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What TASC means to me
I found my calling at an early age. Seventeen to be exact. I took a child development class in high school and found myself interning in a special education classroom at my local elementary school in Massachusetts. I fell in love with the students and my quest to learn and improve was insatiable. I went on to earn my master's degree and become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst nearly a decade later. During that time I was also raising 3 children, my oldest who was diagnosed with autism at age 3.
In October of 2016 I found The Adult Skills Center (TASC) where I was hired as the Director of a one of a kind Specialized Therapeutic Services Program. A program that has transformed the lives of those we serve. Our clients have gone from engaging in frequent episodes of explosive behavior, often resulting in hospitalization, to being integrated into the community for vocational, social and recreational opportunities. In turn, our team at TASC and our entire community has learned from them. I have seen such gratitude from these individuals who have felt abandoned and forgotten for much of their lives. For the first time they are treated with dignity and respect and they continuously exceed my expectations in many ways.
Long gone are the days of that elementary school classroom in Massachusetts but my dedication and passion remain the same. I serve a client who requires 3 staff due to intensive psychiatric and behavioral needs. A nurse, a behavior technician and I provide him with the support he requires to continue to live in his home. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the risks of entering his home which has staff rotating 24 hours a day 7 days a week places my colleagues and I at increased risk. In some cases, we return home to our own families, increasing their risk as well. I exposed my family to the increased risk for the first 2 weeks of the pandemic. We practiced strict hygiene and I had a designated bedroom and bathroom to myself. I engaged in social distancing within my own home and was saddened to be unable to hug my children. I did not touch or cook the family food and ate at a separate table. I sanitized doorknobs, light switches and surfaces religiously. We were doing the best we could until I came home at the end of a workday to learn that my spouse’s co-worker had died of Covid-19. My family made a decision that night that I would move out of the house for the foreseeable future. As I write this I sit at a table that is not my own, 40 minutes from my family's home. I facetime with them every evening after my shift, to talk yes but equally as importantly to be included in daily routines like cooking, mealtime, laughing, dancing, playing games and watching movies. They prop their device up in my normal spot at the table and we enjoy one another’s company.
This is the new normal. In speaking with my colleagues, I hear my own story in their words. Some are staying in motor homes while others are visiting with their children through plexiglass dividers. We do it all for our clients and the families we serve. There is comfort in knowing that we at The Adult Skills Center make up our own family. We may be in isolation, but we are not alone.