When I moved to Little Cayman in January 2014, I had no intention of opening up an ABA clinic in the Cayman Islands. At that time, I was a year and a half into a sabbatical from my career in Behavior Analysis, and I was just looking to find a quiet place to finish up my time off before returning to the U.S.
I had left the United States in 2012, knowing that the opportunity for travel and exploration of interests wouldn't be as available as the years went on. I had intended to spend two years traveling throughout the U.S., Asia, Central America and Europe, and then return in late 2014 to "the real world." Ending up in the Cayman Islands was something that happened by mere chance; I had become a SCUBA diving instructor while traveling, and happened to find a job in Little Cayman, which was where I thought I could spend my last 6 months off, enjoying some new scenery.
I began working in the field of ABA in 2007, and discovered the joys of going to work every day and loving it. I worked with 25 different children between 2007 and 2012, all with a variety of needs and challenges that taught me how to adapt to the child and let them teach me what I didn't know. I worked up from the entry level direct interventionist position to become a supervisor, after completing my Master's in Education and autism studies and sitting for the BCBA exam. Once I achieved that certification, I thrived in the supervisory position of conducting assessments and designing treatment plans.
However, I was moving fast in my career, and I was still quite young. At the time I took the BCBA exam, I was one of the youngest Board Certified Behavior Analysts certified, at 24 years of age. I knew that if I didn't take a break then, I would become too far entrenched in my career to ever leave. I was faced with the choice between growing a company in the U.S. at that time, or taking some time to grow as a person. It was a difficult decision, but I chose the latter, knowing there would be a time and place to return to my career. I thought I needed a broader perspective, to be able to serve my families from a position of better understanding.
When I left my job as a dive instructor in Little Cayman in June 2015, I wondered if I would still be so passionate about ABA all these years later. I poured myself back into the latest research in the field of ABA, and discovered that my love for ABA had never gone anywhere. However, I had grown as a person, and had experienced a larger world than the one in which I started my career. I had a developed a more open perspective on the diversity of opinions about treatment approaches, and in the time I spent removed from the day to day work in ABA, I had time to think about the ways in which I saw ABA as a field succeed and struggle.
I moved to Grand Cayman and started looking for work. To my surprise, ABA was relatively new and somewhat unknown in the Cayman Islands, despite a large need for services. I realized quickly that families were in desperate need of additional services and I felt I needed to do something to address this. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but the best things in life never are.
I again was faced with a choice. I could move back to the U.S., where the infrastructure for services is laid out clearly and I could be employed immediately, or, I could stay in the Cayman Islands and truly be able to make a difference in a small country.
On New Years Day, 2017, I began the process of opening a clinic dedicated to providing ABA services. Today, we are a small company, with a big dream. We want to make ABA accessible to all families in need, and change the lives of the children that come through our doors.
We officially opened our doors in February 2018, and are well on the way to achieving our dream. We became the first accredited Behavioral Health Center of Excellence provider in the Caribbean in July 2018, and we have managed to develop services in a variety of high need areas: Cayman Brac, School Based (through Hope Academy), home-based (workshop supervision model), and more. Our team consists of 12 incredible people that have joined us from all around the world, which is something that amazes me on a daily basis. We have trained four young Caymanians who have now recieved their Registered Behavior Technician credentials, and we are just getting started.
This is the story of Cayman ABA in it's infancy, and I know it's just the beginning
It's interesting to think back and reflect upon how this all came to be, but sometimes the most fulfilling endeavors are the ones that are inspired out of true desire to commit yourself to others in need.