Ezra Lockhart, M.Hlth.Sc.(D.D.), MCSE, CDC I, CAS, Behavior Therapist
State/Country: Anchorage, Alaska, USA
School/ Organizations: Catholic Social Services – Alaska
1) How has earning the Certified Autism Specialist been meaningful and satisfying?
I am proud to be the first practitioner in Alaska to earn the Certified Autism Specialist credential. Earning this internationally recognized credential provides those that I serve reassurances regarding my expertise in the field of autism support. I consider myself a global citizen and have studied in both the United States of America and Australia. Locating and obtaining board certification at the international level was important to me. Towards that aim, I found IBCCES and their autism credentialing track. For these reasons I find my CAS credential meaningful and satisfying.
2) How has the CAS credential affected your professional growth?
I initially earned the Autism Certificate credential while working towards completing a master’s degree at the University of Sydney in Australia. After completing and publishing a dissertation on the topic of computer-based social and emotional skills training for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), I upgraded to the Certified Autism Specialist credential. Since earning my Certified Autism Specialist I have been accepted into a doctoral program to continue my research focusing on the ASD population.
3) How has your CAS credential been a benefit to your district/ organization/ or employer?
Catholic Social Services, Family Disability Services is able with confidence to connect me with their client population to address specific acute and chronic issues. Mentioning that the agency has a CAS onboard helps to encourage parents and guardians that those in their care will be supported to the upmost professional standard by a highly qualified practitioner.
4) How do you like to be recognized, acknowledged and rewarded for a job well done?
Receiving accolades of any kind is something I personally and professional appreciate. For my contribution to the autism community I received the Man of Excellence Award in 2013 from AHAINA Multicultural Center and the Seawolf Student Leader Award from the University of Alaska Anchorage, Student Life & Leadership. In 2015 I was presented an original painting from the Michael Tolleson Savant Art Center in Kent, Washington. The painting “Epiphany” was created by Michael Tolleson, an autistic savant. Creating a positive lasting impact to no matter the size to this community is my passion and career goal.
5) What is your greatest challenge or roadblock?
The greatest challenge I have seen in my 12 years delivering direct support is the ever constant changes in federal and state regulations governing Medicaid. I have witnessed how this drastically impacts from year-to-year access to and continuation of services for individuals who desperately need support. Working for a Medicaid provider agency I have seen across the board client support hour reductions that frankly break my heart as I understand how this will impact the quality of life and skill development for the clients I serve.
6) What makes you feel like a valuable contributor?
When working with clients one-on-one the constant feedback I get from their actions, achievements, and accomplishments makes me acutely aware of how valuable my contribution is to their overall success. Even when clients are struggling to achieve their goals the fact that they continue to try signifies for me the value of my practice.
7) What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy seeing change in the clients I serve regardless of how incremental that change may be. My reward is in their success. It is rewarding to know that I have the opportunity to impact clients in such a way that will have for them lifelong positive effects.