My book is now available in paperback! A REAL book you can hold in your hands! You can even sniff it if that's something you're into. A BOOK!
From a BCBA I've had the pleasure to work with in the past. Her sentiments are PERFECT! Enjoy the 1st post by this great guest blogger, Jessi French.
I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, BCBA, and probably the most liberal one you'll ever meet.
This is a long post, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the first day of school, and what I was feeling not being a mother but seeing my clients going back to school.
IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!!!! THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!! WOOOOOOOOO!
For those of us in the ABA field, and for everyone working in this Wild and Wonderful World of Autism, Christmas and Spring Break means increased hours while our kids out out of public school. But Summer Break…….thats a whole different story. Summer break is when our kids who can only fit maybe 10 hours a week of ABA therapy during the school year can increase their hours and we can continue working on IEP goals from the school as well as our own goals. Summer is by far the BUSIEST and most FUN time of the year for the field of ABA because we also are suddenly working 10-12 hour days when during the school year we only work afternoons and weekends. I lose more weight, get more tan, and swim more than I swim all year long. I am constantly in workout wear, I bring changes of clothes in my car because I sweat through my clothes in my morning sessions and you NEVER forget to have a swimsuit in your car. You never know when you need an impromptu dip!! I am also EXHAUSTED. I am running on 4-6 hours of sleep per night and always on the go; I wouldn't have it any other way.
Playdates, sports, swimming, Hawaiian Falls, water bottles, trips to Target and to the park, birthday parties, vacations, our days are nonstop and definitely full of life! Summer is the best time for us to really focus on some of those skills that the kids have been struggling with like getting down a nighttime routine so my kiddo takes a shower on his own, or teaching a girl how to operate a DVD player so she doesn’t have to ask someone to put in a movie for her and her friends when she has a sleepover. ABA therapy is fit into every aspect. You want to go to the movies? Lets go. You need to go to CVS? We’re on it. Want your kiddo to be able to make their own afternoon snack? We got this. Summers in ABA are AMAZING.
Parents are often so excited about “Meet the Teacher” and the first week of school. They can’t wait to hear tales of who their kids are sitting next to and are curious about how the curriculum for the year will be. Some parents are sad that their babies are going to school, some parents cry because their kids are growing up. Some kids won’t let their Mom’s take those first day pictures while others are beaming with pride. Every parent has some sort of pride as their kids go to school mixed with all kinds of emotions.
Let me tell you why the first day of school is so special for us. Because our kids didn’t take the summer off. They were with us, nearly every single day. They were working on following functional directions at Chik-Fil-A with 100 screaming kids around them. They were working on waiting next to Mom while she finishes up a conversation with their new teachers. These kids were working on having a conversation and navigating their social world.
So teachers, we love the first day of school so you can see not just how much they have grown taller, but so you can see how much they have grown behaviorally. Summer is not a 3 month “vacation” for our kids, summer is our best chance to really hit the ground running and try out new things and keep up with LIFE. So my proud moment on “meet the teacher” night is when I see a teacher exclaim, “WOW, he is listening so well!” “He is playing with that kid over there and playing tag!” “He is walking with me and not bolting down the hallway!” “I can really tell y’all worked hard this summer!” “He didn’t hit the teacher on his first day!”
Regression is not an option with my clients, it is not even in our vocabulary.
Jessi French is an independent BCBA residing in Plano, Texas with her family of 3 Miniature Schnauzers and 6 fish. She currently works with a group of clients that she has been with for several years and plans to grow in her abilities with them through adulthood. Jessi has a love for video games and toys, probably why she connects with her clients, and collects Harry Potter,
Simpsons, and Star Wars Lego sets. She is incredibly passionate about improving the lives of her clients and their families through in-home ABA therapy.
You can contact Jessi at email@example.com
My Little suddenly decided she hates laying on the changing table. Holy moly we had some rough diapering times, then I thought...didn't I write about this exact thing? Guess what?! My advice WORKED! I used "First diaper, then iphone" and let her play on my phone after a successful change. Problem solved. (for now at least)
Maybe I DO know what I'm talking about...
Did you see the original article on Behavioral Science in the 21st Century?
Behavior Reduction Tips During Diaper Changes, From Your Behavior BFF!
I like to peruse deal sites that sell things like ruffly bloomers and other essential parenting items. The other day I saw a “wheel of consequences” for sale on one of my fave sites. Of course it was super cutesy, but the idea is to write in punishment options and when your kid misbehaves, they spin the wheel. Whatever punishment choice it lands on is how they pay the piper. Now they called the options ‘consequences’ but if it is something aversive that comes following a behavior, anyone in the ABA world knows the correct word is ‘punishment’.
Seeing this adorable wheel of unpleasantry made me feel pretty sad for those kids. And those parents. Why so much focus on the bad? Why so much effort on punishing? I mean they made an adorable wheel that people are paying good money for! What the what?! I found one for TWENTY DOLLARS online. $20 to punish your kid in a cute format. Yowza.
How about instead we create a wheel of reinforcers? A wheel of rewards? When your child engages in desired behaviors, they earn reinforcement. You then spend your time, your energy, and maybe even some of your hard earned moolah on positive things!
Do you have to spin the wheel for every good behavior your kid engages in? No. But you could focus on the behaviors you are really trying to increase right now.
Is your kid refusing to eat vegetables? Reverse that wheel of consequences/ punishment. INSTEAD of punishing them for NOT eating, how about rewarding them for eating a certain amount of those delicious veggies?
Is your kid refusing to follow directions and being defiant? Reverse that ugly wheel. INSTEAD of punishing them for not listening, reward them when they do listen and follow through on what you’ve asked them to do.
Choose the desired behavior to replace the problem you’re having right now. Teach your child the replacement behavior REINFORCE that desired behavior.
Let’s shift from focusing on the punishment (aka ‘consequences’) and focus on building up those positive behaviors!!!
Need more ideas for using behavior analysis in your mommy role? Check out my book- Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom's Sanity.
I just realized that a routine I've been doing for a few months now is actually using a research-based strategy effectively. Clearly, I'm an ABA rockstar (even if I didn't do it on purpose).
What is this genius plan and technique? Well, it's not that exciting, but still- it's backed up by decades of research. So if you think research is cool, I'm a rockstar. And you've come to the right place.
The strategy I've been using effectively is called Pairing (or Stimulus-stimulus pairing). I've taken a less preferred activity and paired it with something my Little likes, making the unfun activity a bajillion times easier. Well, what is it I've bene doing exactly?
Trimming her fingernails in the swing on the back porch
I told you it really wasn't exciting.
Unfun thing= being restrained in some way to have her nails trimmed.
Fun thing= being outside, swinging between hands, before, and after the mini-mani.
It's made my life easier and I was pretty pleased with myself when I realized how awesome I am at behavior analysis. Haha.
Want to learn actual techniques to try to promote those great behaviors in your household? I share 10 specific strategies with examples in Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom's Sanity.
Behavior BFF has her first article up over on bSci21 today. Go check it out!
"From a mom:
I have a two-year-old daughter who has lately decided to despise getting her diaper changed. It’s so bad that when she has a dirty diaper she screams and flails before we even get near the changing table. Getting her cleaned up is akin to wrestling an angry jungle cat. Please help. She’s not ready for potty training and we can’t live like this."
Read the response here!
In grad school, one of our professors always used the analogy of wearing hats to describe what role you are filling at the moment. So my friend (who I want to be like when I grow up) brought a bunch of hats to class one day and we were all decked out when our professor walked in. I think she enjoyed it. We got As in the class. Probably. Maybe.
Anyway, this week I have been wearing two conflicting hats: Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Mom. My Little hasn't been feeling her best and somehow forgot all we learned through sleep training when she was a wee infant.
My BCBA hat said, do you want to reinforce the behavior of screaming after you put her in her bed for a nap?
My Mom hat said, how can you let your sweet girl scream when you know she doesn't feel good?
Also, I have talking hats. Think Harry Potter.
In the end, my Mom hat won out. Sometimes you just have to use your extraneous knowledge. There were extra factors at play that affected the normal contingency we had in place. Those extra factors of not feeling so good = Mom hat for the win.
We have to look at the WHOLE picture in making decisions for our children. Same goes to BCBAs working with clients.
Outside factors MUST be considered when making day to day decisions regarding kids.
We want the best for our children and for our clients. Lucky for them, we know how to make that happen by taking in all the information available to us and making informed decisions. :)
I felt pretty good about my ABA strategies this weekend. I also felt pretty good about our combined parenting mad skillz as parents. My Little is teething. Again. Like all the time these days. How many teeth does a tiny person need?! We were out running errands and decided to grab dinner at Chick-fil-a while we were out and about. My girl was pretty done with the day. We'd had too much fun going swimming and visiting with friends. She was using her version of baby sign language and verbal requesting for 'up' from her high chair. I said, "I know you want up, but first you need to eat. First eat, then up." She's familiar with the "First, then" language of the Premack principle. We repeated this for every bite for a few minutes. I said my "First eat, then up" statement many many times. She was eating and all was okay. But I knew I had to scarf down my delicious chicken sandwich to get up with that girl soon. ABA WIN.
Then my husband happened to give her a bite on a fork. She took the fork and he helped her to take lots more bites with it. No more broken record Mom using her Premack skills. She ate all of her dinner and didn't ask to get 'up' until we were all done- an appropriate time. Her dad won with his parenting skill of distracting the girl and keeping her entertainined. Parenting WIN.
Did you have any feel good about yourself moments as a parent this weekend?
Don't forget to learn about the Premack principle and 9 other strategies for parents in Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom's Sanity.
Leanne Page, MEd, BCBA