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From Currency Broker to Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
First Bridge Centre

From Currency Broker to Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA):
An uncharted journey of supporting individuals with autism and their families

At 19 years of age, I left college with my A-levels and a bright idea of finally escaping education and making my way in ‘The Big Smoke’. Miraculously, I managed to secure myself a position as a Currency Broker at a well-known firm in Holborn and entered the world of broking and finance. As a 19-year-old fresh out of college and new to City life coming from the sticks of Essex, the pay was great, and the lifestyle was even better, but somehow, I woke every morning feeling unfulfilled, praying for 6:00pm and wondering if this is what full-time work and my life would always be like. Meanwhile, my older sister, worked at a well-known local authority moderate learning difficulty school in Essex, and used to inspire me with her daily stories of the amazing children and young adults with learning disabilities and autism that she supported – she seemed so happy, her life appeared to have purpose, and most of all I could see she was making a difference.

When making the decision to leave my advancing career in Broking, it really wasn’t much of a decision at all. I didn’t know what an ABA therapist was, I didn’t know what ‘working one-to-one with a child with autism’ was, or would even entail, and on top of that, I had never even worked with children before, but I knew I wanted to make a difference. So, I packed my bags (figuratively speaking of course) and made – quiet possibly – the easiest and best decision, that changed my life

Instead of waking up every morning dreading my day, I woke up every morning excited about what could be achieved and feeling blessed to work with such amazing children and young adults. Like I said, I didn’t know what autism was – at this stage it didn’t matter to me – what mattered was me giving 100% every day, to ensure that they were learning, and knowing that the small steps mattered. Learning to respond to their name, learning their first word or sign, or learning to copy when I clapped my hands and sang ‘if you’re happy and you know it’ – that mattered!

Fast forward 16 years and considering I now have a history of supporting and teaching more than 100 individuals with varying severities of autism and related disabilities, I of course, am much more knowledgeable about autism, and the beautiful but also challenging aspects of this life-long neurodevelopmental diagnosis. Firstly, acceptance is key. As a society we need to accept all individuals equally and work towards building a world that works with a view to equity, rather than equality. Secondly, an understanding that we are all unique, and all have the right to the same opportunities to learn, which will enable us to be able to make choices, and to gain the skills we need to be independent in our lives. For every human being on this planet, the path to reaching this goal will be unique, and I can proudly say, that using my knowledge and expertise of behavioural science, I have been blessed to be part of this journey for so many children and individuals with autism.

The journey for me, and those I have supported over the years and continue to support, remains uncharted. However, I wake up proud of the small steps taken, and achievements made every day by the children and individuals with autism I have had the pleasure of knowing and teaching

– Mikaela Green, Clinical Lead & BCBA