How do we get from A to B?

Just a short blog post, but this is something I have been having many discussions with lots of different people – both colleagues, and families – over the past few weeks.

I recently delivered a workshop on reading assessment, so that sparked my thoughts on the matter, but in general, this is something that I believe is absolutely essential in any program.

Assessment. In general, not specific assessments, or Naplan testing, or those “bigger picture” thoughts about assessment, but just the idea of assessing where you are at, before beginning a program.

It seems like common sense, you need to do some sort of assessment before knowing where to begin, or what you are going to do, but more often than not, I come across professionals, in different areas, who have no done no assessment (either at the beginning of a service, or throughout), or sometimes cannot even clearly share goals that they are working towards.

I often wonder why some professionals who are involved with families I am working with do not have any form of initial assessment, goals, or review assessment.

As I said, it seems fairly straight forward to think a) you need to know the current level of skills of the individual and b) you need to know where you are planning to get to and create goals. It helps guide what you are doing, it gives you direction. (Perhaps B is forgotten because there are no goals… again, happens more often that I would hope.)

Why is this the case?

Are these professionals not informed about assessment and how to use it effectively in their study? Is it not part of their ongoing professional development?

I have come across some professionals who have extensive experience in assessment, but don’t seem to do much with it. I also have come across some professionals who don’t seem to think it is essential to assess, and rather just get straight in and start implementing…

Both those points confuse me. I don’t see the point in just doing an assessment for the sake of it. It needs to have more purpose (planning, overview of skills, comparison etc), otherwise, why spend time doing it? And then just not doing it at all… how are you meant to know if what you are doing is working? Helping? Effective?

For me, when working with different people in different capacities, I ensure I always have a timeline for the program or service. Starting with an initial assessment, goal setting/skills teaching, and a review component with a report, after a certain period of time.

Up until that period of time, there is ongoing data collection and monitoring (daily/weekly), because the time between the initial assessment and report, and the review, could be up to ten weeks, and you don’t want to be doing something that isn’t working, for ten weeks.

I like to share this concept, with not only the family I am working with, but other professionals too. I have had one person say that it was helpful for her to see how I collected data, created goals and planned using my assessment. I’m not sure if she took on board some of the things I shared, for other clients of hers, but she was interested when we were working together.

I also find sharing this idea of assessment, planning, ongoing monitoring and reviewing, with families, is beneficial. Particularly in early intervention. A lot of parents sign up for services because other parents suggested it, or they were advised (as part of a generic list) during the assessment to try particular services. I try to stress the importance to parents to ask specific questions, ask for reviews, ask for reports. Hopefully they take the information with them and are slightly more critical when accessing services.

I’m not sure if this is restricted to services and professionals in Australia, and not necessarily the case in other parts of the world, but it would be interesting to hear people’s thoughts.

How do we get from A to B?

Around the world with 80 Behaviour Analysts …

Part 1, Hawaii!

Although that would be quite cool to travel the world, chatting to behaviour analysts and seeing how they work in different parts of the world, I’m not quite sure how manageable that would be. So I’ll start with a short meeting in Hawaii.

I recently spent a few nights in Hawaii, celebrating some milestone birthdays with friends, but because I can’t seem to be able to sit still, I organised to catch up with Behavior Babe – Amanda Kelly!


We chatted over dinner about the way funding is organised in the US vs Australia (and the differences between the states within the US) and just in general about the quality of programs and educational opportunities for Behaviour Analysis at universities and colleges.

It was great to catch up and just gain another perspective on ABA and the whole behaviour certification thing I have been aiming towards for many years.

And I have since come back very motivated and refreshed, and ready to keep going!

So thank you Amanda for meeting with me, and I will hopefully see you again, on future trips to Hawaii … potentially for conferences 😀

Around the world with 80 Behaviour Analysts …

Where do I begin?

The entire development and creation of ‘Great Start Educational Services’ has been a long time coming. It has something that has been at the back of my mind for many, many years. I kept a journal through everything I have done to help remind myself of what I want to do, and how to get there, and even though I still have a way to go, I know I am on the right track.

I honestly love what I do. I know I am very lucky to be in a job where I do love doing everything I do. I love the concepts, and the ideas of behaviourism. I love how I can look at any situation and know that I have a variety of tools and strategies at my disposal to use. I love working with passionate, like-minded people. I love learning new things, and finding out new things, and attending conferences, reading research, even just having conversations with people about a range of different topics that I am passionate about.

But I guess the main thing I love the most about my job, and what I thought would be a most appropriate first ‘official’ blog post, would be the families that I have worked with over the years.

I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to be a part of so many different families lives, and to help support them through different (and most often difficult) stages of their lives. I have worked with some amazing kids, and even more amazing Mums, Dads, siblings, Grandparents, teachers, Speechies, OT’s psychs, Pediatricians … the list goes on!

I love being able to be there for a family when they are unsure what to do, or how to tackle something. I love being able to teach new skills to kids, and see them get it, when it finally clicks!

This feeling is the same for all the kids and families I know. From the very first kids I worked with many, many years ago, up until all the families and kids I still meet today. Knowing them, and being a part of their lives in some way, shape, or form, has definitely shaped me into not only the person I am in my working life today, but the person I am in general.

So thank-you! I feel so lucky to know all of you 🙂

My aim for this blog is to be a (hopefully!) regular blog where I can post things I have found, different teaching ideas, interesting information, to help spread the word and share information about behaviourism.

Where do I begin?