Coming to Terms with Change

For someone on the autism spectrum, like me, even the smallest life changes present great challenges. This spring I learned that two of the greatest people I know, my mentors Dr. Bob and Dr. Lynn Koegel, have accepted positions at Stanford University and will be leaving UCSB at the end of June. This will be a big change for the Koegel Autism Center and everyone involved. While I am happy for Bob and Lynn and this next big chapter in their careers, I am also very sad to see them go.

Its been almost 20 years since my first visit to UCSB. I was there to meet with Dr. Lynn Koegel and she diagnosed me with Asperger’s Syndrome. There were many, many more clinic visits through the years. I always associated UCSB with the Koegels. When I was accepted for admission and attended college there, Bob and Lynn became like a second set of parents to me. Whenever any issues came up they were always there. Since graduating and moving back to Los Angeles, I look forward to my visits back to my alma mater …seeing Bob and Lynn is always a highlight. I find it very difficult to imagine UCSB without the Koegels.

When I first heard the news that they were leaving UCSB, I was really worried about what this would mean for me. I wondered ifthe entire center would be shut down and I would have to receive services elsewhere. I talked to Dr. Brittany Koegel, Bob and Lynn’s daughter and a friend of mine since childhood. She told me that the center would never stop seeing me. I then began wondering in the absence of the Koegels, whether I would want to continue going to Santa Barbara every week. I fretted that the quality of my program would not be as high without their supervision. But then I got some comforting news about this whole ordeal.

Another good friend and mentor of mine, Dr. Ty Vernon, texted me saying that he would be taking over as Clinic Director. When he was a grad student working for Bob and Lynn, Ty was my clinician. He assured me that I would always have a program and that the staffwould for the most part stay the same. I can continue to see my current clinician, Erin. I know that Ty will be an excellent Director and I am excited to work with him.

So while the prospect of not having Bob and Lynn there is a scary and sad thought, I know that I will continue to receive excellent services. But there will still be a big hole that for me no one else will ever quite fill. Best of luck Bob and Lynn…. I will miss you!