Behavioral Analysis for Everyone!
It just has to be taught well.
My passion for ABA started in the Chicago school systems. That’s where I went from knowing I wanted Psychology to be my life, to knowing I wanted to help people make real changes to their lives so they can live their best life. And that goes for everyone. People of all ages, functional abilities, and backgrounds. As I began to work with children diagnosed with behavioral and intellectual disabilities, I realized I preferred helping teens and adults. I found I do my best work helping families and care givers prepare consumers for their transitions into adulthood.
I like to think it’s because of my strong family foundations (both sides of my family), which have kept me grounded as I furthered my education. Going through graduate school, I realized someone like me, with a Union background and work ethic, had the right mind to work with families and give them real ABA based answers that work for real people. The skill I had was carrying out the message of ABA effectively, and breaking technical terms down into regular speech, while still maintaining professionalism.
The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount.B.F. Skinner
I let my families know that the basis of ABA is that the learner is never wrong, we just have to find a way to reach them and teach them. But I don’t build robots, I know my clients are real people and everyone has quirks that make us unique. Nobody is perfect, and ABA is about making your life more functional for you, so you can increase your probability of making the best of your life.
A famous ABA quote is that the rat is never wrong. This is a simple way of saying – if someone doesn’t learn something, it’s not their fault, it’s the fault of the teacher. Just because you attempted to teach something, doesn’t mean you taught it correctly for someone else to learn it. They simply were not taught.
The rat is always right.B.F. Skinner
What I witnessed working in classrooms was that older teachers had a passion for CHILDREN and were willing to do what works, but they needed someone to explain methods correctly. I also witnessed that younger teachers had a passion for TEACHING, and thought that everything they learned in grad school was to be treated as gospel. They did followed instructions from School Psychologists and Occupational Therapists, but they cared little for Social Workers and older teachers. However, they lacked the wealth of knowledge and experience that social workers and teachers had, which allowed them to cater classroom interventions to individual children, while maintaining the order of the rest of the classroom. Simply put, they couldn’t handle the job as well as the more experienced teachers, and they thought everything they did was perfect. If a child wasn’t learning, it was the child’s fault, not their’s. At that point, I knew I had to figure out how to be the person new teacher’s listened to, and make a real difference.
Fast forward years later, and I find myself in California schools making direct changes that positively effect students. I have trained teachers, aides, and administrative staff, and I have implemented individual behavior plans and classroom protocols that changed the way schools function. And it all started with explaining to new teachers and staff that the learner is never wrong, and changes have to start with them. Interventions are only as good (effective) as the people implementing them.