An Interview with Dr. R. Layla Salek: FBA’s and BIP’s and other Things

28/04/2010 08:29:00 MichaelS at Education News

image Dr. R. Layla Salek

4.28.10 - Michael F. Shaughnessy - I wanted to combine all of my passions (children, behavior disorders and photography) into one project that would benefit families living with loved ones with Autism or a Mental Illness.

An Interview with Dr. R. Layla Salek: FBA’s and BIP’s and other Things

Michael F. Shaughnessy

Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico

1.  Dr. Salek, I understand that you are involved in raising money for children with autism and other behavioral problems. Tell us about your project.

I wanted to combine all of my passions (children, behavior disorders and photography) into one project that would benefit families living with loved ones with Autism or a Mental Illness.  I know first hand the struggles families go through when trying to help a loved one with a behavior/mental disorder.  My mother was diagnosed Bipolar when I was very young.  She was a single mother of an only child trying to access community resources.  To say the very least, it was not easy. Consequently, I grew up wanting to work with children with disorders and try to be an asset to that community.

2. How long have you been working with children with autism and Asperger's?

I have worked with children with a Mental Illness since college. I have worked with children with Autism or on the Autism spectrum since 2003.

3. Some feel that Asperger’s is simply an example of “high functioning “autism- your thoughts?

In order to be diagnosed with Autism a child must display delays/abnormalities in BOTH language and social functioning/social skills.  Asperger's children are definitely remarkable in both of those areas; however they are more easily able to acclimate themselves in inclusion environments with minimal supports. In other words, they appear to be at the higher end of the Autism spectrum.

4. Now what is a F.B.A. and why is it important?

A Functional Behavior Assessment identifies “why” someone engages in a specific behavior. Therefore, if you know the “why,” you are able to change the behavior to a more appropriate response.  If the “why” is unknown, you can inadvertently reinforce the inappropriate behaviors causing more maladaptive responses and patterns.

5. What is a B.I.P. and why is that important? 

A Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is the individual education plan for behavior used in public schools to help modify children’s behaviors that interfere with their education.  It is important because it requires that all staff members interfacing with the student implement the specific plan in each setting the child encounters when on school property.  The BIP addresses the specific behaviors the child needs to work on, lists the specific consequences both negative and positive the child will receive from staff members contingent upon exhibiting the behavior, and outlines those antecedents that need to be avoided and administered. The BIP is created once a FBA is conducted, and all interventions match the “why.”  The BIP keeps all staff members on the same page and helps them consistently implement the plan until mastery is reached.

6. Obviously, some children with autism need more supervision than others, yet some schools seem intent on full inclusion. Is there any recourse?

I would first recommend that parents know special education law and know their rights as parents.  If parents are unable to create a plan that is workable for all three parties involved (parents, child, and school), there are many child advocates or attorneys willing to mediate the situation.  It is very important for everyone involved to keep the focus and concern on the child.

7. What would you say are some typical accommodations and modifications for children with autism? What would you say are some typical accommodations and modifications for children with Asperger’s?

These two questions are very difficult to answer since each child’s behavioral and academic needs are so unique.  I have been working with children on the spectrum since 2003, and I have yet to create or witness a “typical” plan.  I also hesitate to throw out typical circumstances. I would not want people to read this and start fighting for the accommodations I list when it may not be appropriate for their child.

8. Do you have a web site where our readers can learn more about what you are doing? 

If families or institutions want to contact me for applied behavior analysis or behavior intervention services, they may contact me at www.drsalek.com.  If they would like to learn more about how I am raising money for Autism and Mental Illness charities/foundations, please visit me at www.susiephotography.com.

9. What have I neglected to ask?

My new project for raising money gives 10% of each t-shirt or ones sold to a local charity/foundation that helps families living with Autism or Mental Illness. If any of your readers are the founders of such charities/foundations or involved in one and would like to be considered for a donation, please send a brief essay, brochure or email to Dr Salek or Susiephotography.com outlining what your charity/foundation does for the community in order be considered.  It has been a pleasure talking with you.