Y.A.L.E. School hosts first of two behavior workshops

Virtual series offers resources to parents from professional analysts

A behavior analyst kicked off this year’s two-part series of workshops at the Y.A.L.E. School with advice for parents on how to help change their own children’s behavior

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At the 30-minute session on Jan. 25, Kate Gutshall, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst with Y.A.L.E. School explained how to use intentional language to help change behavior and answered other questions from parents. 

The school has hosted virtual-behavior workshops for parents in the past few years that were open to the community at large to help address common questions.

“When parents call up the school and ask for advice on certain things, you sort of start to hear that maybe there’s a need out there, and we think we have experts in the field that can provide that training,” explained Chris Vonderschmidt, a board-certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA) and assistant director at Y.A.L.E.

“So we figured we’d reach out and see if parents would enjoy that, and it seems like they have,” he added. “We wanted to really help build confidence in our parents in managing behaviors. “If our parents are more confident, it permeates through the children.”

Y.A.L.E. schools are private institutions located on 10 campuses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They cater to different populations, including students ages 3 to 21 with autism, emotional and behavioral disorders and other learning disabilities.

During her session, Gutshall explained that there are both internal and external factors in the environment that can affect a person’s behavior. Internal factors include sleep, the emotional state and drugs or medications. External factors include a child’s physical setting, other individuals, sounds and activities.

“Our language, everything that comes out of our mouths, is part of that environment,” she noted.  “That means by changing our language, we can actually change the environment for another person … By choosing how we speak to other people in our lives, we can impact the behavior they show towards us. So let’s make every interaction intentional.”

Gutshall reviewed ways that parents and community members can  make a difference using their language. One example is incorporating intentional,  behavior-specific praise into everyday language that focuses on individuals, their efforts and the outcome. Examples include phrases like “Thank you for…” or “You’re doing a great job of …”

Jovanna Beardsworth, also a board-certified behavioral analyst with Y.A.L.E., noted that the principles of children’s behavior can work well with anyone. 

“It’s absolutely open to parents who are raising typically developing children,” she said. 

Beardsworth will lead the next training session on Tuesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. She will provide an overview of basic behavior procedures for parents to incorporate at home and in the community. Parents can register at yaleschoolnj.com/events.

The full Jan. 25 presentation is available at https://yaleschoolnj.com/event-resources/.


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