BOARD CERTIFIED BEHAVIOUR ANALYST
Sarah began working with children with disabilities from the age of 17 in which she became a disabilities mentor and representative supporting children with disabilities at her local high school to build academic and social skills while also serving as an advocate for her students.
Sarah’s passion for working with children and teenagers with a range of disabilities continued and grew and she has worked in a range of roles with children and teenagers with different disabilities including, a volunteer for the Riding for the Disabled Association and a disability mentor and advocate for university students with disabilities. Sarah is passionate about assisting those with disabilities to strive towards greater independence and an increased quality of life.
In the summer of 2006 Sarah worked for a charity in America providing a week long holiday for children and teenagers with disabilities, complex needs and challenging behaviour. Sarah was assigned to children and young adults aged 8-18 with a range of complex needs mainly arising from Autism. It was while working with this charity that Sarah first worked with children and young adults who exhibited severe behaviours which challenge including self injury, aggression and property damage. During this time Sarah became interested in how to help children and young adults overcome their behaviours which challenge. Sarah worked alongside colleagues, who were using techniques derived from Applied Behaviour Analysis, so that she could better understand the function of the behaviours which challenge and design interventions aimed at reducing these behaviours.
Using techniques derived from ABA, she was delighted to discover how much the children and young adults she worked with were able to achieve both socially and academically once the behaviours which challenge had reduced. This experience sparked Sarah’s desire to learn more about Behaviour Analysis and how to support those with complex needs and behaviours which challenge.
Sarah completed her Psychology BSc in 2007 and completed her Masters degree in Applied Behaviour Analysis in 2010. Sarah’s main area of interest and study during her masters was how to increase functional communication skills (such as the use of PECS, signs and speech) in order to decrease behaviours which challenge, she completed her thesis on this topic.
While completing her Masters in ABA Sarah worked in residential facilities for teenagers with autism, complex needs and challenging behaviour from 2009 to 2012. During this time Sarah’s role in the lives of the young people she supported was to apply the scientific principles of Behaviour Analysis to investigate the causes and contributing factors resulting in the children displaying challenging behaviour, dangerous conduct in the community or to identify the causes of barriers to learning functional and independence skills such as dressing, toileting, social interaction, academic skills etc. Based on the assessment Sarah designed personalized interventions aimed at reducing challenging behaviour and building of functional and independence skills. The overall aim of each intervention she designed was to equip the young person with the skills to become independent of intervention in the future.
From 2009 to 2012 Sarah became part of a team of Behaviour Analysts, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Teachers and caregivers to address the needs of 6 teenagers within a residential school who have severe skill deficits and many barriers to learning and as such, have previously not been able to access the typical curriculum. Sarah’s main role within the class was to identify the children’s skill deficits in terms of communication skills, independent living skills, play and social skills and alongside the multi disciplinary team, designing individualized programs to address those skill deficits. Sarah greatly enjoyed working with the students and the classroom staff to overcome barriers to learning (such as task avoidance, prompt dependency, lack of instructional control and excessive tantrums) by using principals such as paring and increasing motivation, this led to each student being able to go on to access educational programs designed to teach functional skills and build towards independence.
Sarah qualified as Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analyst in January 2011, and went on to gain her full certification as Board Certified Behaviour Analyst in January 2012.
From May 2012 onwards Sarah began providing consultancy and supervision for teenagers and children living at home with their families. Sarah’s consultancy with families has been to identify the functions of challenging behaviour and barriers to learning and assisting families in applying interventions aimed at decreasing behaviours which challenge and barriers to learning while increasing functional and independence skills.
From 2013 onwards Sarah has also begun consultancy with home programs in which her role has been to set up behavioural intervention to teach a range of communication, social, academic and living skills to young children and pre-teens. Sarah has practically focused on equipping young children and pre-teens with a range of skills necessary to reduce the likelihood of behaviours which challenge developing when they are older.
Sarah has taken great joy in seeing families progress together and be able to enjoy leisure and educational activities which they previously would have been unable to access.
Sarah now supervises and consults with a range of families using a range of Verbal Behaviour and ABA programs with a particular speciality in ensuring these programs are successful with children, teenagers and young adults with complex needs and challenging behaviour.
Sarah has contributed to the following research papers presented at the Association for Behaviour Analysis International:
Shaping Vocalizations Using the Kaufman Speech Praxis Kit (1997) and Testing for Response Generalization
KERRY FARRELL (Hesley Group), Sarah Boycott (Hesley Group), Sarah I. Denison (Hesley Group), Bradley S. Bezilla (Hesley Group)
Pairing Therapists of Children With Autism With Reinforcement: Effects on Task Engagement and Challenging Behaviour
DAVID J. O’REGAN (Hesley Group), Sarah I. Denison (Hesley Group), John Carl Hughes (Bangor University)
QUALIFICATIONS & TRAINING
- Developing Positive Relationships with individuals in Distress (Children & Adults) by D.Escal8
- Assessing and Addressing Anxiety Related Behaviour in Student with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Joanne Shambati. Chicago.
- Diagnosis and Treatment of Children with Psychiatric Disorders: Functional Assessments and Motivating Operations. Jeannie Golden. Chicago
- Exploring The Systematic Use of Self-Monitoring: The Self and March System. Jamie Salter & Katie Croce. Chicago
- Meaningful Social Development: Teaching Games and More, Steven Ward, Bristol UK.
- BCBA 8 hour Supervisor training course presented by Autism Training Solutions
- Social Thinking 3 day workshop with Michelle Garcia Winner
- Speech Programme Development workshop presented by Barbera Esh
- Behavioural Strategies to Ensure Caregivers of Children and Adults with a Diagnosis of Autism Implement Effective Teaching Interventions presented by James Partington, BCBA
- Using Essential for Living: A Functional Skills Curriculum with the Essential Eight Skills and the Speaker Initiative presented by Pat McGreevy
- Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI)
- Using the Verbal Behaviour Approach in ASD 2 day workshop, presented by Smita Awasthi, BCBA of Behavioural Momentum India
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) 1 day workshop, presented by Steve Hayes, Ph.D.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) 2 day experiential presented by Eric Morris, Consultant Clinical Psychologist