I’m an occupational therapist at STARS Autism School in Miami, FL. I’ve been working at STARS for about six years.
I’ve always known I wanted to work in pediatrics. At STARS, I work with students who are on the Autism Spectrum and it has been deeply rewarding. I enjoy finding every opportunity to help them grow, achieve their goals, and develop on an age-appropriate level. Every child is different, and you just have to work to find what’s best for them.
Since STARS is a parent choice school, it is very different from working in a clinic. Kids spend most of their time in school so I am able to see my students while they participate in different activities. Like the cafeteria, the classroom, playing outside, and with their parents.
This is not the traditional clinic setting. We work hard to not have silos amongst our disciplines– nutritionist, occupational, speech, applied behavioral analysis, teachers, everyone. That’s the main reason parents choose this school. For instance, if a student is having difficulty focusing and the teacher needs help facilitating their learning experience, a therapist may stay in a classroom while the OT may recommend a kinetic chair.
When I think about the transformation I am able to have in students’ lives, one of my student’s success comes to mind. When he started with me, he had lot of deficits, limited strength, cognition, regulation, and more. However, within a few months I saw him develop because this school was meeting his needs. His parents are very happy with his progress. Today, he is doing really, really well. I tear up sometimes thinking about the impact we are making.
Here we are able to collaborate with one another towards one goal. It has been very rewarding to my life as a professional and as a person.