First Caffeine, Then Analysis!
As a school-based BCBA, my days begin similarly to a clinic-based Analyst; I wake up, brush my teeth, workout (occasionally), get dressed, load up on caffeine, and head to work. In my office, you’ll find my work computer locked in my desk with my scholar’s files. Inside the scholar, files are documents like their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and the referral information that I have received in order for me to begin services. In a school setting, there are a few steps that take place prior to obtaining a scholar on your caseload.
My experience thus far has been completing a few observations of the scholar prior to what is called a Student Focus Team (SFT) meeting. SFT meetings take place with the scholar’s IEP team. In this meeting, the team discusses the need for a Functional Behavior Assessment and me as the Analyst gives the go-ahead to conduct the assessment. After agreeing to conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) in the SFT meeting, I have a set amount of time (a total of 45 days in my state) to complete the assessment and report its findings.
I complete each of my FBAs by observing the scholars across various times, settings, and teachers, all within the school setting. Some of my observation locations include the classroom, recess, lunchtime, and in other staff rooms during sessions like speech therapy. I, or my RBT, observes and takes narrative and structured Antecedent Behavior Consequence (ABC) data consistently for at least 5 days. I conduct a FAST interview with the teacher(s) and the parent(s). I then analyze the data by graphing the frequency of each antecedent, consequence, and targeted behavior.
After analyzing the data and studying the graphs, I write my report which includes my graphed data of each antecedent and consequence, a description of the hypothesized function(s) of the behaviors, some examples of environmental changes that I suggest, and a detailed description of my analysis of each of the targeted behaviors. I wrap up my report by recommending suggestions for the family and teacher(s) of the scholar. If the data provides evidence that the scholar could benefit from having a one on one RBT without impeding their learning, I suggest that. I also provide behavioral goal suggestions in my FBA. After the parents and teachers accept the recommendations in my FBA, I write the scholar a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).
Another meeting then will be scheduled where I present my BIP. Until the BIP is agreed upon by the IEP team, it is a working document, meaning that the IEP team in the meeting has the ability to ask me about changing and tweaking the BIP until it is agreed upon by the entire team. Once the BIP is agreed upon, I begin writing the scholar’s program goals.
How Can I Be an RBT in a School Setting?
In supervising my RBTs, I stress to them the art of using least to most prompting with assisting the scholar with attending to the teacher and educational assistant and their instructions. This is one of the main differences that I have found from the clinical setting. In theory, my goal for the RBT during group instruction would be for the RBT to silently prompt the scholar, and provide the teacher with the reinforcer to give to the scholar immediately upon appropriately responding, all a while pairing with the scholar, and gaining instructional control during one on one time periods. Oftentimes I have found that teachers simply do not have the luxury of waiting out behaviors as we may in a clinical setting. They have more students to tend to and a school schedule to adhere to, so I also supervise the RBT on how to follow the BIP and intervene for behavior management when necessary.
Behavior Goes Where the Reinforcement Flows
As a school-based BCBA, I consult with each of my teachers for a set amount of time per week as outlined in the scholar’s IEP. I love teacher consultations because this helps me to pair with the teacher, provide the teacher some insight on ABA and the specific methods that I am using with each scholar, and it gives me the ability to understand the teacher’s methods as well. Staff buy-in is everything in a school setting, and PAIRING IS KEY! It is very important to not come across as a know-it-all, arrogant, or as though you are telling the school staff what they are doing wrong. In order to have the most success with suggestions and intervention implementation, the school staff must feel supported by you.
One of my favorite things about being a school-based BCBA is having the ability to collaborate on a daily basis with the teachers and other school staff. We all may come from different disciplines, but with the primary focus being on the scholar, we all come together, kumbaya, and work to crush each goal one day at a time! The way I like to think of it is like this, the teacher states what the academic goal is, and as the Behavior Analyst, I can program for “how” the goal can be taught. Although the school setting is less controlled than the clinical setting, implementing the principles of ABA in this environment has given me the opportunity to apply my skill set to both my scholars and my professional peers, and that is the part that I wouldn’t change for the world. Come on over to the school side y’all!
Like a behavioral cusp, it opens us up to a whole new world!
Cammie Morgan, MSC, BCBA, LBA (Hawaii), IBA