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Autism Podcast Review: Autism Parenting Secrets

Len and Cass started the Autism Parenting Secrets podcast to “reach out to amazing parents and get them even more empowered than they are to help their children.”

Autism Podcast Review: Autism Parenting Secrets

Len and Cass Arcuri

Seventeen years ago, Len and Cass Arcuri looked to the future with optimism. They had great jobs, lived in New York City with access to top healthcare experts, and were confident they could handle any issue that came their way.

Their world changed, however, after their first child was born. Shortly after Ry’s first birthday, he started experiencing life-threatening allergies, not only to peanuts but to almost all foods. He suffered severe gastrointestinal problems and complications. Concurrently, his developmental progress stalled: his speech regressed, he exhibited some repetitive behaviours, and his play was solitary. At 18 months, he was diagnosed with “moderate to severe” autism, along with potentially deadly allergies and significant GI issues.

Len and Cass’ Story

As soon as Ry was diagnosed, Len became laser-focused on finding an expert to tell him what to do to make Ry’s autism disappear. That word “cure” loomed large in his brain. As a Six Sigma Master Blackbelt and an accomplished business problem solver, his mindset was that “autism was a defect that needed to be fixed.”

Yet since those early days, Len and Cass have transformed themselves from feeling isolated and exhausted to feeling uplifted and once again optimistic about the future. They have accomplished this by realizing that they and every other parent and caregiver must do what’s right for their child, not what society and experts tell them they should do.

Sometimes, these strategies have been unpopular. Ry’s pediatrician, for example, told them that dietary interventions were “nonsense and could even be dangerous.” While many of us might not challenge our doctor’s wisdom or disagree with this advice, they refused to accept it. They instinctively knew that food needed to be taken seriously for Ry, particularly given his severe allergies. And when Ry’s Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy, which had been helpful early on, stopped being effective, they made the bold decision to turn away from this government-supported service and pay out of their own pockets for a different therapeutic approach.

Len and Cass also started believing that environmental factors like toxins and mould contribute to autism. Since then, they have maintained a cleaner environment. The entire family only eats what Ry eats, and they are all healthier. Cass has also become a certified Health Coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Today, Ry is in grade 10 and thriving. He is mainstreamed with his neurotypical classmates, is happy and talkative, enjoys connecting with people, and has a strong interest in music. He grapples with his social communication and interaction skills, but Len believes that by letting go of expectations and meeting his needs rather than conforming to the pressure of what they were told to do, he and Cass have given Ry the room to blossom.

Len and Cass Arcuri Len and Cass Arcuri

The Autism Parenting Secrets podcast

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Len and Cass started the Autism Parenting Secrets podcast to “reach out to amazing parents and get them even more empowered than they are to help their children.” Len looks back and realizes there were so many things he wished he had known earlier.  He knows how much this knowledge would have helped them and wants to pay it forward.

Since launching in 2020, Autism Parenting Secrets has aired over 200 episodes, with a new episode every Thursday. Len points out that the podcast is all about parenting, not just autism parenting. The “Secrets” in the title refers to each episode revealing a key insight or secret for parents.

Len and Cass do not position themselves as parents who have all the answers or prescribe the best approach to listeners. Instead, they want caregivers to reframe their mindsets and implement what they know is best for their child and, in so doing, become their best ally. They believe it’s “all about parental transformation.” Each episode is easy to digest and informative, and it gives listeners a better understanding of what they can do.

I had the pleasure of being a guest on the podcast last June and can attest to the fact that Len and Cass do not push any agenda. Even though I have taken a somewhat different approach with my son than they have with Ry, they made me feel comfortable and validated. This is a testament to their mantra — and mine — that parents know their children better than anyone else and are the best decision-makers.

In addition to the podcast, Len and Cass offer personalized 1:1 coaching. They take a “holistic, functional and integrative approach…to equip parents with the insights, strategies and tools that fit their needs.” Virtual group coaching sessions are planned for later this year.

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We know that every autistic child is unique. Len points out that every parent is also unique, and there is no “one size fits all.” Join Len and Cass and learn to step into the driver’s seat.  As they say, “Go from Overwhelm to I’ve Got This!”

You can find Autism Parenting Secrets on all major podcast platforms and on Len and Cass’ website at autismparentingsecrets.com.

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Jan Stewart is a highly regarded mental health and neurodiversity advocate. Her brutally honest memoir Hold on Tight: A Parent’s Journey Raising Children with Mental Illness describes her emotional roller coaster story parenting two children with multiple mental health and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Her mission is to inspire and empower parents to persevere through the most difficult of times and have hope, as well as to better educate their families, friends, health care professionals, educators and employers. Jan chairs the Board of Directors at Kerry’s Place Autism Services, Canada’s largest autism services provider, and was previously Vice Chair at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

She spent most of her career as a senior Partner with the global executive search firm Egon Zehnder. Jan is a Diamond Life Master in bridge and enjoys fitness, genealogy and dance.

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