March 2020 archive

Preventing Attention Seeking

Make sure to praise your child when they are following directions

Our last post was focused on behaviors that occur to get attention and what they may look like for your child. Attention maintained behaviors, like most other behaviors, can be prevented in some cases. Although these strategies may not work for every child, they are a good starting point for addressing the behaviors you are seeing at home.

One way that these can be prevented is to stay close to your child. This can be as simple as sitting next to them while they color or work on homework. If they are looking to get attention, having you near may be enough to keep their unwanted behaviors to a minimum. This can also help with the second strategy to prevent these behaviors, which is telling them when they are doing a good job.

Praising your child can also help stop unwanted attention seeking behaviors. If you are near your child, you can watch what they are doing and praise him or her when they are following directions and doing what they are expected to. For example, if they are quietly reading in their chair you can give them behavior specific praise and say, “You’re doing a great job reading!” This shows them they can get attention for doing what they are supposed to and lowers the chance that they will start to cry or yell to get attention.

Check back next week to find out the Husky ABA Clinic’s techniques for stopping the behaviors if these preventative strategies don’t work!

Meet Amanda, an Undergraduate Clinician

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.”


Attention Seeking Behaviors

Last week, we talked about the escape function of behavior. Now, we’re going to talk about behaviors that occur to get attention. These behaviors happen when other people are around and can give the child attention, good or bad. They can start to because the child doesn’t know the appropriate way to ask for attention, so they do anything they can to get adults or their friends to look their way. It is a normal and healthy desire to want attention. Time with a favored adult or friend can be extra valuable to children who have attention-maintained behaviors, but it is the adult’s job to teach the child the appropriate ways to get that attention.

An example of this is behaviors that happen at school, but not at home. Some of these include talking back and fighting. These are all behaviors that they know the teacher, or their peers will react to. The child may make noises out of nowhere or make inappropriate comments when they are in class, since doing so will get their peers to laugh and give them the attention they are looking for.

At home these behaviors may start happening if parents or caregivers spend time on the phone or computer instead of with them. A child may start to yell or whine until someone comes to check on them or looks their way. These behaviors can sometimes stop if the audience is removed, but the behaviors can also get more intense to gain attention from anyone else who is around. Tune in next week to learn more about how we handle attention-maintained behavior at the Husky ABA clinic!

Meet Naomi, a Graduate Clinician

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.