WisABA is pleased to share some presentations from WisABA 2015 in pdf format. Please visit our Conference Materials page!
ABA of Illinois is presenting workshops on ethics for behavior analysts and PEAK relational training (RFT) on the evening of October 23 (ethics) and October 24 (PEAK) at the Marriot Courtyard Hotel and Convention Center, Elmhurst, IL.
Great opportunities to keep sharp on ethics for behavior analysts and to go in-depth on a comprehensive application of relational frame theory to teaching children (with or without special needs).
BACB CEUs are included. For more information, please click on the following: PEAK_Dixon_Chicago_Oct or visit www.abaofillinois.org/trainings.
The Minnesota Northland Association for Behavior Analysis (MNABA) Conference is set for September 26th and 27th in Plymouth, MN. Conference highlights include:
- Thursday 12pm-2pm parent workshop by Tim Moore “For parents: Identifying high-quality functional behavior assessments and positive behavior support plans.”
- Thursday 3pm-6pm workshop by Javier Virues-Ortega and Alison Cox “Knowledge Translation of Evidence-Based Interventions in Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities”
- Thursday evening social at Crown Plaza West
Speakers: Regina Carroll, Peter Gerhardt, Celia Wolk Gershenson, Vicki Isler, LeAnne Johnson, Stacy Symons,Travis Thompson, Jeff Tiger, Javier Virues-Ortega.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are free with registration.
A link to online registration will posted at www.mnaba.org very soon!
The conference flyer is available here: Save the Date MNABA ’13
WisABA member Rhonda Greenhaw, M.A., BCBA, will be co-presenting the following training in Wisconsin:
INCREASING SOCIAL PARTICIPATION FOR PEOPLE WITH AUTISM & OTHER DIFFERENCES
Social participation is an area that presents significant challenges for many people on the autism spectrum and those with other communication and learning differences. Frustration regarding lack of social understanding coupled with a desire for meaningful social interaction can be the genesis for many behavioral challenges, and can also cause considerable difficulty for people who provide supports. This training will include an overview of social skill development and social participation for people living with autism and other differences. In addition, participants will develop and practice specific skills that foster social competence in children, adolescents and adults.
Intended audience includes: self-advocates, parents, teachers, administrators, clinicians, and direct care workers.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
RHONDA J. GREENHAW, MA, BCBA
Rhonda J. Greenhaw, MA, BCBA, is the Director of the Hussman Center for Adults with Autism and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Collaborative Programs Office of the College of Health Professions at Towson University. Ms. Greenhaw is also the founder and Chief Clinical Officer at Advancing Abilities, where she uses her expertise in ABA, Autism and Disability to increase opportunities for people with autism and other differences.
Towson University’s Hussman Center for Adults with Autism has been working with adults with autism spectrum disorders and other challenges since 2008, conducting social groups and social skills training sessions throughout its five-year history and is one of the world’s largest and most respected clinics for individuals on the autism spectrum. Ms. Greenhaw has an in-depth understanding of the complexities inherent in the nexus of autism, social skills, and the dynamics of providing supports.
Ms. Greenhaw began her career in the mid-eighties, working in group home facilities as a direct care staff; and years later, consulting as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, working with individuals and service providers to create strategies to positively support individuals with autism and other disabilities, and to train families and staff to implement those supports. Before living in Maryland, she had a behavioral consulting practice in Wisconsin and administered ABA services in the state. She is currently working on a book about Adult Autism and Ethical Practices for Parents and Clinicians. She and her husband live in northern Maryland with their daughter who is on the autism spectrum.
ZOSIA ZAKS, MS, CRC
Zosia Zaks, MS, CRC is a nationally recognized author and speaker on the subject of adult autism and disability. His book, Life and Love: Positive Strategies for Autistic Adults (AAPC 2006), has helped many adults and their familites deal with the complexities of autism and disability and navigating the social world.
Zosia was diagnosed with autism at age 31. As a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Zaks provides job development, career support, life skills training, and family education to individuals on the spectrum and their loved ones.
Zaks infuses presentations, professional development workshops, and writings with multiple perspectives. In addition, Zaks teaches courses on autism at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland; serves on the boards of several local and national autism organizations; was appointed to the Maryland Commission on Autism; and spends the best moments of all parenting two daughters on the autism spectrum.
Continental breakfast provided. Free parking. No childcare available.
Please note that the above information was provided by the training organizers and is provided to inform WisABA Blog readers of an upcoming behavior-analytically oriented training. Consequently, this posting does not constitute an endorsement of the training. The event is not sponsored by or associated with the Wisconsin Association for Behavior Analysis.
A post from last year on this blog has caught a little second wind (cool!) and Karen Mahon has kindly blogged in response to it here. Reading her blog, for some reason, got me thinking a little more about aversive versus positive consequences, whether programmed or not or extrinsically motivating or not, in educational settings and the relative overall effects of these types of consequences on behavior:
Perhaps something else to consider when thinking about aversive consequences versus positive consequences, whether programmed or not, is that, all else being equal, aversives are seen to suppress behavior overall (sometimes including behaviors we do not wish to suppress) while positives tend to increase rates of behavior — this may be meaningful when we want students to be creative, to try new skills or learning situations, or to acheive a level of fluency such that they then generate new skills or solutions by combining other things they have already learned. How often do we really do something creative because we’re afraid of screwing up/being punished? (originally posted as a comment here: http://karenmahon.com/2012/08/21/intrinsic-motivation-can-be-aversive/#comment-401 )
Karen also pointed out that some references would be helpful — I’m going to try to tap one of WisABA’s resident behavior gurus for those. Hopefully more to come …
I recently came across a simple (but powerful) software program called FBA Machine for completing behavior observation data collection using a Windows or Macintosh computer written by a special education teacher named Josef Hoffman. My inquiries to him about running the program on Linux led to a general discussion about behavior observation software, its use by professionals, and our perceptions of limitations in much current software for this purpose. The following is the second of two posts written by Mr. Hoffman based on our email exchange. — Matt Welch.
I decided it would be a good idea to also include a little addendum about the characteristics of good observation software. It just so happens I came up with ten characteristics. I wish I could call them axioms, but I’m not sure they’re that profound. Good observation software:
- Outputs simple files with universal extensions. It’s unlikely that you, the software developer, are smart enough to remake the wheel. It’s hard to find a computer that doesn’t have some program that can read and manipulate both .txt and .csv file formats. Data analysis is king of the hill in the education world, and it isn’t going anywhere. Each professional is going to have slightly different ideas about what they want to do with the data. This leads to the second characteristic.
- A good observation application gives the user access to all of the data it generates: Don’t withhold data from the user. Remember, this software is for professionals, treat them as such. If your application generates any kind of data, store it in the final output files somewhere.
- Only outputs data, no display or analysis: There is this application out there called Excel. It can do all kinds of neat things with data. Don’t waste your time coding something inferior that tries to predict what the user is going to want to do with their data. Accept that for whatever reason your application will not be available to interpret its own data two years down the road. Just make it save the files somewhere and leave the display and manipulation to the far more sophisticated tools designed specifically for that purpose that the user already has on her computer.
- Uses a simple interface that adopts the operating system theme: Professional users don’t care that you have a friend who does great visual design. Just use a GUI framework that adopts the visual themes of the native operating system and leave the cartoonish buttons and goofy skins to the bloatware the user deleted from their machine when they took it out of the box. You’ll save time and save the user from frustration.
- Acknowledges that it is not clairvoyant: There will be situations you can’t predict. Leave some blanks for user specified events. That being said, I limited mine to a maximum of three events, because it’s best practice to limit the number of behaviors tracked in any one observation session.
- Allows recording of notes, and time stamps them: One thing I was trying to get away from by using a computer instead of a clipboard was the “X” in a box type of observation that didn’t allow for notes. If we had perfect memory, we wouldn’t have invented writing. Make sure the application you design utilizes the dual innovations of written language and time keeping to keep time stamped notes. Make sure the date is somewhere in there too.
- Utilizes a physical keyboard: I know, everyone loves tablets and smartphones. I love tablets and smartphones. But tablets and smartphones are not good for fast note taking. Physical keyboards are great for notes. They’re faster than a pen! This does necessitate the use of a capable laptop and not your Iphone. I’m sorry for this, but it’s just a fact of life. Also, I’m not about to learn Java or Objective C, and it’s sort of a bitter disappointment that Google and Apple needed to rely on these languages for their smartphone platforms. As an aside, Python frameworks do exist for Android, and as the ecosystem evolves around smartphones and tablets, they’ll become more and more accessible to lowly neophytes like us. For now, however, I don’t feel that smartphones and tablets are a mature enough platform to really draw my attention from the traditional PC architecture.
- Uses keyboard shortcuts: This is crucial to time based observations. You’ll notice if you install it that my application can be navigated with the TAB key and has keyboard shortcuts for toggling between on-task and off-task. Mice are inaccurate and require too much attention to operate as cursors drift around the screen. Give the user some way to access basic features with a simple and fast keystroke.
- Is open source: We can look at this a couple of different ways, but the folks over at the free software foundation have thought this through better than I have and they can explain the ideology better than I can. So, for their views on this, go to www.fsf.org They are a fascinating organization. Now, here’s my two cents: the easiest path to customization is through the source code. Because I already put the hours and hours in to make the basic framework for a time based observation function the way it should, someone else who knows Python can go into my code and steal the parts of my code that work for them and add to it/modify it. So, if you don’t like all my buttons that relate to classroom based observations, no problem! If you’re really community minded, you’ll navigate to my Github and build a fork for your own needs. Or you might just copy my code and modify without my knowledge. Again, no problem! Remember what I said about clairvoyance? This applies to customizations. I could try to code customization into my app, but then it wouldn’t be simple anymore. On top of the added complexity, I can’t predict what you’ll want to customize, so we’ll just end up with the worst of both worlds: complexity without the desired features. I wish I was as ideologically pure as the people over at the Free Software Foundation, but I’m writing this on an Apple. My reasons for promoting open source are primarily practical and have to do with professional concerns.
- Is free to use and distribute: Software used in publicly funded enterprises like schools and departments of human services should be free. We should be trying to make the best use of public funds we can, and blowing 300 dollars per license on proprietary applications because the money comes from someone else’s budget is irresponsible. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t support the developer; you’ll notice I have a “donate” button on my website. I probably spent around 500 hours or more on my app, mostly because I was learning as I went. I think it was time well spent as I got smarter in the process and I ended with something very useful to me and my co workers. Obviously this means that I was committing the mortal sin of “taking work home.” But there will always be people in every profession who don’t leave their profession at work. Just be thankful that they don’t have kids and are married to workaholic partners so they can get away with distorted priorities in order to make everyone’s lives easier. All that being said, most people distributing free software do take donations, and that is a great way to provide feedback and encourage further development if you like what they’re doing. — Josef Hoffman
I recently came across a simple (but powerful) software program called FBA Machine for completing behavior observation data collection using a Windows or Macintosh computer written by a special education teacher named Josef Hoffman. My inquiries to him about running the program on Linux led to a general discussion about behavior observation software, its use by professionals, and our perceptions of limitations in much current software for this purpose. The following is the first of two posts written by Mr. Hoffman based on our email exchange. — Matt Welch.
Recently I was contacted by Matthew Welch, who asked me to compile some of my thoughts and info about observation software. I’m not a psychologist; I’m a special education teacher. I had the good fortune to work closely with a school psychologist this year, and she asked me to do a Time on Task behavior observation for her one day, and while I was frantically moving back and forth between the clipboard and stopwatch, missing about 75 percent of what was going on, it occured to me that this was an observation that could be made far more accurate and a lot easier with the aid of a computer. It just so happens that I had recently taught myself Python, a high level (meaning easier to learn) programming language. I am not a programmer. I do tinker, but the reason I taught myself Python was actually to gain insight into what it feels like to learn something that is way outside one’s comfort zone. I figured it would make me a better teacher to stretch myself; I had no intention of actually using it for anything useful. But, as luck would have it, I knew just enough Python to write a simple little command line script that I could use to automatically time On-Task and Off-Task events and then have it spit out a .csv file containing the timing of all the intervals. The school psychologist caught me using it one day and got all excited and asked if I could make a version that would install on her Windows computer, so I took a few more months to learn even more about programming computers and finally ended up with a little application that I was able to port to both Windows and Macintosh platforms.
As I perused the internet searching for commercial software that does the same thing as my free application, I was disappointed, and I have some thoughts as to why it is that commercial software just never quite seems to meet the specific needs of skilled professionals like educators and psychologists. First of all, programmers, and I mean real programmers, the talented professionals who program because they love it and find it intellectually stimulating, don’t want to write software that’s as simple as what we need. I learned to program from an online book called “Learn Python the Hard Way” by Zed A. Shaw. In the epilogue, he states:
“Programming as a profession is only moderately interesting. It can be a good job, but you could make about the same money and be happier running a fast food joint. You’re much better off using code as your secret weapon in another profession.
People who can code in the world of technology companies are a dime a dozen and get no respect. People who can code in biology, medicine, government, sociology, physics, history, and mathematics are respected and can do amazing things to advance those disciplines.”
In other words, most programmers are not earning six figure incomes, and there are entire cubicle farms filled with programmers of the middling sort who are not stimulated by their work. Most programmers are not rock stars like Mark Zuckerberg or the guys from Google or any number of countless silicon valley start ups. The reason for this is probably somewhat related to the fundamental accessibility of programming in comparison to other technical disciplines: everyone has a computer, everyone has the internet, therefore for every professional coder out there there is at least one more 13 year old at a computer learning the next big language and getting ready to replace that guy in 6 years with the next big thing. As teachers and psychologists, we are relatively isolated from this anxiety.
There is, of course, another reason commercial enterprises aren’t truly interested in selling us software we need: there isn’t a good revenue model. The fact is that most of the software features I genuinely need are too simple to be worth selling, and once they’re done right the first time, they never need to be redesigned. It’s not like the newer, fancier software that comes with the WIAT assessments is really functionally any better than the now archaic looking application that comes with the Woodcock Johnson version 3, is it? There is little incentive for a software company to sell a psychologist or educator a simple application that uses standard file formats because we would only buy that application once and then use it for the rest of our careers. It’s far more lucrative to artificially control our access to the features that we really need, slowly releasing each one as a new feature with every paid update.
This is all well and good, except that we work for our patients/students/clients, not for the enrichment of software companies wasting top programming talent on projects of dubious value. Those programmers should be doing something worth their time and of greater benefit to all of us and we should be designing our own applications that do what we actually need them to do so that we can do what’s best for the populations we serve. The true value of a computer is that it is an endlessly configurable tool that can do whatever you can imagine it can do. We all have in our hands, in our laps, and on our desks enormously powerful machines, and there has been a dedicated group of very talented and socially minded programmers working tirelessly to develop a fast and accessible programming language that makes it possible for all of us to configure these machines to do what we need them to do without hiring an expert. That language is Python, and you can learn it for free. Consider programming in a high level language like Python to be just another tool in your professional quiver, no different than learning how to read and write.
So, instead of waiting for the next application to come along to do whatever you need, consider that it may never “come along.” I grew up around an engineer and jack of all trades. One thing I learned from a very early age (I’ve had a soldering iron at my desk since I was 12) was that there are just some things you’ll have to make yourself because the market cannot provide for all of your needs. This is far from a call for self sufficiency; there’s no such thing. Self sufficiency gets you nothing but a handful of wild oats and bleeding feet. But if you know how to to use the tools of the trade, you can create what others can’t make for you and then share what you create. This requires you to put in a lot of time learning how to use the tools that empower you to do that, but the investment is worth it, not least of all because you can enrich others with your work. You’ve probably already wasted a good share of your professional life looking for “the easy way” but like the Donner party you just end up stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing to show for it.
I didn’t expect this to turn into an essay, let alone such an ideological tract, but I do think it’s important that at least a small percentage of professionals in every field pick up a little programming skill for the enrichment of the entire profession in which they work. It doesn’t need to be everyone. Software is reproducible; that’s the beauty of computers. I already designed the only time on task program special educators would be likely to need for this type of observation. It doesn’t need to be coded again, everyone can use it for free, and I’m only one person! I’m also only a mediocre programmer. I am not even close to an expert. Imagine the power that could be unleashed in your profession if even one percent of psychologists could program at just a mediocre level of proficiency. For example: Why wait for some publisher to finally computerize the evaluation and data tracking process? Why not just do it yourself within your own practice? Python is perfect for this, and with all the available web frameworks, including Google app engine, you can easily scale your creation across an entire organization and circumvent the IT department. This shouldn’t be a question of marketability; it should be a question of doing your job as well as possible. Right now, there aren’t enough computerized tools. With more people programming from within the profession, that could change. So, consider this a call to arms of a sort, or maybe just a call to keyboards. Make a commitment to really learn how to use the tools that are sitting in front of you to their full potential to really enhance the quality of the work you can do for those you serve. — Josef Hoffman
Need a handy, one page reference for the WisABA 2012 Conference? Go ahead and download this Save the Date 2012 flyer (pdf). Go ahead and share it all over the place: reddit, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Linked-In, email, mail, windshields, telephone poles, sandwich boards …
If you’re attending ABAI this year, you may want to check out these presentations by Wisconsin behavior analysts regarding behavior analytic practice in Wisconsin:
|12:00 PM – 1:20 PM|
|PRA; Service Delivery|
|BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: William J. Murray, Ph.D.
|Defining and Expanding ABA Services at the State-Level|
|Chair: William J. Murray (Wisconsin Department of Health Services)|
|Discussant: Kevin P. Klatt (University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire)
|Defining Behavior Analysis in the State of Wisconsin WILLIAM J. MURRAY (Wisconsin Department of Health Services)|
|Abstract: Defining who behavior analysts are and the services we offer may seem unnecessary to most behavior analysts, but within the structure of an entrenched political system that supports consumer choice without specifics as to quality, it is absolutely critical in order to ensure the provision of effective services. Notions related to such things as cost-effectiveness, data-based decision making, treatment fidelity and treatment efficacy are not lost to behavior analysts, and are also issues that policy makers typically care about. However, many of these same policy makers may be either elected officials or closely tied to elected officials, and consequently their motives may not be similar to those of dedicated treatment providers. Developing an understanding of how to walk this political line while remaining committed to quality treatment services is critical and will be the focus of this presentation, with an emphasis on remaining employed in a contentious political climate while also working to ensure consumers receive effective behavior analytic services.
|Growing Behavior Analysis Across the State of Wisconsin KAREN R. HARPER (Association for Behavior Analysis of Illinois, LLC)|
|Abstract: As Wisconsin enacted legislation requiring insurance companies to provide funding for autism treatment services, legislation also passed allowing for behavior analysts to apply for licensure through the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing. As a consequence of this licensure, there grew an increased need for legitimate behavior analytic services around the state, not only related to autism services, but also across other populations and areas of need. This presentation addresses efforts by one provider to expand the services offered by her company across Wisconsin, working with the state Department of Health Services and county-level agencies, in order to provide quality services to multiple client populations. Her experience with finding qualified behavior analysts, working with counties to fund her services, and overcoming other procedural “roadblocks” will be described in order to present a model for how other companies might work collaboratively with state-level policy makers to influence funding opportunities for behavior analysts.
|Ensuring Consumer Protection for the Recipients of ABA Services in Wisconsin Tamara S. Kasper (The Center for Autism Treatment, Inc.)|
|Abstract: As Wisconsin created a state level license for behavior analysts in 2010, one of the discussions held with the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing involved the development of assurances that the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and the state DRL would work collaboratively to not only create language regarding the violation of ethical practices by licensed behavior analysts, but work in the future to monitor and enforce actions against unethical persons. Clearly one of the most critical pieces of licensure language involves an understanding that licensure involves a process for discipline if ethical violations occur, and it was with this in mind that both the Wisconsin DRL and the BACB drafted language placing at least some of the responsibility for ensuring consumer protection on other behavior analysts as “self reporters.” This creates an interesting dilemma for behavior analysts in monitoring the ethical behavior of their colleagues. As the licensure law has been in place for nearly two years, situations are arising that cause licensed behavior analysts to consider how these responsibilities might be enacted in meaningful ways. This presentation will discuss some of these issues and potential methods of addressing them.