A Difference Maker On - And Off - The Field Dustin Barno has had a tremendous career in the AFL, but his real mark is being made through work in special education.
Barno has tallied 130 tackles and 29 sacks in eight seasons in the League.
Jan. 24, 2013
By RYAN MILLINOWISCH
“Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it's not. It takes patience and it takes commitment.”
-President Barack Obama
Philadelphia Soul defensive lineman Dustin Barno found a way to leave his mark on the world when he started working in special education.
His career path would eventually lead him to a group called Kaleidoscope that works with adults with autism and teaches them the skills that are necessary for them to lead successful lives. Kaleidoscope provides services such as autism and behavioral therapy, educational staffing, and training and development sessions.
“Kaleidoscope is a family solutions group for adults with autism. They are given living support and social support among other things. They are taught those types of skills on a daily basis,” said Barno, an eight-year AFL veteran. “I like making a difference. What pulled me into this line of work was that I can help people out and get them moving in the right direction.”
Working with people with special needs was not always the field that Barno envisioned himself in, but he still aspired to give guidance to those who needed it most - high school students. While employed as a substitute teacher, Barno would eventually move into the special education department and from there he stumbled upon his dream job.
“It just kind of happened. I was actually working as a teacher and eventually I started working in special education. I kind of just slipped into this,” said Barno. “I began working in this school district with teens that were struggling a little bit and it progressed right into the job I have now.”
At Kaleidoscope, Barno provides a variety services that help adults with autism learn to deal with social situations and perform everyday tasks that others may take for granted.
“The biggest thing is providing social interaction. The majority of people that are autistic are adults that struggle socially so it is hard to get then into social settings,” said Barno. “We start conversations with them which help them learn to socialize in society. They learn how to do things in their daily lives like how to order food, cook, clean, budget their money, work on their resumes, and how to interview for a job.”
With Barno making a difference in the world, there is plenty for him to be proud of. The part that Barno values the most is seeing people succeed in their endeavors.
“You have goals and objectives and just reaching the goals is what is rewarding for me. We are the ones implementing the goals and helping them reach them,” said Barno. “We say this is what we need at the end and somehow we get there.”
While retirement is not in his sights, Barno cannot play football forever. After his playing days are over, Barno would like to continue working with people with special needs and making people’s lives better.
“This is a future career path for me. I would like to continue in this capacity,” said Barno. “I want to help people and try to make a difference.”