For Care Professionals

From Apex Social Care Professional to Assistant Director of Educational and Therapeutic Resources: How Apex Social set me up for success and my adventure came around full circle

Written by Viktoria Scott, Occupational Therapist and Behavior Expert

A weekend trip to Philadelphia

On October 17, 2014 I packed my bags, boarded a plane and left behind my life in Austria, for a year abroad as an Apex Care Professional. Little did I know that this year would turn into two, and then into a lifetime. It has now been 8 years since I started my journey, and I still live in the United States, and I am back at Apex as professional support for our Host Families and the Care Professionals who are now starting their journey, excited and probably a little nervous as well.

I read about this opportunity to gain professional experience abroad in a journal during my pediatrics internship while I was at school. I always wanted to live in the United States for a while, but gave up hope when I decided to go into a social profession. Occupational Therapists just don’t get transferred to a different location overseas, but here I found an opportunity, and I was ready to take it! So I promptly decided to sign up too, created my profile, and started interviewing families.

Fort Worth Stockyards with my best friend Sarah
Enjoy riding horses with Sarah
Mardi Gras 2015 in New Orleans with Sarah and another Care Professional, Luisa

It wasn’t easy for me to find a host family at first, but then I got an interview request with a family in Texas, with 8 year old twins with autism, who needed someone as soon as possible, and so I was on my way only three weeks later. I really do not remember much about the time between matching and departure. I vaguely remember traveling to Vienna for my Visa appointment, and going to the zoo with my sister for her birthday, since I was leaving the day she had her celebration.

During my year in Texas, I was introduced to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The therapists that came to the house to support my sweet twin boys were absolutely amazing. We had so much fun and the kids made incredible progress during that year! I also met my best friend, Sarah, who was my Area Director’s Care Professional at the time, and we had the time of our lives, going on adventures, traveling together, going out, and just mostly being silly. While Sarah decided to extend with her Host Family, I decided I wanted to find a new Host Family for my second year. While we were physically apart, we still traveled together, and spoke on the phone all the time.

Apex Social Surf Outing 2015
Enjoying the surf outing with friends
My friend Alena's birthday (middle) with my other best friend Gaby, in our hometown, Las Vegas

I was super lucky to find my second host family in the city I always wanted to see: San Francisco! My host children were tiny: 4 year old twin boys and a 3 year old little girl, and I loved them with all my heart. I got to support them in pre-school, and join them for speech and occupational therapy. I took them to playgrounds, museums, and scooter rides, or scheduled play dates with my AuPair friends, whose host children went to the same pre-school as mine. My host family took me to Lake Tahoe, to go skiing in the winter, and to the pool and lake in the summer. They supported me spending most of my free time roaming around San Francisco and the bay area, and only a few months into my year with them it happened: I met the person who became my husband less than a year later, and his wonderful 4 year old husky, who became my first dog. When I told my host mom that I was getting married, we cried together in the kitchen, and I was beyond happy that they would be able to attend my wedding, because we got married in the bay area.

The first few years as a married woman were difficult sometimes. Getting my work permit and green card took forever, so I was not able to work. However, I had time to research what I really wanted to do. Because of my amazing experience with ABA, I decided a career change was in order, and once I had my work permit, I applied to ABA providers to join them as a therapist. I got to hone my skills as a behavior expert for three years, working with children with autism as young as 2 years old, and up to 13 years old. I discovered my love for early intervention, and for naturalistic environment teaching. I loved having fun with the little ones, teaching them through play, and changing each family’s life. I started to work on my Masters Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, ready to make this my career. Until I received a facebook message from Sarah Kodinsky. She told me about this new thing called Apex Individualized Care Plans (AICP) that Apex is offering families, and thought I would be perfect to join the team and help. I was skeptical at first, since I wasn’t looking for a new job, but thought I might as well take the interview and see what this is all about.

My wedding in Oakland, CA
My 5th wedding anniversary with our newest puppy, Kora
When my dogs had puppies end of 2021: Proud Dad, exhausted Mom, and 6 healthy puppies

I met my supervisor, Amanda Narra, and we clicked immediately. What she told me sounded absolutely amazing! I could finally use my skills to support so many more people than I could as a Registered Behavior Technician. I could immediately make use of all the things I was learning in school, all while picking this incredibly experienced and knowledgeable person’s mind! I joined Apex Social part-time, and less than a month later decided to give up my job as a clinician and make Apex Social my full time work. This was the best decision I have ever made.

Now, I get to lead the AICP Program as Assistant Director of the Educational and Therapeutic Resources Team. I get to speak to host families, listen to their stories about their children, their experiences, and most importantly, their wants and needs. I get to draft up Care Plans that support Care Professionals throughout onboarding and the whole year, and I get to be creative in the strategies and adaptations I suggest. How great is it, that I get to combine my knowledge as an Occupational Therapist and my experience as a Behavior Expert to support our families and Care Professionals! All while FINALLY getting to speak German again, and being home with my sweet fur babies.

My last hike with Apollo, before he was got cancer, and with my other dog Ava
My sweet cat, Goku
My birthday 2022, at Pier 39 in San Francisco, with my husband and many sea lions!

For the first time, I really feel that I have found my place in the world, with the challenges to keep life interesting, the support I need to learn, and the opportunity to grow and progress professionally and personally. So, after 8 years, I have circled back around to the people who helped me start this amazing, unexpected journey.

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