The author of our recent From-the-Field commentary on the status of behavior analysis in Turkey, Dr. Yeşim Güleç-Aslan, last fall left her husband Teo at home in Turkey caring for their beloved cat, Gizmo, while she spent two and a half months learning more about educational applications of behavior analysis as an international visiting scholar at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta.

Gizmo

As the  photo shows, while she was away Gizmo continued doing what he has always done: devoting himself to absorbing what he can of his mistress’s boundless enthusiasm for behavior analysis while concurrently catching a few zzz’s. His keen interest in the Institute’s website, however, suggested to us that our readers might also enjoy learning on our website of her experiences and reactions to living in the United States. Dr. Güleç-Aslan (yesima@sakarya.edu.tr) is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at Istanbul Medeniyet University, Turkey. She has had the good fortune to work with and appreciate Dr. Andy Lattal’s dedication to advancing behavior analysis around the world, as her article attests. The Institute’s Senior Science Advisor, Dr. Andy Lattal, worked closely with Drs. Nate Call and Alice Shillingsburg to help arrange her visit. 

Gizmo

Darnell Lattal, Excutive Director, The Aubrey Daniels Institute.

 

My Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Impressions from Atlanta

 

Atlanta has a very special place in all my memories. I came to Atlanta in the last week of August in 2015 for a period of 2.5 months. During that period, I observed clinical and research activities in Marcus Autism Center. Also, I attended workshops, journal clubs, and BCBA supervisions. I saw a lot of examples of a systematical, effective, and efficient use of practices involving behavioral approach, Skinner’s verbal behavior, and ABA on individuals with from every age group and with different characteristics.

Marcus Autism Center

It was a unique experience for me to watch the transfer of theoretical knowledge into practice. The experts working with individuals having ASD prepared a program for these individuals and their families based on evaluations, attached importance to emotions and human relations, and employed many different ABA techniques. These practices, indeed, involved responses to certain criticisms and misconceptions of behaviorism and ABA fields (e.g. behaviorism ignores human emotions and relations; intervention based on behaviorism does not concern itself with peoples’ uniqueness; the principals of behaviorism have emerged from animal experiments in laboratories so they cannot be used to understand human behaviors in “real” life). Furthermore, Marcus Autism Center introduces important experiences to ASD field as a center where practices for not only individuals with ASD but also families are performed, and scientific research is followed and conducted. Moreover, I observed that Marcus Autism Center plays an important part in the dissemination of ABA and behaviorism all around the world. This is because in Marcus Autism Center, I saw many professionals from other countries as a staff member, an intern, or a visiting scholar as well as kids and families.

Marcus Autism CenterIn all these aspects, Marcus Autism Center, which I observed within an international context, and thus Atlanta allowed me to gain experience in ABA and ASD fields. I would like to thank warmly and deeply Dr. Andy Lattal, who encouraged me to come here. I also would like to express my gratitude towards Dr. Alice Shillingsburg and Marcus Autism Center team who supported me in every sense while I was so far from my country, my family, and Gizmo, my lovely cat.

With its tourist attractions, kind and helpful people, churches and libraries that helped me to improve my English, and above all its magnificent fall, Atlanta will always remain in my heart as a place which I remember with a smile on my face.

Thank you Atlanta for everything you gave to make fall 2015 unforgettable for me.

Atlanta GA