Director of Student Services, Judi Campbell retired back in July, after a career at Morgan Autism Center that spanned three decades. Previous to her employment at Morgan Autism Center, Judi worked in the public school system as an Adaptive Physical Education teacher. Judi’s understanding of autism and autism programming has left an indelible mark on the culture here at the Center. I recently had the chance to visit with her, after 6 weeks of retirement.

Q: Judi, what do you think makes Morgan Autism Center so special?

If there is something to share about Morgan Autism Center, it is that we all know it is critical to understand why our students and clients do what they do and we also know that we owe them the support they need to be successful. Without that understanding, there are all kinds of opportunities to be negative or punitive. Because of Morgan Autism Center’s understanding of autism, the program focuses on successful strategies and positive interactions and supports, and that feels better for everyone involved. The understanding that these individuals have social deficits that require social support is just fundamental.

Q: Why did you stay here?

   My job in the public schools was great. I had a lot of autonomy. But on the other hand, I didn’t have any systemic support or any emotional support. Morgan Autism Center is really different in that way. There was always support available. And one of the things I really appreciated was that I had some interests in things like body work. I really saw the students at the Center as a disregulated group and the administrators and faculty here had an openness to the possibility of me really exploring some of the things that I knew would be beneficial to this population. The philosophy of our program really resonated with me: We (staff) are responsible, and if kids aren’t successful, what can we do differently to make that child successful.

Q: What advice would you give parents?

Embrace autism…to fight it is just too hard. Finding your community, your group, that is part of the joy of Morgan Autism Center for so many parents. It takes work and time, but the rewards of being a part of this community are great.