The “Aha!” Moment
By Cherelle Brown, Region Training Specialist
When I began attending ABA conferences, I was enthusiastically overwhelmed by the networking, lectures and panels, and glorious array of tote bags. I enjoyed connecting with leaders in our field and feverishly jotted notes to pour over at future meetings with friends and colleagues. I had a nagging feeling that something was missing, but I brushed it off and busied my thoughts with conference brochures and CEU trackers.
Then it Happened.
As hundreds of people rushed to make the most of their lunch breaks, I headed with my group to the escalators as we drifted into small talk about the afternoon schedule. I glanced across the corridor and saw her. Beautiful brown skin. Proud curly hair. Our interaction was brief, but I’ll never forget how I felt. We locked eyes, gave knowing smiles, and then silently drifted apart. 5 seconds of acknowledgement filled my spirit in a way that I wasn’t prepared for. With tears in my eyes, I excitedly shared with my group, “I saw someone who looks like me!”, and they shared in my joy. They acknowledged how special, important, and necessary representation is. They provided a safe space for me to be vulnerable and transparent, and they accepted the truth.
A family might be more communicative and implement strategies with higher fidelity when supported by a psychologist who understands their cultural values. A treatment team could address an adolescent’s journey of self-discovery with sensitivity and understanding when guided by clinicians who walked a similar path. A parent may better understand their child’s treatment plan when their BCBA knows how to code-switch to better explain jargon. Rapport could be built more quickly between a child and an RBT that looks like a family member. The progress of our field wouldn’t be possible without the contributions of marginalized groups amongst the families we serve, the colleagues we serve with, and the communities in which we serve. Our shared experiences help us to connect with one another, offering understanding and support through authentic interactions.
It Starts with Leadership
Kadiant is in a position to stand at the forefront as a beacon of diversity, inclusion, and equity by pioneering intentional effort in areas where it can be inadvertently overlooked, such as training, professional development, pay practices, and standards of care. Our leadership team understands that allowing people to provide input from different, unique perspectives will carve a path to provide the absolute best experience for employees and the families we work with. We can create change in our world – even though it may not look, speak, or love like us. This can be done by putting people first, no matter how similar or vastly different we may be, and by demonstrating kindness through words and action.
Kaizen: Continuous Improvement in our Field
We must act with integrity and strive to raise the bar in all that we do, with a focus on lifting each other up and finding ways to do things even better. We are striving to provide people-centered, ethical, collaborative, evidence-based treatment, and if we work together, we can help people live their absolute best lives. Let’s begin by truly seeing each other, then taking a first step with a sign of acknowledgement.