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  • Writer's pictureDr. Josh Levine, Ph.D., BCBA, LBA

Bruises, Bites, and Scratches: The Mythical Badge of Honor in ABA Therapy

Welcome, brave souls and myth-busters, to our light-hearted yet enlightening expedition into the world of ABA therapy. Today’s myth to debunk is as popular as the notion that lightning never strikes the same place twice (spoiler: it does). The myth in question? That getting bruised, bitten, and scratched daily is just “part of the job” in ABA therapy. Let's unravel this with the finesse of a cat untangling a ball of yarn!


The Myth: ABA Therapy as a Contact Sport?

Once upon a time, in the enchanted land of ABA therapy, there was a tall tale that getting bruised and bitten was as much part of the job as, say, having a coffee break. This myth glorified the idea of therapists as heroic warriors, returning from the field of battle with scars to prove their valor. But let's face it, if your job feels like you’re gearing up for a medieval joust rather than a therapy session, something might be amiss; think biological factors or contextual variables!


The Reality Check: Safety First, Not Last

Now, let's snap back to reality (oh, there goes gravity). The fact is, getting hurt regularly is a big, flashing neon sign that says, “Hey, maybe we need to rethink our strategy.” It’s not about toughness; it’s about effectiveness and safety. After all, ABA therapy is more akin to a well-choreographed dance than a wrestling match.


The Environment: Setting the Stage for Success

Think of the therapy environment like a stage. If the stage is set right (e.g., environmental arrangements, duh?!), the actors (you and your kiddos) can perform at their best. But if the stage is cluttered, dimly lit, or missing some crucial props, well, that's when the tripwires and banana peels appear. An environment that hasn't been appropriately arranged for safety is like trying to tap dance on a tightrope – thrilling, but not exactly sustainable.


The Importance of Training: Knowing Your Moves

Training in ABA therapy shouldn’t just be about the ABCs of behavior. It should also include the XYZs of safety, de-escalation techniques, and how to create a therapeutic environment that minimizes the chance of injury. The FBA should have a thorough analysis of any potential biological factors and contextual variables that may increase the likelihood of the problem behavior. If your training didn’t cover these, it’s like being handed a cookbook with all the recipes but no instructions on how to not burn the kitchen down.


The Company's Role: More Than Just Cheerleaders

Your ABA therapy company shouldn't just be on the sidelines, shaking pom-poms and cheering you on. They need to be the coaches, strategists, and safety officers (including the ABA therapy company owner!). If they're handing out band-aids more than feedback forms, it’s time for a team huddle.


The Bottom Line: Safety Isn’t Negotiable

Here’s the deal: getting nipped, scratched, or bruised occasionally might happen, but it should be the exception, not the rule. If you’re clocking more injuries than a stunt double, it's a sign to raise the flag. Your safety is not a bargaining chip; it’s a fundamental right.


In Conclusion: Let’s Bust the Myth

So, let’s put this myth to bed once and for all. Getting hurt regularly on the job isn’t a “part of the job”; it’s a sign that something needs to change, and fast! Whether it’s better training, a safer environment, or more support from your company, remember: you’re here to make a positive impact, not to collect battle scars. Stay safe, stay smart, and let’s keep making the world a better place, one behavior at a time – and with fewer band-aids!

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