Laurel Joss

About Laurel Joss

Laurel Joss is a freelance writer with a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She worked as an RDI® Program Certified Consultant and has published articles in Autism Spectrum Quarterly and on her blog She is a mother to two children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. You can also follow her on and

Farm Program a “Miracle” for Teen with Autism

Billy Nacmias is a 20 year-old man with autism from Breezy Point, Queens. When he was 16 years old, a teacher at Beach Channel High School viciously beat him, sending him into a decline. He became a recluse, refusing to leave his room, and binge eating until his weight was up to 280 pounds. His […]

House of Blooms Gives Students with Special-Needs Job Training

The holidays are here, and the students enrolled in the transition program at Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort, Illinois are working hard. They started growing poinsettias from rooted cuttings back in August. The students were involved in all aspects of cultivating and raising the plants, along with other activities integral to running a small […]

Bustin’ Barriers Offers Sports, Recreation to Children with Special-Needs

Bustin’ Barriers is a non-profit organization in Portland, Oregon, that offers children with special-needs the opportunity to break down hurdles through sports and enrichment activities. The program started out in 2012 as a week-long camp program teaching basketball skills to children with special needs. The program was a labor of love for Andrew Yoshihara, a […]

G.R.O.W.E.R.S. Inc. Offers Training, Employment, to Adults with Disabilities

G.R.O.W.E.R.S., Inc. is a horticultural center in Wallingford, Connecticut, that provides education, employment opportunities, and therapy for adults with physical and developmental disabilities. Their name stands for Growing Real Opportunities With Education Relationships and Stability.They are committed to providing services to individuals with a wide spectrum of needs through social learning experiences using community interaction […]

Young man with Autism appeals to Obama for access to higher education, finds own way

Billy Pagoni is a 21 year-old man with severe autism who dreams of becoming a sous chef. His parents searched for a program that could accommodate his special needs, but were unsuccessful. In April, 2012, Billy posted a video to his Facebook account to share his dilemma with President Obama. He says, “Dear President Obama, […]

CHICA Automated System helps pediatricians screen for Autism

Studies show that early intervention can substantially improve the long-term prognosis for children with autism, but most are not diagnosed until they are 4-1/2 to 5 years of age, according to the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. The Child Health Improvement through Computer Automation system (CHICA) is an automated system that helps pediatricians […]

Self-advocacy for people with Autism

Any parent of a child with autism has been an advocate at one time or another. We advocate to get services, medical treatments, and to spread awareness. As our children grow, it becomes necessary to give them the tools that will allow them to live as independently and fully as possible. Self-advocacy is crucial to […]

John Elder Robison Leaves Autism Speaks Amid Controversy

Author John Elder Robison has resigned his post as a member of the Science and Treatment boards for Autism Speaks. The author of such books as Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s and Raising Cubby states that he cannot support the organization due to their tendency to portray autism in ways that […]

Kidz Kabaret Helps Young Man with Autism Shine

Johnny Hicks started his acting career at Kidz Kabaret in Naperville, Illinois, about two years ago. He started out striking sets, but his passion lies in acting. His first speaking part was in School House Rock, where he played Darth Vader. No, Darth Vader is not usually a character in School House Rock, but Kandiss […]

Pros and Cons of Hiring an Advocate

Any parent of a child with special-needs knows that working with the school system can be stressful. Some school districts are more willing than others to make accommodations, and many parents simply do not have the time or energy to research the laws or fight for their rights. Special education lawyers are expensive, and bringing […]