I had just graduated from Arizona State University, with my degree in Psychology; having just given birth to a baby boy 5 months ago. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my degree, or as a career, and I sure wasn’t ready to apply and attend graduate school with a little one at home. I got a job teaching developmental gymnastics, but at home I was dealing with a non-verbal toddler with meltdowns EVERY single day.
The hitting, biting, screaming, crying was emotional and exhausting.
He never qualified for early intervention, and he was using ASL to sign a few words with us. Considering it takes FOREVER to see a developmental pediatrician, or clinical psychologist do, I took to the internet like any millennial mom would. I searched for answers, and we eventually did get a diagnosis of developmental delay and Sensory Processing Disorder
Meanwhile, I found a job working as a Habiliation/Respite provider for Arizona Autism United. I had learned a lot from my own child, and the trainings, but being thrown in clients’ home, I knew this is the field I belong in.
I understood as a provider and as a parent how important it is to have a team of people advocating for your child. I’ve seen how much harder the parents who have a kid with an Autism diagnosis have it, especially if they have multiple kids on the spectrum. I’ve also seen how exhausted the mothers are from running their kids from appointment to school to therapy, etc.
It can feel like a lot of pressure, knowing how to respond the right way to a meltdown, or what to the child with; and especially not overstepping your boundaries as a provider. Sometimes it’s stressful. There are days when you are around hours of yelling, or being hit, slapped, kicked. Some days there are time’s when I get huge objects thrown at me, or the child tries to elope. I’ve learned from my training and background, to teach and treat these kids as equals. I’m not above them, I can’t control them. I respect them, and they respect me.
However difficult the day is, I can honestly say I have more patience for these kids than for my own kids. Some days I come home and need time to myself before I can engage with my own children. I am so proud of the kids when they learn expressive language or actions, or even their parents’ phone number. It makes it all worth it, especially when I know it gives the parents a piece of mind, or some time to themselves.
A few months ago I was promoted to an Applied Behavior Analysis Instructional Technician. The next step for me to continue my career in ABA is to apply to grad school so I can continue helping families and kids. I have a passion for helping these kids that started in my own home.