Dr. Ramen Saggu, a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst, Doctor of Clinical Psychology, CEO of Pacific ABA Academy comes across as very simple, modest and a warm person. She is one of the first few Behaviour Consultants to be certified in BC, and still one of the few South Asians. She is certified to work with children with autism. It’s been 20 years that she has been helping children and parents to adjust to life with autism. Born and brought up in Vancouver, Dr. Ramen has done her studies in BC, London, UK, and has worked as an autism specialist in London, UK, Seattle, US and Winnipeg, MB. She has dedicated her life in building programs for children to help them deal with autism and learn to live life as normal as possible. She is the co-founder of the Angels for Autism group, with a board of parents and professionals, which provides emotional and financial support to families affected by autism. Dr. Ramen, along with her husband also created the first ever Autism awards to recognize the special talents of children with autism. The awards were recognized in the BC legislature by Sue Hammell in 2014.
She was also one of the original committee members to organize the annual autism conferences with the newly formed BC-ABA association. She was the leader in developing the first highly successful ethics panel for the BC-ABA chapter in order for others to take over the initiative.
Dr. Ramen has won many awards for her work in autism and the quality of evidence-based practices being provided by Pacific ABA Academy. She was the recipient of the 2012 Shakti Award for empowering women in business, the 2014 Surrey Leader Above and Beyond Award, and most recently, The Times of Canada 2014 Award for Leadership in the field of autism.
While talking to Dr. Ramen, one realizes how connected she is with her work, she has a vision and is working relentlessly to improve the programs and enhance the awareness about autism and its challenges. The goal of her clinic, Pacific ABA Academy is to help families who have children diagnosed with autism to receive quality scientifically validated Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy with a certified service provider. The core belief of this clinic is that every child with autism is unique and has individual needs that must be treated as per the individual challenges. Dr. Ramen says that the purpose Pacific ABA Academy is to help these kids reach their full potential, hence, “reach for the stars.”
There are not many agencies specializing in this field. Pacific ABA Academy is one of the few certified agencies in BC specifically providing autism services. All of the children have made significant gains in their progress at Pacific ABA Academy as the program offers one of the most intensive and data driven programs in BC.
Nowadays she is trying to increase the awareness about autism in South Asian community, especially among Indo Canadians by doing media presentations. She feels that autism is hitting too close to home in the Indo Canadian and Chinese cultures but there is very little discussion about it. This is not a usual flu or cold that will go away. This is a life long condition with which a family must learn to live with. Every child is special and a child with autism is just more uniquely packaged and need continuous support, attention and patience from all the people in their circle to grow into adults who are able to lead a respectable life despite the limiting effects of this medical condition. A relative percentage of clients at Pacific ABA Academy are of South Asian origin. With the increase of autism in the South Asian population there are not enough Behaviour Consultants to support the demand.
Dr. Ramen leads a team of 4 Behaviour Consultants and 22 Behaviour Interventionists who provide ABA intervention and counselling to parents in the form of individual and group therapy sessions to the children. Government funding to support such initiatives is very limited and she says, they look forward to community support to keep offering programs to make children with autism capable contributors in the progress of their community that they will choose to live as adults. She hopes that many other from corporate organizations will come forward to contribute to help spread awareness about Autism similar to Diabetes, Heart Stroke and Cancer initiatives.
When asked about her inspiration to take up this challenging work, she says, “ My inspiration are the kids and seeing them change, learning new things every day such as making an effort to do things like starting to socialize and communicate when they could not speak at all or make eye contact is inspiring and motivates me and my team to continue our efforts. “
Pacific ABA Academy plans to spreads its wings and open more innovative centers in the coming years to serve more families. Dr. Ramen sincerely believes that with right model of ABA therapy children with autism can do great things and live life to fullest. “I always say to the parents, “Hang on to hope, with the right intervention these kids can achieve great outcomes, but if you lose hope, then your child loses hope.”
Dr. Ramen is married to Financial Advisor Bobby and lives with him and her three boys, Govind (9), Kishan (6), and Neishhan (3) in Surrey. When asked about her career and family balance, she says that her husband is her pillar of support. He has played a significant role in raising the boys and supported her to follow her passion. “My husband is my strongest support, his continuous support, love, and own sacrifices made it possible for me to step out and try to make the difference in the lives of my clients. “My parents and in laws also blessed me and encouraged me to help others,” she adds. When she is not counselling or providing therapy to her clients, she spends all her time with her children and family.