CALDWELL, N.J. (PIX11) – Seeing so many smiling faces is pretty sweet.
Ben, who has autism, got to trick-or-treat on the campus of Caldwell University with some of his friends and graduate and Ph.D. students who work at the Caldwell University Center for Autism and Applied Behavioral Analysis.
“I had so much fun,” said Ph.D. candidate Courtney Kane. “Our kids really love it, and they’re getting to experience the campus culture here at Caldwell, and so seeing them thriving just makes my whole day.”
For the kids, they’re getting not just candy but crucial socialization skills.
“It’s an opportunity for us to share our creative side with our students without having to sit and teach them,” said Ph.D. candidate Carleana Hickey.
“We have the best jobs in the world. We do. We change lives,” said Sharon Reeve, the center’s director.
Reeve has known Ben since he was 5 years old and watched him grow up through the program.
“To see them change and thrive and have fun and be like all other kids is just unbelievably enjoyable and satisfying,” said Reeve.
Caldwell began the program 15 years ago partly because of a shortage of professionals in the field. They said that the shortage has become even more profound. Leaders hope to see more people choose careers in autism services so that moments like these can happen.
“You never work a day in your life if you love what you do,” said Reeve.