So as many of you know I have worked for Hope Network’s Center for Autism for the past year. I have since transitioned back to working at the hospital full-time to achieve my goal of being an RN.
I worked at CFA (Center For Autism) as a Behavior Technician. The center is an outpatient therapy service for young children with autism. The center uses ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy to help children manage their behaviors. My job was to work one on one with a kid and run their therapy that was created by their BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst). I loved my job at CFA and learned a lot and here is what I took away.
Kids with Autism will “stim” on some very obscure things.
Stimming is never something that was actually defined to me but from what I can tell it’s just the object/phrase/noise/self stimulation the child enjoys.
ABA Therapy is built for perfectionists.
ABA is very particular. The programs are very thorough and detailed. It requires an analytic mind, attention to detail and patience.
I’ve seen Trolls more time than I want to.
Like when Trolls 2 comes out, I already resent it so much that I want to see it in theaters and then destroy myself at the bar after. Like bad, like I want to make a YouTube video I’m so drunk where I basically threaten Justin Timberlake.
These kids will do literally anything for candy.
It’s a big motivator and reinforcement for their programs.
“Oh you took a poop on the potty? Well here is an Oreo!”
They also get very excited for random things.
A tech’s hair being in a pony tail, bubbles, finding pinecones outside.
These kids see something they want, they will probably take it.
Most of these kids would make amazing pick pockets. They love their candy and you aren’t going to get in their way.
Autism really is a spectrum.
What works for one kid, may not work for another. There is nothing universal about these kids, they are individuals who are not defined by their disorder. Except they all go bananas for Trolls.
Kids are always sick.
I’ve never been more sick in my life since working with kids. I went 28 years without ever getting strep throat but my streak of that died in CFA.
Compared to my other jobs in the health field, the violence was less.
I mean these kids get mad, have tantrums, scratch, bite and hit but they are young so it’s an improvement over my experience with adults. Not to take away from any former coworker’s pain but I don’t miss the violence of adults.
You take pride in your regular kids.
I mostly worked with the same few kids during my time at CFA. Some times progress was slow as ABA has a lot of repetition in its success which is great for long-term but the day-to-day could get boring. However on that day when they mastered a trial you have been working on for months, my heart would grow with joy and pride.
I never adjusted to working business hours
I have worked in health care since I graduated college and I’m used to working nights, weekends, and holidays. Since this was an outpatient facility it operated Monday through Friday 8-5. I feel like I never got used to waking up 5 days in a row for work or dealing with 5 o’clock traffic. Obviously there are perks to this schedule but I never stopped missing being able to go to Target on a Monday afternoon with no people, or stay up late on a Wednesday because I have Thursday off. Also in an 8-5 you have to get used to office etiquette like people brining in bagels on random mornings but also getting passive aggressive notes about not washing dishes.
I will miss that place, those kids, and my coworkers. I valued my entire year there and look forward to what’s next for me.