How much do you know about applied behavior analysis (ABA), a treatment for kids with autism? What about other developmental disabilities who need improving life and social skills through communication?
I sat down with our expert, Danielle Kanouff, on ABA treatment to learn a little about her journey. The lessons she’s learned, her hopes, and her blog she publishes every other week. To learn more about ABA, visit her blog.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you chose ABA treatment to help others?
I worked as a special education teacher with several students on my caseload and felt like they needed and deserved more time than I could physically provide during a school day. I saw some kids only 3 times a week for 30 minutes at a time…that didn’t feel enough. I then decided to enroll in a graduate program to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to eventually provide much more thorough services for students with similar demographics.
2. What are some lessons that the people you have served taught you?
I have learned how to better empathize with and understand life’s challenges that may pop up or interfere with day-to-day living when providing services. I have also learned how strong parents and caregivers are when carrying out those day-to-day activities with a kiddo who may not be able to communicate their wants or needs appropriately or effectively; the ability to adapt and overcome is truly something I have witnessed time and time again.
3. How do you hope to impact your clients and families with ABA therapy?
When it comes to working with families who are new to ABA, I strive to provide them with practical information and strategies to be utilized daily to promote prosocial behavior while decreasing problematic behavior across various settings. In addition, ABA helps teach us how to be proactive rather than reactive, especially in anticipating those troublesome types of behavior.
4. What is the biggest challenge you might have doing ABA therapy, and what are some of your ideas to ease that challenge?
In my time working in ABA therapy, the biggest challenge is probably implementing treatment for dangerous behaviors. Behavior change is gradual, and when it comes to behavior that poses a threat to the client or those around them, timing is everything. In those cases, we must act quickly but thoroughly. There may be other behaviors that are also imperative to change. Still, we must prioritize and plan around levels of intensity and make sure the family understands each step of treatment and that when I am gone, they can carry out the plan to a specific level of mastery as well.
5. What do you feel is still unknown about ABA treatment?
I think that some people pair ABA treatment with autism spectrum disorder a lot of the time. Although it is the #1 treatment for people with autism, ABA can be used with anyone, anywhere, at any time. Whether it is in a kindergarten classroom, a hair salon, in someone’s place of work, or at home, ABA therapy can work for people with or without disabilities. For example - if you decide to take a break after working for a few hours straight, that work-break method is principled in ABA!
6. If you had two million dollars that you could use for developing ABA therapy, how would you use that money?
Two million dollars - wow! I think I would like to reach populations that are disadvantaged - those who don’t have healthcare or insurance to pay for therapy or those who lack access to appropriate treatment. So many people in this world struggle, but spreading knowledge and information to populations who otherwise may not be exposed to treatment is important to me.
7. Tell me more about your mission with your blog.
I hope to provide readers with a general understanding of ABA therapy and treatment while giving general tips and techniques about relatable content via blogging. The blog also aims to disseminate information in an approachable style that is easy to read and digest.
To learn about ABA and the wonderful things Danielle is doing, read her blog.
Lastly, consider donating to Danielle's blog so she can keep up her work and help those in need. Keep being you and caring for others.
Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate. That is the 3C way.
With compassion and kindness and the desire to share with others,
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