Meet Your Navigators–Roba Hrisseh
At Autism Alliance of Michigan, the soul of our programs is our Navigator Team. We rave about this group all year long, so this April, we want to spend some time highlighting out heroes–our Navigators.
This team of dedicated individuals works day and night to find answers to all autism questions. They spend the time researching so so caretakers can focus on what’s most important–their loved ones with autism.
So here is our 1st installment of Meet Your AAoM Navigators. We sat down with Roba Hrisseh, who was one of the original Navigators on our team.
Roba studied at Wayne State University and earned a double Bachelor’s degree in Speech Language Pathology and in Linguistics. At AAoM, Roba case manages families touched by autism by advocating for them and providing them with appropriate resources. She also works to spread awareness about autism in schools and in the community. Growing up bilingual in Arabic, she is able to address those families in need of language assistance.
Outside of AAoM, Roba teaches for the University of Detroit Mercy. Currently, she is working on her Master’s Degree in Assistive Technology for individuals with special needs. She likes to travel, try new foods, and volunteer her time with Global Detroit as a Cultural Ambassador.
1. Why did you decide to become a Navigator?
I always knew I wanted to work with people touched by disabilities, since I was younger. When I studied Speech Language Pathology and graduated, the opportunity was presented, and I fit into the role perfectly! Being one of the first Navigators hired here was an honor for me, and I will forever be proud of being part of this amazing program.
2. What is your favorite part of being a Navigator?
I have two favorite parts to being a Navigator. One, I love hearing the struggles our families are facing and then finding ways to tackle them. I love solving complex issues, that’s what drew me to the medical field in the first place. Furthermore, these issues are usually never black and white. This calls for my second favorite aspect of being a Navigator (and a nerd): creativity. You have to be super creative in finding new perspectives and ideas to look at challenges. It’s never a one-size-fits-all answer to any autism struggle. Remember, it’s a spectrum!
3. What one story sticks out to you from your time at AAoM?
One of my autism moms that I had been working with for about two years called me one day, and wanted “to talk”. I immediately prepared my notebook, pen, and laptop-thinking it was time for another challenge or issue to work out. But this time, she said she wasn’t calling to tell me about a new problem going on. All she wanted to tell me was that her son was doing well, and she wanted to thank us. She told me that we were “sent from heaven,” that we “are amazing,” and that we have forever changed her and her family’s life. “Where were you all along?” she asked me, and she was crying, but this time they were tears of joy. Yes, yes, I cried too. But I didn’t tell her that. We Navigators have to stay looking strong for our families!
4. What would you tell a family who is hesitant to call the Navigator Help Line?
Any of the Navigators you speak to when you call our MiNavigator line are either touched by autism or have dedicated their lives to advocating for those with disabilities. I mean that. Everything you tell us is confidential. We are friendly, we are fast, we are free, and we get things done. Give us a try, we are awesome!
5. Describe autism in 3 words.
Brilliantly unique enigma.
If you have any questions related to autism, please contact our Navigators today at 877.463.AAOM or Navigator@aaomi.org. We are here to help, provide hope and answers today.