Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back from Phoenix

Hello! Well, we made it back from Phoenix. I spent most of the weekend going to various presentations that focused on disseminating current research in various fields (all related to applied behavior analysis). I learned techniques in (SKIP the rest of the paragraph if not interested. I needed a list to remind me later!) teaching language to children with autism and other developmental disabilities (sign language vs. pictures, prompt levels, etc.); in decreasing behaviors that are automatically reinforced (like vocal and motor stereotypy, Pica); in using Rapid Automatic Naming as a teaching tool; the importance and usability of covert or in situ assessments in determining the likelihood that sexual offenders will become repeat offenders (and in determining whether or not a child will play with a hand gun when left alone); and even how to use behavior analysis to help parent children with severe emotional, psychiatric, and behavioral disorders (in the context of foster and adoptive parenting). Whew! (and I didn't even cover it all) It was a fantastic weekend!

I need time to process!

However, in terms of this blog I can summarize one of the most important points. When in a family setting, it is often easy to fall into the trap of describing behaviors in a circular way... using descriptions of behaviors as explanations for it. For example, a child who fights with their sibling may be called "aggressive". Then we explain the child is aggressive because he/she hits his/her sibling. A child who does not follow instructions may be called "non-compliant". Right, the child is non-compliant because he/she doesn't follow instructions. It's circular and it is not helpful. It is not descriptive and it is not explanatory. If we want to tackle "aggression" or "non-compliance" we must describe exactly what that means, what exactly it looks like, etc. If we do this, we can work to decrease it. However, if we stick with the circular logic, we are stuck in a circle with no solutions, only excuses.

I wanted to let you know that I have agreed to write a somewhat regular column for our local online newspaper, the GardnerEDGE. I'll be writing about parenting and family issues. To read my most recent article click on the GardnerEDGE link above. Once on their site, click on the heading, Columns and Opinions. The article I wrote is entitiled, "Take a Bite and Say Something Nice". If you'd like to read two others I've written, click on the GardnerEdge link above, then type: Enedelia into the search box in the top, right corner. I'd be happy to discuss them further. Feel free to leave a comment here or there!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Weekend "Vacation"

Hello! I just wanted to post quickly to provide a quick update and "preview" my upcoming trip.

For the last week I have been taking data to measure the ratio of positive to negative interactions I am having with each of my two children. I've taken data for an hour most days, concentrating on times of day that have historically been the most difficult. I have to admit, initially I did reach my goal of 20 positive interactions with each child in an hour. However, I did not initially reach my goal of having 8 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction (negative being anytime I redirected or corrected their behavior). I persisted and got better at ignoring inconsequential behaviors that just didn't need to be addressed (and better than reached my goal)! I noticed that as I've worked on this, our home has become a more positive place. I love that some of the difficult times of the day (such as dinner preparation time) became a happy time, full of recognizing the good actions of my children. And what do you know? It's gotten easier and easier to do! I am pleased! It is disappointing that as parents, sometimes we slide into behaviors that we know are not effective and efficient (such as paying too much attention to negative behaviors and not enough attention to positive behaviors). However, I'm confident that the more effort we put in, the more automatic it will become.

I've also taken some good baseline data on some troubling behaviors. The data are not complete so I'll report on those later. For now, just know that I'm taking it and I'll get back to you!

Later this week I'm heading out to the Association for Behavior Analysis International Convention in Phoenix, AZ. It is an absolute data-geek fest and I eagerly look forward to it every year. I'll report back on new information I take in while I'm there! In the meantime, happy data collecting!