Monthly Archives: August 2014

Carnival Fun

The 2014 Carnival for Autism was great fun for many people:


At the Alternative Behavior Strategies booth, Lindsey Green played music and Jessica Engel welcomed visitors and friends:


Lindsey is a certified Music Therapist and brings that expertise to her interventions with ABS. While not directly doing music therapy, she and Mary Jane Dibble, who is also a certified Music Therapist, make use of skills from that area.

For example: recently, one of Lindsey’s clients was non-attentive and running away. Lindsey got his siblings singing and slowly drew him in to where he was willing to proceed with the non-musical program.  Lindsey has also found that parents can make good use of music in helping their child’s learning and memorization.

To learn more about music therapy, a research-based practice with its own specific methodologies, visit the American Music Therapy Association website.

Since music uses different mental pathways, it provides another route for cognitive therapies, as is widely recognized:

For Shakespeare, music has a healing power. The doctor orders soft music to be played while Lear, the “child-changed king,” comes back to consciousness, his loving daughter Cordelia looking on in prayer. Paulina orders music to strike when she commands Hermione, or is it a statue of Hermione, to “be stone no more,” to descend, for dear life has redeemed her from death. The good old loyal servant Adam, dying of hunger in the forest of Arden, is restored to life with food and wistful music. — Anthony Esolen

Many of our current clients stopped by the ABS booth


It was great fun to be among a community with similar interests and concerns, in a safe and non-stressful setting where there were a wide range of activities for everyone.

Thanks to Sahara Cares for another great Carnival for Autism.

ABS Training and RBT

Alternative Behavior Strategies (ABS) has an extensive, ongoing program of training for their staff. I recently talked with Joe Dixon (Clinical Director at ABS) about staff training. Joe and Jeff Skibitsky (Executive Clinical Director at ABS) meet weekly with all of our consultants and lead behavior interventionists and one of the aspects of these meetings is to assess training needs and the effectiveness of current training materials and programs. From these assessments Joe develops training sessions: twice monthly for Consultants and Lead Behavior Interventionists and once a month for all Behavior Interventionists.

All of this training centers around Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a well-developed discipline among the helping professions, with a mature body of scientific knowledge, established standards for evidence-based practice, distinct methods of service, recognized experience and educational requirements for practice, and identified sources of requisite education in universities.

Recently, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) has established a certification process for Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT), the role which our Behavior Interventionists currently fulfill at ABS. We are currently working to develop testing materials for this BACB certification process at Alternative Behavior Strategies and we intend for all ABS Interventionists to become Registered Behavior Technicians.

As the Board explains,

The RBT credential will complement the BCBA and BCaBA credentials as an entry-level program that reflects the education and training necessary for the duties of a behavior technician. The RBT is a paraprofessional who practices under the close, ongoing supervision of a BCBA or BCaBA (“designated RBT supervisor”). The RBT is primarily responsible for the direct implementation of skill-acquisition and behavior-reduction plans developed by the supervisor. The RBT may also collect data and conduct certain types of assessments (e.g., stimulus preference assessments). The RBT does not design intervention or assessment plans. It is the responsibility of the designated RBT supervisor to determine which tasks an RBT may perform as a function of his or her training, experience, and competence. The designated RBT supervisor is ultimately responsible for the work performed by the RBT.

The RBT training/certification covers all of the tasks and subtasks in the RBT Task List and the Guidelines for Responsible Conduct for Behavior Analysts that have been designated as being relevant for behavior technicians.

Initial Interview


(This is the first in a series of short articles, interviewing folks at Alternative Behavior Strategies. Many parents’ first direct contact with ABS comes via calling our office (801 935-4171) and talking with Anna Morales, our office administrator. NOTE: Since the time of this interview, Anna has become our Executive Office Adminstrator and Tara Wackerly is our new Office Administrator.

In the articles, Sarah and Charlie are at their wit’s end with Mark, their 3 year old son, and the imaginary conversation below is from their first call to ABS, in this case with Anna.)

Anna at front desk

So, how do we get started?
You begin with an hour complementary consultation with one of our clinical directors, Jeff Skibitsky or Joe Dixon. They will talk with you about what behaviors you want to see addressed, what goals you have as a family, and how you would like to progress.Next, we do a 6 hour clinical assessment during which we

  • Observe your child
  • Interview parents
  • Collect information (in questionnaires)

This will help us to determine the recommended clinical hours necessary to be given to your child to meet your goals. You review this report and see if it is doable within your budget. If so, then we proceed, working with you to find out what works for you.It all varies greatly since each child and family is unique and so the treatment plan must be specialized for your needs.

(got rather emotional and so Anna needed to encourage her):
It may seem overwhelming right now but once you see how things are implemented, it is much easier to see a light, much easier to see where the progress is coming from, and how to gain instructional control with your child. Mark’s only three..early intervention is great (our interventions range with children from 2 to 10 years old).
How will this work, day to day?
Every child is unique and a few of our families (10%) focus on parent training. However, even when our staff is providing extensive intervention (from 10 to 30 hours a week), you and Charlie are part of the team and will have access to our secure systems to access both treatment calendar info and observed data showing how the treatment is progressing. You will be able to constantly see what goals they are working on and how Mark is progressing. The interventionist runs the program and collects data about your child’s objective progress and the consultant determines the treatment plan, supervises the interventionist, analyses the data, and modifies the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) based treatment plan as needed depending on what is working and what is not working for you as a family.