Dr. Jonathan Tarbox to Present at Arizona Autism Conference

event042716Dr. Jonathan Tarbox to Present FirstSteps Research on Executive Function and Feeding Disorders at Arizona Autism Conference

Dr. Jonathan Tarbox, Director of Research and Regional Clinic Director at FirstSteps for Kids, is giving invited presentations at the Arizona Autism United Transdisciplinary Autism Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, April 29th.

Dr. Tarbox’s presentation, “Complex Skill Acquisition for Children with Autism,” will review recent research as well as present data from ongoing FirstSteps research projects on teaching complex executive function and perspective taking skills to children with autism. The presentation will review procedures for teaching a wide variety of skills, including attention, working memory, self-management, inhibition, and problem-solving.

Dr. Tarbox’s presentation, "How to Get Your Picky Eater to Love Eating a Healthy Variety of Foods,” provides real life strategies for parents to address picky eating in their children.

For more information, visit the conference website at

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Informative Article on the Resurgence of Facilitated Communication, a Disproven Autism Treatment

It is commonly said that history repeats itself. Unfortunately, in the autism community, this is all-too-often the case. Recent years have seen a resurgence of Facilitated Communication (FC), a treatment for autism that has been conclusively disproven by a large amount of scientific research in past decades (also, see discussion by Jacobson, Mulick, & Schwartz, 1995, FC is a teaching procedure for nonverbal individuals with developmental and communication disabilities, wherein a facilitator holds the person’s arm and guides them to point to letters to “type” out their communication. Blind evaluations have repeatedly shown that the facilitators unwittingly influence the individual by guiding them to communicate the facilitator’s thoughts, rather than the individual’s. 

FC is not harmless. There have been repeated cases, even here in Southern California, where children with autism, through FC, have allegedly accused parents of abuse, but where it was later proven that the child was not able to communicate even the simplest thoughts (e.g., asking for food), let alone reporting complex events that occurred in the past, without the facilitator moving their hand for them. New forms of FC have emerged in recent years, usually with new names. Fortunately, they are easy to spot. In every case, the individual with autism is permanently physically guided to communicate. Proponents of these sham procedures always offer some justification for the use of physical guidance, usually referring to challenges with motor skills or the need for emotional support. Of course, there is nothing wrong with accommodating motor challenges and providing emotional support. But physical guidance means that the individual with autism’s behavior is prompted - it is not true communication until they can do it independently. 

FC is not to be confused with Functional Communication Training (FCT), Picture Exchange Communication (PECS), and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). These are teaching procedures that have been shown by research to help individuals with autism to learn to communicate independently. All of these teaching procedures use physical guidance temporarily and physical guidance is faded out as rapidly as possible. Communication is not considered real until it occurs without physical guidance. 


Jonathan Tarbox, Ph.D., BCBA-D

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Tips For Parents: Sleep Deprived?

This is the first in a montly series of "Tips For Parents" that will cover a wide range of topics. 

This month we tackle the issue of sleep deprivation. A simple intervention to get your family back to sleep FAST!

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Introducing Our Newest Team Members

250 fsfk logoSince our last newsletter we have been busy expanding our clinical and administrative staff in all four of our offices. We are proud to announce our newest Team Members. 







JONATHAN TARBOX, Ph.D., BCBA-D - Director of Research and Regional Clinic Director [East Los Angeles]
TAYLOR BRADY - Program Manager [West Los Angeles]
JESSLYN FARROS, M.S., BCBA - Program Director [Contra Costa County]
EVELYN GOULD, M.Sc., BCBA - Program Director [West Los Angeles]
JENNIFER MCGEE, M.A., BCBA - Program Director [Hermosa Beach]
JESSICA PUSATERI, M.A. - Program Manager [West Los Angeles]
MARNIE WEITZMAN, M.S., BCBA - Program Director [Hermosa Beach]


 JAMES BORDER - Billing [Ventura County]
ELIZABETH DEBOER - Regional Administrative Coordinator [West Los Angeles]
DIANA DELGADO - Billing [Hermosa Beach]
OLIVIA ETRINGER - Billing [Hermosa Beach]
KATIE LAZAR - Regional Administrative Coordinator [Contra Costa County]
SCOTT MINDEAUX - Director of Technology & Design [Hermosa Beach]
JO ASH SAKULA - Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator [Hermosa Beach]
APRIL SNOOK - Regional Scheduling Coordinator [Hermosa Beach]
NATALIA WORTH - Billing [Ventura County]

In addition to our Clinical and Administrative staff, FirstSteps has added over 75 Instructor/Behavior Therapists to our family as well.

Welcome everyone!

For more information, please visit and click on Our Team.

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Q&A: Hear from a Parent of a FirstSteps Graduate

AdobeStock 53662397 350pxExclusive Q&A

On June 5th, one of our beloved kiddos graduated from FirstSteps in our Hermosa Beach office. He had worked with many staff members over the years and while we are sad to see him go, we are excited to see him take the next steps in his life. His parents took some time to share their experience with FirstSteps from the beginning to their son's graduation.

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