Why I Work with the Autism Community
August 24, 2022
August 24, 2022
One of the best parts of working with our Hopebridge Heroes – besides seeing their superhuman passion and care in action, of course – is learning about their “why.”
From choices in position, setting, patient population, responsibilities and more, there are so many choices in today’s job market, that one can only imagine the incredibly rich and diverse backgrounds that bring each individual to their chosen role.
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that we were once again inspired by the story of one of our Hopebridge clinicians, Adriana Morales, PsyD, BCBA-D, LBA. As if you couldn’t already tell from the post-nominals in her title, Adriana offers a wealth of knowledge and skills for our families and team members. The experiences that brought her to this point are just as telling.
So, why seek a career path that involves autism testing and applied behavior analysis (ABA)? Adriana shared with us why she chose to make an impact on children’s futures through her job at Hopebridge.
As a psychologist, I appreciate the value of testing. Psychological testing offers insights into a child’s developmental milestones and social and behavioral needs with the goal of assessing any developmental delay(s) and/or diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in a timely manner so early intervention can be rendered by local providers.
As a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), I look forward to re-assessments every six months once the child begins ABA services at Hopebridge. I can track therapeutic gains as well as assess the areas that may need further interventions for every child’s individualized plan of care (POC).
I was personally a late bloomer and developed speech when I was closer to 4 years old. I would point at things and mom knew exactly what I wanted or needed at the time. Speech developed at a slow rate both in English and my native language, Spanish. No one shared with mom how to obtain a developmental evaluation, much less how to access a variety of services like speech, physical, occupational or ABA services.
This is important because research findings show that an average of six hours of speech therapy in a six-month period can produce significant improvement in language development vs. no treatment at all [Broomfield J, Dodd B (2011)**].
As I grew older, I struggled with the acquisition of the English language. I would speak Spanish at home and limited English in school. In freshman year, I heard the high school guidance counselor say one afternoon that I was not going to “amount to anything…” because of my average grades in high school and my inability to articulate my thoughts in social interactions. Due to social anxiety, I would even stutter at times.
I am forever grateful my beloved father was a bold encourager who helped me pursue every dream I envisioned in my life, despite developmental challenges, so I overcame one challenge at a time over the years.
Today, I am pleased to share with you I am fluent in both Spanish and English. I enjoy talking “way too much” and even must remind myself to listen more often. However, had I been diagnosed at an early age with a developmental delay and received speech therapy in a timely manner, I would have experienced fewer struggles and less emotional distress while growing up.
At the end of my senior year in high school, I wanted to help individuals to overcome developmental challenges so they, too, would flourish over time. My “why” is to be influential in children’s lives so they can develop to their fullest potential and have a fulfilling, enriching and growing experience. I want this for them not only at Hopebridge, but across all settings, from their home, to their community, and into their schools.
Being at Hopebridge, I am excited to evaluate children at a young age and focus on early intervention. Hopebridge is then also able to offer them a comprehensive treatment plan with a variety of therapies, including ABA, speech and occupational therapies, in the event they are eligible for these services.
I have been collaborating with individuals with disabilities for close to two decades. One of the most common treatment barriers is when children are not able to secure a psychological evaluation in a timely manner due to lack of available providers in the local area. It may take three to four years before a child obtains a developmental evaluation with a diagnosis of ASD or developmental delay(s). Unfortunately, this means their therapeutic services are also postponed, and they miss opportunities for growth and development.
As both a clinical psychologist and BCBA at Hopebridge, I want to ensure all our local children receive the best care by bridging the gap between the time of their evaluation and the time they begin with necessary therapeutic services.
If I can bridge this gap, I will always be motivated to show up every morning to work because I know in my heart that I will undoubtedly make a tremendous impact in a child’s life. This is the reason I am so enthusiastic about working with the pediatric population at Hopebridge. It is so encouraging to witness a child’s progress – and even attend the graduate ceremony from Hopebridge – as they acquire functional communication skills, decrease maladaptive behaviors, and increase their repertoire of daily living skills.
We want to learn your “why,” too. Our children and families need more psychologists, BCBAs and other clinicians like Adriana to get them the services and care they deserve to lead their best lives.
If serving out this mission – while discovering and growing your own potential – is what you’re looking for on your career journey, take a peek at our open positions in locations across the country.
** Broomfield J, Dodd B (2011) “Is speech and language therapy effective for children with primary speech and language impairment? Report of a randomized control trial.” International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. V46.6: 628-640.
*Informed consent was obtained from the participants in this article. This information should not be captured and reused without express permission from Hopebridge, LLC.