In this episode of Parenting Impossible, Host Annette Hines talks about bringing behavioral analysis training home with her guest, Jessica Guzman. Jessica previously worked as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, or BCBA, in Austin, Texas, to help families navigate challenging behavior for their young children with special needs. She also has a master’s in education. Recently, she created her own company, “Little Wildlings Ltd. Co. ” where she is a behavior consultant who helps kids from 18 months to 6 years old with behavioral issues.
Annette and Jessica first connected on LinkedIn when Annette saw a message Jessica had posted from a clinician that read:
“When you hire a clinician for your child, try to find one who understands that their job is ultimately to eliminate the need for the very same job you hired them for.”
Jessica’s message affirmed Annette’s experience in clinics with her daughter, Elizabeth, which had shown her the need for clinicians to have this philosophy. Jessica’s success as a BCBA has also shown the benefits of having this mindset—Jessica’s goal is to teach her clients (family members, caregivers and the special needs child) the tactics and techniques that are appropriate and practical for their individual needs so that they can implement these changes on their own. Empowering clients with the tools to work on their own timeline helps prevent clinicians from feeling like they are invading their clients’ lives and provides an added benefit for families who are unable to go to a clinic in person because of pandemic-related restrictions. This philosophy led Jessica to start her company, “Little Wildlings Ltd. Co.” You can book an appointment or reach out to Jessica via Facebook messenger here, visit her Instagram page, or email her at email@example.com.
One of the terms that she uses frequently in her work as a BCBA is ABA or Applied Behavioral Analysis. ABA is an applied science that is applicable to all living beings, not just people with autism, as a way to analyze how they function before and after something happens. This practice focuses on modifying the environment to change behavior. Jessica uses a play-based approach in her ABA while also applying methods from several other schools of thought.
Jessica hopes that families and caregivers will learn to practice the tactics she teaches at home during the pandemic so that they can build their family bonds and experience the pride that comes from teaching their children. Two key tips from her conversation with Annette are:
- To start the day with child-led play: When you start the day with play, your child will get the attention they need while enjoying bonding time with their family members and caregivers.
- To have effective communication with your BCBA: Remember that you are the boss of your BCBA, teachers, and medical professionals on behalf of your child. Be honest with them and tell them if you have questions or concerns.
During this time of “shelter in place,” there are some helpful resources out there for families and caregivers. First, the 40-hour test that clinicians take before working with clients is free and available to the public through the Autism Partnership Foundation here. You can also read the book, An Early Start for Your Child with Autism: Using Everyday Activities to Help Kids Connect, Communicate, and Learn, by Geraldine Dawson, Laurie A Vismara, Ph.D., and Sally J. Rogers to learn actionable behavioral tactics to try. Each state is mandated to have parent training and information centers, and you can contact your state-specific center for more resources and information.
You can learn more about Jessica’s professional expertise by visiting her LinkedIn profile here.
Annette Hines has been practicing in the areas of Special Needs, Elder Law, and Estate Planning for more than 20 years. Ms. Hines brings personal experience with special needs to her practice and podcasts as the mother of two daughters, one of whom passed away from Mitochondrial disease in November 2013. This deep, personal understanding of special needs fuels her passion for quality special needs planning and drives her dedication to help others within the special needs community.