SkillCorps Kenya: Natural Environment Teaching

Hello everybody!

Our trip has been amazing with each day revealing something exciting and new. Having the opportunity to explore a new country and work with an incredible school and staff has been indescribable.  I first signed up to travel with Skillcorps because I thought it would be exciting to share my knowledge to help the students and staff at Kaizora. Little did I know that I would be continually learning and growing each day on this exciting adventure.

I learned so much during one of our training activities on Natural Environment Teaching (NET). Making sure to motivate the staff too :) we started one of our activities with a competition to contrive and capture the most learning opportunities with our students. Because the students were out on holiday for the day, school director, Pooja, and myself played the role of students on the competing teams.

10247408_681689188536968_389121815_nPlaying the role of a Kaizora student was very eye opening. As the staff interacted with me I was able to put myself in the student’s shoes. Sometimes I felt over-stimulated, sometimes I felt nervous, sometimes I felt excited when I didn’t know what the staff members would do to capture and contrive my motivation. Playing this role, allowed me to give feedback to the staff so they could shift their behaviors and skills to make the students feel that their learning environments were fun! After giving the staff feedback, it was absolutely amazing to come to school on Monday and see the staff implement
NET opportunities with their students. That activity and learning experience for myself has definitely been one of the highlights of my trip!1975220_681686118537275_1272985353_n

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SkillCorps Kenya: Small Stones, Big Ripples

First of all, let me apologize for our delinquency in updating the blog here from Kenya! It has been an EXTREMELY busy week at Kaizora, which has been amazing. We have been hitting the ground running every day from 8:30 am to about 10 pm at night, with trainings, implementing behavior plans, and world autism awareness day activities!! Suffice to say, we’ve just been having too much fun to adequately report on what we’re doing.

Yesterday was a half day of training for us, so after finishing up at Kaizora, I took the team to lunch and then to the Kazuri bead factory. Kazuri means “something small and beautiful” in kiSwahili, and it was a factory started by two women as a sustainable, community-based employment opportunity for single mothers and disadvantaged women in the Nairobi community. Now, the factory has grown to employ over 340 women, exporting beautiful beads and pottery made from locally-sourced material to all over the world. It started tiny—“small and beautiful” if you will—but is now a source of sustainable employment for so many people who need it, as well as truly local form of economic development.

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Looking at the amazing progress of this tiny idea over the years, I could not help but think of it as a metaphor for what Kaizora is doing. Kaizora (which means “child” in sanscrit) started as something “small and beautiful” in Nairobi. Initially it was just one person (Pooja) providing therapy for a few kids at her house. Now it’s blossomed into this remarkable movement. Since SkillCorps was on the ground last time, Kaizora’s clinical staff has tripled and they have taken on even more new clients. This trip we have been working on Natural Environment Teaching (NET) and all of the staff (even the new ones) were remarkably proficient at understanding advanced ABA concepts such as various motivating operations after just a small amount of training. Their passion for learning and the kids they world with is truly unbelievable to me.

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Last Tuesday, April 2nd, was World Autism Awareness Day. I had the amazing honor to go to Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital here in Nairobi and sit at a booth with Kaizora Consultants and Autism Awareness Kenya as they provided free behavior consults, developmental screening, and information about autism. It was also amazing to hear Joe, one of Kaizora’s senior staff, give a morning radio interview about autism. Reflecting back on the past four years of partnership with Kaizora, it is clear that everything remarkable starts with something “small and beautiful. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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Posted in All Posts, Autism, Kenya, Stories from the Field

Final Plus/Deltas – SkillCorps Peru 2014 Comes Home

During the Global Autism Project SkillCorps trips, it is common practice to evaluate each day with events that were cherished (pluses) as well as events that one would change (deltas). Each day is rated from 1 to 4 (with 4 representing a great day in which one wouldn’t change a thing). Our team was instructed to adhere to this practice from day one.  We could not go to bed in peace without first running a plus/delta meeting. Molly ensured this would happen for the first few days, but this quickly became habit for us. Two and a half weeks later we got together for the last time in Peru and decided to change the rules a little bit, sharing our overall pluses and deltas for the whole experience.

Naturally, after spending day and night for weeks working on a common purpose, Katie mentioned her biggest plus was to have developed this bond with one another and to have worked closely as a team to do important work and contribute to this project. She considered each delta that was encountered during this trip as an opportunity for personal growth, and therefore deltas became pluses. However, the one thing she would change would be to remain close to her new friends. Our last weekend in Cuzco and Machu Picchu was a perfect ending to this life-altering trip. Cuzco was so charming, full of history, and full of life.

Rusty was proud to have worked as a translator “for none other than the phenomenal Molly Ola (Ola being her middle name of course) Pinney”, and to have worked with the kids at Cerrito Azul. He was glad to have met “Pegasus the Llama” at the ruins of Machu Picchu and enjoyed himself to the extreme during Cuzco’s Carnival. He added that he learned the social etiquette of the culture and a bit of the Quechua dialect.

I had to share how impressed I was by the clinical knowledge and the amount of heart both Stephanie and Katie brought to this experience.  Their contributions were so well thought out and insightful, but what I enjoyed the most was getting to know them on a personal level. They are simply bright and beautiful individuals. I was also impressed with the staff at Alcanzando, who showed great dedication and professionalism. They had a very structured and efficacious teaching system put in place by Mapy, but more importantly they had raw talent that was shaped by their wonderful supervisors who diligently monitored them, and were always on point with integrity checks and programmatic interventions.  I had to take my hat off to those instructors who demonstrated their abilities as master multi-taskers. They were able to keep pre-school aged or younger children engaged in 3-hour sessions, running numerous programs with a constant self-awareness as to when to use the correct prompting and reinforcement techniques. They are expected to master so many components throughout each learning opportunity, and they make it look effortless.  They have to know the performance criteria for the skill they are teaching, how to present the instruction, what level of prompting to use, the schedule of reinforcement, and proper corrective protocols for each program they run. They must do all of this while recognizing when a reinforcer’s strength is decreasing, being strategic about recovering the child’s attention, and while not permitting inadvertent reinforcement of problem behaviors.  Their work is clearly underrated.

I have to say, the kids were so petite, so lovely, and so funny! It is impossible not find joy in seeing them blossom and playing such a pivotal part in the process. With that said, I am also pleased with our ability as a team to have chosen practical and insightful recommendations for the staff that were put into effect within a very short amount of time , and caused a sustainable impact on everyone involved. It felt amazing to see that every single person was so receptive and participative throughout the supervisor, staff, and parent workshops.  On a more personal level, I surprised myself in my ability to lead during several impromptu situations. I also loved having the opportunity to learn and share experiences so closely with Rusty. It was refreshing and enriching to have an adult with autism become a colleague and a friend. I was immeasurably touched by Arty’s story as a mother of a child with autism and inspired by Debbie’s art form and advocacy as a photographer.

I wished we could have worked closer to Mapy, Molly and our team leader Sara, who could only accompany us for a few days, but they all wear many hats and can only be one place at a time. Machu Picchu was such a grandiose place. We are so privileged. It was so humbling and amazing to be there. I don’t know how to express in words the magnitude of the impact it had on me.

Stephanie shared each of our sentiments, but also added that she was proud to have practiced and become more comfortable speaking Spanish. Stephanie challenged herself every day to improve her conversational skills. She did an amazing job speaking with greater fluency as time passed, she made great contributions as a clinician and as a person.  Stephanie also made note of something very important: food. What a delicious gastronomic experience. We enjoyed so many Peruvian foods including ceviche, lomo saltado, causa, anticuchos, aji de gallina, papa a la huancaína, chicha morada, granadilla, alfajores,  picarones and more. Stephanie enjoyed the chifa (peruvian-chinese fusión), and could eat Peruvian sushi every day for the rest of her life. As an animal lover she could not wait to be close to Llamas which finally became a reality at the end of our Machu Picchu tour. Again, the only true delta for her was that she will miss her SkillCorps and Alcanzando team and return to a cold winter in Boston.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the pluses we experienced, but at least I could share part of that emotional conversation that precluded the end of SkillCorps Peru 2014. I applaud the Global Autism Project for their dedication to this universal community. I admire Molly’s vision to have traveled great lengths to create this organization.  As a growing organization involving international travel I could witness the numerous challenges and obstacles it encounters on a daily basis, but also saw countless victories. What an opportunity for growth, what a beautiful mess!

I loved this experience! Thank you for allowing me to be part of it! I give this trip a 4!

Thank you!!

Miguel Avila

SkillCorps Member, Peru 2014

 

Posted in All Posts, Peru, Stories from the Field, Travel

SkillCorps Indonesia: Reflections from a moving experience

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At home, every morning, my alarm goes off at 4:45am, I roll over and shut off my iPod alarm and start my way to the other room. I pick out my workout DVD and start up my laptop. The next thirty minutes, I spend working out and drinking branch chains. At the end of my workout, I have a quick protein shake and jump into the shower. From there I get dressed, pack my lunch, make my second protein shake and watch the news before I leave for work.  Once I arrive to work, I go through the motions and interact with the children, waiting for the clock to hit 3:30p. I then drive home. This is what I thought was a simple day. However, my whole perception has changed.

 

Over the past two weeks, I woke up between four and five AM depending on the call to prayer. I simply lay in bed and think of my day and what needs to be done and then shower using a bucket filled with water. I get dressed; have breakfast (noodles, some sort of pastry and juice) and then its time to grab a cab. The cab takes about 15 minutes to YCHI where I have met the most amazing people to work with. As soon as you enter the grounds, you are welcomed with warm smiles, and eager minds. The therapist’s ask questions about clients and begin to prepare for sessions. As the day continues, I have gotten the chance to sit in on sessions, help with clients, and watch as therapists help children learn.  At the end of the day we sit and share how the day went and discuss topics of interest like data collection and problem behaviors.

 

During this process, I watch as the therapist light up over new information, take notes, ask questions and process the information. The best part is when they have that “aw ha” moment and it all clicks. Their smiles become larger, their eyes get big and their shoulders drop as their body relaxes. That is the moment I realize I had made a difference. This difference wasn’t in the suggestions, but it was passing on the knowledge so that the therapists can be more independent as therapists. I am at YCHI to share my experience and knowledge to individuals who want to learn and become independent.

 

Working in the states I have met many amazing people, but there is always competition to do better then the next person or to please the insurance company. That is not the case in Indonesia. Everyone works together, they open their hearts and minds to strangers to help them learn and they embrace their surroundings by taking every moment as a moment to learn. The countries motto is “Unity in Diversity”, and you see that everywhere you look and especially in YCHI as they use everyone’s different backgrounds to work and grow together.

 

Now, when I go home and wake up at 4:45am, I will stop and take in the moment. I will go to work and look at everyone I work with as an opportunity to learn and gain new experiences. I will not rely on my devices to help me get through the day, but I will rely on the interactions and feedback from others. This is what YCHI as taught me, it is not what you have, but it is about the experiences and people you learn from.  These therapists have taught me so much and I look forward to learning more from them and learning from my experience here.

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SkillCorps Indonesia: The “Aha” moments from week one

The “Ah Ha” Moments of the Week at YCHI

It’s been a busy week here! We were excited to see YCHI and meet the therapists for the week on Monday! The main center is beautiful! And the staff is so nice. They are all so excited to have us here this week. Mr. Zulfikar, the founder, came to visit us on Monday. We learned more about how YCHI came to be and their future! He is a go-getter; reminds me of my boss, Lee!! He is full of new ideas and wants to do everything he can to help the children! Mr. Zulfikar has a son on the autism spectrum. He was diagnosed at 18 months and around this time he made an oath to himself and God that if his third child were typical he would do everything he could to help children with autism in Indonesia. Several years later YCHI began and there are now 7 centers throughout the country and he continues to start new projects in Jakarta and surrounding communities helping families with children with disabilities.

We spent Monday getting to know the therapists and had a chance in the afternoon to go see Tuman Mini, which is a national museum in Jakarta. It’s a mini version of Indonesia. It sits on 150 acres and has structures representing the different regions and tribes. Shinta and Iffah from YCHI joined us, which was great because they were able to tell us the history throughout our walk through Tuman!

We finally got to meet the children on Tuesday! We began the day by observing the therapists to determine what skills we were going to train them on throughout the week. The therapists are amazing and from what I observed in a short amount of time, their skills are excellent and they are very eager to learn! Overall they are doing a great job of administering the tasks, and reinforcing and prompting. Skill areas that we identified to train on included physical structure, simple visual schedules and visuals, more on prompting and reinforcing, data collection, and identifying appropriate tasks. The therapists had a lot of questions for us about individual children they work with. We quickly figured out that problem behaviors were an area of need. As a group we were able to work together and come up with solutions coaching them and showing them examples of strategies to use. It was fun to see them all have those “ah ha” moments! I realized how grateful of the knowledge I have and to the people who have taught me. This is an opportunity for me to share it with people who need it, want it, and appreciate it! It’s one of the greatest gifts I can give as a professional in my field especially knowing that it will be helping the team at YCHI and the community of children!

We also got to meet a wonderful group of parents and teachers from the community. We gave a two-hour presentation on puberty-not the most exciting topic but a much needed topic to talk about! We had an amazing discussion with them and learned about their cultural norms. Many of the parents wanted to know ways to prevent the events of puberty even occurring (don’t worry I won’t go into graphic details)! This is difficult for puberty is a biological and natural occurring event that happens to everyone, even individuals with disabilities. It was definitely an eye opening experience!

As the week has continued we have worked together as a team; for example, one of the children, Zulni, does not like to sit in his seat and work. He would prefer to move around. His gross and fine motor skills are also very weak. The therapist’s goal is to have him sit and work so I began brainstorming with them ways that we could help Zulni sit. It was fun to hear their ideas and work together as a team. They know these children so well and they are so smart! We strategized and identified that structure was a priority, along with very short work time intervals. So Thursday morning we restructured his work area. We simply put Zulni’s chair up against the wall and slid the table up to him with a therapist sitting next to him blocking him from getting up. We are starting simple and will build from there! I’m happy to report that we had successful sitting! Zulni sat up straight, completed several tasks, and did not fight it! I can’t tell you how excited the therapists were! One of the best moments so far!

Our sharing sessions this week has focused on problem behaviors! As a social worker I never took behavior-specific courses but have learned the basics over the years from my colleagues and being in the schools in Kansas. As a team we prepared a great presentation that professionally I would have presented to teachers and staff back in the U.S. in 30 minutes; however we quickly realized on Wednesday that after two hours and only 3-5 slides in that this topic was going to take much more time. Watching Emily break down the information was amazing! To us it was basic to begin with, but for the therapists it needed to be broken down even more. She was able to quickly take the A-B-C concepts and define them and then have the therapists practice defining them with examples. From there we moved on to define the function of behavior, which was a more difficult concept to grasp. Again Emily was able to break it down and by the end of the two-hour sharing session the therapists were understanding and wanted to know more! The “ah ha” moments were throughout the room and were priceless to see!

As a consultant and coach with teachers and staff in schools I don’t always get to see the “ah ha” moments for in the U.S. we rush to fix a problem without making sure the person learning really understands what is being taught. In a job where time is limited and my team and I have an entire state to cover we cannot be there everyday to coach a teacher to that “ah ha” moment. But after watching Emily and Shinta this week teach the therapists, I have realized that there are simple ways to break concepts down that are understandable and more easy to grasp. My goal, personally and professionally, is to slow down and to think more simply when I coach others. For the “ah ha” moments are what are most rewarding to me!

Sarah Hoffmeier

SkillCorps Indonesia Team Member

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SkillCorps Indonesia: Day 3

        It seems crazy that I’ve been gone an entire week! I’m not really sure where time went, but man oh man is it going quickly! It was another incredible day here at YCHI! It’s really hard to believe that in such as short time I’ve become so attached. When you work with a team that shows so much passion, and are so eager to learn its so inspiring. This is a group of individuals that love their job, like I love mine… and I can totally relate. They are 100% in this for the kids, even the tiniest successes are important. On our first day here Mr. Zulfikar, pointed out that life really isn’t like a box of chocolates… when you get a box of chocolate you are always going to get some type of chocolate, but in life that’s not always the case.  In the case of YCHI, I would tend to disagree… one thing you are ALWAYS going to get here is the love, enthusiasm, and passion for learning about autism, raising awareness, and providing the best treatment possible! All of this is done with minimal resources and support, but perhaps the most important ingredient is HOPE!!!! We’ve only  been at YCHI for 3 days, but  the dedication is so profound.
         The chance to observer more kids today was a great experience. It was nice to see them working on and building real life skills including motor skills, following directions, matching, counting, and my favorite, imaginative play. In some ways they are the kiddos I work with and love so much. The therapists here are helping them to become the best possible individuals they can be, and I suspect in same ways the kiddos are helping them to be the best they can be as well. We have 1 day here left this week before we travel to Solo, and then Borabudour for our excursion. While I’m excited to see what those experiences have to bring, there’s a part of me that would give it all up in a heartbeat to have just a few more days here! With that said, as many of  you know, I’m a firm believer that everything in life happens for a reason, and I’m confident that each and every experience on this trip is helping me to become the best person I can be! Each and every one plays a part in the person I am.
         Today’s sharing session was also good.  We talked a bunch about the ABC’s of behavior, and even with the language barrier, you can see how beneficial the training really was. All the therapists were like sponges soaking it all up, giving examples, and some great discussion.  I’m excited to see as time goes on, the progress the therapists make in a short amount of time that we are here, and to hear about how they are doing once I return home!
         One of the many lessons I’m learning on this trip is where my own boundaries and limits are, and how far they actually can be pushed. I’m fortunate in that while I don’t have all the same comforts that I have at home, many allowances have been made so that I can still be comfortable. Just the food alone has been an experience. It may sound crazy, but I’m working on a list of all the different types of fruit that I eat while I’m here.  We have access to many different fresh fruits, and its nice to live a little bit dangerously and literally get a taste of something new.  I’m also working on my tolerance for spicy foods.  Everything here tends to be on the spicy side, but I feel like in order to truly experience it I have to let go a little. So far it has been an amazing trip and I can’t wait for the next adventure!
Amanda Ritchey
SkillCorps Team Member
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SkillCorps Indonesia Day One: Life isn’t like a box of chocolates

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SkillCorps Indonesia has already been an eventful trip!! It took us quite a while to get here, as significant flight delays in Abu Dhabi left us stranded there for an additional 12 hours. By the time we finally arrived, we’d been traveling for 36 hours and were EXHAUSTED! Our guest house is wonderful, but definitely a culture shock—a lot to take in on the first day! The traffic on our street is non-stop—way too dangerous to cross on foot—and there is a mosque right across the street from us that issues the call to prayer 5 times a day. Needless to say, we were a little overwhelmed our first day!

However, our first day at YCHI was just what we needed to bring us back to life. On the first day, we had our “welcoming meetings” and got to meet all the therapists we’ll be working with this week. We got to meet Mr. Zulfikar Allimuddin, the founder of YCHI, who shared with us his story of having a son with autism and how this motivated him to start the foundation. His life story is deeply inspiring, as is his passion for serving the underserved populations of Indonesia. He shared with us today a message that really stuck with me. In the movie Forrest Gump, there is a saying, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

But, as Zulfikar pointed out—this isn’t totally true. With chocolates, you can kind of guess what you’re going to get, and know it’s all chocolate! Life isn’t like that. Sometimes things don’t always turn out the way you expect. You might end up having a child with autism. Or you can’t find a job. Or as in the case of the families served by YCHI, you might lose your house to a flood, or not be able to feed your family. Life isn’t like a box of chocolates, but sometimes it turns out for the best. Sometimes, the things that happen to you that push you the most, like having a child with autism, inspires you to do the things that change the world the most—like starting YCHI. SkillCorps is like this too—getting stranded in Abu Dhabi isn’t exactly what we signed up for, but it was totally worth it so far! We are grateful for Zulfikar and all he is done here, and grateful to be in Indonesia. The hard places are where we grow the most.

Emily Boshkoff-Johnson

Research and Training Coordinator 

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SkillCorps Peru: Why We’re Here

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When we arrived in New York for orientation two weeks ago, the team completed an

activity in which we answered a variety of questions. The questions focused on our

motivations for being a part of SkillCorps, and included what we hoped to bring to the

experience and get out of it. During my last week at Alcanzando, I had an experience with a

student and her team that really highlighted all that I hoped to bring and receive from this

adventure.

 

Over the last week and a half with Alcanzando staff, I went out with one of the supervisors

to visit with a student. This student, like all that we met at Alcanzando, was very sweet and

had come a long way during her time with the center. When I met her, she was engaging

in some behaviors that made learning a challenge; she would flop to the floor or put her

head down on the table when work tasks were presented, or bolt from the room. These

behaviors happened at high enough rates that it was difficult to get through her teaching

programs.

 

Based on the frequency of these behaviors, and an analysis of the antecedents (things

that come before) and consequences (things that happen after) of her behavior, we

hypothesized that the behavior was maintained by escaping work tasks. That is, by

flopping, crying, or bolting, she escaped or delayed doing any learning tasks. Through

collaboration with the student’s supervisor, we came up with a behavior change plan to try

to decrease these behaviors and increase her ability to work on a learning task for longer

periods of time.

 

What happened when we first implemented this intervention was one of my proudest

moments, to date, as a Behavior Analyst. The change in the student’s behavior was

immediate. Her whole face lit up. The most amazing change was that she started coming

willingly back to the table without physical prompts (which were often needed before) to

continue working. We talked about how to maintain this behavior change while increasing

her learning requirements gradually over time, and eventually fading out the token system

we had implemented.

 

This is the power of behavior analysis. Not only did the intervention help the student, but

it changed the behavior of every single person working with her that day. The instructor’s

smile was contagious, as she saw how the changes in her behavior as an instructor had

affected the student’s behavior. The supervisor saw that by using the principles of

behavior to create interventions based on the (hypothesized) functions of challenging

behavior, positive outcomes for her students would increase. What I saw was behavior

change on three different levels: that of the student, the instructor, and the supervisor. It

was an incredibly rewarding experience.

 

This is also an excellent example of the model of the Global Autism Project. We do not

go into a center in a foreign country to work directly with their kids for a few weeks and

leave. Even if behavior change occurred, it would not be sustainable. What would the staff

do once we were gone? What if the student did not generalize our teaching to his or her

own teachers? At the Global Autism Project, we teach so that supervisors can learn how

to make behavior analytic decisions and increase their ability to be effective teachers. This

kind of training will impact all of their clients, and all of the staff they work with. We want

to give supervisors the tools to change their own community. Sustainable teaching and

sustainable helping around the world are what sets the Global Autism Project apart.

Stephanie Keesey

SkillCorps Peru team member

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SkillCorps Peru: The Chosen Ones!

All day today was an extremely emotional experience for me personally. We spent some time going to a different school in the community, cerrito azul, and met with a wide variety of kids with autism and other special needs. I was amazed at how a handful of teachers managed 50+ kids and were so engaged, loving and catering to their needs. They are unconsciously applying ABA principles, like they say “Necessity is the mother of invention”. I was so overwhelmed when a 20 ish year old adult came running to me and shared a cookie with me. All I could think of was my son Sam sharing a cookie with me. Sam is 9, and he has autism.  I think I see Sam in all kids/adults with disabilities. I gladly took it, ate it and he gave me this big hug and kissed me. He also took a picture with me and smiled widely for the picture. I played with little Mickey, kicked ball with Junior and pretended to understand all they had to say in Spanish. “Si” is all I had in response. “Si, Muy Bien, you are just so amazing” is all I could think of.
Next came my evening workshop with fellow parents who are clients of Alconzando. Molly asked me to make a quick presentation of Sam and my life with him. Luckily, I am a big FB user and I had every picture of him since 2008, I got it all down. I selected 25 pictures that told a good story, of him learning to bike, scooter, try sleepovers, restaurants, airplane rides. Sam is my favorite topic of all times, so I know I would be fine. I started talking about my life with Sam and it just resonated with each and every parent in the room. Remember, I don’t even speak Spanish, we had a great translator in Miguel who did his best to depict the variety of emotions. At the end of the presentation, I just got so overwhelmed, trying to be strong all this time and locking up my tears and emotions for a few days, I just burst into tears. Tears of joy to have found one another in this big world, tears of empathy, tears of connection, love and just being there for each other. There was not a dry eye in the room. Debbie did a great job showing off all her pictures around the world she took of kids/adults with autism.
Finally, Molly ended the discussion with a great statement, “You have been chosen – chosen because you’re strong, you’re loving, and you can do this. You may not know it yet, but you can do this. And we’ll be here…”
I left the room overwhelmed but extremely happy at the same time that I got this wonderful opportunity to make a small difference in a very small way. I have a way of connecting maybe not with my own parents and siblings but with parents across the world!!
This has been a great experience and I am hoping GAP would have me go to more countries and do such workshops, not only to spread the story of hope, love and acceptance, but also to know that there are other parents who feel this way all across the world, speaking different languages, living different cultures, but in a strange way, closer to them than their own neighbor.
Muchos Gracias Peru!!

Arti Sagar

Global Autism Project Board Member

Posted in All Posts, Autism, Inspirational, Peru, Stories from the Field

SkillCorps Peru: Week 2

This morning finds our team preparing for our second week at Alcanzando.  It is an odd sensation to have only been here for a week but to feel so comfortable and at home with the staff, families, and children.  It is as though we’ve always been together, and in this short amount of time we have accomplished so much.

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In particular, I am endlessly impressed by the dedication and passion that the instructors and supervisors bring to their work every day.  Applied Behavior Analysis, technically speaking, is applying the Principles of Behavior to change behaviors that are socially significant.  This is a heavy task for anyone to take on, and is easier said than done.  Instructors at Alcanzando are master multi-taskers.  They need to be fluent in the programs they run, prompting strategies they use, and data they collect.  They have to manage the ever-changing environment around them and the motivation of their students.  Supervisors are responsible for overseeing programming, answering questions, and providing support for the instructors and families with whom they work. They do all of this with patience and compassion and the results are astounding. What is being accomplished at Alcanzando is changing lives and having a huge impact on families in Peru.  It is such an honor to help support this organization.IMG_0408

One of the most amazing things about being a Behavior Analyst is getting to be a part of significant behavior change on a daily basis.  And while it is my goal and hope that my support has had a positive impact on the Alcanzando community, I can say without a doubt that this work has had an even larger impact on me.  Personally and professionally, I have grown on this trip.  I am learning about being a more culturally sensitive, and culturally humble Behavior Analyst.  As our world gets smaller, this is an invaluable trait; it is one that I hope to continue to cultivate throughout the remainder of this trip.  I am so grateful to both the Global Autism Project and the Alcanzando communities for the lessons I am learning.

Stephanie Keesey

SkillCorps Peru Team Member

Posted in All Posts, Autism, Peru, Stories from the Field