What Behaviour Interventionists really feel and think
written by Vivienne Morris, Director AES
I was prompted to write this ‘blog’ because of a parent picking up her child from our clinic the other day, mentioning how our Behaviour Interventionists always presented with such happy dispositions and are always so positive, encouraging and supportive towards not only her child, but to her as well.
This set me thinking about what it is I look for when recruiting Behaviour Interventionists at AES. Of course it needs to be a person who possesses the credentials with regards to this specialist work and are prepared to commit to further study and the constant upgrading of their skill-set, but is that enough?
Well no, of course not, given we are working with your precious little human ‘beans.’ I am looking for that ‘stand-out’ person, who has the X-factor, as I have no other explanation for that amazing extra skill-set that I believe equals their professional academic and science-based background.
Having the X Factor
What made them choose this profession? Where did this measure of inner strength come from? What keeps them going even on the most difficult days, under trying conditions? When they are on the road all day, driving through the crazy traffic days or when their last mum was having a bad day and needed some extra support. Maybe the child was grumpy - so they stayed back to resolve the issue, or someone ran into their car, or there is no time for lunch and so on. Yet they arrive at their next client ‘bright-eyed and bushy tailed,’ ready to begin afresh. You also have to wonder just how much of their day, they take home with them at night.
Undeterred they continue, and this is what I call the X-factor. They genuinely care for your child. They understand how difficult it is for you, when you attempt to tell friends and family just how you are feeling and what you go through each day. How it is truly different when you say “Freddie” had this ‘meltdown,’ or you took the wrong turn to the shops and what that meant. When the lights in the shopping-centre hurt his eyes, or he is frightened of loud noises, balloons that pop, walking on the grass barefooted, and so on.
They also know it takes time to earn a parent’s trust and they work very hard to earn it. Although their job is to work on making changes to children who would prefer change does not take place.
They have hard days. They juggle the needs of many children every day whose autism traits are not even similar. They have to work constantly to gain compliance then maintain it. They often stay up late working on things for the next day and stay at work late to make sure your child’s program is ‘just so’ for tomorrow or to write their reports or attend team meetings towards your child’s needs. They have to work harder than other sectors of the community who teach typical children, in order to think ahead for the day and to try to see and prevent potential triggers and obstacles that might make your child's day that much harder. The hard days can be physical, but they press on, they never lose their cool and they always work towards a better tomorrow.
I know they have days when they wonder if all their patience and heart and perseverance are noticed. I know they have days when they want to throw in the towel and move on to something easier. The potential burn-out rate for Behaviour Interventionists can be high, but it is their passion for your child and the ‘want’ to instrument change, that keeps them invested.
Your Behaviour Interventionist also celebrates every single little success your child has, because we all know just how hard and long they had to work to achieve it. They watch your child develop and their hopes for them go far beyond their therapy sessions. They feel your vulnerabilities and your uncertainty and will make sure both your child and yourself have the correct back-up when these ‘big-events’ happen, such as, school entry – primary and secondary, attending their first birthday party, reaching adolescence, discovering the opposite sex, hair-cuts, dentist visits, swimming lessons, going on camp and so it goes on.
When we have team get-togethers, I see the excitement in their eyes when they can’t wait to ‘tell’ (non-identifiably), when their children do something new, awe-inspiring or overcome something that once would have set him/ her back. I see how hard they work to ensure he/ she have successful days. I see that on the hard days when we know he/ she is upset; that they endure through the crying, caught between knowing how essential it is to overcome the non-compliance, whilst feeling for their families at the same time. I know, as do Mums and Dads that they do everything in their power to turn the upset around and end on a positive note.
Making a Difference
Behaviour Interventionists make a huge difference to so many families. Whether it is teaching a skill back to your child, Mum, Dad, Grandma and/ or Grandpa, after it has been modelled by the Behaviour Interventionist, or learning the skills and techniques on so many issues. How to manage an eloping child who wants nothing more than to run off down the street when you go out to collect the mail. Learning to ride their bike/ trike, or overcoming the anxiety when a tree casts a creepy shadow on the ground when your child is playing. Teaching them the independent activities that Mum can use during dinner prep, supporting bath-time issues or sitting at the table as a family during meal times. Toilet training, sleep disturbances, how to play with siblings, the gentle hugging of baby sibling, managing and understanding non-compliance. The list goes on and on. Additionally, on a ‘bad’ or ‘sick’ day, Behaviour Interventionists ensure you take a break when you need it the most.
Having that Behaviour Interventionist present who has the credentials of a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst or Registered Behaviour Therapist, takes the pressure off, providing that peace of mind with the understanding that comes from knowing their love and acceptance of your child is a welcome change from the rejection and isolation you can face at times. As the awesome parents that you are, you also understand that every success your child will go on to have is the result of a foundation they helped lay, that every struggle and every accomplishment in their sessions are the stepping stones to a future your child may not have had without them.
Behaviour Interventionists, I know you sometimes wonder if you make a difference. Know that you do, because parents tell me so!