By Steve Svetovich
When Lauren Mrykalo, Dunmore, set out at Bloomsburg University to become a teacher, she didn’t know she would someday soon be instructing autistic students.
She just happened to get involved with elementary school autistic children and now has no intention of ever leaving the field.
Daughter of Richard and Marisa Scott, Dunmore, Lauren is married to Chris Mrykalo. She is a 2008 graduate of Dunmore High School and received a B.S. in elementary education/special education from Bloomsburg University in 2012.
Lauren, 29, started her career as a substitute teacher for a year and a half before she evolved into an autistic support teacher. Certified as a K-12 teacher, she currently is an autistic support teacher at Moscow Elementary School.
“I taught learning and emotional support before,” she said. “I had never taught autistic students before this. I went to a few conferences, but that was it.
“Once I got into this as an autistic support teacher, I never looked back. This is what I want to do for the rest of my teaching career. This is where I want to be.”
Lauren, who played basketball, soccer and ran track at Dunmore High School, spoke glowingly of her job.
“I work with kids in the autistic spectrum. Every child is different. Each little problem is different, but they all have so much potential. I tell each child he or she can do so much more.
Each child really has a chance to be somebody special just like anyone else. These children have so many extraordinary talents.
“I have six autistic students, with five in my classes all day. I have my own classroom accommodations for the students. The classroom accommodations are very important to the success of each student.
“I enjoy doing this so much. I hope to do it until I retire. It’s my fifth year working with autistic children. I plan on making it my career.”
Lauren, who enjoys running, basketball and playing guitar in her spare time, would like to improve her teaching skills for autistic children by attending graduate school in the near future.
“I want to get a master’s degree with a specialty in applied behavior analysis. There is a lot of evidence that this type of therapy will benefit the autistic student in many ways.
“This is not an easy job, but it is very fulfilling. You have to go into it knowing this. Every day is different. Every child is different. Every child has great potential.
“It’s a very satisfying career. Each child is very special.”