Gita Srikanth, BCBA and Swati Narayan, BCBA
Educational Consultants & Neurodiversity Coaches
Fun Fact #1
We are Gita and Swati. We run WeCAN – a resource center for autism in Chennai!
Fun Fact #2
We’ve done over 20 trips together in the last 3 years! Travel is life.
Fun Fact #3
One of us is young enough to be called the other’s daughter and one of us is old enough to be the other’s mother, despite the age gap, we still think alike, share books and inside jokes and we’ve embarked on some of the coolest learning adventures together.
Intrigued? Read on…
We are Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA®), we live and work in the beautiful beach city of Chennai, India, where Behavior Analysis as a profession is relatively unknown (Say what!) and it’s just easier to say we work with children with autism. Children with problem behaviors are often referred to us- after all we are Board Certified Behavior Analysts and so we must be able to solve that! Innovation and adaptation, we are doing it all the time to make Behavior Analysis, an alien, largely Western concept culturally relevant and meaningful to everyone here. It is quite the challenge to straddle the two worlds. And when someone asks us what exactly do you do with the child, we launch into a lengthy explanation. How do you say it is all about teaching the child skills like communication, and language? You mean therapy? No, it’s a way of life, a way to understand people.
Working with kids with disabilities automatically gives us this tag of being a giving/ large hearted person. But the truth is – it’s a profession, one that requires years of college work, certification work, endless hours of supervision, scientific research and burning the midnight oil, efforts that easily get over written by others with virtues of selflessness and all that jazz.
The reality is that we are human, we are professionals, we were in the field of business and accounting before autism, we love what we do, love travelling and juggle work and life almost seamlessly.
Ironically enough, we hated science growing up, and did everything in our power to stay away from it. Yet here we are, nerding out on the latest research in the field, our work somehow made its way to scientific conferences in Germany, Japan, America, Sweden a few times over. I guess that that makes us kinda geeky and data driven! And while we are at it, we are discovering more about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), based on the principles of ABA that encourages behavioral flexibility.
Yes, we are workaholics. We are passionate about dogs, one of us claims to like cats, we are passionate about food, baking, weight loss (read: fad diets!), reading, writing, people watching, mental health and wellbeing, functionality, the environment and we constantly strive to put a ding in the universe.
We think we are sensible, we listen, we are quirky, we jump into situations and we think on our feet. We are control freaks and must know most things that may or may not concern us and then complain about how no one takes responsibility for anything. We bite more than we can chew, but we manage to swallow it and take on more. We sometimes wish we were more than Behavior Analysts (Read: Doctors, Neuroscientists and the works), especially when we are unable to find an answer from other allied professionals. We alternate between hope, despair and anger when others fail to see the importance of what we are saying, but we go through the loop many times over and believe that it takes longer for some changes to happen. We constantly strive to learn more, know more, read more, share more, teach more and make everything more functional and practical. And we often ponder over what drives people to do certain things, knowing that it’s a losing proposition. We are passionate about training, getting people to understand their own behaviors on a simplistic level!
We have an opinion about everything – if you have the time to listen, we have LOTS to say (Check out our Podcast)! Our dream is to make the best services for ASD and allied mental health services available right here in India! Come, dream with us