A BCBA's Thoughts while Working in the Field...

I was "Surprised".

I was introduced to a new client Mi (made-up name) recently who had a few different case supervisors in the past.

As usual, I was doing my due diligence to review Mi's current programs to have a full grasp on the kiddo's needs before I further observe, probe and train team members.

To give some knowledge of Mi's skill profile: Mi is not currently requesting or advocating for his own needs by functional communication, although he is able to label common daily objects by saying the items' names. His main form of "communication" (when needed) is crying to show discomfort, so that an adult could attempt to figure out how to help him.

Tell me why a "mand" program was not the focus of Mi's program until very recent, perhaps not untill a few weeks ago (thanks to that last BCBA who herself had a full caseload and still oversaw Mi's before I arrived on the case)? I then was more puzzled to find out that Mi had been working on identifying emotions "surprised" and "confused" in an array of 6 or 8 pictures. I was shocked and upset, because if Mi cannot communicate his basic needs, what good is a picture of a "surprised" or "confused" face going to do to Mi's learning or understanding of his BASIC needs, not to mention attending and social awareness skills are pending? Other than touching the picture has been generating a reward, I cannot think of another function of learning for Mi. The only possible rationale I can come up with for the past supervisor who decided to teach this program is that Mi's expressive language has more significant deficits than receptive language, in order not to stop receptive language from progressing, teach more complex receptive language. However, that, again, how functional is that? What are Mi's parents' opinions over the programs? How is learning facial expressions on stock cards critical to his family life?

My thoughts:

A child's functional skills, independence, and living quality are the goals in ABA practice by teaching critical skills to guide them to more learning opportunities, therefore, deserve, if not all, the majority of our focus, experimenting, teamwork, effort, time, and energy. I, as a practicing BCBA, should and will continue to devote to assisting more kiddos like Mi.