Joseph O’Neil, MSEd, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech language pathologist (SLP) for The New England Center for Children’s (NECC) New Castle Road/Ursla Road/Salem End Road triad. He began his career at NECC 31 years ago as a teacher, a position he held for 10 years before moving to the Speech and Language Department more than 21 years ago. A colleague nominated O’Neil because he is a true team player. In addition to his daily responsibilities, O’Neil “offers his support to all residential teams every day when we arrive to school, and it is greatly appreciated! He ensures that all the med boxes are brought inside, and it is such a huge help to the teams,” shared his colleague.
What are your duties working in the Speech and Language Department?
Write evaluations; develop IEP goals; choose ACE® curriculum; monitor data; customize and maintain AAC devices; and collaborate with education coordinators, teachers, and specialists.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Coming in every day and working with a really great group of people and the challenge of teaching a bunch of remarkably unique, energetic, and challenging students.
Why did you choose a career in helping children with autism?
One of my first jobs was at the Wrentham State School caring for adults with severe-profound mental retardation (MR) and I found that I really loved the residents and teaching them communication and life skills.
I was a house painter for 10 years, and when business was slow, my wife informed me I had to get a real job. So, I applied to NECC, and the rest is history.
Have you taken advantage of any of the grad programs or teacher training at NECC?
Yes. I was in the first graduating class from the Simmons University program and then worked as a speech clinician until I completed the communications disorders program at Worcester State University (then College).
What is something about you that your colleagues might be surprised to learn?
I started working here before most of you reading this were born. I have nine children and many grandchildren. Two of my children graduated from the NECC preschool, and a grandson from the home-based program. My son worked here and met his future wife, and his best friend attended a social gathering at my son’s NECC-sponsored housing and met his future wife. I enjoy anything outdoors like hiking, mountain biking, mountain unicycling, rollerblading, and off-road rollerblading.
Who is someone you look up to?
First, my parents, both strong and remarkable. And my wife, Merry, who is the love of my life and who keeps me from being too eccentric. And without naming names, so many teachers, education coordinators, specialists, and directors who work tirelessly and love, care for, and teach the students at NECC no matter how challenging the behaviors. It is truly inspiring.
What is your life philosophy or a motto you like to live by?
I am thankful for everything I have — my wife, my kids, a fantastic job, and good health. So, appreciate all, don’t complain, and don’t have any regrets. For example, you haven’t truly lived until you’ve ridden a unicycle – cursing and praying – down a winding, mountain trail.