Meet the Care Team is our blog series highlighting the dedicated clinicians that serve our families at AnswersNow. Today, we’re sitting down with Jen Freedman, a BCBA based out of New York City.
1. What led you to AnswersNow?
I was initially looking for an opportunity that gave me a more flexible schedule and more opportunities to grow within the company. I loved that AnswersNow was a BCBA direct model, was run by clinicians, and had similar values to my own. I also loved that AnswersNow serves older clients and that this model was so much more accessible to families who couldn’t otherwise access services.
2. Why did you decide to become a BCBA?
My first ever ABA experience was at Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta in the Severe Behavior Unit and I was hooked. It was so cool to see that every decision was data-based and that I could see my impact almost immediately. It was such a rewarding experience and I was genuinely so excited to go to work everyday-I met with my supervisor at the time who gave me insight into the process of becoming a BCBA and the rest is history!
3. How would you describe your working style or approach?
I am extremely collaborative in that I am always involving caregivers, parents, and clients in the goal selection process. A lot of my clients are working primarily on emotion regulation and social skills, and before I present a goal, I always ask them, “is this something that would be helpful to work on” or “is this important to you?” I want my clients and families to look forward to therapy and to feel heard, and I have found much more success and progress when they feel more involved.
4. Why did you decide to work with AnswersNow?
AnswersNow got me excited about being in the field again! I felt that (and still do) AnswersNow was doing something that had never been done and I was so energized after talking to Jeff (our CEO). I loved that this was a model that was accessible to more families and providers and that AnswersNow truly prioritized clinical quality over everything else. It was so clear after talking to Jeff that the primary goal of AnswersNow was to make an impact by reaching as many clients as possible, especially those who have been on waitlists, denied services, or have no access to services at all.
AnswersNow having the BCBA direct model was also really attractive to me and I love that it can be a service for clients who do not need intensive, high-hour therapy. It can be really difficult for those families to access the appropriate services. I have benefited greatly from working at AN in that my schedule is much more flexible, I can work from anywhere, and I am much more productive throughout the day. Plus, not having to drive to and from work is a great thing!
5. Have you ever worked in an in-person setting? How would you say the AnswersNow model differs?
I have! I have worked in clinics, home, and community settings. AnswersNow differs in that we are a BCBA direct model instead of a tiered model of service. Instead of BCBAs training behavior technicians or RBTs to carry-out the intervention, the BCBA is managing the case AND implementing the service.
We also do a focused model of treatment which differs from most settings since our clients are only being seen for an average of 4-6 hours a week. With a focused model, we are only working on the highest priority goals for the client and family and building on those goals before working on anything new, whereas in a comprehensive model of service, there is a much wider range of goals. I would say this model differs in the level of caregiver involvement since we require a more hands-on approach for most clients. I have noticed that caregivers are much more aware of client goals and implement interventions more consistently since they have more BCBA oversight and direction. I also think this model differs especially for older clients- telehealth is lower effort for clients to join sessions and clients are more motivated to attend.
6. What would you say to families who are tentative about the efficacy of virtual autism therapy?
I understand! I felt the same way. I think there is a big difference when the BCBA is implementing direct treatment, so you can rest assured that the clinician has the qualifications and skills to ensure client progress. Because the BCBA is implementing the therapy, they are able to make modifications in real-time. If a specific teaching method or intervention isn’t working, they can make the decision to change it immediately.
7. What would you say to someone who’s considering working as a BCBA for AnswersNow?
I have felt so supported and valued since the first day I started, and continue to feel so everyday. In a field where burnout is so prevalent, working for a company that cares about me as a person and as a professional has really made me enjoy coming to work everyday. There are so many learning and growth opportunities here and so many ways to get involved, and each person is treated as an individual instead of “just another BCBA.” It’s also the best way to have a work/life balance when you can save so much time without car rides! This is such an incredible team filled with people from different backgrounds and experiences, and there is no shortage of collaboration and support. I cannot recommend AN enough.
8. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Do you have a specific anecdote or story that stands out?
Being the sole provider for my clients, I have become so much closer to my families. I meet with caregivers multiple times a week which has given me the opportunity to build rapport quicker as well. Client progress has meant that much more to me when I can see the impact in the home environment and the impact that progress can have on all family members.
A story that stands out to me - I had a client who was terrified of going to church, and this was something really important for his parents and their culture. He had Communion and for the months leading up to it, we worked on gradually building his tolerance to the different components of Communion, being in church, listening to prayers, etc. On the day of Communion, he was able to participate in the entire ceremony without any tantrums! We even have several pictures of him smiling. That was one of the best moments!
9. What's a fun fact about you?
I sing and play piano!
Looking to learn if one of our incredible clinicians might be a good fit for your family? Fill our the form at getanswersnow.com/autism-support.