NECC Day Program Coordinator, Eric Greenberg, who is moving on to a position in a public school, wrote this heartfelt letter about his experience in special education and his time at NECC. He allowed us to share his words about the difficulties of working in the field, how finding the right organization and colleagues can have tremendous impact both personally and professionally, and the passion he has for helping children with autism achieve their potential.
“I am sad to leave this wonderful place, but I know it’s time for something new. Something I haven’t told many people, is that while I love my job now, by the time I got to NECC I was disenchanted with the field, with the people working in it, and even with the kids. NECC was going to be a means to an end for me. In all places prior, I saw terrible quality treatment, disgruntled staff who were only there for (a measly) paycheck, people faking reports and data, toxic management who overworked and didn’t care about their employees or if they got hurt on shift (like I did). I saw the puppetry of pretending to or making it seem like they were doing good work rather than actually doing good work. Nobody cared. Was that what it meant “to help people”? There was government funding for what we did, and people were there to try to take advantage of that.
When I got to NECC, I saw a world of professionalism and passion that I didn’t even know existed — in anything. People from the top down were invested in these kids, people cared for them immensely, people loved them, people were there to help. People were guided by research, education, and science. People listened to me and my ideas and let me make a difference. I was encouraged to be independent, and supervisors invested their time and energy in me to make sure I was the best therapist I could be. And soon, without knowing it, I had found that passion, too. I was making a difference, and I saw it.
I helped a child who hit himself or others hundreds of times a day to have such low rates of those behaviors that his family was able to take their first family vacation to Disney. They cried tears of joy when they came back as they showed me family photos they never thought they would be able to take. I’ve helped kids learn to talk, who barely said anything. I’ve helped kids learn to read whose parents were told they would never even speak. I’ve helped kids find passion and fun and interests in places they never thought to look. I’ve helped kids learn to eat a full meal without vomiting or crying, and eat more than just gummies and cookies. I’ve helped kids learn to sleep (something I still can’t manage), and helped parents learn to teach these things. I’ve seen the difference it makes not just in those children’s lives, but everyone’s lives around them. I’ve changed lives, just as those kids have changed mine.
So now, I can’t imagine doing anything else, I’ve got passion and purpose and I have NECC to thank for that. I know I will go out there and be one of those people who inspires others, who does good clinical work, and who is invested in children with special needs and their families.
Thanks to all the wonderful staff who I have had the pleasure of supervising these past years. You are all wonderful, inspiring people, with big, big hearts, and are shining examples of what our field should be like, and how much we can do. And with that, a new beginning.”