I sat reflecting on the numbers in front of me, running through all of the different options we could try to reach families for our new autism treatment center in Flower Mound, Texas. The blessing of a new center is that you get to start from the ground up, but the challenge, equally so, is you often start from scratch finding the need. So why here?
Where to start?
I think oftentimes we have to look at where we have come from to know where we are going next. My mother is a special education teacher and she has a poem hanging on her dry erase board every year. It’s the story about a man walking along the beach. He picks up one starfish at a time, and tosses each one back into the ocean. At one point, someone approaches him, asking why he continues to throw the starfish into the water, pointing out that, by himself, he surely cannot make a difference; what he was doing wouldn’t matter. His response? He holds a single starfish in his hand. “It mattered to this one.”
ABA is an ever-growing field. There will always be children who need supports and we can never reach the full extent of every individual who could benefit from the skills we keep within our behavioral toolbox. And, in all honestly, there are some moments as a BCBA that this reality feels daunting. I want to find every child and provide the best outcome for each and every one but the inevitable truth is there are too many starfish stuck on the shore that we can only reach so many with our two hands. However, BI has seen this challenge as an opportunity.
BI offers the opportunity to give reach to as many little ones as possible. While it may be easier to create a few central locations that harness the larger city markets, this organization believes in the power of “one.” That multiple centers in multiple locations can meet more families in their own community and create a sense of unity for these children to access services that matter.
With BI, I get to see that what I do matters.
I see it when my little one who has been working on responding to greetings flashes me with his bright blue eyes and a smile, eager to start our game of Uno. It mattered to him. Or when my sweet girl finally uses the bathroom by herself, knowing she’ll be greeted with cheering, one step closer to independence. It mattered to her. It’s my little man asking for a break, finally able to use his voice to channel his frustration. It’s a mom telling me their child has a best friend. That we never thought we would make it to Kindergarten, but here we are. It mattered to them.
So why Flower Mound? Ultimately, this type of community offers the opportunities and growth with neighboring cities like Dallas and Ft. Worth while still giving a small town feel that places value on establishing relationships and connections. Finding one child who can benefit leads to a family that meets at a swim lesson and passes along the word that BI Flower Mound made a difference for their little one. “One.” It’s a mom that sees on her parent support group that others visited the center and found growth; maybe they can now take on the park as a family without fearing a tantrum or go out to dinner together for the first time in years. There are so many opportunities to matter within this community.
My goal as a Center Director for BI Flower Mound is that we continue to matter, one child at a time and search out the need in this new community. I truly believe that when everyone is coming together with that child’s best interest at heart, amazing things can happen and I cannot wait to bring this culture to our center in the coming months as we open our doors. ABA is all about celebrating little victories, whether it’s walking across the parking lot next to parents safely or asking for help for the very first time. I plan to create a culture where therapists, parents, and children alike are able to recognize and celebrate these little victories. Why? Because they matter to these little ones.