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How Much Training Are You or Your Tutors/Therapists Receiving?

- Saturday, August 07, 2010
An issue that I frequently encounter either through parent report, tutor report, or my own observation is a lack of training for parents and tutors. There are a few reasons why this is a big problem: leads to less effective intervention for the child, can hinder progress of the child, and it violates the BACB code of conduct (and the structure of the Autism Demonstration Project for military members). I will discuss each of these issues below as well as provide some reasons why I think a lack of training occurs, a description of what a lack of training looks like,  ways to address the issue. Read More

Highlights from ABAI: Potty Training, the Next Step in Motivation, Ethical Issues and More!

- Wednesday, June 02, 2010
The annual Applied Behavior Analysis International Conference was this past weekend in San Antonio, TX. I thoroughly enjoyed a few presentations and of course networking/picking the brains of behavior analysts that I admire and aspire to be like. Below is a summary of a few of the topics that I learned more about this weekend: Read More

Some Insights From a Message Board

- Saturday, May 08, 2010

I participate on a few message boards related to autism, autism intervention, and behavior analysis. Recently, someone posted a discussion about a “new cure” for autism. One of the members of the message board responded to the post and I think his description of what snake oil salesmen are doing to families and people diagnosed with autism and what it means to be autistic is a very well articulated. I asked him if I could re-post his response for others to see, and he said yes. Below is his original post followed by some tips that he gave when I sent him an email asking if I could post this.  Read More

When Does ABA End?

- Thursday, April 08, 2010
I often hear parents and even behavior analysts say that their child or client is "done with ABA" or "graduated". While I have met many children who no longer need intensive behavioral services, I have never met an autistic child who no longer needs to have the principles of behavior/learning incorporated into their daily life. The purpose of this blog is to explain why incorporating principles of behavior technically never ends for autistic children or people in general. I know that doesn't sound very hopeful and might give readers a bad taste in their mouth to start but bear with me and you will see that even though incorporating principles of behavior into the child's life  should never end, that doesn't mean your child will always require intervention or a behavior analyst. In this blog I will discuss what people typically mean when they say a child is done with ABA, what it means to incorporate behavior analysis into everyday life, and examples of situations with explanations of whether ABA is truly "done." Read More

What Does it Mean to Be a Behavior Analyst or to Do ABA?

- Monday, February 15, 2010
Behavior analysts take many different paths to get to the point in their life where they decide to pursue behavior analysis as a career. Some take a few psychology courses as an undergrad that have a behavior analytic focus, some want to work in another setting (mental health, nursing homes, businesses, developmental disabilities) and then are exposed to how effective behavior analysis is, and the list goes on. I personally, took psychology classes and was drawn to Cognitive Behavioral Psychology because it was the only type of therapy that seemed effective and I was additionally fascinated with the field of autism. Originally, I didn't want to go to graduate school at the Florida State University to learn behavior analysis, I wanted to learn about how to more effectively work with children diagnosed with autism. My professors constantly reminded me that I was not in an autism program I was in a behavior analysis program. I consider myself extremely fortunate that THIS was the type of program I was in. Some college programs do not have this focus, they are other programs: special ed, developmental disabilities, general psychology, etc that add in a behavior analytic component. But FSU'S program was a Behavior Analytic program that taught about the various applications of behavior analysis. I am often astounded and baffled when I meet fellow behavior analysts working in the field of autism who literally do not seem to have a clue about behavior analysis. I know that they are well intentioned and probably came from the same path in life as me: working with children diagnosed with autism. However, they somehow missed out on learning a VERY important component of being a behavior analyst: using behavior analysis to develop programming. Some of the people are "experts" in the Lovaas Method, or Verbal Behavior Approach, or Pivotal Response training, or using the ABLLS but throw something at them that is a little different from how they were originally trained and they have no clue what to do. This is NOT a behavior analyst.  Read More

Teaching a Child to Use Their Words

- Friday, February 12, 2010
I have noticed on a few of the list servs that I am on that a lot of parents and providers ask questions about children who are hitting, tantruming, etc because they do not have the words to communicate what they want/need. Sometimes people will focus too much on reducing these behaviors and not enough on increasing functional language and responses. It is very important to teach a child what to do rather than just focusing on what not to do. Children who engage in tantrums, aggression, SIB, etc typically have a skill deficit of: not being able to communicate and not being able to calm themselves, or leave the situation. I highly recommend using Behavior Skills Training (BST) and Functional Communication Training (FCT) to help children acquire these skills. Both of these methods are supported by the research and are used very often by behavior analysts. In this blog I will provide a brief description of each of these procedures with examples. It is important to keep in mind though that the examples I am giving are specific to a particular child and should not be used directly for your child/client. I am only providing them as a model. It is also important to read the research on BST and FCT for yourself in order to better understand the techniques. I have included resources at the end. It is also important for both of these techniques that the behavior is analyzed to determine the function and the areas of deficit so that you are training the child a response that is functionally equivalent. If you think that the behavior is occurring because the child wants out of a demand and you teach the child to ask for a break but really the behavior is happening because the demand is too hard and you don't teach the child to ask for help, then the behavior will probably still occur.  Read More

ABA Myth: ABA is Not Fun!

- Saturday, February 06, 2010
One of the largest critiques of ABA is that the intervention is not fun. It is rote, boring, repetitive, etc. I once had a parent tell me prior to starting the intervention that her parents were nervous about doing ABA because they heard it was like bringing in a drill sergeant and she didn't want that for her son. I have often wondered why so many people think ABA is not fun, especially when I have read so many articles, seen so many sessions, and talked to so many behavior analysts about working off the child's motivation and having fun during sessions. For this blog I am going to explore some of the reasons why this myth exists, explain why the myth is false, and then provide some resources for making sessions fun.  Read More

Convincing Your School to Allow ABA

- Tuesday, February 02, 2010
A parent asked me for advice on how to convince a school system to use ABA so I am going to attempt to answer that question in this blog.  Read More

Two Excellent Pieces About Autism

- Sunday, December 13, 2009
Both of these were sent on a listserv that I am on. The first is a poem with an unknown author. The second is an article that has been circulated for a few years now but it is always good to remind yourself of these things. Enjoy! Read More

It Is Time for Some Dos and Dont's

- Friday, November 20, 2009

This is a list of things I tell parents to do or not do when I do workshops or initial parent training. This list is obviously not comprehensive and just covers some of the KEY DOs and DONTs when it comes to interacting with a child (not just autistic children by the way, this could actually be applied to people in general).  Read More