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Autism Society of North Carolina

I am a special needs counselor for grade K-5 and I have a bachelor's degree in Applied Psychology. I've worked with children for 5+ years.

I decided to select the Autism Society of North Carolina as my human service agency. I chose this agency because I appreciated the fact that it not only works to assist individuals with autism, but also the family of those with autism. I contemplated choosing Big Brothers Big Sisters, but that agency was designed to pair children with adult role models and there was no mention of assisting children with autism or other special needs in the program. I would prefer to be employed by an agency that works with autistic children as I have found that I greatly enjoy working with children with autism and I would be interested in helping to improve their lives. I would appreciate being employed by the Autism Society of North Carolina specifically because of the amount of care they have demonstrated towards their clients and their willingness to be creative in providing assistance to their clients.

Agency Description

The Autism Society of North Carolina offers three main services: improving the lives of individuals with autism, supporting the families of the individual with autism, and educating communities about autism. The agency works to improve the lives of those with autism by tailoring their services to the unique needs of individuals with autism in order to help them live safe and fulfilling lives in their own communities while achieving their goals and dreams (Autism Society of North Carolina, 2017). To support the families of the autistic individual the agency helps families to find resources and services for their children, while also working to resolve any school issues. Additionally the agency also offers guidance on “lifelong issues including employment, residential options, and planning for children’s needs beyond parents’ lives” (Autism Society of North Carolina, 2017). To educate the communities the agency has provided training for doctors and teachers, advocated the needs of autistic individuals, and increased public awareness of autism.

The Autism Society of North Carolina employs a wide range of employees with different levels of education, certifications, and experience across a wide variety of positions. The main professionals employed within the agency are clinical professional, autism service coordinator, and autism supports professional (Careers, 2017). The clinical professional is responsible for providing functional behavior assessments, developing training and treatment programs, offering support to the family during treatment, and analyzing and reporting data (Clinical Professional, 2017). The autism service coordinator is responsible for assisting the family of the individual with autism as well as the autistic individual in ensuring that they received the services and supports that they need. The autism supports professional’s job is to work directly with individuals with autism in a one-on-one setting to teach the individual social skills, communication skills, and the skills that the individual needs for daily living (Autism Supports Professional, 2017).

History and Current Trends

The Autism Society of North Carolina was originally formed in the year 1970 by a group of parents who had children with autism and believed that their children should not be excluded from schools or communities due to their autism. The parents that first began the Autism Society of North Carolina were: JoAnn Jeffries, Betty Camp, and Mary Lou “Bobo” Warren. When the Autism Society of North Carolina was first formed, it was designed to be an organization that would allow parents to share information, provide support to each other, and improve the lives of children with autism in North Carolina. During the 1970’s the founders managed to establish their organization as a nonprofit devoted to providing advocacy for “clinical services, family support, educational opportunities, and policy changes that would recognize autism as a developmental disability”(Autism Society of North Carolina, 2017).

The Autism Society of North Carolina retains the same goal of helping those with autism to live a fulfilling life while also evolving. During the 1980’s the organization evolved from an all-volunteer organization to employing individuals to work with legislators and TEACCH in order to provide expanded opportunities to individuals with autism; the organization also opened group homes and a bookstore. In the 1990’s the organization expanded its staff to include parent advocates known as Autism Resource Specialists, and a full-time camp staff (Autism Society of North Carolina History, 2017). In the 2000’s the organization evolved to include walks and runs for autism, educational autism programs, clinical trainings, and bilingual affairs liaison office. From 2010 to 2017 the organization began the LifeLong Interventions treatment program, Employment Supports Department, opened the IGNITE program, added more than 1,000 employees, and year round programs to Camp Royall. The Autism Society of North Carolina evolved from a parent founded organization run fully by volunteers to a human service agency with a budget of more than $20 million per year.

The history of human services in regards to autism in North Carolina is very similar to the history of the Autism Society of North Carolina. Many of the main changes with respect to autism in the community, legislative, and education levels were caused by the advocacy work done by the Autism Society of North Carolina. One such piece of autism human service history was the Senate Bill 676, which according to Autism Speaks (2015) “requires certain health plans to cover the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism” (Autism Speaks, 2015). The Autism Society of North Carolina advocated for the bill alongside many other autism groups and partners in order to make it possible for more individuals with autism to receive the help they needed without being denied aid from their health insurance company. The Autism Society of North Carolina is also different from the autism human service history in that the organization was founded during a time where many human service agencies saw autism as childhood schizophrenia, which was believed to be caused by emotionally distant mothers; many children with autism were thought to be incapable of attending school. The Autism Society of North Carolina disagreed with that belief and instead worked to help children with autism to attend schools and be a part of their community during the 1970’s.

Theories, Values, and Ethics

The code of ethics is important to everyone involved in the field of human services as it provides the framework for ethical behavior and the standard to which all-human service professionals should hold themselves. The code of ethics would be very important to anyone employed by the Autism Society of North Carolina especially those in client facing roles within the organization. The employees would have to have a strong understanding of nonmaleficence, beneficence, and fidelity as the clients would all have autism and it would be even more important to ensure that the helper is acting in the best interest of the client. For instance, if I was employed as an employment coordinator at the Autism Society of North Carolina, I would need to ensure that I kept my clients’ trust while acting in their best interests and not putting them in risky situations. One of the main ethical dilemmas in working with individuals with autism is how much information can and should be shared with the family of the individual with autism without losing the fidelity of the client or violating confidentiality.

The Ethical Standards for Human Service Professionals is a cast ethical code with a variety of ethical standards that have a diverse level of challenges in regards to implementation. For instance, one standard that I would struggle with as a human service professional at the Autism Society of North Carolina would be, “the client’s right to self- determination is protected by human service professionals. They recognize the client’s right to receive or refuse services” (Ethical Standards of Human Service Professionals, 2000, p.61-68). The fact that my clients would have autism might make it more difficult for them to fully understand the services that I could offer to them and, therefore, I would have difficulty dealing with a refusal for a service that could help the clients. I would be unsure if they were refusing based on a full understanding of the service or if I had failed to fully communicate the service to them in a way that they could understand. One standard I feel would be easy for me to implement would be “human service professionals provide services without discrimination or preference based on age, ethnicity, culture, race, disability, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status” (Ethical Standards of Human Service Professionals, 2000, p.61-68). I personally have no difficulties with working with people based on their culture, sexuality, gender, disability, religion, or socioeconomic status. The only standard that would influence the way I would treat my client is the level of disability, as I would need to base my communication methods off the client’s type and level of disability. For example, if my client were a non-verbal individual with autism, then I would want to integrate a picture chart in our communications. If my client had low functioning autism then I would want to explain the services offered using simple language and pictures; I might also involve a family member in the helping process to ensure the client was in a comfortable environment.

Role in the Helping Process

The employment services coordinator is a client-facing role that is used by human service professionals at the Autism Society of North Carolina throughout the helping process. These professionals work to assist their client during the helping process while promoting responsibility and self-help in the client (Woodside & McClam, 2015). The helping process is made up of five different stages: preparation, client arrival, exploration of the problem, intervention strategies, and the termination stage.

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The employment services coordinator is a client-facing role that has the helper working with the client to assist the client in developing job readiness skills, job selection, and maintaining employment (Employment Services Coordinator, 2017). The employment service coordinator’s main job is to help individuals with autism prepare for employment, get employment, and keep employment in order to help the individuals with autism to have a fulfilling life in accordance with the Autism Society of North Carolina’s mission. In this role, the helper could assist an individual with autism throughout all the stages of the helping process. In the first stage, the helper would prepare for meeting with the client by reviewing information on the client. In the second stage, the helper would meet with the client and begin problem identification by beginning to understand any problems the client has in regards to obtaining and keeping employment. In the third stage, the helper would explore the employment problems with the client through the perspective of the client (Woodside & McClam, 2015). In the fourth stage, the helper would work with the client to obtain the job skills required by the client and assist in finding the client a job or work with the client in keeping their current job. In the fifth stage, the relationship between helper and client would end due to all goals being met, the client ending the relationship, or the helper ending the relationship.

Career Opportunities

The Autism Society of North Carolina has multiple entry-level positions that are well suited for someone looking to begin a career at the organization. The position of autism supports professional is one such entry-level position; this position is one that I personally would be interested in pursuing. The autism supports professional is required to have at least high school diploma or GED, the ability to lift ten pounds of weight, a full level of mobility, follow instructions accurately, the ability to read and interpret documents, and a willingness to work in both a field and office environment (Autism Supports Professional, 2017). I currently meet all of the requirements for the position as a college student and when I graduate; I will have exceeded the qualifications as I will possess a bachelor’s in psychology, three years of experiences working with children with special needs, and an additional two years working with children without special needs. The only qualification that I would be lacking is experience in transitioning between an office and field environment; which would be quickly remedied with on the job experience as an autism supports professional.

Summary of Learning

During the course of writing my final paper, I have learned a good deal not just about the Autism Society of North Carolina, but also about human services as a field. Prior to this class, I was under the impression that human services and human resources were the same field. Since then, I have come to understand the differences between the two fields and I have discovered my own interest in human services as a future career path. My interest in working with children with autism without working in a school has made me realize that a human service organization would be an ideal workplace environment based on my personal interests.

Besides learning about my own interest in human services as a career field, I also learned about what it really means to be a human service professional. I learned about the helping process, which is designed to allow the helper to assist the client while also promoting responsibility and self-help in the client (Woodside & McClam, 2015). I found it interesting how much my current work as a special need after school counselor mirrors the helping process used by human service professionals. I also found that the human service professional’s code has entire sections and subsections dedicated to standards of human service professionals and the standards for human service educators; I was surprised by how in-depth the code was and how similar it is to some of the ethical requirements of my current job (Ethical Standards of Human Service Professionals, 2000). Throughout the course of researching and writing my final paper in human resources, I learned about human services both as a field and as a career path.

References

Autism Society of North Carolina. (2017). Retrieved https://www.autismsociety-nc.org

Autism Society of North Carolina History. (2017). Retrieved https://www.autismsociety-nc.org

Autism Speaks. (2015). North Carolina passes autism insurance reform legislation. Retrieved https://www.autismspeaks.org/advocacy/advocacy-news/north-carolina-passes-autism-insurance-reform-legislation

Autism Supports Professional. (2017). Retrieved https://www.paycomonline.net/v4/ats/web.php/jobs/ViewJobDetails?job=14715&clientkey=910368C17DEF8C14035722D5EDA716E3

Careers. (2017). Retrieved https://www.paycomonline.net/v4/ats/web.php/jobs?clientkey=910368C17DEF8C14035722D5EDA716E3&jpt=#

Clinical Professional. (2017). Retrieved https://www.paycomonline.net/v4/ats/web.php/jobs/ViewJobDetails?job=17831&clientkey=910368C17DEF8C14035722D5EDA716E3

Employment Services Coordinator (2017). Retrieved https://www.paycomonline.net/v4/ats/web.php/jobs/ViewJobDetails?job=18000&clientkey=910368C17DEF8C14035722D5EDA716E3

Ethical Standards of Human Service Professionals. (2000). Human Service Education, 20(1), 61–68. Reprinted with permission of National Organization of Human Service Education.

Woodside, M., & McClam, T. (2015). An Introduction to the Human Services (8th ed.). Cengage Learning.

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