My love for the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA) began when I was recruited to work with children and families on the Autism Waiver here in Southeast Kansas. I started as a respite-level direct support staff, shadowing more experienced providers and receiving supervision from something called a Board Certified Behavior Analyst- Doctorate (BCBA-D).
What was a BCBA-D? I had no idea. All I knew is that the program these children were able to access changed their and their families lives forever. Prior to the ACA, this waiver was known as "winning the lottery" to families of children on the spectrum. Quick, noticeable, meaningful progress was made almost every day working with these kiddos and providing them with ABA therapy. This therapy consisted of so many things, from teaching the children to play with toys and to play with other children, self-care skills, pre-academic skills to help them be successful in school, reducing and replacing potentially dangerous behaviors such as self-injury and physical aggression with functional skills, and even something as complex as helping a child with no verbal language learn to use sign language, then verbal language, to communicate with their family and friends.
I knew I desperately wanted to be a part of that change, no matter how small my involvement was. I switched my graduate degree program from counseling to clinical psychology and began coursework towards receiving my BCBA certification. Since that time, I've never looked back.
I've worked all across Southeast Kansas now, ranging from providing ABA therapy to children in a home and community based setting, completing a practicum/internship in a long-term state hospital setting, working on developing behavior support strategies and staff management practices with a home and community based agency for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to where I work now as an alternative day program BCBA for three Greenbush school based programs.
Along the way, I've encountered many, many barriers to service provision. Even living and working here in the United States, insurance reimbursement, billing, scheduling, travel, lack of funding for non-billable services, provider recruitment, and state regulations can lend themselves to innumerable issues.
My wish to travel and volunteer as a SkillCorps member with the Global Autism Project is simple: I want to be part of a global movement for change in how we work with our children and families impacted by autism spectrum disorder. The barriers we face in service provision is nothing like those faced overseas by those who are starting the first program of their kind in their country, such as ABA Centrum.
I need your help. Spread the word. Pay kindness forward. We are all blessed in one way or another. Pay. It Forward.