On this special day, it is my birthday! I turn 24 years old, which is one year away from being halfway of my twenties, haha! This year, I will be graduating from college with my bachelor’s degree, and I am so beyond proud of myself! I cannot wait for what the future has in store for me! Happy birthday to me!
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As you may know, I was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. I received early interventions, including ABA, until the age of 8. Now as a college student through Purdue University Global, who is pursing a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), I want to provide a perspective about ABA for everyone to understand. I am going to break down some myths about ABA here:
Myth: ABA is a kind of therapy.
Fact: ABA is more than a kind of therapy. ABA is a kind of science. ABA is known to study behavior that occurs in the environment. For instance, the smell of food is a natural behavior for people because it means they are hungry, as their natural response/reaction. On the other hand, when students have failed a test more than once in school, they demonstrate ways to avoid exams in school, such as by pretending to be sick, which is a learned behavior developed based on situations in the environment. Therefore, ABA is used in our lives everyday.
Myth: ABA is an effective service for individuals with ASD.
Fact: ABA is not only an effective service for individuals with ASD. ABA is effective for individuals with various disabilities, as well as aiding acquisition of skills (self care, academic, communication/language, social) for anyone. ABA teaches people new skills and behaviors to use in any setting.
Myth: ABA is only applied to behavior issues or problems.
Fact: ABA is used to increase peoples’ abilities. It has been used to teach various skills, from language to social and self-care. For example, I learned to communicate through picture exchange communication system (PECs), since I lacked expressive language very young. It was a way for me to communicate with people in my life. Peoples’ abilities and individual needs are considered through observations, measurements, and assessments.
Myth: Anyone can do ABA.
Fact: The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) makes sure that behavior analysts, such as BCBAs and BCaBAs, are certified to train anyone in the community involved in an individual’s life to apply intervention techniques. For example, parents can receive parent training to apply intervention techniques. Plus, college courses in ABA and certification can help people gain knowledge and apply ABA techniques. It is preferred and recommended to gain proper knowledge and certification to apply ABA techniques in various settings.
Do you know any more myths about Applied behavior analysis (ABA) that should be broken down? Share your thoughts in the comment’s section.
The picture I posted demonstrates a new chapter in life. My family and I are beginning the new year in our new home, here in Florida! We are only a couple months away from being one year since living in Florida, after growing up in New Jersey for twenty years. To start off the new year, family and I are making new memories in our new home, continuing to explore new places, and attend events in our new home town. Want to know ways to start off the new year for the family and for individuals on the autism spectrum? Here are some activities to start off the new year for everyone:
Create a memory book! It’s a fun, arts and craft activity for the whole family. Everyone can put pictures into scrapbooks or photo album books, and then share memories created as a family together over the last year.
Cook a special meal! Celebrate the new year by starting off making a special meal that is healthy, while everyone can enjoy together as a family. It is important to consider individual needs when cooking meals, and engage individuals on the autism spectrum to cook, so they develop on cooking skills.
Watch movies together! Everyone in the family, including individuals on the autism spectrum, should pick out a movie to watch all together. This is a way great for individuals with autism to learn to take turns, while learning to watch a movie different from their own favorites at the same time.
Exercise! Think of exercise as a life style. Pick an activity that everyone in the family enjoys to do, such as soccer or dancing, and complete that activity for thirty to sixty minutes a day. Complete an activity to do three to four days a week, as it will help with building strength and flexibility for the long run in life. Exercising is beneficial in overall health and development for everyone, including for individuals with ASD.
Go explore somewhere new! It can be a new park, event, town in your area, and etc. The most important part with this is that the whole family is doing something new together to start of the new year. To prepare individuals with ASD to explore a new place, implement social stories, and keep supply in a bag pack of individual needs, from medications, to favorite foods and stim toys. This will help make a new adventure less stressful for the whole family.
What is one new thing you want to do in the new year? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
For me, I’ve experienced so much more this year than I’ve had before. I went through a really big change with my family. My family and I moved from New Jersey after growing up there for twenty years to Florida. It was hard saying goodbye to so many memories in NJ, but it opened up a new chapter in my life, which is living in a new state. When my family and I moved to Florida back in March, we lived in an apartment, since our house was being built at the time. We lived in an apartment for more than half a year due to delays and setbacks with our new house. In the end, we love our new home!
Furthermore, I gained so many professional experiences. Within the first month living in Florida, I gained work as a paraprofessional for the school district in the town I live in. It is so nice having a 15 minute commute to work! In June of this year, I gained work with an ABA company on various roles, including as their blogger! I thank my friend and colleague, Mark Fleming, for connecting with me with Full Spectrum ABA. I made so many new friends and coworkers through Full Spectrum, and I am so excited to grow with them for my future career in ABA.
Not only this year affected me professionally, but more personally. The biggest lesson I learned is that no matter how far away I am from my cousins and best friends, I know they are always there for me. Almost all of my cousins and all of my best friends live back up in New Jersey and New York. I am so glad for video chatting and once in a while visits from people I love so much! The distance has been reminding me to be grateful for people who are still in my life today.
All in all, I cannot wait to know what 2022 has in store for me! I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year!
The holidays can be a great time for families. Although, it can be stressful for individuals on the autism spectrum. Here are some tips to help an individual with ASD get through the holidays:
When traveling for the holidays, always be prepared with favorite things. It can be favorite foods, books, toys, and etc. It helps calms stressful situations.
When facing difficulty with changes in the house, gradually put up decorations in the house. Develop a visual schedule of decorations that will be added each day in the house. For example, setting up the menorah up by the window for Hanukkah on the first day of the month, or setting up the Christmas tree for Christmas first day of the month. Engage individuals with ASD in the process, so they are aware its the holiday season.
Create a calm space when feeling overwhelmed with events or visitors in house. Teach an individual with ASD to go to their calm space when feeling overwhelmed, or teach signals to let them know to use the calm space when feeling overwhelmed. Calming activities, such as calming music or stimming toys, should be placed in the clam space.
When purchasing gifts for the holidays, purchase gifts that will be beneficial. Individuals with ASD need things that will help them in the world. For example, purchasing as puzzle that teaches individuals with ASD to problem solve, since problem solving is an important skill to apply in the world. Gifts should be favorable while providing a purpose. Here are some more gift ideas to get for an individual with ASD:
Noise cancelling headphones
Coloring or drawing books
Above all, know the individual. Make sure to understand the tolerance level for noise and sensory. Be aware of situations an individual with ASD can handle, and things that will make the holiday season more enjoyable for them.
What other tips do you have to get through the holiday season? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
A BCBA is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who works in various settings and applies principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). BCBAs provide services and interventions to help shape and modify an individual’s behavior. Now that we learned about a BCBA, let me tell you about this guest in the guest interview series of “The World of Autism”!
Kay King is a BCBA in the ABA field. Also, she works in residential group homes with adult clients with disabilities. Kay and I met online through the Autism Global Project community page. Kay is the first guest on my blog who works as a BCBA for clients with autism! In this guest interview, we discuss her inspirations for working with individuals with autism and other disabilities. Plus, you will learn her role as a BCBA. Check out the interview I did with Kay here:
To learn more about Rutger’s Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, check out their website here:
Are you a parent who has a child with autism and/or disabilities?
Parents learn that it takes a community to impact a child with autism and/or disabilities. Sometimes, they have days that they face a lot of challenges raising their child. Through all of the challenges, parents love their child for who they are and help them grow in life. Now let me introduce you to my guest of the guest interview series for “The World of Autism”.
Maribeth Edmunds is a parent of an autistic adult, a principal of an elementary school, and works with Eden Autism to get individuals with disabilities services beyond 21 years old. She and I met through the NJ Autism Think Tank, which is a committee group hosted at Brookdale Community College in NJ, where I graduated and earned my associate’s degree. We discussed about her perspectives of parenting an autistic adult. Plus, she provided her perspectives as a principal of an elementary school in NJ. To learn more about Dr. Maribeth Edmunds, check out this interview I did with her here:
To learn more about Eden Autism, check it out their website here:
Do you the like feeling when your former work or company still remembers you?
I’m kicking off the end of this month with a throwback Tuesday blog story!
Last Tuesday, I received this picture of me from a previous co-paraprofessional who I worked with in the same classroom in NJ. At the end of last year, I won the award for best paraprofessional of the school year in my elementary school for Middletown Public School District. As recalled, I won the award for my dedication and passion working with elementary school students with autism. I found out from my former co-paraprofessional that the principal hung up the picture of me in the hallway of the elementary school. It was so sweet I’m still remembered at the elementary school!
Have you ever experienced a time when someone you worked with reach out to you and shared a sweet moment like this? Share your experiences in the comments section below!
Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Many people love thanksgiving for all of the fun activities with family and eating lots of great food, such as turkey and gravy. As for me, I always enjoyed being with my family and cousins. Although, this holiday can be challenging for individuals on the autism spectrum. Here are some ideas to make Thanksgiving an easier holiday for everyone:
Wear comfortable clothing and bring extra pair of clothes if pictures are being taken from family. Do not force people with autism to wear clothing that feels scratchy.
Have a bag full of favorite sensory toys and gadgets. For example, fidget spinners and headphones are some common toys and gadgets for individuals with autism. Always be prepared with a bag to get through the holiday.
Prepare and incorporate foods everyone can enjoy into a Thanksgiving meal.
Use social stories to prepare a person with autism for Thanksgiving. Social stories allow people with autism to learn about the holiday in general and learn expectations to follow.
What your favorite about Thanksgiving? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
This past week for my Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) part one course in college, I learned about differential reinforcement. Also, I learned differential reinforcement procedures applied in ABA therapy. So, what is differential reinforcement?
Differential reinforcement means reinforcing specific social behaviors/responses in a particular situation or event while withholding reinforcement for other target behaviors/responses. Differential reinforcement is used to increase social behaviors/responses while reducing target behaviors/responses that are in the way of learning. There are five differential reinforcement procedures applied in real world situations:
Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior (DRA): teach an individual an alternative or replacement behavior/response, and they are reinforced for that behavior/response. DO NOT provide reinforcement for target behavior/response. For example, Abby learns to raise her hand instead of calling out (target behavior). She is reinforced for raising her hand. She would not be reinforced for calling out.
Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior (DRO): an individual is reinforced for any other behavior/response that is not the target behavior/response in a specific time period. DO NOT provide reinforcement for target behavior/response. For example, Justin hits his older brother (target behavior). If Justin puts his hands in his pocket instead of hitting his older brother, then he is reinforced.
Differential Reinforcement of Incompatible Behavior (DRI): an individual is reinforced for any behavior/response incompatible with the target behavior/response. For example, Thomas puts his hands in his mouth (target behavior). Tommy learns to hold a stimming toy in his hands. If Tommy holds a stimming toy in his hands instead of putting his hands in his mouth, then he is reinforced. If he puts his hands in his mouth, then redirect him to use a stimming toy and do not provide attention.
Differential Reinforcement of Low Rates of Responding (DRL): an individual is reinforced when frequency of target behavior/ response decreases at a set time interval. This is used to decrease the target behavior/response. For example, Vince washes his hands five times in a half hour before lunch (target behavior). If Vince washes his hands only one time in a half hour before lunch, then he is reinforced.
Differential Reinforcement of High Rates of Responding (DRH): an individual is reinforced when demonstrating a social behavior/response in a time interval. This is used to increase a social behavior/response. For example, Jack does not raise his hand to participate in science class much. He only raises his hand once in a 50 minute science block, so the set criterion is two. If he raises his hand twice to respond to questions during that block of time, then he is reinforced.
Now that you learned about these differential reinforcement procedures, would you use them? When would you use them? Share your thoughts in the comments section!