Lennon Grey 🐱 is happy about this too because she gets to cuddle alongside me as I complete my modules.
When I was checking out of a store the cashier gave me some kind yet starling words, “it’s crazy out there, be safe okay?”. Never in my life have I felt true uncertainty about my country’s future…
I had to asked myself, “would I move out of the U.S.A. if I see it taking a turn towards the worse? Then, I became even more thankful that the BACB is an international credentialing body.
During this pandemic we have also gotten to see the importance of quality online programs and just how efficiently necessary they have become to educate the next individuals who will utilize their higher learning skills to make an impact in their communities.
More than ever we need to give online programs the respect they deserve as they can oftentimes be even more rigorous as we witness the aptitude of self determination in the students that complete them. (But let’s leave this topic for another article, okay?)
Till then my friends, BE KIND! Coming together to shine our light bright enough to pathe a path of hope is our biggest strength.
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In therapy you may have come across your supervisor explaining that structured play is required in the plan of care for your patient or client. What this simply means is that the activity is driven by you, the therapist, in which it should lead to a specific learning outcome. Unstructured play means that the child can play as they please without any specific requirements involved in reaching any set goal, if no goal at all. Although all play promotes healthy brain functioning and activity, structured play produces intentional learning results.
For example, think of this…you are playing a video game that requires a controller, (think, super smash brothers). But you have absolutely no idea what any of the buttons do. Therefore, you continue playing by smashing into each and every one of those buttons as you get to see your favorite character swoop and fall, and kick, and fall down the playing scene to its impending death in which you see it hover backup and rejuvenate again leading to minimal consequences. Then, if you head over to Twitch (if you’re into that kind of stuff) and you turn on a super smash brothers tournament game, you can tell that the level of playing is strategic with every single movement of their fingers coding in a move on their controller in order to defeat their opponent.
Another example would be when we use the keyboard to type or text a message to our friends. A guilty pleasure that seems effortless, but requires quite a good amount of neural functioning and coordination. We have to encode a message that is intentional for the decoder to receive it’s intentional meaning. Even though we sometimes generate an unintentional secondary meaning taken out of context. That is why I’m giving you a friendly reminder to always read your messages twice before sending). CLICK (oh no!)…But, our brain isn’t just passing over each of these letters without having programmed ourselves to do this in such a way that it is now effortless to produce the results of a message waiting to be received.
Imagine if we could trick developing young brains to learn through play? Hence the term “structured play”. We do this through structured, fun tasks in which the goal of the therapist is for the learner to like the props or activity at hand enough in order to facilitate learning outcomes. Structured play allows us to teach skills that are crucial for cognitive functioning in which the learner practices mastery of them with the hopes of using essential cognitive processing skills to last a lifetime.
The first time I’ve ever heard about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) was from an amazing Speech Language Pathologist I had to opportunity to shadow. She didn’t seem to have the greatest things to share about the profession due to a “feeling” of ABA overstepping scope of practice. Therefore I became incredibly curious what this profession that was “competing” in working with children who have autism on communication goals was all about. She had referred to it much to the likes of “dog training”. Need I say more…
As a prospective SLP grad student at the time, I too, was concerned that the ABA field could limit my ability to work with kids who have autism and even went as far as to share the petition going around not allowing the ABA profession to bar SLP’s from working with this demographic by needing more training to be qualified. An SLP’s academic life is already full of vigorous preparation in which ABA qualification may seem minuscule in regards to getting children to produce speech and language goals. HOWEVER…
“Cheryl, whose side are you on anyways…Isn’t this a blog about ABA?” Yes, but as a dual licensed Speech Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA) and aspiring ABA therapist I have to share some light of my experience working in an ABA setting as an SLPA first.
An ABA therapist spends about 20+ hours a week with their patient and should be preparing their behavior goals to prepare them for a speech therapy session to be as productive as possible for communication learning outcomes. Otherwise, that time will essentially go down the drain due to defiance or unresponsiveness to the task at hand.
Now, from my observation working in a behavioral setting as a speech therapist, no matter how skilled of a therapist we are, learning how to control a tantrum from an autism child exhibiting extreme defiance such as biting, kicking, screaming, and overall dangerous behavior is simply not a class taught in the average communication and sciences disorders curriculum. An SLP’s curriculum is heavily focused on the anatomy, physiology, and technique of producing speech and language outcomes through early intervention and pathologies, often life saving in regards to swallowing or receiving a tracheostomy procedure in a hospital setting whereas the behavioral side in typically left to be learned independently.
But who’s to judge at which profession needs additional training? Should an ABA therapist even be aloud to aim at communication goals when there is an entire profession ready to provide this or is it quite necessary given the minimal amount of time an autism or developmental disability patient may spend with an SLP on these goals? It appears that we will see these two professionals needing to become allies quite quickly and begin to see each other as a supporting part of each other’s plan of care (POC) team.
The best gift I was given at my first contracted speech therapy job was the ability to have a full ABA staff to observe & learn techniques from to stabilize behavior and increase communication learning outcomes. Now, I am able to stop a tantrum from getting out of control and optimize the therapy in my session to produce true results! That’s true collaboration and the journey has just begun.
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