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There are people who help others, and then there are people who go out of their way to help others. Sarah Boone falls in the latter category.

Boone, a program manager in the Specialty Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) department at EMQ FamiliesFirst, traveled more than 3,350 miles to the Dominican Republic last fall to help clinicians in the island nation. She traveled with a team of volunteers from the Global Autism Project.

During her two-week stay, she trained clinical staff in ABA methodologies, helped out with assessments, and worked to raise overall awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She also consulted with staff on some of the more difficult cases.

The nonprofit assists autism staff in under-resourced countries by sending volunteer teams to partner sites a couple of times a year.

“There’s a huge need to disseminate autism awareness and evidence-based practices outside of the U.S.,” says Boone.

Applied Behavioral Analysis is a framework that applies scientific interventions to address behavioral needs, such as language development, social interactions and independent living. Research shows ABA is the most effective method to teach children and teens with ASD and other development disabilities.

Boone stresses that clinicians are taught in a sustainable way in order to minimize dependence on volunteers. “We teach them via the Socratic method — helping them to come up with their own solutions to the problems they face,” she says.

“There’s a huge need to disseminate autism awareness and evidence-based practices outside of the U.S.,” says Boone.

No stranger to global volunteer work, Boone also traveled with volunteers from A Global Voice for Autism to a village in the Middle East to train parents of autistic children for two months.

“It was an isolated community with no services or support. The role here was more crisis care–teaching parents of autistic children basic principles,” she says.

Boone says she’s still in contact with both nonprofit organizations, and would welcome the opportunity to volunteer again.

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