In college, Tonishia Porter quickly discovered that a medical condition did not define who a person was.
During an abnormal psychology class at UNLV, Porter’s professor brought in a bipolar patient to talk about the stigma associated with mental health.
“He told us that he didn’t have many friends and wasn’t provided the same opportunities to succeed in life because he was bipolar,” she recalled. “I knew that that wasn’t fair to him. That encounter always stuck with me and helped ignite my passion for helping people who society has disregarded.”
Porter has that same passion with the children she works with at the Sharon Sigesmund Pierce and Stephen Pierce Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (CADD) at Touro University Nevada. As a registered behavioral technician of applied behavioral analysis (ABA), Porter makes it her personal mission to help her patients thrive.
“I want to help these children have a great quality of life because we all want our children to be successful,” she said.
Porter has worked at CADD for the last 10 years. She said her co-workers affectionately refer to her as “the dinosaur” since she’s been there the longest of them all.
“We’re a pretty unique group at CADD. We work like a well-oiled machine and function very well as a unit because we all have the same goal in mind for our patients,” she said. “We have the same work ethic with the parents because it takes a group effort to help these kids. We remind them that their children can still learn new things; we just go about teaching them a different way.”
Porter is currently in school for her second Master’s degree as she works to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).
“I’m hoping to provide services to more children in the Las Vegas Valley because I know the need is very high,” she said. “In the field of ABA, I would love to run social skills clinics and parent-training strategies to help them with their children once they age out of services at CADD. I just want to help CADD continue to grow.”