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ABA Alumni Spotlight - Alexandra Ingebritson

June 14, 2023 | Heather LeBlanc

Headshot of Alex Ingebritson, BCaBA

Alexandra Ingebritson is a current UWF graduate student working towards her BCBA. She works full-time as a BCaBA at a Fort Myers, FL clinic, with early intervention through high school-aged kids on the autism spectrum. She previously completed the UWF BCaBA course sequence and received her BCaBA certification in June 2022. Alex is preparing to take the BCBA exam later this year.

Alex presented her experimental research in applied behavior analysis titled "Effectiveness of Pairing Musical Tones with Physical Stimuli in Discrimination Training for Non-verbal Children with Autism" at three conferences in 2022. This research was also published in the International Council of Educational Professionals Journal last fall. Most recently, Alex presented her research on “Social Media Publications: Ethical Violations of Stand-Alone Applied Behavior Analysis Autism Clinics Put Children's Safety at Risk” at several conferences including ABAI in Denver.

Tell me how you first discovered ABA and what led you to pursue your education in behavior science.
After I graduated with my bachelor's from Florida Gulf Coast University, I worked as a pre-k teacher for two years. I loved working with the kids, and the classroom activities, but I began to feel like something wasn't quite right. I had a couple of students who clearly had disabilities and I felt like I couldn't help them enough, but they also didn't have an IEP. So without that IEP, there was only so much I could do to help them in the classroom, and it was very frustrating. So I began looking into what else is out there. What else can I do to help kids with these mental or physical disabilities? That is when I discovered what an RBT was and eventually led me to ABA.

Why did you choose the ABA program at the University of West Florida?
A supervising BCBA from the clinic I was working at graduated from UWF’s online program. I asked her about her experiences, and she had so many good things to say about her experience in the program. And of course, also the fact that all the classes are online was a big selling point to me since I am in Fort Myers and working full time. I would definitely not be able to work full-time if I had to take in-person classes. So that really helps.

You recently presented research at several conferences and had your paper accepted for journal publication. Could you share more about your experience presenting at these conferences and what you’ve learned along the way?
I presented my research centered around the impact of musical tones in children with autism at three different conferences last year: a paper session at the 2022 International Council of Educational Professionals Conference in Fort Meyers, and poster presentations at both the ABAI 16th Annual Autism Conference in Seattle and the ABAI 48th Annual Convention in Boston. My journal article on this research was also recently accepted for publication in the International Council of Educational Professionals and will be published in their latest volume of the journal later this year.

The biggest hurdle for me, when it came to presenting, was definitely the nerves! But I reminded myself just how much research I had put into this and how well I knew the material, so I learned to trust myself, trust my own knowledge and release the stress. The more I leaned on my passion for the research, the more I was able to speak freely and confidently about it.

It was a wonderful experience presenting to audiences at conferences with professionals already working in the field. They already had a baseline level of understanding of ABA concepts and enabled me to have in-depth conversations.

I also worked on a new research project in 2023. It is titled, “Social Media Publications: Ethical Violations of Stand-Alone Applied Behavior Analysis Autism Clinics Put Children's Safety at Risk.” In this research, I broke down the new BACB ethics code in relation to posting clients on social media, and found that only 14.13% of behavior analysts who post images of their clients on social media are in compliance with the code of ethics. I gave oral presentations on this research and why my findings are concerning at the 2023 Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA) convention in Seattle, the 2023 International Council of Educational Professionals Convention, and the 2023 UWF Student Symposium. I had a poster presentation at the 2023 Applied Behavior Analysis International convention in Denver.

Tell me about your favorite aspect of ABA and how your understanding has evolved since becoming part of the field.
What I love about this field is how it can be applied to so many different situations, whether it’s working with children, adults or those with disabilities. It’s amazing to see how it can be tailored to meet the needs of each individual. And the research aspect is really exciting too. It’s a growing field and each year there are new breakthroughs and discoveries that contribute to our understanding of behavior. I recently attended a conference where a researcher spoke on how she uses ABA to train rats to sniff out landmines and signal to someone. It was mind-blowing to see how ABA principles could be applied in such an unexpected way. Being a part of this field and witnessing its evolution is just cool to be a part of.

Do you have any particular plans or aspirations after receiving your BCBA credential?
I do. I would love to teach at the collegiate level. I've also considered working as a clinical director at an autism center.

I really loved all my professors at UWF. Sarah Kent, who was my research advisor, was a big part of my desire to teach. Seeing her passion for the field had a big impact on me, as well as how supportive she was throughout my research process. It's also motivating that many of the instructors also work in clinics while teaching. I enjoyed learning from their real-world experience instead of just textbook definitions. One of my current professors is working towards her doctorate. So I know the research that she's doing is up to date because she's doing it for her own stuff, too.

What advice would you give someone aspiring to follow a career in behavior analysis?
Find what you're curious about and let that drive you! I say don't ever lose your curiosity because that is what led me to a lot of amazing things.