Summer Internship: Halcyon Hu '22
Name: Halcyon Hu
Class Year: 2022
Major: Psychology, Physics
Hometown: Jinan, China
Internship Organization: Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support
Job Title: Direct Care Staff -- SCHOLARS
Location: Saint Joseph’s University
What’s happening at your internship?
During my internship, I was a SCHOLARS (Student Committed to Helping Others Learn about Autism Research and Support) to provide one-to-one care and support to a child with autism spectrum disorder. The internship was 8 weeks in total. For the first two weeks, we were trained in CPI and CPR, which helped us get prepared for crisis intervention and emergency management, and in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which provided us approaches and guidelines on how to help our clients achieve their behavior goals throughout the summer camp. Then the 6-week summer camp followed right after the trainings. One interesting thing about the camp was it was neurodiverse, which means there were both kids on the spectrum and kids who were not i.e., neurotypical. On each day of camp, I stayed by the side of my client to support him in participating in the camp activities with his peers and having fun!
Why did you apply for this internship?
I learned about autism a long time ago when I was about 12 years old, and I’ve been wanting to help people, especially kids, on the spectrum and their family since then. Taking care of autistic kids and teaching them the appropriate social interactions and desired behaviors can be a lot of work and can take a long time. However, I also believe that autism can be a gift for those kids, and their “autistic traits” can be their strengths in the right circumstances. This internship provided me the opportunity to directly work with kids on the spectrum, apply the theories we learned from the trainings and classes in real life, and most importantly, listen to the kids and help them grow.
What has been your favorite part of this internship?
There were so many favorite parts of mine during this journey and it’s really hard to pick just one! I loved my client’s big smile when he was swimming in the pool or having a water fight with his peers, I loved his caring hugs to other kids whenever he noticed they needed some support, I loved his enthusiastic talks in the games or stuff he loved, and I loved when he said and spelled my name correctly for the first time as it was indeed a hard name to pronounce and spell! I was also so glad to see him try to ask questions with my simple verbal prompts or make eye contacts with others to show his attention and make friends, I was so proud of him to see him try his best to be more patient and calm when he got bored or frustrated, I was so happy to see him listen to my proposal and have a negotiation with me to get what he wanted within the basic rules, and, on the last day of camp, I was so excited to see he did what I had been prompting him to do every day completely by himself without even a verbal prompt!
What skills are you learning and why are they important to you?
I learned how to work with kids with special needs and practiced applying theories in a flexible way to real-life cases. I also learned to communicate with co-workers in a group to make sure there was no misunderstandings, or if there was, to get clarification and rectification as soon as possible. These skills can only be learned and practiced through doing. And since I want to work with kids on the spectrum in the future, either through research or care providing, this experience is really precious to me.
Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.