Almost 12 years ago in California, as a freshman in college, I got a summer job as a transitional assistant in a classroom in a private school. The School specialized in working with children who had challenging behaviors and couldn’t attend mainstream public schools. When I took my first steps into that classroom, I can honestly say I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Looking back, I realize now it’s one of those serendipitous moments, laying the foundation for every methodical decision that came after. At the time, I certainly didn’t know that every student I met from that moment forward would teach and challenge me, helping me discover the type of clinician I wanted to become. The families I have had the privilege to work with have inspired me to not only pursue a master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis but also a master’s in Mental Health and Counseling so that I can find ways to support the family and integrate strategies in a variety of ways.
I couldn’t imagine, being the home-body that I have always been, that my passion for the field would push me to move across the country. Massachusetts was far away from my family and friends, but I had heard that services for families and individuals with Autism there were the best in the country. But most importantly, what I didn’t know before stepping into that classroom, was the impact of all the people I would meet within the field, as well as all the people I would have the humbling experience to work for – those on the autism spectrum and their families.
I continue to learn lessons from those that I work with, and for, every day. I’ve continued to learn these lessons with every job that I have had the privilege of holding since that first day. I’ve had some of the most inspiring co-workers, who have turned into life-long friends. But my biggest lessons learned have always been from my clients. They’ve taught me how important it is to measure progress in ways that are meaningful to the family and to them. How crucial it is to laugh and maintain a sense of humor even after the longest of days. To never forget our favorite things, whether it be Harry Potter, Thomas the Tank Engine, a great yellow truck, a good Disney character, a squeeze or everyone’s favorite iPad. They remind me, in and out of work, to celebrate the resiliency that each of them and their loved ones bring every day.