Profile: Lisa Feitelberg, Social Worker
The joy of being a steady influence in families’ lives
As a new university graduate in sociology, Lisa Feitelberg was still deciding her career path. Today, as a social worker at ErinoakKids, she knows she has found her place. “I always knew that I wanted to work with people, but at the time I wasn’t sure in what capacity,” she recalls.
During her education years, she ran summer camps, and enjoyed working with children, but a decision to pursue social work was still in her future. First she set out to broaden her perspective with a few years of travel and life experience. She worked in Western Canada and lived in France for a time, interspersing work and travel. She enjoyed the opportunity to work with children in programs run by the City of Toronto, including a lunchtime school French program. “I did a variety of volunteer work, trying to gain experience and narrow down my focus.”
While working at Community Living Mississauga, she made her career decision. “I had enjoyed working with children with special needs and their families, and I wanted to do more,” says Lisa. “After this experience, I decided to pursue a degree in social work.”
While completing the master’s degree program at Wilfrid Laurier University, Lisa had a practicum at Bloorview Kids Rehab [now Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital] working with individuals (who had a brain injury) and their families.. She later returned to [Holland] Bloorview to work in a diagnostic clinic. Children came to the clinic for developmental assessments when there were concerns in two or more areas of their development. “My role at the clinic was to support families through the process of the developmental assessment, including helping to navigate the first steps after receiving a diagnosis.”
Today, Lisa supports families who have a child with a diagnosis of autism. “When a child receives a diagnosis of autism it impacts the whole family,” Lisa says.
Her work makes her appreciate her own family too. She lives in Toronto with her husband and their three children. Together they help keep her grounded in what’s important.
Lisa is both liked and respected by her colleagues. At ErinoakKids, she reports to the Clinical Director of Autism Services, Dr. Janis Williams. “Lisa has a gift for listening, and people feel that they are heard, understood and supported,” says Dr. Williams. “Everyone who works with her experiences her compassion.”
The respect and liking flow both ways, and leads to Lisa’s great enthusiasm for her work. “Janis goes above and beyond for the families, and she allows me to strive to do the same,” she says. “I’m continually struck by the strength and resilience of the families. They often have to balance the needs of their child with autism, while caring for siblings as well as a range of other demands or stressors in their lives.” Families appreciate the opportunity to discuss the impact that autism has had on their lives as they strive to help their children to reach their potential.
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