“The hardest part is getting started.”
This phrase is often cited when embarking on any new, worthy endeavor. It’s also what I impart unto my new ABA therapists entering the field at Lumen Pediatric Therapy.
I share that progress, like life itself, does not always travel in a straight path. The gifts, and needs, of a child with autism is a constant journey of self discovery – for the child, as well as for those serving them. And while a new therapist, or any other service provider may “know” this in theory – it is experiential knowledge which serves as the ultimate teacher. It is through this experiential knowledge, and more than a decades work serving families, children, and young adults living with autism that I’ve come to know this truth as “The Seesaw Effect.”
The Seesaw Effect
The Seesaw Effect, as with the nostalgic childhood game, is all about how one navigates the “highs” and “lows” in the act of service. The lows – sometimes wrenching, forever humbling, yet always instructing. In the lows, there lies the greatest lessons. The highs – more exhilarating, motivating, uplifting, & satisfying than words can possibly describe. I have been riding a decades long high and it only grows with each passing day. However, back to The Seesaw Effect, and what I next call “The Stacking Law.”
The Stacking Law
Early in my career, especially within my first year in the field of ABA, every day was a wave of ever-changing emotions – navigating the ever-present needs and expectations of my families, my children, and especially myself. While patience is preached in our therapeutic practices, I find that many service providers, myself included, often fail to apply this principle to themself. This lack of patience or self-compassion has the capacity to derail and deride even the most capable, compassionate, and promising new professional. It also impedes one’s ability to fully achieve and receive these “highs” – the ribbons at the finish line of progress with no clear end and constant new beginnings. The reason why “getting started is the hardest part” is because new therapists or service providers haven’t “stacked enough highs” on the seesaw – these emotional buoys of hope, resolve, and belief. My encouragement to any new therapist, human service provider, and most especially to parents and families is this:
Learn from those mistakes.
Finally, and most importantly:
Share your journey – your “highs” and “lows” with the next person just starting the race. Let your buoy serve as a calm and steady presence in the sea of constant change. Push their seesaw upwards until they have stacked enough “highs” that it holds constant and unwavering. There is no greater view.
Brian Kaminski, MA, BCBA
Behavioral Health Leader
Vice President Clinical Services