Archive of ‘Meet the Team’ category
Meet Meghan and Zoe!
They have been running the Husky ABA clinic Facebook and blog. They both have positions as Graduate Assistants at St. Cloud State and have been working hard on keeping everything for the clinic organized and helping develop materials for our undergraduate clinicians.
Meghan and Zoe both come from South Dakota State University, where they both Majored in Psychology. Meghan also has minors in Sociology and Philosophy and Zoe has minors in Human Development and Family Studies and Mental Health Services.
Meghan became interested in ABA through working as a paraprofessional at a special education cooperative during her summer and winter breaks from college. She would work closely with the Behavior Analysts at these programs to help them implement their treatment programs and found it interesting to see how certain behavior plans affected each student.
Zoe originally became interested in ABA through a behavior modification course she took at SDSU. After taking this course Zoe started to do behavioral research for the professor of the class and got a job at the South Dakota Development Center in Redfield, SD where she learned a lot about how important behavior plans can be. Through this work Zoe found ABA to be very interesting and practical and decided that she wanted to learn more about it.
Meghan and Zoe have been friends since freshmen year of undergrad and a fun fact about them is that they took a 15-hour road trip to Red River Gorge in Kentucky to go rock climbing together. They spent a week there hiking, climbing, and camping, even though it was snowing for a few days!
We have gone over escape, attention, and tangible maintained behaviors, now we will introduce you to the last function that is a little more complex. This last one is sensory maintained behaviors. These are the behaviors that are automatically maintained, so the child doesn’t need a response from you to be reinforced.
Some behaviors that may occur to gain sensory stimulation are hair twirling, hand waving, and scratching. These behaviors are not done for any reason other than that it feels good to the client, so it can be difficult to address them and to find ways to decrease the behaviors. These behaviors are also not always harmful and might not need to be stopped all of the time, but if they are getting in the way of the students daily life or education they may need to be addressed.
One way to decrease these behaviors is to provide your child with access to sensory toys and other items that are stimulating. Giving your child breaks or ways to access these items can help lower the chances that they will engage in their unwanted sensory behaviors. Some examples of objects that can replace sensory behaviors are play doh and beads. The goal of doing this is to replace the inappropriate behaviors with more appropriate ones.
In our clinic we keep an array of sensory toys on hand for our clients can use.
Meet Beth! She is an undergraduate clinician here at the Husky ABA Clinic. She is currently working towards a major in Psychology here at SCSU and is minoring in Community Psychology. She plans to get her master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis after graduating, and she says her love for this field came a few weeks after taking her first ABA class.
Beth says that working in the clinic has been very beneficial because it gave her knowledge of ABA that she would not have been able to get from classes alone. One of Beth’s favorite experiences from the clinic was when she was able to help a client transition smoothly. This client would struggle with going from preferred to non-preferred activities, so seeing her go from play time to work without hesitation was very exciting.
Beth wants everyone to know that she is very dedicated to the clinic and her clients. Adjusting to not seeing everyone each week had been hard for her, but she know that this is what she wants to do and is very excited to see where all of this experience takes her in the future.
As we talked about a few weeks ago, things are very different in our clinic now that we cannot meet in person. One of our biggest changes are the tasks our undergraduate students are given and how we teach them the basics of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). We mentioned in our last post that they were being given articles to read and podcasts to listen to, but we have started using a new method of teaching with them since our last update. This new method of teaching is called: Portable Operant Research and Teaching Lab, or PORTL.
The graduate students working with the clinic are using the PORTL method to conduct weekly trainings for the undergraduate students. During these PORTL lessons, our student clinicians use household items (e.g., a cup, spoon, pen, or loose change) to practice a variety of clinically essential skills and better understand behavioral principles. With these items, the undergraduates can receive lessons on basic behavioral principles, taught through hands on trainings. The best part? All the PORTL lessons have been modified by our graduate student partners so every lesson can be conducted live on Zoom, giving our students meaningful learning opportunities without having to leave their home. The students meet once a week and go through three to five lessons with a graduate student. Our undergraduate clinicians can ask questions and receive feedback on skills they are learning, such as: picking a target behavior, providing reinforcement, providing clear and concise instructions to learners, and even practice what it is like to be a learner in an ABA program.
Transitioning to telehealth and teleteaching is still a big adjustment for the undergraduate clinicians used to working with children in our clinic, but many enjoy having the opportunity to learn new skills under the guidance of our graduate student partners. Our team at the Husky ABA Clinic are all still getting comfortable with learning over Zoom, but our team is enjoying doing everything we can to continue to learn more about the field of ABA and improve our skills in any way that we can! We are proud and excited to find creative and accessible ways to provide services to our clients and meaningful opportunities for growth to our student partners.
Check out the PORTL website for more information: https://behaviorexplorer.com
Last week we introduced you to behaviors that can occur when a child wants access to a toy or activity, this week we will give you ideas on how to prevent these behaviors. It may be difficult to stop these behaviors correctly because many of them can go away if you give the child what they want, but we want to make sure the child doesn’t learn to cry every time they don’t get their way.
The first method that you can use to lower the chances of these behaviors happening is to give the child reminders on how they can appropriately ask for items that he or she wants. If you notice that your child is starting to grab for items or get upset that they don’t have access to a certain toy you can say something like “if you want to play with that toy you can ask someone to get it for you” or “You can ask your friend for a turn if you want the toy.” These reminders will help them understand what they need to be doing to gain access to the items they like.
Another method is to give your child choices of items that they want and give them a chance to earn them. Don’t just give the child toys because they are engaging in unwanted behavior and you want it to stop, let them have their fun items when they are doing what they should be. You can ask the child before a task what they want to be playing with after, and then follow through and have them complete the task to get their toy.
Check out our blog next week to find out how you can stop the behaviors when they start to occur!
Averi is a graduate clinician here at the Husky ABA Clinic and just started working with us in January. She does work that is expected of a BCBA, but under more supervision and with greater guidance. This entails developing protocols, training parents, supervising the undergraduate clinicians, etc.
Averi’s first exposure to ABA was through the services provided to a family member. She became very interested once she started seeing the positive life changes the treatment brought about, and she wanted to be a part of a profession which impacted people in such a tremendous way. Following graduation, Averi plans to work in the Twin Cities Metro and surrounding areas, either in-home or within a clinic. Being involved with the Husky ABA Clinic has helped her decide that she wants to work with the primary stakeholders of children (especially parents!).
Being a graduate clinician has allowed Averi to exercise skills which have been instrumental in improving not only her quality of service provision, but her confidence in providing services, as well. One of Averi’s favorite moments from working in the clinic was the first time her client was able to use the skills Averi had taught her with her parents. Averi’s client asked for something she couldn’t get to without being prompted!
One last fun fact about Averi is that she been using ABA to teacher one of her dogs (a samoyed named Kaya), to attend to pictures of a star, smiley, butterfly, etc., and to respond to each image with a particular trick!
The world has drastically changed in the past four weeks. Even with all of the madness, our team at the Husky ABA Clinic is still hard at work. Though our tasks are now being completed remotely, we are committed to providing services to our clients in safe manner while also expanding our skill set during these unprecedent times.
Two of undergraduate clinicians, Cassidy and Amanda, have shifted thier focus to learning more about the field of ABA through research articles and podcasts. Cassidy has been learning about evidence-based practices in instructing preschool life skills, assessing and treating self-injurious behavior, and gaining knowledge in the foundations of ABA. Amanda is dividing deep into the literature to understand how our practice can be culturally competent with our clients and their families. While they are not able to work directly with our team and clients, Amanda and Cassidy are happy to be involved in the imperative, behind-the-scenes work that is not only crucial for their behavior-analytic knowledge, but also for the use of evidence-based procedures for our clients.
While the undergraduates have been critical in our understanding and developing of interventions, our graduate clinicians, Averi and Naomi, have not skipped a beat to best serve their clients remotely! In regard to their clinical work, they meet remotely with the clients’ family to increase the families’ skill set in implement evidence-based practices, trouble shoot potential issues that happening at home, and develop materials for the families to use. In addition, they are creating programming materials to directly work with their clients via teleconference on skill sets such as imitating others, requesting items and attention, remaining on-task, and engaging in eye contact with their parents. Naomi and Averi are also creating treatment materials for future clinicians at the Husky ABA Clinic.
All of us here at the Husky ABA clinic are grateful that we are still able to work with our clients and their families. We know it is a scary time. We see this is an opportunity to expand our knowledge in providing behavior-analytic services in new and meaningful ways.
Meet Amanda Addo, an undergraduate clinician at the Husky ABA Clinic! Amanda has been working at the clinic since the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester. At the clinic, Amanda works with undergraduate and graduate clinicians to provide services to children with autism. Some of Amanda’s responsibilities include conducting assessments, running programming (such as working on toilet training and language acquisition skills), and a supportive, therapeutic relationship with her clients.
Amanda is a senior at St. Cloud State University where she is majoring in Community Psychology and minoring in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Amanda was originally minoring in forensic science, but decided to make the switch to ABA. However, she still enjoys forensic psychology and has continued to take courses in that area of psychology as well!
Amanda came to be involved with ABA when working towards her major in Community Psychology, taking the ABA classes required to get the Community Psychology major. Amanda said, “I personally really enjoyed my ABA classes and really enjoyed the structure of the concepts that we were taught. I also investigated the ABA field because I do plan on graduating this fall and have heard so many wonderful things about the graduate program here at St. Cloud State University. Dr. Luna provided me with this amazing opportunity to put all my knowledge to practice.” Amanda’s interest and excellence in ABA led her to being chosen as one of the clinic’s first undergraduate clinicians.
After graduating with her major in Community Psychology, Amanda plans to complete her certification as a BCaBA (Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst). After earning her BCaBA certification next spring, Amanda hopes to decide on a masters program to continue her education at.
One of Amanda’s proudest moment at the Husky ABA Clinic “was the day that both my client and I were so excited that my client remembered my name and expressed their comfortability with me. From the very first day I met my client, to that day was an experience that was new for both of us. I came into this experience a bit nervous and doubted my own abilities for some time and the moment my clients face lit up after reciting my name and showing that they were comfortable around me, my confidence grew.”
Naomi is not our only multi-lingual clinician at the Husky ABA Clinic, Amanda is able to understand four different languages! Amanda’s parents are from Ghana, so she grew up hearing English and three Ghanaian languages. By the age of four, Amanda was able to understand these languages fluently. She says that speaking Ghanaian is a bit more difficult and she continues to practice them.
About the Husky ABA Clinic, Amanda said, “This experience has been the best one yet throughout my entire college career. I have learned so much from my colleagues, clients, and supervisor. Receiving so much support, as well as knowledge, while at the clinic truly makes me feel that I will be more than prepared for whatever experience I have in my future. This experience is one that I am glad I did not pass up and I am very appreciative to be a part of such a rewarding and exciting opportunity.”
Meet Naomi Ziegler, a first year graduate clinician at the Husky ABA Clinic!
Naomi Ziegler is a first year graduate student in the SCSU Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) graduate program, she began in Fall 2019. Prior to beginning the ABA graduate program, Naomi received her bachelor’s degree in Community Psychology from SCSU and her associates degree in General Education with an emphasis in Biblical Studies from Rosedale Bible College in Ohio.
Naomi has worked with the clinic since its beginning, first by assisting with parent workshops in Fall 2019 and then as a graduate clinician beginning January 2020. At the clinic, Naomi is responsible for supervising the undergraduate clinicians with her co-graduate clinician Averiel Wright. Naomi and Averiel oversee the undergraduate clinicians with the guidance and support of the SCSU ABA faculty, including Dr. Ben Witts, Dr. Kim Schulze, Dr. Michele Traub, and Dr. Odessa Luna. As a supervisor to the undergraduate clinicians, Naomi is responsible for conducting behavioral assessments, which are then used to make treatment decisions and to develop and implement behavior change programs. Naomi is also responsible for training, directing, and giving feedback to the undergraduate clinicians.
Naomi came to be involved in ABA after she took undergraduate ABA courses at SCSU. Naomi says, “I found it [ABA] fascinating and could really see how much of an impact it could have on people’s lives. I then decided to do my community psychology internship at Behavioral Dimensions, an organization that provides in-home behavioral services to children with ASD. I loved this work and it fit with my desire to help others live up to their full potential.”
Naomi is still deciding on what she would like to do after graduating from the masters program, but is interested in potentially pursuing working with children and staff at summer camps. She expects that her prior experience at the Husky ABA Clinic and with Behavioral Dimensions has better prepared her for training others, working with children, developing and implementing plans and programs, and supervising staff. “I am growing in confidence and am learning so much from tis experience. I believe that this experience will benefit any things I might go into in the future,” Naomi said of her experience at the Husky ABA clinic.
Since January 2020, Naomi has had the opportunity to work with a client and supervise others working with that client every week. In just a few short months, Naomi says that one of her proudest and most outstanding moments working at the clinic has been to see her client increase her skillset. Her client has made great strides in following instructions, making eye contact, and playing with others – skills that can be essential for clients to adaptively navigate their environments and be independent.
When Naomi isn’t in the Husky ABA Clinic or working on her graduate studies, she is busy taking advantage of every opportunity for adventure available to her. Naomi lived in Haiti from ages one to two and again from ages 16 to 18 and learned to speak Haitian Creole. She has spent the last four summers as a Boundary Waters Canoe guide, which can be found in northern Minnesota. Naomi has also spent two and a half months hiking on the Appalachian Trail. 700 of the 800 miles Naomi hiked on the Appalachian Trail were hiked barefoot.
Meet Cassidy! She has worked at the Husky ABA Clinic since January 2020. At the clinic, she works with clients to build rapport, take data on their current abilities, and implement interventions to expand their skills. Most of this work is integrated with their play, so she and the staff get to have fun and make great connections with everyone involved.
Cassidy is a senior in the Community Psychology program at St. Cloud State. She became interested in ABA after taking her first behavior intervention class this past summer. At the time she was going for school counseling, but found that Behavior Analysis just “clicked.” She ended up talking to one of our professors, Dr. Traub, about the master’s program and has not looked back since!
After graduation, Cassidy will being pursuing her master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at SCSU. Our clinic has given her first hand experience in the field, as well as connecting her to faculty and graduate students in the program she will be starting this Fall. Since starting at the clinic, Cassidy says she feels much more prepared and has a clear understanding of what she will be doing in the near future; she cannot be more excited!
One of Cassidy’s favorite experiences at the clinic so far was the first time that the client said her name and initiated in social play with her. At this point, Cassidy realized the strong connection she had made with the client and felt that she had earned her client’s trust, which is one of Cassidy’s biggest goals in this field.
One fun fact about Cassidy is she rescued a cat who was born with a muscular defect. His back legs do not work very well, which makes it very difficult to walk. However, he is the sweetest little guy and wants to be near you at all times. He loves to play with their other cat, even though he falls over pretty much the entire time, and is the best snuggler! Another fun fact about Cassidy is that she plays soccer here at SCSU. She has played soccer since she was 3 and has only grown to love the game more! Go Huskies!