I have been in the industry of behavior management & analysis for years. I mean years – like going on 2 decades. I have learned so much in that time from both books (yay, student loans) and most importantly from the thousands of in-field experiences with clients, that I often wonder how I’ve been able to retain all the good stuff I’ve learned over the years. From the hundreds of clients I have worked with, there are a few things that stand out from being a newbie, to the transition of experienced practitioner.
14 years ago, I was a greenhorn. As most greenhorns will admit, we aim to be the trailblazers; we have this unfaltering passion to see our clients become rock stars, where we get the nod of approval from other professional in the industry. At the risk of geeking out with a Star Wars reference, we aim to be behavior Jedi-masters, where a client’s good behaviors are increased and bad behaviors decreased, all with a wave of our Lightsaber. We believe our passion is enough to propel our clients to new heights where they nail every program created for them, often at such fast rates that we can’t keep up with creating new programs or writing progress reports fast enough.
Fast-forward to today, and I still want these goals for my clients. However, there is significantly less emphasis on data and more emphasis on the client. I want my clients to feel confident in their own skin; to love and accept themselves exactly how they are. I want parents to have a deep appreciation for their child and to have a huge bag of skills to pull from, in working with their child. I want each client to find successes – in their behavior programs, but most importantly in their lives. I want all my clients to feel valued; for society to understand and accept them exactly as they are. I want society to know that an Autism diagnosis does not define who a person is, or what they set out to accomplish in their lives. I want parents to become their own Jedi Masters for their child, and most importantly, for society, which is often cruel and oblivious in its awareness of special needs.
I will always value the importance of data collection and analysis. After all, that is at the cornerstone of working with special-needs clients. However, my personal values place the client first – before an Autism diagnosis and before a program goal. The simple behavior of making a client feel heard and accepted should be paramount for all professionals, regardless of the industry.
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