Therapeutic Assistants at Blue Bird Day take on a variety of roles, many of which are behind the scenes. Amber Young is Blue Bird Day’s Supervising Therapeutic Assistant. As the leader of this ambitious and diverse group, Amber shares her perspective on what it takes to be a Therapeutic Assistant and her path to success.
Currently studying to receive her Masters of Art in Applied Behavior Analysis-Emphasis in Autism at Ball State University, Amber recalls that she has always wanted to work with children. During her last semester as an undergrad at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Amber landed an internship at Blue Bird Day. Upon graduating with a degree in Kinesiology in December of 2016, Amber was officially hired on as a Blue Bird Day Therapeutic Assistant.
Amber describes being a Therapeutic Assistant is like being a child’s base of support because of the integral part they play in the child’s day. Therapeutic Assistants are assigned children in a Bird Group (classroom) and stay with them for the duration of their therapeutic rotations throughout the year. It is their job to build rapport with the child and help the child adapt to each situation and environment. The Therapeutic Assistants are a consistent face for a child in addition to being a tremendous support to all of the therapists.
Amber knows it takes a special person to become an outstanding Therapeutic Assistant. Some of the qualities she describes are patience, promptness, trust and initiative. It also takes a bit of self-reflection, as taught in a Floortime training where they encourage therapists to “Wait, Watch and Wonder.” Your kneejerk reaction is not always the correct response to a child, especially one with special needs. This reminds therapists to assess the situation before taking action. Amber adds that learning the child’s lingo is something all Therapeutic Assistants need to accomplish. Communication is key!