Reyna Kay is one half of Blessure Grave, the gothy Hellhammer-referencing South California death rock band and one-time Outsiders you should expect big things from in 2010. (Well, amongst those of us who listen to Swans, Cocteau Twins, KUKL, and old Siouxsie & the Banshees and feel our hearts skip a beat.) When I approached them about doing a Day Job piece, T. Grave told me Reyna’s employed by the school district and as an ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Therapist. When I followed up with Reyna, she confirmed it. That, and she’s putting in 60-hour work weeks. I asked her to explain exactly what it she does when not concocting tracks like “Stranger In The House” and “Open Or Shut,” and “Stop Breathing” (scroll) with her Death In June-loving cohort. After our discussion, take a listen to “The Cycle” from the excellently intense, dour, catchy Judged By 12, Carried By 6.
STEREOGUM: Can you explain ABA Therapy for folks who are unfamiliar?
REYNA KAY: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is used in treating clients who are on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. All treatment modalities focus on changing behaviors by analyzing behavioral output as well as causal and maintaining factors. ABA is used to determine why, how, when, how long, and where best to increase or decrease behaviors to improve an individual’s functionality. ?ABA is based on the principles of Operant Conditioning. Operant Conditioning supports the theory that consequences have an affect on future behaviors. That is, we modify, eliminate, or decrease maladaptive or problematic behaviors by changing the causal and maintaining factors surrounding the occurrence of the behaviors. We also modify, increase and improve skill deficits in the same way.
STEREOGUM: What are some common techniques?
RK: Since I’m dealing with behaviors most of the time, some “techniques”, frequently used are:
- Extinction: When I ignore the behavior.
- Postive Reinforcement
- Teaching positive replacement behaviors, Discreet Trial Training (DTT): A behavior training modality, typically used with young children, that is very structured and repetitive.
- Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS): These are pictures that allow clients who are non verbal to communicate.
- Pivotal Response Training (PRT): A modality of play
- TEACCH: The use of visual and picture/word schedule to help deal with transitions.
STEREOGUM: What’s your background in the area?
RK: Since high school I have worked with children with special needs. I have worked in Special Education classrooms within the school district as an aide. Additionally I am a behavioral therapist with a company where I work with clients one-on-one in their home. I have a Bachelors degree in Psychology and hold a Masters Degree in Marital Family Therapy.
STEREOGUM: How long have you been working as an ABA Therapist?
RK: I have worked as a Special Education Techinican (SET) for over eight years within the district. I have worked in both high school and preschool settings. During grad school, I had to leave my job as an SET in order to complete my practicum, where I worked as a Marital Family Therapist with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. I took a job as an ABA therapist due to my experience and the flexible hours. I have been one for over a year and a half and will soon be moving into the position of an ABA trainer, which will consist of doing assessments, observations and training new incoming tutors.
Currently I hold three jobs. I am again working with the school district as an SET, in the infant program, working with children ages 18 months to 3 years old with special needs that are mainstreamed into Early Headstart. I work with a seperate company as an ABA therapist and most of the children I work with are ages 2-6 and typically on the Autism Spectrum. My third job I work as a Respite Care provider, where I take care of children with special needs, within their home.
STEREOGUM: How many kids do you work with at any given time?
RK: For my district job, since I work in the classroom I work with about 7 children total. Three of them have some sort of special needs, such as speech/language delays and downs syndrome. As an ABA therapist I work with one client at a time and sometimes their parent.
STEREOGUM: Perhaps you could walk us through a “typical” day?
RK: A typical day for me is working from 7am-1pm as a SET in the classroom, then working as an ABA therapist from 3-7. Typically within that 3-7 time frame I have two different clients and am traveling to their home to provide services. If I am left with a couple hours in between clients I might have a respite client.
STEREOGUM: I imagine it’s tough, but rewarding work. Can you discuss some high/low points?
RK: Some high points of my job are working on the little things day after day and seeing the growth in the children. I have worked with children who were non-verbal and after leaving our program were communicating appropriately. I additionally have had the opportunity to work with children who in the beginning of the school year/services had a lot of behaviors and seeing the reduction of behaviors. Some low points are getting physically hurt. Since these kids have difficulty communicating or are unable to they react physically. I have been bit, spit at, hit, head butted, scratched, hair pulled, and kicked at. Bruises are pretty common.
[That’s Reyna on the right]