Meet our Team: Jennifer Swinbank M.Ed., BCBA, CTRS

 

Give a little background information about yourself:

I grew up in Buda and never left the Austin area! Why would you leave this amazing city?!
I went to Texas State University for my undergraduate studies, graduating with a degree in Recreational Administration with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation in 2005. After graduating, I provided recreational therapy services for the CLASS program for about 7 years, assisting individuals with disabilities with accessing their community to participate in recreation and leisure activities. In 2011 I went back to Texas State University to obtain my masters in Special Education with a specialization in applied behavior analysis and autism.
I currently live in Austin with my husband and 3 year old daughter.

What brought you in to this field?

While working as a recreational therapist, I attended a workshop on applied behavior analysis. I found the concepts of ABA to be applicable to my job as a recreational therapist. I started to apply some of the concepts to challenging behaviors I would sometimes encounter. It was amazing to see an almost immediate response from some of my clients, so I decided to further pursue ABA.

What are some favorite parts about your job?

Each month Building BLOCS presents a theme around which stories, art, and games are focused. My favorite theme recently was our “pretend” theme. Our group spent the entire month learning about and working on pretending! We had so much fun and the kids were so creative! Watching the kids learn and apply their knowledge to the world around them, you feel a lot of pride when this happens.
I also enjoy that in this job, you never stop learning. I learn all the time from the kids, from the families, and from my co-workers.

What are a couple interesting facts about yourself?

I am a registered massage therapist, though I currently only provide services for individuals on the CLASS program. I have been providing massage therapy services to individuals on the CLASS program for about 15 years.

I love llamas and hope to someday own several llamas with which I can provide “animal-assisted” therapy services to nursing homes, schools, children’s shelters, etc.

Meet our team: Briana Joy Pallares M.Ed.

Briana is currently one of our ABA therapists at BLOCS and we wanted to give you all a better picture of who Briana is and why we love having her at BLOCS so much!

Give us a little background information about yourself 

“I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. I moved to Austin, Texas, after graduating high school when I got accepted into the University of Texas at Austin; my Bachelor’s degree is in Special Education, and my Master’s degree is in Autism and Developmental Disorders. My short term goal is to pass the BCBA exam and my long term goal is to operate my own clinic one day.”

What brought you in to this field?

“As a special education teacher, I constantly found myself asking questions in regards to how to better support and understand my students who displayed challenging behaviors. It was this curiosity, as well as my interest in working with individuals diagnosed with Autism, that motivated me to pursue a career in ABA.”

What are some of your favorite parts of this job?

“I enjoy watching my clients learn new skills and accomplish new goals. I love working with families and supporting them as well.”

Name two interesting facts about yourself:

“I am super obsessed with Thor (the Avengers superhero): I enjoy collecting random Thor items. I am also a percussionist. I have been playing the drums since I was 10-years-old.”

Meet Our Team: Emma Henson

This week, we’re proud to introduce you to Emma Henson! Emma is one of our BCBAs, which means that she works with our behavior therapists to provide therapy to children. As a BCBA, she designs, implements, and supervises children’s individual programming, provides supervision for the early intervention groups, and also provides direct therapy. In other words, she’s kept quite busy making sure children get the best care possible!

Emma’s interest in ABA started as an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas. She found herself interested in the brain and human behavior, and after observing a BCBA leading an early-intervention classroom, she knew that she wanted to pursue a Master’s in ABA. This led her to Austin, where she attended the University of Texas, earning her Master’s in Special Education with an emphasis in Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

Since joining Building BLOCS in June 2016, Emma has enjoyed watching everyone as a team succeed in reaching a child’s goal. “The best part about this job is the moment when the whole team (the child, the therapist, the supervisor, the family)…has been working so hard on one goal (for example, potty training) and the child starts to achieve success,” remarks Emma. “[I]t’s a huge milestone!” In addition to achieving success in big goals, she also gets to witness small goals getting reached daily in her favorite activity, pretend play. Emma notes that children with ASD often need more prompting and modeling in arranging props and choosing roles, but once they catch on, their creativity is “magical.” It’s so much fun to watch their sometimes hilarious spins on traditional stories and play activities!

Generating creativity in adults, on the other hand, can be a bit more challenging. “After you’ve re-enacted the three little pigs a million times, you can’t always find a way to make it new and exciting,” Emma notes. “But just when my creativity fails me, the kids come up with some out of this world idea.” Sometimes the most challenging moments are those that prove the most rewarding, and seeing children’s creativity shine is truly wonderful.

Brandy Windham- Speech Therapist and BCBA!

Brandy Playing

In an effort to better serve our clients, Brandy Windham, the lead speech therapist and co-owner of Building BLOCS, went back to graduate school this past year and completed all the course work necessary to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Exam.  In addition to the coursework, Brandy also completed 1,500 supervised hours.  In September, Brandy sat for the exam, and on Friday, we got the happy news that Brandy passed the exam and is now a BCBA!   Continue reading “Brandy Windham- Speech Therapist and BCBA!”