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 Team – 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


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 least 15 clients.
    Still holding strong at 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 at 66 subscribers!
  4. Have 750 “likes” on Facebook.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have 750 ‘likes’ on Facebook.
    Currently 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 receiving 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 🙂

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 fridges 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) 🙂

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 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!

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.

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.

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.

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