By Crystal Carter, a member of the SkillCorps Nicaragua February 2018 team
When I began planning to join the Skillcorps Nicaragua team, I had no idea what to expect from this experience. It was obvious that I was being transplanted to a new team, in a different ABA center, in a different country, but what would this look like?
Despite the cultural differences and the language barrier, I quickly noticed an interesting phenomenon. Autism presents with the same characteristics across cultures. The children have many of the same needs. ABA is a science that effectively targets the skill deficits and behavioral excesses that characterize autism. Regardless of the cultural characteristics of the area we are working, ABA is an effective intervention. This may seem like an obvious point, but it was surprisingly comforting to me.
Not only does autism look familiar in Nicaragua, the delivery of ABA services looks familiar as well. The staff at CIE are facing many of the same challenges that I encounter when working at home, such as managing the work load, training staff, collecting accurate data, and developing effective programs.
I don’t want to overlook the importance of cultural considerations in developing effective interventions. There are certainly different areas of focus that are relevant based on the culture here in Nicaragua. Individualized therapy is critical when working with children with autism. Despite these differences, we are all working towards a common goal: helping individuals with autism reach their fullest potential.
Providing ABA therapy can be a difficult career path, but there is so much hope and opportunity for the children we work with. Participating in Skillcorps was a great reminder that we are in this together.