Honoring Autism Acceptance Month with the Autism Society of America

Did you know that April is Autism Acceptance Month?! Giving back is always at the core of what we do at Pura Vida, and we’re honored to partner with the Autism Society of America for Autism Acceptance Month this year. Together, we’ve created two new styles, with each purchase directly benefiting their mission of creating connections and empowering everyone in the Autism community with the resources they need to live fully.

Each bracelet purchased helps give back and your support helps the Autism Society connect Autistic individuals and their networks of support to education, resources, advocacy, and, above all, each other.  ❤️ 

To kick off the month, we had the amazing opportunity to interview Hailey Kelly, a Behavior Technician at Gateway Pediatric Therapy specializing in ABA Therapy. You might be wondering… what is ABA Therapy? It stands for Applied Behavior Analysis, and it’s regarded as a highly effective treatment for children on the autism spectrum who can struggle to attain the milestones associated with typical development!

Keep reading to learn more about the incredible work Hailey does at Gateway that contribute to Autism Society’s goal of connecting the Autism community to the support they need. 

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in ABA Therapy and what does ABA therapy provide for a child?

A: From teaching a child how to play with blocks to teaching a teen how to grocery shop, ABA therapy has became my biggest passion in every way. ABA therapy is a highly effective treatment for individuals on the autism spectrum who struggle to obtain the skills that typically developing peers acquire. 

Q: What does a normal day at the job look like? 

A: The clinic that I currently work at offers in clinic and in-home therapy sessions, which is super fun! 1:1 therapy is provided to clients ranging from ages 2-21 and in a typical day, a behavior technician provides this 1:1 therapy to 2-3 kiddos, implementing programming based on the client’s needs. Parent trainings are provided weekly to share and discuss progress and concerns, and essentially offer as much support as possible. Seeing each individual’s progress and being able to share that progress with their families is such an amazing experience to be a part of! Each client makes significant progress and being able to share and show that progress with the child’s family is a blessing. 

Q: What's been the biggest moment of your career so far? 

A: Story time! I had a client who was non-verbal, with a primary goal to produce meaningful vocalizations. Through ABA, my client was able to echo a variety of sounds – one being, “mama.” As his mother heard him echo that for the first time, it brought tears to her eyes (and mine of course), expressing so much excitement for the future. Every client has so much potential to progress in a variety of areas including communication and language, social skills, play skills, activities of daily living, behavior reduction, and more through ABA.

Q: What's the most challenging part of your job? Do you have any advice for people who want to pursue a career like yours?

A: My favorite part of the job may also be the most challenging part of the job: every individual with autism is so unique. Due to autism being measured on a spectrum, each individual with autism is much different than another. With that being said, each clinician and behavior technician must be ready to adapt to every learner at all times. You could have one client in the morning who is a non-verbal 2-year-old learning basic skills such as imitation and responding to their name, while the afternoon session could be with a verbal 13-year-old learning how to engage in appropriate conversations and make their bed. You have to adapt to that change in teaching rather quickly, which makes it so special and exciting! ABA therapy has truly changed my life, but more importantly has changed and continues to change the lives of so many others!

Q: What’s your fave Pura Vida product?

A: I love the bracelets! And especially love the autism awareness bracelets - 5% of the purchase price is donated to the Autism Society of America, which is an incredible organization that provides support to individuals with autism. Absolutely amazing! Thank you, Pura Vida. ❤️

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