Josie Patch - Traveling the World Serving Kids with Autism
April 19, 2019
April 19, 2019
How many people can say their jobs take them around the world? Hopebridge Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) Josie Patch learned first-hand that her experience and knowledge in applied behavior analysis is taking her places – literally!
Josie recently joined the Global Autism Project on a two-week trip to the Netherlands, called SkillCorps. By volunteering through the non-profit organization, she helped educate and train staff in ABA therapy within another autism center across the globe. She first learned about the movement through a fellow therapist who had participated in a previous project trip to Indonesia.
“We are lucky to be able to utilize the effective ABA strategies with our kiddos in the United States, but it’s easy to forget that many others around the world still do not have access to these types of services,” said Josie. “I was inspired to join after seeing how important it is for us to share our knowledge of this evidence-based practice with the rest of the world in order for others to experience its power in building skills and independence.”
Following the application and interview process and then fundraising for the trip, Josie worked outside her hours at Hopebridge to prepare and train to work toward the organization’s goals. She served alongside participants from more than a half-dozen countries; everywhere from Greece and Spain to New Zealand and the Canary Islands.
When it was time to share her training, Josie left Columbus, Ohio for the trip of a lifetime. The first week included a lot of observation, debriefings, collaboration and presentation workshops within an autism center in the Netherlands. The second week was built around the therapy sessions; really getting involved with the therapists and children. The training included a lot of Socratic questioning from Josie and her colleagues in order to build independence for the center’s therapists without the need to rely on feedback. Instead, the program encourages them to utilize critical thinking skills to find solutions for their challenges.
“Seeing how motivated and enthusiastic these therapists were to learn and help these children with their services made this trip all worthwhile to me. They were always so eager and excited, even from the first day of shadowing, and couldn’t wait to receive feedback,” said Josie.
The education did not stop with the therapists overseas, as the SkillCorps volunteers had their own share of learning, especially when it comes to self-advocating and self-confidence. Josie feels the trip taught her a lot about her own abilities in the behavioral health field, as well as gave her speaking and presentation opportunities in front of people from all over the world.
“There was obviously a lot of professional development on this trip, but I feel I grew in areas of personal development as well. I’m in the process of becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and the Global Autism Project gave me the experience to practice my leadership skills and run sessions as I work toward my credentials,” said Josie.
Josie’s path to get to this point started a little differently. After working in home health with adults who have disabilities, she came across a friend’s social media post about a job in ABA therapy. Never having worked with children nor autism spectrum disorder (ASD) before, the role piqued her interest. She took the job, working in home and became a senior RBT within six months.
“That is where I learned I wanted a role in ABA as my career, but pulling kids out of school for therapy was not for me,” said Josie. “The skills of the kiddos I worked with had plateaued, so I wanted to work in a more intensive environment to make a larger impact. That’s when I learned Hopebridge was opening in Dublin, Ohio and jumped on the opportunity!”
Since then, Josie has enjoyed watching the progress of her learners over time. One child she worked with had a lot of physical restraints in the beginning and it was difficult for her to be mobile. In a matter of eight months, Josie was cheering her on as she used her newfound gross motor skills to walk up and down stairs independently. Another kiddo came to Hopebridge without play skills or communication skills, but Josie thinks fondly of working with him to achieve new milestones. She and the team enabled him with the skills to use Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), decrease maladaptive behaviors and engage with toys appropriately.
“These kids are just some of my favorite humans in the world,” said Josie. “I love the environment here in the Dublin center, from the kiddos to the supportive team to the culture. We do have tough days, of course, but it’s helpful when you have people picking you up when you need support. Yes, it’s work, but all my friends are here; it makes it more than just a job.”
At Hopebridge, we believe in empowering our team and are so happy to see them take advantage of opportunities to grow their own leadership skills and education. If a profession in ABA therapy and the learning culture sounds like a match for you, please visit the Hopebridge job board.
In-flight activities: “I have a fear of flying, so I mostly stared at the screen on my trip to the Netherlands and did a lot of bullet journaling – to-do lists, drawing, etc.”
Favorite city from her travels: “At the end of the workday, we were able to travel to other cities. The Netherlands has a huge public transportation system, which made it really easy to get from one place to another. I got to see a lot more of the country than I expected – around five different cities around where we were staying. My favorite travel spot was Leiden, which was a college town, housing a university. There were tons of shops and restaurants, plus beautiful canals. It was a very scenic and active city, which was neat.”
Best meal on the trip: “The waffles in the Netherlands were absolutely delicious! There were tons of toppings, like chocolate and different kinds of fruit.”
*Informed consent was obtained from the participants in this article. This information should not be captured and reused without express permission from Hopebridge, LLC.