ABA in Australia: Diverse and Relevant… The Second Annual ABAA Conference

The 2nd Annual Association for Behaviour Analysis Australia conference happened, the first weekend in November. It was a time to come together, meet old and new colleagues and friends, and most importantly, spend an entire weekend talking about ABA with like-minded people! There is just something about being in a room, with people who love ABA as much as you do šŸ™‚

We had two jam-packed full days, with Dr. Dana Reinecke kicking off Day 1, discussing working with older clients, in particularly, utilising technology to increase independence (a current special interest of mine). Lots of great take-aways, including her mention of Dr. Peter Gerhardt and ‘planning for the next five years’ – which ever life stage you are in.

Dana

Dr. Dana Reinecke discussing utilising technology with students.

We then heard from a range of different presenters, covering topics such as the Association for Science in Autism Treatment’s presence in the media, creative ways to assess PICA (eating non-food substances), and supervision.

PICA

Dr. Tessa Taylor sharing some great information to help with assessing functions of PICA.

We wrapped up the day with a lively speech from Dr. John McEachin and teaching receptive language skills. We also we privileged to hear about Jay Birnbrauer, by his friend and colleague, Dr. Alan Ralph, who shared with us Jay ‘Birnie’ Birnbrauer’s contribution to behaviour analysis, in Australia.

It was a long, but really interesting day, topped off by fantastic discussions with ABA colleagues, long into the night.

Day 2 was off to an extremely interesting and renewed start. We heard from Dr. Johnathan Tarbox, on the Benefits of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Applied Behaviour Analysis, which just blew everyone out of the water. We all seemed to take away something from this session.

Tarbox

Dr. Johnathan Tarbox, sharing his amazing presentation of ACT and ABA.

The day continued with a very interesting presentation, from Dr. Erin Leif, sharing Dr. Greg Henley’s Interview Informed Functional Analyses in Clinic and Home Settings. We heard about teaching social skills to students with autism, as well as some more on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Behaviour Therapists, and wrapped up the final day of the conference with a panel discussion on advocating for services through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

There was so much to take in, and I personally feel like I learned so much. Now, its just about finding the time to synthesise the information, and apply things where needed. I also figured out about 10 different things I wanted to look further into!

It is really great to be able to be a part of a community such as this. I never thought, when I first started this career, over ten years ago, that we would be in a position where we have annual Australian ABA conferences. The field is only growing, and with new opportunities to become a BCBA (through Monash University), the Victorian Department of Education hiring 3 state-wide BCBAs, as well as the Victorian Government providing scholarships for teachers to complete postgraduate study in ABA, we can only continue to expand, from here.

And finally, something that made me smile – applying the principles of ABA, to increase recycling behaviour šŸ˜€

Reduce.jpg

A Behaviour Plan to help everyone increase their recycling behaviour, after the conference!


To find out more about the Association for Behaviour Analysis Australia, visit their webpage, http://www.auaba.com.au.

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ABA in Australia: Diverse and Relevant… The Second Annual ABAA Conference

Goal Update – September 2017

goals-2017

Can you believe we are at the end of September already! It will be Christmas before we know it! This month, I am checking in with my goals, to see where I am up to.

  1. Obtain my BCaBA.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have obtained my certification to call myself a BCaBA.
    So after some last minute messing around with applications, and dates, I wasĀ able to sit at the end of August, and I received my results the other week! I am very happy to say, that after a very long journey, I have obtained my BCaBA! It is very exciting to finally have this certification. Now, to work towards the BCBA! (I’ve already registered for the next class, starting in a week!)
  2. Maintain Client Case Load
    By the end of December 2017, I will have at leastĀ 15 clients.
    Due to some personal changes, and managing my current client case load, I am currently providing services for 10 clients. This is a good amount of day-to-day clients for the time I have, so I am happy with this. I may change the wording of the goal to “no more than 15 day-to-day clients” for my 2018 goal.
  3. Have 75 newsletter subscribers.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have at least 75 people subscribed to my monthly newsletters.
    I have surpassed my goal, and currently have 82 subscribers to my monthly newsletter, with information about what GSBS has been up to, blog posts, and general ABA/Autism/Disability information.
  4. Have 750 “likes” on Facebook.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have 750 ‘likes’ on Facebook.
    CurrentlyĀ reaching 641 people, so getting there!
  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.
    This most likely won’t happen this year šŸ˜¦ but that’s ok, it’s been a very busy year regardless! I will be attending the ABAA Conference in Sydney, in November, and am currently working with my supervisor to look at presenting some research in 2018, both here, and at the ABAI Conference in San Diego, in May.
  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).
    Registered for the ABAA Conference, and unless I find something local, that is only 1 day, and doesn’t cost the earth, it will most likely be just that one. (Australian conferences are so expensive!)
  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.
    While updating this blog post, it prompted me to get started on my third quarter journal club, so 3/4 so far!
  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 a great goal, but I still haven’t created anything yet! I don’t think I’ll get 6 done (well, 6 good ones done) by the end of the year, but hopefully I can get 1 or 2 done.
Goal Update – September 2017

Everyday ABA

Everday ABA

Since I discovered this wonderful thing known as ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis), I have learned so much of what it can do. I was first introduced to it as a therapy for autism, and I had no idea that it was actually a generic science, with much wider applications. It wasn’t until I started my Masters in Special Education, that I understood it better. Moving forward a few more years, and after completing coursework through Florida Institute of Technology’s BCaBA Course Sequence, I have a much better understanding, of how I can apply the principles in my everyday life (see my previous post on sustainability).

I love finding Everyday ABA examples, as it helps me make more sense of the technical terminology. Whether it be when I’m watching TV, or waiting for a plane at the airport, I am always trying to find ways to see the science of ABA in action.

There are a lot of different ways that many people around the world are looking to bring ABA to the wider community.

Why We Do What We Do is a podcast looking at making psychology (and ABA) accessible, to people who aren’t majoring in Psychology!

The Behavioural Insights TeamĀ – based in Sydney, run behavioural trials on health systems, tax revenue, and returning to work.

It is great to see some different applications of ABA, particularly in Australia. It provides a lot more options for future BCBAs to participate in!

Everyday ABA

Goal Update – June 2017

goals-2017

Halfway through the year… how are things looking? Time to check in and see how /i am doing!

  1. Obtain my BCaBA.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have obtained my certification to call myself a BCaBA.
    I’ve just finished the last subject. Despite some very recent changes from the Board, I have applied for the August testing period, and am waiting to hear back about being able to test! Either way, almost there. I’m also really enjoying the courses, and finding so many new ways to enhance my current programs and plans.
  2. Maintain Client Case Load
    By the end of December 2017, I will have at leastĀ 15 clients.
    Still holding strong atĀ 15 clients, an still looking to reduce the load further, with some clients exiting, some moving away, or transitioning to different services.
  3. Have 75 newsletter subscribers.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have at least 75 people subscribed to my monthly newsletters.
    Still atĀ 66 subscribers!
  4. Have 750 “likes” on Facebook.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have 750 ‘likes’ on Facebook.
    CurrentlyĀ reaching 635 people, so getting there!
  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.
    Information about ABAA has come out, so I will be having a think about what I want to put together. I have a few things that are extensions of previous research that I should probably put together. Trying to find time, while planning to study, is a bit tricky! (But I think putting a research project together will be a great way TO study, so… :D)
  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).
    Not sure if I will get there! With the additional study, I may not be able to make it to another conference this year. I will most definitely be able to go to at least 1 ABA specific conference. I’ll have to have a look for something.
  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.
    2 down, 2 to go!
  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.
    Haven’t done anything formal. I’ve definitely created individualised ones, but am working on what are the main ideas/pieces of information, that would be handy for people to know, about any clients/students of theirs, who are receivingĀ ABA services.
Goal Update – June 2017

ABA + Sustainability

Sustainability May blog post

Reducing waste is a personal goal. I’m very conscious of how much I actually waste, and though I have a long way to go, I know I also have come a long way

This year, I have very slowly been becoming more aware of the amount of waste I produce. Rubbish, recycling, food scraps – they all add up. Take-away coffees, plastic water bottles, even brushing my teeth – the packaging the toothbrush and toothpaste come in, and then the containers themselves.

So much waste!

So, as any good behaviour analyst would, I thought about how I could change my behaviour.

Recently I read a post about behaviour analysis in environmental sustainability, and the ever-present issue of climate change, and specifically, how ABA can help. It was a fascinating read, and yet another example, on a wider-level, of how ABA can help “save the world!”

In the meantime, I was thinking about how I could make small changes, that may have longer lasting impacts. Turning off lights and power points when I’m not using them. Using travel coffee mugs and reusable drink bottles. Separating all my recycling.

In regards to not using my car, that would be very difficult. My clients are all over Sydney, and, apart from our public transportation system being completely unreliable, Sydney is so vast, it would not be feasible. However I also recently found some websites that allow you to purchase carbon emissions offsets, and even plant some trees, to somewhat make up for that!

In order to make these changes, I had to take small steps. Nothing too drastic, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t stick with. Staring small, and reminding myself every time I leave a room, or take some rubbish downstairs to the bins. I have about 15 “green” bags in my car that I use when I go to the supermarket! I carry reusable straws in my handbag, so when I’m out and about, I can say “no thanks” to a straw in my drink šŸ™‚

I also had to think of reinforcers. Fortunately, my bright pink kate spade glass water bottle, has been highly reinforcing (and encouraging me to drink more water, which is another benefit).

pink drink
Drink Pink!

The next step is food scraps. Up to 40% of our food is wasted before it even gets to us! And up to 20% of our food is thrown out from our fridgesĀ and cupboards! Although I live in an apartment, with no composting facilities within walking distance (I really don’t want to put compost in my car!), I’m sure there is an apartment solution I just haven’t found yet.

Penrith City Council, in Sydney’s West, provides each home with a small compost bin. Since 2009, they have managed to increase their landfill diversion rate from 21% to 65%, due to their composting and recycling strategies. This is a great example of #EverydayABA and encouraging small behaviour change strategies.

A lot of other Sydney councils follow similar systems, including having a smaller “waste” bin, and bigger “recycling” bins. While it is difficult at first to maintain (any change is scary and different!), over time, it becomes easier. In order to ensure your “waste” bin doesn’t overflow and smell, you figure out what percentage of your waste could actually become recycling material!

3-Bin service - New Logo - Icon size
Three different bins – different sizes, for different waste products.

 

More recently, a new TV show on the ABC, called “War on Waste“, has a lot of people talking, and actively thinking about just how much we waste each day. Hopefully it is ‘planting the seed’, to make people more aware and try to reduce their waste.

We are very lucky to have such beautiful country in Australia. We want to ensure it remains as beautiful, for centuries to come. Sustainability is possible, and it starts with small steps from each of us.

And if you want to start somewhere, “Plastic Free July” may be the way to go! Check out the website for ideas, and sign up to use less plastic, this July.

PS – Remember to ‘set yourself up for success’ – start small, don’t go too big, too soon!

 

ABA + Sustainability

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) šŸ™‚

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.

Study Time!

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 isĀ very relaxed. I think they could definitely pick I was the “Sydney” driver, inĀ 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,Ā 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 šŸ™‚

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

Happy “Let’s Always Appreciate Teachers” Year!