ABA Alumni Spotlight - Shawna Latchford
March 25, 2022 | Heather Fletcher
Shawna Latchford is a recent UWF ABA alumni. She earned her BCBA in the summer of 2021 and currently operates her own ABA practice in Canada.
Shawna has a passion for working one-on-one with kids and parents—especially supporting and coaching parents by teaching them techniques to handle difficult situations. She currently focuses on sleep training and developing CEUs for BCBAs, as well as tutoring and training for students pursuing the BCBA credential.
Tell me about how you first discovered the field of ABA? How did earning your BCBA lead you to where you are now?
I have been in the field for almost 14 years, but certification in Canada is just beginning to become widespread. Initially, I worked in group homes where I was introduced to behavior modification. I truly fell in love with ABA when I began working for the CHEO [Childrens Hospital of Eastern Ontario] Autism Program. I ended up leaving this position to start a family. When the government cut funding for autism programs in Canada, most waitlists grew to a 2-3 year wait for services and at that point kids under five were not eligible. This is what led me to start my own practice—it allowed me to continue to do what I love and spend more time with my son.
Can you tell me more about the grants you received for additional training?
I have received two grants from the Standard Celeration Society to attend Florida conferences and continue my education— I received the Student Scholarship initially, and this past year I received the Rising Professional Scholarship.
In what ways has your ABA experience had an impact on your career and who you are today?
ABA was so eye-opening because there are so many things you can do with it—it helps me understand my own life on a deeper level, better understand those around me and is an effective way to teach my own kids. It [ABA] goes beyond autism and can be applied to any aspect of life to help any behavior. I feel like anyone could benefit from learning more about ABA.
One of the reasons I loved UWF so much is because everything I learned prior to my master’s was very procedural, whereas all the professors at UWF truly taught me how to be a BCBA. They broadened my knowledge as well as how to apply it.
What advice would you give to those entering the field who aspire to follow a similar career path?
- Find a good supervisor. Someone who is willing to provide opportunities that you wouldn't normally have access to or find on your own.
- Get out of your comfort zone. Taking the first step to do the things that make you uncomfortable will build your confidence and skill set.
- Network. It is a huge benefit to grow your network and gain more connections in the field. Find the skill sets or specialties that you are interested in and seek mentorship in that area. Having mentors or supervisors that can connect you to others provides endless opportunities to learn.