Patricia Williams is a BCaBA from Jamaica and a longtime member of How to ABA. She works in an international school on the island and began her career as a high school teacher. After observing students in her classes with behavioral issues, she studied special education and began using the techniques she learned. Patricia eventually began her own private school, with many parents enrolling their autistic children there because it poses fewer challenges than the regular school system. She also just completed her master’s degree in education, which compliments her behavioral knowledge very well.
Caribbean culture tends to be more “old-school,” with punishment often being the options parents and teachers go to first to correct behavior. Approaching ABA with compassion is a must for Patricia. Taking the time to develop a relationship with a child can be a long road but it is the right choice. You want children to do things for you because they like you, not because they’re afraid of you. A big challenge in Jamaica is that parents don’t always have the funding for services, and currently there is no insurance in place to help supplement costs. Sometimes all a parent can afford is one session, so creating a treatment plan that the parent understands and wants to follow makes all the difference.
Another challenge Patricia faces is a lack of resources. Currently, there is no screening program in place in Jamaica to help identify at-risk children. Sometimes a children with behavioral issues won’t get services until they’ve reached adulthood where it’s much more difficult to correct problems. Greater awareness of ABA services is needed for pediatricians and educators so that children can be referred to programs as early as possible. Patricia’s advice to new ABAs is to lean on your community and make sure you have a support group you can turn to. Researching topics and solutions that have already been proven in studies can help tremendously so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Also, be comfortable with not always having the answers.
- Patricia’s journey of becoming a BCaBA.
- Cultural challenges with ABA services in Jamaica.
- How a teaching background compliments behavioral analysis and practices.