I want to start off this blog by introducing myself! My name is Alicia Lasaga and I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), CEO and business owner, compassionate autism advocate, wife, and dog mom!
I know that becoming a BCBA is an emerging field and new for many people. I would love to share my story of how I became one. And please comment below about your ABA story, I would love to hear it!
When I started college I knew one thing only, I wanted to grow up to have a career in helping people. I didn’t know what that meant yet but I would find out after many twists and turns. I started off as an engineering major, then switched to pre-med with a Major in Applied Mathematics and Minors in Public Health and Anthropology. After studying abroad in India and failing organic chemistry II I realized going to medical school was not going to work out. I felt defeated but strangely free going into the summer of my senior year. I still didn’t know what I was going to do with my Math degree but knew I could try different experiences that summer and it would all get figured out.
I went back home for the summer and decided I would do some volunteer work at the same place I volunteered in high school- The American Orchid Society. I showed up and it still had the acres of orchid gardens and greenhouse but now it was known as The Slomin Family Center for Individuals with Autism and Related Disabilities, and it just so happens they were looking for volunteers for their first ever summer camp. I had been a camp counselor the year before at a Science Camp so I thought why not. The first day I showed up and it was open house before camp started. We got to meet our Camp Director, Gary Gam, who became my mentor, and most importantly we got to meet all the kids.
At this point in my life I didn’t even know what Autism was and was just excited to be working with kids again. The kids and their parents came in and I just remember immediately going to interact with them and finding out quickly what their unique interests were and just engaging with them through that. Whether it was playing with circles or playing the same game of pattycake over and over. After those two hours I knew Autism had to impact communication and social skills but other than that these were just kids who also wanted to have fun and have a good summer camp experience.
The next day, the camp director pulled me aside and told me he sensed I had a natural talent for working with individuals with autism and he asked if he could hire me for the summer and teach me all he knows. That first day, I had my “Say Yes to the Dress” moment and I knew I would dedicate my whole life to this field. From then on, I have worked in the Special Education, ABA, and Autism field and couldn’t imagine anything else!