The path to becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) can be a long one and requires lots of dedication. Aspiring BCBAs must complete Graduate Level coursework in Behavior Analysis, complete 2,000 hours of supervised fieldwork, pass the BCBA exam, and become licensed in the state that they wish to practice in. Later this year, three of our Graduate Assistants will take the final steps in this process and sit for their exam. Clare Peropat '20, '22 (M.S.) started her training when she worked at the Kinney Center as a SCHOLAR and now shares her story as she looks back at her time at the Kinney Center.
Kinney Autism & Support
Lessons Learned From Working with Individuals with Autism
Summer 2021 marked a full return of in-person programming at the Kinney Center, starting with a summer of fun at Camp Kinney. For our ASPIRE students, Camp Kinney presented the chance to build resume and job skills in ways never offered before. While many ASPIRE students continued to serve as one-on-one support for campers, others created a weekly newsletter, produced promotional films, and acted as operational support ensuring activities went off without a hitch. Opportunities to build networking and leadership skills were provided through weekly events with Kinney staff and High School Peer Models. As the operations staff managed a vibrant neurodiverse team, we learned lessons about ourselves as managers, and witnessed the numerous benefits. Some of our key lessons learned included:
- Maintaining a consistent schedule: A consistent and structured schedule with clear directions and expectations was key to reducing anxiety and frustration, while increasing confidence and independence. Keeping consistency was also important in helping to develop a routine with staff and students, and in differentiating between times for work and social interactions.
- Learn your limits and the limits of others: We have all experienced days where we may not want to interact with others, had low energy, or were just in a funk. Recognizing limits and expressing needs maintains calmness and productivity. Planning both independent and collaborative activities is beneficial for times when team members want to work alone, and times when everyone is excited to collaborate together.
- Create an in-depth hiring and onboarding process: Take the time to get a detailed understanding of your employee’s likes and dislikes. Learn what they see as their strengths, and areas where they don’t feel as confident. Assigning roles based on skills and preference sets employees up for success as job satisfaction. As the individual gets comfortable with the routines and expectations of their new job, conduct regular check-ins to see if their interests change, and offer stretch goals to ensure growth opportunities.
- Communication Skills: Keep communication specific and succinct and limit anecdotal conversation when explaining job tasks. Avoid the use of analogies, keeping communication concise and literal to avoid any gray areas. Adapting communication styles to each individual also helps to form a relationship between manager and employee.
- Flexibility: Not every interaction with an individual on the autism spectrum will be the same. Some individuals may need more time to understand instruction, while others will be more independent. Every day is different. Flexibility and patience are essential!
We look forward to continuing to grow and implement these lessons learned in Summer 2022.
If you are interested in learning more about how to capitalize on the many talents of a neurodiverse workforce, consider declaring a Neurodiversity in the Workplace Minor now being offered at Saint Joseph’s University. The corporate world is seeing the potential of a neurodiverse workforce, and there is an increased demand for managers who are equipped to navigate the unique challenges of this population. Learn more about this new minor by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Joseph McCleery at email@example.com.