By: Kelly Cotter

I am a special education teacher turned assistive technology specialist in North Carolina.  3 years ago through a Google search, I found the Global Autism Project. The Global Autism Project allowed me opportunities I would have never had otherwise.  I was a little hesitant at first to begin my journey since I am not directly in the field of ABA as a BCBA or RBT, but I am so grateful I didn’t second guess myself and took a chance.

I just completed my first trip as a leader, but my fourth trip overall with Skillcorps.  I have been to Nicaragua, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, and {Bangalore} India.  My first trip to Nicaragua, I was the only non RBT/BCBA and I felt a little inferior at first.  I second guessed my years of experience and my education—despite having a master’s degree.  I learned so much about ABA and clinical terminology I started to consider possibly returning back to school to feel like an equal with these professionals I respected so much.  It wasn’t until my last trip to Bangalore that things really clicked for me. As much as I respect BCBAs and RBTs, I realized that the autism field needs all sorts of professionals, special educators included.  I don’t need to change my profession in order to “fit in” with teams or make a difference worldwide. Special education doesn’t always exist around the world so my perspective is always a different one when comparing educational settings.  As I continue to grow with the Global Autism Project and Skillcorps, I have seen an increased growth in a variety of professionals traveling with the organization. 

I never thought after my first trip that I would be able to “lead a team” because I wasn’t a BCBA. It took some time for me to learn that my skillset sets me apart and I have things to offer that a BCBA might not.  We are all individuals and differences are what make the experiences richer. Working directly with BCBAs and RBTs has taught me so much since my journey with Skillcorps started and I know I will continue to broaden my ABA knowledge, however, I learned that I don’t have to be a BCBA to make a difference and be a part of this global movement.  The world needs all sorts of professionals to inform the autism community. I encourage professionals of all disciplines to become involved with Skillcorps and to not let the “ABA” part scare you away or make you feel small.