Back when I was deciding where I wanted to get my Master’s degree in Communication Disorders, I read about an expert in the field of autism named Dr. Barry Prizant. Autism was what drew me into this field in the first place, back in the early ’90s, and I wanted to learn more. Before long, I knew that I would target Emerson College in Boston as my school of choice because that’s where Dr. Prizant was teaching. Fall of 1995 found me enrolled at Emerson and sitting in one of Dr. Prizant’s classes. I learned an enormous amount from him (and many others at Emerson, a fantastic program) over the years there, and what he taught me shaped my entire belief system about autism and was the foundation for my philosophy about working with children with ASD.
Once out of school I worked in a variety of settings: private practice (not mine), public school, and then eventually Oak Hill School, a private DIR school for children with spectrum (and related) disorders. At Oak Hill, I honed my skills and came to learn more about the DIR model, one which fit quite nicely into the developmental approach I learned from Dr. Prizant. Later I went off on my own, and have been in private practice (my own this time!) for almost four years. I have continued to pursue a great deal of continuing education in autism, exploring the DIR model and the awfully similarly named RDI model. (I’m just waiting for the IDR or the RID to come along, simply to confuse things further.) I love a lot about both of those methodologies, and yet – when it comes to deciding to invest time and money in certification in them – something has not quite felt right to me about either one.
The past two days found me at the Chicago SCERTS Institute, a training which was run by Dr. Prizant and a dear friend of mine from Emerson, Emily Rubin, SLP. Emily was in my grad school class and ended up working with Dr. Prizant and later collaborating with him and the other very impressive practitioners and researchers to develop the SCERTS model. I had done a 2-day training with Emily about 3 years ago and have been interested in SCERTS ever since. My colleague and I left the training this week with a great deal of excitement, ready to try it out with a mutual client, and (as is our wont) dreaming and scheming about how to use this model with a group of kids by running a SCERTS model preschool class together next year.
This is a methodology that feels good to me; it’s the right fit. I’m sure I will write more about it over time as I am using it and learning more, but for now I’ll just say that I’m fascinated by the way in which my work is coming full circle. Not only was I grateful this week that the philosophy within the SCERTS framework was not new to me (as it was to so many people in the room) because it’s perfectly aligned with what I was taught 10 years ago, but I was also – for the first time, honestly – grateful that Matt and I have moved around so much. I feel fortunate to have amazing contacts and friends in my field from coast to coast; this never would have happened if we’d just stayed in Minnesota – or Boston – or San Francisco!
There is something comforting about coming full circle with “my people” and this type of methodology, while simultaneously feeling myself using it as a launching pad to move forward in a new, positive direction.