By Ryan Therriault, Academic Coordinator, and Janet Hrezo
The CIP Brevard Center staff had the opportunity to attend Florida Institute of Technology’s Fourth Annual Applied Behavior Analysis Conference on February 22. Themed “Behavioral Interventions Across the Lifetime”, the conference featured speakers Dr. Timothy M. Weil, Dr. Patrick C. Friman and CIP National Professional Advisory Board Member Dr. Peter Gerhardt.
Whether or not one has a background in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), the conference was thought provoking particularly the presentation by Dr. Gerhardt who is on the National Professional Advisory Board of CIP. His presentation on interventions with autistic adults and older adolescents emphasized the need to help them acquire adaptive and functional skills in order to ultimately enhance their quality of life.
Dr. Gerhardt raised some questions that are important for all us who work with young adults to consider. Are we actually teaching skills or satisfied with an outcome of “no problem”? Are we teaching inconsequential skills or functional ones? Do we consider “quality of life” as an important factor?
Dr. Gerhardt, using examples from his own experiences, stressed the importance of teaching functional skills rather than inconsequential ones and the need to use high intensity instruction for all students, not just children. He advocated going “outside the familiar way of thinking” by using new technologies and the need to change criteria and move on if behavior is not modified. As Dr. Gerhardt put it, “If he can’t tie his shoes after six weeks, buy him loafers.” Happiness should be an outcome variable and giving students choice, control and competence should be a major goal.
As professionals, Dr. Gerhardt reminded us, we are responsible for making things happen and must be motivated to alter our technique when it’s not working. Additionally, the need to “attend to economics” exists and we must improve outcomes to qualify for the amount of services we offer.
The conference was an excellent learning experience for all of who attended.
Ryan Therriault, Brevard Center Academic Coordinator being presented with the January Staff of the Month award.