144: Autistic Play is Authentic Play with Cari Ebert

Autistic Play is Authentic Play with Cari Ebert


Many SLPs were taught the medical model of working with autistic children where we found the deficit and worked to fill it. However, we know now that autistic children develop differently, and we need to focus on helping them become the most successful version of themselves, not more like their neurotypical peers. 

There’s a lot of unlearning to do here, so in this episode of SLP Coffee Talk, I sat down with Cari Ebert to talk about becoming a relationship-based therapist, the best methods for working with autistic children, and more. 

Cari Ebert, MS, CCC-SLP, is a pediatric speech-language pathologist in private practice in the Kansas City, Missouri area. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa in 1993 and her master’s degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1995. 

Cari is a therapist, consultant, author, and nationally recognized speaker who gets paid to do what she loves most…TALK! She has dedicated her career to helping young children achieve their maximum potential with speech, language, and social-emotional development. Cari has an autistic son, allowing her to engage audiences both as a professional and as a parent of a neurodivergent child.


In This Episode You’ll Discover:

  • Neurotypical play expectations
  • Tips for using child-led play
  • The importance of focusing on connection over instruction
  • Establishing relationships with autistic children
  • The best way to become a relationship-based therapist
  • Scattered skills
  • Working with sensory interests 
  • Tips for writing neurodiversity-affirming goals


I hope you found this episode helpful! With our autistic students, it’s so important to look at what they love most and use it to support and facilitate their development.  I hope this episode gave you some great ideas to get started with a neurodiversity-affirming approach to therapy. 

If you loved Cari and want to hear more from her, make sure to check out her podcast, follow her on Instagram, and get her Interests and Preferences Survey. All of her links are below!

You can also hear more from Cari at my virtual Speech Retreat! Reserve your spot now! 


Autistic Play Is Authentic Play with Cari Ebert


Joke of the Week:

Q: Why didn’t the skeleton go to the prom? 

A: It had no body to dance with. 


Resources Mentioned: 

Visit Cari’s website

Follow Cari on Instagram

Follow Cari on Facebook

Interests and Preferences Inventory

Listen to the SLP Talk Show


Where We Can Connect: 

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