“Explore The Spectrum” with Ariana DeAngelis from The Autism Project

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Ariana DeAngelis
Training Manager at The Autism Project
Website Address: theautismproject.org

Each week on Explore the Spectrum, our host Jeanetta Bryant discusses the latest news and developments related to autism, as well as providing expert insights and advice to our audience. Be ready for anything by listening to what these insiders have to say. This week, Jeanetta speaks with Ariana DeAngelis from The Autism Project.

To learn more, visit https://theautismproject.org

Short company description:

The Autism Project (TAP) is a unique collaboration of self-advocates, parents, professionals and community members who provide quality support, training, and programming that is accessible to all for children and adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, their families, and those who work with them.

What Is Your Why (Why Are You In Business)?

As a special education teacher, and then a member of the TAP team, I have spent my career witnessing autistic people who were misunderstood by those who support them. It is my mission and goal to learn more, and then to spread that knowledge to the entire world. I hope to change the lens though which professionals view autistic people, and help to provide a platform through which self-advocates can spread their message and foster a neuroinclusive and equitable world.

How did you get started in your field or work?

I began as a PASS worker while I was still an undergraduate. At that point, I decided to change majors and took a year off to work as a paraprofessional. In 2022, with a BA in Developmental Psychology, I began teaching at the League School in Walpole, MA. At the time, the school was just for children and young adults with ASD. I obtained my masters in special education, taught special education (learning support) in Italy, and then returned to the US and taught in a substantially separate classroom in a public school near Boston.

What’s one thing we should know that makes your company unique?

Our organization has a very unique approach to discussing autism. We speak about autism, not through the lens of behavior, but from the perspective of challenges and differences. Yes, we see behavior on the surface, but what challenge is leading to that behavior? From there, how can we proactively support those challenges so that the person doesn’t experience distress, and then communicate that distress through behavior?

What are your biggest goals in the next 6 to 12 Months for your business?

My biggest goal is to create a resource library on our website which will give people all over the world access to our materials. I also hope to include a wider range of self-advocates in our work.

Who do you know that is impacted by Autism and how has that impacted you?

In my family, I have three cousins with autism. In my personal life, I have countless friends and former students on the spectrum. In my professional life, most of my coworkers either are neurodivergent themselves, or have neurodivergent children.