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Staff Spotlight: Meet Cierra

Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight highlights the incredible people who work on our team. The Staff Spotlight will feature employees across all different centers in a variety of positions. This is an opportunity for our community to get to know the people who work so hard every day to deliver the best ABA therapy to the kids and families we serve.

Meet Cierra

Meet Cierra. Cierra is a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) at our Plymouth, Indiana center. Cierra has been with Lighthouse Autism Center three years and is a graduate of Winona Lake College with her Bachelor’s in Psychology. As a RBT, Cierra is responsibly for working one-on-one with children who have autism to implement custom therapy programs to help that child develop social skills, communication skills, living skills and more. Cierra is currently working towards her Master’s in ABA at Ball State University.

Registered Behavior Technician

Tell us about why you applied for a position with Lighthouse.

Honestly, I fell in love with the idea of being an ABA therapist. I did my research before graduation and I had heard so many wonderful things about Lighthouse and I knew I wanted to be a part of a company that not only cared so much about their clients but about their staff just as much. Lighthouse just seemed like the best out of all the centers available!

Tell us about a favorite memory with your team at Lighthouse.

There are so many memories! If I had to pick one my most memorable would have to be back in March of 2019 there was a client at the center with a rare epilepsy disorder and it was epilepsy awareness month. Our team took the time to get shirts that represented epilepsy awareness and created banners and posters for this client. I remember holding one of the posters waiting for the doors to open for her and her parents to see us standing there waiting for them. Doing something that special with my team made it feel like a work family experience. I love participating in things like this with my team because it not only feels good to do something amazing for these families but feels amazing to band with my team in a way like this.

What is your favorite memory from your time at Lighthouse?

My favorite by far was a former client of ours that came to us not being able to walk on his feet. I could only move around on his knees. I remember our whole team working so hard to get him to walk using many assisting devices, and at one point even had a wheel chair. He got to a point to where he could walk if we held his hand, but if we didn’t hold hands he would not walk. After months of practicing walking around the center I remember by the end of the day one day he let go of his therapists hand and took his first independent steps on his feet to his mom. It was the best thing to experience.

How would you describe your Lighthouse experience?

My experience at Lighthouse is life changing. Without Lighthouse I would not have found my passion for what I do. I love ABA so much and I love being a part of the solution and a part of the reason so many kids get a better outcome of life and so many positive changes for these families. It’s the most rewarding feeling and I couldn’t ask for a better experience. I love where I work so much that no other place would ever compare.

When not at work, Cierra enjoys running, cooking, and spending time with her husband and her rescue pup, Maggie.

Interested in learning more about a career with Lighthouse Autism Center? We are hiring! For a list of available positions or to apply, click here.

 

Staff Spotlight: Meet Rachel

Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight highlights the incredible people who work on our team. The Staff Spotlight will feature employees across all different centers in a variety of positions. This is an opportunity for our community to get to know the people who work so hard every day to deliver the best ABA therapy to the kids and families we serve.

Meet Rachel

Meet Rachel. Rachel has been a Registered Behavior Technician at Lighthouse Autism Center’s Greenfield location for one year. She graduated from Wittenberg University with degrees in Psychology and Sports Management. She is currently in graduate school working towards her Master’s of Science in Education Psychology with a concentration in ABA.

Registered Behavior Technician
Rachel and her dog, Maggie.

Tell us what you like about working at Lighthouse.

My favorite part of working with lighthouse team members is the opportunity to collaborate with amazing minds every single day. Having supervisors and co-workers to not only hold you accountable but to lift you up is an amazing experience. It has helped me learn so much and to ignite a passion for this field and our kiddos.

Tell us about a favorite memory from your time at Lighthouse.

My favorite part of working with Lighthouse kiddos is getting to watch them learn and grow every single day. Everyday is a new opportunity for them and getting to be a part of their success is something that is indescribable. All credit goes to these amazing, hardworking kiddos that I get the pleasure of working with.

How would you describe your Lighthouse experience?

Working at Lighthouse has given me the opportunity to learn so much about the field and develop new skills as a therapist and future BCBA as well as given me the chance to work with some amazing kiddos. I am excited to continue to grow with Lighthouse!

When Rachel isn’t working, she enjoys hiking, DIY projects and playing with her puppy, Noodle.

Interested in learning more about a career with Lighthouse Autism Center? We are hiring! For a list of available positions or to apply, click here.

 

How a Child with Autism Can Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder, affects more than 1 in 54 children in the U.S. For parents a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder often means that they need to make a big lifestyle change. There are therapies and treatments that can be very helpful to kids with Autism but in order to create a comprehensive therapy and care program often one parent will have to quit work and be the one in charge of keeping track of the child’s care.

This can cause financial turmoil for the household because many households rely on two incomes to get by and Autism therapies and treatments are usually expensive. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a benefits program that can help parents cover the costs of the child’s care and living expenses. Supplemental Security Income, or SSI benefits, can ease that financial burden and allow one parent to focus solely on the child’s care.

Qualifying For SSI Benefits

The Social Security Administration has strict requirements that must be met in order for children to qualify for SSI benefits. All of those requirements are listed by condition in the SSA’s Blue Book. The Blue Book is searchable online. The listing for Autism Spectrum Disorder says that in order to be eligible for benefits children with Autism must have:

  • deficits in social interaction
  • deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication, and
  • significantly restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.

There must be medical documentation proving that the child has all three of those deficits. The child must also have an extreme limitation in one of these areas, or a severe limitation in two of these areas:

  • understanding, remembering, or using information (ability to learn, remember, and use information, follow instructions, solve problems, use reason to make decisions)
  • interacting with others (ability to engage in interactive play, cooperate with others, maintain friendships, handle conflicts, initiate or sustain conversation, understand social cues)
  • focusing on activities (ability to engage in activities at a consistent pace, avoid distractions, complete tasks in timely manner), and
  • adapting or managing oneself (ability to regulate emotions, control behavior, protect oneself from harm, maintain personal hygiene

The parents will need to provide as much medical documentation as possible to prove that the child meets these requirements so that the child will be eligible for SSI benefits.

Financial Requirements

The parents must also qualify before the child can receive benefits. The total income of all the adults in the household that work full time cannot exceed the income cap set by the SSA. The income cap increases with every adult in the household that earns wages. You will have to submit financial documentation like a W-2 or a Federal tax return for each working adult in the house to prove their income.

Starting A Claim

Don’t wait to start a claim for SSI benefits for your child who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. The process can take months so you should get a claim filed as soon as you can. To file a claim for SSI benefits for a child you will need to make an appointment at your local SSA office. At the appointment a staff member will help you fill out and fill the claim forms.

 

Sources:

SSA: https://www.ssa.gov/

Blue Book: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/ChildhoodListings.htm

Autism Listing: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/112.00-MentalDisorders-Childhood.htm#112_10

Medical Documentation: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/acceptable-medical-source

Income Limits: https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-child-ussi.htm

SSA Offices: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/state-social-security-disability

 

 

 

 

Staff Spotlight – Chelsea

Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight highlights the incredible people who work on our team. The Staff Spotlight will feature employees across all different centers in a variety of positions. This is an opportunity for our community to get to know the people who work so hard every day to deliver the best ABA therapy to the kids and families we serve.

Meet Chelsea

Meet Chelsea. Chelsea is a Junior Program Manager at our Warsaw, Indiana center. Chelsea started at Lighthouse two years ago as an RBT, before being promoted to a Senior Therapist and now Junior Program Manager. Chelsea has a Master’s in ABA from Ball State University and is preparing to sit for her board exam. As a Junior Program Manager, Chelsea works with a BCBA to design custom therapy programs for children with autism.

Tell us about why you applied for a position with Lighthouse.

“When I first started working in this field about 6 years ago, I immediately fell in love with it. When my husband and I moved to this area I knew I wanted to continue my career in ABA. After looking at several different companies I chose to apply at Lighthouse because of their values. “

Tell us about a favorite memory with your team at Lighthouse.

I love that Lighthouse provides the opportunity for team building events. One of my favorite memories is from last fall when we had a family fun day at a local farm. Everyone was able to bring their children and loved ones and have a day to spend together outside of the center. It was so much fun!”

What is your favorite memory from your time at Lighthouse?

“My favorite memory about working with the Lighthouse children is being able to teach them the necessary skills for them to transition into their next least restrictive environment. It’s incredible rewarding to see them make this progress and I love being able to see our kiddos graduate and return to school!”

How would you describe your Lighthouse experience?

“I would describe my Lighthouse experience as amazing. Throughout my positions I have been able to learn and grow as an individual and in my career. Lighthouse is like a family. Everyone is always so kind and helpful towards one another.”

When not at Lighthouse, Chelsea enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.

Interested in learning more about a career with Lighthouse Autism Center? We are hiring! For a list of available positions or to apply, click here.

Staff Spotlight – Elisha

Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight highlights the incredible people who work on our team. The Staff Spotlight will feature employees across all different centers in a variety of positions. This is an opportunity for our community to get to know the people who work so hard every day to deliver the best ABA therapy to the kids and families we serve.

Registered Behavior Technician

Meet Elisha

Meet Elisha. Elisha is a Senior Therapist at our Mishawaka location. Elisha graduated from Ball State University in 2015 with a degree in psychology and has worked at Lighthouse for four years. Her journey at Lighthouse began with an RBT position before being promoted to a Senior Therapist. As a Senior Therapist she works closely with BCBA’s to implement behavior programs for Lighthouse kiddos.

Tell us about why you applied for a position with Lighthouse.

“In college, I took a class on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and absolutely fell in love with it. I knew after taking that class that I wanted to pursue a career in ABA.”

Tell us about the team you work with at Lighthouse.

“I have made so many close friends while working at Lighthouse. They are some of the best people and one of my favorite things about working at Lighthouse.”

What is your favorite memory from your time at Lighthouse?

“I love seeing the kids learn new ways to communicate or overcome a fear that they have had. Being able to watch the kiddos learn new things and see all our hard work (and theirs!) payoff is incredibly rewarding.”

How would you describe your Lighthouse experience?

“My overall experience with Lighthouse has been amazing. I love coming to work every day and seeing all my favorite kids and people. I wouldn’t change even the very hardest of days. Every day is a great day at Lighthouse.”

When not at Lighthouse, Elisha enjoys spending time with her two year old son and two dogs.

Interested in learning more about a career with Lighthouse Autism Center? We are hiring! For a list of available positions or to apply, click here.