First Day

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Today is my first day at the new job and to say that I am not a little nervous would be a major lie. I read my client’s behavioral plan and although I cannot specify any details of what I am about to encounter, let’s just say it’s mildly disturbing; the things that I read. At my old job, we dealt with mental health crises that were often times ridden with behavioral defects, but the primary focus was to provide mental health coping skills out in the real world.

As for this job, my role is to change behavior that is the result of mental health issues such as Autism spectrum disorder, or any other mental ailment you can think of. The behavioral analyst makes a plan and I simply execute it. We are out in the real world and we are providing coping skills along with teaching those the ability to let go of inappropriate behaviors and talk about how to change those behaviors into something positive in order to get your point across.

I could simply be overthinking it, but it seems to me that doing the work is going to either be simple to execute or really difficult, depending on the client and the day.

That was before I went in to work. This is afterwards.

I went in expecting the worst and it turned out to be not so bad. The behavioral analyst was new to the case so she spent a lot of time with the client’s mom, familiarizing with the client and the case contents. That left me a lot of time to do some school with the kid and go outside and play.

I asked her favorite things to do which was anything horse related, fashion and makeup, and music. She dislikes chores. She also likes anything outdoors like jump on the trampoline, ride her bike, hiking, etc. As she was initially showing me her horse computer game, it occurred to me that she practiced a lot of escape mechanisms and had a low attention span. She is somewhere on the Autism spectrum, but I’m not sure where quite yet. She had the likes of someone in elementary school even though she is a freshman in high school. Today was the day of tests: I was assessing her and she was assessing me; trying to calculate the boundaries she could press with me working with her.

I was not the first and was likely not going to be the last behavioral assistant to this particular client. The client had scared off most of her other RBTs and my thoughts immediately went to, “who could blame them….”

It’s interesting doing these home visits in the time of COVID-19 because I feel more like a friend who is coming over to play rather than the idea that I am performing a job. Which I guess is ideal for someone who loves what they do. I definitely won’t hate this job, I like it so far, but I know most days won’t be as easy as it was today.

It feels good to knowing I’m earning a paycheck again and on the 11th of December, I’ll actually have some cash coming in. It’s weird to think about this next paycheck because if I were still gambling, it would have gone straight to the casino and now this time, I will be able to catch up on bills and if I’m lucky, I can take Diego out to a nice dinner.

In between spurts of playing at work, the behavior analyst taught me how to chart notes in their system and how to clock in and out. After work, we walked out to our vehicles together and I got a chance to volunteer for more hours. They had a client in mind for me, but I needed to be certified by the state before I dealt with them in addition to working with the client I had today. I said I was willing to drive south considering that client was at the very north end of the peninsula and I live with Diego on the south end. She said she would talk to the regional director to see what could happen. I wouldn’t be 40 hours a week, but I would be damn near close which is a huge blessing.

Still waiting to hear back from UW Tacoma, but I am hopeful I will hear back by the end of this week. A lot is going on, but there is a lot to be thankful for and humble about.

Much love,

Dani

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