Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

A Day in the Life of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Part 1: A Big Part of My Job Is to Carefully Analyze Details of Interactions between the Learner and the People in That Environment When the Behavior Occurs

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

A Day in the Life of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Part 1: A Big Part of My Job Is to Carefully Analyze Details of Interactions between the Learner and the People in That Environment When the Behavior Occurs

Article excerpt

This is the first in a series of articles highlighting the roles, responsibilities and services of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Early Intervention Intensive Behavioral Intervention Supervision:

EARLY INTERVENTION INTENSIVE BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION SUPERVISION

I begin my day by traveling to the home of a two-year nine-month old child boy (Joe) who is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and is receiving 25 hours of carefully structured teaching and family support, based on the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA). I supervise the staff who do the direct teaching and work with the family to help them better understand how Joe learns. He has made great progress since treatment began at age two. He is now verbal and is now rapidly gaining the social and interactional skills that he did not demonstrate at the time of his initial diagnosis.

I begin my work, by sitting down with mom and the staff, to review the data on the goals and objectives we are working on. We see in the data a continuing improvement in most goals, but we focus on two graphs which show that Joe is struggling to learn the skills. These skills are "turn taking" and "initiating talking to others." We have been working on turn taking with Joe and his sister and improving his initiation of social interactions with others (in particular other family members and neighbors). After a brief discussion, and review of what is not working, we decide to use video modeling as a prompt for these programs. We chose this because the verbal cues were getting him to talk (imitate us), but were not resulting in independent initiation. Challenges with initiation are a common problem in children with ASD, and a wide range of procedures to address this have been identified in the research that helps; video modeling is just one of these procedures. Also, we had used video modeling effectively in teaching other play routines. I quickly wrote up a set of procedures (skill program) and then created a video model using mom's phone. To make sure that the program would work, I implemented the procedures with Joe. Once he was successfully initiating the modeled language, I had the staff and mom practice the program. After some practice and feedback, they both were able to run the program. We continued to review the programs and data until mom raised a concern about how Joe was reliably following verbal directions during our sessions, but often ignored the same instructions from mom after we left. This is also a fairly common problem for many children with ASD, so I suggested that we follow a systematic procedure for supporting responding to mom (we refer to this as generalization of skills).

We began practicing instruction following in the teaching sessions and carefully moved to other activities in the room, then out to other rooms. First we had mom provide reinforcement to Joe for following directions (from staff in the teaching session). Next we had mom give the directions in session while continuing to reinforce instruction following. Once Joe was reliably following them for mom in this context, we moved to other settings in the home and outside in the yard. We used this approach with several types of directions from mom to ensure broad generalization of instruction following. This systematic approach to help ensure generalization is somewhat time intensive, but it worked very well for mom and Joe. After completing all of the services documentation requirements (case notes and other paper work), I left and drove to a local public school where I would be consulting with a kindergarten team regarding the challenging behavior of a student in school.

BEHAVIORAL CONSULTATION PROVIDED IN LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOL

Team Meeting: My visit begins with a meeting of the kindergarten staff. The staff and administrators described their concerns about the disruptive behavior of a child who is new to their classroom. Prior to my visit, that school had obtained parental consent for me to review assessments, reports and other relevant data about the student which I had reviewed before coming to the school today. …

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