JOB SERIES: A Day In The Life Of A Director of Social Skills, BCBA Supervisor
Pasha shares with us what motivated him to join the ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) field, challenges faced, and what a typical day looks like – and as you will continue to hear, there is no such thing as a typical day in ABA.
When did you first hear about ABA and how did you become involved in ABA? I serendipitously first got involved in the field of ABA a decade ago upon graduating from UCLA as an undergraduate and was seeking hands-on experience in the realm of childcare prior to entering graduate school. I continued working in the field in New York City while in graduate school and continued upon moving back to Los Angeles while pursuing my BCBA.
What motivated you to join the ABA field? I was looking to get involved in a field of practice which would cater to under-served populations, such as individuals with special needs, while contributing to a field of science and research. ABA was the perfect bridge to meet those goals as I’m able to provide support to the developmentally disabled and their families while incorporating evidence-based practices in a field that is constantly evolving.
How did you hear about the organization you work for? I was fortunate enough to work with Dr. Rachel Taylor at a previous agency and relished the opportunity to work alongside her once again at the agency she founded.
What position were you hired for initially, and what position are you in now? I was hired as a Director of Social Skills and BCBA Supervisor, though my duties and position has broadened to include social media outreach, new hire training and our STS service line.
What were some challenges you faced when you first started in the ABA field? A primary challenge I first faced in the field, and continue to contend with, is mental and physical exhaustion from working in this field. It’s difficult, and at times impossible, to detach yourself from individuals and families when you’re in their homes and lives, day in and day out. But sometimes it becomes necessary to do so, not to be aloof and detached from the people you work with and care so deeply about, but in order to elucidate expectations for what outcomes I can realistically enact in the field and to realize that while I can help bring about positive change I cannot solve all of any individual family’s issues.
What does a typical day look like for you? There is no “typical” day in the field of ABA, which is predominantly why I love this field, in addition to the fact that I get to play with toys for a living. In large part, however, I will see 1 to 2 clients in the field, meaning at their home or in the community, and will do some work from home including speaking with caregivers and funding sources on the phone, writing progress reports, behavior intervention plans and program guides, and inputting data.
What is the best part of working with your organization? I adore the collaborative process of working at CABA, with everything from the clinical to administrative end and that our mission statement is first and foremost improving the quality of life for our clients using best practices, not the bottom line.
What is the best part of working in the ABA field? While this field can be trying and arduous, I think I’ve smiled each and every day on the job, whether it’s the zany things the kids I work with say, to helping a child communicate for the first time. Plus I get paid to play Chutes and Ladders on a daily basis.
What kind of support do you receive from your immediate supervisor and the organization? I receive support from my Executive Director and Clinical Director in person, via phone, email and text for questions and issues ranging from clinical questions about how to support a client, concerns about caseload, issues supporting a staff member and just giving a movie recommendation.
Would you recommend others to join the organization you work for? If so, why? I would recommend joining the CABA family in a heartbeat because of the culture we promote which emphasizes a team approach, rather than viewing employees as just another number.
What advice or tips would you give to someone who wanted to work in the ABA industry? It’s vital that you’re not only passionate about working with individuals with special needs in sometimes difficult conditions. Know that sometimes you may get spit on, scratched, bitten, peed on, but that will be coupled with opportunities to play the board games you grew up with and teach a child how to play. It’s also imperative to have an appetite to grow and thrive in the field by educating yourself with respect to burgeoning research in the field of ABA, as well as developmental disabilities.
A few fun facts about Pasha Bahsoun that people may not know about: One of the bridges to me falling into this field has been my long history of being a teacher of some kind, including a math tutor, trumpet section leader and martial arts instructor. I currently still practice and teach martial arts, as a 5th degree black belt in Kung Fu San Soo, Kadochnikov and Jiu Jitsu. I’ve also been playing the trumpet for 18 years and was a proud member of the UCLA Bruin Marching Band.
What was your favorite toy growing up and why? If it wasn’t clear already, I’m a giant nerd, so I was and am an avid collector of various action figures and play sets from Star Wars to X-Men to Spider-Man to Power Rangers. But I will always have a passion for board games like Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly and Candyland.
Pasha Bahsoun, M.A., BCBA, earned a Bachelor's of Science in Psychobiology from UCLA and a Master of Arts in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, where he researched and implemented various approaches to educating children diagnosed with autism, including through social skills training and the use of educational media. Pasha’s thesis was titled, “The Use of Educational Media with Children Diagnosed with Autism,” in which he worked with the PBS television show “Super Why!” to develop games and programs catering to the developmentally disabled.