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…

Book Review: The Verbal Behavior Approach – Mary Lynch Barbera

 I finally got around to reading this book in 2015 🙂 I’ve had it for about 4 years, but just never picked it up!

While trying to gain inspiration for a journal club I am completing on verbal behaviour (and having no luck with!) I thought, why not read this – it might give me a few more answers!

I have always had an interest in verbal behaviour. I didn’t quite know what it was about, or how it was different from ABA, all I knew was it had something to with creating a ‘voice’ for people (not necessarily a speaking voice – more to do with communication) and it seemed to be presented in a much more ‘fun’ light than the traditional ABA programs I worked on in Australia.

Well, the way the traditional ABA programs were supposed to go, because I always feel I tried to make sessions as fun as possible… most of the time anyway.

What I got from reading this book was, I feel like I was inadvertently (there’s that word again) implementing techniques from a verbal behaviour program when I was working as a young, junior ABA therapist, and then when I progressed and moved into different roles, using the principles and science of ABA.

So basically, I was very impressed with this book, because it resonated well with me, it aligned very much with my beliefs about the work that I do. But mostly, I was impressed with the straight forward-ness of the book. I almost felt like passing it onto a few families I am working with and asking them to read it, but that would probably be quite overwhelming, despite the everyday language used, and practical examples.

The book is written by Dr. Mary Lynch Barbera, a BCBA, who is also the mother of a son with Autism. She became a BCBA after her son was diagnosed and was heavily involved in his program, moving him from a typical, Lovaas style ABA program, to a verbal behaviour program.I like her determinism, and her thoughts about how the differences in each program had their benefits.

The book worked through how you could go about setting up a verbal behaviour program (and got me motivated to create a mind map – using a very cool online mind map program – Popplet) and provided a very straight forward way to teach the different components of a verbal behaviour program.

I found a really clear explanation of the differences between an ABA and a verbal behaviour program. There was also a very clear, and initial description of conducting a functional assessment of behaviour, right at the beginning of the book – very important, you want to know what behaviour you want to replace, so you can know where to start 🙂

I also liked the focus on reinforcement and motivation, and how as a therapist, you basically wanted the child to be running to the table to do ‘therapy’. This is something that really struck a chord with me.

I have had some kids who didn’t care either way, but I have also had some kids who would do anything to avoid coming to the table 😦 I know it wasn’t me, because when I was playing around and being silly, we would have the time of our lives 🙂 but as soon as a demand was put in place, I was seen as something very aversive.

My personal experience with intensive ABA programs in Australia finished around 5 years ago, but I really don’t think things have changed that much. When I was working on those intensive programs, this was definitely not an aim of the program. I wasn’t given much of an opportunity to pair myself with reinforcement, I was basically having to go in and teach.

As a teacher, I completely believe you need to show respect for your students, and gain their trust, and then you can begin to teach – a very similar process to the rapport building and pairing with reinforcement discussed in this book, and as a cornerstone of a verbal behaviour program.

I believe I do this fairly well. Particularly as some of my more recent work involved me going into families homes and doing this within a 2 hour session, in a couple of weeks… very tricky, particularly when you are trying to explain your program, collect baseline data, and gain the parents (and siblings) trust and respect as well. It’s not easy, but it is definitely worth it.

I also took some things immediately away from the book – from teaching different and known item mands to a very beginning 4 year old learner, to how to use echoics and intraverbals, and transfer procedures (which was also one of those things I was already doing without even realising) with a 12 year old with some language, just not a lot of motivation to communicate 😉

I also then went a step further and found this extremely detailed, yet interesting, relevant, and clear explanation of verbal behaviour article, which was much more technically oriented, but consolidated the book. The Verbal Behavior Approach to ABA by Robert Schramm and Regina G. Claypool-Frey.

I recommend the book to anyone who is working within an ABA program already, and definitely anyone interested in applying verbal behavior techniques within a program. I really wish I had read it earlier – it is an easy, and quick read, and it has given me a lot of ideas. I feel a lot more confident with my programming going forward, with this information.


References

Barbera, M. &Rasmussen, T. (2007). The Verbal Behavior Approach: How to Teach Children with Autism and Related Disorders.

Popplet – a website for creating mind-maps

The Verbal Behavior Approach to ABA by Robert Schramm and Regina G. Claypool-Frey.

Book Review: The Verbal Behavior Approach – Mary Lynch Barbera

We’re going on a ‘treasure’ hunt!

One of my favourite children’s books is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, which is fun to read and chant along too. It can be quite interactive too, and kids love the repetition and rhythm. However, this blog post isn’t exactly about the book (although it has given me a good idea for a blog post about some of my favourite children’s books!)

What I actually want to talk about in this blog post is another program that has many potential teaching components within a program. I call it “Treasure Hunt”. Basically, it is like a scavenger hunt, there is a list of items to collect and the child has to find these items. It can be expanded or modified to suit all learner’s levels.

I would mainly use this program when I needed a bit of time to either talk to parents, or write up notes. Turning anything into a game is always a good motivator, especially if a sibling is involved and there is a little ‘friendly competition’.

Some of the types of things I would ask to be found in a treasure hunt include:

  • a small, blue, circular object (i.e. it could be a ball)
  • a book with the word ‘the’ in it
  • a book with an animal in it
  • something you write with
  • something that is green and found in the garden
  • something you can eat
  • a transport/vehicle/any other category
  • 5 toy cars
  • completing activities e.g. 5 star jumps
  • purple piece of clothing
  • go to the lounge room and get a pillow off the couch, and come back,
  • and many other ideas!

As you can see, there are many, many options of things you can ask. Instructions, attributes, sizes, colours, visual pictures, written words, categories, numbers, counting etc.

As I said, I like to use this activity when I am needing to multi-task, in particular, when discussing things with parents. It not only keeps the kids busy, but tests their ability to generalise skills learned to a slightly different time in the session. It is also great because it can be modified as needed for all different learners.

Another benefit is that siblings can be involved in the game, and I have found it is always good to find ways to incorporate everyone in the family into sessions. This activity ensures the sibling doesn’t feel like they’re missing out on anything, and you can build on sibling relationships and social skills. It is also great when the kids start sending each other on ‘treasure hunts’.

Plus, you can have a lot of fun with the different types of items to find on the ‘treasure hunt!’

We’re going on a ‘treasure’ hunt!

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