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 !