Courtney Thames, the school behavior specialist in The School for Asperger’s/HFA at Trident Academy has big dreams and she’s taking big steps to make them a reality.
Ms. Thames recently became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), the highest-level distinction for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapists. She completed two years of ABA experience, two years of additional schooling beyond her Master’s degree, and 1,500 hours of supervised fieldwork.
“My biggest dream for children with autism is that they succeed in a world that often doesn’t give them a chance and counts them out from the very beginning,” Ms. Thames says. “Being certified means I am one step closer to making a big difference in the lives of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.”
In the Classroom
Ms. Thames works with students in kindergarten through the third grade at Trident Academy and says what she learned through the BCBA certification process has made an impact in her classroom.
“Most importantly, I have learned how to better understand causes (we call them functions) of behavior, how to intervene, and how to better predict future occurrences of behaviors,” Ms. Thames explains. “This not only includes the aberrant behavior we want to decrease, but some of the wonderful and appropriate behavior we want to increase.”
In the School for Asperger’s/HFA, collecting data on the students’ behavior and performance is an important part of communication with parents. Ms. Thames says some of the tactics she learned through the certification process has helped to ensure parents are getting information that best represents their child’s performance.
“Having a BCBA-certified teacher in the classroom is huge for us,” says Nicole McLain, Program Director at Trident Academy. “She is qualified to implement ABA therapies and can also make decisions regarding treatment procedures and behavior plans for our students.”
In the Future
Though ABA has been proven to be the most effective form of treatment for children with ASD, not every BCBA works with children with autism. The skills are also helpful in the treatment of traumatic brain injuries, addictions, and PTSD.
The CDC recently announced that 1 in 68 children have an ASD, so the need for BCBA-certified teachers will only grow.
“Seeing each student progress and learn at their own speed is so rewarding. I call these small victories. Not a week goes by that there isn’t a small victory that brings tears to my eyes,” says Ms. Thames. “Through community education, ABA, and amazing school and parent support, I know that my biggest dreams will happen. No doubt in my mind.”
To learn more about ABA therapy and its use at Trident Academy, contact Courtney Thames at firstname.lastname@example.org.