Number of Years in Current Role:
Two years as of April 2023
Number of Years with HMEA:
Cambridge College, M.Ed
Meet Ashley Chaloux! Ashley has been a part of HMEA since 2014, when she joined our team as a Support Specialist for our Employment Services program in Plainville.
Ashley’s currently a Behavior Clinician for various HMEA programs, including Day Services, Employment Services, and some of our Residential programs. She assists our individuals with learning adaptive and positive behavioral skills. We spoke with her to learn more about her time at HMEA and her path to becoming a Behavioral Clinician.
What was your career like prior to working at HMEA?
I’m originally from Rhode Island, but I was previously living in South Carolina, working as a preschool teacher. When I relocated to Massachusetts, I got a position as a live-in nanny. Once that role ended, I knew I needed to find more career-focused employment.
At the time, I had just finished my undergraduate degree. I didn’t know what HMEA was – I found it on schoolspring.com. The position I was seeking at the time was a job coach role to help folks gain employment. I walked in and was like, “Wow, I love it, this is for me!”
What inspired you to become a behavioral clinician?
When I was a support specialist, I worked closely with my current supervisor, Tracey LaRowe. I knew from the get-go that I wanted to be a clinician and wanted to know how to get there.
I worked my way through HMEA and applied for different clinical and supervisory positions within our agency. I wasn’t sure which route to take– I considered being an ABA therapist, but I knew I’d rather work with adults instead of children. There’s something special about helping people maintain and grow their skills throughout their lifespan. I think it’s important because learning doesn’t stop after 22 years of age.
I entered the clinical department in 2015, as a clinical support specialist working with Tracey and the supported individuals and their teams. I learned that everyone has a form of communication, and it’s important to listen to what they’re saying. I learned that challenging behaviors are just another way of communicating, and it was my focus to help folks communicate in a more appropriate and socially acceptable way. My goal as a clinical support staff member was to learn the behavior plans and help train support specialists so that individuals would be more likely to have successful days. That’s how I knew I wanted to be a clinician.
What’s your favorite part about being a behavioral clinician?
I would say working with the different teams in all the various divisions and helping our folks communicate more appropriately and learn alternative and functional skills. I have a lot of folks on my caseload who are supported by multiple programs (i.e., they live in a residential home, but they also attend our day services), so I get to support them across programs.
What has HMEA done to support your professional development?
When I was in grad school and studying to become a BCBA, HMEA offered a HUGE amount of flexibility. Having the supervision and oversight to become a BCBA within our department was so incredibly easy and helpful. Our agency provided my supervision hours for board certification and licensure, all earned within my regular workday!
Another requirement to become board-certified is to get a certain number of direct hours working with the people we support, as well as indirect hours completing behavior analytic tasks. The clinical support specialist position is structured in such a way that you’re getting hours within your work schedule, so you’re able to meet both types of hours easily.
What are you most proud of during your time at HMEA?
Of course, furthering my education and experience… But truly, helping folks during the most challenging times in their lives and being a part of their team for their successes. For example, one of my individuals had a very challenging time transitioning from being home during the pandemic to returning to a day program. It took a few weeks of assessing and trialing different interventions, but eventually, she was meeting with success; showering daily, leaving the house to go to the program, and successfully getting on and off the van without any challenges. I have also helped move three individuals into our residences, and they all love their homes.
Why should other people consider pursuing this career path?
Working with individuals with different abilities has been one of the most heartwarming, gratifying experiences of my life. It has taught me so much about life in general.
Becoming a behavioral clinician is tough, challenging work, but it’s worth knowing you are impacting others’ lives. Even on the most challenging days, I can happily say I love my job.