Introducing… a early childhood resource specialist
Dana Lehman is a service consultant with the Autism Spectrum Disorder Service and an early childhood resource specialist with the Children’s Developmental Rehabilitation Program. She is based at Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre and has been at Hamilton Health Sciences for nearly 30 years.
Tell us about your first day at HHS
I remember feeling grateful in joining the team and was excited to start my career. Years ago inclusion wasn’t what it is today. I was originally hired as a preschool teacher working at the Children’s Developmental Rehabilitation Program (CDRP) in a segregated program for children with special needs. The children would attend the program daily for a few hours to experience opportunities to foster their development in an environment that was adapted to support their needs. Later my position was divided into two programs, the Communication Support Team (CST) and CDRP. My job has changed significantly over the years, and now I share my time between CDRP and the Autism Spectrum Disorder Service. I have had many “first days” at HHS.
I feel honoured when families share their experiences with me.
What made you enter your field of work?
I’ve always been interested in working in a field where I felt like I could contribute to changing the way we see people. I wanted to support the voices of the families and children I work with, and assist others in seeing their children as just that….children. Children who have potential and should be celebrated.
What do you love most about your job?
I especially enjoy working with the families and their children. In my position I often can be one of the first people to connect with the family to share information about the program, including who their team will consist of and the important role the family plays as part of that team. I see myself as sort of a navigator, guiding and supporting families through their experience within our service(s). This role also supports families in accessing a variety of funding sources and community programs as well as assisting with behaviour management and understanding child development. Every day is different, with new situations to problem solve and that’s what makes it interesting. I feel honoured when families share their experiences with me.
What do you do after work to unwind?
I’m a bit of a Netflix junkie over the winter months. In the summer I like to be outside, go for a walk or just sit and enjoy the nice weather.
When you tell people what you do, how do they usually react?
Usually people will say “it takes a special person to do the work you do” but I believe I’m just an ordinary person working with some extraordinary children and their families.