Evangelia, Kyriaki, Maria, Anastasia & Chara on the ABA training in Vilnius
From 8th to 12th of May, six professionals on the field of psychology were given the opportunity by Action Synergy to attend a training in Vilnius about applied behavior analysis and autism within the framework of ABA project.
ABA project aims to promote, through the training of teachers and related professionals, the use of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in schools for working with children with autism but also with children with mental retardation and with social, emotional and behavioral disorder.
Let’s read what four of those professionals wrote us about their experience in Lithuania.
As far as the training is concerned, it was really useful for my work. I was broaden my knowledge about using ABA for developing new skills, for controlling difficult behaviors as well as for organizing a suitable educational environment for children with ASD. I have learned something new about developing new skills (some examples about the token economy system) which was really helpful in my workplace.
As for the travel, it was very well organized from both partners (Greece, Lithuania). We have received all the necessary directions and when we needed something else, the coordinators were willing to help us.
Thank you very much for this significant experience.
Travelling to Lithuania for the ABA training program was a unique experience for me. Knowing that I was not familiar with ABA method I was really excited for being part of the Greek team.
The training was designed for experts (special education teachers, psychologists, etc.) who had already used Applied Behavioral Analysis or not. The schedule was planned in order to offer us theoretical and at some point more practical knowledge. The beginning of the training took actually place in a Day Social Care Center in Vilnius that works in everyday basis with special needs children, helping to solve their social problems and needs. The day center provides a wide range of facilities and activities, such us motion correction in the swimming pool, medical massage, music therapy, logotherapy, ergotherapy, psychotherapy, cooking classes.
Our first visit in this Special Nursery Kindergarten was followed by our theoretical introduction about autism and ABA use in preschool organisations. Basically, the first three days of the program were quite a bit theoretical, which was very useful because some of the participants did not have a previous ABA background. More specifically, there were many theoretical parts that we learned and the next moment we had to apply our new knowledge in small tasks, divided in groups of 6-7 people. That was something that helped us realise what we were taught, having also the chance to make questions.
The Lithuanian team that organised the training had very thoughtfully included in our program, apart from the theoretical and practical parts, visits and walks around Vilnius and the Old town of Vilnius where we had the opportunity to feel and understand the culture of the city and of course the locals. Personally, I believe that meeting the culture and the traditions of the city helped me see and understand on a different level the way people confront and support children with special needs. The last two days we had the opportunity to visit the hometown of the organisational team, named Šiauliai. The first day we visited the Šiauliai University and a team of the University explained us how students are trained and prepared to be specialists. We met some of the working staff that also showed us special equipment that they use. The last day of the training program we visited the kindergarten of the Lithuanian group, where the working staff with the children had prepared for us a welcome surprise. Then, we had a tour around the place and after that people from the kindergarten introduced us to the way they work with children. What was interesting was the fact that before the closing each country had the chance to present how things work regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The knowledge I obtained from the training was mostly introductive to me, keeping in mind that I did not use ABA method before. Now, I am able to understand ABA and use it in a certain point, but I feel the need of learning more and practice more in order to be a professional in the most accurate way.
At the moment, I work with typically developed children, therefore, I did not have the chance to make use of the ABA method. However, as a psychologist, in the future I intend to work with special needs children and I will be able to apply what I have learnt through this training. It is quite important though to mention that there is a general idea that I gained from the training regarding children and that is the way we observe children, the way we interact with them, the way we communicate several things. These three elements are really important and necessary when working with typical or non – typical developing children and this realisation is essential in the organisation that I work as well.
The whole training was a lifetime experience for me because I was able to travel in a different country, meet colleagues from different place, having at the some time the opportunity to exchange knowledge and perspectives. The organisation group was very polite and ready every time to answer to our queries and help us in any case. It was very happy to see their willingness and how excited they were during the training program.
I clearly understand that it was a short training program for the ABA method to obtain enough knowledge and this is the reason way I would recommend a sequence in this really useful and important program.
Photo Gallery from the ABA training in Vilnius
The training in Lithuania was a great and useful experience for me. I am teacher in special education and I will use a lot of things that I learned in this project in school and also I will present it to my colleges. The project aim was to analyse how to work with children with ASD and other disabilities and how to make their integration into the society easier.
We watched methods incorporating ABA method elements, which are especially relevant for us who participated in this. Vilnius kindergarten Čiauškutis was an incredible place to see and I imagined myself to work in such a great kindergarten.
The most interesting of this project was the teaching to learn ABA methods and how they are using the strategy and choosing prompts for the children. Project participants were divided into groups in order to develop closer communication with each other and to share our individual experience. Then we learned about the strategy we can use based to integration, education and improvement. We had practical tasks and solved problems. In Šiauliai university we were informed for the study programs, which prepare students to work with special needs children.
Such students after half of the term of their studies are able to choose list of fields, where they deepen the knowledge on how to work with children who have special needs and what methods and approaches to use. One of such methods is ABA approach and introduced the compensating technology center. Specialists introduced their services to the members of the project in the wellness, hippo therapy and sports center and speech therapy center.
In Šiauliai district Kursėnai kindergarten was a great experience of all these nice things we watched there. The end of the project was filled with presentations from the guest from abroad countries, where participants represented their institutions and the experience gained from the project. We were fascinated by the beauty and uniqueness of The Hill of Crosses and by learning the culture of the countries we were participating with in this project. This training gave me practical skills relevant for my current job and professional development. I have experimented and developed new learning practices / methods. I am very happy that I had the opportunity to attend this training and I am grateful to Erasmus program.
In my opinion the most useful subject in Vilnius training was the view of positive reinforcement in each child’s success and the use of pictures. Also, the most useful experience in Kursenai kindergarten “Eglute” was the way of teaching in the classroom and the “inclusive” education. The use of pictures and the way to approach the special needs. I already use the pictured positive reinforcement to behavioral problems. The most useful things for my colleagues in my educational environment are the continued support, team work, supervision, as well as discussion that could be useful in any educational environment. For me, the use of elements from different educational approaches and methods, in order to combine them and approach children difficulties, was something new. I generally felt very creative. I learned a lot about other countries and their different approaches. In my opinion, the exchange of information, new studies of each country, as well as updates for educational system, would be useful as well. In any case, I hope for further cooperation.
The ABA project in Lithuania was one of the most interesting trainings I have done. It was a great experience for me as I gained further knowledge on how to use ABA in schools and the visit in special schools of Lithuania, which gave me practical knowledge and more ideas about effective interventions.
As far as the theoretical knowledge is concerned, the principles of ABA were presented during the first days of the training. It was an interactive way of learning as we were divided in small groups based on our country and we prepared small tasks. This way gave us the opportunity to share our practices and think about ways we could change them and make them better. The lecturer was very helpful and gave us practical ideas on how to use ABA in our schools.
The visit in special schools was for me the most interesting part of the training. I was impressed by the organization, the material used and the modern architecture of the schools. The staff was very friendly and willing to show us the way they work.
Apart from the training which gave me theoretical knowledge and an insight into how to use positive reinforcement and visual aids, the visits organized were very interesting and gave us the opportunity to explore Vilnius and understand the culture of the whole country. We also made new friends and we enjoyed the Lithuanian hospitality.
So, it was a great experience and I am really grateful to Action Synergy which gave me the opportunity not only to gain new knowledge but also to explore a new way of thinking.