How did you discover your passion for what you do?

I’ve known what I wanted to do for a long time. My brother, Daniel, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder around the time I was born. After several attempts to treat some of his challenging behaviors, my parents came across Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). My brother’s behavior drastically improved because of ABA therapy. In college, I discovered a passion for research in this area for two main reasons. First, I was captivated by the science of behaviorism and how predictable behavioral changes can be when we change the environment. Second, the dissemination of our work can impact a larger group of individuals beyond the individual subjects within each clinical case.

 

How do you continue to grow and be a lifelong learner?

My appointment has both academic and clinical requirements. As an academic, I am constantly reading, writing and trying to publish what I do. Aside from this learning, in my clinical practice, my clients are constantly presenting with challenging behavior in new ways. This means that I almost never apply what I learned in graduate school directly from a textbook. Instead, I have to apply theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of my science to each client who comes to the Marcus Autism Center. Without question, my favorite part of my job on a day-to-day basis is that I do, in fact, learn something new every day. I work in a field and with a group of people who feel the same way, meaning we constantly are growing as a group.

 

What words of wisdom do you live by?

Work hard, play hard. I work a lot and, when I am working, I am one hundred percent focused. That said, I have also learned to turn it off when I am not working. I absolutely love what I do, but evening, weekends and traveling keep me coming back for more.

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