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 🙂

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

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 😉

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?

ABA Intervention Programs in the 21st Century.

Technology is very much a part of our lives these days. So many apps to make our lives easier. Computers that can log you in via your in-built camera. Phones that can hold all the information in the world, at the touch of your fingertips, as well as all your contacts, photos, videos, music, entertainment, street directory… and the list goes on and on.

then2bvs2bnow
Then – a typewriter vs Now – a tablet

In the area I work in, technology has had a huge impact on people’s lives. Giving people a voice, through Augmentative/Alternative Communication devices and apps, such as ProLoQuo2Go, and TouchChat.

ipad-mini-proloquo2go-3-core-home-6x6-landscape-small.png
An example of an AAC – ProLoQuo2Go

Children with autism connecting with others, and making friends through playing Minecraft on their iPads. Even more recently, with Pokemon Go!

The use of heart rate monitors to help adolescents and adults self-monitor potential increases in stress levels, which may lead to challenging behaviour.

technology cue challenging bx.png
Poster presentation from ABAI Chicago, May 2016.

Daily schedules and reminders – from calendars with reminders on your phone, to basic watches that vibrate at certain times, and prompt children to brush their teeth, or pack their bag.

octopus watch schedule
A watch “visual schedule”.

Application, after application, after application, to collect data, graph, and report on, to make changes as needed for skills teaching. (And that is just a small sample! At the ABAI Convention in Chicago, many of the stalls were advertising online data collection platforms).

It makes sense, in this technology driven world, that we utilise the benefits of technology to make positive changes, and add value to programs.

Which is why GSBS programs have completely customised, exclusive online programming, with every program we run.

Looking at all the options already available, and even trialling a few, they are extremely comprehensive. Some are a bit more difficult to navigate, and would take a lot of training and practice to become fluent in their use. Most, if not all, are based out the US, which is not really an issue, however there may be 1 or 2 things that pertain specifically to Australian audiences, that cannot be added or changed in those programs.

So when I started thinking about programs going “online”, I looked around, to see what I could possibly try and set up. And then I found it. Google.

If you haven’t already caught on, Google is amazing. Not only can the search engine tell us *anything* we want to know (I literally type a question in as if I were asking it to a person!), but they have a whole range of google apps, that are just fantastic! Email, calendar, a storage drive, business insights, advertising – all under one email address! The free account has a decent amount of space, but to upgrade, it is not terribly expensive. They also have “office” documents – Google Docs (Word), Sheets (Excel), and Slides (Powerpoint). As well as a free website option to crate your own website, and a form creation app to… well use as you see fit.

google apps image.png
So many apps, so little time!

Which is what we do.

Using the site as storage space, and Google’s easy to use template, private websites were made, to share information about the individual client, with all those involved in their care and support – parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, other professionals working with the person, and so on. Having input from the families, and the clients themselves, the website can be a useful tool, to share skills, and strategies.

Once the site  is created, you can input pages that contain forms, add information about skills pages, even have an online communication/notes book (which sends automatic emails after every session!) The sites are 100% private and you can control who can view and access the page. It is really handy because not only is all the data collection on there, but information about the program, and most importantly, information about the person at the centre of the program, is readily available.

eg website.png
The easy-to-use-and-set-up website via Google Sites.

Moving to an online system, was a bit time consuming and tedious at first, a lot of trial and error during creation, but ultimately worth it. It means that I can access information on skills, even if I am not seeing the families every week, or interstate or overseas.

If multiple people (parents, home therapists etc) are working on programs, up-to-date information is available, as soon as it happens. It seemed to be the logical solution moving forward, making a program that is accessible, and affordable (and if it saves a few trees in the process, that can’t hurt!)

In terms of training – so far, I have had very good feedback about how it was pretty straight forward, and relatively easy to use. A few hiccups with ensuring everyone has access, but on the whole, it was easy for people to pick up. Which is a relief, because within GSBS, we want these programs to be online, to make things that little bit easier. And with Google, we are able to completely customise it to exactly what we want 🙂

Next adventure…. telehealth 😀 The initial research is promising, and would be of so much benefit to people who may usually never have access to services.

N.B. I have no actual affiliation/loyalty to Google, I just am very impressed by their range of products, and enjoy using them, so wanted to share some info!

 

ABA Intervention Programs in the 21st Century.

What’s your favourite colour?

Or food? Or animal? Or TV show? Getting to know someone, and finding out what their interests are, really can help strengthen your teaching relationship.

Concepts, and even some concrete skills, can be taught in ways that incorporate individual’s strengths and interests, to increase the chances that you are motivating them to begin, and complete the task.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And the theory of it is. The application, is a little harder. It takes a lot of time, creativity, and technological skill (sometimes), to make these things happen. Having done this for many, many years (almost 10!), I have lots of different ideas about teaching new skills and concepts, and ways to present. But I still always am learning about new ideas I can implement, and of course, there is always Pinterest!

Recently, I have been able to implement some specific interest-related tasks into sessions.

The first has been in one of my literacy programs. Particularly with teaching reading, finding interesting and relevant material, that is at the appropriate reading level, is not always easy. With one of my students in particular, his interests narrow in on the naughty neighbour Sid, from Toy Story, and Problem Child. He loves the naughty kids and is always enquiring about what would get them in trouble, yet he wouldn’t dare ever consider doing any of the things those naughty kids do (thank goodness!)

We have been looking for reading material that will hopefully be of interest to him. We read through Diary of a Wimpy Kid, some Nature Goodies (with worms and insects), but a really winner, that we have been reading through recently is “The World’s Worst Children” by David Walliams. Comprised of short stories involving disgusting children, including smelly children, and drooling children.

children worst.jpg

While I sit there, trying not to gag while he is reading, the kid loves it! He reads so fluently, and will stop often to ask me questions, and clarify points! He is interested in what he is reading, and is understanding what he is reading – all we have worked towards with reading, is happening!

Another client I have been individualising more of his program for, is someone who loves the Wiggles. wiggles youtubeHe has inherited this love for the Wiggles, from his older brother, whom I learned all about the Wiggles from, many years ago! Now this kid is more of an “original” Wiggles fan, which suits me fine, because that’s who I learned about from his brother, but it does make things difficult, because all the VHS tapes of old Wiggles shows, are very slowly disappearing, or breaking. Luckily, thousands of those videos are preserved and accessible, via a quick YouTube search 😀

We have recently added a few more matching craft activities, particularly because he is very good at matching and puzzles. We have been slowly introducing a few different, and new, activities over the past few weeks, and he has been really enjoying the different tasks and demands. We have been able to incorporate a lot of fine motor skill work, and sight word and vocabulary building, within these activities.

interest instaExamples of some of the activities created: Emotions cards with cartoon
pictures of different feelings, and a cartoon ‘Wiggles’ music group puzzle.

Where possible, you should aim to include the individual’s interests in your programming. They are more likely to be interested in what you have on offer, and you can make those teaching times a little bit more exciting for them!

References

What’s your favourite colour?

Mid Year Review :D

I realised it is half way through the year already! In some ways, it has gone so quickly, in other ways, I can’t believe it is already July. I know I sound redundant saying that, and everyone always says that, but it really does feel strange!

I am up to my “mid year review” of how I am going with my goals, kind of like what I do with programs with clients! So, lets see how I am going…

The post with goals I developed at the beginning of the year, can be found here – just for reference 🙂

1. Obtain my Behaviour qualification.

I have yet to make a move on my first goal 😦 Many different circumstances have prevented me from being able to start the next course for my coursework. I am hoping to be able to do this for the last quarter of 2016, if not, then 2017 will have to be the case!

2. Become a registered provider under NDIS services.

I am registered! Great Start Behaviour Services is registered to provide services in three domains:
– Behaviour Support
– Therapeutic Supports
– Assist Integration to Educational Settings

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

I am halfway there! I attended ABAI in Chicago at the end of May, and learned a lot. I am attending the inaugural Association for Behaviour Analysis Australia Conference in Melbourne, in September. I also am tossing up whether or not to go to the NZABA Conference in Auckland at the end of August. I think the presentations will be quite interesting, and it will be nice to see some organised, proactive ABA supporters, from within the Pacific.

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

Still continuing on! In fact, I had supervision this morning, and am currently at 51/75 hours!

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

I don’t have specific data on this, and I honestly don’t think I have done this. I definitely do not have the comments on Twitter to back up my reading of these! I will need to identify 2 articles for the month of July.

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

According to my goals, I have used the #EverydayABA hashtag on twitter at least 12 times, to share information about ABA.

I will most likely be unable to run separate workshops in 2016, providing information about ABA, but will definitely move that goal over to 2017! In fact, I applied for a grant to provide parent / carer workshops, on basic principles of ABA and understanding functions of behaviour, for South West Sydney.

7. Attend and participate in online ABA chats.

I haven’t done any of these! In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen any chats for awhile. I need to look into when the next one will happen on twitter, or if people want to have another one!

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

I am still volunteering with A Global Voice for Autism, and I think that will have to be it this year. I would love to do the externship with the Association for Science Treatment in Autism, but I think I will need to wait until I’ve finished my BCBA!

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

I have met this goal! I currently am providing services to 7 clients (8 by the end of next week!), and I started with 2 at the beginning of this year! (Granted one of them is not technically “brand new” – I have worked with the family previously, but still!)

10. Meet new behaviour analyst people!

I actually met a very lovely lady, who is very new to ABA, and is also a Mum, who is very enthusiastic, just this week! It’s always great to meet like-minded, ABA supporters!

Not too bad. I’m tracking through a few goals, and even have 2 goals met! And it’s only halfway through the year – seems like there is still plenty of time! Although I’m sure I won’t be saying that, come October!

Mid Year Review :D

While I’m killing more time in an airport…

I figured I’d sum up my experience at the ABAI 2016 Convention.

Convention is the right word, it’s much bigger than a conference! I took away so much, met so many people, had some new ideas, and came to the general conclusion that, while ABA is more used and understood in the US, people working in the field can still face the same difficulties we do in Australia – misunderstanding/misrepresentation, lack of funding, lack of collaboration and teamwork. On the whole, it is most likely more accepted, and used in the a States, but in a sad sort of way, that was nice to hear.
On the other hand, there were a few things that stood out to me that seemed a bit backwards, but I can possibly try to understand them. One in particular was the talk on fads and fallacies in autism intervention – what to watch out for. I would have thought that any good, qualified BCBA, would be aware of how to think critically about the latest “cures” for autism intervention, but apparently not. This kind of ties into when I was discussing with my supervisor the pass rates for the BCBA exam, and how people who fail, multiple times, can keep re-sitting it. Firstly, universities advertising their courses as “75% pass rate” is not actually that encouraging! (And I think that’s pretty average!) But I know the higher education system is a little different over here, so I can understand why that is important to people. (For the record, I plan on sitting the exam only once, and passing first go. 😳) There also seemed to be a lot of people discussing the notion of collaboration, teamwork, and working with the families. This is completely opposite of what we (try) to do in Australia. I think the systems here traditionally have been set up very differently.

It was good to catch up with, and meet a few Aussies. I like the fact there are other individuals in Australia, willing to travel half way round the world for a convention, to learn a little bit more about what is happening in the world of ABA. I like like-minded, committed professionals. (It doesn’t hurt that you can turn it into a holiday at the same time 😊)

It was also great to be able to share some work that I am doing in little old Sydney, with people from all over the world. I feel like this was a nice introduction, but it made me think a bit more about where my specific research interests lie (hint – it’s not activity schedules!) So this convention has been good because it has given me a bit more specific direction. Watch this space… 🎓

On the whole, I’m very glad I came! I heard so many great presentations, and had some good chats. I probably won’t be back for another few years, but do plan to go to the Interbational conference in Paris at the end of next year. And of course, the inaugural Australian ABA Conference, in Melbourne, September this year.

While I’m killing more time in an airport…