Friday, June 29, 2012

How Pathetic

How pathetic is it that I ve become a bi-annual blogger? Oh well, I guess it's just an indication of how fast our days seem to pass.  The kids got out of school about a month ago, and it doesn't seem right that summer is almost half over ... but it is.  Ethan completed 5th grade, Aiden 4th grade and Aly 2nd grade and are all looking forward to the next academic year ahead of them.  Much will be the same for all of them.  Same school's, same expectations, same school routine, perhaps the only real structural change will be that Aiden enters prep school.  Which at our school is the equivalent to middle school.  He will change classes, and have more than one teacher.  Last year this time I was freaked out by the prospect of Ethan entering prep school, but now that Ethan has conquered it with little trouble I am actually pretty excited that Aiden will be entering prep.  It means more academic challenges, a higher standard of accountability, and more opportunities for extra curricular activities. 

The boys and Rhett are active in scouts. Last year the Ethan played soccer, basketball, and baseball for the school.  Aiden played soccer and basketball, and would ve loved to play baseball but you have to be at least in 5th grade.  Aly played soccer, and community rec softball this year.  All enjoy their activities, and Rhett and I have fun watching, cheering, and supporting from the sidelines.

One of the major things going on in our household is I have entered the final year of Graduate School.  Which means that now I am doing my internship/practicum at the McNeese Autism Program.  The last year is intensive, and we were prepared for that (at least we thought we were).  My internship started in May and it has been quite the whirlwind, and will continue to be for the rest of the year I suspect.  

Many have asked me alot of questions about my major, career prospects etc... so I ll take this time just to explain a little about it.

My Masters degree will be in Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis.  Once I graduate I will sit for a national certification test, once I pass I will be credentialed as a BCBA which stands for Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

So what does a Behavior Analyst do?
    The short answer is: a behavior analyst will help you to clearly define the strengths and learning needs of your child. She will address those needs using research-based methodologies, and will guide your child’s program based on his performance data, to maximize her progress and development.

So what does that look like?  Currently, I am working with clients ages 3-19 all have developmental disabilities  with the younger children we are working on language development (developing sounds, and utilizing language for communication), foundational skills like labeling, requesting, identifying items, categories etc.  Some of my clients have/had no spoken language so we are working on utilizing eye contact, gestures etc... anything to create a connection to the world for the client.  The reason my descriptions are so general is because the field is all about individualization.  It is unlike the education field because I don't look at a client and say "Oh the diagnosis is ______ so we use this curriculum."   We assess the client and say "Ok their strengths are this, this and this ... how can we build on those to address their weakness' "  In the therapy room the word "no" has no real function, and learning is paired with Positive reinforcement.  Everything we do we collect data on, and we use research in accordance with individual data to make programatic decisions in how to best teach the individual.

So what kind of job will you get with this degree?  Well as a BCBA typically we will either work directly with clients on all of those sorts of things I mentioned above, or we will find people who want to be front line therapists and train them to implement the appropriate interventions, then we will monitor those therapists and coordinate and plan based on the clients data.  

Currently alot of BCBA's work within the Autism field, but  the field extends to many different areas other than just developmental disabilities.  I love it because I get to work on language and learning with clients, no day is ever the same as yesterday, I get to problem solve and I truly believe every child CAN learn I get to be a part of that!  My core spiritual beliefs that every life is valuable make this a good fit for me!

Below I am attaching some youtube links of good examples of ABA therapy:

So that's the Theobald update from South Louisiana !

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Dearest Family and Friends,

Merry Chirstmas and Happy New Year from our clan to yours!  This year finds us even more settled in and in love with our home in Louisiana.  Any of the little details we wish would change, are just that ... small details.  All in all the big picture is great, and full of blessings.

Ethan, 11 this year has left behind the ranks of Cub Scouts and dove in head first to the world of Boy Scouts.  He attended summer camp this summer in North Carolina (without Mom or Dad), and enjoyed himself immensly.  While at camp he completed enough requirements to advance three full ranks in scouting, and experienced white water rafting for the first time.  In day to day life this meant, he came home knowing basic first aid, knowing basic food safety and how to cook some basic dishes, and knowing more knots than I knew existed.  I am positive there are many skills he learned that I left out, but those are the ones I notice most on a day to day basis.  This is his second year at St. John Berchmans which is now Berchmans Academy.  5th grade has been a big transition, but he has handled it well.  Rhett and I are proud of his growth as a student, and a young man.  Other than scouts, Ethan played soccer and is playing basketball this year.  Ethan has a passion for history, if you spent just a little bit of time with him a convesation about the revolutionary war, war tactics or various weapons would likely be topics of discussion.

Aiden, 10 this year has also entered the world of Boy Scouts.  Because of age however, he didn't begin Boy Scouts until November.  He attended winter camp in Louisiana over Thanksgiving break.  Ethan was also scheduled for winter camp, but was unable to attend because of illness.  I think this actually turned out to be a good thing, and allowed Aiden to experience his first away camp without big brother.  He really enjoyed himself, and also came home anxious to share many of the things he learned.  Berchmans Academy is a great place for Aiden.  He enjoys his school, his friends and all of the activities that go along with school and friends.  Soccer and basketball also occupy Aiden's time.  Aiden keeps Rhett and I on our toes, and laughing.  He has a spirit of joy, and is always pushing boundaries. 

Aly, 8 this year spends alot of time being the little sister.  The little sister role has her tagging along to many practices and games.  Lucky for Rhett and I, she typically does this with a smile on her face.  The soccer field remains one of her favorite places.  As a second grader, she has begun to enjoy reading for pleasure, and does well in all of her classes.  If you asked her she would tell you she loves math, and "despises" french. 

Rhett is still working for PHI, as he was last year.  He serves as the committee chair for the boy's boyscout troop, participates in the Dad's club at school, and is an assistant coach for Aiden's soccer team.  His role as Dad is the one that occupies most of his time and energy.

I am still working for a local non profit.  I left for a short period of time and took a full time position doing case management.  We quickly decided that a full time job, as well as full time graduate student wasn't condusive to my most important job as Mom.  Now I am working about 35 hours a week, and maintaining a full time load in Grad school.  I am officially half way done with my Masters degree.  Our current plan is for me to finish in May of 2013.  My work schedule will likely change some during 2012 as I start clinicals and have to dedicate more time to my school work.  The further into my Masters program I get, the more I enjoy it.  I am enjoying my time at McNeese, am blessed by great professors who are truly interested in mentoring their students, and am thrilled that the University has a top notch autism/developmental disabilities clinic in which I will get to complete my clinical training.  2012 will take me to several conferences in which I try to get a handle on the things like insurance billing, setting up a private practice, and some specialized therapy techniques.  Rhett is nothing but supportive, and is actively participating in making a plan for what happens after graduation.

We just returned from 10 days away as a family.  Rhett and I for the most part shut off our cell phones, and enjoyed our time with just the 5 of us.  The kids and I spent a few days with extended family before returning home.  We are still cocooning at home, knowing that break will soon end and our time will again be dictated by the commitments of life.  It seems cliche to remark how fast time passes, but it truly just disappears.  I spend my days as a Mom trying to savor every moment with my growing, evolving children. 

Rhett and I hope all of you are enjoying your days, and that 2012 will be one of blessings for all of you!

Amy and Rhett
Ethan, Aiden, and Aly