Andrea S. White, MEd, MA, CCC-SLP, CAS
City/State: Williamstown, MA
School/ Organization: Berkshire Speech and Language
I have worked with children and adolescents in special education for over twenty years. In the past seven years I have worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist for children with communication disorders. A large portion of my caseload continues to be individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and with their caregivers. Since obtaining my credential as a Certified Autism Specialist, there have been more opportunities and a greater receptiveness for me to provide services to those individuals independently. Professionally, obtaining my credential as a Certified Autism Specialist has firmly established my role in schools as the person to train and consult with teachers working with the autism population. My work is recognized and valued. Receiving the CAS credential adds to my evolving skill set as a teacher, special educator, and speech-language pathologist. This is an important recognition for the effort and value I place in working with every child to reach their fullest communication potential.
1) How has earning the Certified Autism Specialist been meaningful and satisfying?
As a special educator, now speech-language pathologist, I have always loved my job working with children and families, but now this additional credential opens doors for me to specialize within my scope of practice.
2) How has the CAS credential affected your professional growth?
In addition to the work I continue to do as a speech-language pathologist, the CAS credential has shifted the way other teachers and professionals seek me out to ask for guidance for those with ASD. This is an aspect of helping those with autism that I really enjoy, because it affects their life on a daily basis. I am given an opportunity to help train those who work with the person with autism and assist the other professionals with ways to view the same situation with different vantage points.
3) What changes need to be made in your work environment?
I work in many different environments – school, workplace, home. The change that is needed is to adjust the environment with awareness as we try to modify the behaviors of those with autism. The challenge is that the changes also depend on the context of the communication at that time and place. There is not a simple answer – this is why dedicating the time to focus on the skills to receive the CAS credential is so important for the children and families in need.
4) How do you like to be recognized, acknowledged and rewarded for a job well done?
The appreciation from the people I help and work with. The children and their families motivate me. I believe that children deserve a chance to communicate to their fullest potential. It’s my job to provide the tools and strategies to assist the child’s language development. Now that I have the additional training as a CAS, I know that I am providing quality, evidence based practice for language and behavioral development for people with autism.
5) What is your greatest challenge or roadblock?
It is challenging to constantly educate and re-educate the professionals working with those with ASD. This is a spectrum disorder, so each case is different and requires an individualized approach every time.
6) What makes you feel like a valuable contributor?
I so appreciate the smile, laugh or an acknowledgment from a child I work with which shows a connection to the work that we are engaged in together.
7) What support, tools/resources, skills or empowerment do you need to be more effective?
I am most effective in the work that I provide for children with ASD when the families and teachers are supportive and seek to provide consistency.
8) What strengths or talents do you possess that aren’t being used?
That’s what I love the most about my work. I do honestly use all of my strengths and talents on a daily basis. The fact that I have an opportunity to do this is an honor that I do not take for granted. There is always potential for additional community and professional awareness to the needs and challenges of people with autism.
9) What de-motivates you?
When people restrict their understanding and perspective about what a person with autism is capable of learning, without considering each individuals unique qualities.