Its time for another ABA interview!
If you work in the field of ABA and would like to share your story and experiences feel free to contact me directly. I'd love to hear from you.
In the 2nd post from my Interview Series, is a young lady doing ABA in a very interesting location: Malaysia. She was kind enough to share her story:
- If you would like to, state your name. Anonymous
- State your job title. ABA Therapist
- Where do you work (location)? Malaysia
- Do you work independently or for a company/agency? Independent
- How long have you been an ABA therapist? 2 years
- Did you receive initial training for your current position? Yes
- Do you receive on the job training in your current position? Yes
- How confident are you in your capabilities as an ABA therapist ( rate from 0-100%)? 70%
- How much do you make per hour ( USD amount)? After deducting gas, reinforcers, supplies, etc., do you feel your hourly rate is high enough? USD $9 -10/hr. I came into this field to gain experience and learn about ABA or anything relating to Autism/Dyslexia/Learning difficulties and etc. It is also my passion to be involved with these children/adults and their families thus I am not very concerned about the rates. But if I were to deduct gas, and all the other stuff, the rate is not high enough.
- Do you feel more confident with skill acquisition or behavior management? I enjoy doing both but I am not 100% confident in them as I am still in the process of learning and gaining experience. Both give me the same satisfaction.
- Describe some of the problem behaviors you deal with.
1) Tantrums – from mild to severe such as hitting head, scratching therapist, rolling on the floor, hitting therapist, whining, crying, kicking,
2) Task avoidance – half way doing the work and the child will try to escape, going to the washroom frequently, wetting pants
(These are some of the examples of problem behaviors that the child displays but they do not happen all the time.)
- What ages do you work with? 6-10 years old
- What populations do you work with? (Autism, ADHD, etc) Autism.
- Explain how you got started in ABA. I got involved with some Christian works dealing with people with Autism and my passion for them slowly grew. Later I took up a course specializing in learning disabilities and I was introduced to ABA.
- Before you started working in this field, what did you know about ABA?
As from my answer in the previous question, I only got to know about ABA when I attended the course. I had not heard of ABA prior to that. Studying and actually executing the ABA work is quite different. As all children/adults with Autism are different, thus what I studied might not be applicable to child A but effective on child B. Thus I find ABA very interesting and effective as we make changes to suit them individually.
But the concept of managing and changing problem behavior is the ultimate goal for them to have a better lifestyle in the future and to help them to learn.
- Describe a typical work day. (How long is your day, how many clients do you see, how much driving is involved, etc) I work with one or two clients a week (3-4 times a week for each client, 2 hrs each time). I attend meetings monthly. It involves quite a fair bit of driving especially if the sessions are in the evening (6.30pm-8.30pm).
- What is the BEST part of your job?
1) When the child /children improves (even if it is just one of the tasks).
2) Their smiles and laughter
3) When the child/children enjoys the session
4) Parents/families appreciate my time, work and effort
- How many times a week do you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or discouraged at your job?
2-3 times a week. Sometimes it could be everyday for a few weeks and then it gets better :-)
- How do you deal with the stresses of the job? Read up on more articles, books or talking with others in the same field to gain knowledge.
- Do you prefer working: in home, in the school, in the community? Why? If time permits, I would like to try all as different setting /working environments allow for more improvement on my side (gaining experiences). Children /teenagers with autism will also react differently in different setting thus it would be a good opportunity to see how they behave overall.
- Do you receive support and active involvement from the families of the clients you serve? Do you wish you received more?
Although the families do put pressures and stress on the therapist, so far I do receive support and active involvement from them. I would really appreciate if the families/parents understand that improvements do not happen overnight. Sometimes the child might reach a plateau or certain behavior might return and that is not the faults of the therapists. It is also not because ABA is not working/effective. Parents should give us the time to look into the problems and then come up with a different approach. And even with a new approach, it might not work immediately.
- What have been your best and worst experiences with a family/parent?
BEST Experience – Families and therapists getting along, laughing and joking together. Everyone is united with the same goal of helping the child improves.
WORST Experience – Families/parents putting unnecessary stress and pressure on the therapist such as urging the therapists to do better or improve. Not appreciative of the therapist effort and time.
- Do you plan to pursue BCBA certification? Why or why not? Not at the moment as time is really not on my side :-)
- Name 2 things you wish you could change about your job.
1) I wish families/parents are more understanding and supportive instead of putting pressures and stress
2) I wish I do not have to work on public holidays.
- Name 3 things you wish more parents knew about ABA therapists.
1) That ABA therapists take their jobs seriously and work hard for the improvement of the child.
2) That ABA therapists are filled with love and compassion for both the child and the families.
3) That ABA therapists are mere human beings who have their flaws as well. They make mistakes too. Although they are professional in their jobs, there could be some limit to certain things that they can do. Moreover, some therapists might need some time to learn up a certain method in dealing/teaching the child thus parents should be understanding instead of comparing one therapist to the other.
- Anything you want to add? Being an ABA therapist is really a joy. Although it is stressful (at times since I am still new to the field and also the occasional stress by the families) I derive a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment from it. I enjoy learning ways and methods to help the child. I like to know what constitute to a certain behavior in the child and then brainstorming with the team to come up with solutions/methods to address the problem. There are no blogs, platforms or support groups for ABA therapists or teachers/caregivers so it would be great to have one where we could come together to share our thoughts and experiences and at the same time encourage and motivate one another.