Faces on the Frontline: Valerie Begian

The Faces on the Frontline series highlights Beaumont Health team members and how they provide compassionate, extraordinary care every day – in their own words. This week, we chat with Valerie Begian, an applied behavior analysis tutor at the Ted Lindsay Foundation HOPE Center, about what her role entails, how she connects with her patients and how her younger sister influenced her career choice.

What is an applied behavior analysis tutor?

I work one-on-one with kids with autism. Applied behavior analysis therapy aids in bringing these children out of their world and into ours, and it helps them to become part of the community through learning communication, play and social skills.

An average day includes play programs, such as motor games like basketball, and turn-taking games where we teach them to play games that require them to move pieces and use the right words like ‘your turn’ or ‘my turn.’ We individualize these programs based on the child’s needs. There’s a lot of energy throughout the center.


How did you become interested in the field?
I love working with kids with special needs. When I started, I didn’t know what an ABA tutor was. The more I worked here, the more I fell in love with this field. We do so many life-changing things for each kid and their family. It’s exciting to see the little and big milestones that are met here throughout the day.


What’s the best part of your job?
It’s rewarding to see how these kids grow, and how they develop the skills to interact with one another when before, they may be closed off and playing by themselves.


How do you connect with the family?
Right before the session, I like to see how their morning is going. If we have a new child, I like to ask the parents what I need to know about their child, so I can focus on those needs and give their child the best care I can. Each child is different, and each family is different. We educate the parents on how to run the program at home, which can include tasks like brushing their teeth or addressing behaviors during meal time.

After every session, I emphasize the highs and the exciting moments. When problems do arise, I talk with the parents about how it’s OK and we’re going to work through it together. I’m always here to listen and answer any questions they have. The main thing about getting to know a child is to have as much fun with them as possible so they open their world to you.


Why are you proud to work for Beaumont Health?
I’m proud to work for Beaumont because this organization is incredible. We had training for three months to prepare to be on our own to give the best treatment possible. The people I work with are supportive and always have our backs. They lift us up and coach us whenever we need help.


What led you to Beaumont Children’s Ted Lindsay Foundation Hope Center?
What got me interested is the amazing care my sister, who has Down syndrome, has received from Jenny Arnold, senior behavior consultant, and Cari Socia, senior speech pathologist. She has worked with Jenny for her anxiety and speech therapy with Cari. The milestones she’s met are incredible. She has grown so much as a person and is able to communicate because of the work that these two ladies have done. It has impacted her and our family. I hope to have the same impact on the kids and families here.