Study Time!

I have recently completed another subject at Florida Institute of Technology in my Graduate Certificate of ABA. So preparing for the final exam involved utilising my knowledge and understanding of ABA principles, to help.

The course involves a lot of video-lecture watching, and reading, so I use the Premack Principle, which is essentially a ‘first / then’.

I would set myself up with the ‘first (less preferred)’ task of watching hours of video lectures, and this would lead to the ‘then (highly preferred task)’ of something reinforcing (usually food, or playing with my puppy) ūüôā

I also went a little crazy at Officeworks, purchasing Post It notes of various sizes. I used these to jot down guided notes (of sorts), from the lectures, and from class meeting notes.

Post its

Post It Notes from Office Works in various colours, with study notes on them.

Another of my favourite stores, Kikki K, has a handy A5 study guide sheet, which breaks down the tasks that need to be done, with upcoming assignments, and even a little box, to write in your reinforcer!

All of this study did pay off, as I passed the course! One more to go, before I can sit for my first exam!

If you want to find out more about FIT’s ABA Course, follow the link.

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Study Time!

Back to School!

back-to-school

Back to School! For some kids I know, its the first time at school, a change to a new school, or even a move to high school! So many changes, and¬†it’s the time of year people either love¬†or hate, depending on which side of the fence you sit on. And sometimes, you can feel both ways about it!

Going back to school for any child, can be a difficult time. It is a big change in routine, from usually unstructured, leisure-filled days, to highly structured routines of the classroom. In particular, the long summer break, over Christmas and New Years.

It can be particularly difficult for children with additional needs, as it is often a time of new teachers, aides, peers, classrooms, playgrounds, school bags, drink bottles, work expectation… the list could go on!

And while a lot of kids with additional needs thrive on the structure of the classroom, it can still take a while to settle back into the routine and pattern of the day.

So I’ve put together a few tips, mainly for parents, although it would be useful for educators to consider these things that parents might be dealing with. These tips are also relevant for any educational setting (pre-school, through to high school).

Be prepared!

We know there will most likely be an increase in challenging behaviour, sleep, diet, conversation Рwhen school starts up. Even if you have done this for the past 10 years and that amount of school holidays, it is still a struggle for some kids. Provide a bit of structure, using a visual schedule, or a weekly schedule overview, so the child knows what to prepare for.

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Visual Schedule for personal care.

Provide ‘down time’

First few weeks back will be a lot for your the child to adjust to. Make sure you give them time to ‘have a break’ and do the things they love to do. It’s still hot out, so going to the pool or splashing through the sprinkler in the backyard with very few demands, will give the child an opportunity to regroup after a long day at school.

rx-istock-179763623_water_lawn_hose-end_sprinkler_h-jpg-rend-hgtvcom-966-725
Run through the sprinkler!

Keep Consistency!

It might be good to keep consistency with therapists and professionals working with the child. The child will know the expectations from the therapist, and will help provide a bit more of that “routine” they’re used to. Plus,¬†they’re handy to have a chat to, if you need some suggestions to help the child with this transition back to school.

So just a few tips to help with that transition period of going back to school. Again, even though school holidays happen fairly frequently, and the child may have been at school for many years, it is still a big change and difference in their daily life, so try and communicate the changes as best as possible with the child.

Back to School!

2017 Goals

goals-2017

After setting goals for 2016, and having them keep me fairly accountable, I have come up with some more goals for 2017 – and learned a few things from last year’s goals, as well.

  1. Obtain my BCaBA.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have obtained my certification to call myself a BCaBA.
    I am registered for my next subject at FIT (and am currently very excited to start, we’ll see how long that lasts!), and am all good for supervision hours. Hopefully sitting the exam in August!
  2. Maintain Client Case Load
    By the end of December 2017, I will have at least 15 clients.
    I currently have a maximum of 15 clients, and will want to ensure I still have 15 clients throughout the year.
  3. Have 100 newsletter subscribers.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have at least 100 people subscribed to my monthly newsletters.
    I send out monthly newsletters, that just have a little bit of information about what we’ve been up to each month. Hopefully a few more people will want to find out.
  4. Have 750 “likes” on Facebook.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have 750 ‘likes’ on Facebook.
    Again, using Facebook to share information that is hopefully relevant to a few people, and having a few more “likers” will allow me to reach more people.
  5. Have at least 1 poster/presentation at a conference.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have had either a presentation, or a poster, at at least one conference.
    I’m aiming for just one presentation/poster because two is a lot of work, and if I am studying, it’s going to be a little harder!
  6. Attend at least 2 conferences – 1 ABA, and 1 non-ABA.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have attended at least two conferences – 1 ABA specific, and 1 not ABA specific (Autism, Special Ed etc).
    I want to attend a few conferences, and want to spread them out so they aren’t just all ABA ones (as much as I love them!)
  7. Participate in 4 journal clubs.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have participated in at least 4 online journal clubs, by responding to at least 3 questions about each article.
    I’ve started a little journal club with a few colleagues of mine, where we read one journal article every 3 months, with an ABA theme, and have discussion questions we can chat about.
  8. Create fact sheets about common ABA terms/strategies for families, educators etc
    By the end of December 2017, I will have created at least 6 face sheets about common ABA terms/strategies for use by families, therapists, educators etc.
    This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while with my families, so all the information is on one place. Hopefully leading to an app as well!
  9. Complete my first aid and CPR.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have completed my first aid course, and be CPR certified.
    I need to renew this, so figured I should add it to my goals because I have to do it anyway!

So there we go. I think these are a little less ambitious than last year’s but that is what I have learned to do! Also, given that I will be studying for 3/4 of the year as well… it’s probably safer to keep smaller, more manageable goals.

I’ll check in every 3 months, to see how things are going!

 

 

 

2017 Goals

End of the Year!

jpg-goals-2016

Review of my 2016 goals – How did I go? ūüėģ

Well, to be honest I think what would have been completed, would have already been covered in previous posts, not much will have changed in the last 3 months, but we’ll have a look anyway!

Original goals can be found here.

Goals for 2016

1. Obtain my Behaviour qualification.

By the end of June 2016, I will have completed two more subjects through Florida Institute of Institute.

By the end of June 2016, I will have completed my 50 supervised hours of experience.

By the end of August 2016, I will have sat the required exam, and eagerly be awaiting my results!

Sadly, this did not happen in 2016. However, I have registered for my next subject to begin in Jan 2017, and watch this space for my goals for 2017 ūüėÄ

2. Become a registered provider under NDIS services.

By the end of December 2016, Great Start Behaviour Services will be registered through the NDIS to provide at least one service support.

Done! I am still currently registered for 3 areas, waiting on 3 more. Will hopefully be able to do that over the Dec/Jan period.

3. Attend and participate in at least two ABA conferences.

By the end of December 2016, I will have attended two different ABA based conferences, and participated either by: presenting a poster, presenting a paper, or asking a question, at each conference.

Done! I attended ABAI in Chicago, in May, and presented a poster, and then the first ever AABA conference in Melbourne, in September, and presented some of my parent training work!

4. Continue on with my supervision through my BCBA Supervisor.

By the end of December 2016, I will have completed the required 75 hours of supervision for my behaviour qualification, as well as the 1500 hours required field work experience.

Done! I definitely have my 1500¬†hours for my BCBA! Just don’t have the BCBA yet! Will be continuing on with my supervisor in 2017.

5. Continue to read at least two journal articles a month, in the field of ABA, but not specifically Autism related.

By the end of December 2016, I will read at least two journal articles a month, and comment about each article on Twitter.

By February 2016, I will subscribe to JABA, to find relevant articles.

I did not meet this first goal. I think I was a bit too ambitious with a) reading 2 articles a month ūüėõ and b) commenting about it. I did start a journal club with some colleagues though, and we have successfully completed read and discussed two articles, with another one schedule for the first quarter of 2017! I’ll need to rejig this for 2017. I did subscribe to JABA, and will do again in 2017.

6. Continue to disseminate information about ABA, to non-behaviour people.

By the end of December 2016, I will have presented at least two workshops for people interested in learning about behaviour.

By the end of December 2016, I will have shared at least 12 posts about ABA on GSBS Facebook page.

By the end of December 2016, I will have used the hashtag #EverydayABA, at least twelve times, to promote and inform how behaviour occurs in our daily lives.

Unfortunately the workshops were unable to happen. I did however do a separate behaviour/positive teaching workshop, twice this year, but not exactly what I meant by that first goal ūüėÄ (still an excellent workshop though!)

The Faceboook posts and #EverydayABA tag were achieved!

7. Attend and participate in online ABA chats.

By the end of December 2016, I will have attended at least two online chats, and made at last 5 comments on Twitter.

You’d think this would be easy, as I could do it from anywhere, but I’m terrible at time differences. However that is no longer an excuse either, as the good twitter people have found ways to keep people engaged in chats! Will need to revise my goal for 2017, to make it more achievable.

8. Volunteer my time to at least two different organisations (not necessarily ABA/behaviour).

By the end of December 2016, I will have volunteered with two different organisations, including at least 10 hours a month, towards these organisations.

By the end of January 2016, I will volunteer with at least one organisation. (A Global Voice for Autism).

By the end of June 2016, I will have volunteered with at least two organisations. (As above, and The Pyjama Foundation or The Association for Science in Autism Treatment).

As with a few other goals, I think I was overly ambitious! I currently am still volunteering with AGVFA, however I haven’t done much recently! Definitely want to continue on in some capacity in 2017.

9. Provide services to more clients in Sydney/Central Coast.

By the end of December 2016, I will have provided services through GSBS, to at least five new clients.

I currently have 15 clients, and have had to put a hold on accepting new clients, until around March 2017.

10. Meet new behaviour analyst people!

By the end of December 2016, I will have met and discussed behaviour analytical discussions, with at least 3 behaviour analysts, around the worldūüėČ

I definitely did meet plenty of new Behaviour people at the AABA conference! I even met up with one in Adelaide for dinner when I was there!
All up, a really great year! Lots of unexpected changes, and so many new things happening, with many more exciting things to come. 
Thanks for sticking by me, and supporting me ūüôā
End of the Year!

NDIS Review – 6 months in

While this is not by any means a thorough review of the NDIS and it’s Sydney roll out, I thought it would be good to stop, and reflect on what I have seen with the NDIS with my clients, so far.

The NDIS rolled out in parts of Sydney, from July 2016. This meant that a lot of my clients would be switching from either private pay, or HCWA funding, to having access to (generally) a lot more funding. This was fantastic for the clients, as they now could access a whole lot more than they currently were.

It was also a big learning curve, for all involved – including me! Going into the NDIS, I didn’t know too much about how it would actually work. Not for lack of trying! I read EVERYTHING on the website, not only in the Provider section, but all over, and still didn’t really have a clear idea.

It seems to me, as I work with more families going through it, it is an extremely individualised thing. Which is great, it’s what we need, however there is also a lot of variability between participants, and what’s in their plan, even if they seem to have similar goals. It really does depend on the participant (or their representative i.e. their parent/carer) and how articulate they can be, about what their goals are – either long term, or shorter term.

For families going through the initial meeting, it can be very overwhelming – especially to sit down and think about your child, and what their needs are, not just in the immediate present, but perhaps down the track as well. The NDIS has again simplified the initial meeting, so you may not need to consider much further long term goals, right now, and instead be able to focus on what is working well now, or what you want to add to your current supports, and work through the first year with that.

In your initial meeting, you can have a trusted professional there, as a support for you, however they will just be more of a moral support, and maybe help you work through your thoughts, and get out everything you want to say. It’s also a good idea to write down a list of what you want to discuss, to make sure you don’t forget anything!

Some meetings are happening face to face, other meetings are happening over the phone. In certain parts of Sydney, external agencies, are organising the meetings (Uniting Care etc). Once you meet your “planner”, they will be the person you have the most contact with, and if you have any questions after the meeting, or during the year that the plan is in action, they would be your first point of call.

You can go back to them at any time during the plan’s year. This may be because your or your child’s needs have changed. It may be that you have implemented more services, and require additional funding to finish the year. It may be that you want to move from a managed plan, to self-managing your funds. It may be that you want a bit more help in finding services – although there should also be someone called a “Local Area Coordinator (LAC)” helping with this. This is ok if you need to do that, and will probably help you get more of an immediate answer. In the initial stages, there will be a lot of ‘finding our feet’ – for participants, providers, and the NDIS, but don’t be afraid to ask questions, and find answers.

In terms of finding and engaging service providers, there are lots of options and ways to do this. Your planner, or LAC should provide some options. The NDIS website also has links, and you can google to find more information. Of course you can continue using your current service providers, providing they are NDIS registered, or you are self-managing your funding.

To sum up, it is still something I am relatively optimistic about. I am working a lot with families with older children, who may have missed out on some funding models, and have been unable to access specific, appropriate intervention and support where needed. There are still a lot of things that need to be ironed out, and will most likely do so, with subsequent roll outs in other areas, but it seems to be making an impact for some people, who are already participating in the scheme.

To check eligibility, visit the NDIS website, and give them a call (1800 800 110). Even if you’re not in a roll out area, it might be worth registering your details sooner, rather than later.

Just on another note, from the other end, a provider’s end, again, this seems to vary a bit, depending on when you start the registration process. I think it has been simplified a lot, since it first started, and the initial paperwork, and just thinking about what you can offer as a provider, has deterred a few people I know. The good news is, I believe that once you get started, and apply, provided you have appropriate qualifications, and experience, it will be a fairly simple process to register (for certain supports). Again, it might be a lot of paperwork, but it does ensure that the providers registering, are going to be providing, high quality supports, and have the participant’s best interests, at the centre of what they do.

 

NDIS Review – 6 months in

Happy “Let’s Always Appreciate Teachers” Year!

c-wilconx-2I recently had the opportunity to visit Darwin, in the Northern Territory, to deliver some literacy workshops. I have previously been to Darwin, in a similar capacity, almost 7 years ago. It is a very different way of life up there, and a lovely part of the country. Extremely tropical, and life is¬†very relaxed. I think they could definitely pick I was the “Sydney” driver, in¬†the mix.

I was lucky enough to visit a small Catholic school and work with the staff there (during their school holidays :o). It was about 40 mins out of Darwin, which can actually mean it is fairly rural, however the school had approximately 150 students, with actual numbers to be determined, once the kids came back the next week, the Principal explained.

Other than the change of students – down, or up – the school had to condense a class, as they also lost a teacher. It made me realise how difficult it would be to ensure good quality teachers, are encouraged, and supported, to work in rural, and remote environments.

I also managed to speak to some teachers from schools even further remote than the suburb I was delivering the workshop in (coincidentally, there was an Early Childhood Australia Conference on, at the same time I was in Darwin!) The scenarios they were facing with some students, provided a much more eye-opening opportunity, than I was anticipating.

It was great to be able to chat to teachers, from very different parts of Australia, and just nice to be able to meet with educators who are extremely passionate about helping all of their students, with whatever was needed, and never giving up.

I followed this workshop up by immediately going to Melbourne (with a temperature difference of 31 degrees celsius!) where I also met some extremely passionate educators. It was one of the best workshops I felt I had delivered, as we had some excellent educational (with a strong tie to literacy, as was the aim of the workshop :D) discussions, throughout the two days.

I also recently completed some observations in a school for students with additional needs, and was so impressed with the teachers in the class – constantly “on”, teaching, checking medications, ‘catching students being good’, prompting self-regulation – all almost without a breath in between.

And just last week, I was able to deliver one of my favourite workshops, talking about one of my favourite topics – positive reinforcement. I had a lovely small group, of four ‘beginning teachers’ (between 1-5 years teaching experience), all from the same school, and another additional extremely experienced individual. Again, we had some fantastic discussions, and these teachers were all amazing with the time they spent thinking about, and planning for, their students. Some great discussions were had again.

I know teachers receive a lot of criticism, but they really do an amazing job, with something that can be so extremely hard, yet ultimately, so rewarding.

So while it isn’t any specific “International Teachers Day” or anything, I figure, why not celebrate the great teachers around us, every day ūüôā

Below is a video from one of my favourite teachers – Mr. Chris from Special Books by Special Kids ūüėÄ

Happy “Let’s Always Appreciate Teachers” Year!

3/4 of the year done – how am I doing?

September is finishing up, and that takes us to 3/4 of the year gone! Time for another goals update! Original Goals Post can be found here. The goals are on this page in the blue colour

Goals for 2016

1. Obtain my Behaviour qualification.

By the end of June 2016, I will have completed two more subjects through Florida Institute of Institute.

By the end of June 2016, I will have completed my 50 supervised hours of experience.

By the end of August 2016, I will have sat the required exam, and eagerly be awaiting my results!

Unfortunately, I have been unsuccessful in reaching this goal. A few different things have cropped up throughout the year, and this will not be happening in 2016. However, lots of changes happening in 2017, which will hopefully open up the possibility to continue.

The good news is, a sub-goal of this (50 hours supervision) has been completed!

2. Become a registered provider under NDIS services.

By the end of December 2016, Great Start Behaviour Services will be registered through the NDIS to provide at least one service support.

Done! (Well, it was completed last time I checked in), but I now am working with a few NDIS clients.

3. Attend and participate in at least two ABA conferences.

By the end of December 2016, I will have attended two different ABA based conferences, and participated either by: presenting a poster, presenting a paper, or asking a question, at each conference.

Done! I attended ABAI in Chicago in May, and presented a poster, and just this past weekend, attended AABA in Melbourne, and presented information about our parent training section of our programs.

While this is a wonderful goal to have, I think, I will need to limit it in future years. It takes a lot of extra time to plan, prepare, and evaluate research, and can be a bit overwhelming, but I’m glad I did it!

4. Continue on with my supervision through my BCBA Supervisor.

By the end of December 2016, I will have completed the required 75 hours of supervision for my behaviour qualification, as well as the 1500 hours required field work experience.

On track, not sure if I will have the 75 hours completed, but still plugging away!

5. Continue to read at least two journal articles a month, in the field of ABA, but not specifically Autism related.

By the end of December 2016, I will read at least two journal articles a month, and comment about each article on Twitter.

By February 2016, I will subscribe to JABA, to find relevant articles.

I have subscribed to JABA, and actually read a few articles from there, but have not commented on twitter. I did however, start an online journal club, with a reasonably interested start!

6. Continue to disseminate information about ABA, to non-behaviour people.

By the end of December 2016, I will have presented at least two workshops for people interested in learning about behaviour.

By the end of December 2016, I will have shared at least 12 posts about ABA on GSBS Facebook page.

By the end of December 2016, I will have used the hashtag #EverydayABA, at least twelve times, to promote and inform how behaviour occurs in our daily lives.

As stated in a previous blog, I will not be able to present any workshops this year, but I am currently at 11 posts with the hashtag #EverydayABA.

7. Attend and participate in online ABA chats.

By the end of December 2016, I will have attended at least two online chats, and made at last 5 comments on Twitter.

As I am writing this, I realised #ABAChat is happening on twitter now! But it is a slow response chat, where we can contribute over time! So I will need to get onto that.

8. Volunteer my time to at least two different organisations (not necessarily ABA/behaviour).

By the end of December 2016, I will have volunteered with two different organisations, including at least 10 hours a month, towards these organisations.

By the end of January 2016, I will volunteer with at least one organisation. (A Global Voice for Autism).

By the end of June 2016, I will have volunteered with at least two organisations. (As above, and The Pyjama Foundation or The Association for Science in Autism Treatment).

As mentioned in a previous post, I overestimated myself here, and will only be able to volunteer at one additional organisation at this stage, and have done so, with A Global Voice for Autism.

9. Provide services to more clients in Sydney/Central Coast.

By the end of December 2016, I will have provided services through GSBS, to at least five new clients.

Definitely met this goal! I currently am working with 11 families across Sydney and Newcastle. (9 new ones!)

10. Meet new behaviour analyst people!

By the end of December 2016, I will have met and discussed behaviour analytical discussions, with at least 3 behaviour analysts, around the world¬†ūüėČ

I am not sure exactly how to measure this (probably needs to be written as a behavioural objective, with much more detail!) but I have definitely had discussions with at least 2 specific people who are interested in understanding more about ABA. Plus, the numerous discussions with colleagues about the science of ABA, and dissemination.


So there we go, not too bad for 3/4 of the way through the year. I don’t think I will meet some of the additional goals, but it is good food for thought for 2017 goals!¬†

3/4 of the year done – how am I doing?