April 2020 archive

Meet Beth!

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.

Stopping Tangible Behaviors

Now that we know what behaviors related to tangibles are and how to prevent them lets talk about how to stop them when they start to occur. One of the most important things to remember is that if you give the child the item they are begging for you will just make it more likely that these behaviors will continue to occur.

The first method that can be used to stop these behaviors is to give the child the item that they want after they start behaving appropriately. An example of this would be letting a child have their toy after they ask for it correctly. If the toy they want is being use by another child or is somewhere that they cannot reach you should not let them have their toy until they ask nicely if they can play with it.

The second method is to stay strong with telling a child no or ignoring their inappropriate behavior. For example, if the child starts crying when they can’t have their toy because it’s bedtime, don’t give in and let them have their toy. This will just teach them that they can cry to get their toy after you say no. Make sure you are sticking to what you originally told them and not giving in.

Here at the Husky ABA Clinic we have lots of fun toys to play with, but we always want to use our strategies we’ve shared with you over the last few weeks to make sure our clients know when and how they can get access to play time.

How do our Students Learn?

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

Preventing Tangible Behaviors

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!

Meet Averi!

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!

Behaviors to Access Tangibles

Now that we have introduced you to escape and attention-maintained behaviors it’s time to go over behaviors that are caused by access to tangibles. Tangibles are any items or activities that are highly preferred by a child.

A common example of this that you may have experienced once or twice is when you’re in a store and your child really wants a new toy, but you tell them no. In response to hearing you say this, the child may fall to the ground and start crying to try to get access to the toy. If you or someone else eventually gives in and gets your child the toy you are reinforcing their unwanted behaviors, or making it more likely to occur again in the future.

Another example of this type of behavior is a child who hits anyone that tries to take away her iPad. The child wants to keep playing, but you are trying to fight off their physical aggression and may even give in and just let her play for a bit longer. This once again, is reinforcing the behavior of hitting in order to get more iPad time. These behaviors can be tough to deal with at times, but there are some strategies that we have to help.

The purpose of any of these behaviors is to gain access to a preferred item or activity, which may or may not be something they already have access to regularly. The more you give the child access to the items they want or give in to their behaviors the more likely it is that they will continue to behave in ways that you don’t want them to. Follow us on Facebook to find out next week what you can do to prevent and react to these behaviors!

Our Changing Clinic

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.

Teaching Children to Ask for Attention

Now that we have learned about attention-maintained behavior and possible ways to prevent behaviors we need to discuss ways to stop the behaviors when they do occur. The most important thing to remember when trying to stop the behaviors of a child is to avoid putting all of the attention on what the child is doing wrong. Instead you should tell them what they should be doing or only give them attention when they are following the rules.

One way to handle attention-maintained behaviors is to give attention to someone who is following the rules. This can be done in a classroom setting with other students or at home with another child. To do this successfully you need to ignore any attention seeking behaviors form one child and look for ways the other child is following the rules. For example, if you are playing a game with Joe and Jane and Jane is screaming you may look at Joe and tell him that he can go first because he is sitting calmly and waiting for his turn. Jane should be able to see you reinforcing Joe for his behavior so she can learn from your interactions. Seeing that she can get attention by following the rules should increase the chances that she will stop engaging in unwanted behavior so she can get attention.

Another method to stop the behaviors of a child seeking attention is to use something we call functional communication training. The goal of this is to teach the child a new verbal behavior that will replace the unwanted behaviors they are currently engaging in. An example of this is to teach a child who screams when they have to do homework on their own to say, “can you check my work?” when the child wants an adult to come over to him or her. Another example is if the child is hitting their peers to get attention you can teach him or her to ask their friends if they want to play. Giving children a new way to communicate with those around them can greatly reduce the number of inappropriate behaviors you see.

Children who are looking for attention should not be punished, but they should be taught what they should be doing instead. Here at the Husky ABA Clinic we want children to be able to get attention, but we want them to get it through the use of socially acceptable behaviors.