McNeese student identifies behavioral treatments for autistic disorders – American Press

By Ashlee Lhamon

Special for the American press

Carlee Reeves, a graduate student in McNeese State University’s Applied Behavior Analysis program, prepares to present her research on effective treatments for harmful autism spectrum disorder behaviors at the Texas Association for Behavior Analysis annual conference in Dallas .

From Dry Creek, Reeves’ journey to the ABA program was very different from that of many of his classmates. While most program applicants have a background in psychology, Reeves’ undergraduate degree from Louisiana College was in nursing.

Drawn to nursing because of her passion for helping individuals make meaningful changes in their lives and gain independence, she said her experiences as a nurse pointed her in a different direction.

“As I was finishing my BSN, I started working with someone on the autism spectrum in a private household and I just loved it,” she said. “I thought, ‘Maybe I’m not on the right track here and maybe nursing isn’t what I’m supposed to be.’ ”

Reeves began working as a Certified Behavioral Technician after graduating and said the feedback she received from colleagues who were board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) inspired her. to start looking at ABA programs.

“They said they thought I really had a knack for it and would really make a fantastic BCBA. I was hesitant at first, but I took the leap,” she said.

One of her colleagues, whom Reeves said was a particular inspiration, encouraged her to investigate McNeese’s on-campus master’s program — the only program accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International in Louisiana.

After meeting the program’s teachers, Reeves said she “fell in love” with McNeese’s program. “All of my teachers were really supportive, and the BCBAs are so friendly – ​​they really care about me. The atmosphere here really appealed to me.

In conjunction with classroom work, Reeves serves as a graduate assistant in the McNeese Autism Program (MAP). Supervised by a licensed BCBA, she works with children and adolescents on the autism spectrum, helping them improve their communication, social and self-regulation skills, as well as developing skills that contribute to greater autonomy.

“I’ve worked with many people at different levels of functioning, but everyone has their own set of unique skills and behaviors,” she said. “It was so amazing to watch their progress and see the improvements they have made in their daily lives.s.”

Through MAP’s Bridges Program — a summer program for teens with autism — Reeves has also worked with older populations on issues they may face, such as planning, budgeting and maintaining routines at home.

This hands-on experience working with clients, she said, made a huge difference in her own skills. Since starting at McNeese, Reeves said she feels more confident assessing individuals and implementing treatment interventions based on those assessments, including communication interventions for non-verbal people and procedures. for behavior problems.

The latter became the focus of his diploma thesis – in particular, self-harm behavior which can include pica (eating substances other than normal food), head-banging, punching, scratching , bite, and a variety of other forms.

“I’m very interested in treating self-injurious behaviors because many people with autism or on the autism spectrum engage in it,” she said. “It can really impact an individual’s life and we really want to make meaningful behavioral changes because their safety comes first.”

For his thesis, Reeves conducted a systematic review of the current literature on multiple treatments for self-harming behaviors.

“I investigated four methods – response blocking, response costs, therapist attention, and the use of a TENS unit, which is a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation machine. My goal was to find documentation that these treatments were effective for one or more people,” she said. “I ended up with a total of 18 papers, and ultimately I found that the literature showed that these treatments were effective in reducing behaviors of self-harm not only in autistic people, but also in people with intellectual disabilities.”

In late April, Reeves will give a poster presentation at the Texas Association for Behavior Analysis Conference, where she will have the opportunity to meet, network, and discuss her research and findings with ABA experts and scientific professionals. of the domain.

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