My name is Lauren Vader. I am beginning my fourth year working for a program called Set SAIL (Supporting Autism with Intervention and Learning), by providing Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy to children at an elementary school in Walnut, California – a city in the eastern part of Los Angeles County. The children that I service are usually between the ages of three and five, but I also provide classroom support for older students who need additional one-on-one care before being transitioned out of the program.
Reflecting back on my learning experiences, I realize that those which are significant to me took place when I was right at the edge of my comfort zone, and when I believed the task at hand was challenging but possible. One memory I have is of my two week trip to Italy in 2006. I was seventeen and had never traveled outside of the U.S; nor had I ever been away from my family for that long. I was terrified, but the experience was positively thrilling! I not only learned to be more independent and to adjust to a new culture, but I also grew academically in my study of Rome’s history and art. Another memory of a significant learning experience is the year that I worked as a nanny, caring for twin infant boys and their three-year-old sister. It was this challenging experience that lead me here, studying early childhood education.
I believe that the special education classrooms I work in follow an ABA curriculum for the Common Core. I do participate in the planning of the curriculum but within the restrictions of each child’s IEP program goals. For example, if one child’s goal is to begin demonstrating knowledge through receptive labeling, I have the freedom to choose the materials starting with a knowledge of the child’s interests. I can also decide to collect the data in a naturalized setting or through a more rigid structure. Sometimes, if the child has mastered a goal, I have some freedom to create new goals, following from the ones already mastered.
I am looking forward to this course and going deeper into the study of childhood development, and also of becoming more aware of my own learning processes. I am happy to see many familiar names and look forward to learning with you all again!