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Finding a calling

Hi everyone and welcome to Autism Home Support Service’s blog! I’m glad you chose to stop by. I wanted to start my blogging by telling you a little about myself and some of the topics I may discuss.

My name is Ashley, and I began working with children at 17 when I started a “drop in” center in Aurora, IL. I soon learned that I have a passion for teaching children, just not “typical” children. Looking back I could have told everyone at about 5 years old what I was going to do with my life. I loved teaching, I had compassion and patience, and I loved my sister Melanie.

Melanie was diagnosed with autism a few months before her third birthday, and while I can’t remember the earliest years, I know that she changed all of us … for the better. Melanie has what doctors describe as severe autism. She is nonverbal and uses picture exchange (PECS) to communicate with the people around her. Because Melanie displayed severely aggressive, destructive, repetitive and stereotypical behaviors at home and at school, she was eventually placed residentially in Kansas. Melanie is now an adult, living and working in the community, and still a huge part of my life.

After deciding to pursue a career in social work, I received a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and a master’s from University of Illinois at Chicago. I worked as a school social worker for a year before landing my dream job as a behavior consultant at an autism therapeutic day school. Wanting to learn more, I returned to school at Southern Illinois University to pursue a certification in behavior analysis and will be taking the boards in the fall. In March, I began working at AHSS to broaden my horizons and work more intensively with children with autism.

Now that you know a little about me, I wanted to list a few topics that I find interesting and may write about. I am extremely interested in verbal behavior, sensory topics, behavior modification, adult and transition services for individuals with autism, the effects of a multidisciplinary team, the difference between public schools, specialized classrooms and private schools, and all things ABA. I hope you stop by again for these topics along with success stories and helpful hints! Happy reading and thank you!

— Ashley Carter

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