My reflection of 2021

How was 2021 for you?

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!

Moved in on Friday, November 5th, 2021!

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.

October 2021

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!

Holiday Tips 2021

Holiday Hours | City of Edgewood

Do you enjoy the holiday season?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:
    1. Sensory toys
    2. Books
    3. Weighted Blanket
    4. Noise cancelling headphones
    5. Legos
    6. Coloring or drawing books
  5. 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!

Interview with Kay King about work as a BCBA

What is a BCBA?

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

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:

Interview with Maribeth Edmunds about parenting an autistic adult, work as a principal, and Eden Autism

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

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:

Throwback Tuesday

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 2021

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Prepare and incorporate foods everyone can enjoy into a Thanksgiving meal.
  4. 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!

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Differential Reinforcement

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 Procedures
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Update with new home in FL

Back in March of this year, my family and I moved to Florida. Our house was building since March. After living in a rental apartment for more than seven months, closing day was 2 days before Halloween. We officially moved into our new home on Friday, November 5th. Here is my family’s brand new house in Florida!

Picture from closing day of my family’s new house on Friday, October 29th!

It was not an easy journey as our new house was being built. I recall many times losing patience with moving into our new home because of living in a small sized apartment for so long. Despite the obstacles, my family and I got through with strength and perseverance! I am so grateful to live in our new house in Florida now. Cheers to more years of memories in the new home!

Did you move this year? Did you have a new home built this year? Was the journey easy for you or not? What are some of your tips to get through moving time? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS)

Not only response-to-intervention is used in schools, but so is school-wide positive behavior support (SWPBS). So, what is school-wide positive behavior support (SWPBS)?

Five ways to use positive behaviour support strategies in your classroom -  Monash Education

School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS) is a proactive strategy used in schools to promote and increase appropriate expectations of behaviors for all students while establishing a safe learning environment. Students who are at risk for behavior problems can be identified for placement in the three tiers of the school-wide positive behavior support (SWPBS) program: universal, targeted, and intensive.

  1. Tier 1 is universal. All students learn behavior expectations from the general education teacher.
  2. Tier 2 is targeted. Some students need more support with behavior expectations through instruction and intervention. A behavior education program can be implemented in this tier.
  3. Tier 3 is intensive. Students receive intensive intervention and instruction due to ongoing behavior concerns. A functional behavior assessment (FBA) can be implemented in this tier.

Students with IEPs and 504 plans can be placed in any of these tiers, just like for response-to-intervention (RTI) program.

Is school-wide positive behavior support (SWPBS) being used in your school as an educator or in your child’s school as a parent? Do you think this helps students improve on expectations of their behaviors? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Halloween 2021

It looks like Halloween will be happening in person this year! We all know that Halloween is a fun holiday of dressing up in costumes and getting candy from going to peoples’ houses while trick or treating. Although, Halloween can be stressful sometimes for people with autism. How can you help a person with autism get through Halloween?

  1. Plan indoor and outdoor activities! If a person with autism is afraid of going out at night, be prepared with activities inside based on Halloween. For example, everyone can watch some Halloween movies or decorate pumpkins. Its more important to make the holiday fun for everyone.
  2. Be prepared with sensory toys and headphones. There can be loud noises and sounds from peoples’ houses, such as fog machines and moving decorations. Make sure to have these things on you when going trick or treating.
  3. Do not force to dress up in a costume. If costumes are not comfortable due to fabric or style of costume, then substitute with a regular shirt with Halloween colors. It is so important to not force an autistic person into wearing costumes for Halloween. Let them enjoy the holiday the way they want to.
  4. Use social stories to help prepare for the holiday. It is very important to explain to an autistic person about everything that goes on this holiday, so they are less anxious and stressed out.

Do you have any more tips to help a person with autism get through Halloween? What has worked for you?

I hope everyone has a fun Halloween this year!

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