We’ve invited Dr. Sheri Kingsdorf, an Assistant Professor at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic and a doctoral-level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D), to share insights on Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) interventions with families via telehealth, and how organizations can best prepare clinicians and families to use telehealth with great success. In a conversation with TCI’s Ray Barrett, Dr. Kingsdorf identifies the ways we can support families with children with neurodevelopmental conditions using telehealth.
Dr. Kingsdorf started her project in the Czech Republic based on grant funding, and this was also a way to address challenges posed by the pandemic and the ongoing challenges of applying ABA to children and families in the Czech Republic. It had long been a challenge for families to go to facilities for services, but then with the pandemic, it was even harder for families because of rules around working directly with people. Other challenges included a limited number of ABA professionals in the region and the need for more people to provide in-person services, as ABA is less well-known and utilized in Europe than in the US. They required more knowledgeable clinicians to go into the home and provide assistance. Telehealth helped with this in that people could work from a distance. For example, a behavioral health clinician in another part of the country could meet with a family, as there were clinicians in other areas who didn’t have full caseloads, as ABA is a newer intervention in Europe. For families, commutes were no longer a barrier to services, and the interventions could be more authentic as they were working within their homes rather than in a separate environment. Telehealth was used via video and done live rather than asynchronous so clinicians could have context and see what was happening in real time.
One challenge was the knowledge gap as many clinicians knew how to provide ABA but didn’t know how to use this intervention via telehealth successfully. As part of Dr. Kingsdorf’s project, they developed a toolkit and user guides for using telehealth with Applied Behavioral Analysis. There is a toolkit for clinicians containing everything they need to know to provide the services via telehealth and includes a user manual, video examples, and checklists, all to help the practitioners use ABA via telehealth specifically. They also developed a user guide to help parents properly set up their technology and troubleshoot various situations. The program also created user guides to determine if a family could be a good candidate for telehealth services instead of in-person.
Dr. Kingsdorf shared that there were successes in these interventions. She noted that working with the parents to follow protocols and procedures via telehealth yielded positive results; parents who followed guidelines could change their behaviors and effectively manage challenging situations. Dr. Kingsdorf observed that parents can increase their confidence in working alone and more independently if parents have an active role.
There will be more work with ABA via telehealth in the Czech Republic. Dr. Kingsdorf notes that some of their work could apply to other therapeutic interventions, including the assessment of technology, the acceptability of telehealth technology, the critical user guide pieces of setting up technology, and essential information related to consent and confidentiality.
Dr. Sheri Kingsdorf is an Assistant Professor at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic and a doctoral-level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D). Since 2002, she has actively worked in the fields of behavior analysis and special education. Her endeavors have included working in the Comprehensive Application of Behavior Analysis to Schooling (CABAS) model, teaching in the US public school system in conjunction with her studies at Columbia University in New York City and the University of Miami in Miami-Dade County, providing early intervention services to a bilingual student population, delivering behavior analytic home-based and school-based direct and consultative care across the US, Australia, Africa, and Europe, educating youth and adults from diverse and underserved communities, consulting with adult service providers assisting clients with developmental disabilities, and making international transdisciplinary research contributions. Her current work focuses on utilizing culturally competent and sustainable practices in advancing the field of ABA in underserved locales, developing telehealth models for client-centered caregiver training, and supporting the emotional and behavioral health of school-aged children through teacher education. You can find Dr. Kingsdorf at the Institute for Research in Inclusive Education.