How Hopebridge RBT Mikala Tutterrow Expresses Awareness and Passion for Autism
March 09, 2018
March 09, 2018
Unique. Lifelong. Colorful. Special. Individual.
These are characteristics you’ll find inside the walls at Hopebridge…although we may not be describing what you expect. Yes, of course, we think of autism spectrum disorders – and our kiddos – in this way, but in this case, we’re referring to the tattoos that signify them.
It’s amazing to see how many different interpretations have been drawn for our team members and parents, as well as the passion and commitment that inspired each piece of art. We sat down with Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) Mikala Tutterrow to share the story behind her ink.
For as long as I can remember, my grandfather wanted me to become a nurse so I could make lives better, which is what I initially pursued. After starting in that field, I realized nursing wasn’t the path for me, but I still wanted to help people for a living. That’s when a friend mentioned another program working with children with autism.
In that job I cared for a younger boy who lost his mom. I was at home with him every day for two years. The world had been tough for him, but I saw his incredible progress and saw how therapy could change lives. I fell in love with the work and eventually transitioned into ABA therapy at Hopebridge.
It’s not the job my grandfather intended for me, but he lit up when he saw my love for the work. To be able to share his dream of helping people – but put my own twist on it – was amazing.
I was 21 and went to a tattoo shop with a friend on a Saturday morning. I initially wanted something cute and little on my wrist, but didn’t have anything specific in mind. While looking through the artist’s books, he asked what was important to me at that moment. The boy I cared for immediately popped into my head.
I decided on a puzzle piece; one big piece with others connected on the inside. I chose this autism tattoo to remind me of the kiddos I work with, but also with the intention of spreading awareness. I want to get the word out that autism doesn’t define someone. It turned out to be a great conversation starter! It helps me inform people about ASD and the resources available.
This is a really tough question! I think this quote helps sum it up: “If you’ve met one person with autism, then you’ve only met one person with autism.” The tendency is to group people with autism together, but it’s important to understand that these kiddos and adults are individuals. Their personalities are different and each is amazing in different ways. Autism should never define a person.
Want to see more? Follow @hopebridge360 on Instagram and stay tuned here on the blog to see more of our team members’ designs. Join the conversation and share your own art by using the hashtag, #HopebridgeAutismTattoo.
*Informed consent was obtained from the participants in this article. This information should not be captured and reused without express permission from Hopebridge, LLC.