Back to School!

back-to-school

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

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

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

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

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

Be prepared!

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

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Visual Schedule for personal care.

Provide ‘down time’

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

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Run through the sprinkler!

Keep Consistency!

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

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

Back to School!

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

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!

Book Review: The Nurture Effect – Anthony Biglan

 

new biglan

This was one book I was very keen to read. A lot of people had been talking about it online, and it seemed very much in line with the type of book I like to read.

I think it would be good to go back and re-read, maybe in a few months. Overall, it was a good book to read, mainly about society, and the world at large, very much in line with a behaviourist’s thinking. However I did feel it was very specifically aimed more so at American audiences, than anywhere else in the world, and feel like it could have investigated different things, different countries are doing around the world, to help with social issues, such as poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, education, and health.

In saying that, I think it is a text that can very easily be understood by anyone that picks up the book, and relay the principles of applied behaviour analysis, and how we can use those principles to make positive changes in everyday life.

I particularly like how at the end of each chapter, there were points to help explain what the reader could do, at an individual level, at the local community level, and at the national level. These were pretty straightforward, practical ideas, that anyone could do, to help start the change.

I also like how there were a few chapters related to things I am very fond of. Particularly the chapter on Direct Instruction, and how implementing evidence-based practices in classrooms can make a huge difference in children’s lives.

I did also like the part about the Triple P Positive Parenting Program, which has come out of Queensland, Australia. The way it has been delivered and used by families around the country, and the world, is highly impressive. This dissemination of information (effective, evidence-based information) is what we need to focus on and figure out ways to get the correct information across to people, and teach them how to look beyond the initial flashy introduction, and think critically about what information is being presented to them.

Some other parts of the book which fit into this particular theme include the part about families overthrowing the tobacco industry and its advertising campaigns. Very inspiring read, and gave me lots of ideas about pseudo-science and how we could potentially approach it in a more successful way.

I think it is definitely well worth a read, not just for behaviour analysts, but people who are interested in social welfare.

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References

Biglan, A. (2015). The Nurture Effect

 

Book Review: The Nurture Effect – Anthony Biglan

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…