Earning my CAS has not only been a milestone in my own journey in autism specialization, but also a way of connecting with others in the international community who also serve ASD individuals and their family members. Although the community of providers serving those with autism is experiencing needed growth, to have easy online access to an abundance of training opportunities, job openings, news, and best practices is essential to my own best practice.
2) How has the CAS credential affected your professional growth?
So many things have come together to help me grow professionally in the area of autism services. I have been an adult neuropsychologist at OSF Healthcare for 18 years and have grown in so many areas of brain behavior relationships. When I had my own son 11 years ago, my world opened up to many topics only pediatric specialists seemed to focus on. I began to recognize autism in the adult and geriatric patients within my own practice. Earning my CAS certification brought all my professional and personal experience together into a more cohesive practice model. I have now published my book Understanding Autism in Adults and Aging Adults as a professional, a mother, and a certified autism specialist.
3) How has your CAS credential been a benefit to your district/ organization/ or employer?
Having the certification helps me communicate my specialization to others and gives me a voice with which to speak with authority on the topic of autism. Although others may be able to read my curriculum vitae or hear me explain my training and expertise, now they can see that an international credentialing board has monitored and reviewed my training and knowledge. Seeing the CAS seal allows employers, community agencies, and patients/families to feel comfortable with my background at a glance. This certification also reassures my employer of my ability to offer a specialty clinic in the area of autism, which in turn improves our ability to serve individuals in our larger community.
4) How do you like to be recognized, acknowledged and rewarded for a job well done?
The most rewarding thing about my job is meeting with the ASD individuals/families who are either receiving a new diagnosis or are troubleshooting problematic behaviors. They often have a visible sigh of relief to receive a diagnosis and explanation that “makes sense” to them and feels like a real breakthrough. Although we have long wait lists and it is easy to feel overwhelmed at times, the connection I make during these sessions is irreplaceable.
5) What is your greatest challenge or roadblock?
For me, greatest challenge is to see the mountain of need in front of me and yet feel that I lack the resources to “fix it all.” I think individuals who feel passionate about a certain topic can easily feel overwhelmed about where to start, how to make a difference in such a vast area of need, and how to keep moving forward without feeling the struggle in a way that is too weighty. I walk through the challenges by being a person who commits to celebrations. I celebrate every bit of progress no matter how small, and then I just keep moving forward. I say to myself, “I see a mountain of need ahead, but that’s okay. I am a person who speaks to mountains.”
6) What makes you feel like a valuable contributor?
When my son was diagnosed through Easter Seals at age 5, I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot and crying. I was emotionally and physically exhausted, as this was the point at which sensory processing disorder became autism spectrum disorder. ASD felt like a much larger challenge, and there was a period of grief for all we had been through and for an uncertain future. Even with a PhD in brain-behavior relationships, I felt at a loss for how to move forward. Compared to that initial reaction in my car, the fact that I have started a diagnostic clinic for adult and geriatric patients and have published a book on autism in the aging population makes me feel like a contributor—not only to my son’s life but to others as well. There is value in every journey.
7) What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love my job at OSF Healthcare because the organization is so mission focused. We commit to serving every patient and family member with the greatest care and love at all times. No one is ever turned away because of age, color, creed, payer source or other. From the top administrators to the nurses on every unit, from the veteran worker to the newly recruited employee, we work to serve those in our community. It is this meaning and value to the job that makes me smile and gives me endurance for the long journey.
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Dr. Regan’s new book, Understanding Autism in Adults and Aging Adults: