Monday
Mar032014

Frontline Focus: Lilly Wieczorek

Lilly Wieczorek has been with the company 2 years now. She comes to us with a good background in ABA. She is passionate about the company she works for, but even more for the children she impacts every day. Let’s learn more about her now:

 

   I started ABA 5 years ago when I began working with a 16 year old with autism as a part time job in college. Working with him changed my career path and showed me what I was actually passionate about. To say this boy changed my life is an understatement. I am so thankful that I took that job 5 years ago because it led me to Cornerstone.  I started working at Cornerstone after graduating college 2 years ago. 

   When I first interviewed, I was overwhelmed by Cornerstone's atmosphere and attitude. Each room provided something new and different, something for every kid. It was the kind of place I wished I had to play in when I was little. All of the employees were also all very welcoming, kind, and truly cared about their kiddos and their job. It was a team, a family, which I immediately wanted to become a part of.  It was so different from any place I had interviewed with or worked with before. Cornerstone's three main pillars (Maximize those who struggle, Embrace those who love, Fulfill those who serve) are the backbone behind every decision, choice, and move the company makes. It was founded to spread love and to touch lives and it continues to do so.

   For the past two years, I feel like I have learned so much. I feel like each time I get a chance to work with a new kid, I learn something new about ABA. Because, ABA isn't a formula you can memorize and apply to every kid. Each kid is unique and we need to learn from them before we can expect them to learn from us. The longer I work with these kids, the more I realize how much they have to teach me.

   Cornerstone has helped me in more ways than I can count.  It has given me a family of co-workers who are all passionate and caring, it has let me work one-on-one with 10 different and wonderful kids (all of which I would gladly adopt and take home!), it has expanded my knowledge of ABA, increased my patience, and helped confirm that working with these kiddos is where I need to be.

 

Lilly with one of our clients at Halloween.

 

Thursday
Feb202014

Thoughts from a Clinicial Support Role

Jenny Davy has been with Cornerstone almost 2 years. She started out as a therapist in Greenwood. She recently graduated from Ball State with her Master’s in ABA, and has recently taken on the additional responsibilities as a Clinical Support Position. See what Jenny has to say about these new roles and responsibilities.

I joined Cornerstone Autism Center in April of 2012 and have been in the field of ABA for four years.   I was impressed with the staff engagement and the beautiful facility when interviewing for the job.

I have spent time on the floor as a full time therapist and have also gone with Cornerstone into a local school to work with a client there. For the past 6 months I have taken on the role as Clinical Support in the mornings.

 The role of Clinical Support has allowed me to work closely with the Clinical Leads. This position entails supporting leads with the development of behavior plans, making stimuli, helping therapists as the leads see fit, updating behavior data and aiding in writing monthly reports.

In addition to this, I also prepare group lessons for 3 social groups that the clients participate in daily.  I closely monitor these groups and support the therapist in implementing the lessons.

The role as Clinical Support has been beneficial in preparing for a role as a Clinical Lead. I recently graduated from Ball State University with a Master’s Degree in Special Education with a focus in Autism and ABA, and am currently preparing to sit for my board certification exam.   The position of Clinical Support allows me to work with a variety of clients across all levels of the VB Mapp. It has also given me the opportunity to see how each lead works with their clients as well as the therapist who are with those clients.

 

Jenny is contemplating the best way to make a model bike out of pipe cleaners.

Monday
Feb172014

Frontline Focus: Brian Cherry

Brian Cherry joined our team in February of 2013. After spending a year at Cornerstone, Brian has been able to reflect on the many positive aspects of joining the Cornerstone family. Find out what he has to say:

 

When I got my Bachelors in Psychology from Butler University (GO BULLDOGS!), I wanted to use my degree in a way that I could give back and help others. Cornerstone has helped me achieve that.  I've currently been in the field of ABA for a little over 3 years now and specifically have been with Cornerstone for a year now.  People tell me that we touch so many lives in this field but people outside our field don't realize that these kiddos touch our lives too in so many ways.  In fact, every kiddo I've worked with has made me a better therapist and in turn helped me help them achieve all that they can.  They are what make this job rewarding every single day I come in.  Along with that, the staff at Cornerstone is such a delight to be around. It's amazing to work at a job with co-workers who are so supportive to both each other and the kiddos!

Cornerstone Autism Center is one-of-a-kind.  Sure, Indiana has several centers across the state, but here at Cornerstone we are like family, not just co-workers. The amount of love and effort we give and put in with each kiddo is what we do best.  In fact that's what each one of them is: a kid.  I don't look at the kiddos I work with as "clients" but in fact kids that we get to play with and help them achieve all that they are possible of achieving and I think that's what makes Cornerstone one-of-a-kind.  Cornerstone has taught me that it is possible to work at a place that is so supportive and has awesome co-workers and kiddos.  What more can you ask for in one place!?  It is because of this that Cornerstone has helped me become a better ABA therapist!

When I reflect back on my one year at Cornerstone, there's one story that stands out to me the most.  One of the kiddos I started with had a shoe tying program that he had been stuck on for months and he couldn't seem to grasp the concept.   When I spoke to his clinical lead and his afternoon therapist, we came up with an idea using a story line from one of his favorite books and had him recite the story line as he tied his shoes.  IT WORKED! At the time we were using a model shoe to practice on. The following week we began working on tying his shoe on his own foot.  In less than a month, he was independently tying his shoe!  It is little achievements like these that motivated me to start graduate school in the ABA master’s program at Ball State.  I hope to continue doing therapy for many years to come at Cornerstone so I can continue seeing these achievements come to life!

Brian was voted by his co-workers in Greenwood as the therapist that exudes, "Maximize thoes who struggle".  

Thursday
Feb062014

Parent Liaison: What does it mean?

Last week we were introduced to our new parent liaison, Sheila Carney. This week Sheila talks about her new role at Cornerstone Autism Center, and what she has planned to "Embrace those who love."

A liaison is someone who facilitates communication between groups or people. In this position I've been asked to begin several projects to bridge the gap between staff and parents of Cornerstone Autism Center, as part of Cornerstone’s mission to “embrace those who love.” Parents of children with Autism often have very specific needs and difficulties related to their children. It’s good for these parents to come together to support one another and share ideas, and for us as a staff to offer tools that will help them provide the best possible care for their families.

I have begun a monthly parent newsletter to feature local events, highlight the progress being made by our Cornerstone kiddos, and share all kinds of Autism-related information and research. Newsletter topics are based primarily on parent survey answers to questions regarding sensory and fine motor activities, local professionals, grant opportunities, nutrition and technology, and more.

Another project in the works is a lending library with books on many aspects of Autism including Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, ABA and Behavior Therapy, Nutrition and Diet, and Activities for the Home. I’m also working on an information packet for parents, with short articles on all of these topics as an introduction. Many outside professionals have already granted us permission to reprint their materials to share with our Cornerstone families.

I have created two closed Facebook groups for current Cornerstone members, where they can ask each other questions, and get the advice of other parents in this group. There is also a new Facebook group open to the public for families looking to learn more about nutrition interventions for Autism and other special needs. And new boards have been created in Pinterest on a variety of topics, such as Fine Motor Activities, Free Apps, Active Play, and Healthy Snacks. We hope to add more pictures and blog posts to our Facebook page and website as the year progresses.

We are very excited to launch a workshop series with three different topic areas. “Breakfast and Behavior” meetings will focus on ABA topics for parents, to help parents bring the work of the center into their own homes. These meetings will be led by our training coordinator Bekah Missi and our lead therapists. Next, we will have Parent Support Group meetings at both of our centers. These will be a time for parents to get together and talk, share successes and frustrations, and get ideas to help with difficulties at home. Surveys will continue to gauge areas in which parents have the greatest need for information. Finally we hope to feature an outside speaker every month to one of our Cornerstone centers, on a range of topics. In the planning stages for these workshops include speakers on the topics of Occupational Therapy, Finances for Special Needs, Nutrition and Diet for Autism, State Waivers, Introduction to ABA Therapy, and Technology for Autism. We are bringing in both local and national speakers and have some exciting agendas in the works, so check Cornerstone’s Facebook page often for updates.

Parents at Cornerstone are welcome to come to me with any questions related to Autism. All questions are welcome, and I will do my best to answer them or help parents find related resources. Those questions related to a child’s behavior or insurance I will help route to the appropriate Cornerstone staff member who can get them the support they need. Questions that have come to me in the past two months, and which I have been able to provide guidance, include: “How can I find a dentist who works well with Special Needs children? Where can I find a support group for my son’s siblings? Where is a good place to purchase therapy equipment, like an exercise ball or scooter? What are some local support groups in my area? How do I tell my family that my son has Autism? Where can I learn more about current research on Autism? What are some conferences I can go to? I’ve heard of these special diets for Autism, how can I learn more about them? How do other parents handle long appointments at the doctor? How do I find childcare for my son?”

Current Cornerstone parents can email or call to set up a meeting at the Greenwood or West Lafayette center. I will spend time with you discussing areas where you need resources and any questions you have. After the meeting I’ll send you an email full of ideas and links to more information. I also look forward to chatting with parents at our upcoming meetings and events.

I welcome parents’ suggestions for our support group, newsletter, and other activities. I hope to be a resource to parents who are ‘new’ to Autism and those who have been at this for a while, and yet every day I learn new things as well. My Hayden has come a long way since the day he first met Debbie, David, and Ken; as have I. In fact, Autism has changed my life in many ways, but in the end it has made me a better mom and a better person. Thank you to Debbie and Ken, for allowing me to provide this service.

 

Monday
Feb032014

Frontline Focus: Hannah Roberts

Hannah Roberts is a frontline ABA Therapist at our Greenwood center. She has been with us nearly a year and a half. Hannah has graciously taken the time to share her experiences with us as an employee of Cornerstone Autism Center. Let’s see what she has to say:

 

 

The past year and five months working at Cornerstone have been nothing short of amazing.  Beyond discovering where my passion lies, I have been surrounded by such talented, caring, witty, and compassionate people. Two summers ago, I nervously strolled up to the entrance of Cornerstone in Greenwood to have my first in-person interview. Shortly after Debbie, the co-founder, greeted me at the door, the butterflies in my stomach quickly vanished.  Every person I came in contact with at the center that morning was so pleasant.  I had never seen such a phenomenal facility, providing so much support to the kiddos.  The encouragement of the staff, the unique and homey setting, along with the individualized work settings for the kiddos are what made it instantly appear to be my dream job.  Seventeen months later, I am certain that it is.

When I began my new chapter at Cornerstone, Applied Behavior Analysis was new to me.  At the time, I had a speech and language pathology background, along with the experience of instructing social skills in a public school environment.  Needless to say, this past year and (almost) a half has been one learning experience after another, and I have loved every minute.  The majority of what I have learned has been from the kiddos.  Every day I am reminded of why I started this new journey.

Cornerstone has helped me to reach personal goals I have never thought possible, including my very first half marathon and first (and last) grueling Tough Mudder. Cornerstone has proven to me that you can truly love your job.  I look forward to acquiring more skills, accomplishing more goals through the support of my Cornerstone family, and continuing to learn from each and every child.  Looking back at where I started and ahead at what the future holds, I am so fortunate to have stumbled upon such an exceptional place to spend my days.

 

Hannah has recently started on her journey to receive her masters in ABA. Her time spent at Cornerstone has helped solidify her career path. We're so happy to have Hannah on our team, and are excited to see how she continues to grow.