Sarah Alford Hart (she/her) is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst in Virginia who has worked in the ABA field for over a decade. Autistic and disabled herself, she is passionate about advocating for others who are autistic and/or disabled regarding their rights to live happy, safe, autonomous, and autistic/disabled lives. She is the creator of the company NESSI, which stands for Neurodiversity-Emphasizing Support, Services, & Information. When she is not advocating for people with disabilities on social media, she is usually found building structures in Minecraft or organizing her office supplies.
One of her recommendations for us is the poem "The Voice" by Shel Silverstein
There is a voice inside of you
that whispers all day long,
'I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.'
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
or wise man can decide
what's right for you - just listen to
the voice that speaks inside.
She also recommended the poem "The Hill We Climb" by Amanda Gorman... "not only because it is an amazing poem, but also because she has speech/auditory processing disabilities and she delivered it spoken-word in front of the nation!!". We totally agree!! Read and/or listen to it here
Sarah can be reached online via her business page for NESSI
as well as through the public anti-ableism in ABA page ADR: Anti-Ableism 101
(Advocate - Dismantle - Rebuild).
Gifts of Generative Gratitude can be provided (1) to Sarah directly via her PayPal using the email address NESSI.Hart@gmail.com, or (2) through a contribution to LEAP ABA in her honor - this organization is a non-profit that aims to eliminate monetary barriers for marginalized people to join the field of ABA and make it more representative of our world.
Check out the podcast on which we welcomed Sarah as an honored guest. Here are some highlights!
- Don’t Mourn for Us - Jim Sinclair: There’s a temptation for parents to mourn for subverted expectations of who they thought their child would be, but they should do that privately and be with their child as they are.
- Welcome to the Autistic Community - ASAN: Written for autistic people as a welcoming to the community, to share more about the culture. Everyone can read it and learn more about autistic culture, though.
- The Explosive Child - Dr. Ross Greene: Person-centered approaches, focusing on what’s right, what a person needs, and what drives them.
- The Hill We Climb - Amanda Gorman: The author also experiences language and communication difficulties.
- The Voice - Shel Silverstein: Finding your voice, knowing who you are, and being able to communicate that.
Highlights from the Podcast:
- Don’t need to respond to everything you see and disagree with
- Get in touch with your goals, values, and defense mechanisms: E.g. wearing rainbow-framed glasses makes her happy when she looks in the mirror. Her space with her computer has a calming background: plants, cat figurines, books in rainbow order, et cetera, gives a sense of peace and groundedness. Post-It note with core value: Make ABA safe.
- Learn to let things go - not everything needs to be addressed
- Join groups, listen, and participate - show solidarity - carry it forward
Two Important Organizations and a Recommendation:
- Neuroclastic: “Content about autism by autistic and neurodivergent people. A resource for autistic adults, parents of autistic children, educators, and physicians.”
- LEAP ABA: Revealed the lack of diversity within ABA; helps people from marginalized communities become part of ABA.
- Connect to community organizations - especially those run by Autistic/Disabled People