Phrases like “gold standard” and “evidence based” lend assurance to parents that enrolling their toddler or young child in 5-40 hours of interventions per week is the right thing to do. Former public school teacher, trauma counselor, and CEO of the autistic-led nonprofit NeuroClastic, Terra Vance, walks parents and professionals through a different way of conceptualizing the evidence base and supporting the emotional, social, and developmental health of autistic children. As an autistic parent to a young autistic child, Vance was recently faced with the same pressure. Learn how Vance dealt with the news that her child would never speak, never graduate from school, and would always have “severe” behaviors if she didn’t enroll her child in four different therapies.

Terra Vance is a Melungeon of Romani and Native American heritage who grew up in a coal mining camp. She is autistic, dyslexic, ADHD, and apraxic. Vance was a secondary English teacher for 14 years and a DBT counselor for two before founding NeuroClastic, an autistic-led nonprofit. Now, Vance spends her days working various roles as NeuroClastic’s CEO. Her passions include decolonizing systemic structures, literature (especially Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man), building healthier communities, unpacking ancestry and reconnecting to her native cultures, all things plants, and parenting her wonderfully autistic child.

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NJACE is funded in part by the New Jersey Governor’s Council for the Medical Research and Treatments of Autism and by the NJ DOH

The views expressed herein may not necessarily reflect the views of the NJACE or our partners, the Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatments in Autism, the New Jersey Department of Health, and Children’s Specialized Hospital.

The mission of the NJACE is to educate society about the neurobiology of autism, and autistic people‘s unmet needs across their lifespan. We do this by listening to the perspectives of autistic people, their parents and families, clinicians from interdisciplinary fields, and researchers from various fields including psychology, genetics, engineering, and computer science. We hope to build an all-inclusive community, which embraces autistic people as valued members of our society.