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Through this post we talk a lot about our evidence-based practice, what ABA is and how this therapy can help you. You might not realise this but parents have a huge role in therapy and are often pivotal in the progress that children make. Therapy requires commitment from all parties but the results are worth it. The evidence shows that parental involvement in early interventions can predict academic outcomes later down the track, and the amount of school support required.
Therapy is not something therapists ‘do’ to your child. Therapy is not a quick fix for problem behaviours. Neither is it a cure for anything (and we don’t want it to be). Therapy is a long term investment in skill development that sets your child and family up for the best quality of life possible. An important message to take away from this is that the skills that are being learnt are not just skills for your child. Therapy provides an opportunity for you as the parent to learn new skills. It’s about showing you different ways to respond to behaviour and also how you can foster your child’s development and honour behaviour support plans.
How Can I Engage with Behaviour Therapy?
Parents often start off feeling a bit lost when they start therapy. Should you ask lots of questions? Yes! Should you know your child’s goals? Yes! Should you feel comfortable with the techniques being used and do you have a right to say no? Absolutely. All therapy should be negotiated with you and you should be regularly updated by the therapist about the progress your child makes in therapy and any problems along the way. Your understanding of therapy will help to foster continued use of strategies in the home…and hence allow your child to make positive steps.
Therapists love parents asking lots of questions so if you’re feeling unsure about how to do something please ask us. Therapy skills need generalising with new people, in new environments all the time and parents are some of the best people to do this.
Work with your Behaviour Therapy Team
An ABA Team can consist of many people. In our program your main contacts are your 1:1 Behavioural Therapist and your Program Manager. Program Managers aren’t out as often as your regular therapist. It’s important that you can be open with your Program Manager and communicate frequently. Make sure you email or call if you have concerns and ask your regular therapist to CC you in on any updates. You can also take up parent training and consultation services. Aside from a nice way to meet other parents (training) it’s also a way we can empower parents and help to work through issues that are occurring outside of therapy.
As always please feel free to contact your program manager on 9274 7062 to discuss any concerns or to fin out more about programs.
Program Manager, ABACAS
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The Child Wellbeing Centre is seeking expression of interests from parents of children with developmental disabilities and/or delay to help us form a Reference Group. This is a voluntary position for parents and carers and would involve coming to a meeting with other parents, 3-4 times a year (during school hours).
The role of the group is to:
- Provide advice on a range of operational issues through-out the Centre.
- Assist in the promotion of a culture of inclusion and rights of people with disability.
- Help us identify gaps in services and provide feedback on changes to services
- Give us feedback on how well we are communicating our services within the community.
Individual member’s role includes:
- Attending meetings and joining in the discussion
- Sharing your knowledge and experience with others
- Focusing on services that may support positive outcomes for all CWBC clients.
Please contact Naomi Ward, Clinical Director for more information or ask for an Expression of Interest form from reception.
Expressions of Interest need to returned to the Centre by 29 September 2018.
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Speech Pathologists specialise in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of a range of language and communication disorders. Specifically speech pathologists are able to help with:
- Assessment and intervention for articulation delays/disorders
- Assessment and intervention for language delays/disorders
- Support for Verbal Dyspraxia
- School readiness
- Treatment of stuttering
- Support for communication difficulties associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities.
There are some great resources online to help parents work out whether their child needs to see a speech pathologist. Speech Pathology Australia is a great place to start:
Another useful (and more general site) is the Raising Children website which has some great information on language delay:
And of course you are very welcome to see our speech pathologists in the Centre – Georgina, Vanessa and Virginia.
For more information please call the Centre on 9274 7062.
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Last week we spoke about some changes in the program, and how they might effect you and your child. This week I would like to talk to our parents and potential new comers about ‘why ABA’ or Behaviour Analysis.
Behaviour Analysis is built on the principles of learning, which have been demonstrated as effective in a huge range of populations. It is most well known for it’s use with children who have an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis, but less well known for it’s use in sports, feeding disorders, substance use, litter reduction and much more. Through ABA we can increase and decrease behaviours and build new skills, and we do so knowing our interventions are evidence-based and ethical.
ABA is Person-Centred
Quantifying behaviours as measurable and changeable can feel very ‘sciencey’, and because of this people sometimes feel that ABA might be impersonal, or out of touch with our loved ones. I’d like to argue that it’s the opposite, ABA is one of the most personalised and considerate interventions available, and above and beyond anything else ABA is the practice of hope for every single person we work with. There is an assumed capacity to learn and acquire new skills for all people, and the skills we teach are ones that are important to our clients and the loved ones in their lives. As people, we are always working through a scope of kindness and care, and as practitioners we are working towards effective and meaningful interventions that are evidence and ethically based.
Working with a range of clients, there is nothing more rewarding than hearing a child say their first word, or listening to the enthusiasm of a parent who’s child is starting to play with them for the first time. The goals set by ABA are often focused on developmental milestones, but these goals are also selected in collaboration with both parents and children, and that makes them so much more meaningful to our ABA families.
An ABA program should include people who are significant to the client. They should know what is being worked towards and what they can do to support these goals. They should also have a sense that these goals will make a difference to their lives, and feel pride in their contributions when steps are made towards a new milestone.
If you’d like to talk more about how ABA can fit in with your family, please contact me on 9274 7062.
ABACAS Program Manager
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ABACAS Update – Our therapy model is evolving
ABA Programs should be individualised, socially significant and measurable. As a parent it’s hard to know what things to look for in a program, who can administer a program and how often services should be delivered. At ABACAS we are always working towards being in line with the Behaviour Analysts Certification Board. All our staff are Registered Behaviour Technicians (RBT’s), or training to be, and we are supervised appropriately by a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA). As our program grows and changes, we aim to provide a model that is going to be the most effective and ethical.
The program is currently changing its service delivery model. We want to make sure that our parents have more contact with the Program and/or Assistant Program Manager and we want to provide more supervision for our therapists. We have introduced Program Evaluation Sessions (PES) into therapy schedules. A PES is where the program manager runs the therapy session with the child, thereby giving the program manager the opportunity to make sure that skills are generalising and that the program is working well. Our plan is to rune a PES every 6th hour of therapy provided, and a Program Review every 12th hour.
What are the benefits of this change?
Other than you and your child having more access to their Program Manager, and more supervision for therapists there are many benefits of working the program this way. These benefits are tied in with the 7 principles of ABA, which have been italicised for your reference. Generalisation will be addressed, to test whether your child has just learnt how to read one person, or if they are consolidating and generalising skills naturally. Programs will be more effective because they are more regularly evaluated, the data can be inspected more often and changes made quickly if a program needs new steps or is stagnating. This also ties into the program being technological, as more time will be spend producing programs that are highly individualised. We will be able to provide more applied interventions, which means working on programs that are meaningful to you, as your Program Managers will know you and your family better.
With increased supervision therapists will better understand the research base that programs are derived from, and are therefore more conceptually systematic. This makes delivery more analytic, in that the programs will be demonstrable in their effects on behaviour, and most important, programs should be behavioural. We focus on building new, measurable, socially significant skills, that are making a difference in your child’s life and future.
We’re very excited about these changes as we feel it will only enhance the therapy we provide for your child.
What do I need to do?
Your program manager will discuss what these changes will mean with you at your next review. However feel free to talk to the team in the meantime should you have any questions.
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Having done a thorough assessment and identified the observable and socially significant behaviours to target in therapy, the next step is to make sure that behaviours are measurable.
From the Part 3 in the series, we learned that it’s really important that everyone can describe the same behaviour. The next step is to make sure that the target behaviour is ‘measurable’. This involves having a clear idea of the ways in which behaviour can be measured. The two most commonly used measures are to do with frequency and duration.
How to measure behaviour
Frequency is simply the number of times the behaviour occurs. Let’s use the example of homework. We could choose to measure how many times a child sits down during the week to do their homework. That the child sits down five times over the course of the week might be useful information. But…we might be more interested in duration.
Duration is the length of time that the behaviour occurs during an episode. While it might be useful to records the number of homework attempts, it actually might be more interesting to look at how long the child sat down and did their homework. Five seconds, 5 minutes, 15 minutes or 30 minutes starts to tell a different story.
Two other factors might help is understand the behaviour – latency (how much time passes between a prompt and the occurrence of the behaviour) and intensity (the force with which a behaviour occurs). Latency is a big one when understanding homework. For example the child may sit down 5 times a week to do their homework, for 20 minutes at a time. However their parent has to prompt them every minute to “do your homework”. Frequency and duration are looking fine but latency is not looking good at all!
Measurable behaviour and progress
Part of creating an ABA program is focusing on how data can be collected to allow a thorough and meaningful evaluation of progress. Hence you’ll always see our program managers spend time with the behaviour therapists working out the best way to measure behaviour. Those of you already in the program know that this is often the first thing that is looked at in program reviews. At the end of the day we want everyone to feel good about therapy AND for the data to show us that real progress is being made. Data can also help us problem solve when progress isn’t going according to plan.
As always please contact the team on 9274 7062 should you have any questions.
Program Manager, ABACAS
Post Script – Jenny finished up in her role last week to fly back to America to be with her family and partner. She will remain a Board Certified supervisor working with the team long distance. Jenny brought a lot of enthusiasm for ABA to her role, as well as considerable skill and knowledge. We were very fortunate to have had her with us for the last 18 months and we will still miss her (even though we will have her from time to time on Skype!). Naomi Ward, Clinical Director.
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Parents can do a great job of parenting when their children are younger and then struggle when their children hit the teen years. While the house rules may still be the same, the ways in which we encourage teens to make positive choices has to evolve.
What Happens in Adolescence?
From a developmental perspective, adolescence is the stage where young people learn the skills they are going to need to have a successful adult life. This includes things like building and developing deeper relationships with others, independence (both practical, emotional and financial), identifying core values and developing strong problem solving skills.
In addition to puberty and physical development, adolescence is also a significant time for brain development. The prefrontal cortex (which is the decision-making part of the brain) is being reshaped, with changes continuing on into the early 20’s. During this phase of development, the amygdala (which is the emotional and instinctive part of the brain) is used more often. Between greater emotionality and poor decision making it’s no wonder that adolescence can be a bumpy time.
Teens also face a lot more stress in their day to day lives. We all faced peer pressure to a degree when growing up. However this generation has non-stop peer pressure and media influences to deal with through their social use of technology. Uncertainty about the future world of work, the state of the planet and society are also there in the background.
Parent – Teen Relationships
With all this busy work going on in adolescence parents often find their parenting techniques changing. Expectations about behaviour don’t have to change but the goal in adolescence is to help the teen make better choices themselves. Fundamental to all of this is the need for a strong and positive relationship between child and parent. It’s from this relationship that a parent can encourage a positive and healthy transition into adulthood for their teen.
What does a positive relationship look like from a teen’s perspective? If I was to distil down all the feedback I’ve had from teens over the years it would look like this:
- My parents listen to me.
- They involve me in decisions that are going to affect me.
- They still show me that they love me but do it without embarrassing me (e.g. no hugs in front of peers).
- They get involved in the stuff that’s important to me (e.g. sports, hobbies and interests).
- They let me make my own choices about who my friends are but are there to help when I need advice.
- We have “rules” in the house and I know the consequences (even if I don’t like them) and
- They talk to me about the important stuff when I need them to (e.g. sex, drugs and depression).
There is a lot to do to help a teen work their way through adolescence. If I had to recommend a place to start, it’s listening. Listening (when it’s done properly) shows that parents are interested, that they care and are being thoughtful in their responses. Listening also helps parent develop greater insight into their teen’s needs, hopes and challenges.