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!

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Mid Year Review :D

Checking in!

I can’t believe it is already April! 3 months in to 2016, and where are we?

Well, somewhere I thought I’d be, but also didn’t think I’d be. As of this week, I am dedicating 100% of my working time to GSBS! A bit of a daunting task, but an exciting one, and the timing could not have been better.

I thought I’d start with checking in with my goals. I had a reminder come up on my phone (visual prompts :D) so I figured I’d better do this today.

goals review

So I’m a few days late with posting this, but things have been so busy! This is in relation to the goals I developed at the beginning of the year.

1. Obtain my Behaviour qualification.

I am registering for the next subject at FIT next week, so I’m moving towards it!

2. Become a registered provider under NDIS services.

I have one more piece to add to more registration before I send it off, and we will see how we go. I aim to do this by the end of April. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be registered, but I’ll be on my way.

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

I’m headed to the ABAI Conference in Chicago in May, and am planning to go to the AABA conference in Melbourne in September!

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

I’m currently a little more than halfway (42 hours of out 75 hours)!

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

I haven’t really been up to date with this. I have been reading the articles, but not commenting on them.

I did subscribe to JABA though, and am starting a journal club, so I will aim to comment on one this month, on Twitter/Facebook.

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

While I haven’t done any workshops specifically related to this. I have managed to explain the idea that ABA is much more than teaching children with autism, in intensive home programs, at two of the workshops I have done this year.

7. Attend and participate in online ABA chats.

I haven’t participated in an online ABA chats. There is a journal club with Hawaii Association for Behavior Analysis, but I think it is on at a bad time for me with the time difference!

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

I may have to revisit this goal, as I am finding myself very busy. I have been volunteering with A Global Voice for Autism since October 2015, and am continuing to do so.

I want to do the Association for Science in Autism Treatment Externship Program, but I don’t think I have time for it this year.

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

Well this one is almost done! I am providing services to 4 new clients. I am pretty sure I will be adding 1 more shortly!

10. Meet new behaviour analyst people!

Not yet, but hopefully when I am in Chicago, I will be able to meet up with a few people!

So, I think I’m doing pretty well. I have a bit more time now to ensure I am able to do all the things I want to do, and spend time doing these things.

Having the specific goals makes it much easier to track my progress! I should really be graphing my progress as well 😛

 

Checking in!

2016 is almost here!

changes-2016

And with it, brings lots of (positive) changes!

For the past few months, I have been trying to figure out what I want to do with Great Start Educational Services. Do I want to provide services for more families? Do I want to focus on dissemination and training? There are so many things I want to do, and I just have to slow down, take my time, and eventually, I’ll get to where I want to be 🙂

The first change is – the name! I have had this “Great Start” idea pretty much ever since I started working in this field. I originally chose “education” because I am a teacher, and it encompasses the learning part (I hope!), however, since I am now firmly in the behaviour analysis camp, I’ve decided to change it to “Great Start Behaviour Services”. This will also work nicely with the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the range of supports they provide. I am currently having my logo “re-jigged” (I’m keeping it identical, just changing ‘education’ to ‘behaviour’ – I love the design :D)

The second change is in relation to services. I currently have a part time job with another organisation. I then spend my time on the other three days of the week, plus most evenings, doing work related to Great Start. I love it, and enjoy it, and am happy to do it, however I am starting to feel exhausted. I know towards the end of the year, that is more likely to happen anyway.

So I am starting to figure out how I can make the very slow transition into working wholly within Great Start. It is exciting, and scary, but I think it will ultimately be where I end up. I’m very happy about this because I can focus on providing services exactly how I want to – incorporating what I know has worked for me in the past, and find new, and innovative ways to share information about evidence-based interventions, with families. I also am developing a strong network of peers I can continue to learn from as I go out on my own, and will continue to work with my fantastic BCBA-D supervisor, who is helping me with many opportunities 🙂

I also was finally able to submit my registration! It was extremely difficult using a Mac, which hopefully they will rectify soon, but, it’s done! I’m on my way to being able to provide services under the NDIS.

NDIS submission

Those are pretty much all the changes 😀 Not many, just huge! I am currently also working on a comprehensive goals list for 2016. This one will be much more specific and detailed, and I will have a lot more opportunity for goals related to Great Start, particularly if I am going to be devoting 100% of my working time to it!

So, watch this space! The NDIS is rolling out in more areas in Sydney in mid 2016, so hopefully families will start meeting with planners, and possibly even receiving funding packages by the end of 2016!

_____________________________________________________

References

The National Disability Insurance Scheme

2016 is almost here!

Checking in.

Seeing as it is now NOVEMBER (!) I thought I would check in with what my revised goals were for 2015.

1. Continue with at least one more subject towards my behaviour coursework.

Unfortunately, this did not happen 😦 However, I am registering for my next subject to start in January 2016, so that is a positive!

2. Attend at least 1 conference in 2015.

This weekend I am actually attending a MultiLit conference, celebrating 20 years, so that should be quite good, and interesting!

3. Read and review 1 article every two months.

I have read a few articles over the pas few months, and actually reviewed a few for my supervision sessions. Other articles, I didn’t specifically review, but I did discuss them with different people!

4. Read an article or book about a different application of ABA, and write a review and summary.

This one is a little trickier. I have read a few books about Autism, and not necessarily ABA. I might have to be on the lookout for other books.

5. Make comments in ABA chats and groups on social media at least twice in 2015.

If I’m going to get quite technical, I think I did this earlier in the year 😀 but I should make a note of when the next chats are scheduled to run.

I think aside from the goals, I have continued to develop my knowledge and understanding around ABA. I am signed up to attend a Community of Practice Meeting with the NSW Behavioural Insights Team in December. I am also working on a research poster to present at the ABAI Conference in Chicago next May. I also am working towards developing workshops and training about behaviour to deliver to families and professionals, both in person and in online. But I will elaborate on my future plans shortly 🙂

I think I also need to start working on my 2016 goals, because they will be very different, and a lot more explicit, to help me really focus my aim for 2016. Lots of changes coming up too 😀

Checking in.

Slight change of plans…

This probably isn’t the best time to make decisions (when you are exhausted, and a little bit tipsy on the delicious Marlborough Sav Blanc available freely in the Qantas lounge), but it is something I have been considering for a while.

For the past three years, I have been working towards a behaviour qualification. I obtained my Masters in Special Education in 2010, and have always been interested in obtaining the Masters equivalent behaviour certification, as I believe it will equip me with valuable skills for the work I do.

I have been “completing” this certification for the past 3 years, however I’m not in any rush. I guess because it isn’t actually required for me to do my job here. I am fortunate that the skills and qualifications I have already acquired have allowed me to do this. As I said, I believe it will just be an additional level of qualification, and at the very least, encourage me to keep up to date with what is current in the world of ABA.

However I am at a point where I want to continue to have a good work like balance, yet also continue to develop professionally. I guess the reason I originally started working towards my this level certification was partially because I already have my Masters, and I was potentially going to be working overseas, however that is definitely not happening anytime soon (puppy!).

I also think the fact that I can work towards the Masters-level certification later down the track as well, makes this is a bit of an easier decision.

So I have kind of decided to obtain my Bachelors behaviour certification for now (most likely by June 2016). I’m pretty happy with this decision, and it has felt like a weight has lifted off my shoulders, just thinking about it.

It will mean less study that I need to complete, less supervision hours, and less of an exam that I need to take. Not that I don’t enjoy doing those things, but I also enjoy, not doing those things 😀

I also feel that in my current role/s I am able to keep up to date with current practices and research, and am learning a lot, and improving my skills every week, so not necessarily obtaining a Masters-level qualification at this point in time, isn’t necessarily going to be detrimental.

It also ties in with the fact that within Australia, there are still less than 50 people who have either certification, so it would still be a rare qualification to obtain, but one which I believe will be extremely valuable in the future.

I also need to keep reminding myself that obtaining the Bachelors-level is still an effort! And a lot of work, just not as much work as the Masters-level certification.

I also feel as though I will be able to do everything I want to do with GSES in the future, with the Bachelors-level certification, at this point in time too, so that is helpful.

So these are my random Friday musings 🙂

Slight change of plans…

It’s already July…

Half the year is gone! I can’t believe how quickly it has gone. So much has happened, and things have recently gotten busier, so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my goals from the beginning of the year, and see how I’m going.

Despite my insistence of having clear and specific goals for programs I’m working on, I usually hesitate to set goals for myself, because I don’t like the feeling of not accomplishing them 😀 I know, I know, practice what you preach. So I came up with some reasonably achievable goals, and thought I should check in with myself, and see what I have accomplished, what I still need to do, and find ways to make the remaining goals happen.

1. Continue with at least one more subject towards my behaviour coursework.

Not yet, but I plan to start up again in the last quarter of the year, in October, so I’ll see how I go 🙂

2. Get back into supervision for my behaviour certification.

Done! I started this up a couple of weeks ago 🙂 It is going really well so far, and I am enjoying it. I probably need to set goals for my supervision too, and I have a few ideas for things in 2016.

3. Attend at least 2 conferences.

So far, I have attended 0 conferences this year 😦 There are actually quite a few I can go to, and are interested in, but other things got in the way. I feel I should make this 1 conference in 2015 now, and there are a few coming up I’m interested in, but I really don’t think I will be able to attend 2 this year.

4. Read at least 2 research articles a month on ABA technology.

While I don’t think I have read 2 articles a month, I am sure I have read at least 5 articles this year (maybe more.) However, I don’t have anything specific that is jumping out. I am thinking I should change this goal to read and review 1 article every two months.

5.  Learn about a different application of ABA (i.e. not related to Autism).

This is not a very clear goal. It is quite vague, and I realised none of my goals are very specific. This is actually a very poor example of the types of goals I should be writing! I think I need to change this to read an article or book about a different application of ABA, and write a review and summary.

6. Collaborate with other behaviour analysts and disseminate information about ABA.

Again, this is a very ambiguous goal. Collaborate could be interpreted in multiple different ways. I think I will change this goal to make comments in ABA chats and groups on social media at least twice in 2015.

That was actually quite helpful, and I think I have made things clearer in my mind.

So my new (revised) goals for the last half of 2015 are:

1. Continue with at least one more subject towards my behaviour coursework.

2. Attend at least 1 conference in 2015.

3. Read and review 1 article every two months.

4. Read an article or book about a different application of ABA, and write a review and summary.

5. Make comments in ABA chats and groups on social media at least twice in 2015.

I guess the next step is to figure out how those will be achieved i.e. pick a book to review, find some articles to review, figure out which conference I can go to, and find some groups to comment on 🙂

It’s already July…

Short and successful.

Despite the title, this is actually going to be a relatively long blog post!

I was thinking about the way I wanted to approach this blog, and as with everything I do, I’m sure it will change over time, but I thought a good way to go was to link a lesson/concept learned during my work, with a story as an example. And I have lots of stories as examples, so I think I will start with a good thing to remember 🙂

I have been working with children with Autism and their families for many years now, and honestly, I can’t even remember how, or when, I consciously made the decision to head in this direction, but I really didn’t have any idea what I was doing, or what I would end up doing, way back at the beginning of my career.

I remember being not only very new, but very young, and reasonably naive. One of my very first kids I worked with, I was shadowing him for social skills help in the playground at school. He really didn’t want me there, and really didn’t want me in his space, asking him to do things at lunch time that involved a whole bunch of kids he really didn’t want!

I remember before I’d even started with him, all the big goals I had in mind, and a timeline of what I wanted to be doing and when. I am a big planner, I love to plan ahead, and come up with ideas, and work out a way to achieve those ideas. So it kind of makes sense that I have always done that, even in my beginning days.

I had a little support in implementing, but considering I was quite new to the whole idea, not a huge amount of input from the supervisors of his program. The teachers (who were AMAZING at their job and fantastic team teachers) were really great and supportive, and it was such a surreal experience for me, going into a classroom, every week, and getting paid. Previously, I had only been in classrooms on prac, so this was very different.

So I would go in every week, at morning tea and lunch, and when I arrived, my kid would be at the top of the play equipment, spot me and scream, angrily “GO AWAY LAUREN!!!” (he was only kidding … I hope!) But each week, I stayed and we did a whole bunch of activities at morning tea and lunch.

Probably after around 2 terms of this, plus at home ABA therapy after school, I had a more realistic expectation of what we were able to achieve. I knew my kid a whole lot better, I knew the resources and set up of the school a whole lot better, and I had a lot more skills – I learned about ‘Task Analysis’ – the process of breaking a skill into smaller, more manageable steps in order to teach the skill. (Task Analysis)

I learned to adjust my goals and still aim high, but think about smaller, shorter goals to aim to achieve in the meantime – all apart of the bigger ‘end’ goal.

At the end of our time at that school, my kid did actually enjoy being around a few of the other kids and had a lot more skills to use in social situations. I still see him today, and he doesn’t yell at me to go away when he sees me, so I am counting that as a win!

This concept of “Short and successful” is something I am constantly discussing with families today. It can be very hard to ‘break’ down a goal, a particularly big one, say for example, sitting at the table and eating what is on the plate. (I’m pretty sure my parents had that goal for me when I was younger :P)

Sometimes, people can get caught up in the bigger picture and just focus on “He won’t sit down to eat, I have to feed him, he only eats rice!” If our only goal is “sit down and eat what is on the plate” it will probably be very hard to achieve.

If we can set shorter goals, and have smaller aims to achieve, we are actually going to set our kids up for success. In the example of sitting at the table and eating dinner, we could break that down to achieve smaller goals in a few different ways.

We could aim for sitting at the table for a certain period of time, starting small, and building on that success – e.g. using a timer, sitting for 1 minute and eating.

We could aim for eating a certain amount of food at a time, and only have that on the plate – e.g. 5 spoonfuls/bites, or three 1cm x 1cm potato pieces.

We could aim for trying and eating new foods, by putting different foods on the plate to ‘try’ as well as something we know they will eat – e.g. “First try carrot, then you can have chocolate yoghurt!”

With all of those goals, there is a lot of work to do, particularly if we are starting small and setting up our chances of success. We can build on that by reinforcing success, and increasing the goal systematically over time.

If we have goals that are reasonably attainable, and we provide opportunities for our kids to practice those goals, and then we reinforce them for attaining that particular goal, we will be able to teach them new skills, and increase the chance that they will be able to achieve those small goals we have laid out, and be successful. We can then build on the successes, and get to the bigger picture!

For the individual, it is motivating, and builds their self esteem, particularly if they find certain tasks difficult. For the therapist and family, it is also motivating, and you feel successful because you know the little steps that are being taken, are leading to bigger things.

It is something that can be hard to navigate, and it can be difficult to potentially break tasks down as small as possible, but there are some good resources out there to help with this (which I have attached at the end of this post.) Sometimes it helps to sit down and attempt the task yourself to see exactly what is involved in the task.

And like with all the good things I love about behaviour analysis, applying it to real life situations. I use task analysis quite often. In particular, when I have to write reports.

I break down the format of a report, and I set myself goals of what I have to achieve in a certain time frame. I start with the intro and graphs, then I have a break (reinforcement!) Then I do the written analysis of the graphs, then I have another break. This section involves a lot more thinking and writing. Then I do the strategies and recommendations, as well as the summary, and then I am done! I actually get to practice this because I usually have more than one report to write. However, by setting myself smaller, easier goals at first, and achieving those goals, I am more motivated to move onto the next ‘goal’ to achieve.

Of course, I have other things motivating me i.e. I need to get the report completed, but in general, this principle of choosing small goals to be ‘short and successful’ is applicable to many different facets of everyday life – running 5km, losing weight, or saving for a house deposit.

Regardless of what I am applying this technique to, I use it frequently, and love explaining to parents how we can apply it, and see successes, while always reiterating, the bigger goal and the bigger picture, but for us to get there, we do need to start small, in order to be successful.

Resources

Evidence-based practice: Task Analysis

ABA: The Role of Task Analysis and Chaining

Short and successful.