Autism Awareness and the ABA Therapist’s Perspective
April is World Autism Month!
Last week, Ashley, OTA, shared with us the role of Occupational Therapy in the lives of children who have Autism and this week we have another great way to celebrate Autism Awareness Month!
We have asked 10 questions to four different people, who either have a family member or work with a child on the Autism Spectrum. We hope the insights from a sister, mother, ABA therapist, and Au Pair give a unique perspective on what their experiences are loving and working with a child who has ASD.
It is said, “if you meet one person with autism, you have met one person with autism,” and we believe this is so true!
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Since Autism is a spectrum disorder each individual has their own set of strengths and challenges, they can range from high functioning to severely challenged. Some may require significant assistance while others may be more independent and in some cases living on their own completely.
Did you know?
AUTISM AND SGF
Two of the families gifted by Specially Gifted Foundation have a child who is on the Autism Spectrum. Read the Malautea Family’s Story, Rosson’s Family Story, or Wilson Family’s Story to hear about their journey with the sweet boys Waylon and Noah.
Additionally, a Speech-Language Pathologist and Occupational Therapy Assistant offer great resources in our Facebook Group, Specially Gifted Parent Resource Community, every third Thursday of the month. Currently, there are two videos that cover Early Signs of Autism and therapy services offered by the school systems in Georgia. Please join and invite others who could benefit from asking questions to these knowledgeable professionals!
Read more about Therapy Thursday here.
AUTISM AWARENESS AND THE aba therapist'S PERSPECTIVE
1. What is ABA Therapy?
Applied Behavior Analysis is science based therapy that uses operant conditioning to shape behaviors of social significance. Meaning we work to increase appropriate behaviors and diminish inappropriate behaviors using different types of reinforcement.
2. Why did you choose to be an ABA Therapist?
I thought I wanted to teach elementary school but that didn’t work out for me. I have a lot of experience working with children of all ages in many capacities but never really knew how I could utilize it. After having my daughter I knew for certain I wanted to work with children as a career and my friend reached out to me asking if I was interested in a position at CABS Autism. I immediately applied and the rest is history.
3. What do you enjoy most about being an ABA Therapist?
The children of course! I tell everyone this is the most challenging job I’ve ever had, but it is easily the most rewarding. Even the smallest of victories with my kids is enough to brighten my day and renew my passion for the job. Each one is so unique and they have some of the best personalities.
4. What does a typical day look like as an ABA Therapist?
I spend the first few minutes getting materials and activities ready for my clients, then we usually have a about 3 to 4 hours of therapy with one child and 3 to 4 hours with another. We play, learn, and laugh almost nonstop. Each child has different levels of ability and different skills to work on so that makes every day unlike the next.
5. Can you share with us a particular child’s success journey in ABA Therapy? (without giving patient information)
Any time I make a breakthrough in communication with a kiddo I lose my mind. One client in particular had no words when they started with us. A year and a half later they are using full sentences, asking questions, and more. It is amazing to see the progress they have achieved.
6. What was the biggest obstacle you've overcome as an ABA Therapist?
Two things we teach almost all of our children are patience and perseverance. These also happen to be two skills I had to learn on a whole new level. Because of how unique each child is, there is no “one size fits all” teaching procedure in ABA. I had to learn to adapt, get creative, and keep trying to figure out the best way each child learns.
7. What is your biggest win as an ABA Therapist?
I would have to say my biggest win is working my way up at CABS to become one of the people the other therapists can reach out to for help and ideas. When I began as a therapist I often felt lost or stuck. It feels amazing to be able to help others when they feel the same way.
8. What have the children you have worked with taught you personally?
I have learned countless things from all of the children I have worked with. They have taught me new forms of kindness, compassion, games to play, and ways to learn. But most importantly of all, they have taught me that everyone deserves to be treated like any other person. Because no matter how obvious our differences may be, we all have much more in common than we often realize.
9. From the perspective of an ABA Therapist, what advice would you offer to parents who have recently become a part of the ASD club?
There may be a lot of work and a long road ahead, but the effort you put in will be more than worth the results you get back. Your child is a rockstar. They are just on a different path than you might have expected.
10. What would you like to tell the world about Autism?
Autism should not associated with its limitations. There are things some of us could never achieve or even dream of that my clients can do without a second though. All that a person with Autism needs is the opportunity to shine in this world, and there is no better feeling than seeing that happen.
In conclusion, feel free to add any additional information or comments.
and be kind.
As told by, Reuben, ABA Therapist.
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