Ryan Litchfield, autism, disability, and health advocate, creator, founder, and owner of The Autism Peer (formerly Ryan’s Voice) created a virtual interview series Ryan’s Voice With Friends in which he met with individuals to discuss their personal experiences with disabilities and health conditions as well as discuss disability and health related topics to promote awareness, acceptance, and education to individuals, communities, and populations.
All episodes and individual bios are posted here below:
Episode 1: Oliva Deangelis (aired date: 10/13/2020)- Ryan meets with Olivia to discuss her personal experiences with autism.
Bio (written by Olivia herself): Lots of people call me Liv but my real name is Olivia I am 29 years old and I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 16 months old. When I was little they told my parents I had a mild retardation but as I got older I found out Im Autistic and learning disability I also have anxiety and depression. And short term memory I love My family and friends and I love my nieces and nephew. I have an amazing mom that always pushing me to my dreams . I have a wonderful boyfriend that puts up with my craziness and is learning every day how to be with someone that’s a wild child and free spirited heart. I have a heart of gold and will help anybody as best as I can. I honestly don’t know where my journeys taking me . But I know with the journey they’ll be good days and bad days. My dream is to be ambassador for clothing companies To show people that people with different abilities can do the same thing as someone that doesn’t have a different ability. I love everything mermaids I am the first person in Naples Florida to be a certified junior mermaid instructor with a different ability. I love just being in the water I feel at peace it calms my soul and I wanna show kids and adults never stop believing and go for your dreams. I’m a leader for a youth group called young life Capernaum that brings young adults with different abilities to learn about Jesus and all the amazing things he does for us. My hardest struggles is finding a job because where I live a lot of jobs are part time. And I don’t want to lose my benefits. My dream is to change the world for people with invisible different abilities.
Episode 2: Marcus Boyd (aired date: 10/13/2020)- Ryan meets with Marcus to discuss his personal experiences as an 4x award winning autism activist.
Bio (written by Marcus himself):
Born autistic, separated from his biological parents at the age of six, the first male foster child in the state of Georgia in 1989, resident of 16 foster homes and 7 group homes, winner of many Special Olympic trophies and certificates, Marcus Boyd is a voice and advocate who enlightens, encourages, and gives a sense of hope, peace, and awareness to those living and/or caring for human beings with autism. Marcus Boyd embodies a gift that enables him to listen to the tone of an individual’s voice and immediately produce an authentic sound. Musical genius with a multi-layered sound, uttering his first words at the age of 11, Marcus’ autistic experience has fueled the breadth and depth of his musical abilities. Marcus is a music producer raised by the hip hop culture and neo-soul era in Atlanta and New York in the nineties . His music and career has spanned over a decade, having spent 17 years grinding underground and surfacing in 2011 with several Marcus has collaborated with artists such as: Mobb Deep and Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan. He has remixed acts including Mary J. Blige, Tink, LiL Wayne, Tyga, Good Morning America, Dungeon Family, 9th Wonder, Duck Down Records, Rhapsody, Sky-Zoo, Dwele, Blu, Eric Roberson, Phonte, and has appeared in movies and t.v. commercials. Marcus is also a well-known D.J. in Atlanta and will be appearing as a model in the 100 Business Men Fashion Show. In addition to that, he will be receiving the 2018 Businessman of the Year Award as well as the 2018 Gospel Rapper of the Year Award, later this year. He adores cooking, sewing, traveling, and going to the movies; he says,‘It’s the best place to take a nap.” He is the CEO of Marcus Boyd Beats and makes 18+ different genres of music all while focusing on his love for individuals with autism. I love poetry spoken word events festivals concerts art galleries beaches parks video games board games and card games amusement parks traveling trying new things cooking cartoons making music writing songs advocating being goofy.
Faith Butterfield and Judith “Gracie” Butterfield (Episode To Be Determined At a Later Date)- Pics and Bios
Bio (written by Faith herself):
My name is Faith Butterfield and I am 22 years old with autism. My location is Pomona, CA and I am an aspiring animator, actress, and entertainment industry artist. I was diagnosed with autism at age 2 in 1999 and the doctors said that I was disabled, so my parents went to an assessment to get me into preschool. I knew the alphabet, color, and languages, and numbers. They wanted to place me in a county class for cognitively delayed children like me, but I proved them wrong. My testing indicated that I had an IQ of 140, and later my parents filed a state complaint which they fought for inclusion for me to be in a normal classroom until I got into 3rd grade. Later, in my childhood, I met David Mehnert, my old mentor from age 7 to 14. Then, I developed the skills of languages, world culture, art, entertainment, music that became my gifts of autism for the rest of my life. In 2004, I had my first art show at the Claremont Art Museum and was featured in the book Artism: The Art of Autism which featured my first professional work for the Savant Academy where David Mehnert was the founder. Later, in elementary school, I taught my friends the sound of smell which however, some of the kids were tricking me, which was cruel.
After 6th grade, I went to El Roble Intermediate School from 7th to 8th grade which they forced to separate me from my friends and put me on the disabled quad which I wrote a poem called a Thousand Faces based on my experiences of segregation against autism and the Talent Show rejected me because it was discriminatory. After that, I went to School of Arts and Enterprise for high school, which I found refuge from discrimination until I was not allowed to go to summer art camp which was discrimination against me due to autism. So my former school got together to end segregation against people with autism and include them into the art class for good. I am currently studying at Citrus College as a fine arts major with GPA of 3.8 and I am on the President’s List. (And no, I am not just taking easy classes)
My volunteer experience was that I was doing caricatures to raise money for Autism Speaks, Services Center for Independent Living, Autism HWY Chalk Festival, and Learning Disabilities Association. In 2018, I won the Academy of Dreams Award for my animated short My Heart Flies at the Palm Springs International Animation Film Festival. I do animation, voice acting, and improv with Spectrum Laboratory which is a nonprofit organization founded by Jason Weissbroad in 2015. I also write and illustrate books with Workshop 2.0 which is a charity founded by Janet Tashjian in 2016 which I published my first children’s book Mouse in the Penthouse which is on Amazon. I had my first acting role in the Special Olympics PSA in 2018 which I played myself drawing in the office late at night which is my typecast. I was featured in the Citrus College Clarion article called Motivated by Faith in 2017. I became an activist for inclusion since 7th grade at age 13. Currently, I am one of the character designers for a documentary called Schtlitze: One of Us based on the life of the legendary sideshow performer. Also I did a live action animated short called Boys Don’t Wear Dresses which premiered this year. I got a callback from audition for a reality TV show Needs to Bake which is currently getting picked up by networks for a sizzle reel and did voice overs with Cathy McCulley, Rob Paulsen, and Tom Kenny which I was studying under.
Here is my link to the commercial for the Special Olympics that I was in 2018 which was my first acting gig playing a small role as an artist working late at night, along with my short film My Heart Flies and The Perfect Circle.
I had my first talk show appearance on Autism Live with Shannon Penrod in 2019 with my sister Gracie who interpreted for me.
2018 Faith Butterfield Animation Reel #AutisticAnimator #Autism #Animation #ThePerfectCircle
Bio (written by Judith “Gracie” herself):
At present I am a college junior striving to obtain a degree in business administration-finance. I have published in collaboration with my sister Faith illustrated children’s stories. We make a good team; I do the storylines and she does the art.
As far a defined disability for myself, I would frankly have to say it lies in the area of language processing. This is why I take to reading like a dire wolf after a lamb. All kidding aside if given the option I would rather text than talk. I have been this way since I can remember. This also gives rise as to why I also do rather well in mathematics.
My lack of speaking up has caused me some problems at times. That is why I am forcing myself to be more assertive in asking for what I need. This is a recent improvement, and it has been beneficial going forward.
Episode 3: Michelle Vinokurov (aired date: 10/15/2020)- Ryan meets with Michelle to discuss her personal experiences with autism as well as her insights about ABA and being a paraprofessional.
Bio (written by Michelle herself):
I was born in Brooklyn, NY and while growing up in Brooklyn, my Autism affected me in many ways: I had no eye contact, I did not respond to anyone who called my name, and I was completely nonverbal (until age 6). Also, I did not like anyone to touch me, and I did not like anyone picking me up. I had temper tantrums, and I liked everything in a routine. I was isolated from my siblings: my older sister Samantha and my younger brother Jon; and I did not engage with anyone. I was pretty much in my own world.
Today, I am an Autism self-advocate. My main job is that I work as a paraprofessional for elementary school students with Autism. I love my job so much, but now I want to grow in my career working with individuals with Autism. Last year, I gradated from Brookdale Community College and I got my Associate’s degree in Applied Science. Recently, I was accepted into Purdue University Global and will officially be pursuing an online Bachelor’s degree in Science in Psychology- Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). Plus, I’m involved in the community as a keynote speaker, a committee member of the NJ Autism Think Tank, an Autism blogger of “The World Of Autism”, and a panelist in a weekly webinar series “Ask an Autistic”. The weekly webinar I am a panelist of lead me to being in a published book back in August of this year called, “This Is Autism”.
When I am not contributing in the community, I love to spending time with my family and friends. I love being with the people I love so much. I love exercising and being active. I read a lot of books, from informative to fiction books. I listen to many types of music. I am known as the “healthy baker” because I enjoy baking treats that are healthy, such as not using regular flour. I watch many shows on Netflix. I love to draw and color in my coloring books. Lastly, I love exploring new places! This sums up about my interests and hobbies.
Episode 4: Cassidy Hooper (aired date: 10/27/2020)- Ryan meets with Cassidy to discuss her personal experiences with autism and Turner syndrome and the advocacy work that she contributes to these communities.
Bio (written by Cassidy herself):
My name is Cassidy Hooper. I turned 27 years old on October 16th. I’m also an autistic self-advocate. I’m from Northeast Mississippi. I also have a rare genetic condition called Turner Syndrome. I was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome at 9 days old and I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at around 17 years old. Like I’ve mentioned, I’m an advocate for autism AND Turner Syndrome. Having a dual diagnosis was tough at first, but I know that having these diagnoses is not a death sentence or a curse and that individuals with these diagnoses can live happy and fulfilled lives. I’m the Community Navigtor for The Arc of Northeast Mississippi Autism Now Divison and as Community Navigator, I act as a guide and mentor for individuals with autism and connect them to resources that may be helpful to them. I’m on the Awareness Committee for the Turner Syndrome Foundation. My goal is to raise awareness and acceptance for autism and Turner Syndrome.
My hobbies and interests are watching tv shows and movies, listening to music, and getting on social media. I love the shows The Good Doctor and The Big Bang Theory. Favorite genre of movies are comedy, drama, and romance. I love the Christian rock band Skillet. My favorite band! My favorite food is spaghetti. I love to advocate for the autism and Turner Syndrome communities in any way I can!
Episode 5: Andrew Bennett (aired date: 10/29/2020)- Ryan meets with Andrew to talk about his personal experiences with autism, his experiences as an ABA technician, and the work he has done through the Global Autism Project. Ryan and Andrew also have an engaging conversation about ABA (applied behavioral analysis) and MI (motivational interviewing) and the similarities and differences both evidence-based practices provide in the context of behavior modification in individuals with autism.
Bio (written by Andrew himself):
I’m Andrew Bennett. I’m 30 years old, living in Houston, Texas, and I was diagnosed with autism at age 3. I’ve worked in the field of applied behavior analysis as a Registered Behavior Technician for almost six years, including three years at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. I have been working on the grant-funded project ABA Academy for Problem Behavior, consulting with teachers in public school special education classrooms to develop ABA-based solutions for challenging behavior. I was also part of the LoneStar LEND program as a co-facilitator of an abuse and assault prevention and education group called Sphere of Safety. Within the nonprofit organization Global Autism Project, which supports and trains staff in ABA centers around the world, I am a volunteer traveler, a part of the Partner Relief Committee at the frontline of fundraising efforts for partner centers during COVID-19, and part of the staff of Leadership Academy, a leadership training program for small businesses in the ABA world and beyond. I’ve written music reviews for Lady Obscure Music Magazine and I eventually morphed my style into a storytelling format, to become an aspiring poet and writer with several unpublished short stories and series of ekphrastic poems.
I am also an aspiring motivational speaker who has made several public appearances speaking about autism and self-advocacy. I appeared at UHCL in 2014 at a movie showing of “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” to tell my life experience with autism. During my first trip with the Global Autism Project, I was asked to perform to an audience of Czech professionals and parents in Prague, where I gave an original lecture called “A World Without Borders” about the different levels of “autism awareness” and how only when we reach the highest level, are individuals with autism truly integrated and respected in society. More recently, I developed another original lecture called “Autism is a Universal Language.” Its theme, drawn from my experience with Global Autism Project and my quest to learn multiple languages, is that autism is comparable to a foreign language from the world’s perspective, but one that is not altogether impenetrable, and in fact can be learned like any other language, but has the advantage of universal traits no matter where you are from or what your mother tongue is.
I have been merging my interests together into the Healthy Fusion program at the Houston-based nonprofit organization Spectrum Fusion, where I cook simple, healthy dishes live on camera in a kitchen for a primarily neurodiverse audience, with the goal of empowering neurodiverse individuals to learn how to cook their own meals, potentially working around their sensory challenges with food, and grow more independent in their lives.
Here are a few informational links about things I would like to cover.
1-my Showcase Platform on the Spectrum Fusion website that explains who I am and what I’m striving towards.
2-a link for people to donate to support Spectrum Fusion’s work. This will go towards our paychecks for work done.
3-the Global Autism Project website. There are still fundraising efforts going on there as well, but more info on those will come soon. (Note: Please type URL https://www.globalautismproject.org)
4-the general Spectrum Fusion website.
Episode 6: Albert Jersey (aired date: 11/5/2020) – Ryan reunites with his former high school colleague and friend Albert to discuss lived experiences that they have both endured during the course of adolescence and in adulthood with regard to both having autism and epilepsy.
**DISCLAIMER**: Any medical information or tips we provide about autism and epilepsy is just drawn from our personal experiences and everyone needs to consult and reach out to their doctors if they have any questions or concerns pertaining to their own health related issues. Also, be prepared to laugh at times as we share funny moments and Ryan experiences some blooper moments on the show.
Bio (written by Albert himself):
I am a life enthusiast, thinker and free spirit. My purpose here is to enjoy my relationships with my loved ones, enjoy my career and activities I do daily. I am a project coordinator at Charles River laboratories. I graduated from Worcester state university majoring in business administration. My hobbies are gardening, hiking, learning a new language, reading, journaling, poetry, meditating, working out, and playing sports. Also try more things to do in life.