Category Archives: How-To

What Do Jaime and I Have In Common?

ABA nail
My nails painted.  For some reason, the rotation option was not available…

Things I Do For Love

Jaime from certain show did something quite, hmm, evil to show his love.

I did something quite different to show my love for ABA and my clients.  Yes, I got my nails painted as a reinforcer.  I might not be the smartest, strongest, most all-around man but I am man enough to serve as a nail-painting toy.

Functions vs Topography

As I said above, Jaime and I both did something for love.  However, the topography is VERY different.

Just remember there is more than one way to get things (or achieve that particular function).   Screaming, spitting, cursing, punching someone in the face can all lead to going to the principal’s office, which is a great way to escape from class work.  Different topographies, same results.

While Jaime did something quite unthinkable to show his love,  I showed my love for ABA and my clients by getting my nails painted.

How would you show your love of ABA?





Reliefmap of Australia
Reliefmap of Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The May 2015 results are up! I hope all is well.

And this reminds me that I should really, really, start posting the tips I hoarded over the past few crops…

I will post as fast as I can…

Here is one, from Dianne, a close friend of mine…

Great stuff, no editing needed…


“Many people have already given tips on how to study or how to prepare for the exam, so I am not going to re-hash that information. I am not going to tell you to read Cooper, I am not going to tell you to BDS modules.


“I didn’t actually study for the exam. The day before the test I reviewed some notes and that is all. I have not read Cooper front to back, and I have not done any prep modules at all. I took the BCaBA exam, and passed, I then took the BCBA exam a few months later and I passed.


“I am very fortunate that I have been in this field for a long time, over 15 years without having taken a single course or class in ABA. I fell into this field as my background is in physical education, curriculum development and physiotherapy. I stumbled into ABA and I fell in love with it. My life is Behaviour Analysis. In Australia there is no requirement to be a BCBA or BCaBA to deliver services, sadly anyone can call himself or herself a behaviour analyst, behaviour therapist or ABA therapist. Hopefully with our new Association for Behaviour Analysis here, we will be able to make a difference.


“To be able to take the exam as I did a Masters degree in Linguistics, I took the Florida Tech classes and they were fantastic.


In my humble opinion, the best preparation for the exam and more importantly becoming a good and well-rounded therapist, interventionist and Behaviour Analyst and then specialist are the people you learn from and surround yourself with.


“So here I am going to give you some tips on what to look for in mentors, supervisors and people that you learn from. These are totally arbitrary and I made them up!


  1. People have strengths in different areas. Have more than one supervisor.
  2. If you have an area of interest find a supervisor who specialises in this area. For me this was RFT, so I found a supervisor who was experienced in that area.
  3. Your supervisor should take baseline data on your skills, give specific feedback, evaluate you again and take data.
  4. Interview your supervisor, they are crucial in developing your skill set.
  5. I know for many people cost is a big factor, but keep in mind that often you get what you pay for.
  6. When I first learned about BA, I was on a ton of mailing lists, lurking. I learned so much from people posting questions. I tried to think of what my answer would be and then read others’ responses. If there was a term I didn’t know or understand I’d look it up.
  7. I cannot stress enough, have more than one supervisor. Someone who specializes in
    1. Discrete Trial Training
    2. Natural Environment Training
    3. PECS or other AAC
    4. Relational Frame Theory (RFT)
    5. Verbal Behaviour
    6. Conducting Functional Analyses and reducing problem behaviour
    7. Organisational Behaviour Management (specifically for BCBAs)
    8. Ethics
    9. Research and data taking
    10. I am sure there are more areas!


“Some sample questions to ask a potential supervisor (I will tailor the questions specifically for people who are looking to gain experience in working with children with special needs)


  1. How long have you been in the field? How long have you been a BCBA?
  2. Why are you in this field? What do you like/love about it?
  3. Which companies have you worked for?
  4. Who was your mentor/supervisor and what have you learned from him/her?
  5. How many people have you supervised?
  6. What is the pass rate for the people that you have supervised?
  7. What are your specific interests?
  8. How many children have you worked with directly and written programs for?
  9. What would you consider your strengths and are there areas you consider yourself weak in?
  10. Do you have a current mentor that could supervise me in the areas that you feel that you are weaker in?
  11. What are your expectations of me as a supervisee?
  12. What is the process of supervision? (This should typically involve base line data, video or observation of direct skills, initially it should also involve behavioural skills training and geared specifically to meet the task list)
  13. Do you use a specific curriculum to train me? If not, how do you set goals and targets for my development?
  14. Can you provide assistance with test preparation and provide mock exams?
  15. How much is your hourly rate and what is included? Can you send me a copy of your supervision agreement for me to have a look at?
  16. Is there anything that I haven’t mentioned that you can offer me?


“Lastly, this field is evolving and passing the exam is just the start, it is a minimum requirement. Don’t be a mediocre Behaviour Analyst, strive to be the best you can be. This includes continuing to learn from peers, people who know more. You can make the world a better place by changing one behaviour at a time but only if you try everything in your power to be the best behaviour analyst you can be.


“I also want to thank my mentors that have guided, helped me and taught me over the years as I wouldn’t be here without them.








 This is the best one I could find… 88

Here Comes Number 88!!!

Well, I promised Mrs. Linsao that she would be no. 88 and I struggled to find one more tips… and so now I simply cut and paste the whole thing… and guess who turns 1 today! Happy Birthday, M-man!

“Hello Behavior Jedi!

“Now that I have put both my kids to bed, I can finally post some tips on how I prepared for the BCBA exam. A little background first: I received my Masters degree in psychology and I spent most of my training as an MFT (marriage and family therapist) focusing on behavioral therapy and ABA techniques to modify my client’s behaviors. I actually started out as a behavior tutor at a private agency in Redwood City working with children with autism. Sadly, I left as a result of my graduate program requiring me to obtain hours at a practicum. I have worked with children since I was 18 years old and was always fascinated on how one could manipulate behaviors. After I spent a few years in grad school and became licensed as an MFT, I went back into the world of ABA (which was always my intention after completing my goal of receiving my masters and MFT license). This is something I have done for 12 years and I was “doing” ABA before I even knew what ABA was. This was something I lived for years and only until I graduated from my masters program and entered the FIT ABA 5 course sequence program was I able to learn the language of the interventions I have been using for years. I absolutely loved learning about the protocols, FAA’s, etc. To me, knowing and understanding what the terms were helped me much more than knowing the “language of ABA.” Fluency and mastery is key as well as conceptualization and application. I’m generally a very introverted person so I often covertly will look at live situations and think about them in my head how ABA would work. That is just how I learn-I cannot “think out loud” or explain terms to people-that was for sure an AO for me (I do not like audiences but am working on this!).

“Now with that background, I spent Oct. 2012 until Jan. 2014 completing the FIT ABA certification classes. Those classes really helped me refine what I already knew but with actual textbooks, definitions, etc. I loved it all. In the meantime, I had just passed my MFT license exams (one in Nov. 2012 and the second in Dec. 2012). I got pregnant with my second child in September of 2013 and prior to that I was diagnosed with post partum depression. My second pregnancy was a very unpleasant and difficult one, but I refused any psychiatric medications. My father in law had a heart attack in Jan of 2014, he had triple bypass surgery, and then 48 hours after his surgery he went into cardiac arrest. He is still currently in a non responsive state. My son was born on May 31st, 2014-the day I scheduled my exam for which I cancelled 4 days prior on his estimated due date when I realized he was not coming on time! That was also the last day I spent studying.

“From June 1st until August 21st. I had absolutely no time to study or prepare for the August exam with a colicky newborn boy, a 2.5 year old active girl, and trying to purchase a new home . But, I told myself that I will go ahead and take the exam without any expectations. If I knew my stuff, then I’ll pass. If I didn’t, then I’ll study harder and try again. Attitude going into the exam is very important to me (I went into the MFT exams with the same attitude: no expectations). This helped tremendously with the test anxiety-I had NO test anxiety. I completed the entire exam in 2 hours, spend the next hour reviewing the 55 marked questions by going through those and unmarking the ones that I felt confident with, which left me with about 20 marked. I went through those 20 and again unmarked those that I felt confident and then I ended up with about 7 that I guessed on. I still had an hour left, so I used 40 minutes going over the entire exam 3 times. I caught a handful that I misread the question and that helped with realizing that reading the question carefully will make a difference on choosing the best answer!

“Test preps I used:

1. BDS Modules-this was NOT for me. I started feeling pressured to get the fluency and mastery so I stopped doing them after 2 weeks in. I learned nothing from them and it just made me more nervous!

2. FIT Guided Review-very helpful in discovering that there are fine discriminations you need to know to help you master the exam!

3. PASS THE BIG ABA EXAM-5 week Remote Workshop-this was helpful on my focus and studying schedule with the chaos that was going on around me. I needed this structure and I needed the impending deadlines each week to keep me motivated on completing my study tasks! I also did the weekend mock exam which really helped me on getting more practice in on reading questions carefully and fluency! The test is timed and as you read, I was able to complete the entire exam in 2 hours and spend almost the entire other 2 hours really looking over ones I was not sure of and rereading a lot of the questions 2, 3, and 4 times.

“I did not crack open any textbooks during this time. I also credit that I have had prior history of test taking in similar environment and setting (I had to do it twice for the MFT licensure!). That prior history really helped me with knowing what to expect at the testing center and how the computers will be set up and so on. It also prepared me for coping with the pressure of timed exams!

“That’s all I have for now. I did everything I could possibly do under the circumstances I had and did my best. And I believed in myself and believed I knew this stuff even if others may not think I knew a lot (since I was not one to overtly show people how much I knew). Now, I can relax and enjoy being a mommy to a BCBAby (term coined by behavior jedi)! I will eventually have a blog up, when I find time. Hopefully soon. I will let you know.

Amy Linsao
Fairfield, CA”

Thank you very much, Amy! Sorry it took so long… but hey I got it done… and guys, look at Amy! She studied hard and then she had to take a break to care for her newborn baby… and still she still got it done! It’s not easy but it can be done! Live, breathe and love ABA!

It took months to finally finishing posting all the great tips from the August 2014 crop… maybe I can build up some momentum?

May the desired consequence be with you!




English: North Dakota State Capitol, Bismarck,...
North Dakota State Capitol, Bismarck, North Dakota, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


MIA I was…

Sorry I lost track of things and I didn’t finish posting the August crop (of last year) and now I am way behind… well… I want you all to give a shout-out to Blake P. of North Dakota. He emailed me with his tips. So, let’s give him the stage:

BCBA Tips from Blake P. of ND


“I have been practicing ABA in North Dakota for the last 25 years. I took the exam for the first time in August and passed.

“The first thing I had to do was get my coursework at St. Cloud State University from 1989-1991 evaluated. Fortunately I had kept many of my text books and materials from back then and the BACB gave their approval. I think that says a lot for their program that their coursework from that far back qualified for the exam! They obviously have a strong program.

“I started gradually studying about 18 months ago and really ramped it up for the last 3 months. I got the new version of Cooper, Heron, and Heward (I used the first edition when I was in graduate school) and read it cover to cover. I also read the Baily and Birch ethics book and was part of a weekly discussion group which I participated in via video.

“In March I started using the BDS module series which I found very helpful. I completed these to 100% by July and also did their post test. I found the post test to be helpful as it had questions not included in the regular modules. It took me about three hours to complete and gave me a feel for what the real exam would be like.

“For the last month I started randomly using other people’s card sets on quizlet, completed the on line chapter quizzes for Cooper, Heron, and Heward, and began randomly going back through different modules from BDS.

“There is no substitute for studying. Even with all my coursework and experience I would not have passed if I did not study several hours each week.

“Good luck to everybody who is preparing to take the exam!”

Guys, there’s no quick fix…  make a long term goal, then shape your behavior, modify your game plan, divide and conquer! Of course, keep the white book (affiliate link) , Bailey (affiliate link) and BDS handy helps A LOT too!

Thank you Blake for sharing your study tips!

Just one more thing… if you haven’t checked out my FB page… you can click here. And while you are at it, go join the group to learn more about ABA.

May the desired consequence be with you!



BCBA study tips LXXXIII

State Seal of Indiana.
State Seal of Indiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Emily of Indiana

“I used the passthebigaba manual and literally read from the manual to record on my notes on my iPhone. I have a 50 min commute so I made myself listen for 20 min on my drive. I also did a 50 min recording of me reading all the ABA terminology and definitions. By reading it, saying it out loud and listening it really helped me retain it.

“I work at an ABA center in Indiana and my supervisor is amazing.”

We all hate driving (sadly for most of us, it’s part of the job)… instead of listening to songs… why not make it a little useful and study a little? Or listen to my interviews (click BCBA interview on the sidebar. I am going to record some more!!!)

Repetition, repetition, repetition!

Great job, Emily! Thanks for sharing your tips!


A panorama of the Rose Garden at the Universit...
This is a snapshot of our BCBA Ben’s campus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ben Reiman of Western Canada

“BDS modules to 100% completion; daily involvement in online behaviour analytic conversation; article group discussions.

“I ‘m a behaviour consultant with a community living agency in western Canada. In the future I hope to provide supervision to others interested in working with adults in group home/day program settings.

“I went to the University of British Columbia.”

Not only you should study ABA, you should also think, discuss and live ABA!

Thanks, Ben Reiman, BCBA!