By: Sandra Bendokas
As I approach the end of my academic studies in applied behavior analysis (ABA) at Caldwell University, I am proud of what I have learned, the skills I have acquired, and what I am able to offer the children with autism who I serve. I spend most days, and more than a few evenings, studying and applying the principles of my field so that others may benefit from what ABA has to offer.
As a full-time worker in autism treatment/ABA, full-time graduate student, and full-time mother of two small children, I sometimes find myself lost in the needs of others. I’m sure I don’t need to convince anyone that raising children is time-consuming. If you have been, or are currently a student, it doesn’t take much to convince you of the enormous time commitment. And full-time work in any field is just that, full time! And I would argue the field of ABA demands even a little something more.
In light of all of this, it seems that I have lost track of some of my own needs. After having my second baby a year ago, I have struggled to lose the weight. Now you may think, she has great excuses, right? Work, school, kids…..I even had my parents move in with us after their house was destroyed in the hurricane! What better excuses could I have?! It was impossible for me to diet and exercise…right?
Well, I am going to stop the pity party right there. Life can be tough! We all know that. What is even worse is that I knew they were just excuses. If it was important enough, I would have done it. Enter my last elective for my required coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis. As I walked into class the first week, our professor asked, “Has anyone made a New Year’s resolution this year?” Not thinking much of it, I raised my hand and said that I wanted to lose the “baby weight”. And so it began….my journey to use the applied behavior analysis techniques with myself to lose weight.
It is probably important to tell you the topic of this class….it is called “Self-Management.” I realized that if I wanted to be successful, I needed to apply my skills in ABA, only to myself this time. Maybe all of my excuses are obstacles, and I need a better plan. I need to develop better strategies and set more reasonable goals.
So, as a part of this class, but more importantly, as a part of my new life goal, I decided to blog, and publicly post my plan, strategies, and progress toward my goal. I decided to share this as a way to become accountable for my behavior, and hopefully, increase my motivation to adhere to my plan and use the strategies I develop.
I will be updating my progress periodically and will let you know just how well I am able to turn the tables and use ABA for my own good. I would love your feedback, and if you have any questions, I would love to hear them!
Sandra Bendokas is a graduate student at Caldwell University currently pursuing her master’s in applied behavior analysis.