Magazine publisher Amy KD Tobik is an award-winning magazine editor with more than 30 years of publishing experience. As Editor-in-Chief of Exceptional Needs Today, she coordinates and directs an impressive group of doctors, therapists, teachers, and writers to deliver top guidance and support for special needs families. After successfully producing an autism magazine for more than six years, Amy branched out on her own to create Exceptional Needs Today, a publication that supports families at no cost to them. Her special interests include advocating for children, special needs families, and education. A graduate of Sweet Briar College in Virginia, Amy resides in the Carolinas with her husband, and they have two adult children. She is also the CEO of Lone Heron Publishing.
Exceptional Needs Today aims to serve all individuals in need of special services to include autism, blindness or visual impairment, cerebral palsy, deafness or hearing impairment, developmental delay, Down syndrome, gifted/talented, health concerns, mental health, intellectual disability, learning disabilities, orthopedic impairment, speech or language impairment, and traumatic brain injury.
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Hey everybody. Welcome back to the autism and action podcast. My name is Tosha Rollins your host, and today we have another very special guest. We've got Miss Amy tobik. She is the magazine publisher and an award winning magazine editor with more than 30 years of publishing experience. As editor in chief of exceptional needs. today. She coordinates and directs an impressive group of doctors, therapists, teachers and writers to deliver top guidance and support for special needs families after successfully producing an autism magazine. for more than six years, Amy branched out on her own to create exceptional needs today, a publication that supports family at no cost to them. Her special interests include advocating for children, special needs, families, and education, a graduate of sweet Briar College in Virginia. Amy resides in the Carolinas with her husband and they have two adult children. She is also the CEO of lone Heron publishing. Amy, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for taking time to be here today. Oh, thank you so much for inviting me on your show today. It's really a pleasure to speak with you. What if you could just teach us a lot about what it is that you are working on? And explain how exceptional knees today came about.
Okay, thank you. Yeah, I'm really excited to tell you about my new venture and it began in January. Exceptional needs today is a free digital magazine that's released every other month. We serve people in need of special services to include autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, visual and hearing impairments, learning disabilities, orthopedic impairment, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, gifted and talented and really we serve anyone who's received or is in need of special education or related services.
That is so special and so amazing. And what a great way to serve our community. Can you tell us how many individuals are classified with exceptional needs?
Oh, yes, sure. According to the CDC, one in six children nationwide, aged three through 17 have a developmental disability. And the Children's Defense Fund indicates an estimated 6.2 million children with disabilities receive special education and related services under the individuals and with disabilities educational act. So really, millions of people need expert advice and support. So we focus on educating and energizing self advocates and families, caregivers, educators, and professionals while preparing individuals for the future. And my aim is to bring the exceptional needs community together to promote awareness, acceptance and inclusiveness for all people. Now, how did you get started on this endeavor? Well, well, well, every diagnosis a person receives is independently significant. I appreciated over the years, how many diagnoses were injured, connected, and how many individuals were experiencing similar challenges, such as inequity in education, mental mental health concerns, personal security, personal rights and finding employment. So, you know, as you mentioned, I've worked in publishing for more than 30 years, during which time I also volunteered with children of all ages and abilities inside and outside of the classroom. And I noticed that even though both the families and teachers were amazing, not everyone was getting the educational supports and therapies they needed. And so many families weren't getting the emotional and mental health support that they deserved. So when I resigned from my role as editor in chief of an international oxygen magazine, I was looking for a way to continue the journey to continue to support. And so within a few weeks, families, therapists, teachers are calling me messaging him on LinkedIn, asking if I could find a new way to keep the conversation open. So to continue to support families. So someone suggested I start my own magazine and I thought, sure. So well, a pandemic seems like an unusual time to throw yourself into a new business. I didn't think this could wait. It was obvious that the pandemic was magnifying challenges and disparities. So I thought, well, the time is now. So I want to create a replication that was reaching all families at no cost because that was important at this point too. But honestly, creating sexual needs Today magazine is a dream endeavor because I've been able to combine two of my passions, which is advocacy and the power of the written word. So the scary, powerful, powerful tools. Yes, exactly. And so this free publication provides individuals the opportunity to learn from one another while becoming part of a strong and passionate group. So I'm we're proud that we've become a community of voices already. We just launched in January, so been really pleased with the support we've received.
Now, what geographic areas do you serve? Who's your audience right now?
Well, our largest audience currently is the US. But stats are indicating that we're also being read in other countries, Europe, India, I get actually a lot of emails from people from India right now. Canada, Europe, Australia, Jamaica, Philippines and in Asia
is amazing. Let it six months, and you have gone International. That is awesome.
That is so exciting to see that and you know, you see the stats, and you're like, wow, are they really reading it there? But now I'm getting emails. So from people all over the world, and I know, you know, there's inequities all over the world, but I feel like it's just so important for some other countries that are not getting any support, you know, to feel like there's a community out there, right. So that's been very rewarding. Absolutely. Now, what kind of topics Do you guys discuss in the magazine? Oh, wow. Yes, a lot. So I don't know if you've had a chance to look at the covers we had recently. The first issue we had arriva Martin on the cover is a civil rights attorney and founder of special needs network. And she was watching a ground been breaking Mental Health app called butterfly Health and Mental Health Services accessible to millions of underserved people. So you know, mental health is definitely, you know, an important topic we cover. And issue, too. We had sanika Stone, who's an 18 year old founder of neuro diversity celebration week, who's just an extraordinary person, and a huge proponent of recognizing students strengths and talents with special education needs. So we cover a variety of topics, mainly driven by what the community wants. We include managing diagnoses, mobility and accessibility, personal rights, Educational Rights, occupational therapy, resources, schools and camps. Transitioning to adulthood, which is, you know, applies to everyone. Yeah, along with job opportunities, and financial planning, and also supporting the families and caretakers. It's there. So, so important as well.
Now, tell me what it is that you enjoy the most about exceptional needs magazine. Oh, goodness. I
think just working with the community, I feel like it is just very rewarding to see people connecting with one another. I mean, I'm able to as someone who's been in industry for more than 30 years, I'm able to bring it together, I have the skills to put together a magazine and accompany but then to see the other people, you know, then connecting with one another and then finding I guess the community, it seems so bad, there's millions of people who need help. With so many know, one another. I was recently introduced to someone in Florida and, and, you know, we had a phone call just to discuss some, you know, ideas, we had to work together. And she mentioned someone's name, and I'm like, I think I know her and I looked we had 18 mutual friends on Hey, and I was like, I do know her and she's like, that's so weird. And I told her another name someone I knew, and she's like, we I worked with him. He was in Charlotte. I was like, Okay, if this turns out, it is a small is a small community within a very vast world, you know,
I just find that that rewarding and and then I have parents who you know, written in and then told me how much it's meant to them. So, you know, those are my rewards at this point.
Share what your vision is for exceptional needs vaccine. Oh, gosh, um, well, I'd like to continue to grow. We, we
publish every other month right now. And eventually I think I'd like to do it every month. But we'll see. The off months I'm going to be having a newsletter as well, to keep people up to date. So because it's we have to work so far in advance as a small company. So we can't do as much up to, you know, up to the minute news So we'll be able to throw some things into the newsletter as well. So, you know, while the past year has been financially, emotionally and mentally draining for most of us, I'm planning to use this time to look forward to the future. You know, we need to keep the conversations open while going ahead to ensure lessons are learned from the changes, the pandemics triggered. Absolutely. And I think there's no better time than now to work to ensure all people are accepted and respected and included. And I know it's, you know, in the school systems, it's really blown open the inequities on the, you know, what we did I have some friends or special needs teachers within the school systems and, you know, just seeing, you know, what it's come from that from the pandemic and working from home. And, you know, it's really shown parents, you know, you know, things they can do to continue to help their children and it's showing teachers what you know, what they need to do as well, and how we all need to work together.
That's a great, great message. Now, where can our listeners find you online? And how can they subscribe to your newsletter? Oh, well,
they can go to exceptional needs calm is our website. And you can subscribe for free. Just put in your email address, and you'll get a link. If you subscribe, let's say to for the next issue, which is July. That will be released July 1. But if you sign up, you'll receive also the other issues. I'm planning on doing that for a little while just so people who are new are able to see what else so you'll be have you subscribe, now you'll get three other issues. And you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter at exceptional mag and Instagram and exceptional needs today. And we're trying to build our social media, and trying to bring new visions and long term solutions to the table for everyone and pleased to have, you know, if you have any questions you can write to me directly at editor at exceptional needs today. We want to hear from anyone and everyone if you'd like to work on writing something for us, you know, we'd love to hear from you and hear your ideas and, you know, come together as a community. On my first issue, which is on my wall here. I believe the first issue we said today is a new beginning. And so I think, you know, definitely it's all voices need to be heard. And I think we have a good future ahead of us.
Absolutely. Well, Amy, I just want to say thank you for all you're doing for the community and the service that you're providing. This is so needed, and it's bringing a lot of people together. So thank you. Thank you. It's very rewarding. And thank you so much for taking time to be here today. Well thank you for having me.
Now, we would love to hear from you.
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