19 Sep 2018

BY: admin

ABACAS Team / Uncategorized

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Back to Basics (Part Two) – Functions of Behaviour 2.0

In an earlier post this year we touched on the four functions of behaviour being:

  • Attention
  • Tangible (things)
  • Sensory/Automatic
  • Escape

(This is the link to the post in case you want to re-read it – https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/abacas-team/functions-of-childrens-behaviour/

To expand on last week’s blog about the three term contingency, we’re going to talk about how we can reduce motivation for children to engage in problematic behaviours, specific to their function.

Functions of Behaviour

First things first. When starting a new intervention it always help when your child is eating well, sleeping and in good health.  Sometimes this is where we need to start before we can change behaviours. However for this example, let’s assume everything is fine. Let’s look in the example below:

Antecedent Behaviour Consequence
Child is playing alone for 10 minutes with parent in room Child throws object at parent. Parent scolds child about importance of not throwing items.

(Attention)

A child has been playing on an iPad for an hour, parent removes and gives demand “clean up your room” Child throws tantrum Parent withholds iPad, but does not follow through

(Escape)

How does knowing the function help us?

In each of these scenarios a child has engaged in problematic behaviour.

Let’s tackle problem one. In this instance a child was engaging in appropriate play behaviour for 10 minutes before they engaged in the problem behaviour. The problem behaviour resulted in parent delivering attention, where as the play behaviour did not. The prolonged period without attention creates a state of deprivation  which increases the value of a reinforcer (in this case attention). This means a child is more likely to give responses that have previously resulted in attention being delivered.

To improve the behaviour in this example, we can look at catching the child being good.  Delivering attention often enough (for the behaviours you want to see more of) will make it less likely that the problem behaviour occurs.

Problem two lets us see an example of satiation which reduces the value of a reinforcer. These parents may successfully be able to get their child to clean their room on a regular basis using a “first, then” instruction with the iPad. However in this instance the child had prolonged free access to the reinforcer, and so  it has temporarily lost its value. When you are offering reinforcement you should check for value, not just assume it is what the child wants.

A large part of the what the team does is to identify the purpose of behaviour. One we understand that we can make effective changes.

Please feel free to contact me on 9274 7062 if  you would like to know more about functions of behaviour and motivations or talk about our services.

Jasmin Fyfe

Program Manager, ABACAS

13 Sep 2018

BY: admin

Psychology Team

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Difficulties Making Friends?- Five Tips for Primary School Children

Nothing is more heart breaking as a parent to hear that your child isn’t making friends. We all want the best for our children. The reality is that for some children (particularly the more shy and reserved variety) making new friends can be hard. Not only do children need some confidence to walk up to others but they also need an array of social skills to draw on.

5 Tips for Making Friends

Making friends (and keeping them) involve using a range of skills. These include being able to recognise when others are open to friendship and knowing how to approach and engage others.  Then of course are the skills needed to keep friendships – which can also be tricky. But let’s start at the beginning with how children can make their first approach more successful…

The following are some tips for primary school aged children who have language skills but they can be modified for those a little less verbal:

Look for interest from other children

Imagine being in a park with lots of children running around. Running up to a random child who looks like they are doing something interesting might get a response but it might also lead to rejection.

Instead, encourage your child to look for other children that appear interested in playing with them. Who are these children? The ones that may already be looking at your child (watching what your child is doing) and the ones with a smile on their face. These are the children that are more likely to be positive about an approach from your child.

Children who are heavily involved in a game (particularly in groups) or playing with other children are less likely to give a positive response. They already have someone to play with. Sometimes groups of children want others to join them…especially if it’s a game that involves lots of running around. However if children have already worked out who they are playing with, they may not welcome approaches from others.

Say Hello

Sounds simple doesn’t it?  However  many children forget to say hello or introduce themselves. And of course, when your child does say “hi” to another child they need to look at them (eye contact) and smile too! This signals to the other child that they are being friendly.

Get Talking

Most of us enjoy it when others show interest in us. Your child asking “What are doing?”, “Can I play too?”, or “What’s that?” are good ways of starting up a conversation. They are also a way of testing the waters to see if the other child is interested in getting to know them too.

When the other child starts talking to your child, this is where conversational skills become important. Your child needs to show interest in what the other child says.  They can also share something about themselves too. All of which helps to build a connection.

Be flexible

It’s great for your child to suggest activities that they and the other child can do. However if the other child wants to play another way or differently your child may need to go with the flow initially. Turn-taking with ideas and games can develop once your child works out that this is someone they want to spend more time with.

Be positive

It’s OK if your child discovers that the other child isn’t that interested or isn’t the friend for them. Children can agree to disagree and part ways too. As a parent we can acknowledge our child’s disappointment but we need to refocus them on all the other children out there that may be the right sort of friend for them.

What to do if things just aren’t working?

The good news is that friendships skills can be taught. Many schools now provide programs targeting social skills and confidence so start by asking what your school may have available.

The internet also has bundles of resources and ideas for parents to access to help their children in this area.

In our Centre we teach social skills one on one in therapy and in various group programs (so children can practice their skills with other children).

Please call the Centre if you would like more information about our services on 9274 7062.

12 Sep 2018

BY: admin

Uncategorized

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Back to Basics (Part One) – What is the three term contingency?

Three term contingency?? For parents who are new to ABA, you’ll be discovering that we use a lot of jargon. It is our job to make sure that we not only translate this into layman’s terms for you, but also educate you about ABA terminology throughout your therapy journey. This is going to be one of a 5 part series focused on educating parents about terminology, what they mean, and how you can start applying them yourself. Parents continuing the work we do into the home, especially during Early Intervention (EI) is essential to see optimum success.

5 Part Series

In our five part series we will be covering the following terms:

  • The three term contingency
  • Functions of behaviour
  • Verbal Behaviour
  • Reinforcement and Punishment
  • Prompts

The Three Term Contingency

The three-term contingency is a critical part of ABA, and all behaviour can, one way or another, fit into this breakdown. ABC, or Antecedent – Behaviour – Consequence, is how we frame behaviours. Behaviour and learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum – there is never a behaviour with no explanation. An antecedent is what happens before, and a consequence is what happens after. An antecedent can signal that reinforcement or punishment is, or is not, available for certain behaviours.

Here are some examples:

Antecedent Behaviour Consequence
The teacher says “who knows what letter this is?” Child responds by putting his hand up and saying “a” Praise from the teacher (attention)
A child has a difficult homework task in front of him. Child says “Can I help you with the dishes mum?” Mum says “yes of course” and they do dishes together (escape and attention)
Therapist says “What goes woof” Child responds “Car” Praise and an edible are given (tangible and attention).
A parent asks a child to turn off the TV The child has a tantrum The child is allowed 5 more minutes (tangible, escape).

 

The consequence that is provided determines whether or not learning will occur. In three of these examples some “unhelpful” learning is occurring!

Sometimes your therapy team might ask you to keep ABC data on a behaviour of interests so that we can help design an intervention based on function (more on that next week).

If you are interested in this topic, or have any questions further questions about how this might be applicable to your child please feel free to call me on 9274 7062.

 

Jasmin Fyfe

ABACAS Program Manager

06 Sep 2018

BY: admin

Psychology Team

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A glass of red? Not during pregnancy!

International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day is on Sunday 9th September every year. Yet many people have little idea of what FASD is and how it is caused.

What is FASD?

We’re very used to hearing in the media that alcohol consumption can cause a higher risk of many health conditions (e.g. cancer & heart disease). Alcohol use is also related to a higher rate of injury such as falls and vehicle accidents. And for some, alcohol is their addiction. It’s also associated with higher rates of depression, self-harm and suicide.

Alcohol use in pregnancy is the primary risk factor for babies being born with something called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD.  Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are neuro-cognitive disorders that may present with a range of markers, including: unusual facial features; developmental delays; learning disabilities; behavioural difficulties; and health complications. As there is a spectrum of symptoms, FASD is often undetected until the child is older. However we now understand that it is a lifelong condition and children (adolescents and adults) often need ongoing support.

What’s the best thing to do in pregnancy?

FASD is an outcome of parents being unaware of the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Messages surrounding alcohol use during pregnancy in the past have been confusing. Do you remember back when the occasional glass of red wine was recommended for pregnant mothers? What we now know is that any level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy can present a risk to the baby in utero.

The tragedy of FASD is that it is avoidable.  No one intentionally sets out to harm their baby. Views about alcohol use during pregnancy can vary from family to family, and culture to culture. However the reality is that exposure to alcohol during pregnancy can cause harm and no one knows how much or how frequently alcohol needs to be consumed to cause harm.

The safest thing to do during pregnancy is to cease drinking all alcohol. Just as with smoking (and our knowledge now of the health risks involved with smoking during pregnancy), stopping alcohol consumption is the safest thing to do for the developing baby.

Helpful resources

Children with FASD have their own challenges which can vary from child to child. Families with children with FASD need support and often this starts with diagnosis and recognising the problem.

A great resource to find out more about FASD is the NoFASD website at:

https://www.nofasd.org.au/

And as always you are welcome to come and talk to any of the psychologists in the Centre about any aspect of your child’s development.

 

Naomi Ward

Clinical Director

04 Sep 2018

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Early Intervention and ABA Therapy

Many parents who are first starting ABA as part of their child’s early intervention (or may have had some experience with ABA therapy) often ask  the question, “will my child be sitting at the table the whole time?”. For Early Intervention (EI) clients, the answer should be no. Early Intervention ABA Therapy focuses on a combination of teaching developmentally appropriate skills and reducing challenging behaviours. How many small children do you know who spend 2+ hours a day seated at a small table with an adult? I imagine the answer is none.

ABA Therapy might teach children some skills at the table because this is a good way to ensure focus, reduce distractions and deliver the maximum number of learning opportunities. However, once these skills are mastered at the table then Natural Environment Training and generalisation should be used so these skills can consolidate. There is no point in children having ‘therapy skills’ and no practical skills.

What skills can be taught?

ABA can focus on improving play, social skills, daily living skills and toilet training. If these are socially significant goals for your family and your child, then ABA can teach these using the same principles of learning applied when teaching a child to discriminate between two flash cards. Social relationships, which is often one of the most difficult skills for children with an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis, should be taught in a way that will open up opportunities with peers, not just therapists and adults, and sets children up for success in real life situations.

Daily living skills (such as brushing teeth, washing, dressing etc) can all be taught using ABA in the natural environment. Your Program Manager should be able to develop a behaviour chain for any skill, and teach it to your child until they are able to function independently. The goal for any skill is that is provides benefit to the child, whether that be increased independence, increased access to learning, or increased access to relationships.

Early intervention ABA should use a range of strategies

It is important to have realistic expectations of children in a therapy context, including how much time is age appropriate to spend at a table. ABA programs should be comprehensive and focus on more than table top skills. They should be individualised and consider self care, social relationships and play as well as language development and verbal behaviour milestones. They should use a range of strategies to ensure that all that valuable learning can be used in different contexts.

If you have any questions about your child’s program please contact your Program Manager on 9274 7062.

Jasmin Fyfe

ABACAS Program Manager

28 Aug 2018

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Parent involvement in behaviour therapy and why it’s so important!

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.

Jasmin Fyfe

Program Manager, ABACAS

28 Aug 2018

BY: admin

Uncategorized

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Do you want to help shape our future services and programs?

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.

21 Aug 2018

BY: admin

Speech Pathologist

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Speech Pathology Week 19- 25 August 2018

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
  • Bilingualism
  • 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:

https://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/SPAweb/

Another useful (and more general site) is the Raising Children website which has some great information on language delay:

http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/language_delay.html

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.

21 Aug 2018

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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How Behaviour Analysis can help your child develop new skills

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.

Jasmin Fyfe

ABACAS Program Manager

14 Aug 2018

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Applied Behaviour Analysis Child and Adolescent Services (ABACAS)

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.

Jasmin Fyfe

Program Manager

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