Erin L. Walton is a Junior Program Manager (PM) at Lighthouse Autism Center which recently became the largest provider of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services in the state of Indiana. She holds a BS in Philosophy and a MA in Special Education, both from Ball State University, and has nearly two decades of experience working with children and families in a variety of educational settings. Under the supervision of a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), Erin leads a team of Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) in providing the highest quality 1:1 ABA therapy to children ages 2-18 with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She collaborates with a multidisciplinary team of clinical professionals to support those children and their families by creating highly individualized treatment plans designed around each child’s specific needs. These plans are centered in evidence-based practices and geared toward promoting independence in a variety of communication, social, and life skills.
What did you study while you were at Ball State?
While at Ball State, I studied Philosophy and Religious Studies from 2004-2008. I returned in 2017 for a graduate program where I studied Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Autism, and Early Childhood Education (ECE) while earning my MA in Special Education.
What is your career now?
I currently work as a Junior Program Manager with Lighthouse Autism Center (Anderson) and will sit for my boards in May to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). In this role, I provide ongoing training and support to children and families with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) who work directly with clients in a 1:1 clinical setting. Until I receive my BCBA credentials, I am directly overseen by a Sr. Program Manager/BCBA who reviews any assessing, development, and behavior and treatment plan implementation based on the principles of ABA.
What does a typical week in your position look like?
Due to the individualized nature of the ABA field, each week brings a variety of different tasks and challenges to my schedule. I spend approximately 50% of my time consulting with clients and their families which allows me to create and evaluate program and behavior goals, train and support RBTs, assess and reassess clients, meet and train with families, and transition and support school staff. The other side of this role is managerial in nature: daily schedules, staff evaluations, clinical paperwork, communicating with other professionals within and without of my company, and so on. This past week, I helped transition 3 clients to part-time school schedules and had 3 completely different experiences!
What are the most valuable skills you learned in your major?
My ability to critically think and evaluate information has been an invaluable addition to my skillset. This is particularly important within the field of ABA, especially when evaluating the efficacy of an intervention.
How are the skills you learned as a Philosophy student relevant to your career and life today?
As implied in the prior question’s response, I use critical thinking every day in my career. Philosophy also prepared me to communicate in an observable, measurable, and objective manner, which is another skill used in ABA. Whether I am communicating with a highly trained clinician or a parent who is new to the world of ABA, these tenants are integral in ensuring everyone is on the same page with the behaviors targeted for increase and decrease.
What is your advice to other Humanities students?
The best advice I can offer to other students studying within the Humanities is to remember it is time well spent to learn about the self, the other, and the ways they intertwine to create the human experience. Any course of study within the Humanities deepens our understanding of the collective “us” and allows a realization that we are truly connected across time, space, thoughts, experience. I will add that through my own journey to discover my career (or as I see it, my Calling), I have learned to be comfortable in the fact that I did not “know what I wanted to do” when I entered University. Each job I’ve worked has helped me become the professional I am today, allowed me to hone both personal and professional skills, and become a mentor for other professionals. I know it is uncomfortable trying to reconcile not knowing what you want to do with the societal expectation that you should have figured it out already. Be patient. Enjoy the now. Learn. Grow. Live.
You can connect with Erin for further information via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit her website.