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My Story

I began my career in the field of Autism 20 years ago. An opportunity to work with a young philipina girl in California became my first ever home-based program. With no experience, her mother decided to give me a chance and hired me.

I worked with this child in her cleared out dining room for 3 years. We began with a classic ABA program with supervision provided by a speech therapist and The Me Book. We began working on skills like matching, sorting, and limited speech memorization.

Being 6 foot 4, I would often bump my hands and arms on ceiling fans. Once I did that, this little girl became extremely enthusiastic about it. I immediately realized the fan could be a very natural and quick way to draw out language and interaction.

This is where I learned the art of hesitation and participation. I learned that if I hesitated slightly, that she would look at me, look into my eyes and attempt to say, "fan." It was my first glimpse at a simple yet focused approach.

As luck would have it, this family had traveled to Sheffield, MA and participated in the Son-Rise Program week long intensive program. I read the books they had on this program and was fascinated. I managed to enroll in the program's very first week long group program for parents and professionals comprised of 39 parents and me.

I soon left CA to train at The Son-Rise Program. I was inspired by the program but found their training challenging. Due to my difficulty in adapting to their training style and my youthful immaturity, I lasted six months. I was ready to come home but remembered everything they taught me and felt ready to begin my own program.

I knew I could offer parents something more effective than what was available. I was inspired by all of their gifted teachers but there was one line that inspired me the most. Steven Wertz, now running his own program in Florida, thought I was overthinking the program strategies during one training session. His feedback was simple but powerfull. He told me to "F the program!" I couldn't believe he said this to me, but I would go on to build a program around this quote.

The quote taught me to connect with children with autism in a deeper way. When watching Steven play with a child, you could feel his energy. He was trying to teach me what he used every day of his life and there is something more important than any strategy in existance.

I have now completed my mater's degree and passed my BCBA exam and am excited to use the research I conducted at The Univeristy of Saint Joseph in my program today.

 

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