#61: "Inside the Psychologist's Office: From Evaluation to Empowerment with Dr. Taylor Day

Mar 03, 2024
#61: "Inside the Psychologist's Office: From Evaluation to Empowerment with Dr. Taylor Day
***For transcript of this episode, scroll down!


Uncover the world of autism from a psychologist's point of view with Dr. Taylor Day in this episode, "Inside the Psychologist's Office: From Evaluation to Empowerment." 🌈 🧠


🔍 Join me as I chat with Dr. Tay about:

    • Practical insights on autism evaluation 🤔
    • Signs parents should look for in their child 👀
    • Neurodiversity affirming care explained 🤝
    • Rethinking meltdowns: A psychologist's unique approach 🔄
    • Navigating the new buzzword "PDA" in the autistic community 🌐
    • Personal advice for parents on the autism journey 💖


Tune in now for an episode that goes beyond diagnosis, leading to empowerment and understanding. 🎙️🤝


Want to connect more with Dr. Tay? Find her at: 




Sam: Hello my friend and welcome back to the podcast.

Today I have such a treat for you.

We have a conversation that I know many of you will find

so incredibly valuable.

I had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Taylor Day,

a licensed psychologist who is deeply committed

to providing neurodivergent affirming care

for autistic children and their families.

In this episode, we dive into the practical aspects

of an autism evaluation

and what signs parents should look out for

that may indicate their child needs an evaluation Dr. Day

with her expertise in very early diagnosis

and early intervention shares insights

that every parent should consider.

We also touch on a topic

that's gaining attention in the autistic community, PDA

or pathological demand avoidance.

If you're new to this term, you're not alone.

I'm pretty new to it too. And Dr. Day sheds light on

what it means for parents when navigating this journey.

One aspect I love about Dr.

Tay is her commitment to being neurodiversity affirming.

I've honestly learned so much from her in this area

as she points out in this episode.

As providers are always learning

and this is ever changing, as a psychologist,

she brings such a refreshing perspective

that challenges conventional and outdated approaches.

For those of you who might be on the early stages

of this journey, perhaps just finding out

that your child might be autistic, this episode is a must.

For those of you who are new to Dr.

Te, let me tell you a little bit about her.

Dr. Taylor Day is a licensed psychologist specializing in

neurodivergent affirming care for autistic children

and their families, including very early

diagnosis and early intervention.

She has a PhD in clinical psychology and is the CEO

and founder of Dr.

Tay Concierge clinical care.

Her practice integrates the whole family approach,

a process she created utilizing evidence-informed principles

after seeing a gap in autism care.

Her passion for child psychology

and her focus on autism is in many ways tied

to her own personal experience.

Growing up with a brother who was diagnosed at 23 months

of age, okay, I could gush about Dr.

T forever because I really did learn

so much just in this episode

and from her since we first connected.

But instead, let's get to the show so you can too.

Sam: Hey Tay, I'm so excited to have you here

because I've learned so much from you since we connected.

I think it's been what, maybe a year and a half now.

Um, and I have learned so much from you

and we're gonna talk more about that

'cause I have a specific part that I wanna talk

to you about, um, things that I've learned from you.

But before we get started,

can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

Taylor: Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you for having me.

I'm excited to be here today. So my name is Dr. Taylor Day.

I am a licensed psychologist

and I specialize in working

with autistic children and their families.

I love coming at everything from a whole family approach of

how can we support the entire family

because the reality is autism doesn't just impact

the autistic child.

And um, always focused on providing

neurodivergent affirming care.

You know, constantly listening to the autistic community

about, you know, what their experiences are

and how we can get better at, you know,

supporting autistic children as they grow.

Sam: Awesome. What exactly does an autism evaluation look like?

I know a lot of parents are kind of new on this journey.

Yeah, they wanna get started.

They wanna do an evaluation,

but it's also a little nerve wracking

'cause you don't really know what to expect.

So going in, what's something that they would expect?

Taylor: Yeah, I mean, I think one thing to caveat this with,

as a licensed psychologist,

I do diagnostic evaluations all the time.

And you might see a psychologist,

you might see like a developmental behavioral pediatrician,

you might see a neurologist.

You know, there's so many different providers

that you might see in this diagnosis process.

And the reason I share that is it can look different

depending on what type of provider you go to.

Um, I often find that, and,

and this isn't just my bias, a lot

of times we'll even get more in-depth referrals.

Psychologists tend to do more testing

and often see the patient in the evaluation period

for a longer time.

And so what my evaluations look like is I'm doing a clinical

interview with you as the parent.

It's super important for me to hear your perspective

because you are the expert of your child.

And I only get to see your child for a snapshot in time.

And I think it's super important to understand

what they're like on a day-to-day basis.

There's some type of observation, you know,

if you are in in in-person setting, a lot of times

that's the ados, the autism diagnostic observation schedule.

I do exclusively telehealth evaluations

'cause I practice in nearly 40 states.

And so while I can't use the ados, I've done the ADOS

for a decade and there's other great tools for telehealth,

but same concept where the child is playing

or interacting, you know, with an adult, whether

that's me or the parent.

And we're observing signs and symptoms.

And then the last parts are, you know,

more standardized measures.

So usually that looks like a developmental assessment

or an IQ assessment

to understand the broad developmental picture of your child

and what their skills are like.

And then also having,

the way I do it is I usually have parents

and then either like teachers

or um, other therapists, um, that are working with the child

to report on what they're observing.

And these are standardized measures.

So what that means is it compares your child

to other children their same age

to know are they showing more autism symptoms than, uh, than

what would be expected at this age.

You know, are they showing more signs of inattention,

anxiety, all of that.

And that usually is part of the process is

how do we make sure this is truly autism

and not maybe a DHD.

And so that process is called differential diagnosis.

Sam: Oh, that's so interesting.

I didn't realize that the evaluations would look

so different depending on which provider you went to.

I thought it was more of like a standard evaluation.

Taylor: Yeah, I mean it,

even within psychology it can greatly vary hearing,

you know, some people will do more testing,

like neuropsychologists tend to do a lot, a lot of testing.

Um, but I would say I think some of it is the nature

of the medical model, um,

with more the developmental behavioral pediatrics

and neurology side.

They have a, just a smaller timeframe scheduled in

and listen, they can do absolutely wonderful

evaluations as well.

So that's not trying to say like psychology is better.

Psychology does tend to get the more complex cases, um,

where it's not as, you know, a parent.

Um, or also like a lot of kids when they're high masking,

they need more in-depth testing, things like that.

Sam: So I know one of the questions

that is gonna be asked is about that telehealth.

So what if my autistic child doesn't wanna be in front

of a screen is gonna be the question I know

that I'm gonna get asked.

Taylor: Yeah, I mean, telehealth isn't for everyone.

Um, that's I think something to keep in mind.

One of, I actually love it.

I worked in a clinic for 10 plus years

and saw kids in person.

And while there's benefits of both, I think one

of the things that I love about telehealth is they're,

they are in their natural environment

and they're typically interacting more,

especially the younger kids, more

with the parent than they are with me.

So then it's a familiar adult

and I find that especially like if anxiety comes into play,

that can often like lessen the, the anxiety

and the transition to a new environment and all of that.

And while that can be helpful data, I love being able

to see your child at baseline as much as possible.

I will say I've never had a parent at this point say, well,

my child won't even get on screen.

But that might be an indicator if that really is the case.

You know, maybe you do need to go

to an in-person evaluation,

or it might be looking at understanding

why won't your child get on screen?

Are they really anxious about that

and are they also gonna be anxious, you know,

in this unfamiliar environment.

So you could always chat with, you know, a provider.

I'm more than happy to have that conversation as well.

But the other piece that I wanna caveat to,

so sometimes people are like telehealth, like,

can that be accurate?

And I really, you know, again, doing evaluations

for over a decade, I am not finding them any less accurate.

If anything, I feel like I get a better sense of the child.

But one component that I absolutely include standardly

as part of my evaluations, I tell parents

to send me videos of their kid.

Like if they're like, Hey, my child, you know,

flaps his hands and I don't see that during the evaluation,

that doesn't mean your child doesn't flap his hands.

You know, I just didn't get that in my observation.

So I'll say, Hey, can you send me a video of that?

And I love being able to lay my eyes on it

and also, you know, parents being able

to show their kid in different contexts

and more natural environments.

So that is also a workaround that I, a workaround

but also a supplemental piece of my practice.

Sam: I found that so much too when I was doing online therapy

that the natural context, it makes so much of a difference.

And especially your coaching parents so much

and you're talking to the parents so much

that the kids are naturally doing more of

what they would naturally do, Right?

Taylor: Oh, for

sure. And you know, on the therapy side,

I do telehealth therapy

and I think sometimes there can be this misconception

of like, telehealth therapy means your kid has

to sit in front of the screen and like on Zoom.

And that's the thing, if someone

uses neurodivergent affirming approaches,

they're gonna be okay with your kid running around.

I literally have a girl I see right now,

actually the behavior has faded,

but I was totally fine with it.

She would do gymnastics during our SES sessions,

like flipping, but sometimes then I'd be like, okay,

you're gonna do a cartwheel if it's this answer

and you know, a back benefits this answer

and getting her moving.

And we still absolutely could progress through session.

Also, it's okay if your kid's off screen

for the therapy piece.

The the assessment piece is a little bit more tricky

because I need to actually see those behaviors.

But yeah, I think telehealth has been such an incredible

addition to kind of our, our therapy world.

Sam: Yeah. And you know, the OT in me is loving

the movement piece there.

Yes, yes. So what are some signs that may indicate

to a parent that they might wanna look into in evaluation?

Taylor: Yeah, so one of the things that I always, always say,

and I think this is so important to keep in mind, is

to no one behavior is diagnostic.

And so what I mean by that is you're not gonna be able

to find one thing and say,

my child has autism, and vice versa.

If you, this is a common thing unfortunately I hear a lot is

like, well, my pediatrician says it's can't be autism

because they make eye contact.

And that's just not the nature of, you know, how,

how this disability works

and how the diagnostic criteria works.

But really when we're looking at, you know, autism

as a whole, we're looking for diff difficulties

or differences in social communication and interaction.

So is your child, you know, interacting as you would expect?

Are they, you know, do they prefer to be around people?

Are they able to play back and forth?

Have conversations back and forth.

Are you seeing, you know, them use gestures and eye contact?

Are they showing interest in same aged peers?

There's so many different things

that fall under that umbrella.

And then the other area are the restricted repetitive

behaviors, and we have to have at least two

of the four areas there.

And so this might look like repetitive body movements,

rocking, spinning, jumping flapping,

or, um, you know, more what we call ele

where your kid is scripting or repeating things.

That's one element.

We have the sensory differences,

which I know I'm sure on your podcast you talk about all the

time, whether that's seeking out sensory

or, you know, sensory is more difficult,

like loud noises being oversensitive to that

or hypersensitive to that.

The third area is difficulty with transitions and change.

So this can look like you really have to follow a routine

for your child, um, or if it deviates

or they want you to do th things in certain ways

or things need to, the environment's gotta be tidy in some

way before they'll do something.

And then the fourth area is their interest.

So really, you know, are do they have interests

that are either more intense

for their age than you'd expect or unusual?

And so we have to have those

and so we're looking at it overall.

And so I will say actually, um, I have,

I've shared a free resource with you.

It's a free PDF that parents can opt into

that's gonna break this down even more

and even talk through some of the,

the quote unquote less classic, um, autistic traits so

that you can inform yourself and, and start to know.

But I'm, I'm a huge proponent

of parents listening to their gut.

If you have concerns about your child's development,

looking into it, having an evaluation

or at least starting with your pediatrician

and having that conversation incredibly

and incredibly helpful.

Sam: So

Great. You already

answered my next question, which was,

what are some things that we might commonly miss,

but that's gonna be in your handout for us.

Taylor: Yeah, exactly. So,

Sam: So when do you recommend a parent get an evaluation?

Do they wait until a certain age if they're seeing things

really young, should they do it sooner rather than later?

Taylor: Yeah, so I think this answer often shocks parents,

I'll say it often shocks even people

like other professionals, teachers, all of that,

the answer is the sooner the better.

Um, but the thing with it is we don't need

to really wait for a certain age.

Really what that cutoff age is, is age one, right?

So if you're seeing concerns in the first year of life,

what I'd recommend doing is contacting your state's early

intervention system and ha starting there, seeing if,

you know, some supports can occur

and you know, your child would qualify for therapy.

In terms of the autism diagnostic piece though,

there has been a huge study showing

that we can start making diagnoses as young as 12 months

of age and that diagnoses are stable by 14 months of age.

Meaning we can really reliably preti predict autism at

14 months of age and say, listen,

they're meeting diagnostic criteria.

I think that's a shock to most people

because what we know in the US the average age

of diagnosis right now is about four and a half.

Um, and that's, you know, kind of a systems issue,

being able to get access, also misinformation of, you know,

sometimes providers will say like, well,

I can't see your kid till age three.

The thing to keep in mind, not every provider has this

early, early expertise in the, you know, very,

very early development.

I said that weird, but early,

they don't have an expertise in very early development.

And, um, that is important.

So if you're being told no

and your child's under three, like we don't see kids

that young keep calling around, keep looking for people

who do see kids at a much younger age

and just know that it is possible.

The other thing that I tell parents is particularly if

you're going through your health insurance, there tends

to be very, very long wait lists.

And so with that being said,

get them on the wait list now, right?

And it still could be six to 12 months

before you're ever seeing someone.

Um, and so the earlier the better that you can get

that support is always what I say

Sam: That is really so shocking to me.

Not that the earlier the better,

but that you can really have those early predictors at the

12 to 14 months because so many parents that I've talked

to have been told to come back at two mm-Hmm.

That's like our cutoff in the area - like come back when they're two years old.

So great to know that they don't have to wait that long.

Taylor: Yeah. And I do think it's hard to find providers

that will see kids under two or three.

Um, like right now I have a 17 month old on my caseload,

you know, and the really cool thing about my practice,

the way I run things, um, is I am outta network

with insurance just to be candid about that.

But by doing that, I'm able to kind of have a system

that really is optimizing getting your child seen sooner.

And so right now at the time we're recording this, you know,

it's January and parents can be seen in February

and have answers by the end of February.

So super quick, um, and helping you to get answers,

but so not all providers will be able

to see your child at a really young age.

The little little ones are my favorite.

And I did quite intensive training on the earliest diagnosis

as part of my doctoral training, so

Oh, so nice that parents can get in so quick. Yeah,

Sam: Yeah. So

let's shift a little bit yeah. Into treatment.

What does a session look like as a psychologist

who supports autistic children?

What's a typical day?

Taylor: I mean, it is across the map.

I mean, I could go from one session

where we're doing early intervention support,

which is very play-based child led in its parent coaching

where, you know, ultimately I am, you know,

helping the parent how to engage with their child, how

to follow their child's lead, how

to promote their social communication, how, I mean,

a common common thing I'm talking about is

how do we acknowledge and validate any form of communication

because they are all valid.

It could also look like talking

with a parent about an a a C device, an augmentative,

an alternative communication device of, okay,

how can we help support this?

So that's one, one realm.

We might also be talking, you know,

on the older age range side

of the age range about like co-occurring anxiety or A DHD

and how do we support that, um,

and really help to lessen anxiety symptoms

or help to maximize the child's attention.

Um, and then, uh, I'd say my most common referral right now,

which I I know we're gonna get into is the,

the PDA profile, which stands

for pathological demand avoidance

or the autistic community really prefers

persistent drive for autonomy.

And what it is, is your kid's body goes into fight

or flight in response to any perceived loss of autonomy

or demand.

And it really is this dysregulation that happens.

Um, sometimes these kids can be diagnosed with, um,

ODD oppositional defiant disorder,

and then sometimes they can be also diagnosed

with like anxiety.

It can kind of manifest in different ways.

But that is probably my biggest referral right now.

Sam: That has been something that has become so widespread,

I feel like over Instagram in the last couple months

that I had never heard of before.

So thank you so much for explaining what that is. Yeah.

What should parents look out for for that?

Taylor: Yeah, I mean, I do think we're seeing increasing

popularity on social media

and I think the charges largely being led by parents

that have a PDA child

or by providers, you know, who have really done a deep dive.

But the reality is, Sam, just like you,

I didn't know about it.

I I would say I heard about it a couple years ago,

but really committing to being like,

I'm gonna dive into it was within the last year.

Um, and I think, so don't be shocked if you bring this up

to your child's provider

and they're like, that's not a real thing.

I don't know what you're talking about.

It is not in the DSM five, which is how we diagnose things.

Um, and so that's, I hope we see that evolution

because I will say,

and then I'll answer your question,

I will say when I see it, it makes so, so much sense.

Um, but yeah, I think that that's the nature

and it's just really now getting to the US it,

it really kind of rose first in the uk.

So what it looks like, again, like I said,

your child could be diagnosed with co-occurring ODD,

oppositional defiant disorder, um, and

or like really, really high anxiety where it's hard

to do anything but things to look for honestly is

as a parent, you're feeling like your kid is constantly like

rejecting any of your suggestions

or when you're telling them to do something, you feel like

as a parent you're walking on eggshells.

Like they can go from zero to a hundred,

like instantaneously, um, a lot of negotiating

or your kid correcting you.

And then this is a really interesting one

where your child is like a completely different child at

school and the teachers are like, we see zero concerns

and then they come home

and they're completely melting down at home.

This is because often, not always,

but often PDA is accompanied by high masking autism.

And so kids hold it together all day long

and try to like comply with the demands and follow the rules

and, you know, make sure they're fitting in

and then their nervous system is completely tapped

because this is a nervous system disability

and they come home and they just can't hold

it together anymore.

And so then you end up getting, you know, more of that,

I'll say quote unquote challenging behavior.

Sam: Oh, I can think of so many children who go to school

and they are like, oh,

everything's great, everything's fine.

And then they come home and they get to their safe person

and yeah, just everything breaks loose

because they're so tired

by the end of the day of masking it all.

Taylor: Yeah, exactly. And I think what's

so hard is parents can sometimes feel like they're crazy

when they get that feedback of,

and sometimes it happens too in therapy sessions where,

you know, I have a, a new kid on my caseload right now

that another psychologist, um,

who doesn't specialize in autism and all of that,

but was like, yeah, we're seeing nothing.

Everything's great and there's

so many challenges still at home.

And I think that sometimes too parents can feel crazy

of like, either what am I doing wrong?

Or like, am I just like totally making this up?

Like no one else sees it

and you feel like you're alone on your own island?

Sam: Oh, 100%.

So something else I really love about you is

that you are neurodiversity affirming, again,

I mentioned in the beginning things

that I have learned from you, I have learned

so much about language

and how to be a better neurodiversity affirming therapist.

But for people who maybe don't know what that means, can you

tell us what it means to be a neurodiversity

affirming psychologist?

Taylor: Yeah. Oh, that's such a great question.

And to try to articulate it.

I think one thing to keep in mind is this

is always evolving.

So when we record this right now, you know,

like a year from now, our knowledge may have well advanced.

And I think that's the thing too, is if you are a provider,

it's about just jumping in and starting to learn.

And one of the things that I think was hard

for me too is I came from a very evidence-based training

where everything you do has to be evidence-based.

What does the research say? That's exactly how we do it.

And what I've learned through, you know,

this neurodiversity, which is that

all brains think differently.

And then under the neurodiversity umbrella we have

neurodivergence, which is saying that basically that kids

or even adults that are neurodivergent, diverge from

what is neurotypical.

Um, and so often, you know, A DHD, autism

Learning disorders, um, Tourettes, like

so many things fall under this neurodivergence umbrella.

And so by being an affirming provider, it's a couple things.

You know, within the autism field it's about listening

to autistic individuals,

but as a whole it's about listening

to neurodivergent individuals about their lived experience.

That becomes really important.

It's about honoring, you know, all forms

of communication being valid.

So if your child needs to use an a a C device, you know,

then we're not prompting them to say, okay,

now say it back to me.

We're we're taking that as communication.

Or if they're, you know, they're trying to make a gesture

and pointing at something, then again, we're not prompting

for additional communication.

Granted, there are ways that you can help

to progress your child's communication.

It's not, not saying that,

but it's realizing that that form of communication is valid.

I think it's also things,

and Sam, I know you're really big on this like

with sensory regulation and honoring that,

and it's about recognizing

that our world is very neurotypical

and we have all these standards

and they might not serve, um, neurodivergent children

or autistic children.

And how do we make accommodations?

And that ultimately, two, coming back

to the being a psychologist, what my goal is, my goal is to,

number one, help parents learn

how their child's brain works, right?

How is your child's brain wired when we can start to see

that pattern that is, you know, autism.

Yes. In the DSM we talk only about deficits,

but autism is made up of your child's strengths

and your child's differences.

And when we can see your child holistically for who they are

and provide, you know, supports where needed

and promote their strengths, that's what it comes down to.

And so the goals with therapy isn't trying

to teach the child how to look more neurotypical,

it's trying to help them truly

thrive with who they, they're.

Sam: Oh, amazing. When it comes to the sensory challenges part,

I always tell parents

and my communities

that when I'm saying somebody has a sensory challenge,

I'm not saying that there's a problem with that child

or with that person, but rather that there's a mismatch

between our world that we live in and their personal needs.

'cause we all have personal needs,

we all have personal sensory preferences,

but it's that difference of the world isn't meeting them

where they're at because we do live in that typical world.

Taylor: Absolutely. And I gotta say on the sensory side, I, so

for those listening, Sam was on my podcast, um,

it was episode 18, my podcast has evolved with Dr.

Tay. I learned so much from you in

that episode about the different sensory systems

and how there's eight senses.

I literally like repeat that to parents all the time

and are talking, you know, about proprioception for example,

and you know how important that is

and making sure that kids are able to get, you know, that

that sensory system satisfied in the way that they need.

And I, I reference people back

to the podcast literally just yesterday I sent it

to someone, so Oh, so

Glad. Yeah,

so good and so helpful.

And it, I think that's one other thing though

that I am finding is like being a neurodivergent affirming

psychologist, I am pulling from different modalities

and some of this is also how I run my practice.

I provide a lot of care coordination

and so I like to be in the know,

but I also think like there is overlap, right?

As a psychologist, yes,

sensory is like your realm of expertise.

And as a psychologist I can talk about it

and sometimes I'll talk about it

and then talk about how, you know, with the OT,

we need to be talking about this.

Or as you said on my podcast, not all,

all OTs really know the sensory piece.

Just like speech language pathologists, not all

of them know about gestalt language processing.

So sometimes as a psychologist, I'm bringing these up,

things up, I'm starting to support them,

and then I'm doing care coordination with the other members

of the team to talk about how, you know,

how this is coming into play and what do they know about it

and how we can collaborate

or at least empowering the parent

to have those conversations with their team members as well.

Sam: Oh, so important because when it comes to

looking at a child, we really do need to look at it

through all those different lenses.

So as a provider you need

to understand a little bit about

each of those different things.


Taylor: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So I always find that helpful.

Sam: Yes. So again, changing realms again to some questions

that we're asked from our community.

Yeah, let's talk about meltdowns.

So you have a different take on meltdowns than many

psychologists do, and it's one that I absolutely love.

So you mentioned on your Instagram page,

and I think maybe not the many psychologists,

but that we did in the past.

Taylor: Yes. Right. The conventional treatment was kind

of a behavioral approach, right?

That you wanna ignore a behavior.

And I was totally taught that when I was coming out

of school a hundred percent when

we were going into the clinics.

But you do something different. Can you explain that?

Yeah. I really love conceptualizing

and meltdowns as one, the sensory system is overloaded.

And I, I think it's very analogous, honestly,

as adults when we hit our limit

and we completely lose it, the thing is that we have

so many other skills and abilities

and even our prefrontal cortex is

so much more developed than kids.

And so we don't hit it as often.

Um, but for, you know, some, for many autistic children,

their sensory systems get very over overloaded.

And so I really come at it from that standpoint of like,

okay, you know, this is an indication of that

and it's showing that, okay, moving forward,

how do we proactively start to support some of that

and help with some of that regulation?

And then number two is

that meltdowns are communicative, right?

So a lot of times it's like, okay, you have

this like quote unquote behavior

and you, you're told to ignore it.

Well, more likely than not what happened, the child got to

that point because all of their communication strategies

before weren't being recognized and affirmed.

And so then by further ignoring them, you know, and,

and we don't ignore their other intention, their

communication bids intentionally, it's usually

because it doesn't fit our neurotypical standards

of a child saying, I need help.

It might literally start

to look like your child's wiggling in their seat

or they're pushing something away saying they don't want it.

And because it's not ac company accompanied by spoken

language or spoken communication,

we often don't recognize these early signs.

And so it's about supporting those early signs.

It when a child's in meltdown,

it's literally about just helping

to support them through that.

Um, and providing, I think comfort and you know,

and every child's different in what they need in

that moment, but I just think it's so important.

And at the end of the day, as human beings, we want all want

to feel seen, heard and validated,

and this is your autistic child's way to say that they need

that and that they maybe in different ways

haven't been receiving that.

And so I find it an indicator just to slow down

and be present in that moment.

Sam: Oh yes. And I think every

meltdown too is a learning moment.

I think parents can learn so much by going back

and kind of taking our emotion out of it for a second

and being like, what, what did we miss?

What happened here? But another question

is the tantrums versus meltdowns.

So are they the same? Can one turn into the other?

Taylor: So it's so interesting

because I literally just recorded a podcast episode on this

and I don't know what number it will be,

but by the time ours air it will be on my podcast.

And it was, um, with a speech language pathologist,

we were having this conversation

and you know, we actually didn't agree on this.

So, um, which is interesting to think about,

but it's funny, it made sense why we didn't agree with it.

So she was talking about how tantrums, um, ultimately,

you know, those are typical, right?

And usually too, they do tend

to be more behaviorally oriented

and they're, they're some intention to them versus meltdowns

ultimately, like I said, are

that like nervous system overwhelm.

Um, and so she would say, no, I sit on the podcast

and we dive more into this.

So she doesn't think it can move from one to the other.

She thinks they're just separate.

I feel like it could start as a tantrum

and then, you know,

as the child's getting more dysregulated,

turn into a meltdown.

Um, so that's kind of my thought on it.

Um, but I ultimately do think for autistic children

or children who are neurodivergent maybe that have more

of these tantrums slash meltdowns, yes they are distinct,

but in some ways I, I think that maybe it doesn't matter

if one turns into the other

because I think our approaches can be very similar

with the exception of, you know, I was also taught about

ignoring there are, there are some exceptions

where if your child is exclusively having a tantrum

and I think this is more for neurotypical children,

that it actually can be helpful just

to ignore that behavior.

Um, so it's not an all or nothing thing,

but I often, yeah, coming at it from the standpoint

of more likely than not, this is a connection seeking moment

and that's what they're looking for.

And so, so how can we honor that and make that our default

and not worry too much about the terminology.


Sam: Oh, I love that approach

and I'm super interested for this episode.

I can't wait for it to come out.

Taylor: Yeah, yeah. It was a quite an in-depth conversation on

this question pretty much. So.

Oh, I'm definitely gonna dive into that one, one.


Sam: So what is the number one thing you would wanna tell a

parent leaving here today?

Taylor: I think that you are the expert of your child.

And I think we've had this conversation

and I think a lot of providers are

so amazing in sharing this.

And unfortunately there's a lot of systems right now

that don't always empower you as the parent, whether

that's the medical system or the educational system, and,

but recognizing that you are the expert.

And so what that means is that you absolutely have the right

to be able to advocate for your child, to be able

to give your opinion, to be able to ask for things

and say, this is the way that I want it done.

I don't feel comfortable with these other ways.

And so I think that is incredibly important just

to remember, to empower yourself, to be willing

to advocate and listen.

That can be really hard too. So don't be afraid.

It could like be standing in front of the mirror

and rehearsing this of saying, no, that's not what I want.

What other alternatives can we explore?

I also love coming at it from this perspective

of acknowledging what the other person says, validating

what they say and saying, and I see it different.

How can we collaborate together?

But your voice absolutely matters.

And if you find you're working within teams

that don't empower you as the parent, if possible,

it is okay to find another provider, right?

And you should feel like they value and respect your input.


Sam: Oh, so great. Everything about this episode.

I already know. I can't wait to go back

and listen to this again 'cause there is so much in here.

I'm like, oh wait, I wanna remember this.

Taylor: We Covered a lot.

Sam: We covered a lot. Thank you so much for being here today.

Where can everybody find you?

Taylor: Yeah, so my website is Dr. Taylor Day.

Um, that's a great place

that if you're interested in exploring services, um,

like I said, I practice in about 40 states right now.

So it's, it's a good chance that your state is one of them.

Um, in terms of diagnosis

or therapy, I do one-to-one therapy as well

as have a group therapy model.

That's a great place. But

otherwise, I just love being able to provide free education

and free resources

because I know as a parent it's so hard to find.

So on Instagram and TikTok, I am the Dr.

Tay with periods in between. So the period, Dr. Period, Tay.

Um, and then my podcast is evolve with Dr. Tay.

Like I said, Sam was on episode 18, so amazing.

And then we'll also link the free PDF, um,

in the show notes, I think, um, so that parents can download

that and learn more about, you know, is in evaluation,

something that they should pursue for their child.

Sam: Yeah, I'm gonna link all this in the show notes

for everybody, so perfect.

Go over, grab her free handout

and make sure to listen to her

podcast 'cause it's really good. Thanks again, Taylor.

Taylor: Thanks for having me.



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