By Brittney Paye, a second time SkillCorps volunteer and a member of the SkillCorps Kenya August 2016 team
The very first day we visited Kaizora, I was immediately drawn to a little boy called John*. He had been puzzling the staff at Kaizora for a while and also Skillcorps groups before me. I come from a setting where I work with intense challenging behavior and sometimes very aggressive behavior on a daily basis and felt like I could be of some help here. In our first few days at the center the team identified that we needed to address some of the challenging behavior of students, while not all were aggressive in nature, all were interfering with programming. As the days progressed we each fell almost naturally into our own areas of interest and oddly enough our focus was cohesive.
We focused on addressing antecedent strategies that could be put in place for all students; we focused on de-escalation techniques which had been used to an extent by some of the staff. We also focused on what to do if a student does escalate and the importance of behavior plans.
At the end of the first week I had an opportunity to work through an extinction burst with John, something that had never been done before. This was a turning point. It could go 1 of 2 ways for John and the staff at Kaizora…either John would learn that engaging in that type of challenging behavior would not get him the results he is looking for and appropriate replacement strategies can be put in place, or he will continue to increase his challenging behavior to see exactly how far he can go until someone reinforces his behavior.
Each day the team could see Kaizora staff utilizing the concepts discussed in the days prior. They were asking questions and seeking support. They are all well versed in ABA concepts and what it can do to help a child develop skills. The team is excited to see the training material being implemented; however there is a lingering concern that while we identified a need and potential solution, will there be enough time to work with the staff so they will be comfortable enough in these concepts and strategies to pass the fly away test?
The groundwork is set, and this upcoming week will be when it all gets put together. Time will be spent working with the staff to support them through the extinction process, to help them feel comfortable and safe in situations where challenging behavior escalates, and to provide direction on composing behavior plans. There is always more work to do in this field, the job is never done; however we are determined to see it through and know that the staff at Kaizora are equally as motivated to work through this next phase in their program.
* Student’s name has been changed