Announcement: SLP Neurodiversity Collective Important Bulletin

Adult woman laying on colorful rainbow rug with boy solving word problems with coloful magnet letters.

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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