Insights from a BAYADA Behavior Analyst
Crystal Harms is an accomplished BAYADA Behavior Analyst and an expert in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA therapy is a scientific, evidence-based therapeutic intervention that helps children and young adults with autism or other developmental disabilities reach important milestones, develop new skills, and become more independent.
Her journey toward becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) started the way many do—with a passion for childcare and a desire to make a difference. After seeing the impact that her work could have on children firsthand, and the connection and bond she was able to build with both her clients and their families, Harms decided to pursue a career in ABA.
An open letter from Crystal Harms, MEd, BCBA
Thirty years ago, I was attending Florida State University to become a special education teacher and working as a preschool teacher at a unique inclusion center in Tallahassee, Florida.
I always had a love for young children, and the center I worked in was one of the first childcare facilities of its kind. Young children with developmental delays and identified disabilities were accepted and educated side-by-side with what we now refer to as neurotypical children.
I remember initially feeling a bit overwhelmed with the prospect of being responsible for and nurturing other people’s children, but my director assured me that I had what it takes to teach and support them. The biggest thing she taught me is to love all students equally and fiercely.
That is when I met a boy who we will refer to as Grant.
Grant was a 4-year-old boy with light blue eyes and refined features. He was often quiet, although he could speak. I was fascinated by how he seemed to see the world through different eyes. I would watch him watching things around him and wonder what was going on in his mind.
Rather than asking questions, I learned to simply sit quietly with him, patiently waiting for him to share his observations. He would sometimes struggle during more stressful time—such as transitions from the playground back into the center—but I noticed that he would gravitate towards me, take my hand, and let me guide him where we needed to go. That expression of trust and connection felt like a privilege.
To this day, I am honored to say that I have been able to build that bond with many other individuals I have worked with as both a teacher and as a Behavior Analyst.
After those experiences, I changed my major to psychology and began studying Applied Behavior Analysis. I went on to get a Masters in Special Education and then took additional coursework to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.
While I didn’t know this at the time, Grant would eventually be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate, interact socially, and cope with sensory experiences and situations that can feel stressful and overwhelming. Some important things to know about autism:
- Autism is a spectrum disorder that affects 1 in 36 individuals, so you likely know someone who has autism or a family member who has been diagnosed.
- Most individuals with autism desire social interaction and friendship, despite some not having the skills to initiate and maintain those relationships.
- Many people diagnosed with autism live full lives in which they work and contribute to the well-being of their communities.
The most important thing you can do for someone you know with autism spectrum disorder is to know that they are different, not less, and with your support, compassion, and acceptance, they can give and receive such joy!
Crystal A. Harms, MEd, BCBA
Behavior Services Manager, BAYADA Home Health Care
A meaningful career in ABA services awaits
Crystal found her calling in helping children with autism, and you could too. There is a growing need for skilled, passionate individuals in the field of ABA services, and BAYADA offers a host of career opportunities from entry-level positions as a Registered Behavior Technician® (RBT®) to masters-level clinical leadership roles as a BCBA.
No experience? No problem! BAYADA’s training and credentialing assistance for Registered Behavior Technicians come at no cost to qualified candidates.
To learn more, visit jobs.bayada.com/behavioral-health-jobs