Quality service for all!

The Global Autism Project provides quality service !
I recently shared my initial experience of becoming a Skillcorps member and how my understanding of what it means to give back has grown immensely. This time I wanted to share with you the experience of the partners of the Global Autism Project in hope to demonstrate the impact of a sustainability approach to supporting services for children with autism no matter where they live. With that in mind, I was honored to interview an amazing ABA therapist from Centro Aprendo with whom I’ve worked these past two weeks. I’ve learned so much from her while also being able to share my own expertise in the field. I know without a doubt that I want to continue to support the Global Autism Project (GAP) movement , but it is more important for others to join this movement so that the project may continue to expand and provide services to those in need. Please read the following interview to learn about the perspective of those who partner with GAP.
                                                                                Meet Raquel!
                     Photo Credit: Instagram@erin.leong Facebook #erinleongphotography
Name: Raquel C. Henriquez-Feliz
Education: B.A. Psychology
Country of Birth: Santo Domingo, DR
Interests/Hobbies: watching movies, reading books, doing life with people that I can learn from and who can learn from me
Me (M): What is your role at Aprendo?
Raquel (R): I’m a therapist
M: How do you feel about working with children with autism?
R: I enjoy it very much! I love growing with them, teaching them, and learning from them. How funny they are!
M: Do you think your community is highly aware of children with autism?
R: Developmental disabilities, perhaps. My community looks for genetic evidence in facial features, in speech delays and in challenges at school. An increasing number of families are learning about the Autism Spectrum Disorder mainly because the children in their families are affected by it. As of 2010, before I left the country to pursue my bachelors degree, I can guarantee you that I had never heard of the diagnosis of Autism.
M: Are children with autism accepted within your community?
R: Widely, surprisingly enough. As awareness grows people begin to see children with Autism as just that children who have more challenges in academic settings, social settings and with management of emotions. But in school settings, they are beginning to receive more support via shadows. And more certificates are available for shadows to be better prepared. It is very impressive how much has been accomplished with awareness, disposition to help, a general knowledge in psychology or special education, and effective team-work.
M: What are some challenges within your community for children with autism?
R: Lack of economic resources, basic health care (especially mental health), and traditional family discipline.
M: You obtained your degree in Miami, what made you come back to the DR to work rather than remain in the states?
R: Simple! My student visa ended. My BCBA supervisor at the time, Dr. Pedraza-Rodriguez told me about Centro Aprendo and encouraged me to continue pursuing my professional development along with them. I was so excited! The opportunity to work with them was so timely.
M: Are there any significant differences you’ve experienced working with children with autism in the states and children in the DR?
R: Oh yeah! The basic understanding of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and its foundations are the same but every business has to accommodate to serve its community effectively. Working in the United States exposed me to a systematic, structured, ethical way to go about implementing behavior-analytic interventions. Working in the Dominican Republic, conversely, exposed me to how progress is made to better serve its community. From its assessment and data collection tools to delivering the SD (discriminatory stimuli) during a session, each is shaped by their experiences. Certainly, United States is an individualistic country and Dominican Republic is a collectivistic country. Working in each made me both adaptable and specialized. Love it!
M: What vision do you have for your country?
R: With increased awareness and value bestowed upon behavior analytic research and its applications locally, Dominicans will be known for their significant research contribution to the field of Applied Behavior Analysis and its potential applications among similar communities. In addition, Dominican Republic will be known to prepare competent and qualified Board Certified Behavior Technician, Assistants, and Analysts ready to serve in the Dominica Republic, neighboring Caribbean countries and the world.
M: How has working at Aprendo helped you towards your vision?
R: Aprendo is building a system to prepare its therapists with regular trainings and constant support from its leaders over the course of two years. Aprendo will be a suitable environment for Bachelor and Master level students from local universities to conduct observations and practice the knowledge from school.
M: What role has GAP played in contributing towards your vision?
R: GAP regularly assesses the sustainability of Centro Aprendo’s interventions to its patients. Additionally, GAP is not only impacting Dominican Republic through partnering with Centro Aprendo, it is building an educational curriculum to bring up home grown Masters in A.B.A. Board Certified Behavior Analysts at the Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) in Santo Domingo. Exciting events are occurring this season in Dominican Republic!
M: Would you recommend GAP partnerships to others within your community or other countries?
R: Absolutely! It only takes a small business attempting to deliver sound ABA interventions in a community that otherwise has little to no access to the newest research findings better allowing said businesses to serve its community to qualify. Asking for help is a concept we instill on our own kiddos. And GAP is ready to provide assistance.
M: What do you think could motivate more people to support GAP so that GAP may support others like yourself to achieve their vision for children with autism within their community?
R: Our continued success stories! In Dominican Republic it doesn’t matter how grand a company is if customers don’t recommend it. The integrity of a company is the only guarantee that more customers will do business with them.
                       Photo Credit: Instagram@erin.leong Facebook #erinleongphotography
The Global Autism Project envisions a world where children with autism receive quality service and best practices no matter where they live! I hope my viewers will continue to support this vision well after I leave the Dominican Republic. Thank you for your support!
Author: Mascherelle
Skillcorps Dominican Republic 2017
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Making a Difference !

2 weeks down! 1 to go!!!

When I first heard of SkillCorps, I honestly didn’t know what to make of it. I am a person who loves to travel, loves working with children with autism, and loves meeting new people. I thought SkillCorps was the perfect mesh-up of all these things, so I just had to apply! It wasn’t until the second day of orientation that I began to develop a deeper understanding of SkillCorps. We don’t just travel to meet people and play with children, we travel to change the current understanding of what it means to give and to contribute a part of yourself to something much greater. After being in the Dominican Republic for a week, the work of SkillCorps has finally revealed itself and the vision of the Global Autism Project has become much more clear. I have had the opportunity to observe staff at Aprendo, to help them to identify strengths and weaknesses, to provide interactive training workshops to meet their needs, and to build a working relationship that allows them to continue to grow on their own. SkillCorps does not simply provide you the answer. We provide you the means to determine the answer for yourself. As a result, you become the creator of your own success.

So, what truly is the SkillCorps experience? In sum, it’s not seeing the change you are making in the moment. It’s learning about your self through the perspectives of others. It’s learning how to compromise and put others first. It’s having a family meal with partners to build rapport. It’s inspiring others to establish best practices. It’s being stopped on the street by a local to be asked about autism because you’re wearing a Global Autism Project t-shirt. It’s wandering around without a plan, getting lost, and somehow finding your way. It’s trying to order takeout without speaking the native language. It’s sleeping in the bed with a stranger. It’s travelling with people you just met who may not also know what they are getting themselves into. At the end of the day, it’s making a Difference !

 

 

Bienvenido a Santo Domingo!

Wanderfulife has joined Skillcorps! Follow the journey in the Dominican Republic and learn more about Skillcorps and The Global Autism Project!

 

Now, Imagine landing in a country for the first time and it’s late at night. You are starved from travelling, but are unfamiliar with the area so you’re not sure where to get food. It’s too late to go out, so you hop online to order take out. However, the website is confusing and there seems to be no option to submit the order online. You must call to place the order, but wait you don’t speak the language. The only Spanish speaker in your group hops on the line for you to place the order. BUT WAIT, as she tries to explain the order and provide the house address, the lady on the other end is unfamiliar with the area. She passes the phone to a gentleman who is patient and allows you to slowly provide the address as written and offers to call you back to confirm. A few minutes go by and there’s a ring at your door. The same gentleman has arrived with a menu in hand to help you and your group place your order. He then leaves and returns with everything you wanted!

Words cannot explain the welcoming received during my first trip with Skillcorps to the Dominican Republic. I couldn’t help but think if we were home would anyone take the time to do as the gentleman did? Why was he being so nice? Is it the culture here or was he going above and beyond the call of duty? Either way, he helped s potentially stressful situation become a positive experience.

However, the kindness did not stop there. The next day we were welcomed by therapists from the center where we will work over the next two weeks. They took us out to dinner and as we all sat around the table, I couldn’t help but feel right at home as if we had all met in another life. Everyone was so open and chatted as if we were long term friends meeting up after not seeing each other for awhile. One member kept repeating “we are family”. The DR has been so welcoming during my first two days here. I look forward to sharing this experience with my viewers as this is the first time Wanderfulife has travelled with an organization to build a partnership with centers who provide services to children with autism (don’t fret! more info to come!). This journey will be so different from any other blog post. I hope to not only share my experience, but to spread awareness of the amazing work behind Skillcorps and The Global Autism Project!

“Take a moment and come on a journey with me, and hopefully your mind as well as your heart will grow as mine.”

Das ist Keine Religion

“Das ist keine religion sondern liebe.”

“This is not a religion, but love.”

Have you ever just set and listened to a song on repeat, over and over again? I’ve been listening to “Keine Religion” by Joy Denalane for the past six hours while working.

A friend shared this song with me today and it resonates with me so I thought to share it with others. When you feel even your deepest wounds will not heal, play “Keine Religion”. You will hopefully find the joy embedded in the darkest of corners waiting to be released.

“Es ist die Hoffnung, die sagt, dass auch die tiefsten Wunden heilen”
“It’s the hope which says
That even the deeper wounds will heal.”

 

Are You Engaged?

In the midst of wedding season and the business of travelling to engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and wedding ceremonies; I cannot help but take a moment to ask myself “how much are we really engaged?” I do not refer to asking a significant other to spend the rest of their life with us in matrimony. I refer to participating in meaningful contact or connections with others.

How often do you take time to stop and force yourself to become aware of your surroundings, and the people involved? Intimacy should not be reserved for romantic relationships, but all relationships. Do not fear deep, meaningful bonds with those in your life. Even a passer-byer may have something to offer, be it a small life lesson or another perspective. We must remain open to all life has to offer before the last stroke of the clock.

With this in mind,  I have decided to be engaged! I will engage with my peers, my family, my friends, my coworkers, my pets, nature, and embrace the ups and downs of life. Death is inevitable, so why wait around for Joe Black to arrive and wish we had another chance?

I vow not to worry about social pressures or arbitrary norms. I vow to live my life with no regrets. I vow to love all parts of me while I open my mind and heart to show compassion to others. I vow to remain engaged while Father Time pours his sand.

Capture Life

On the left is a picture I took while walking about New York City, NY.  On the right is a picture I took in Richmond City, VA. In both cases, I felt unnoticed by others, yet engaged in my surroundings. A picture, however, does not fully capture the life I felt surrounded by passer-byers. Mindfulness and awareness aid in capturing life.

I Touched a Cloud

Many people may choose risk taking as a means to push themselves to reach new limits and break comfort zones. I, myself, can admit to testing my limits through different activities. I cannot swim well, so I’ve always possessed anxiety when participating in water activities [despite my love of the sight and sound of water]. I have also possessed a fear of heights, so this past weekend I challenged myself to go sky diving!

I almost panicked when the wind attacked my face and I forgot to breath! It was not until the parachute opened that I regained my sense of what was happening, and I calmly enjoyed the view of the land. Just look at all the green 🙂

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I must say that the first jump is a sensory overload! I will jump again soon to better experience life amongst the clouds. I think a bird may be my spirit animal because I was surprised how comfortable I became soaring in the sky.

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