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 🙂

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.


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.


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.


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 😀


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.

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

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.

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.

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!