Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

Autism Behavioral Consulting
Audra Jensen, owner

How long have you been working in the autism community?
I personally joined the autism community 15 years ago when my son was diagnosed at the age of two. We started a home ABA program when he was 2 ½, and he made wonderful progress. As our life started to stabilize, I decided I wanted to enter the field. I went back to school, got my Master’s degree and BCBA and started Autism Behavioral Consulting, an ABA clinic, here in Vancouver about 8 years ago. We now have one clinic in Vancouver and another one in NE Portland and serve families both in their home and in the clinics.

What is one myth about autism that you'd like to squelch?
That autism “stops” at age 6. It’s sad to see parents run out of services and opportunities as their children grow older, especially into adulthood. Once the leave the school system, there is very little support for their continuing progress, and yet, they can still learn! Don’t we all keep learning?

What makes your business unique?
I think I pride myself in creating individualized programs using a variety of strategies depending on what the child responds to. While we are, most importantly, based in ABA principles, and all the decisions we make at data-based, I promote thinking outside the box and really work to connect with the child. We are also happy to serve all disabilities and all ages. We love the diversity!

We are also huge on collaboration and love to talk to other professionals, go into schools and help families get their needs met outside of therapy hours. Coming from a parent first, I believe it’s important that everyone at the table is on the same page.

What are some of your personal interests and hobbies?
I think I’m boring in my personal life! Hanging out with family (two teenagers and a doting husband), church activities, playing with my Chihuahua, going to movies, reading and eating good food. Anything that doesn’t make my brain hurt!

Each issue features a local family and their autism journey

Heidi Blackwelder and sons, Ethan (age 12) and Aidan (age 9), Vancouver, Wash.

What is one myth about autism that you'd like to squelch?
The one myth that is a thorn in my side is the idea of shoving all autistics into a cookie cutter and assume they are all the same. Every autistic person I've met, from preschoolers to adults in their 60s, not one is remotely similar to another. My own sons, who share the same diagnosis, are vastly different with their gifts and abilities and challenges. This is definitely an area where one size does not fit all.

What is your favorite trait of your child on the spectrum?
I love Ethan's world viewpoint. He's my eternal optimist, who sees the good in all. He is loving and humble.

Aidan is polar opposite and sees everything at face value. He is always to the point and you never have to worry about getting a vague answer from him. I wish I was more direct like him in that regard.

What does neurodiversity mean to you?
Neurodiversity is very important to me and hits close to my heart. After Ethan was diagnosed in 2005, I believed my countless efforts would fix him. It didn't take long to realize what an unhealthy and unrealistic goal I was placing upon myself. It felt wrong. 

My boys are a precious gift, I was blessed with two on the spectrum! Who was I to change them? Celebrating their differences and embracing the trueness of their spirit gave me the freedom to overcome my own grief as a mother. Once I let go of the idea that my children needed to be "normal," whatever that word truly means, it eased a lot of stress and brought forth a fresh perspective.


Through Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015

Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon Road, Portland
Every holiday season, the Oregon Zoo transforms into a
sparkling wonderland of more than a million LED lights. More information.

Children's Healing Art Project (CHAP) Holiday Bazaar
Fridays-Sundays, through Sunday, Dec. 21
1910 SE 11th Avenue, Portland
CHAP brings the healing power of art to children in crisis through a mobile team of teaching artists working in a partnership with hospitals, community organizations and schools. For $5/hour per art maker, artists have a wide variety of materials and projects available. Hours: Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. More information.

Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway
Through Sunday, Dec. 28 | Various times

Recognized throughout the Pacific Northwest as the “Largest
Holiday Light Show West of the Mississippi,” the 22nd annual
Winter Wonderland will grab your attention with glimmers
and glows around every corner. Various hours and pricing; check website for details. More information.

Autism Society of Oregon's Visit with Santa
Saturday, Dec. 6 | Noon - 3 p.m.
5100 SW Macadam Avenue, Portland

Autism-friendly Santa hosted by ASO. Families must pre-register for a 15-minute slot to meet Santa so no one has to wait in line. Please bring your own camera for photos. Registration required: reynaw@autismsocietyoregon.org or (503) 636-1676. More information.

FACT Family Holiday Party
Saturday, Dec. 6 | 8-10 a.m.
Portland Children's Museum, 4015 SW Canyon Road, Portland
The Portland Children’s Museum will open early for the FACT holiday party, featuring refreshments, a quiet room and Santa as a special guest! Registration is required: registration@factoregon.org. More information.

Christmas Ships Parade
Saturday, Dec. 6 through Saturday, Dec. 20

Columbia and Willamette rivers
2014 marks the 60th year for the Christmas Ship Parade on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers in Portland, an average fleet of about 55 to 60 boats between the two Columbia and Willamette River fleets. Both fleets will be out most every night for two weeks beginning Dec. 6. (No ships run on Monday, Dec. 9). More information.

Happy Hour and talk with nonPareil Institute's Dan Selec
Monday, Dec. 8 | 6-8 p.m.
New Relic, 111 SW 5th Avenue, Suite 2800
Dan Selec is the creative innovator behind nonPareil Institute, including the construction of the business model and all software systems, including hardware and cloud infrastructure that currently run the nonPareil training and work platforms. There are currently efforts to develop a Portland campus of the nP Institute. More information.

Christmas Trees and Pony Rides at Oregon Dream Ponies 
Through Friday, Dec. 12 | Noon to 4 p.m. and by appointment
16725 NE Hillside Drive, Newberg

Join the Oregon Dream Ponies for two weeks for pony rides, Christmas trees and the grand opening of the Pony Gift & Tack Store. Any Christmas tree valued at $25 or more gets a free pony ride. More information.

Old-Fashioned Holiday at the Water Resources Education Center
Saturday, Dec. 13 | 1-3 p.m.

4600 SE Columbia Way, Vancouver
Kids will delight in getting ready for the holidays by making
handcrafted gifts at this Second Saturday event! More information.

Sensitive Santa hosted by the Parent to Parent Coalition
Saturday, Dec. 13 | 2-4 p.m.
St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 5607 NE Gher Road, Vancouver

Meet in the gym for quiet play and then enjoy a
private meeting with out very own Gentle Santa. There will
be a light snack and small gift provided. There will also be a
photographer taking photos for those who can provide an
email address. Families with children ages birth-11: 2-3 p.m.; children ages 12+, 3-4 p.m. Call Brenda Tyrrell for details, (360) 953-1597. More information.

Northwest Down Syndrome Association Winter Social
Sunday, Dec. 14 | 12-2 p.m.
J.J. Jump, 9057 SE Jannsen Road, Clackamas
Annual Winter Social event for families of children with Down syndrome. Refreshments, photos with Santa Claus and activities for all ages! RSVP required: afrome@nwdsa.org. More information.


Visit Spectrums Magazine online for resources, articles and more!

Education Resources

Lifespan Resources

Therapy Resources