This year Cornerstone Autism Center accepted 5 Purdue University undergraduates to participate in internships for their majors. These students will learn proper ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy, analysis of programs and data, and work along side therapists directly helping children with autism, and much more!
Cornerstone Autism Center employs Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) who have years of experience serving children across the spectrum of autism disorders. Plus, they also employ the most talented and dedicated professionals in various fields including; ABA, Occupational Therapy (OT), and Speech-Language pathology to bring quality treatment to children with autism and to those who love them.
A variety of communities such as university professionals, job seekers, and families have wondered what it’s like working in an autism environment. We decided that the best way to show this was to follow the Purdue interns from the college of Health and Human Sciences and share their experiences and training as ABA therapists.
During the first month of our Cornerstone Reflections mini-series we introduced each of the interns. In our second installment we will learn what the first month of training has been like so far and their experiences working with children who have autism.
Without further ado, welcome back Becca Shapiro!
Jarrad: You were nervous started PCM (Professional Crisis Management) training. As the training continued though you felt more confident. What was it that made you feel less nervous and made the experience easier?
Becca: I think it was just the aspect of the PCM test being a pass or fail that made me nervous. The overall experience was made easier with the people I was surrounded with. Deon, the instructor, made it a lot of fun to learn PCM and the taught the concepts for us to understand easily.
Jarrad: Know that you've learned PCM and ABA can you explain to me how the two work so well together?
Becca: PCM is used when dealing with severely aggressive individuals. The techniques used help control these aggressions and behaviors just as ABA programs do, and helps progress the actions/behaviors to be more appropriate.
Jarrad: Here's an interesting thing to think about. Each person is as distinctive as the next person, just as children with autism are just as unique to another on the spectrum. With that said, what have you learned so far that highlights this statement shadowing and the direct interactions you’ve had with the children?
Becca: Every child is different, whether they are verbal or nonverbal. They each have different reinforcements and along with those reinforcements, some are more valuable than others to the children with autism. Not all nonverbal children’s signs are the same; some use modified sign language in order to communicate. Their programs are all different depending on the level of their function. It has been really interesting and amazing at the same time to get to know these children individually.
Jarrad: What is “pairing” and how does it help you interact with the children?
Becca: Pairing is getting to know your child/client so well that you have complete instructional control. You get to know all of their reinforcers, their way of communicating, and functions of behaviors. You become the “giver of good things” when giving reinforcements to motivate your child and in turn, they look to you for help and answers.
Jarrad: What have been challenges that you've faced interacting with the children and having to think “on the fly” that you're personally proud of?
Becca: Well, shadowing has helped me a lot. With my first client, he has shown me a lot of non compliance in order to “test me”, and by seeing it firsthand with his prior therapists I was able to handle it and avoid the situation from progressing into a tantrum. Luckily his lead was with me and observed my plan of action and said I did an excellent job! I understand that everyday is not going to be the same and that there are going to be rough days. But being able to experience these challenges will help me in the longrun for future reference of what to do in certain situations.
Jarrad: You mentioned that you have been floating at the center. What are some of the duties you do when floating? How is floating beneficial at Cornerstone?
Becca: I keep the different activity rooms tidy, take therapist’s places when they need a break, help the admins out with any duties that need to be fulfilled, work in the therapist workroom, and I have also been helping Cornerstone move their offices and the cafeteria to be more effecient.
For me, floating is beneficial because it gives me a chance to shadow therapists and children to gain more experience. It gives me a different variety of programs to understand, ABA methods to learn, and individual children to get to know better. I feel fortunate to have floated so much too, because it has made me feel a lot more comfortable and get to know everyone a little better!
Jarrad Shaw graduated Purdue University in Human Services studying community & relationship building, & program implementation. Jarrad is seeking a full time role in public relations & community management. His current projects are growing & managing online content & community involvement for Cornerstone Autism Center, Cornerstone Autism Foundation, Caustic Ideas, & Entertainment Fuse. He handles several forms of web & blog content, and builds interpersonal relations with communities across various sites. Jarrad is continuously expanding his experience in the always evolving tech world & gaming industry. When Jarrad is not reading the latest trends in the social marketing sphere, he spends his time playing video games with friends & working on a new side project, producing electronica music for mobile gaming platforms. You can contact him by e-mail at: email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.