To help our patients have a better feel for our staff, we will be doing a “Get to Know” series to introduce our awesome staff! To get started, get to know our very own Licensed Psychologist and Board-Certified Behavior Analyst, Dr. Robert W. Montgomery. Dr. Montgomery holds over two decades of experience working with a diverse population of people from toddlers to geriatrics. When asked about his career and his clinic, this is what he had to say:
What interested you most about pursuing a career in Clinical and Behavioral Therapy?
The easy answer is I find figuring people out amazingly interesting. I also love teaching parents, teachers, and just about anybody what we know works to help kids. Once I got into it, I found helping children to be what has sustained by interest and given me the most satisfaction over the past 30 years.
What types of experiences have you had in your 20+ years as a Licensed Psychologist and Board-Certified Behavior Analyst?
Wow, that is not a short answer. I have worked with kids in almost every environment you can imagine and probably a few most people cannot. I have worked with kids in their homes, in the office, at the hospital, in juvenile detention centers, group homes, residential care facilities, and state institutions. Kids with all and any kind of problem over the years are the ones I have worked with. Because I am a big person, I was originally given the most aggressive and dangerous kids to work with at all my jobs. However, the best experiences are seeing kids learn things that no one thought they could learn. Those experiences led me to opening an ABA clinic because we see that all the time.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Seeing kids learn things that no one thought they could learn. We routinely have parents, that someone else has told their child cannot do this, or will never be able to do that, come to us. One of those kids that we worked with just graduated from high school with a college prep diploma and is going to a competitive college this fall. That is what keeps me doing this work every day.
What does a normal day look like for a child who comes into Reinforcement Unlimited?
We individualize all treatment programs for children. In a clinic-based case for a young child their day will look like a lot of play, but it is structured and has value added by us to facilitate mastering important skills that the child hasn’t learned in the traditional way other children have learned them. We do games, eat meals and snack, take turns, and use A LOT of language, and we hope that the kids run to us every morning because it is a great place to be for them.
What are a few asked questions from parents?
The most common question is ‘Will my child be able to live independently?’ I would love to say yes to everyone but what I tell them is that the research and experience over the past 50 years says that they have the best chance of achieving that goal with ABA therapy done by dedicated and qualified people. As I mentioned before, one child we have worked with over the years who was not speaking until ABA therapy is now on their way to a competitive college in the fall. Those parents worked super hard with their therapists to help that child reach that dream.
Almost as often I am asked by moms ‘Is this all my fault?’ The answer is no, there is nothing that a mom could have done that we know would cause Autism. It’s just not anybody’s fault. I try to get them to focus on how we can make things better day-by-day and to look at what their child does well. Everybody has strengths and joys and sometimes it is our job to help the parents find those in the midst of having received an Autism diagnosis for their child.
I also am asked ‘Have you ever seen anyone just outgrow their Autism diagnosis?’ That is a tough question because sometimes the diagnosis is just wrong. When its right the answer, sadly, is no. I have seen kids and parents work very hard to overcome the limitations of Autism. What we know is that ABA works, it is not harmful in any way, so even if a child were not properly diagnosed the treatment will not harm them. The best course of action is to start therapy as soon as possible as recommended by the National Autism Council and the National Academy of Science – that’s what gives them the best chance for maximizing their child’s opportunities and options.
Here at Reinforcement Unlimited, we hope this is the first of many online resources for teachers, parents and caregivers who wish to learn more about helping children and adults with special needs. Check back soon as we share more information here in the Reinforcement Unlimited blog.