Operating from a Place of Joy!

At the Lizard Centre, we take relationship building seriously. Our first hours spent with our families are dedicated to learning all about their child, what they like, how they communicate, their relationships, and what they want to achieve through our therapeutic relationship.

The first part of our therapist training is called play and pairing, and every time we introduce a new member to our team, we ensure that our families and child are happy to have them on the team. Walk through our centres and you will hear and see squeals of glee, laughter, games of chasey, peek-a-boo, and a whole bunch of stuff that is super cool for one particular child. When you talk with our therapists, they will gush all about the cool new skill that their child is doing, their most recent achievement in school, or some lovely story from their last home session. It honestly melts my heart every time I see one of our families come into the centre and the child runs bouncing with delight to their therapists because they absolutely cannot wait to get going.

This is the Behaviour Analysis that I want to share with the world. We recognise that if you do not have joy, shared interests, trust, mutual respect, and an understanding that we will listen to you because we are here for you above all else…you have nothing. All too often through social media, in talking with other professionals, and even in talking with some families I can see indicators of how ABA is regarded in the greater community. I hear words like tantrum, compliance, extinction, time-out, punishment, problem behaviour, abuse, trauma, aversives, and restrictive practice. I recognise that our field has a history and a reputation for being cold, non-responsive, robotic, overly time consuming (“no time for a kid to be a kid”) and scary, and I know how hard we fight to show that that is not what we are. That is not what today’s ABA is, and frankly not what a lot of yesterday’s ABA was either. To support this point, look at Montrose Wolf’s article in the summer of 1978 entitled, “Social Validity: The Case for Subjective Measurement or How Applied Behaviour Analysis is Finding its Heart”. We just haven’t done a very good job in our PR campaign for the science.

With that in mind and given the cost-effective-focus that the NDIS has placed when providing families with funding to access services for their children, Lizard Centre has embarked on a journey to keep ourselves on the cutting edge of the science. We recognise that ABA can be an expensive service and we want to make sure that our families get a maximum benefit for their investment. We use assessments like McGreevy, Fry, and Cornwall’s Essential for Living to hone-in as quickly as possible on where exactly each learner is at in developing the essential skills necessary to independently navigate this wide world of ours. We have introduced holistic quality of life measures like FTF Behavioural Consulting and Acorn Health’s Behavioural Health Index, and early on in our conversations with our families we find out if they are walking on eggshells, avoiding places, activities, or people and in so doing, living a more restrictive life. If that is the case, then we jump directly into an open-ended interview, or direct observations to learn the ins and outs of what is going on, and then once we think we have a firm handle on the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of the behaviour, we test our hypothesis out to confirm that we are on the right track. We then tailor our interventions to make sure that what we teach has a direct effect on the child’s quality of life. Put simply, this process is called conducting an FBA of a behaviour of concern, and then teaching replacement behaviour that is easier than, yet functionally consistent with that behaviour. One way in which we do this is called the Practical Functional Assessment (PFA) and the Skill-Based Treatment (SBT), which brings us back to operating from a place of joy.

Researchers from the foundation of the PFA and SBT protocols, Gregory Hanley and co. also recognise ABA’s global reputation and they are taking the challenge head on. The analysis is built upon setting up the environment so that the child can achieve a consistent and reliable state of joy, or a state of being happy, relaxed, and engaged (HRE). Once that state is shown to be consistently achieved, the clinician identifies exactly the combination of circumstances that is proving to bring the child out of HRE, and then shows the child a reliable method with which they can get themselves back there should they ever find themselves drifting away from what floats their boat. Once the clinician has identified and built those components, the intervention can take off! Obviously, there is lots more that goes into the intervention than outlined here, but the take-home message is clear. If you cannot operate from a place of joy, then you cannot operate, full stop.

We operate from a place of joy. Every time we enter a therapy space, we set it up to maximise the joy that the child can achieve. We locate our therapy sessions in the place that makes children feel most comfortable, if that is in the home, then we go to the home, if that is in the centre, then we do it here. We go to parks, play chasey, do cartwheels, and spin. We play with the coolest toys imaginable, and we make the silliest jokes. If the child is having difficulties, you don’t see our therapists scrambling to batten down the hatches, you see them scrambling to make things right again. And when a child is having a down day, we meet them where they are. We believe it’s important to recognise that not everything goes smoothly. Sometimes someone just doesn’t feel too great and that’s okay, we are still there to support, nurture, and learn with our children through the good times and bad.

If this sounds like something that you would like to know more about, or if it sounds like it could be a good fit for you and your loved one, please reach out to us at reception@lizardcentre.com

Published On : May 20, 2022

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