In honor of the first World Behavior Analysis Day, I wanted to share how I ended up in the field. First, special thanks to those that fought for us to have this day. For those that stumble upon my story and want to learn more about behavior analysis and the day visit this website: http://behavioranalysisday.com.
To my story…how it started.
I had finished my bachelor’s in criminal justice and realized that all of the careers that I was interested in involved the entry-level step of becoming a police officer first so I went through the whole process of applying to police departments, taking polygraph exams, fitness tests, you name it. But I knew that I didn’t really want to be a police officer, I wanted to work with youth caught up in the juvenile justice system from a different standpoint.
During this time I started looking for master’s programs and literally stumbled upon an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program at Rider University (a college only 15 mins from me). I began looking into ABA and became completely interested. I saw some of the research on the application of behavior analysis to individuals in the system and said this is exactly where I need to be.
I enrolled in the program and began my coursework. I also began searching for job opportunities in the juvenile justice field related to ABA and realized there were either none or I’d have to relocate halfway across the world. I was somewhat disappointed, to say the least. It felt isolating at times because I often was the only person in the room that was just starting in the field. Most of my colleagues and peers had been in the field for years and years before me. There were times that I felt like maybe this isn’t for me. Maybe I picked the wrong field but I persisted. I ended up taking a job working with children diagnosed with Autism and I loved it. Working with this population, helped me build my understanding of behavior analysis and its application and also develop the love I have for the science today
Still, I knew that I wanted to use the science not just with this population but with the juvenile justice population. So I set myself up to do so by taking a practicum at a detention center and using the science with some of the youth there which I also loved. My experience in that practicum really showed me the science of behavior analysis; specifically, how the principles of science remain regardless of the population.
I stuck with the program and I graduated. Upon graduation, I had the opportunity to take a job at a police department as an officer or a behavior specialist job working with adults diagnosed with developmental disabilities and intense behavioral needs. We can guess what I chose.
How its going... Fast forward, I have had the opportunity to use the science of behavior analysis with many diverse populations. I started two companies, an ABA therapy practice as well as an ABA-based child care center.
From all my research and observations, the pipeline to prison starts young, especially for BIPOC. The child care center was and is a direct front to addressing “problem behaviors” that later turn into suspensions and expulsions in the school system. With hopes that if we can show love and compassion and work on skill deficits, emotional connections, etc., we can shape children in the right direction. In both companies, we service children regardless of their diagnosis.
I also co-created and co-founded the ABA Taskforce to address issues in social justice as it relates to BIPOC using the science of behavior analysis as well as Behavior Analysis University to provide supervision, coaching, and training to people in our field.
So that’s my story, in a nutshell, it’s much longer and so many more details I could add but this is my how and a little bit of my why.
I will end by saying this, the science of behavior analysis can be used with any population. Do not let current trends and standards stop you from using the science of behavior analysis in a way that is dear to your heart.
Take the steps to find supervision, learn, and build competence in that area and move forward.
Happy World Behavior Analysis Day!!!