Here is a list of the cast of characters in my life:
Ashley: She has a degree is social work, but she is a classroom supervisor. We both applied for the same position in May. She got the promotion. She was a substitute in another program. I like her as a person, but I’m incredibly jealous and I feel inferior.
Barb: She is a classroom supervisor. Theoretically she will transition to a new role in the school. However, the administration said this would occur months ago. My boss said when it happens I will take over for her.
Claire: She is the assistant behavior analyst and she is relatively new.
Danielle: She is another BCBA, but her first day was September 9, 2016. I don’t know what I think about her yet. Ginny restructured how the students are split up between the 3 of them (Ginny, Claire, Danielle). So now I have to ask her opinion on certain students and give my ideas to her instead of Ginny.
Elizabeth: My boss.
Ginny: She is both a special education teacher and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). She is the lead BCBA and one of my closest friends. Other than Claire, she knows the most about my mental illness history. She knows the most about my current struggles. She wouldn’t count me as even a good friend because she has many close friends from the previous places she lived. Most of the time, I can accept that.
Heather: She is working toward a Masters degree in behavior analysis and her BCBA certification. She is creative and enjoys crafts. So, people often ask her to make things for work like visuals for the students.
Iris: She is the occupational therapist. She is hilarious and can always make me laugh. She is one of the people I go out to lunch with every Wednesday.
Jessica: She also has an eating disorder. We met online when we were 16. We lived in the same town and encouraged each other’s eating disorders. We both wound up inpatient a few months later. We went to the same small university (2,000 people) and lived on the same dorm floor. Surprisingly, we went different ways with friend groups, but we remained friends ourselves. We continued the mutually assured destructive side of our friendship early in Freshman year, but she pulled away from me, fearing she was hurting me. At the time, I thought she was mad at me for dragging her down. Anyway, since then, our relationship has been positive and even when we’re both struggling at the same time, we no longer encourage each other’s behavior. She is awesome. We’d both drop anything for each other. For example, I took her to the ER and stayed until 3 am one night and she picked me up and brought me to sleep over at her place when I was suicidal one night. She is currently back in inpatient treatment and I miss her and worry about her.
Madison: My only friend from high school who lives in town (we had a small group of 4 friends). My mom loves her because although she is socially awkward, she called my mom while I was transitioning back to school fulltime from IOP and told her I started restricting at school. I was mad at the time, but it showed how much she loves me because she was willing to risk our friendship for my wellbeing. We’ve known each other since we were 14.
Mark: He is a paraprofessional like me. He lied about babysitting Gage at home. However, he is invaluable because he is tall and strong.
Adam: He is a high school student. His diagnosis is autism, but that is wrong. He was typical until around age 10. Autism doesn’t just appear in a 10 year old. We believe he had a traumatic brain injury because older IQ tests place him in the average intelligence range but recent ones indicate he is intellectually disabled. Therefore, something caused a dramatic decrease in IQ. However, he was adopted and there are no ER visits in his record.
Cory: He is a young elementary school student with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. However, I think his correct diagnosis is Conduct Disorder. He enjoys manipulating others’ emotions and upsetting them. Most of his emotions are feigned and I’m 90% sure he hurts his little brother and his dog. However, despite his comments, everyone says they are not enough to report abuse because they aren’t outright admissions. Nonetheless, we record what he says and sometimes my boss calls his mom to warn her.
David: He is an young emotionally disturbed elementary school student. He elopes a lot and when you try to block him from running away he aggresses. He is extremely emotionally dysregulated, which means anything can set him off.
Gage: He is a middle schooler with Down Syndrome. He is endearing, funny, and way smarter than anyone gives him credit for.
Jacob: He is an emotionally disturbed 12 year old. He makes me sad because he is smart and incredibly kind. One cold November day when I worked with him, it was time for break and I asked where he wanted to go. He said, “outside!” immediately. Then he paused and looked at me. Then he asked if I was okay to go outside because I only had a t-shirt on. He often tries to explain things to his peers when they start getting upset. Basically, he is an awesome kid who should be at his normal school. However, his home life is volatile. If he had stable parents who loved him, he’d be a normal kid. You might be thinking: My family was abusive and I was fine! Well, as my old psychiatrist used to say, “Genetics loads the gun, environment triggers it.” Two people can go through the same trauma and one can have PTSD, while the other doesn’t because of their genetic vulnerabilities.
Joe: He is a high school senior. His behaviors are rare, he has an episode maybe once a semester. However, when he has a crisis it takes 4 men to keep him safe. Therefore, his home school refuses to take him back.
John: He is an elementary school student on the Autism spectrum. He is adorable and kind. I worked with him every day for almost a year. He regressed a lot since moving to Ashley’s room. His main behavior is non-compliance and screaming. However, his aggression is increasing too.
Ron: He is an elementary school student with Down Syndrome. He is new. Therefore, we’re not sure about the extent of his behaviors.
Sean: He is almost a freshman in high school. He has ADHD and we think he is on the Autism spectrum. His main behaviors are inappropriate language and property destruction. His inappropriate language bothers me because it is not part of his disability. It is a learned behavior that staff ignored for too long. We are trying to crack down on it because when he goes back to his home school he will get in trouble for it.