The first person I would like to feature in “People Connections” is my very close friend, Fatima. How did we meet? I met her in my Special Education Master’s Degree program in the University of the Philippines – Diliman in the year 2003. We were in the same group in our course work assignment. We got along well because I believe we share the same personalities being nice, carefree and dependable in terms of project research activities and work presentations.
Years gone by, we moved on to different life journeys. I moved to China to teach in 2006, while she also started her career as a therapist in the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. Fatima pursued her vision to bring hope to children with special needs. She became ABA –(Applied Behavioural Analysis) therapist and consultant. As ABA therapist, she deals with young children (2 years old – 10 years old) with conditions affecting their cognitive, emotional, or physical functioning. Those are the children with Autism, cerebral palsy, global developmental delay, specific learning disability, ADD/ ADHD and Down syndrome. Tough call indeed!
Fatima usually works with a child one – on – one in a therapy centre. However, in severe cases, she needed to have the therapy going in the child’s home. How does she do it? Fatima utilizes highly structured treatment programs that are designed specifically to tailor the child’s needs. She also uses the principles of ABA to help the child develop and learn socialization skills, improve language and communication, and increase academic skills. She also helps the child diminish interfering negative behaviours using ABA techniques to reinforce positive behaviour. She evaluates the effectiveness of the program and makes necessary changes so that the child will acquire new skills and assimilate positive behaviours.
The field of Special Education is very challenging and exhausting. Yet, Fatima is full of energy in every day that she goes out to see the children on her caseload. What motivates her? What drives her to go on every day untiringly with these children? Passion. Her passion to make a difference and change the lives of these children with special needs motivates her every day. Having that passion keeps her powered – up and determined to face every difficult case. Her greatest achievement at the end of each day: being able to eliminate or lessen aggressive behaviours, being able to get the child’s attention and complete a task, and being able to make the child cooperate and communicate with her verbally or through actions, are considered remarkable achievements that will give her a good night sleep. In the midst of her tough work, simple gestures such as a smile and a big hug can lift her spirits up.
Every teacher needs her own time to unwind and shake off stress. Fatima loves to hang out with her close friends (like me) and other friends who are also in the same field. We like to sit in Starbucks, grab a cup of coffee and talk. As much as we want to avoid talking about work, we just can’t get away with it. . Watching movies and eating in fancy restaurants are counted too.
Fatima believes that “SUCCESS is something that you receive out of anything you have done every single day. It should be the result of commitment one has put in any work or gesture of kindness to anyone”.
She handles failure with optimism. She believes that FAILURE is a part and parcel of life. She has instances of it like we all do. She looks at it, evaluates it, learn from it and then she moves on.