Autism Spectrum Disorder Residential Program Interviews

Interview w/ Brett Goodermote, Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst at ASD

Name: Brett Goodermote
Title: Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCABA)
Former Positions: Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) Coordinator, Quality Assurance Specialist, Youth Development Counselor
Campus: ASD Residential Program
Year Started: 2004, 2016

How many years have you been in your current position?
Just over a year, maybe two.

How many years have you been with Hillcrest total?
This time, four and a half. I started with Hillcrest in 2004 until 2009. And I left for 6 or 7 years, and then I came back. So 2016 is when I came back. 

Can you explain what a BCBA does, and specifically what you do at Hillcrest?
So just to clarify, I’m a board-certified assistant behavior analyst. BCABA. And what that means is that there is an outside agency called Behavior Analytics Certification Board that oversees my credentials. Just to show that I’ve gone through the proper schooling and training, and yearly maintenance training to make sure that I’m utilizing the most current research in my practice. As an assistant, I have to have a BCBA over me. In this case, that’s Yvette Stoddard (Director of Autism Services). I’m currently in my master’s program to get my BCBA. So what I do is I utilize the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis to affect behavior change for individuals. 

A much less formal way of saying that is saying I use the science of behavior to help kids have a better quality of life, to become more independent before they get to adult services or a less restrictive setting.

How did you learn about your current position?
I was working as an RBT coordinator and quality assurance specialist. And the clinical department was down by one, and the position was open. Yvette suggested strongly that I take the position and I was all about it. This is what my goal has always been. I had to spend time in a different position until a spot opened up. 

And so you had a background related to the job?
I spent 6 and a half years at another agency in adult services as a behavior analyst there. That’s where I got my credentials. Then I wanted to come back and work with kids again. Adult services is an entirely different beast. 

What do you like about working with kids?
There’s hope at this stage in the game. Maybe we’re working with teenagers who didn’t have all the resources they could’ve had earlier. But now I have the opportunity to help them get ready for adult services and become more independent. So right now is that time where we can still affect change, we can still help these kids learn new and more effective ways to access their community, access their environment. 

What appealed to you about the job? 
My prior experience at Hillcrest helped me to decide to come back here. Hillcrest has always had that family tone to it. A very tight knit community. I love the amount of support and encouragement here. That doesn’t really happen in other places.

As far as being a clinician goes, honestly the first time a position became available, before taking this one, I hadn’t even thought of it. But the idea that I could affect this much change for so many people in a meaningful way absolutely appealed to me. 

What are the happiest or most rewarding moments working for you?
Oh goodness, there’s a lot. To see a young person who had an average of 3 or 4 restraints a day go to 1 or 2 a month. To see a kid who had no way to tell you what they wanted or needed, who was utilizing extremely dangerous behavior, be able to indicate now their wants and needs. All of those things are really rewarding and I get to see those regularly. 

What are the hardest moments for you?
The start of the process. Seeing those kids who don’t have the skills yet, seeing them struggle. You see a kid that comes across your desk, and they have a trauma history. Oh man, how horrible is that. That’s the hardest part. Starting at the beginning. It’s harder than anything else.

And what surprised you most about the job?
I like teaching about it. The opportunity to go and teach New Staff Orientation, RBTs, and teach new staff as they come onto the floor. I had no idea how much I enjoyed teaching other people until I started really doing it.

Who is the most influential person in your work life?
Yvette Stoddard, no doubt. She’s supportive. She’s encouraging. She makes sure that we have the tools that we need. If any of us come to her and saying, “Hey, we did a little research. Here’s this thing. Let’s talk about it,” she never immediately shoots it down. She always says, “Let’s research together a little bit more.” She gets involved with you to explore. You’re not just left out on your own. That’s important for any behavior analyst and the kind of supportive community we’re working in. We can bounce ideas off each other and really grow and develop. 

Do you have any advice for new employees, specifically employees coming into your department?  
Yeah, breathe. There is a lot to learn. There is a ton of support here, but if you get frazzled, you just gotta breathe and lean on your support structures. We have a really good support structure all throughout the agency. You just gotta breathe and use it. 

What kind of person do you think succeeds in your position?
There’s so much variety there, it’s kind of hard to say. But a person who’s flexible, who’s open to learning. A person who is not afraid to change in the moment when you need to. A person who can accept when they are wrong. That person will do really well. You think, “Oh, this is going to work really well for this kid,” and then it doesn’t. It has to be like, “Well, okay!” Being open to the idea that you can be wrong, and that you can adapt and change. That person will do well here. 

Any favorite stories about the students? 
Oh goodness, there are so many. It’s hard to pick just one. I think one of the most incredible stories is just having that moment where you work with a student every day. They’re struggling, and struggling, and struggling. Working with them is hard on the staff too. And slowly over time, this new process comes into play. Everybody’s terrified of it, but they do it anyways and you start seeing that progress. You look at this kid five months, eight months later. The staff says, “I can’t wait to work with this kid! He’s so great.” He’s just running around, smiles, it’s games. Do you know what I mean? That’s one of my favorites.

And then one story that I didn’t have any contributing part in. A girl who was here last year was having a really difficult time for weeks on end. Horrible. She’s crying. And another peer, who she herself was struggling, went over and said, “Hey, we got this. Let me do your hair.” Helped her up, set her in a chair, and did her hair. That’s the cool stuff. 

That’s amazing. That’s the stuff you have to reach for during the hard days.
The day when you’re in yet another restraint, sweat’s pouring off you, it’s like, “Okay, eventually this kid is going to smile.”

Anything else you’d like to add?
I know it sounds a little childish, but I just love what I do. I encourage everybody to chase those things that they love. That one thing that impacts others and that you can utilize for yourself as well. Do that thing. Being a clinician in an ABA program is that thing for me. I enjoy this so much, I don’t really feel like I am at work. It feels like I get paid to play all day long. 


*******This interview has been lightly edited and condensed*******

We’re looking for dynamic, compassionate BCBAs to join our clinical team! Check out our Board Certified Behavior Analyst opening. We’re waiting to hear from you. 

Don’t forget to read Staff Answers: Do you have any favorite stories about the students?

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