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Unveiling Our 2023 Contributor Awards Winners

January 8, 2024

Every year at Autism Parenting Magazine (APM) we feel blessed and thankful for all of the contributors who give their time and expertise to write helpful and informative articles for all of our families around the world. By doing so, we can provide you with the current advice and information in each issue and at our Autism Parenting Summit.

We present these awards in several categories to showcase each of these selfless and inspiring individuals, bestowing on them our heartfelt gratitude and thanks. Choosing from the many worthy candidates is challenging, and we wish we could present an award to each one.

We are so grateful to every contributor who shared their writing with us, and we hope you all continue to submit your work for our future issues. We could not do this without you.

Without further ado, here are the autism experts who have been chosen for this year’s APM 2023 Contributor Awards:

Top APM Contributor
Karen Kaplan, MS

Karen has contributed numerous articles to APM, as well as in her new column, Connections With Karen, providing our readers with her expertise in many areas of autism. With her BS and MS in Speech Pathology from Arizona State University, a minor in special education, and an Educational Administrative Credential and Moderate to Severe teaching Credential, she has served as an instructor in the Autism Spectrum Certificate program at Alliant University. She has served on nonprofit boards to help build capacity for those with special needs, and she founded and directed a residential school for nearly 20 years in Sacramento. She is an author and speaker and has spent time globally helping non-governmental agencies in Indonesia and Africa. Currently, she is consulting with families, schools, and adult programs.

Website: https://www.karenkaplanasd.com/
Email: [email protected]
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/karen-kaplan-51104aa

Top Parental Advice Writers
Dr. Preeja Balan, PhD and Usha Nayar, BEd

Preeja has written for APM many times, sharing her knowledge with our readers. With a PhD in Speech-Language Pathology, she is a private practitioner and co-founder and director of the Octave Hearing and Speech Centre in Bengaluru, India. Preeja has worked with children with various speech and language disorders and strongly believes in parent training and empowering parents to implement effective communication strategies. Apart from her clinical work, she has co-authored handbooks published by Communicaids Innovation Pvt Ltd, Helping Children Build Language Skills and Helping Teachers to Include Children With ASD in the Classroom. She is also one of the consulting editors of the Tiss Journal Of Disability Studies and Research.

Usha Nayar has shared her expertise with APM several times over the years. She is a specialist in early-year education and set up Kinderland, an inclusive preschool, because of her passion for the effective inclusion of children with autism. She adapts the preschool curriculum and sets up adaptive assessments so children with challenges can access education. She believes a successful intervention program can only be implemented with the child’s family system in place. With Preeja, she has co-authored the handbook Helping Teachers to Include Children With ASD in the Classroom.

Top Autism Advocacy Writer
Angela Chapes

Angela has contributed to APM many times over the past year, sharing her perspective as an autistic adult. She is an advocate for autism and mental health. Angela works at what she calls two “encouraging jobs” that are helping her to grow and transform, and she is thankful for the people in her life who have provided support and positivity. She has learned about advocacy, leadership, and organizations to help her thrive in the future. Angela hopes to provide a strong voice for people with autism and mental illness.

Top Behavioral Solutions Writer
Carol Tatom, BA.HSE, CHW

Carol has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services and is a licensed Community Health worker in Texas. Carol is also an autism parent, writer, and advocate for special needs families. Carol is currently the Operations Director of Life Skills Autism Academy. She enjoys being able to work with families and help connect them to support and resources that improve quality of life.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carol-tatom-561a93140/

Top Financial Planning Advisor
Ryan F. Platt, MBA, ChFC, ChSNC

Ryan has shared much information to help APM parents with financial planning. He is a registered representative who offers securities, investment advisory, and financial planning through MML Investors Services, LLC. He is also a member of SIPC. He founded A Special Needs Plan to lead families to independence through an ongoing multi-generational plan, and they are passionate about helping families move forward confidently.

Website: www.aspecialneedsplan.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aspecialneedsplan
Twitter: www.twitter.com/specialneedplan
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ryan-f-platt-mba-chfc-chsnc/

Top Autism Safety Writer
Dr. Ronald I. Malcolm, EdD

Dr. Malcolm has shared his expertise in numerous articles for APM. He is an assistant director of special education for a public school district, an associate faculty member with the University of Phoenix, and a special graduate faculty member at the University of Kansas. His degrees include a bachelor’s in English and special education; a master’s in counseling, special education, and school administration; a doctorate in educational leadership; and postgraduate degrees in positive behavior supports and autism spectrum disorders. He has worked with students with autism and other medical needs, ages 3-21, for the last 37 years in various school and community-based settings.

Top Autism Diagnoses Writer
Claire Delano, BA

Claire has shared a wealth of information with our APM readers over the years. With a bachelor’s degree in English and a concentration in Writing, Rhetoric, and Publication from the College of Charleston, she has been president and Editor-in-Chief of her campus C of C and has been published in various magazines.

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/claire-delano-93a43519b/

Top Education Writer
Sharon Czerwien, MA

Sharon has shared her talent with APM numerous times. She has her bachelor’s in Elementary Education and her master’s in Church Ministry from Baptist Bible College and Graduate School. She loves homeschooling her two children, one with sensory processing disorder. Sharon has written a children’s book; Bumps Are Okay for KIDS and Other Biblical Lessons Learned from Monster Trucks https://a.co/d/2eHFQ2n and an adult book, Core: Biblical Principles for When Life Gets Bumpy https://a.co/d/j8EVq3s.

Blogs: www.bumpsareokay.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BumpsAreOkay

Top Autism Strategies Writer
Melissa Doman, BA, CSSC

Melissa has contributed many helpful articles to APM. She is a pediatric sleep consultant for special needs families who are tired of sleepless nights, anxiety, and stress-filled days and doctors who say their child’s sleep issues can’t be fixed. Melissa helps children sleep better and independently so parents can see them grow, thrive, and use these sleep skills for years. Melissa has worked with children diagnosed with cerebral palsy, trisomy 21, autism, ADD/ADHD, developmental delays, and more. She loves coaching parents to get their kids to sleep well and independently.

Website: www.melissadomansleepconsulting.com/
Facebook: facebook.com/melissadomansleepconsulting/
Instagram: instagram.com/melissadomansleepconsulting/
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/melissa-doman-sleep/

Top Sensory Solutions Writer
Heather Cook, PCC

Heather contributes to APM often, utilizing her knowledge and experience. An autistic self-advocate, she is also a professional certified life coach, certified teacher, and an autism coach, helping autistic individuals and their families to find effective and successful ways to be themselves.

Website: http://www.autismchrysalis.com
Twitter: @hmm_cook
Youtube: https://bit.ly/3kKJ0ir

Top Diet and Nutrition Writer
Valori Neiger, MS, BCBA

Valori has contributed several articles to APM, sharing her expertise with our readers. She started the blog Autism Feeding Specialist in the greater Seattle area of Washington state. With a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of North Texas, she has extensive experience treating children with pediatric feeding disorders. She takes pride in helping children introduce new foods into their diet. Valori also loves educating their caregivers and giving them the tools to do the same.

Website: www.autismfeedingspecialist.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AutismFeedingSpecialist

Top Communication Skills Writer
Mallory Griffith, MA, CCC-SLP

Mallory has often shared her writing and knowledge with APM. She is a speech-language pathologist living and working in Fort Collins, CO. She primarily works with people on the spectrum in her office, coaching social communications skills. Mallory has co-authored two books with her colleague and friend, Rachel Bédard, PhD, including Raising a Child on the Autism Spectrum: Insights from Parents to Parents and You’ve Got This!: The Journey from Middle School to College, As Told By Students on the Autism Spectrum and Their Parents. 

Mallory can be found at www.mallorygriffithslp.com or [email protected].

Top Visual Supports Writer
Karla Pretorius, MPsych

Karla has contributed many informative articles to APM. She is a Co-Founder of AIMS Global and a Research Psychologist who advocates globally for autism awareness, acceptance, and understanding. She has presented in many countries and collaborated with autism advocates and adults on the spectrum to provide the AIMS holistic support system. AIMS Global offers in-home, online, and supervised programs and full-spectrum online courses to support parents and their children in everyday life.

Website: www.aimsglobal.info
Instagram: www.instagram.com/aims.global/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aimsglobalautism/

Special Mention for Autism Parental Advice
Dr. Tasnuva Sarwar Tunna, MPharm, PhD

Tasnuva has shared her expertise in several articles for APM. She works with children with autism, including her son, to give them the best health, reach developmental milestones faster, and transform their present and future trajectories. She created her signature program, Autism Transformation & Success (ATS), infusing research and natural support through diet, nutrition, and lifestyle guidelines. She has helped hundreds of autism families worldwide. She is a pharmacist, research scientist, and published author, as well as a neurodiverse adult and a mom of three.

Website: https://neurodiversenerd.com/
Instagram: www.instagram.com/autismsuccessacademy
Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/autismsuccessacademyg
Email Newsletter (Serenity Mail): https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/k6r2e3
Email: [email protected], [email protected]
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dr-tasnuva-tunna-autism-success-24a79470/

Special Mention for Autism Behavioral Solutions
Karla Pretorius, MPsych and Nanette Botha, BEd

Karla and Nanette have both contributed many informative articles to APM. They are Co-Founders of AIMS Global. Karla is a Research Psychologist who advocates globally for autism awareness, acceptance, and understanding. Nanette is an educator who has always been passionate about seeing children learn and grow. Together, they have presented in many countries and collaborated with autism advocates and adults on the spectrum to provide the AIMS holistic support system. AIMS Global offers in-home, online, and supervised programs, as well as full-spectrum online courses, to provide support for parents and their children in everyday life.

Website: www.aimsglobal.info
Instagram: www.instagram.com/aims.global/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aimsglobalautism/

Special Mention for Personal Narratives
Brian Nichtern, RBT

Brian shared his honest and open narrative with APM recently. He was diagnosed with autism at a little over two years old. He studied English at Stony Brook University, graduating summa cum laude. Brian worked as an RBT and is now an RBT supervisor in an ABA classroom. During his free time, he is a screenwriter and does improvisational comedy. Brian lives and works in New Jersey.

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/brian-nichtern-98584b230/
Email: [email protected]

Special Mention for Poetry
Becky Piercy

Becky has shared her uplifting poetry with APM several times. She is a mother to Henry, a 16-year-old boy with autism. Henry is non-verbal and high on the spectrum. Becky writes poetry and uplifting verse about all facets of life. The love for her family, along with all of God’s creations, is her inspiration.

Email: [email protected]

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