Our ABA Journey- Viewpoint from an Autism Mom and ABA Therapist

Blog 1:

I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and a mom of an autistic daughter.  I wear “two hats” as they say.  Sometimes I forget to take one hat off, before putting the other one on. Life can get so busy, emotional, and hectic.

My Job and Autism

Prior to having my daughter, I was a BCBA and worked as a behavior technician for 7 years. Before that I was a special education teacher for 5 years.  I have worked with children and adults on the spectrum since I was 17 years old (20+ years).

Working for ABA companies, I travel back and forth to client’s homes, school settings, and community settings, work long hours and late nights.  I love what I do, I especially love working at @GBCaba.  Every day I get the privilege to help clients with autism and their families, to help transform lives.

My Baby and Autism

Then, my daughter was born and I became a mom.  I began working at GBC aba, as a BCBA, the same year.  Work was great. My baby was healthy and I loved being a mom.  Things were going well, until they weren’t.

I didn’t know if I was paranoid or if it really was happening to me.  So many of the things I saw in my clients, I started seeing in my little girl.  I just had this feeling she had autism.  I enrolled her in early intervention, as soon as possible.  We had 5 different therapists coming to our home each week for one hour at a time, but it wasn’t enough.  Every month another milestone passed us by and my daughter’s delays were becoming bigger and bigger.

I took her to be evaluated for autism at 2 years old, but was told not yet.  I was livid and felt like the diagnostician was wrong!  I knew it… my daughter had autism.  Every minute without the formal diagnosis was another minute without ABA therapy.  The diagnostician wanted us to do further testing, we did what the diagnostician recommended.  One year later, after seeing countless specialists and going through other tests, she was diagnosed with autism, a heart defect, and a rare genetic condition.  Finally, she could receive ABA therapy to get her the help she needed!

You might ask, why didn’t you do it if you are a BCBA… more on this later, but the big answer is she is my daughter and even though I teach her daily, it is different! Being a mom is what she needs me to be.  I need other people in our lives, so I can be her mom.

Autism and ABA

I signed her up immediately for ABA therapy and waited for services to start.  We toured several agencies and interviewed them all.  To be honest, it was kind of weird being on that side of it.  For years, I was the one interviewing families.  In fact, I still do.  I was afraid the ABA companies would think of me as a competitor trying to steal secrets and gather Intel and not as a mom looking for help. In fact, one company did! After seeing my title and credentials (BCBA) in my email, they told me never to contact them again.  I was hurt.  I was just a mom looking for someone to help my baby.

Waitlists and Turnover

It took forever for services to start.  We were on waitlists, which many of you know is common with ABA companies.  I finally chose one company.  They did an assessment, but then we waited 3 months for staff and there was no word when they would start.

I couldn’t wait anymore, so we left that company and started at another one.  About one month after the assessment, we finally started with a team.  I was thrilled and hopeful.  My daughter would finally get some help! Then 3 months later, the BCBA left the company and so did all 3 of her technicians.  This was our first experience with turnover and it was massive.  This meant we had to start all over again with a new team!

The company was quick to find another BCBA and 3 more technicians.  Then 3 months later, that BCBA left the company and so did 2 of those technicians.  At this point, it just didn’t feel right to stick it through with the same company.  If the staff didn’t have company loyalty, why would we?

So after this round of turnover, we left this company too.  I’ve seen turnover before, as a professional, but never to this extent. I also hadn’t been on the parent side of things before.  It has been extremely frustrating and disheartening.  My daughter needs consistency and deserves the best.

Progress and Celebrating the Small Steps

GBC aba is a new company, new team, and I’m growing with them as a mother and a specialist.  I am once again hopeful because my daughter likes her technicians and the BCBA is a great fit for our family.  The best news is my daughter is starting to make progress!  She attempted to say “movie”, she can now turn on the bathroom lights, she is walking next to the cart at the store, she is eating with a spoon and is starting to learn how to use her AAC device to communicate! These may seem like small achievements to some, but to us they are huge! Every small step is one step closer to a better future for my daughter.  One step closer to more independence and a transformed life.  All this is possible because of #ABA.