The staff at Bluegrass Center for Autism is dedicated to giving each child individualized attention so that they can flourish. We spoke with their clinical team about how the center is transforming the lives of individuals with autism and their parents.
Clinical Director at the Kosair Charities East Campus
How do you tailor your treatment plans to the needs of each child?
There is a quote that says, “When you have met one child with autism, you have met one child with autism.” Each client we serve has their own individual personality and are affected by autism in their own way. Everything we do takes this into account — anything from the specific targets we teach for skill acquisition to reinforcing activities and our own behavior. Our staff are great at knowing the clients they are working with and how to adjust the environment for success.
What do you love the most about working at BCA?
It is hard to say just one thing. I love being able to work with many children and families. It is the best feeling to see a child progress and see their parents take pride in their child. I also feel incredibly lucky to be a part of such an amazing leadership team of women. It is amazing all the things BCA has accomplished and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Clinical Director at the Mid-City Campus
When did you realize you were making a difference in a client’s life?
When I first started at BCA we had a young learner who came in for an evaluation and during that evaluation we identified several possible goals for services, such as learning to communicate, toilet training, and learning to sit appropriately. I became the BCBA for this learner when they started with us. I began with basic goals for communication and sitting appropriately. [One day], the client saw me enter their team room and came to sit next to me and asked me for bubbles. In that moment, I realized our team had given this learner the skills to communicate something that they wanted with another person and have a meaningful interaction. This learner has continued to grow and change over the years. I am extremely proud of the work we do at BCA. I am in a very fortunate position; I originally began working with clients at our east location and have transitioned to the mid-city campus. I get to see many of the learners transition from our early intervention services to our Mid-City campus. Seeing them continue to learn and grow is an amazing feeling.
How does BCA work with parents to facilitate the learning process for children?
I am fortunate to be able to interact with the parents of learners at BCA daily. They are each dedicated to their family members’ needs and abilities in a way that is admirable and inspiring. Each family comes to meetings, puts time and effort into helping their children meet goals, and then incorporates everything into their daily lives. These families are dedicated to their children, the mission of BCA, and the staff who are working to help all individuals.
Why is there high demand for jobs in the field of behavioral health?
There are approximately 82,000 individuals living in Kentucky who are on the autism spectrum. Each one of these individuals has unique needs and access to services. Kentucky has around 200 licensed behavior analysts who can provide empirically validated treatment utilizing the principles of applied behavior analysis. As the diagnosis of autism continues to rise, our field will need to expand and grow. We need more individuals who are dedicated to improving and impacting the lives of individuals with autism, their families, and our communities.
Clinical Director of the BCA Community/Vocational Program
What is the most difficult part of your job?
The biggest challenge of my job is not taking it home. When issues arise or a child or adult is having a tough time it can be difficult to take a break from thinking about it. I think people in this profession are born problem solvers and care about the people they are working with, so it’s hard to turn that off until you know you’ve helped someone get through a difficult time.
What would surprise someone the most about working at BCA?
People who are not familiar with autism, sometimes unintentionally tend to see a diagnosis rather than an individual. Each child and adult are unique and have individual strengths and strong personalities. Working at BCA allows you to meet all different types of kids and adults. You are able to establish a relationship with each of them. Getting to know them and their families changes your perception about many things. I’m incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work with them. It sounds cliché, but it really is more than just a job. It gives you a sense of purpose and the opportunity to create meaningful change in someone’s life.