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…

How did I get here?

Occasionally, I stop and think on how I got to what I am doing, and why. I sort of know the origins of my interest in behaviour and ABA, but it really hasn’t been something I can recall from a young age.

I remember doing Ed Psych at uni, (EDUC105!) and learning about all the different developmental theories out there. Skinner’s theory resonated well with me. I am not exactly sure why. I think I liked the positive reinforcement aspect, and I definitely didn’t understand it in its purest, behavioural form just then, but I knew I liked it.

A friend of mine started doing Intensive ABA therapy, and she said she could really see me doing it. I then went on exchange to North Carolina and did an early intervention subject and a literacy in elementary education subject. I actually used my exchange period to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

Anyway, as I said, the two subjects helped me realise what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to do primary teaching, I wanted to do early childhood, but it was too late to change. I remember having a conversation with my Mum on the phone one afternoon saying I didn’t know which path I wanted to take! Literacy or Autism? (/ABA). And this was before I had any experience in either! I have always said, I should have picked one over the other, and while I don’t regret continuing down both paths, it definitely has made things a little more difficult, and perhaps slower than if I had focused on one or the other. But I honestly couldn’t pick one over the other now!

When I got home from my exchange period, I found a family who needed an ABA therapist / school shadow and it was a perfect position for me. I got to be in the classroom with his two teachers, who were amazing at what they did! And I got to practice ABA. This family is one of my families I am still in touch with today 🙂 I am so grateful to have been given that opportunity.

I then also started working on the literacy side of things at the same time, tutoring using specific programs.

Its all funny how it works out. An aside memory I have, which has nothing to do with my choices of study or work, but it was interesting as it was said to me, was when I was working at BBQ Galore (one of my many, many, casual jobs!) A man who was buying a BBQ asked what I was doing (other than working there!) I told him I was studying primary teaching. He sort of laughed it off and said I should do special education. Not necessarily at Macquarie, but anywhere, as there is always a need for more special ed teachers. Obviously, it was a passing comment, and from a teacher, who knew what it was like, but I think its funny that I ended up in this field.

I’m so glad that I did end up in this area. I think innately, I have skills that are beneficial, but I know I have had to develop skills that are crucial for my work. And I’m not even talking technical skills. These are personal skills that allow me to do this work. Empathy, understanding, concern, persistence, perseverance. There is a fine line between being completely empathetic and understanding of a family’s concerns, and being too empathetic which can lead into being condescending. I feel as if I do a good job of “being on the family’s side” without losing professional (ABA) integrity, and being too empathetic. It is difficult to juggle.

I still know I have a lot more to learn. I know I continually will be learning. I am trying to read as much as possible, connect with different people around the world, and definitely continue to study. I am very motivated to work towards my BCBA for 2016. I think it will make things so much more concrete for me, and even now, re-reading things on verbal behaviour, or learning about different applications of ABA, or revisiting operant conditioning, or transfer procedures, or CMO-T’s … 😛 it is all making more sense.

I’m so glad I have figured out what I want to do, and am able to do it. There have been some ups and downs (some pretty down downs), but I am very content where I am now, and where I am headed. I know I am lucky to work in a job I love, and in particular at a place of work that I really enjoy. Not everyone can do that.

It is a very rewarding job, and I know my friends can take it lightly when I tell them I went to the beach for the afternoon with one of my kids, but I know they know how hard I work and that when things are bad, they can be pretty bad. And in that situation, as a family member, its hard to put aside emotion and deal with it. Its hard enough for me to do so, but I know how to work through it. And that comes with experience and practice, and is what I am there to do!

Anyway, I had this originally titled as “Blast from the past” because I was going through old uni folders. I am very embarrased by some of my earlier essays. And astounded at my dedication to study! I used to write up notes for each week’s lectures! And even scan in parts of my textbook! Ahh the early days of uni! Behaviourism – in its earliest form, via me.

I also now have a much clearer purpose of what I want to achieve. Some of it is within Australia, some of it is outside of Australia. I definitely want people to understand what I do, and how what I do can be applied – ABA is not just for kids who have Autism! It’s not even just for educational purposes! I know that there is a big push from a lot of behaviourists who want to do this, and make it more understood. There have been a few social media campaigns recently that have helped with this, in particular, The Skybound Therapy video on a very successful ABA program. But that is all for another blog post another day 🙂

I always like hearing how people ended up in this field. It never seems to be a straight forward, “Oh I wanted to be a behaviour analyst when I was a little kid…”

How did I get here?