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

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!

Welcome 2016!

Welcome to 2016! It’s already here, and I thought I should start the year off by listing some goals to keep me going for the year.

There have been lots of changes already, with the name change, and focus on services, so goals will help keep me on track. I have reminders in my calendar to help me check in as I go.

This is a good way to think about what I want to achieve over the year!

Goals for 2016

1. Obtain my Behaviour qualification.

By the end of June 2016, I will have completed two more subjects through Florida Institute of Institute.

By the end of June 2016, I will have completed my 50 supervised hours of experience.

By the end of August 2016, I will have sat the required exam, and eagerly be awaiting my results!

2. Become a registered provider under NDIS services.

By the end of December 2016, Great Start Behaviour Services will be registered through the NDIS to provide at least one service support.

3. Attend and participate in at least two ABA conferences.

By the end of December 2016, I will have attended two different ABA based conferences, and participated either by: presenting a poster, presenting a paper, or asking a question, at each conference.

4. Continue on with my supervision through my BCBA Supervisor.

By the end of December 2016, I will have completed the required 75 hours of supervision for my behaviour qualification, as well as the 1500 hours required field work experience.

5. Continue to read at least two journal articles a month, in the field of ABA, but not specifically Autism related.

By the end of December 2016, I will read at least two journal articles a month, and comment about each article on Twitter.

By February 2016, I will subscribe to JABA, to find relevant articles.

6. Continue to disseminate information about ABA, to non-behaviour people.

By the end of December 2016, I will have presented at least two workshops for people interested in learning about behaviour.

By the end of December 2016, I will have shared at least 12 posts about ABA on GSBS Facebook page.

By the end of December 2016, I will have used the hashtag #EverydayABA, at least twelve times, to promote and inform how behaviour occurs in our daily lives.

7. Attend and participate in online ABA chats.

By the end of December 2016, I will have attended at least two online chats, and made at last 5 comments on Twitter.

8. Volunteer my time to at least two different organisations (not necessarily ABA/behaviour).

By the end of December 2016, I will have volunteered with two different organisations, including at least 10 hours a month, towards these organisations.

By the end of January 2016, I will volunteer with at least one organisation. (A Global Voice for Autism).

By the end of June 2016, I will have volunteered with at least two organisations. (As above, and The Pyjama Foundation or The Association for Science in Autism Treatment).

9. Provide services to more clients in Sydney/Central Coast.

By the end of December 2016, I will have provided services through GSBS, to at least five new clients.

10. Meet new behaviour analyst people!

By the end of December 2016, I will have met and discussed behaviour analytical discussions, with at least 3 behaviour analysts, around the world 😉

So lots to do there. 10 goals, with a few sub goals. I believe they’re achievable. Especially if I am checking in frequently. And a nice, well rounded set of goals too.

2016 is shaping up to be a very great year!

Welcome 2016!

As 2015 is coming to a close…

I thought I’d better review my goals for 2015. In hindsight, my goals really weren’t that great! However, this has helped with creating my goals for 2016, which I will post sometime next week.

1. Continue with at least one more subject towards my behaviour coursework.

I didn’t get around to this, but should be registering for my next subject early January, which I am very excited about!

2. Get back into supervision for my behaviour certification.

Yay! I did this! And I’m at 30/50 (75) supervised hours!

3. Attend at least 1 conference in 2015.

I did attend the MultiLit 20th Anniversary Conference, which was really great me inspiring.

4. Read and review 1 article every two months.

I didn’t review any articles and share, and actually there have been a few I wanted to read recently, but I can’t access them. (Which is why one of my 2016 goals is going to be “buy a subscription to JABA!”)

5. Read an article or book about a different application of ABA, and write a review and summary.

My goodness, these goals are not very clear! Nonetheless, I did post a few of these in 2015, including one recently.

6. Make comments in ABA chats and groups on social media at least twice in 2015.

Again, not very specific, but I did participate earlier in the year. I’ll make a note of chats coming up for 2016.

Overall, I think I have learned a lot this year. Som unexpected changes, have made me re-imagine the future, but ultimately, it will be better for me, and I can focus all of my energy and attention for work, into GSBS.

I’m very thankful to have such wonderfully supportive people around me, but professionally, and personally, who help me keep GSBS going. I am sure 2016 will be a very exciting year!

As 2015 is coming to a close…

The Scientist.

That’s me. Really, truly, I am a scientist. 

Well, OK, I may not be fully there, and do everything as scientifically as a real scientist, but Applied Behaviour Analysis is a science. I almost don’t think about it in this way, because I think of myself as a teacher, first and foremost. Plus, I have actual scientist friends, and I don’t know or understand as much about the scientific process as them, but I do get what they are talking about… sometimes 🙂 

I also figured this was a timely blog post to upload because I recently listened to a very interesting blog post which I initially was all defensive about, however after re-reading this post, I feel I can rationally think about what I listened to, and help me understand what I do, even more so.

Anyway, in ‘the bible’ / the white book / seriously, one of my most referred to books ever – Applied Behaviour Analysis Second Edition, the Attitudes of Science is the first thing, in the first chapter – even before the characteristics of ABA! 

 Attitudes of Science – particularly according to Behaviour Analysts 🙂

  1. Determinism
  2. Empiricism
  3. Experimentation
  4. Replication
  5. Parsimony
  6. Philosophic Doubt

Similar to my blog about the 7 Dimensions of ABA, I figured this could be a little review/study session for me 🙂 

1. Determinism 

 “The assumption that the universe is a lawful and orderly place in which phenomena occur in relation to other events and not in a willy-nilly, accidental fashion.” Cooper, J., Heron, E., & Heward, W. (2007). 

I like this because it fits well with my personality, and how I like things ordered and structured. It also helps make understanding the A,B,C’s of behaviour, and the ideas behind reinforcement, easier 🙂 (Although, I don’t really know how scientific ‘willy-nilly’ is, but the white book hasn’t steered me wrong yet 😛 ) 

2. Empiricism 

“The objective observation of the phenomena of interest; objective observations are ‘independent of the individual prejudices, tastes and private opinions of the scientist… Results of empirical methods are objective in that they are open to anyone’s observation and do not depend on the subjective belief of the individual scientist. (Zuriff, 1985.)'” Cooper, J., Heron, E., & Heward, W. (2007). 

I don’t know if I am being naive, or I am really only sticking to good sources, but I feel that most of the research I read and come across is very objective, and people’s personal beliefs are set aside. I wonder if I am not seeing it completely though, in particular, a lot of the anti-ABA people, or anti-Phonics people, but I understand the basics of reading and interpreting research, and I can see the overwhelming evidence for both ABA and phonics. I think sometimes some people (myself included) can just get very worked up when people ignore the evidence. I get it can be extremely frustrating! 

3. Experimentation 

“The process of a carefully controlled comparison of some measure of the phenomenon of interest (the dependent variable) under two or more different conditions in which only one factor at a time (the independent variable) differs from one condition to another.” Cooper, J., Heron, E., & Heward, W. (2007). 

When I first started doing much further study into ABA, I realised this was definitely a weakness of mine. I am not in a lab, and therefore have no strict ability to conduct experiments – ABAB, ABA, BAB… and all the other experimental designs 😉

While I still feel this is a weakness, and there is a whole other blog post in here about the translation of science to practice, I realised I was inadvertently ‘conducting’ experiments in actual sessions with kids, just not in the strictly scientific method. I would take baseline data on a behaviour, implement a plan (including antecedent changes, replacement behaviour, reinforcement and response strategies) and monitor through data collection, to see if there was a change in behaviour. It wasn’t as tightly controlled as it could be, but I feel I use a variation of this process all the time, to ensure that I am on track with programs and behaviour change. 

 4. Replication

“Repeating whole experiments to determine the generality of findings of previous experiments to other subjects.” Cooper, J., Heron, E., & Heward, W. (2007). 

I like this part of the attitudes of science. I like to think that if there are multiple people out there, in all different parts of the world, able to replicate the same thing, and end up with the same results, the better chance it is of being successful. 

5. Parsimony 

“The practice of ruling out simple, logical explanations, experimentally or conceptually, before considering more complex or abstract explanations.” Cooper, J., Heron, E., & Heward, W. (2007). 

I love this attitude. I think I need to be a bit more methodical about this process. It needs a bit more practice, and I think will tie in nicely with my “think before you speak” part. 

6. Philosophic Doubt 

“An attitude that the truthfulness and validity of all scientific knowledge should be continually questioned.” Cooper, J., Heron, E., & Heward, W. (2007). 

This is probably my favourite attitude of science. I think it is extremely important as it is making us continually question that what we are doing is working. I think it is extremely important to continually question, read more, speak to different people, experience different things, and avoid resting on your laurels. I hope I always have this inquisitive mind, and I know I am actively trying to ensure I keep this up, by surrounding myself with good people who will encourage this, and motivate me, and being open to new experiences and learning new things. 

I really should try and remember these explicitly (I’m sure they will come up on the BACB exam… eventually… when I get around to it!) but I feel, overall, I tend to consider these throughout my work and life, inadvertently. I think a do a lot of things inadvertently! 

I also stumbled across this awesome resource on twitter – How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists by Jennifer Raff. I think this would be helpful for teachers who are just starting out, or teachers who may have forgotten all the research reading they did at uni… or anyone interested in thinking more critically.


References

Cooper, J., Heron, E., & Heward, W. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis 2nd Edition. 

How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists by Jennifer Raff.

The Scientist.

Keeping up-to-date!

There is a lot of information to take in, particularly in regards to Autism and theories about development and potential new treatment methods. I have found a few sources from the internet that have been particularly informative, and can at least point me in the right direction.

Keep in mind, my main area of interest are people providing information about Applied Behaviour Analysis and Verbal Behaviour, but these sources can link me to other areas as well.

So below, are a selection of resources I go to, when wanting to find out the latest information, or just clarify terminology.

Tricia-Lee Keller (BehaviourAtPlay)

Tricia is really great at providing everyday examples of ABA terms. Recently, she was studying for the BCBA exam via Twitter, providing handy study tips in 140 characters or less! Congrats on passing!

Dr. Amanda Kelly (Behavior Babe)

Hailing from the land of sunshine and aloha! Dr.Amanda Kelly again provides clear-cut explanations of ABA terms for everyone. I often refer to her website when explaining terms and concepts to families. Also great to see her passion for supporting families in trying to get insurance for families receiving ABA services. It was great to catch up with her last month.

Emily Wormald

Emily always asks some good questions on twitter in regards to ABA, and provides links to interesting articles, resources and some cute animals when the weekend comes around.

ABA International

This is my go to source for a) up coming conferences and b) a wealth of information about all the different applications of ABA

The Conversation – Education

Very thought-provoking discussions related to education in Australia. Lots of points of view, and the comments are usually good to get a few different sides and opinions.

Autism Advisory and Support Service

This place always has useful information for families in Sydney who are looking for services and support.

Association for Science in Autism Treatment

This is a great go-to website for the latest information about science and evidence based treatments

Raising Children Network

I think this website is a fantastic resource. Not just for Autism information, but any information about raising a child. The specific Autism section actually provides details about the differnent types of treatments, evidence behind treatments, cost and time involved. I always point newly diagnosed families in the direction of this website.

Mark Sundberg

When I want to get information about Verbal Behaviour, I always visit Mark Sundberg’s website to see some of his uploaded presentations.

The Project

I feel that this show is like BTN (Behind the News) for young adults. I remember having to watch BTN in primary school and hating it, having to write articles about it afterwards, but I find this show really great to watch, just to get general information about what is happening in the world. Occasionally there are segments that are particularly relevant to my interests, but on the whole, it usually has some good pieces.

Autism Spectrum Australia – Positive Behaviour Support

This website contains more *free* resources to help with creating an individual behaviour support plan for people on the Autism Spectrum. There are how-to guides fr filling in, and checklists for parents about Positive Behaviour Support services.

MultiLit

I mainly use this website when I need to figure out what workshops I am presenting! But it provides some information about literacy interventions, as well as information about where to find further research and references.

Musec Briefings

These are short, 1-page summaries on a current topic of interest in the special education world. The researchers look at the research available, and summarise it, and the provide a ‘verdict’ on whether or not it is recommended to be implemented.

These are just a few of my preferred sources of information. I find Twitter and Facebook are great places to connect with people and have discussions about a whole range of different topics.

Keeping up-to-date!

The 7 Dimensions of ABA

This is one of the first things I came across in my more formal study of ABA, however I didn’t really pay too much attention until I did a little bit more further study for my BCBA.

The entire article is from quite a while ago, and is cited at the bottom of this article, however I have found this link to be quite useful in surmising the information.

In this blog today, I just want to discuss a little bit about each dimension and why I feel it is important in the work that I do. I think this is particularly relevant, and good timing for me to revise, as I am aiming to complete another subject towards my BCBA next month.

Study tip # 1 – I use the mnemonic ‘GET A CAB’ to label the 7 items 😀

Applied – the work we do, needs to be of socially, significant importance. That is, it needs to be relevant to the individual and make a change that will impact and make their life, and the people surrounding them lives, better. This is were person centered planning, family centered planning, quality of life, and individualised programs come into play. Not to mention, ideas related to inclusion and accessing the local community, and in Australia, the NDIS, having an effect. It is a nice aspect of ABA, and provides the underpinning for meaningful services and interventions.

Behavioural – we are concerned with the observable. All behaviour is observable and measurable (until we get to private events, which I am not even going to begin to try and understand on here)! However, if we have clear, objective, observable and measurable behaviour, we can collect meaningful data, create interventions and test to see whether those interventions make a difference, and prove the effectiveness of what we have done.

Analytical – this is the part I feel I have the least experience in. I think, indirectly, I can be quite analytical in the work I do, however, I often struggle to have the time, or correct guidance to implement potential treatment plans and validate their analytical value. It requires manipulating antecedents and consequences to bring about (or decrease) a particular behaviour. I think I do a lot of the manipulating to decrease and then once the behaviour is decreased, we are all pretty happy so it is all good, however I wonder if we were able to control and manipulate further, and produce some sort of experimental design, we may gather further information about the behaviour and what is mantaining it over longer periods of time? Anyway … food for thought for another day.

Generality – this is such an important dimension. What is the point of doing what we do, if it only works in one place? Or with one person? Or with one material? Or only at a certain time of day? We need to ensure that was we do in one particular set up, can be generalised and maintained to another environment, person, object etc. This is definitely an area where I find it is often very hard to generalise and replicate educational based research and interventions from research, to classroom practice. I don’t really have any great ideas for how to go about making this easier, I just want it to be easier 🙂

Conceptual – This dimension focuses on the need for techniques and interventions being related to some sort of theoretical base, and with applied behaviour analysis, that is definitely the case with a lot of the strategies used. In regards to the way this is used in ABA, it makes for more meaningful and effective interventions – they are not just being pulled out of nowhere, there is already some semblance of reasoning there.

Technological – this notion is similar to generality, in the sense of we want things to be expanded on, however it directly relates to specific components of ABA being replicable, particularly with research. If what you have done, has worked so well, then I should be able to a) understand how you did it, through your extremely detailed research and b) replicate your study and achieve similar results. This is something I hope to be able to do one day soon, and I apologise to all those poster presenters at conferences, whom I judged harshly and thought “Pft, I already knew that, do something new!” But this is an important aspect as it builds on research already about there, and provides first time researchers, a starting point 😛

Effective – save the best for last! Of course, why would we do all this, if it wasn’t effective. We constantly take data on what we are doing, and this is something I have stressed to many people I have worked with over the years, so we can see if what we are doing, is working. And if it is not working, then we can review and see what we need to change, and where, so that we can ensure we are not spending time, money and resources on something that is not working. Although, by using strategies and techniques with many, many years research behind them, we should hopefully be on the right track to start with … but as it will be evidenced in my soon to come science post, we need to constantly be checking in on ourselves and evaluating what we are doing.

This was actually a really good refresher for getting back into study!


 

References

Cooper, J., Heron, E., & Heward, W. (2007). Applied Behaviour Analysis Second Edition

Baer, D.M., Wolf, M.M., & Risley, T.R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 91-97.

Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan – Seven Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis

The 7 Dimensions of ABA