In August 2012, I was notified of the opportunity to apply to be an Alumnae Regional Scholar. Eleven sophomores are selected each year who have at least a 3.3 GPA, receive some form of financial aid, and have Bryn Mawr academic and community accomplishments to complete an 8-10 week, full-time internship over the summer following their sophomore year. I searched online to find a program that interested me in my hometown—Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Because I am a psychology major, I looked for psychologists and I emailed a few explaining the opportunity to be an Alumnae Regional Scholar. Of the ones who got back to me, I chose Mike Miklos: an educational consultant, statewide lead for the PATTAN Autism Initiative, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and Pennsylvania Certified School Psychologist. I applied by November and found out that I was chosen to be an Alumnae Regional Scholar in January.
I chose Mike because his focus is on children with autism, using techniques to help them learn, and finding effective ways to help teachers learn to teach children with autism better. I took a psychology class in the fall that focused on autism (Autism Spectrum Disorders) and loved it. Autism is relatively new and an evolving diagnosis so there’s always something new to learn. I’m also an education minor and interested on the policies that surround education. Children who have autism fall under the special education umbrella of education which is strongly affected by federal, state, and district funding. Through working with Mike, I get to experience two of the things I’m passionate and interested in—psychology, particularly autism, and education.
Before summer started, I met with Mike twice to discuss my role, determine what I would be expected to do, and have some preliminarily trainings. We decided that it would be best to start out in a classroom, help in an extended school year classroom, assist teacher trainings, and attend the National Autism Conference at the end of July.
For the past few weeks, I have been in an Autism Support Classroom that uses Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) techniques. These procedures focus on having the student learn how to ask for things they want or need, learn basic skills, and improve on the skills they already know. Using a variety of teaching tools—pictures, verbal cues, echoic cues, tacts, and mands, students master new words and phrases. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and have already learned so much!