Goal Update – September 2017

goals-2017

Can you believe we are at the end of September already! It will be Christmas before we know it! This month, I am checking in with my goals, to see where I am up to.

  1. Obtain my BCaBA.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have obtained my certification to call myself a BCaBA.
    So after some last minute messing around with applications, and dates, I was able to sit at the end of August, and I received my results the other week! I am very happy to say, that after a very long journey, I have obtained my BCaBA! It is very exciting to finally have this certification. Now, to work towards the BCBA! (I’ve already registered for the next class, starting in a week!)
  2. Maintain Client Case Load
    By the end of December 2017, I will have at least 15 clients.
    Due to some personal changes, and managing my current client case load, I am currently providing services for 10 clients. This is a good amount of day-to-day clients for the time I have, so I am happy with this. I may change the wording of the goal to “no more than 15 day-to-day clients” for my 2018 goal.
  3. Have 75 newsletter subscribers.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have at least 75 people subscribed to my monthly newsletters.
    I have surpassed my goal, and currently have 82 subscribers to my monthly newsletter, with information about what GSBS has been up to, blog posts, and general ABA/Autism/Disability information.
  4. Have 750 “likes” on Facebook.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have 750 ‘likes’ on Facebook.
    Currently reaching 641 people, so getting there!
  5. Have at least 1 poster/presentation at a conference.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have had either a presentation, or a poster, at at least one conference.
    This most likely won’t happen this year 😦 but that’s ok, it’s been a very busy year regardless! I will be attending the ABAA Conference in Sydney, in November, and am currently working with my supervisor to look at presenting some research in 2018, both here, and at the ABAI Conference in San Diego, in May.
  6. Attend at least 2 conferences – 1 ABA, and 1 non-ABA.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have attended at least two conferences – 1 ABA specific, and 1 not ABA specific (Autism, Special Ed etc).
    Registered for the ABAA Conference, and unless I find something local, that is only 1 day, and doesn’t cost the earth, it will most likely be just that one. (Australian conferences are so expensive!)
  7. Participate in 4 journal clubs.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have participated in at least 4 online journal clubs, by responding to at least 3 questions about each article.
    While updating this blog post, it prompted me to get started on my third quarter journal club, so 3/4 so far!
  8. Create fact sheets about common ABA terms/strategies for families, educators etc
    By the end of December 2017, I will have created at least 6 face sheets about common ABA terms/strategies for use by families, therapists, educators etc.
    This is a great goal, but I still haven’t created anything yet! I don’t think I’ll get 6 done (well, 6 good ones done) by the end of the year, but hopefully I can get 1 or 2 done.
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Goal Update – September 2017

Goal Update – June 2017

goals-2017

Halfway through the year… how are things looking? Time to check in and see how /i am doing!

  1. Obtain my BCaBA.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have obtained my certification to call myself a BCaBA.
    I’ve just finished the last subject. Despite some very recent changes from the Board, I have applied for the August testing period, and am waiting to hear back about being able to test! Either way, almost there. I’m also really enjoying the courses, and finding so many new ways to enhance my current programs and plans.
  2. Maintain Client Case Load
    By the end of December 2017, I will have at least 15 clients.
    Still holding strong at 15 clients, an still looking to reduce the load further, with some clients exiting, some moving away, or transitioning to different services.
  3. Have 75 newsletter subscribers.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have at least 75 people subscribed to my monthly newsletters.
    Still at 66 subscribers!
  4. Have 750 “likes” on Facebook.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have 750 ‘likes’ on Facebook.
    Currently reaching 635 people, so getting there!
  5. Have at least 1 poster/presentation at a conference.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have had either a presentation, or a poster, at at least one conference.
    Information about ABAA has come out, so I will be having a think about what I want to put together. I have a few things that are extensions of previous research that I should probably put together. Trying to find time, while planning to study, is a bit tricky! (But I think putting a research project together will be a great way TO study, so… :D)
  6. Attend at least 2 conferences – 1 ABA, and 1 non-ABA.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have attended at least two conferences – 1 ABA specific, and 1 not ABA specific (Autism, Special Ed etc).
    Not sure if I will get there! With the additional study, I may not be able to make it to another conference this year. I will most definitely be able to go to at least 1 ABA specific conference. I’ll have to have a look for something.
  7. Participate in 4 journal clubs.
    By the end of December 2017, I will have participated in at least 4 online journal clubs, by responding to at least 3 questions about each article.
    2 down, 2 to go!
  8. Create fact sheets about common ABA terms/strategies for families, educators etc
    By the end of December 2017, I will have created at least 6 face sheets about common ABA terms/strategies for use by families, therapists, educators etc.
    Haven’t done anything formal. I’ve definitely created individualised ones, but am working on what are the main ideas/pieces of information, that would be handy for people to know, about any clients/students of theirs, who are receiving ABA services.
Goal Update – June 2017

Study Time!

I have recently completed another subject at Florida Institute of Technology in my Graduate Certificate of ABA. So preparing for the final exam involved utilising my knowledge and understanding of ABA principles, to help.

The course involves a lot of video-lecture watching, and reading, so I use the Premack Principle, which is essentially a ‘first / then’.

I would set myself up with the ‘first (less preferred)’ task of watching hours of video lectures, and this would lead to the ‘then (highly preferred task)’ of something reinforcing (usually food, or playing with my puppy) 🙂

I also went a little crazy at Officeworks, purchasing Post It notes of various sizes. I used these to jot down guided notes (of sorts), from the lectures, and from class meeting notes.

Post its

Post It Notes from Office Works in various colours, with study notes on them.

Another of my favourite stores, Kikki K, has a handy A5 study guide sheet, which breaks down the tasks that need to be done, with upcoming assignments, and even a little box, to write in your reinforcer!

All of this study did pay off, as I passed the course! One more to go, before I can sit for my first exam!

If you want to find out more about FIT’s ABA Course, follow the link.

Study Time!

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…

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.

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?