Featured Certificant: Melissa James

Melissa James

ACAS & Behavior Specialist
Why did you choose your profession?
Ever since I was very young, I knew I wanted to work with children. I was not always sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I would be happy to interact with kids every day. I went into college thinking I would like to be a lawyer but quickly found that psychology was much more enjoyable. I did not discover the field of Behavior Analysis until my senior year in a Behavior Modification class. I found that all basic behavior modification principles resonated with me and made more sense than anything I had previously learned. When I found out that it was possible to base a career off those principles, I was hooked. It was too late for me to minor in behavior analysis, but I immediately looked toward graduate courses aligned with behavior and psychology.
What’s your favorite part about what you do?
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology working for many school districts, I spent a year and found that I enjoyed the practice of behavior analysis as much as the theory. I got into the master’s program and felt surer than ever I had chosen the right path. Thanks to the certification with IBCCES and my graduate practicum requirement, I was mentored into a career where I trained teachers with professional development and promoting behavior strategies within the Harris County Department of Education. It was everything I had hoped to find in the field and promoted my expertise in working with students with autism. I used my skills and worked with kids with autism and teachers alike to create meaningful change in their lives in a more structured and supervised environment.
How has your IBCCES training/credential helped you in your career?
IBCCES credential has helped my career by telling parents, contracted districts, and professional peers that I am well-qualified and take my career seriously. My credential sets the standard for verifying my knowledge and expertise in the field of behavior. Attaining my ACAS made a huge difference in my career. My certification certainly benefited, my career and helped me prove my skills to my organization’s contracted and potential districts.
How do you use/implement what you learned in the IBCCES certification training?
Working with children with disabilities takes a person with special qualifications and a special type of heart. This rewarding career path is a great way to make a steady income while helping children become valuable members of society. These children require people with specialized training and the training I learned with the IBCCES certification gave me this training. This training taught me how to implement several techniques to produce results in children who need assistance. Some of those valuable techniques are: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, prompting and fading, task analysis, generalization, behavior contracts and implementing visual schedules.

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