Another young Caymanian student has become a Registered Behaviour Technician (RBT) after passing the international Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s external examination, following a five- month training programme, through The Wellness Centre.
Daniella Ebanks, the 4th Caymanian to gain the RBT qualification through The Wellness Centre training programme, said, although ABA therapy was not always the career she had envisioned, the RBT training has provided her with many useful tools for both her career and personal life. "I never really expected to work with kids with autism, but as I went through the training and I watched the ABA therapists work with children. I was amazed to see how much impact you can have on children and how much they could learn using the principles of ABA (applied behavior analysis)," Miss Ebanks said. "You can do so much with the teachings of ABA and that is what I love, that I can also use the theory in other situations in my life."
Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a teaching technique that uses positive reinforcement to increase a child’s positive behaviours and social interactions and to decrease harmful behaviours that may interfere with a child’s ability to learn, interact successfully and live independently. ABA Therapy is a well-researched evidenced based intervention for children with autism and related disorders.
A RBT is someone who works one-to-one with a child to deliver a behaviour plan and collect behaviour data. An RBT does not make treatment decisions or analyze data. Miss Ebanks continues to be heavily supervised by Sloane Pharr, a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst and ABA Programme Manager at The Wellness Centre.
"I’ve always wanted to be a clinical psychologist and open my own private practice but right now I am thinking about continuing with ABA, and I hope one day to become a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst," Miss Ebanks said.
The experience of gaining her qualifications was not without its struggles, as Miss Ebanks did not pass the exam until her second try. "I came into the program without a lot of knowledge about autism or behaviour therapy so it was an intense learning experience. But everyone on my team at The Wellness Centre encouraged me and believed in me. Plus, I kept thinking about the kids, and how much I love them and how hard they work and I just knew it would be worth it. After I failed my first attempt at the exam I decided to spend the next month full-time at The Wellness Centre shadowing the ABA team. This really helped me understand the concepts and theories I had been learning about and studying."
For The Wellness Centre director, Shannon Seymour, offering the training programme is critical to ensuring that children with autism in Cayman have access to the therapy they deserve. "We currently have waitlists for ABA Therapy, so creating training opportunities for Caymanians is the best way to focus long term on ensuring we have the therapeutic resources in our community to meet the needs. When we introduced ABA Therapy to our clinic in 2010 there was very little knowledge or understanding ABA in our community, so to see where we have come in the past seven years is pretty remarkable. I am very proud to be offering a training programme for Caymanians. It’s a great career, it’s a meaningful career and there is so much room for progression within the field."
All ABA programmes should be developed and supervised by a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCAB) and are most effective when implemented by a team of highly qualified therapists. The minimum requirement for anyone working in the field of ABA is a designation as a Registered Behaviour Technician.
Miss Seymour added, " When the international Behaviour Analyst Certification Board introduced the RBT qualification as a minimum requirement for ABA therapists The Wellness Centre was very keen to implement this as our policy. In many jurisdictions, including Cayman people have calling themselves ABA therapists without adequate training or proper supervision. This leaves children and their families vulnerable because before the RBT designation, understanding who was properly qualified could be confusing. We’re currently working closely with the Health Practice Council right now to ensure that all ABA Therapists, including those with RBT level qualifications are fully registered and legally entitled to practice on island."
If you want to get more information about the RBT programme or see a list of qualified Registered Behaviour Technicians in the Cayman Islands visit www.bacb.com.