August 2020-March 2021
As an Academic Aide, I accompanied a child with autism to school each day. My job encompassed everything from modifying classwork in real time in the classroom to make it accessible, tutoring subjects where the child was falling behind, reminding him of various social guidelines, encouraging positive socialization, and communicating closely with his parents, therapists, and school special education coordinator. Having worked before as an ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapist, I was diligent in coordinating with the child's therapists to reinforce positive behaviors in the most effective ways and focus on the most pressing life lessons.
I have been a volunteer counselor for MDA's one-week summer camp for the past six years. This experience entails helping kids ranging from 8 to 17 years old with a range of tasks depending on their personal level of physical functioning. In addition to being a caregiver in the physical sense, being an MDA camp counselor is hugely about emotional support and encouragement. Many of the campers have never had a sleepover due to the amount of care they need from dressing to eating to showering, so this is the one week each year that they stay away from home. Because of the equipment available at the camp grounds, the campers are able to partake in activities they usually could not. MDA camp is an extremely humbling and fulfilling experience. The campers look forward each year to camp, where they get to see their friends from across the region, participate in the same activities as everyone else, and be surrounded by other kids with common experiences. Unfortunately, the 2020 summer camp was cancelled due to COVID-19, but I look forward to volunteering again once it's safe!
While studying abroad at Rose Bruford College in the spring of 2019, I was able to work under Jo Frater, Director of ConfiDance. The experience of working through ConfiDance with children with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities or on the Autism Spectrum as fellow artists has taught me not only the possibilities of inclusive work but also the benefits it has to offer. I learned how movement can become communication in more settings than performance. It can bridge the gap between verbal and nonverbal individuals regardless of social skills or physical ability. Simple movement-based play can show recognition that everyone is an artist with a voice to be heard.
July 2017-August 2017
In the summer of 2017, I worked as an ABA Therapist for a company called Agapi. I was trained in ABA therapy and worked with young clients with autism to teach social skills, life skills, and reinforce positive behaviors.