New Lead Behavior Analyst Brings Solid Experience to the Springtime School

Potential is excited to announce that its new lead clinician, Penelope (Penny) Holloway, not only has training in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), the gold standard in autism treatment, but also brings extensive experience in practical functional assessment (PFA) and skill-based treatment (SBT) to her role at the Springtime School. PFA and SBT are two protocols implemented at the Springtime School that are rooted in compassionate care.

PFA is an assessment that involves an interview and analysis of the child, usually performed over one or two visits. The goal of PFA is to understand a particular problem behavior. SBT is the treatment that results from the PFA discovery process.

The SBT process starts with establishing trust and a level of comfort with the child, who is ideally in a relaxed and not an agitated state. By engaging with the child in a way that is empathetic and tolerant, and interacting through compassionate communication, game playing and leisure activities, you can more effectively teach daily living skills and self-care. 

Both PFA and SBT are protocols rooted in compassionate care, which is at the heart of what we do at Potential, explains Kristine Quinby, President and CEO of Potential. The overall goal of SBT is to build trusting relationships between children and their caregivers to help children behave effectively.

“We had these protocols in place for some time,” adds Kristine, “but by bringing on Penny, whose focus will be on these approaches, we have strengthened our team, enabling us to meet the complex needs of the children at the Springtime School.”

In her role at Potential, Penny plans to implement more SBT and apply measurable goals.

“Both PFA and SBT adhere to four basic principles—rapport, safety, dignity and televisibility,” Penny says. She defines these principles as follows:

Rapport: “Rapport leads to therapeutic alliance,” Penny notes. “You cannot ask kids to learn skills unless you have rapport.” If you are going to teach a child to ski or do math and they don’t have the skills to do it, you better have good rapport. The thinking is, “You may be having a difficult time, but we are going to do this together, and I will guide you through.”

Safety: “In everything we do, we should be thinking, ‘Is this the safest way to handle the situation?’” Penny says. If a client is having a difficult time, this means assessing whether to push through and risk an escalation and potential injury or pulling back.

Dignity: “We should always be asking ourselves, ‘Is this way of handling the situation the most dignified? Will the client maintain dignity?’” Penny notes. She uses the example of when clients need to use the bathroom. “Do you have to leave the bathroom door open, or can you close it? What’s the most dignified?”

Televisibility: “Televisibility means that at any moment, a parent could walk in, see what’s going on, and say, ‘This is the best care my child can get.’ The interaction between clinician and client should be able to go on CNN,” she says.

For every strategy implemented in Potential’s school programs, Penny wants to make sure employees are adhering to these four principles.

“Every time a situation presents a challenge is a good time to reflect and say, ‘What can I do better?’ and then work putting those new plans in place,” she says.

As Penny embarks on her journey with the organization, she’s excited and emboldened by the professionals surrounding her. “There’s a passion people here have for the kids that I haven’t seen in other organizations,” she says. “I knew the minute I walked in the door that Potential was where I wanted to be. The people here are dedicated, and they truly care for the clients and want to provide the best treatment in the most compassionate way.”

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