By Krystina Gilhuly, a member of the SkillCorps Kenya August 2016 team
When arriving at Kaizora, we came into the school with open hearts and ideas brewing. Very quickly we worked to collect baseline data to evaluate the current levels of staff and students. The center had great staff and amazing abilities. While there were so many positives, certain areas became our targets to improve upon. At first, we prioritized and then created a game plan. The plans unfolded so quickly that we were able to get right to work. The Global Autism Project SkillCorps team was so excited to get going and quickly motivated the staff into buying in to the plan. Almost instantly was progress being made on most goals. Within a few days, transferring the skills to the staff was happening. By the last day, the staff were able to carry out what they needed to do on their own.
There was no small project these past few weeks. One behavior that a child was exhibiting was so significant that days of intense data collection controlling every possible variable occurred. Staff were so frustrated with the behavior before we came that it was apparent that we needed to be very systematic about our approach to ensure that we could create a sustainable and efficient solution. The behavior had an attention component that made it difficult to control in the natural setting, but through researching many articles and hours of discussions, a simple plan was put into place. The staff were trained and zero instances occurred on the last day we were at the center. After we left, the center trained the parents and the next two days of school and on the weekend at home also resulted in zero occurrences! The fact that generalization occurred and that this maintained already was a true testament to the dedication and diligence in the evaluation and training that occurred.
Another significant result of the intensive two weeks at Kaizora was that there were some students with significant behaviors that needed to be addressed. The team got right to adjusting demands, reinforcing appropriate behaviors, using antecedent strategies and safety techniques to be able to address and be confident in working with the students. It was apparent that we weren’t going to be able to train all the staff and it was hard for all staff to know all the students so well. Since the school is growing, it was becoming clear that a new system was needed. Ideas were brainstormed and breaking the school into smaller groups was decided on. The idea was pitched to the staff and was going to be started in September. Right after we left, we found out that the staff at already decided to start working on the groupings! This was so exciting to hear that they were not only accepting the change, but actually excited and starting working on it during Holiday school.
I always wonder if what we brought in the two weeks would be desirable for the staff to continue or not. Luckily, this team made sure that sustainability was a factor into everything we did. It is apparent that the intensive work that was done with sustainability in mind was an effective approach. With the weekly consultation calls that will continue with the Global Autism Project, I am excited to know that what we did in the short two weeks will continue to be a positive experience for the staff and students. I can’t wait to hear updates from future SkillCorps trips as the center continues to grow!