When Lauren Haskins was randomly assigned to an internship at VIA in 2006, she had no idea how her life’s path was about to change. She’d been thinking about a few different career options with an eye on eventually becoming a physical therapist. Once she started working with young children with autism at VIA, she was hooked.

Lauren admits that when she started, she knew next to nothing about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which is used across all VIA programs. But the training she received along with the coaching and support from her coworkers meant that she quickly began seeing VIA’s students progress, making her work gratifying and fun.

Eventually, Lauren finished her internship, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and started pondering graduate school. Since she was still working at VIA, she decided to take advantage of VIA’s tuition reimbursement program so she could pursue her master’s degree in education. At about the same time, she also became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), taking advantage of another VIA perk: gaining the supervision hours required for this credential while also earning a paycheck.

The student and client progress Lauren has seen over the years takes many forms. She’s seen children who exhibited the kinds of challenging behaviors that prevent them from succeeding in public school learn new ways to cope and grow social skills, allowing them to become self advocates and transition back to public school settings. She’s seen students who arrived at VIA without speech learn to communicate using pictures and technology tools, and eventually begin verbal approximations so they can interact successfully with family, teachers, and friends.

Lauren is energized by all of this, every day, and by her colleagues—especially those who started here in entry-level positions and have learned and grown so they’re now able to coach and mentor other new colleagues, eager to make a difference.

Today, Lauren is the Director of VIA’s Center for Adolescent and Adult Autism Services (CAAAS).