Be a Detective with (and for) Neurodiverse Children with Holly Blanc Moses
October 26, 2021
Be a Detective with (and for) Neurodiverse Children with Holly Blanc Moses

We know that every child is created differently; that means they learn and communicate differently too. Sometimes that can be frustrating—for both the child and the caregiver or parent.

Imagine trying to communicate in your own way and having others think you’re acting out or “misbehaving” on purpose. Often our neurodiverse kiddos are just trying to be heard but they don’t know how to communicate their needs and wants.

On this episode, we’re talking with Holly Blanc Moses, a psychologist and behavior expert who helps support neurodiverse children and their families to help improve communication and reduce frustration for everyone involved.

You’ll hear her offer communication alternatives that take children’s differences into account and give ideas of how we can all be detectives to truly get to the root of the child’s needs—which is exactly what we all need to do if we want inclusive, supportive environments for our kids.

Listen in now!


About Holly Blanc Moses:

Holly Blanc Moses is a psychologist and behavior expert with 21 years of experience supporting children with autism, ADHD, and anxiety.  She helps parents, teachers, and therapists guide children more effectively, and reduce challenging behavior.


Jump in the Conversation:

  • [1:48] Why Holly supports neurodiverse students and families
  • [4:08] What holly has created to help kids and families
  • [5:55] Behavior is communication
  • [8:30] Reasons why people behave the way they do
  • [14:45] Strategies to support a child in the moment and curb these moments in the future
  • [18:09] It’s not that the kids don’t care; they don’t have what they need
  • [18:40] What parents can do at home to support their kids
  • [23:55] What’s coming up for Holly
  • [25:18] Turbo Time
  • [35:08] Holly’s magic wand
  • [37:10] Maureen’s takeaways


Links & Resources:

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show.



Maureen O’Shaughnessy  0:03  

Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at Education Evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely Committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  0:49  

If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:08  

Hi, Holly. It is so good to have you today.


Holly Blanc Moses  1:11  

Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:15  

And listeners today I’m chatting with Holly Blanc Moses. She’s a psychologist, consultant, speaker, and author. One of the parents that my micro school is a big fan of Holly’s parents support Facebook group, and podcast. So she introduced us and I am grateful. Holly increases the success of differently wired children by providing doable, effective strategies to parents and professionals. So let’s hear how Holly makes this happen. First question for you, Holly. What has led you to devote so much energy to supporting our neuro diverse students and their families?


Holly Blanc Moses  1:55  

What I noticed and I noticed this when I was younger, specifically in middle school, I started to notice how children with autism, ADHD and learning differences, were kind of separated from the neurotypical. That’s how old I am. I’ll be 2020, gosh, no 47 soon, maybe I was wishing there were. So I remember when everybody was separate. And sometimes I would see people that were differently wired in the hallways, and maybe sometimes they were allowed to join us at lunchtime. 


Holly Blanc Moses  2:36  

But it just seemed like such a divide to me. And I didn’t understand why we were separated, it didn’t seem fair. It seemed like we could make everybody come together and make it work. But we just didn’t do it. We didn’t talk about it. And so that’s when I really became passionate about working with differently wired children, young adults and their families. Because again, this divide doesn’t need to be there, we can figure out how to bring everyone together in the same room.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  3:15  

I love that I’m working right now with my students on passion projects. And we talk about what need do you see in the world? And what breaks your heart? And what are your gifts? And it’s always interesting to hear the why behind the amazing work people are doing. So thank you for sharing that Genesis story.


Holly Blanc Moses  3:33  

Wow, you’re welcome. Yeah, it’s definitely been it was sad, right? And that our passions come out of things like that, like what do we find that we see needs changed? 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  3:47  



Holly Blanc Moses  3:47  

and what are we gonna do about it?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  3:49  

Yes. And me wasn’t even sad. I was furious, though. Yeah, my daughter’s had in high school. And I was like, I’ll do better. It was a silly last words, you know, but yeah, when our hearts engaged, that’s when we can really make a difference. And obviously, you are so talk to us about what you’ve created.


Holly Blanc Moses  4:09  

Thank you. Yes. So I do have a private practice where I see patients and their families and my office. I also consult with other professionals who want to learn more about how to effectively work with this population. I also have online courses and I’ve got some Facebook groups where people can come together, I have the wired differently Facebook group for professionals, where we can come together as mental health therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and educators and really help each other and support each other be the best that we can for children and families. 


Holly Blanc Moses  4:51  

And then Facebook group for parents, which they are all incredibly supportive and loving and give great information. To each other, I think that parents have differently where kids are the best out there because they know what’s happening if they don’t be figured out and ask other people, which I love.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  5:14  

Yes, absolutely. And they’re so willing to share. And they also have the empathy. I read on a Facebook group yesterday, somebody saying, if you’re the parent of the kid who lost it, and you had to take them out of this event, I hope you know, we were seeing you through eyes of empathy and not judgment. I was like, Yeah, I hope that parents saw that. 


Holly Blanc Moses  5:36  

Love it. Yes. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  5:38  

So we have a consultant on our school’s Dream Team, and SLP, and OT and a counselor that really add extra layers and nuances to what we do at our school. And this consultant always reminds us behavior is communication. Could you please comment on this important idea?


Holly Blanc Moses  5:59  

Absolutely. I love it. First, we have to start where we experience our fear our physiological reaction to challenging behavior, it’s going to be there, right? We want a reason humans want reasons. For behavior, we want to make sense out of all this stuff. The first reason that they can’t come to us whether we’re a parent or professional, is they did this on purpose. Our trying to drive us crazy, or these purposeful words that come in and not because we’re mean and not because we’re bad people, it’s because we’re automatically trying to make sense as humans. 


Holly Blanc Moses  6:43  

And so when we start out that way, we are going to have feelings that come in naturally, like anger, frustration, irritation, all of those things. But once we step back and look at the whole picture, it turns out, it’s not purposeful, it turns out that it comes from a place of communication. And I’m so glad that you brought that what if a child could communicate with words or some kind of device or pictures, whatever that is, all because they have a way to communicate with you does not mean that behavior then becomes not communicative. 


Holly Blanc Moses  7:25  

So oftentimes, they’re having a similar frustration or similar, illogical reaction to what’s happening in the environment, or what’s happening inside them that we have no clue about. And that’s important to remember, because that can bring down our frustration, anger, and we handle it in such a bigger way. Because there’s always a reason why it’s not personal, my 17 year old was all kinds of a mess this morning. Oh, felt very personal to me. Because I had that natural physiological reaction where I would have that diet. 


Holly Blanc Moses  8:08  

And the behavior expert, my friends. To have the feeling it’s natural humans have it. What is not okay is to turn around and just put them down, criticize them, tell them they know better, all these things, because that gets us nowhere. We’ve got two very upset people. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  8:30  



Holly Blanc Moses  8:30  

So when we look at the reasons why people behave in the way they do, it turns out mostly it’s they’re trying to tell us something, but they can’t. They can’t. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  8:41  



Holly Blanc Moses  8:41  

so when we expect them to. So there’s this big expectation gap between what we expect our children to do and what they can. They’re not typically going to come up and say, Hey, Mom, I’m feeling really sad about this. And I’m uncomfortable because I’m hungry. I’m pretty tired. I didn’t sleep well, last night. Most adults can’t do that. Adults can’t do it. No. 


Holly Blanc Moses  9:03  

Why do we expect kids who are built differently to come up and communicate that way with us? They don’t what we might see is yelling, crying, screaming, rolling up in a ball. I mean, you see these things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re trying to be mean to you or give you a hard time. It’s because they’re doing the best they can with what they have in the moment. And we all have to remember that we all have meltdowns. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  9:34  

Yes, definitely. That makes me think my daughter got an autism diagnosis in going into sixth grade. But when she was little, I used to constantly have to say use your words I swears oral speaking was her second language, you know, and she would even like raise her eyebrows to communicate. Yeah, that’s fine. Like, talk to me. You know, so much was going on in her inner world. And it was almost like she had to translate it. And I had to remind her to translate it to, you know, oral language so that I knew what she was wanting and use your word. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  10:10  

She’s in her 20s. And every now and then I still say, use your words when she’s upset because it’s like, tell me what’s going on. It’s, yeah, it’s not as easily said, as, as we would like, and for us to have that Grace. And that, yes, that space bubble to know, you know, sprayed on Teflon, whatever it is to let it slide off of us. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  10:31  

This is not an attack on me. This is a kid who it’s gotten too loud. It’s gotten too crazy. There’s too many steps. Like you said, they didn’t sleep well. Their kitten is sick. Yeah, we have no way of knowing, but they’re definitely trying to tell us something. And I know old school was if a kid is misbehaving, they’re being naughty, and they deserve punishment. You know? It was a formula and no sense of what might be going on with this kid.


Holly Blanc Moses  11:00  

Oh, yes, I have such a relevant recent story for you.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  11:05  



Holly Blanc Moses  11:06  

Oh, watching and listening. We went to Target the other day, and my oldest son, he’s autistic, has learning differences and has severe ADHD. So he has a job at McDonald’s. And he with with help, he does really well. And we’re very excited for him. And he gets paid on a debit card. So he has a debit card, and he will call in, he has a gab wireless phone so he can contact us and let us know when he’s finishing up with school and all these other things. They don’t receive in pictures that it’s not a browser on it. So I love that nice. 


Holly Blanc Moses  11:46  

So he was in target. And he was checking his balance on his check card from his work. He did not realize that the headphones he bought the day before, didn’t show up as subtracted from the balance. And there was a delay, oh, no, we’re in the middle of checking out a target. Everyone goes to target. It’s like the place to be. He started screaming that I stole money from him. Oh, everyone, right. And the cashier doesn’t know what to do. He is melting down. And he’s much, much bigger than me. And he doesn’t look different than anyone else. So this is very confusing to everyone. 


Holly Blanc Moses  12:38  

And then people are giving me dirty looks like I’m stealing from my child I was Oh, of course, you’re going to have a big feeling just like I did. And again, I do this for a living. So I had to remember. First I had to get him safe. But he wasn’t trying to embarrass me. He was confused. He was communicating confusion. He didn’t understand why this money was taken out the next day, because he hadn’t spent any money that day. He spent it the day before. So once I got him calm down and out the store, I was able to explain why that there’s a delay there. And really, it was something he just didn’t he didn’t know. He wasn’t trying to be mean. Or I or nasty. I’m sure it looked like that. But that’s really what it wasn’t that at all.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  13:40  

Yes, a good example. And we all get frustrated when things aren’t going the way we anticipated. And yet some of us have different tools or more bandwidth but boy public public and on the spot a lot I’m sure there was a line behind them and


Holly Blanc Moses  13:59  

Oh there were so many people everywhere. So yeah, I and again, just an example to explain that. It was communication. He was communicating me to me that he was distressed, confused. He didn’t understand how to handle the situation.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  14:19  



Holly Blanc Moses  14:20  

And we have to remember that right in the moment even though we’re caught off guard and we don’t expect it and all these other things. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  14:30  

Yes. So when these meltdowns are these moments where students have too much on their plate, especially students with autism, or ADHD boat, my daughter has both and things overwhelm her more easily. She doesn’t have the same filters as everybody else she doesn’t perceive and take in all the social cues as well as her younger sister others might. What would be a couple of strategies you’d suggest parents and teachers do to support a student in the moment, and then perhaps to help make it so that that moment doesn’t happen as frequently?


Holly Blanc Moses  15:07  

Definitely, that’s such a good question. When it comes to the school in particular, there are lots of things to consider. We have to think about the environment. What is that? Like? Oftentimes, I mean, my son will tell me, the lights are horrible for him. They’re terrible. Some of the sounds he is very sensitive to some smells, to the point where he can’t think of anything else But that smell. So all because you have a body in the chair, Does not mean They’re learning. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  15:43  

Right, Right. 


Holly Blanc Moses  15:45  

If a child tears up a paper, there’s so much behind that. So first, I think about what’s happening in the environment for that child, what is what’s occurring for them, sometimes they could be bullied, and the person bullying them or making comments is quiet. This has happened to my kids. And the teacher thinks that comes out of nowhere. And then that person defense, they’re super busy, they’re trying to teach a big class, it could be that they are upset for something that happened earlier, it could have been a combination of things where it’s before lunch, and they really need a snack earlier than me, then they do. 


Holly Blanc Moses  16:25  

But they don’t recognize that they just know they’re more irritated. It could be again, a combination of, I have to take notes. And fine motor skills are difficult for me, and I am having a hard time understanding what I’m supposed to write down. Or even if it’s up on the board, how do I listen and write at the same time, it gets very overwhelming. And again, those are just a few things to consider. 


Holly Blanc Moses  16:53  

We have to ask, why is this hard? Man, the work is too hard. Maybe it’s too easy. Maybe it’s too boring. Maybe it’s not clear, the instructions aren’t and they’re looking around and they’re anxious? Because everyone else seems to know what to do. But them? Yeah, there are so many things. So I think of it as Let’s be amateur detectives, right?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  17:19  

I love that. Yes, 


Holly Blanc Moses  17:21  

let’s do it. I’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of kids over the last 21 years. And I’ve seen kids that will shut down in class, their heads will be down. Because they thought someone was looking at them. And it was uncomfortable. So then it was their behavior was considered oppositional. They were refusing to put their head up. And it had nothing to do with him. Except that was uncomfortable. And he couldn’t communicate that to him. 


Holly Blanc Moses  17:51  

I have seen kids shut down especially around writing. Yes. Really hard. I know my youngest son has a lot of problems with writing. He’s an occupational therapy. He it his hands hurt. He can’t figure out the words to put down. And it’s not that these kids don’t care. And I think oftentimes that is what looks like, they don’t care. They don’t want to do it. But really, it’s they don’t have what they need to accomplish what’s expected. So we really have to look at all of those things.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  18:24  

I appreciate that. Yes, I agree. No kid comes to school saying, I want to fail today. I want to be miserable today. I want to cause troubles today. It’s like, wait 


Holly Blanc Moses  18:35  

all day. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  18:36  

Exactly. Yeah, that’s my idea of a great time. Yeah right. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  18:40  

Oh, so on the homefront? What are a couple suggestions you would make to parents kind of giving our kids some extra tools. Since communication is hard. Any adolescent, they’re very self aware, almost self absorbed developmentally, but expressing that to others. It’s such a developmental task for all adolescents, and then those that are differently wired. How can we as parents, maybe help set them up for success?


Holly Blanc Moses  19:10  

I love that. So really thinking about it is it’s not what you expect. When you start there, you’re not going to go to what to expect book. That doesn’t really work. When we step back and look at evaluations and assessments. We see often these jumps in skills, they don’t typically develop in the same way. So maybe communication and the words and the way we expect them to communicate to us just isn’t going to be working for them. There are so many beautiful and creative ways to help with that. And I’ll just name a few. And of course it depends on that child’s needs. It could be that they do better. 


Holly Blanc Moses  19:55  

With a whiteboard, I have a few offices in my suite. I have giant whiteboards and each room, because I use them all the time. If I’m on telehealth, you better believe I’m using a digital whiteboard. It could be that you’re starting out in the moment where a child is starting to get frustrated, or you’re just checking in to see how they’re doing or feeling in that moment, it might be a picture that they point to or circle, it might be that that helps with self awareness as well. It could be that there is a fill in sentence, for instance, I wish blank. 


Holly Blanc Moses  20:34  

And they tell you verbally, or they write it in, and again, totally up to them. That’s their choice. It could be that when you present a math worksheet, you right at the top, try once and then ask for help. Yes. If it’s a card on the table, when you flip it to show the teacher that you need help, it’s all these ways to communicate what’s happening for that child. 


Holly Blanc Moses  21:05  

So for instance, if work is too hard, too easy, too boring, too long. You know, any of those things, they can circle, which ones are true for them. for that particular assignment. There’s so many really cool ways to use visuals and choice, and fill ins and all these things that we can do to help them communicate even more. I mean, sometimes I’ll have a few pictures, and I’ll say, line them up for me, what do you think about this, and it might be tired and hungry and nover? No verbalization. 


Holly Blanc Moses  21:40  

At this point, we’re just lining up in a row, what build up, I’ll use blocks to show what’s been building up. I’ll use pictures of mountain whatever works for that child and definitely want to dig into their special interest and use it creatively to help with communication as well.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  21:59  

Oh, my gosh, yes, I know. And our ot is constantly talking about more visuals. And so we’ll have one teacher explaining and another teacher will be writing the code to be writing the steps on the board, we do a lot of visuals, and your ideas fill in the blank, boy, sometimes somebody could just get me started. Maureen, can you tell me what’s bothering you right now even if I’m just sitting there, you know, if they could even just get me started. So you fill in the blank wouldn’t be nice for all of us when we’re just feeling overloaded and stuff isn’t working. And we don’t even know where to start to have choices.


Holly Blanc Moses  22:35  

Yes. And so again, if you had to fill in and said, This is too long, hard. Yes. And you have some choices? And if it’s not one of those choices, that’s okay, because then you have a blank. Yes, there’s no wrong answer. So it’s just a lovely way to assess what’s happening. If a child is struggling, again, you know, every child is going to need something a little bit different. So it needs to be nice to them. 


Holly Blanc Moses  23:04  

But just some ideas that this is not starting from a place where it’s okay to feel frustrated, they’re frustrated. But after that, it’s detective time. It’s getting it out in a way that also works for them. And you need to have their input, which is obviously number one, of course. Love it.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  23:26  

So how well you’re doing so much great coaching, what’s next for you and your mission? Is it more of what you’re doing? Or do you have any future plans to write a book or another book or you know what, what else is on because usually smart people like you have extra things on the burners.


Holly Blanc Moses  23:46  

Ah, it’s so nice to say that I appreciate it. I am very passionate for those who have it. To talk about it, there are things that I do have in the works. I am thinking about a book, I do have two differently wired boys. So I was doing this type of work way before we adopted them. So it just happened to work out. 


Holly Blanc Moses  24:16  

Especially I think no one’s quite prepared for parenthood or differently wired kids. But it kind of helped me understand not only as a professional, but as a mom, which is a very different experience. Yes, very different experience. So looking at a book and in terms of that also, I’m really interested in teaching about behavior to not only parents but professionals as well. So I might be looking at some type of membership coming up to so I’m very excited about all those things. 


Holly Blanc Moses  24:50  

And again, I have the autism ADHD podcast, which is very, very cool. We talk about how to motivate children and challenging babies Here we talk about how to help them communicate. And it’s an excellent, excellent podcast.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  25:07  

Yes, that’s how we met. I love it. I love just to get to know Holly the person a bit more. So I have a few turbo time questions for you. Are you ready? 


Holly Blanc Moses  25:21  

Yes. Okay, hopefully I can give you some answers.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  25:26  

So Holly, what’s the last book you read?


Holly Blanc Moses  25:30  

Probably I’m really into always, always the best and most effective ways to serve children with autism and ADHD. A book from Dr. Mark Dixon, that’s actually a curriculum, acceptance and Commitment Therapy for children with autism. Excellent. So, so good. I highly recommend it to any therapist. Whether you are a mental health therapist and OT, speech therapist. It’s such it’s gold. Absolutely.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  26:05  

Nice. I’ll definitely put this in the show notes along with all of your different links. How about two inspirational folks you’d love to meet? 


Holly Blanc Moses  26:15  

Oh, goodness, hmm. meet in person. I would love Dr. Temple Grandin and I have have met several times online, we’re actually going to talk this Friday as well. And she is so fabulous. And we talked before we even did the last podcast when she came, she came on my podcast. We talked for probably an hour and a half before we record and such a lovely person. So giving and just so open with her story. And so I just so so appreciate her. For sure.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  26:54  

I think she’s such a beacon of hope to this adult with autism has a doctorate in events and this and that, and it’s like, Okay, my little kiddo that can’t make it through the whole day of seventh grade. There’s hope this is this, too shall pass. And look, this is okay. I really appreciated finding out about her when my daughters were younger. Definitely. Yes, who else?


Holly Blanc Moses  27:21  

You know, I would have to say, Ryan Lee. He is fabulous. He is actually my oldest son’s autistic mentor. I think it’s really important for autistic children to have a mentor who is also autistic. Because, you know, I understand, I think as much as I can as a neurotypical person, but I’m just I’m not autistic, I there are going to be things that I just don’t get that I just don’t understand. Because I don’t have that experience. 


Holly Blanc Moses  28:00  

And so Ryan has just been so lovely to be able to help our oldest son, and talk with him through things that are hard for him in a way that another autistic person would understand. He does great work, great advocacy work speaking. I’ve had him on the podcast before. So being able to meet him in person is something we’ve talked about, but because of COVID we haven’t had the opportunity, but I’m hoping that Christopher my oldest son and Ryan and I can meet in person.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  28:36  

I love that I’ve never thought of an artistic mentor. I took my daughter at Children’s Hospital had a panel of young adults, and she was getting ready to live independently after high school. And they were talking about marriage and dating and jobs and roommates. And it was like yes, yes, thank you, you know, and I to give your child regular contact with somebody that’s further down that path and gets it. He whether it’s a baseball player or somebody with autism or somebody that’s on that path. Wow, I’ve never thought of that a holiday. That’s brilliant. 


Holly Blanc Moses  29:13  

He is, He is such a lovely person. And so giving, and he just had his 30th birthday. So we want to say happy birthday to Ryan. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  29:22  

Yay. Yes. How about your favorite place to travel?


Holly Blanc Moses  29:27  

Oh, goodness. Where would that be? It’s been so long. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  29:32  



Holly Blanc Moses  29:34  

Anywhere in so long. I would say probably the mountain and just sitting there and making myself sit. I don’t stop often. No, it’s something exciting. My husband and I do have our 15 year wedding anniversary coming up. And we are excited about that and we’re going to go away to the mountains for a weekend. Just I’m not going to bring any work when we present. So it’s very exciting.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  30:07  

Yay. How about one TED talk that inspires you?


Holly Blanc Moses  30:11  

Oh, goodness, that is such a good one. There are so many. I know I, oh, maybe I need more coffee to answer that one. I have to get back with you because I, I’m going to name someone and then 10 we’re going to pop up in my head because I love learning from other people.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  30:31  

Yes, yes. How about what’s the biggest thing you wish? Folks knew about increasing success and are differently wired us? What do you wish people knew or got?


Holly Blanc Moses  30:45  

There’s so many things, I think when it comes to how hard it can be. Now, again, I don’t know, from my own experience as a neurotypical person. But honestly, I cannot for the people that I serve, and my own differently wired boys to be in their shoes. I can’t, I can’t wrap my brain around what that would be like to constantly be stuck in a place that isn’t really built for you. And I’ve, you know, I’ve had patients tell me, it feels like they are on another, another planet, and everyone knows the language but them. And that must be incredibly anxiety provoking, and oftentimes lonely.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  31:38  

Yes. Wow. Well said. How about a passion you bring to coaching parents and professionals?


Holly Blanc Moses  31:49  

Oh, gosh, I get so nervous, I get nerdy, excited. I love that. Nothing to me is better than sitting across from a parent, and hearing their beautiful story. And hearing everything that comes with parenting is beautiful, and joyful and painful. And it’s all the things it brings out all the things in ourselves and our childhood, right? I mean, everything comes to us. So when I’m connecting with another parent, to know that they are not alone, to know that I can help them put I feel very, very grateful. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  32:34  

Nice, yes. 


Holly Blanc Moses  32:36  

And I also am very excited to work with professionals because they are in a situation where they so want to help they want help in the best ways. And it’s really exciting to consult with them instead across from them and hear their stories and hear the details of the people they see. And then that way I can step back and kind of put all the pieces, you know, oh, it may be this. Did you ask about this and, and I love to be able to work with other professionals. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  33:06  

That’s nice. How about last turbo time questions, something about you that most folks don’t know.


Holly Blanc Moses  33:16  

Hmm. Okay. This is a fun fact. When I was 12, I went to the local bowling alley with my friend Laurie. And I never really bold before, but I guess I was really good at it. And so a coach saw me who was there. First time I was bowling and said, Hey, have you ever thought about being in a tournament? I’m like, Why? We were just bored. We just came here. My friend’s dad dropped us off. So I went back just for fun again. And I just kept getting strikes. I mean, it was amazing. 


Holly Blanc Moses  33:55  

And then I entered a tournament and I just kept going and going through all these tournaments and was winning, which was really surprising because I you know, didn’t have much experience. And then that year, the why ABA just the young bowling Alliance had coordinated with the Pro Bowl, NFL Pro Bowl. So all the winners got to go to Hawaii. All on ESPN with Pro Bowl players and we got to go to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. So I flew by myself from West Virginia to Hawaii at 12. And hold on ESPN, which I fell. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  34:39  

Oh no.


Holly Blanc Moses  34:40  

Yes, I did. But that’s okay. I got back up and again, but that’s kind of a fun story.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  34:47  

Oh my gosh, I love it. It’s always fun. And it always reminds us too, that we’re people, we’re all people with our own stories.


Holly Blanc Moses  34:56  



Maureen O’Shaughnessy  34:57  



Holly Blanc Moses  34:58  

Yeah. So I Don’t go much anymore, but I do enjoy it.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  35:05  

 Love it. Final question. I like to end with a magic wand moment. So Holly, if you had a magic wand, and could make a wish to support our parents of neuro diverse learners, what would that wish be?


Holly Blanc Moses  35:23  

My wish would be not the good one, because I have lots of them. These are excellent questions by being able to look at a situation with hope instead of fear. So there’s going to be fear, there will always be fear. But if we look at it 50-50 I mean, we look a little more on the hope side that these difficult experiences are learning experiences just on their journey. Because it is so easy, it’s so easy as a parent to be stuck in this feared future. And I find myself with that, too, like Well, my oldest ever be able to live on his own. I don’t know. But I know we’re gonna figure it out. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  36:15  



Holly Blanc Moses  36:17  

because Marie Forleo I’m a big fan. She says everything is figure out double. believe that. Even really hard things can be figured out double. Yeah, so we’re gonna figure it out, and you’re going to figure it out. And it’s going to be a hard journey. And there’s going to be bumps and bruises and giant holes you might fall in, to crawl out of, but we learn and we grow. And it is figure out Oh boy, I fully believe that.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  36:50  

Mic drop. Thank you, Holly. What a pleasure to get to have you as my guest today.


Holly Blanc Moses  36:59  

Thank you so much for having me on. It was really fun.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  37:10  

Isn’t Holly lovely? I really enjoyed her positive energy and messages. I remember our whole staff reading Barry presents, uniquely human book a few summers ago, he did a great job of unpacking that folks with autism are communicating through their behavior. We all are. And it’s scary that in early days, we tried to take away things like hand flapping. That’s a regulation tool for some of our kids with autism. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  37:42  

I’m so glad that we’re starting to understand what behavior is communicating to us, and how it’s our job to not take it personally. And to unpack the message and help the student find ways to let us know what their needs are, and communicate before something gets too big. There’s so much in the school environment that can be overwhelming. I’m glad Holly brought that to our attention again. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  38:09  

As a principal in a large High School. Sometimes I felt uncomfortable being in the hallways When the bell rang and classes were changing. And my sensory perceptions are labeled neuro typical. For a student who is sensitive to noise or touch, I can imagine it could be unbearable. So for us to reframe the school experience, and look for clues to what might not be working and find solutions is vitally important. Holly’s advice to become detectives is great for students, and those of us supporting students. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  38:49  

I appreciate the many communication strategies Holly shared, no diverse or neuro typical. Sometimes it’s hard to find the words to express what we’re feeling. Having a fill in the blank sheet for what a child wishes can be a great conversation starter. So can having choices where students circles, this is too and then as a choice between too hard, too long, too boring. What a way to help unpack emotions with communication that can be responded to. This is an extra step that we can all take it to be more empathetic and compassionate. When somebody is upset and unable to express why. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  39:36  

I’m going to put a couple of links to Dr. Temple Grandin and her work in the show notes. She is the first person with autism to have really gotten her story out. There’s even a movie about her life with Claire Danes as temple. For those new to autism are wanting more hope Temple Grandin story is one that you will definitely enjoy I was moved on Holly said she wished everybody knew how hard it can be to be neuro diverse and encouraged all of us to try being in their shoes. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  40:10  

Oftentimes, it’s even harder when, like her older son or my older daughter. These neuro diverse kiddos don’t look like they’re wired differently. We can be quick to judge, but how painful as one of our clients expressed to constantly be stuck in a place not built for you. We need to extend this compassion and desire to understand to any group that feels like they are the other. It’s an important reminder to respond to differences with empathy. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  40:46  

I’m going to close repeating Holly’s wish, which is also my wish for our parents dealing with challenging situations, neuro diversity, mental health issues, anything that is troubling our child, we wish for you to be able to look at the situation with hope, instead of or in addition to fear, to see the future as brighter. See this as a learning experience. As I shared with Holly, one of the two mantras I used with my older daughter to help her with perspective. When she was really upset, I would ask her, what are two things that you know are always true?’ And one of our answers that she would repeat back is, there’s nothing that you and I can’t get through together mom. I needed her to trust that nothing was too big and that I was always there for her. And to not give up. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  41:44  

Be that hope for your child. Thank you for being a part of the education evolution.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  42:00  

I know how challenging it is to make changes inside your own school or community. I spent years traveling working with schools around the world on creating learner centered programs. And it always struck me on how much schools were able to get them with the right tools and guidance. If you’re ready to make changes like this in your school, or to start a new school, let’s talk and put together an action plan. Visit for a free 15 minute call And let’s see if we’re a good fit for more work together.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  42:44  

Education Evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We need you let’s go out and reach every student today. Leaving a rating and review for this podcast lets others know that you find it a value and it gets in the earbuds of more educational leaders like you. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  43:12  

Thank you listeners. Signing off, this is Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education


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