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BCBA and Ego

There are so many things about being a BCBA that are rewarding and wonderful. We see our clients progress and our supervisees grow under our mentorship. We engage in inspiring discussions with fellow BCBAs about ways to use behavior principles in every day life and try to disseminate behavior analytic literature in every way we can. There are also a few components of being a BCBA that are frustrating.

One thing that I hear frequently when I schedule a school observation is, "Oh, we only allow BCBAs to come in for 30 minutes!" When asked why, I'm met with a list of terrible things BCBAs have done when coming in for observations. They've rolled their eyes at a teacher's classroom management technique and told the parents that the teacher's assistant was reinforcing every one of the child's maladaptive behaviors. They've raised their voices in IEP meetings and refused to listen to any one else's recommendations for goals. They've even jumped in during a child's tantrum in the classroom to demonstrate ABA techniques.

You would think I'd be shocked by these allegations or reports of other BCBAs, but I'm not. I've seen the way BCBAs address students in Facebook groups that are supposed to be supportive. I've encountered less-than-stellar supervisors who are demeaning and condescending. Several times I've seen colleagues roll their eyes at a speech therapist's intervention or an occupational therapist's recommendation.

Why is it that so many of us feel the need to disregard the work other professionals are contributing? Is it because we feel that ABA is the only intervention necessary? Why do we scoff at the recommendations of others? I would love to hear your thoughts!

I think it's important that we're confident in the research-based work that we're doing and I encourage BCBAs to continue to disseminate behavior analysis where ever they can, but part of that dissemination involves listener behavior. We can't possible spread ABA, if no one will listen to us and no one is going to listen to us if they see BCBAs as demeaning and condescending. Let's make a point to hear other professionals out and see how we can intertwine our interventions with existing goals and plans. Let's not discount the work of other professionals simply because it's different than out own. Lastly, let's encourage newbies in the field rather than laughing at their amateur comments and condescendingly telling them how ridiculous their questions are.

We want people to be receptive to ABA and welcome it with open arms, so let's do what we can to make that happen!

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