By Erica Smith
2022 was the third year that Bermuda, as well as the rest of the world, had to deal with the impacts of the global pandemic! And although Covid-19 continues to take its toll, we are grateful that there are now vaccines, medicines, and both personal and public behaviors in place to better manage the virus and assist us all in transitioning back into a “normal” life. Bermuda’s Behavior Analysts showed incredible resilience throughout this period and ensured that Bermuda’s clients had continuous quality access to services.

     Another phenomenon occurred – the slow but steady growth of the ABA profession in Bermuda!

     BABA continues to be comprised of Behavior Analysts, Verbal Behavior Therapists, Junior Therapists, Non-profit Leaders, and Parents. Its close partnership continues with Tomorrow’s Voices – Bermuda Autism Early Intervention Centre, Bermuda’s first and only autism early intervention center, and this enables the majority of its members to come through the relationship with that organization.

     Unfortunately, BABA’s membership numbers contracted as former members focused on surviving through the pandemic and supporting clients. In spite of declining membership numbers, the growth in the awareness and use of ABA in Bermuda continued.

Currently, there are:

 14 RBTs in Bermuda registered with BACB (9 active, 4 expired, 1 inactive), of which 8 gained their certification through Tomorrow’s Voices.

 There is 1 expired BCaBA in Bermuda registered with BACB.

 There are 3 active BCBAs in Bermuda registered with BACB and all 3 gained their certification through Tomorrow’s Voices.

  And we are proud that there is 1 active BCBA-D in Bermuda (Dr. Jahnae Harvey, PhD, BCBA-D) registered with BACB.

     The above breakdown shows that there has been a growth in the total number of certified behavior professionals in Bermuda from 15 in 2021 to 19 in 2022, which bodes well for the growth of the profession on our Island given our population size of approximately 64,000. The partnership between Tomorrow’s Voices and the Bermuda Association of Behavior Analysis has directly contributed to the ability for 74% of these professionals to gain the necessary professional development and skills required to become registered and maintain that registration. However, as the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) has been phasing out the certification for international behavior professionals, BABA is at a crossroads with regard to solidifying solutions to help any new members gain certifications. We are actively researching alternative certifications to ensure the continued ethical standards and quality of services are maintained on our Island.

     With the loosening up of Covid-19 restrictions mid-way through 2022, the Behavior Analysis profession in Bermuda was able to transition to holding more professional development events, both virtually and in person. Through the partnership with Tomorrow’s Voices, seminars and training workshops on subjects related to ABA and special needs were presented by Senior Verbal Behavior Therapist Dr. Jahnae Harvey.

     In 2022 a total of 352 persons attended 5 training workshops and 14 community talks, private trainings, and presentations, consisting of parents, teachers, college students, health professionals, government officials, and others in the community resulting in 624 hours of professional development (PD) hours, which was an increase of 4% in PD hours over 2022. Attendees of the training workshops received professional development certificates issued by Tomorrow’s Voices.

     The 5 Training Institute workshops focused on the following topics:

  February 16th, 2022 – All About Autism

  April 20th, 2022 – Comorbid Disorders – Coexisting, Seeing the Full Picture

  June 15th, 2022 – Did I Really Need to Do That? – Executive Functioning

  September 21st, 2022 – Teaching Social Skills: Let’s Be Social Butterflies

  November 17th, 2022 – Transitioning into Adulthood – Taking Steps into the Future Direction

  Planned professional development workshops for 2023 are as follows:

  February 15th 2023 – There Is More To Language Than What You Say – Language Is A Behavior

  April 19th 2023 –Natural Environment Teaching (Play, Daily Living, And Leisure Skills – We Can’t Have All Work And No Play!

  June 14th 2023 – Challenging Behavior – It’s A Two-Way Street

  September 20th 2023 – Food Fights? – How To Handle Picky Eaters?

  November 15th 2023 – Let’s Put That On Paper – Data Collection Methods

     The development of the profession and growing interest in young people is a key priority for BABA. The partnership with Tomorrow’s Voices as the island’s only clinical Autism center has provided an incredible opportunity for giving students hands-on practical experience with ABA. 8 students engaged in 10-week internships during Summer 2022 where the students received mentorship, hands-on experience, therapeutic exposure opportunities, as well as the ability to participate in a research project under the direction of Dr. Jahnae Harvey. In addition, in November 2022, through a partnership with the Bermuda Government’s Department of Workforce Development, an additional 2 university students who held an interest in the field of psychology, were able to undertake a 13-week internship.

     Community members also committed to their own professional development and growth in the Behavior Analysis profession through participating virtually in many international seminars, workshops, and events as follows:

  Bachelor’s Degree University Programs

  Master’s Degree University Programs

  Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Certification Training

  Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) Certification Training

  Council of Autism Service Providers (CASP) Professional Development Training

  Central Reach ABA EMR Platform Training

     BABA and indeed Bermuda are very proud that Ms. Jahnae Harvey, BCBA was awarded her PhD! Through hard work and dedication, Dr. Harvey also received her second master’s degree in philosophy prior to obtaining her Doctor of Philosophy in Developmental Psychology. To support her dissertation Dr. Harvey was able to incorporate archival clinical data from Tomorrow’s Voices. Through this process, Tomorrow’s Voices’ clinical data was published at the dissertation level in the research database of ProQuest (Document ID: 29253586). In addition, Ms. Rachel Hayward, RBT earned her master’s degree in special education with a concentration in ABA in September 2022! BABA is extremely proud of Dr. Harvey’s and Ms. Hayward’s accomplishments and their continued dedication to growing the field of ABA in Bermuda. BABA members are honored to continue to lead the way with regard to growing the ABA profession in Bermuda and are actively involved in national policy and legislative projects in Bermuda. Tomorrow’s Voices Board Chair, Ms. Thea Furbert, is a member of the team working on the Bermuda National Intellectual Disability Plan. This involvement provides a behavior-lens to addressing the issues facing our Island’s students and adults with Intellectual Disabilities, ASD and related disorders.

BABA is actively looking to expand its Executive Board with Behavior Analyst professionals and continues to work on growing its membership, but the past few years have been difficult with the impact of the global pandemic. In 2022 it was about survival and having resilience to persevere. In 2023 our goal is to grow our outreach as such, we are actively seeking persons across Bermuda who are interested in the ABA field to join and lead in the development of the association.

About Author