Operant Innovations Monthly 002 | Why are YOU Here? | Corey Robertson

Join Corey Robertson, M.S., BCBA, LBA-NY, LBA-VA as he asks you to contemplate, "Why are YOU here?"

For feedback, comments, and suggestions, contact operantinnovations@abatechnologies.com


Speaker 1 (00:02):

This month's operant innovations episode features Corey Robertson asking you, why are you here?

Speaker 2 (00:11):

Why are you here? I asked this question of our students each term during orientation week and the Florida tech ABA online program for several reasons. I want returning students who've taken courses with us before and are at different stages of their journey toward certification, as a board certified behavior analyst or board certified assistant behavior analyst to reflect on their personal goals and objectives. At the beginning of each term. For new students, I want them to reflect on how choosing, to take coursework in behavior analysis aligns with their personal values and professional goals. Why are you here? Many students will simply state that they want to be certified as a BCBA or BCABA. Maybe they're already registered behavior technicians or are working in the field in some capacity and have recognized certification as the next step in their career. Some are teachers, school psychologists, mental health counselors, or other professionals who have seen the impact that applied behavior analysis can have and are planning to switch careers.

Speaker 2 (01:16):

Or at the very least add a particular set of skills to their repertoire to increase their effectiveness and perhaps their marketability. Some are parents whose children's lives as well as their own have been touched by the practice of ABA. And they want to become informed consumers of ABA services and perhaps even learn to help others. Why are you here? I believe that at some level, all those seeking education and certification in behavior analysis want to change lives and make no mistake about it. Behavior analysts change lives. We change lives by teaching people skills that help them achieve their personal outcomes. I, as a senior lead instructional manager for ABA technologies and a lead co-instructor for Florida Tech's online program, my role is the same to teach professionals the skills that will enable them to reach their professional and personal outcomes, to be able to change lives.

Speaker 2 (02:18):

Applied behavior analysis is an amazing science of human behavior that enables us to understand why people do what they do, to understand and address performance problems in the workplace, to design educational environments that help learners at all levels to succeed, and to assess and treat challenging and sometimes dangerous behavior and teach our most vulnerable members of society skills that help them appropriately get their needs met. Behavior analysts, change lives for a living, but inherent in that statement is the fact that those lives are in our hands. In 1972, the field of analysis was still in its infancy. The journal of applied behavior analysis was launched in 1968 with Bear Wolf and Risley Seminole article on the dimensions that defined behavior analysis applied, behavioral, analytic, technological, effective, conceptually systematic, and achieving generality. But the practice was very much still behavior modification. And there was very little in the way of assurances that those who claim to be behavior modifiers had any real competency to do so.

Speaker 2 (03:33):

The state of Florida came into the spotlight in terms of just how damaging the results of incompetent practice could be, but in their response to the Sunland, Miami scandal paved the way for a profession of applied behavior analysis. Bailey and Birch give a nice summary of the events at sunland, Miami in the first chapter of their book, ethics for behavior analysts, now in its third edition. In summary, children and adults with disabilities suffered agregious abuses and even lost their lives due to the incompetent practice of what they deemed behavior modification practices that were in fact ill designed and not grounded in any research or proven interventions well intentioned, but poorly supervised staff implemented bizarre examples of punishment, including force masturbation and other sexual acts for individuals caught engaging in these acts, beatings, physical restraint for over 24 hours, an individual forced to sit in a bathtub for two days, food withheld, sleep withheld.

Speaker 2 (04:40):

The list of atrocities goes on and on. These were acts that were well-documented as if they were acceptable practices. The response from the blue ribbon committee was thorough, and fortunately was followed. A statewide peer review committee system was formed, which is still in effect to this day to ensure that behavior plans include evidence-based least restrictive, most effective procedures. A statewide advocacy program was established with unannounced visits to institutions and other facilities providing services to individuals with disabilities. The first Florida work session on behavior analysis and retardation the clinical term for intellectual disabilities at the time led to the formation of the Florida association for behavior analysis. And in 1988, FABA adopted the FABA code of ethics. The first code of ethics specific to behavior analysis trainings and a statewide certification program ensured the minimum competency of individuals applying behavior analysis to our most vulnerable citizens, which eventually evolved into the private nonprofit behavior analyst certification board, which has developed international standards for the practice of behavior analysis since 1999 and an ever evolving certification process today, 42% of behavior analysts have been certified in the last four years since the BACB professional and ethical compliance code for behavior analyst was introduced.

Speaker 2 (06:12):

We have the benefit of practicing in a world where there is a certifying agency with an actionable professional code and a defined disciplinary action process, a world where insurance mandates provided for reimbursement for our services and where demand for services is high in the US many States have, or are pursuing licensure specific to behavior analysis, supporting our right to practice and protecting the consumers of behavior analytics services. None of this has come about by accident, but through the labor of love from individuals passionate about changing lives through the science and practice of ABA. So if you're a student of ABA, if you're a BCBA or a BCABA or an RBT, if you're a parent or other stakeholder of ABA services, you're here because we recognized early on that there was a need for assurances of competency that lives are in our hands. And when practitioners mess this up, people get hurt and they even die.

Speaker 2 (07:20):

This isn't just something that happened in the distant past check, the disciplinary action section of the BACB website, search some of the names, one of the individuals who was sanctioned by the BACB served over 10 years in prison for the death of a child with autism, it is important that we recognize the risks of what we do. Yes, we change lives for the better, but those lives are in our hands. So everything we do matters, everything we do matters. It matters that students master these concepts and principles and engage in academic honesty throughout their coursework. It matters that you know, the difference between an SD and an EO, it matters that we conduct thorough functional assessment and analysis to correctly determine the function of behavior. It matters that you know how to interpret data and that you graph results on a frequent basis to assess effectiveness.

Speaker 2 (08:19):

It matters that supervision of trainees meets our established standards in terms of frequency, level of oversight, accepted and unaccepted practices, restricted and unrestricted types of activities. It matters that professionals only accept cases and supervise others with clients that are commensurate with their training experience and expertise. It matters that we take on only as many cases and supervisees that we can effectively manage. Everything we do matters. The difference could be life or death. The reward for being deliberate in all our choices, for analyzing the risks and rewards, for diligently pursuing excellence in our academic and professional endeavors, for evaluating our actions and results through the lens of our professional ethical code, for being conceptually systematic analytic and effective. The reward is the change we see in our client's lives. When a child speaks its first word or successful in school, when adult gets their first job or moves out of their home, when a family's life is changed through the power of ABA, these are the benefits, these are our reinforcers, right? So again, I'll ask you, why are you here?

Speaker 1 (09:46):

Operant innovations for feedback, questions, and suggestions, contact operantinnovations@abatechnologies.com.


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