By Kayla Bagnato, a member of the Jan. 2017 SkillCorps Kenya team

The Global Autism Project focuses on building sustainable environments for children with autism all over the world. These past two weeks, I have truly gotten to see what it means to have a sustainable program. Kaizora has been partnered with The Global Autism Project for 6 years and throughout these years over 60 skilled clinicians have traveled with SkillCorps and visited Kaizora. That is a TON of input and ideas from a variety of clinicians. When a team arrives, they collaborate with the staff and find out what the staff’s priorities are and then SkillCorps gives their input based off of their own knowledge. Kaizora has ownership of all of their programs and interventions because their ideas and their priorities have been implemented. SkillCorps only assisted in creating the programs once Kaizora decided what those programs needed to be. Kaizora has been able to sustain because SkillCorps empowers the staff. This sense of empowerment and prioritizing is what ensures a sustainable environment.

Building sustainable environments is not something that only applies to Kaizora but also when working in the homes of children with autism. Clinicians should be focusing on building sustainable environments for the parents so after services end, families can support their child without clinicians. As clinicians, we tend to place our ideas and goals over the parents; but why should our priorities come first? When was the last time you asked your families what their goals were? When was the last time that you solely focused a program on family priorities and not yours?

Our goal as clinicians working in home-based therapy should be to instill confidence in our families so they feel included and empowered to work with their child. When we work in the home, we need to collaborate with families and prioritize the ENTIRE teams’ goals. I am excited to bring this idea of sustainability into the homes of the families that I work with and focus on collaborating with my families. I have learned so much over the past two weeks and I have seen how important it is to put their goals in front of our own.