Working in an Autism Clinic
Autism clinics are a primary source of information and assistance geared specifically towards individuals suffering from an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They provide numerous services for those diagnosed with ASD as well as education and support for their families and caretakers. Clinics rely on a diverse team of staff members on a daily basis, which can include certified behavior analysts, technicians, administrative personnel and professional specialists. Staff members working at these centers typically work in a collaborative environment and frequently interact with clients.
Services Offered at Autism Clinics
Centers provide a wide range of services related to the diagnosis and management of autism disorders. Some clinics focus on specific issues related to the disorder or on patients of a certain age, but many serve general community needs. Most clinics conduct an initial interview, consultation and diagnostic process to develop a deeper understanding of each patient. They usually offer several types of treatment and mitigation options to diagnosed clients, including medical management, directed therapy sessions, family education and ongoing evaluations. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) serves a primary role in the design and implementation of many individualized therapy programs.
Providing Patient-Oriented Care
Autism has a personal and unique impact on each individual, so treatment and care strategies are usually designed with this in mind. This means that clinics strive to cater to the needs of clients whenever possible and staff members are expected to follow suit. Anyone working in a clinic, especially those dealing with clients, need to exercise patience and clear communications skills on a regular basis. Some centers geared towards children even offer long-term care services for parents with demanding schedules, according to the Center for Autism and Related Disorders.
Staff Positions and Specialists
Most autism centers employ a diverse team of staff members with varying levels of education and experience. Board certified behavior analysts often serve a leading or supervisory role over ABA practice and other therapies. Many clinics also employ speech therapists or language pathologists to aid in speech and language therapy. Behavior analysts and other professionals also rely on a team of behavior technicians, autism specialists and care providers to handle client needs.
Preparing for Employment
Individuals interested in working in an autism clinic have several options when it comes to education and career path. Students who want to take on behavior analyst or other specialist roles, like language therapy, should aim for a master’s degree in a related field. Those with relevant undergraduate degrees can get some hands-on experience as a technician or intern before advancing their degree. Anyone interested in becoming a clinic operator or manager can also benefit from formal education in business and accounting.
Related Resource: 10 Best ABA PhD Degree Programs
Autism is an incredibly complex disorder that has deep, personal implications for the millions of individuals impacted by it. While the medical community has yet to develop an effective cure for the condition, there are many ways that behavior analysts and other professionals can offer life-changing support and therapy to patients. Working in an autism clinic can be a rewarding experience for those interested in helping others, as well as a good opportunity to launch or build a career in the field.