Carly Shappard wanted a credential that would prepare her to counsel families concerning their child’s development issues. Her career goals led her to Ball State’s online master’s in applied behavior analysis.
I enjoy watching the progress of the clients when they start doing things independently.
A MEANINGFUL CAREER CHANGE
As a preschool teacher, Carly Shappard enjoyed parent-teacher conferences as much as any of her teaching tasks.
But she didn’t always feel prepared to talk to parents about their children’s developmental issues.
That’s when she enrolled in Ball State’s master’s in applied behavior analysis (ABA) with an emphasis in autism. She was ready for a career change and the credentials to counsel families regarding interventions, if necessary.
“The ABA program gave me a different view on the functions of each child’s behaviors,” says Shappard, who is an ABA therapist in Indianapolis. “I was able to understand why certain behaviors occurred and think of proactive ways to decrease the chances they would happen.”
BECOMING BOARD CERTIFIED
A 2014 graduate of the master’s in ABA, Shappard was eligible to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam to become a board certified practitioner when she finishes the 1,500 field experience hours required of all ABA students.
In her current role as a therapist, Shappard works with three clients in their school and home settings, helping them develop daily living skills, appropriate peer and adult interaction, and for younger clients, appropriate toy play.
“I enjoy watching the progress of the clients when they start doing things independently,” she says. “I also enjoy watching a child start imitating another peer.”
BALANCING SCHOOL AND LIFE
Because the program was offered completely online, Shappard could balance roles as a student, wife, mother, and full-time teacher. “I could do most of my schoolwork after my son went to sleep,” says Shappard, who also earned graduate certificates in applied behavior analysis and autism.
She admits she was nervous at the beginning of the program because of her test anxieties. What helped, says Shappard, was how online classes gave studetns a block of days during which they can take quizzes and tests.