My son Doug was diagnosed at the age of 3. As a parent, you just know when something’s isn’t right with your baby, no matter what family members, doctors, and friends may say. I wasn’t always an ABA therapist. I did a study in human services at Becker College and I have always loved working and helping others. To me, there is no other higher calling than working with families directly. You’re not just there to get paid; you must show an interest in the family.
Since I have an autistic son myself, I can relate to their frustrations and their struggles. I don’t go in and tell them [about Doug] right away. I want them to like my work. It’s about me working with the child, not about my life and my child. Still, I often form a special bond with the parents of the children I have the pleasure to work with through offering advice, resources or encouragement, and sometimes just a sympathetic ear. I think it’s safe to say that I walk the walk our families walk.
The toughest thing, for many families, is that they struggle to stop treating their autistic child like a baby. It’s not just a process with the child, it’s a process with the whole family. Not every [ABA program] works cold turkey. Be realistic, but you can raise the bar.
A lot of my families, friends, and co-workers ask me “Don’t you ever get burned out, dealing with your students and then going home and having to “live” autism as well”? In all honesty, It’s the most rewarding thing in the world! I won’t lie and say I don’t struggle myself as a parent, because I do. I continue to be proactive, be the best advocate/parent I can possibly be, as well as seek my BCI team’s support, for my son and his needs.
On April 11th, I am happy & proud to celebrate that I have been an ABA therapist for BCI for 7 years! It’s such a joy to see from small to huge progress. The first sign of communication, the first word, the first time a student of mine hands me a picture, oh the list goes on.
My advice to other parents of autistic children: Remember to work together as a team with your child’s therapist. Work with therapists toward a goal, and work toward it consistently and wholeheartedly. Keep moving forward, even if it’s baby steps, and celebrate BIG with every little goal your child makes as I do with my own boy. 💙