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Often people tell me that I’m “special” or “an angel” for doing the work that I do.  I know they are being kind in offering such a compliment and I do appreciate that.  However, if I’m being honest, I don't see it that way.  I feel like I’m the “lucky” one to have found the wonderful humans I get to spend my days with and in this niche.

My days are often chaotic, emotional, physical, and just downright busy.  BUT they are also loving, caring, productive, and fulfilling.  I find that I leave feeling joy.  I’m also often humbled by my experiences.

One of my first experiences with autism was when I was 18 years old (a LOOOONG time ago I know),I worked in a residential facility.  There was a little girl named “A” who had autism.  She had the most beautiful eyes.  She seemed to look into your soul.  When she was “calm” A had the sweetest and kindest demeanor; however I quickly learned that when she was frustrated and didn't get her way, she would change into an aggressive being with super strength.

Now I know why these behaviors changed and that her lack of effective communication led to the behaviors.  That her aggressive behavior was because she could not communicate her needs.  I learned that her sensory input was a need that had to be fulfilled so that she had what she needed.  I learned that this was the area I wanted to learn more about.  This was my “calling.”  Thanks to “A” I began a journey through special needs from being a Therapeutic Staff Support to an EPSDT Case Manager to teaching in a self-contained setting.

When I left the public schools after 8 years, I  transitioned to in-home education consultation.  This is how I met “C” and his incredible family and learned what ABA even was!  A new branch of the field that spoke to me.  ABA was the direction I wanted to take for the next part of my journey.  Thanks to C, I began my coursework and obtained my fieldwork hours to become a BCBA.  This led me to in-home and center based ABA, and then to opening Gemstones!

I am not special.  I am grateful for all that I learned from “A,” “C,” and all the others that I have had the privilege to work with over the years!  For that, I say THANK YOU!


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