I just realized I am jobless. Ouch. Leaving this job has been on the horizon since late October, but as of last Friday at 4pm, I am officially unemployed.
I would like to take this time to say I loved my job. I gained a sense of fulfillment and joy from it. I would even say I thrived and felt truly valued by the people I worked with. I have been working with individuals on the autism spectrum for about 5 1/2 years. All through college, I did in-home respite for a family. In 2014, I moved to Boston for a semester to study and work with a leading team of researchers in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Once graduating college, I received an offer from my dream job back in Virginia as an Outpatient Coordinator working primarily doing Adolescent Intervention and parent training.
When I previously told people what I did for a living, I usually received a head tilt, a saddened expression, and comment like, “Ah wow…I don’t know how you do it,” or “You must be so patient…” It is difficult to respond in any other way than saying, “I love what I do.”
With Adolescent Intervention, you are often working with families who have recently received an official diagnosis that their child has Autism. Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by varying degrees of impairment in social interaction and communication. It can also affect an individuals behavior and cognition in a number of challenging ways. To say that this is a “sensitive time” is a monumental understatement. Depending on the diagnosis, some families who are faced with this news can go through a grieving process similar to those who have lost a child. These families are not being asked, but told they need to rethink the life plans and goals for not only their child, but for themselves, and potentially their entire family.
This is where the field of ABA is needed the most. ABA provides support and a direction for the child. It helps rebuild and redefine the dreams of the family. It breaks down important, day-to-day skills into small, less daunting, achievable steps. It uses principles of motivation and reinforcement to establish, maintain, and build upon viable skills. Learning to independently tie shoe laces can seem like a small step in comparison, but once we rethink and re-prioritize the “big picture,” this is one big step closer towards promoting overall autonomy for an individual.
I am left with the thought that for each child on the spectrum, there are mountains to be conquered– For each and every single one of us, there are mountains to be conquered. There is no separation; there is no set path. We are given the skills that we are born with, but we all must work and work to strengthen them. I feel incredibly thankful for the lessons I have learned from my clients and their families.
As my start date of April 1st quickly approaches, I will be reminded on my hardest days of the strength and perseverance that each family has instilled in me.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.
I graduated from UMW too! Looking forward to following along another blue ridge mountain lady 🙂