What´s a behavior analyst, you ask? That´s easy, we´re angels! Hahahaha! Just kidding! But we are very close to angels and the following is a description of what we actually do and where we do it.
A behavior analyst is a person that conducts behavior assessments and is trained in applied behavior analysis. Behavior assessments are used to identify behaviors, either decrease unwanted behavior or increase desired behaviors. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is one of many techniques used to modify behaviors. ABA is based upon the learning principles to improve or bring about socially significant and meaningful behaviors. This technique is widely used in schools, home or community home group settings. The ABA model is not a cookie cutter format and very individualized according to the needs of the clients. The clients skills are taken into consideration and developmentally appropriate goals are developed. The goals are then broken down into manageable steps that will be taught from in a very simple manner. We tackle the gamut of goals from the “easy” like changing routines to help the client to more complex goals such as aggressive behavior. Treatments involve a lot of observation and a ton of interview questions (if it´s a child, then their parents, caregivers, teachers are interviewed).
Interviews involve questions to help identify the behavior by defining it, what happens before, during and after the behavior. Some examples of interview questions are: Who was involved? What did you see or hear? How loud was it? Where did it take place? How long did it last? What happened after? What did you do after? and a whole lot more! Once the behavior has been defined, we collect data, then we analyze it by looking at the function of the behavior. The purpose that the behavior is serving is the function of the behavior. Once these impressions are made, that´s when we break down the goals into manageable steps that we must teach the parent or person to carry out. This is where ABA technique takes place. Like any goal, we must meet weekly and monitor, stay consistent, and modify as we go along.
You´ll find ABA specialists working in homes, community and school settings and you´ll hear that they only work with the autistic or developmentally disabled population. Behavior Analysts are beginning to be seen in other areas as well. They modify behavior and train others therefore their experience fits well into other specialties such as animal training, business, training, Human Resources, and in my case: life coaching.
I take your goal, do an assessment by asking you a bunch of questions, we both figure out what the function of your behavior is, what exactly is the purpose of your behavior and even formulate an impression why it´s happening then give you the tools to work through each of those goals. We monitor them by checking on your bench mark goals. We modify them as we go along. My clients have had great success in reaching their goals. This process in my case, usually, takes 3 months.
I´m a trained Behavior Analyst that did work for many years with autistic and developmentally disabled individuals, mostly children, which meant that I trained the trainer. The trainer in this case was the child´s parent(s). It wasn´t easy going into their homes to conduct the behavior assessments. It sometimes felt like a huge feat to think of where to start in changing the child´s behavior but it all started with the parent. I was there to change the behavior of the child through the parent. So, I had to get them ready for what seemed like a gigantic leap into an unknown (for them) which entailed in trusting me and trusting this process (ABA) that was unfamiliar to them. It was my job to simplify it, introduce it, motivate them to start, and track their progress AND track the progress of the new behavior of their child. This was not easy at all! Simplifying it in such a way for anyone to reproduce it was the challenge that kept me going! It was easy for me but difficult for them! Talk about a true test of your abilities! Simplifying it enough for someone completely not trained in ABA to become CONFIDENT, SURE OF THEMSELVES to carry out the proper steps. The challenge that I still get excited about each time I meet a new client that is ready to begin tracking their own progress and learning new techniques on how to change their old patterns into new ones. I´ve found that is process is a road to self discovery and self awareness that benefits everyone.
So, why in the world are we angels.? Well, anyone that genuinely loves to help others are angels but for me it was an experience I had many years ago. I was once called an angel by mother of my client. He was a 9 years old boy with a diagnosis of Autism. He was higher functioning yet couldn´t escape the stigma that he had very “poor” social skills. Poor in the eyes of your typical American society but very high social skills to those on the Autism Spectrum. She felt very grateful one day after a school meeting and she turned to me and said, “My son is very lucky to have all these angels here to help him”. That was kind of her to say and very humbling. I left that day thinking that her son and his family were my angels. They gave me new insight, perspective, and her son allowed me to grow in ways that I never imagined I could. His kind little heart and his sweet smile reminded me that we are all angels.
I still think we all have angels come in contact with us once in a while. They show up in different forms, it´s up to you to be open in recognizing them. Thank you for being my little angels.
Wanna talk to this angel? Email me to see if the 3 month program is right for you.
Interested in where to study behavior analysis? Click here.