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Mirjam Harrison

Mirjam Harrison

Family Support Specialist – Kalispell
Since: 2021

Mirjam is one of those indispensable people who excel in multiple roles. As an FSS she serves several families in our Early Intervention and Family Education & Support (FES) programs. She also works directly with older clients (mostly teens/young adults) AND supervises the Direct Support Professionals (DSP) in our Life Skills program.  

The Reason: I did developmental research for a long time and thought I would go the academic route, but eventually missed the direct connection of working with clients and their families. I looked for a place that was welcoming and understood the need for flexibility in their employees. 

Favorite Part: I love this age group. Being a teenager is hard enough and adding a disability to the mix makes it extra challenging to navigate. I enjoy helping clients and parents understand behavior changes, learn to have conversations about what it means to grow up with a disability, and figure out how we can best support them as they transition to adulthood. I feel very lucky to be able to provide some of that critical help. 

Standout moment: I had to stop seeing a non-verbal kid with high support needs for five weeks and even though he never really shares eye contact, when he saw me after I returned his eyes got big and he made so many happy sounds. Moments like that are tremendously gratifying and really validate the work we do. 

What I’ve learned: Working on a daily basis with kids who are so unique and bring wonderful talents and challenges to the table, I am reminded once again of how we tend to overlook the individuality in each person, even the tiny ones. I am glad I am in a job that celebrates those differences.   

Unplugged: I love reading- I can read 10 hours straight with the right book(s) as long as my husband makes sure I don’t starve. I also love painting abstract expressionism with acrylic paints and the freedom of not having to make it look conventionally “good.” I sing in a choir and I love to feel connected to others in the valley through music. Hiking and exploring the vast nature around us is also a favorite pastime. 

Little Known Fact: English is my second language (which I think most people know), but I almost failed English in school and had to get tutoring to pass. My tutor was awesome and set me up with Harry Potter books and seasons of the TV show “Friends” in English. So I mostly learned English by reading and watching comedy shows, not by studying vocabulary lists.