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Shira Karpel: Get To Know The BCBA That Kids Love

When Shira Karpel walks into the room, kids’ faces light up. She’s knows exactly how to relate to and have fun with each client, playing with their favourite toys, singing the coolest songs and giving just the kind of tickles or squeezes they love. Our second in command is also amazing at her job because she’s creative, dedicated and designs incredible ABA programs that bring the best out of kiddos. Awesome, right?! We think so. Here’s your chance to get to know more about Shira. 

Q: What was your first job ever?
A: Day camp counsellor.

Q: Why did you decide to make applied behaviour analysis (ABA) your career?
A: I always knew that I wanted to work with kids and was interested in early intervention/developmental areas. I just didn’t know it was called ABA! I considered other avenues – physical therapy, occupational therapy– before I finally settled on pursuing a teaching degree. When I graduated with my Masters in Education, I got a job teaching preschool. In my first classroom, there was a child who needed more help than I could give him – he just wasn’t functioning at the level of his peers. I raised my concerns to the school and parents; and I did my best to reach him, but to no avail. He passed through my class and I felt like I didn’t help him like I should have, but I didn’t have the tools that I have now. This began my mission to figure out how to not let these children fall through the cracks.

Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: I love that ABA is so adaptable; it’s really for everyone. This means that every day is different for me. I love every family I work with. There is nothing like meeting a child who is not talking and after a few months of ABA becomes a little chatterbox! I believe that we bring out the personalities of the children we work with.

Q: Who inspires you the most?
A: Shayna! Years ago, I heard about the work she does and basically tracked her down until she agreed to let me under her wing. She has taught me so much, not only about ABA but about the importance of putting 110% into each and every client.

Q: Why did you start How to ABA?

A: I remember how intimidated I felt when I first started working as a Behaviour Analyst.  Although I had lots of training and invaluable supervision (ahem, thanks Shayna!), I sometimes felt like an imposter.  My vision for How to ABA is to create a community where all BCBA’s and ABA professionals can get support and resources we need so that our clients are getting the best treatment possible!

Q: What keeps you going?
A: The clients and families we work with. Each one has a story and is remarkable in their own way. The parents are the real heroes – they’re there 24/7. I get to come in, be fun and, hopefully, make their load a little easier. They inspire me to continue to do what I do.

Q: Outside of work, what are your passions?
A: My family. I have a husband and 3 kids. When I’m not at work, I focus on caring for them and managing our home life. Love it!!