BAYADA Behavioral Health Employee Spotlight
Inspired by His Brother to Help Children with Autism
BAYADA Registered Behavior Technician® (RBT®) Scott Schwarz, 32, can’t help but smile when talking about his little brother, Daysen, 10, who inspired him to embrace a career working with children with autism in Hawai’i.
Born at 35 weeks gestation to a mother with a drug addiction, Daysen has a sensory processing disorder, is developmentally delayed, and lives with jejunal atria, which means he is missing part of his small intestine. As a result, his body doesn't absorb nutrition well so he is on continuous g-tube feedings (ie, his is fed through a stomach tube) and has intravenous (IV) nutrition at night to keep his weight up and help him grow.
After spending the first 11 months of his life in the hospital and enduring multiple surgeries and procedures, Daysen was discharged into the loving care of Scott’s mother and father, who had recently become foster parents. When Daysen came into their lives, it didn’t take long to realize that the baby belonged as a part of their family. Three years later, they made it permanent by officially adopting him.
Making every moment a positive one
“Life with Daysen has been wonderful and it has been great to see him grow. The things he goes through on a daily basis can be difficult but he does all of it with a big smile on his face, which brings a lot of joy to our family,” said Scott, who carries that joy with him when working as a BAYADA RBT. “I try to make every moment a positive one for the kids I work with at BAYADA. The more positivity you show, the easier it is for the child.”
As an RBT, Scott uses that positivity to implement applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy for the treatment of autism and related learning or social disorders to reduce challenging behaviors and increase functional skills. RBTs also use ABA to help clients establish play skills and participate in school or other community activities and to help improve communication and social skills. Services are provided in the home, school, community, and in the BAYADA centers.
A strong brotherly bond
Despite their age difference, Scott and Daysen have developed a strong, brotherly bond. In addition to taking him to school and medical appointments, the two also enjoy spending time building with LEGOS, engaging in Nerf gun battles, playing video games, and going to the beach.
However, spending this quality time with his brother didn’t come easy for Daysen. “Because of his sensory issues, he has trouble getting used to new activities and also has an aversion to eating or touching certain things,” explained Scott.
Daysen’s struggles also include trouble communicating and understanding social cues, following simple tasks, and poor fine motor skills. He has a hard time coming up with sentences on his own or how to correctly organize a thought. In kindergarten, simple tasks such as coloring, writing, and cutting were a challenge for him. Thanks to his special education teacher, speech and occupational therapists, an aide to help him stay focused, and the love and patience of his big brother, he is showing progress.
Scott developed interactive games to help Daysen get used to different tastes and textures. “I put his favorite toys into a box and covered them with things he doesn’t like to touch, like packing peanuts or shredded paper,” shared Scott. “He had to dig through the unpleasant textures to get to his toys, it really helped him get used to the feel of certain items.”
Scott also encouraged his brother to play with pudding on the table and build roads out of carrots and strips of cheese. Hesitant at first, Daysen gradually got used to these new sensations because Scott made it fun for him.
“He doesn’t let people get to him or let things get him down,” said Scott of his little brother. “He’s a joy to be around.”
Immediate RBT opportunities
For those like Scott who want to enjoy the rewards of working with children with autism, BAYADA has immediate RBT opportunities throughout Hawai’i. No previous experience is necessary and a high school diploma or equivalency is required. BAYADA offers free training and will cover the cost of the exam and credentialing.