I’ve gotten a lot of questions about my recent career change. It’s not what a lot of people are thinking. I need to tell the truth about my new job, helping children with Autism.
Some of you may already know, from my Facebook announcement, that I have a new job! I was hired by Easter Seals to work as a Behavior Interventionist, helping families and children with Autism. So many people applauded my new role. The support meant a lot to me. I’m not an angel, though. I’m not.
I’m a parent. I’m a parent of a child with Autism. I’m a parent of two children with Autism. Actually, I’m the parent of five children, and three of them have Autism. When I found out that my now almost seven-years-old triplets had Autism, I swore that it would never become my new job. I swore that Autism would not consume me or my children. I swore that I would not be political like those people. Also, I just swore. Truth.
Well, because I am a parent, Autism did in fact become my new job. It became my new job before my children were even diagnosed. I just didn’t know it back then. I had already begun working. It began with endless hours of research and advocacy for my children, which eventually led to their diagnoses. It continued through learning, navigating, and sorting through support systems, rapidly changing laws, service provider profiles, therapy approaches, myths, facts, and fielding endless questions I didn’t know how to answer.
Autism was my new job. Looking back, I see how blessed I’ve been to experience it the way I have. I don’t think that I ever thought that I wanted to fix my kids, but I’m sure I thought I wanted to fix life for them. As if any parent can just fix life, right? Over time, I stopped wanting to fix life or other people. I just wanted to support my children in life, as is. Because that’s the reality. I’m not going to fix other people. I’m not going to fix life for them.
I can advocate for “accommodations” in IEP meetings and try to make specific activities, routines, and experiences easier for them to manage, but none of these things are “fixes.” People with Autism don’t need to be fixed. They need to be supported, and so do their families. They need skills, tools, practice, inspiration, empowerment, and people who will have THEIR best interests always as the focus of every action.
That’s why I applied with Easter Seals. I know I can help. I’ve been there. This isn’t a career change for me. It’s not even really a career, in my case. It’s just the right thing to do. I’m only taking on a few clients, a couple of days per week. I’ll still be crazy-busy every other day of the week, trying to figure it all out, just like everyone else. But, two days per week, I’m also going to get paid to do something I’d honestly do for free. No, I’m not trying to become a BCBA. I don’t plan on climbing the industry ladder.
I don’t even have time to do this. I’m just making the time, because the children need more people to help. My children have been fortunate to have services that have made a difference in their lives. They continue to have those services. Paying it forward is the least I can do.
If you have ever worked with or thought about working with children with
(dis) abilities, I encourage you to reach out to an ABA provider in your local area. There are so many children just waiting for an ABA professional to begin their sessions, but the industry is grossly understaffed and there is a high turnover. It’s just the way it is, for now. Most ABA providers offer on-the-job training, support, and continuing education to help you get started.
Have you ever taken a new job that might make your day-to-day life harder, but you knew would be rewarding? I’d love to know in the comments!
By: Alicia Gonzalez