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M5 Assignment 1

Assignment

The career path that I believe is most suitable is becoming a BCBA and entrepreneur. So

far, I have worked over 7 years in the ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) field and now that I am

pursuing my psychology degree I will be able to meet the requirements of the BACB (Behavior

Analyst Certification Board) much sooner. In order to become a BCBA, one must possess an

acceptable graduate degree from an accredited university, completion of acceptable graduate

coursework in behavior analysis, and a defined period of supervised practical experience to apply

for the BCBA exam. (1) In the time that I have spent working as an ABA therapist (who works

under a BCBA), I have found that several strengths I have include critical thinking/problem

solving, leadership and professional/work ethic.

Critical thinking and problem solving involve one being able to “exercise sound

reasoning and analytical thinking…to solve workplace problems. (List, 2013) I have exercised

this ability multiple times and it has not gone unnoticed from my superiors. Critical thinking is

important when becoming a BCBA because the job requires a broad knowledge of autism,

applied behavior analysis and other skills pertinent to those with developmental disabilities. Like

many psychological disorders, autism impacts each person with it in different ways. Some

people on the autism spectrum may be high functioning (i.e., motor skills function at their proper

level, learn easily) and some may be low functioning (i.e., struggle with daily tasks such as

dressing, non-verbal). It is the responsibility of the BCBA to “administer, conduct and

implement behavioral and functional assessment measures.” (Eslambolchi, n.d.). In addition to

that, the BCBA must develop “individualized goals and treatment plans” for the patient and

regularly “collect quantifiable behavioral data” so that progress or the lack thereof is well
documented in case in changes need to be made. Critical thinking will help the BCBA be able to

better analyze plans and programs that will work best for the best patient which will ultimately

impact the success the patient and his/her family will see.

Another strength I have is my leadership capabilities. Being a leader means “leveraging

the strengths of others in order to achieve a common goal” (List, 2013) Although I have not

obtained my graduate degree yet, I have held many roles at previous jobs due to my exceptional

leadership skills. One in particular involved me becoming the leader of our social skills group

and handling it from A to B. This included, but was not limited to, staffing employees for the

group, creating lesson plans, collecting data and so on. While this group was typically lead by

someone with a graduate degree, the owners saw several things I had implemented and suggested

and how the parents positively reacted to them. I put it upon myself to start suggesting these

changes because I saw that the clients were not learning and the mundane activities they were

completing were not benefiting them in a positive manner. Once I began to teach my co-workers

how to interact with the clients on a social level, the students participating also responded

confidently and began showing slight signs of improvement. Once word spread that I would now

be spearheading the group, more students joined thus making our group 50+% larger than when I

first began at the clinic. Leadership skills are important when becoming a BCBA because not

only will I be in charge of one group, but it will be my job to be responsible of every aspect of

ABA therapy including training the therapist. Much like I had to change plans of programs to

cater to each client’s uniqueness, I will have to know what therapist fits with what client and also

where their strengths and weaknesses are so that I can utilize them effectively.

While I have described my strengths, I have also found out several weaknesses I have.

Weaknesses that I have include teamwork/collaboration and information technology/application.


Teamwork centers around building “collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers;

be able to work with diverse teams and negotiate and manage conflicts.” (List, 2013)

IT/application involves using “appropriate technology to accomplish a given task” (List, 2013).

Teamwork/collaboration is a weakness because I often prefer to take control of a situation if I see

that someone is not handling it properly. This can be big or small, but the underlying reason is

that I rather do something right once than have someone do it incorrectly multiple times. While I

understand that this is not the best thing to do in regards to allowing others to learn and develop,

I sometimes feel that our best is required to help our clients effectively and that we should not be

doing trial and error on them. This is a weakness that I must let go of because as a BCBA I will

be responsible for handling teams of people and I cannot be everywhere at one time. I must be

able to identify the pros and cons in each person working under me and I must be able to help

them improve their skills and abilities. “Team building is very important if you wish to extract

the best out of your workforce.” (Joshi, 2016) It is my plan to become more involved in team

building activities outside of work so that I can begin building those relationships with people

who work with me in order to build up a better rapport in the workplace.

Another weakness that I struggle with is excelling at the IT/application aspect of business.

When I graduated high school I never saw this wave of technology spreading to fields other than

science, technology, engineering or math. I always planned on being in psychology in some

capacity and falsely assumed that technology would never permeate this field. Little did I know

that technology would be a key element in this field because it is everywhere. From tablets, to

data taking and processing via computers, timers that are synced with software applications and

so on this field seems to be peak technology but it still has room to grow. Currently, we use a

software program called Catalyst that require intermediate levels of understanding how to
navigate that software. This can involve learning to translate sessions into notes and being able to

graph the results from each session then turning those notes into percentages that are used to

make baseline estimations on future plans of actions. I have already began trying to resolve this

weakness and turn it into an asset because as a BCBA, it will be my job to verify other’s work in

programs such as Catalyst. I will also be responsible for taking this data and translating it in such

a manner that people not in the field of ABA can read and comprehend the progress (or lack

thereof) that has taken place.

A few skills that I already have thanks to the preparation that I have made include written

communication and an appreciation of diversity and individual differences. Because of the

leadership qualities I mentioned previously, I was able to begin learning how to put together

official client reports. These reports can be required by insurance companies, schools, state

programs and so on in order to determine if services should be rendered, continued or stopped.

The main components of being good at written communication include laying out the content of

your writings in a manner that any person can follow, applying a professional straight forward

style to the written communication and including content relating to the purpose of the written

communication. Thus far, I have been able to do all and I continue to pick up tips and tricks that

will aid me in being an even better written communicator. Another skill that I have picked up

due to my past experiences is learning to have an appreciation of diversity and individual

differences. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “1 in 68 children have

autism.” (Autism, 2016) Of these 1 in 68 children, boys are 4.5 times more likely to have autism

and it is also increasing amongst children of all racial/ethnic groups. Since 2002, autism

diagnoses in children “rose from 6.7 per 1,000 children to 13.2 among white children, from 5.9

to 11.1 among black children and from 3.9 to 8 among Hispanic children. [and] approximately
23 of every 10,000 children in India have autism”. (Race, 2017) These statistics continue to grow

which means I come in contact with many families from many backgrounds. I have met some

parents who have relocated from the Middle East to the U.S. in order to get their child/children

the proper help to aid them in overcoming autism. Because I work in a home setting and not a

clinical one, I must adjust to the different cultures and requirements of each home. For instance,

some clients do not have sessions on the Sabbath, some clients require breaks for prayers, some

clients struggle with accepting the diagnosis because of their culture and so on. I have come to

learn and understand that this is a crucial skill when working with families because no one

should feel alienated or disrespected. Learning to do small things such as respect their request

and embrace their differences has helped me build great relationships with the people I work

with. I also have trained others on interacting with people from cultures other than America, but

also how to deal with sub-cultures from within America. For instance, some families typically

have other relatives (i.e., grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) involved in the home therapy

process while I have noticed that other families center therapy around the core family structure

(i.e., mom, dad, siblings).

Several skills that I need to learn include transferable skills taught in graduate school such as

goal setting, analyzing and managing. In addition to that, I still lack research experience that

would allow me to better understand the basis of autism and the work currently being done to

help those who suffer from the disorder. I’d also like to broaden my experience working with

people outside of the U.S. so that I can understand what skills and methods are being used in

other regions of the world. Many of these skills and opportunities become available once I begin

my pursuing my graduate degree and I plan on taking advantage of them so that I can become a

well-rounded professional.
Because I plan on obtaining many of these skills via graduate school, everything would begin

once I begin that journey. I plan on enrolling in the Florida Institute of Technology’s BCBA

Certification Program. This program is a graduate level program that works hand in hand with

obtaining a Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis + Organizational Behavior

Management. Assuming I complete my undergrad in the Fall of 2019, the timeline below lays

out my plan for meeting the aforementioned goals and gaining the skills I hope to acquire.

Plans Spring Summer Fall Spring Summer Fall Spring


2020 2020 2020 2021 2021 2021 2022
Began graduate school X
Apply for research
X
positions
Apply for internships X
Complete grad school X
Gain supervised work
X X X X X
experience
Travel to different
cultures applying X
skills/experience gained

One professional autism organization I would like to join is “The Color of Autism

Foundation”. This organization is “committed to educating and assisting African American

families with Autistic children [as] African American children are frequently confronted with

late diagnosis or misdiagnosis” (Other, 2012) thus hindering the progression they probably could

have. This organization is appropriate to me because while I aim to help everyone, I must also be

a presence in my own ethnic community and reach out to those who are held back by stigmas

and false stereotypes that their child is ruined if he or she has autism. Many African American

children could succeed with autism, but because of these notions they are often not diagnosed,

misdiagnosed or diagnosed late in life. I would like to be able to provide early intervention
services as well as continuous education programs through churches and other community

organizations that better educate and train African Americans on autism.

To ensure that I continue to develop personally and professionally, I plan on attending yearly

conferences dealing with autism such as the Annual Autism Society National Conference and the

Annual Texas ABA “TxABA” Conference. I also plan on maintaining a healthy work-life

balance as it is pertinent that I do so in order to better serve my clients. Several tactics I plan on

using to do this include setting “manageable goals each day, giving myself a break, remaining

flexible [and] being efficient with my time at work” (Work, 2015) just to name a few. While

away from work, I plan on staying active (i.e., at least 30 minutes of physical activity), being

proactive about my eating habits and not over committing myself to things (i.e., learn to say no).

(Work, 2015) “Being in good shape physically increases your tolerance to stress and reduces sick

days” (Work, 2015) thus my out of work behaviors are just as important as what I do while I am

in the office. I also hope to use the above-mentioned conferences to introduce policies and/or

legislation that increase mental health awareness and implement realistic plans that aid families

and workers in reducing stress and learning to better manage life in the world of autism. The Eli

Lilly foundation in conjunction with the Government of Australia already have a plan in place

that involves “strengthening the technical capacity of countries to plan and develop services;

supporting demonstration projects for mental health best practices; encouraging operational

research related to service delivery; and developing and disseminating resources related to

service development and delivery.” (Mental health, 2000) It is my hope to implement a similar

plan of action in the Texas region to assist those in the field of autism and promote it statewide.
References

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). (2016, July 11). Retrieved February 26, 2018, from

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

Eslambolchi, L. (n.d.). POSITION DESCRIPTION OUTPATIENT BEHAVIORAL SERVICES BCBA

SUPERVISOR[PDF]. Charlottesville, Virginia: Human Resources Generalist.

List of Skills[.doc]. (2013). Argosy University. Retrieved February 3, 2018.

Mental health and work: Impact, issues and good practices[PDF]. (2000). Geneva: World Health

Organization.

Other Autism Organizations. (2012, July 24). Retrieved February 26, 2018, from

https://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-library/other-autism-organizations

Race, class contribute to disparities in autism diagnoses. (2017, November 20). Retrieved February

26, 2018, from https://spectrumnews.org/news/race-class-contribute-disparities-autism-

diagnoses/

Work Life Balance. (2015, October 06). Retrieved February 26, 2018, from

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/work-life-balance