Hello, my name is Jillian Schneider, and I am currently an Associate Clinical Manager at SARRC. I began working at SARRC in October 2011, right after completing graduate school and started as an entry-level clinician doing home and community-based 1:1 services.
What drew you to SARRC?
My graduate program was a research program, and I was craving a stronger connection between the wonderful research we were conducting and the application of the knowledge directly to individuals who would benefit from research findings. I knew I wanted to work with children and their families. When I was job searching, I was drawn to SARRC because it combined my inner scientist with the motivation I had to directly support people. I wasn’t sure I would love applied behavior analysis (ABA), but after three months, I applied for the postgraduate course work to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA) – I was sold on what SARRC was doing and everything I had learned about ABA.
Can you tell us a little about what your job as an Associate Clinical Services Manager entails?
I specifically work with our clients who are 13 years and older through SARRC’s Teen and Adult Services programming. As Associate Clinical Services Manager, I provide oversight to two of our programs: The Transition Academy and Individualized Services. Typically, this job entails coordinating with our established partners including GateWay Community College and First Place Phoenix. I also have the pleasure of working with families to ensure their child’s treatment is the best it can be. Additionally, I support the supervisors who oversee the direct care of clients and sometimes I get to jump into sessions to see the meaningful work our RBTs do and see the client’s continual progress toward their own goals.
What inspired you to earn your BCBA? What would you tell someone considering getting their BCBA?
Once I fell in love with ABA, I wanted to take my knowledge and skill base to the next level, which required taking the BCBA coursework and completing fieldwork experience. I think the one thing that I would share with others in the process of completing classes/fieldwork experience is to take your time to really understand the concepts and how they all relate together. I would also recommend getting experience in different aspects of the field: Clinic-based services, community-based services, across the lifespan, and experiences outside of autism as well.
What are the top three skills someone in your position should have/learn to be successful?
Time management and the ability to shift priorities. Sometimes the plan we have for the day needs to be rewritten if there is a high-priority need for a client, family, or SARRC team member. Flexibility is also incredibly important, sometimes our biggest ideas will fail first and that is okay! We try again and see what new ideas we can develop in consort with other members of the team.
Is there an achievement or contribution you’re most proud of?
There are a couple of achievements that come to mind. It’s always a proud moment when one of our supervisees completes all their requirements to earn their BCBA and pass the exam! This year, I had the pleasure of experiencing this, and it was such a joyous occasion to have been part of their journey and know that this new BCBA will do incredible things in their future. Another one is that this year, we were able to expand our offering of the Learn4Independence® curriculum to a larger community and reach more people seeking support with independent living skills.
What is the biggest thing you have learned in your position at SARRC?
This is a hard one! I feel like I have grown so much professionally and personally since starting at SARRC 12 years ago. It’s hard to pick one thing. The biggest growth opportunity is probably related to teamwork. This job is much more efficient, and our clients experience greater benefits when we seek mentorship from others, gather knowledge from people outside of ABA (teachers, speech therapists, OTs, etc.), and incorporate the clients and their families in every step of their journey.
Tell us about one of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had at SARRC.
My favorite part of this job is when we get to support individuals in learning “pivotal” behaviors – those behaviors that open the door for so many other meaningful learning opportunities. I have always loved partnering with parents to teach skills, such as foundational communication skills. Recently, we were able to teach a client to use a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) to request their wants and needs. When we first started teaching this in sessions, the client was mostly requesting food, toys, or to be all done with something non-preferred. In our last session with the parents, the child was using PECS to communicate for social routines! It was such a joy to watch them flourish and use their communication modality to engage in a fun play routine with their parents.