autism spectrum. In addition to working with his athletes, Eric consults and provides seminars around the US. He is the author of three E-Books and the creator of the Autism Fitness Toolbox and PAC Profile method..


ryanplatt ryan_platt_Top Special Needs Financial Writer

Top Special Needs Financial Writer
Ryan F. Platt, MBA, ChFC®, ChSNC™

Ryan completed his Special Care Planner Certification in 2005 at the American College in Bryn Mawr, PA, in which he received advanced training in estate and tax planning, special needs trusts, government programs, and the emotional dynamics of working with people and families with special needs loved ones. In 2013, he went on to complete the Chartered Special Needs Consultant designation. A pioneer in his field, Ryan is one of only a few planners certified through Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and the American College in Special Care Planning in Charlotte. He is the founder of A Special Needs Plan.



lisa_fish_smith_Top Parental Narrative Writer

Top Parental Narrative Writer
Lisa Fish Smith

Lisa is the mother of seven children ranging in ages ten to twenty-six. Lisa’s youngest two children have special needs. Lisa’s blog called “Quirks and Chaos” entertains and educates as she discusses autism, adoption, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and ADHD.



deanna_picon_Top Life Coach Writer

Top Life Coach Writer
Deanna Picon

Deanna is the founder of Your Autism Coach, LLC, which provides personalized guidance, support and seminars for parents of special needs children. She is a parent of a non-verbal, young man with autism. Deanna is the author of “The Autism Parents’ Guide to Reclaiming Your Life,” which is available at www.amazon.com.


dr.-adam-reece adam_reece_Top Music Therapy Writer

Top Music Therapy Writer
Adam Reece, PhD

Adam was born in Manchester and graduated from the University of Manchester with a 2:1 degree in Psychology.  On graduation however he moved to Ireland and pursued a musical, as opposed to an academic career, writing and recording original music. When his daughter was born he returned to the UK and began to study for an MSc in Learning Disabilities at the University of Manchester, graduating in 2008. For his dissertation he focused on the impact music has on speech and communication for individuals with special needs. Continuing in this line of research, he enrolled as a candidate for a PhD at the University of Roehampton in the same year. He currently works as a pianist and composer, and is also involved in research focusing on the importance of music in education. His thesis will be published within a self-contained chapter of a book edited by Professor Adam Ockelford focusing on the impact music has on language for individuals with autism.


Dr. Frank Gaskill frank_gaskill_Top Social Skills Adviser

Top Social Skills Adviser
Frank Gaskill, PhD

Frank is an American psychologist and author who specializes in Asperger syndrome, effective parenting, and how technology and children can interface safely and successfully. With David A. Verhaagen, Gaskill co-founded a private psychology practice in Charlotte, NC called Southeast Psychological Services. It later became known as Southeast Psych. Gaskill is the co-author, with Ryan Kelly of a graphic novel about Aspergers. In addition to having a comic based on Aspergers, he is also the host of an online video series dedicated to promoting the idea that Aspergers is a more highly evolved brain. This show is called, “The Dr. G Aspie Show.” 


sydney_holmes_Top Young Adult Writer autism_sydney_holmes

Top Young Adult Writer
Sydney Holmes

Sydney was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in 2004. She is a senior in high school and often works with her mother, Stephanie Holmes, a certified autism specialist, to educate others about issues Spectrum teens and girls face.

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.