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Announcement: SLP Neurodiversity Collective Important Bulletin4 min read

Editor’s note: We are pleased to host this impor­tant post and announce our endorse­ment of the SLP Neurodiversity Collective as pow­erful allies of the autistic com­mu­nity.

We are in the pro­cessing of forming our non-profit and are pleased and excited to announce our Board of Directors: Julia Bascom, Jeffery J. Guenzel, Kieran Rose, Julie A Roberts and Amanda Merlin.

SLP Neurodiversity Collective’s mis­sion is to pro­vide free public access to pro-neurodiversity focused ther­a­pists, to advo­cate for our ther­a­pists and the dis­abled pop­u­la­tions we serve, and to pro­vide edu­ca­tion for therapy prac­tices and method­olo­gies which pre­sume com­pe­tence, are non-trauma inducing and which respect human rights, dig­nity and sen­sory pref­er­ences.

Julia Bascom, Executive Director, Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN):

Julia Bascom serves as Executive Director at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Previously, she did state-level work in her home state of New Hampshire, where she served on the DD council and co-led an inter-agency team to revi­talize self-advocacy within the state.

Julia edited Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking, an anthology of writ­ings by autistic people, and cur­rently serves on the Centene National Disability Advisory Council, the advi­sory board of Felicity House, and the board of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, and the board of Allies For Independence.

Jeffrey J. Guenzel, MA, LPC, Chief Executive Officer, Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning (ICDL):

Mr. Jeffrey Guenzel has been the CEO of ICDL since 2013. Before joining ICDL, Mr. Guenzel held key lead­er­ship posi­tions in state gov­ern­ment and served as an exec­u­tive director of a very suc­cessful not-for-profit. Mr. Guenzel is a pro­fes­sional coun­selor that has ded­i­cated his career to serving chil­dren and fam­i­lies.

In his most recent appoint­ments prior to joining ICDL, Mr. Guenzel was the Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families and pre­vi­ously served as the Director of the New Jersey Division of Child Behavioral Health. In these posi­tions, he led many inno­v­a­tive ini­tia­tives including restruc­turing the ser­vice delivery system for chil­dren with devel­op­mental and intel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties.

Mr. Guenzel has a life-long com­mit­ment to serving chil­dren and advancing pos­i­tive inter­ven­tions that make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of chil­dren and their fam­i­lies while embracing neu­ro­di­ver­sity.

Kieran Rose, Managing Director of Infinite Autism; Founder and Chair of the Autistic Cooperative:

Kieran is an Autism Campaigner and International Public Speaker from the UK, with a back­ground in Education and Special Educational Needs. His blog:, has been read by nearly a mil­lion people. He is Managing Director of Infinite Autism; a Social Enterprise sup­porting Autistic people and their fam­i­lies and is founder and Chair of The Autistic Cooperative, an inter­na­tional net­work for Autistic-led Advocacy organ­i­sa­tions and Autistic Advocates.

He is also a named con­sul­tant on a number of dif­ferent research papers exploring Autistic Masking, Autistic Burnout, Mate crime, Autistic voice and Social Change; and values research that focuses on the pri­or­i­ties and needs of the Autistic com­mu­nity. Kieran values the impor­tance of equality-based col­lab­o­ra­tion between the Autistic Community and non-Autistic Charities, organ­i­sa­tions and people who listen, are invested in the Neurodiversity par­a­digm and social change; and recog­nise that those with dif­ferent neu­rolo­gies need sup­ported in ways that recog­nise and accept their dif­fer­ences and refrain from nor­mal­i­sa­tion.

Julie A. Roberts, M.S., CCC-SLP, Founder and Board President of SLP Neurodiversity Collective; Owner Bayou City Speech & Language; ASHA Certified Speech-Language Pathologist since 1999:

SLP Neurodiversity Collective was founded in January 2018 to sup­port Julie’s vision to serve Autistic and other Neurodivergent people and their fam­i­lies by pro­viding free access to a world-wide direc­tory of cre­den­tialed and licensed pro-neurodiversity-focused ther­a­pists, to advo­cate for changes in therapy prac­tices to reflect use of method­olo­gies and models which pre­sume competence,are non-trauma inducing, and respect human rights, dig­nity and sen­sory pref­er­ences.

Julie’s desire is for the SLP Neurodiversity Collective to actively partner with dis­abled people to pro­vide resources and edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­ni­ties to ther­a­pists and to the public. Throughout her career, she has served in var­ious health­care set­tings with both pedi­atric and adult pop­u­la­tions, and has held key health­care lead­er­ship posi­tions, including National Field Director of Corporate Compliance, and Multi-state Regional Clinical Director for the nation’s largest provider of rehab post-acute care. Julie is a pas­sionate and tire­less patient rights advo­cate.

Amanda Merlin, M.A., CCC-SLP, Owner Discover Therapy Services NW; Co-Owner Artful Expressions Speech Therapy and Voice Training; ASHA Certified Speech Language Pathologist since 2011:

As an expe­ri­enced Speech-Language Pathologist, Healthcare Manager, and Business Owner, Amanda has found a way to bal­ance her pas­sions of edu­ca­tion and advo­cacy. She is espe­cially focused and has cen­tered her prac­tice and advanced edu­ca­tion around Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) and Assistive Technology (AT). When her father was diag­nosed with ALS, Amanda watched as he rapidly lost his ability to ver­bally com­mu­ni­cate.

His voice, both fig­u­ra­tively and lit­er­ally, was cen­tral to his per­son­ality; and its loss tremen­dously impacted how people judged, often wrongly, her father’s capa­bil­i­ties. Witnessing his decline, along with the ways he was unfairly robbed of the ability to fully express him­self, inspired Amanda to work dili­gently to ensure that as many people as pos­sible would have easy and unre­stricted access to AAC.

Amanda’s father’s mantra throughout his ill­ness was, “I don’t hope, I believe; hope leaves room for doubt.” His words still ring true in Amanda’s ears today, as she pas­sion­ately and tire­lessly advo­cates for Presuming Competence in all early com­mu­ni­ca­tors, as they receive their first com­mu­ni­ca­tion tools. We believe!


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