Our Advisory Board
To remain faithful to our mission and respectful to the autistic community, we have an autistic advisory board who provides us with their input, advice and direction.
Meet Our Advisory Board:
Alex Plank, who was the star of our Issue 8 cover story, graduated from George Mason University with a degree in Film and Video Studies. Alex is best known in the autism world for running, owning and developing WrongPlanet.net, a popular community for individuals with Asperger's Syndrome and Autism, which he started in his teen years after being diagnosed at the age of 9. “Back in 2004, I had the idea that I needed to find others who were like me because these people wouldn’t just understand where I was coming from but would understand me on a social level as well. What I mean by this is that I believed that I could foster a community of people who would not misinterpret my intentions because their brains would be wired similarly to mine. It turns out that the niche I had identified in creating Wrong Planet filled a need for many others.” Indeed, it did. Wrong Planet has more than 100,000 registered members, and its discussion forums contain millions of messages. Both Alex and Wrong Planet have been featured by CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and Good Morning America.
We first had the opportunity to know Barb when we asked her to be on our cover of Issue 4 of Zoom. We knew she was insightful, but what took us by surprise was how funny she was! Since then we have looked for ways to partner up with Barb because we believe in everything she does, not to mention we enjoy her witty banter. Her mission statement “Autism is my prism, not my prison. My mission is to be heard and help my neurodivergent peeps be heard to make the benefits of NEURODIVERSITY as common as juice stains in mini-vans,” will always be one of our favorites! We know that her humorous straightforward no-holding-back approach to topics will benefit ZOOM.
Barb is the co-founder/CEO of Mule and Muse Productions, co-creator of The Greater Living Institute (GLI), a non-profit organization designed to serve neurodiverse individuals, and star of LOUD MUTE RADIO, a podcast, “a funny podcast that highlights people who are excited about who they are.” Barb has written two books, Neurodiversity: A Humorous and Practical Guide to Living with ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Dyslexia, The Gays, and Everyone Else, and, I Might Be You: An Exploration of Autism and Connection. Both have been heralded as brutally honest, insightful, and humorous.
“I excitedly join forces with Zoom because together we seek to have more neurodivergent voices contribute to bettering our world. LOUD MUTE RADIO is currently heard in over 72 countries and is for us, by us, so it is important I hear from you. If you have a comment or question, please call and record it at (442) BARB-989 or email me at [email protected] You will be heard, and I may put you on the show.”
Diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of 44, special education consultant and advocate Carol Greenburg's understanding of autism is enhanced by the daily triumphs of her autistic son's struggles with verbal language. Carol is the executive director of New York Special Needs, serving the five boroughs of NYC and beyond. She is both the East Coast Regional Director of AWN (Autism Women's Network) and an editor at Thinking Person's Guide to Autism book and blog. She has spoken in venues throughout the United States, including two BlogHer conferences in New York City, conferences for Autism Society of America, Asperger's Association of New England and UCSF's Developmental Disabilities Conference. From her home base in Brooklyn NY, where she lives with her husband and son, she has presented at local educational institutions such as Hunter College, City University of New York in Queens and St. Francis College in Brooklyn as well as at a variety of parent support groups and community-based organizations. A member of the Council of Parents Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), Carol has written articles for or been interviewed by diverse media outlets ranging from Family Circle Online, Child Mind Institute, Parents.com, Neurology Now and of course ZOOM magazine. In fact, Carol was the topic of Zoom’s Issue 9 cover story.
Dena Gassner is a wife, mother, grandmother, social worker, advocate and PhD student—and she’s autistic. She was diagnosed at age 38 after ten years of missed diagnosis, maltreatment and, to her, what felt like a lifetime of trying to tread water just long enough to parent her two children. Her history includes sexual abuse, repeated date rapes and violations behind the veil of naiveté during her young adult years. She survived it all and persevered to reengage her autistic identity and learn how to view life as whole and complete, a life made possible not in spite of, but in harmony, with her autism.
“I found my autistic identity through the diagnosis of my son, PK, who is a college senior at Marshall University. He was not an Asperger's profile—in fact, he was diagnosed with Classic Autism and Intellectual Disability at age 3. The early years were typical of parenting someone with more expressed autism with all the challenges of addressing a profound developmental delay. He never experienced regression; rather, he progressed developmentally at his own pace. He endured repeated educational neglect and disregard. At one point, he was verbally harassed and stalked by an educator. This might have led him to give up, but he never did. His gifts, that I've been honored to witness, include persistence and a solid belief in himself. Like so many of us, his diagnosis led to my own, albeit not directly.
Getting the diagnosis was only a very rough start. I still had to undo the years of medical maltreatment, allow my mind, soul and body to recover and become a part of the neurodiversity community not only as a parent, but also, now as an advocate for myself. It feels good to finally have a whole conception of self that includes autism and now to help others to expedite their way into that wholeness.”
Michael Buckholtz is a songwriter, performer, multi-platinum record producer (he even worked with M.C. Hammer) and owner of B-Street Music Publishing™. Before the music, Michael spent time serving his country in the United States Navy. But what we love about Michael the most is his strong desire to create change, which he does by sharing his experiences as a Black Autistic Man.
“The ugly perception of being an autistic person will not go away until regular exposure to autistic folks, across the spectrum, is done on a continued basis in the mainstream media. However, we’ve got to be more than characters portrayed by actors in television shows or mini-series. Movies are cool, too … for a minute. Then, everyone moves on to the next “cool” thing. We don’t need to be a Hollywood fad. We don’t need to become part of the autism cottage industry (profit or non-profit) that strips the dignity and finances of parents, caregivers and individual autistic people. We know how cool our stories are. We know how awesome our journeys continue to be. We need to make this real to people in a way they can digest. Sound bite this thing! Let’s put our collective heads together and not make this a movement about showing ourselves separate or better than. That’s prideful. That won’t get us anywhere. Our greatness will come from unification (becoming one true voice), reasoned marketing and the authoritative branding of who we really are. I know we can do this. Talk to me, somebody!”
Dr. Stephen Shore
Stephen M. Shore, Ed.D. was diagnosed with "atypical development with strong autistic tendencies." He was viewed as "too sick" to be treated on an outpatient basis and was recommended for institutionalization. He was nonverbal until the age of four, but with much help from his parents, teachers and others, Dr. Shore completed his doctoral degree in special education at Boston University in 2008 with a focus on helping people on the autism spectrum develop their capacities to the fullest extent possible. Dr. Shore is currently a Professor at Adelphi University in New York and teaches special education.
Stephen’s writings have regularly appeared in Zoom. He also shares his experiences in his autobiography Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome, Ask and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum, and the DVD Living along the Autism Spectrum: What It Means to Have Autism or Asperger Syndrome. Dr. Shore’s personal insight in academia and the autistic mind is valuable in so many ways.
Stephen also speaks and consults throughout the world on educational and social inclusion, sensory processing challenges, bullying and many other issues associated with successful transitioning into adulthood for those with autism. When we say that he is a world-renowned speaker, we mean it; he has presented in 47 states, 26 countries, and 6 continents. He always leaves his audiences with wisdom and insight:
“Currently, the diagnostic and educational process employs a deficit model where the first things a parent or teacher hears when informed about a child with autism are all the things he is unable to do. What about the things people with autism can do with the characteristics they have? By considering what individuals on the autism spectrum can contribute to a business, organization, and society at large, we can make fulfilling and productive lives for individuals with autism the rule rather than the exception.”