Change a Child’s Life

Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

“Change a child’s life.” Those words were the first thing I saw as I dejectedly walked out of the office of my undergraduate thesis advisor. He had just told me my summer research internship was cancelled due to lack of funding. This was going to be a HUGE opportunity for me as I was accepted to a joint program at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh to study the impacts of autism on neurological communication with some of the world’s leading neurological researchers. 

The words, “Change a child’s life,” were on a flier taped to the wall outside my professor’s office in the Cleveland State University Psychology Department. The flier was looking for in-home Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) tutors for a child with autism. It’s funny how things work out. These were just the words I needed to see at that time in my life and little did I know the impact these words would have on my life’s course. 

Suffice it to say I was intrigued and called the number. This phone call led to me spending the next several years working with children with autism by providing early intervention therapy (e.g. applying speech therapy techniques, social integration, and daily life skills). Did I change a child’s life, as the flier offered? I like to think so, as we made great strides in their language, socialization, and daily functioning. 

What I know for certain is that they changed my life. This experience gave me firsthand knowledge of how impactful and important early intervention and speech therapy, the same services The Orange Effect Foundation helps fund, is to children with communication deficiencies. I may no longer be on the front lines of patient care, but this experience stays in the forefront of my mind for every clinical trial I have overseen. This experience has led me to always start with the question: “How is what we are doing improving patient lives?” This question also pervades my work with The Orange Effect Foundation. In fact, it is one of the things that makes me so proud to have been afforded the honor of joining The Orange Effect Foundation. I like to believe everything The Orange Effect Foundation is trying to do is improving the lives of those we serve.

Tom has spent the past 20 years in various clinical and research settings. He holds a Master of Experimental Psychology from Cleveland State University. Tom is the Senior Clinical Research Associate for Ra Pharmaceuticals where he aids in the clinical oversight of novel treatment options for rare neurological conditions.