By: Lennae Anderson July 2019
Im supposed to use ABA?!
I’m a baby in the field of ABA. Less than 3 years I’ve been and RBT and I’ve primarily done skill acquisition with children on the autism spectrum. When researching the Global Autism Project and their behavior analytic approach to supporting entire Autism Program/special education schools, I am intrigued and sceptical! I’ve only seen ABA in home settings for skill acquisition and behavior reduction. I’v read about the various applications of ABA, but never seen it in practice. How could a team of foreigners spend 2 weeks at a program they’ve never seen and move them towards progress?
During orientation the model was explained and made sense. A sustainable, measurable model to give each program site (over a dozen, all over the world) the individualized support they need using behavior analysis. It’s the model, the concept, the idea, sound good, but what about the practice? …and then came the DATA!
Behavior analysts (myself!) are total nerds for data! The Global Autism Project is founded on a behavior analytic approach…therefore WE NEED DATA! With the creation of an assessment tool used to measure the strengths and weaknesses of each site, the Global Autism Project has a tool to support these international programs. The assessment is used to develop goals, set my each site’s leadership with GAP support; strategies to achieve these goals are developed by the program staff only with minimal support from GAP BCBAs also. The GAP SkillCorps visits are tri-annual to observe the implementation of the strategies, look for growth, and reassess (thus leading to new goals and strategies for growth!). There is ongoing communication with a BCBA from GAP to provide continuous support.
I’m a believer! This really looks like what I know and have seen work…just a little different. It’s ABA!
But I’m supposed to go to India and do all this for an ENTIRE SCHOOL in 2 weeks?! Yes, my team is amazing—BCBAs, SpEd, School Psych, SLP—but all that in 2 weeks!
The 2 weeks is a blur! We go over the previous trips and BCBAs notes from the past. We get to he site—Meeting the staff and students, touring the school, pairing yourself and connecting, using the Socratic method (takes way longer than making the plan yourself!), teaching, reinforcing and becoming part of their team. Then there’s the rest of the work with SkillCorps when the school day is over; reviewing goals, possible strategies, best ways and places to begin teaching, personal care! Next thing you know, your team is reviewing the assessment and noting progress, teaching strategies, and submitting data! You’re crying because you have to say goodbye already!
Skepticism is completely gone!
You finalize the data. The program is closer to some goals (or maybe met them!). Progress is progress, no matter how great. Most programs have limited resources….their greatest resource is their passion for people with special needs and their patience to work with them. We’ve provided the individualized support to help the program move forward, thus providing better services for each student attending. WE USED ABA TO DO IT!
Why was I ever skeptical?