The Origins of :

"Family Tools For Positive Behavior Change"

Since its original development, the "Tools" curriculum has undergone a few minor revisions, and has been used for populations other than the one for which it was originally developed. After two or three years of attending conference sessions in which the authors described the wonderful results of the curriculum in “the real world”, Dr. Wagner asked to be trained as a trainer in order to instruct the Behavior Services of Brevard staff in the Tools. As a provider of in-home behavior analysis services we could see that the curriculum was efficient, well-designed, and extremely likely to work with our staff and the families of the individuals with disabilities that we typically served.

In 2001, Behavior Services of Brevard began using the Tools with staff, family members and caregivers of individuals with disabilities and it has been every bit as effective as anticipated. Even now it is used to prepare staff to work in our Treatment Center in Central Florida. The original authors have become valued friends, resources, and ever-flowing sources of reinforcement.

The Behavior Analysis Services Program (BASP), despite critical acclaim and evidence of its efficacy, was eliminated a few years ago in the early days of state budget cuts.  The curriculum lives on, however, and is still as effective as it has always been.


Where it began:

Florida 1989. Brian Jacobson, the Tampa Bay area, Developmental Services District 6 Behavior Analyst, spoke to a group of foster parents. As a result of this talk and Dr. Jacobson’s good work, an administrator in the Family Safety and Preservation Program Office, Joseph Tagliarini, became interested in “getting one of those behavior analysts” for his program. Mr. Tagliarini established a position and hired a Certified Behavior Analyst, Dr. Michael Stoutimore, in November of 1995.

Dr. Stoutimore was familiar with the behavior analysis model within Florida’s Developmental Services Program (now the Agency for Persons with Disabilities), saw both the extent of the needs of more than 1,200 dependent children and the impossibility of independently meeting those needs, and therefore proceeded to spread behavioral technology through the training of existing staff (e.g., case managers, counselors, and direct caregivers – parents and staff). He began to develop a behavior management, “parent” training curriculum based on Dr. Glenn Latham’s book The Power of Positive Parenting and piloted a rough draft of this curriculum with Cathy Williams, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Through consultations between Bob Roberts, Michael Hemingway, and Dr. Stoutimore, the overall approach was developed – including contracted services, specific outcome measures, and behavioral training in classrooms and in homes. Dr. Roberts deftly led a proposal through numerous bureaucratic safeguards until it ended in a funded plan. Mr. Hemingway tenaciously supported an unadulterated behavioral approach, contributed his expertise and gave up his time, including three precious days in San Francisco.

Once the contract was approved, five behavior analysts (Michael Cripe, Patty Fitzsimmons, Kristin Knapp-Ines, Ingo Bergsteinsson and Stacie Neff) and an instructional designer (Susan Duwa) were hired and training began immediately – as the curriculum was developed. Ms. Duwa kept the Friday morning, four-hour curriculum meetings on track and made them fun. She asked the questions that make a behavior analyst smile, appreciated the project, worked to promote it, and sometimes worked for free. Mr. Cripe taught classes the following Wednesday nights. He was the first to teach, the first with a caseload, and the first to page himself.

A dedicated team of behavior analysts completed several iterations of the curriculum, and made adjustments and contributions too numerous to adequately describe. Dr. Bergsteinsson provided rapid-fire variations and the motivation to guide the curriculum’s evolution. Ms. Fitzsimmons provided an early impetus toward competency training. Dr. Knapp-Ines coined the term “tools” and added the essential practicality needed for a successful “tool kit.” Stacie Neff provided inspiration to caretakers, behavior analysts, and her supervisor with a “can do” attitude and "does do" behavior, leaving no stone unturned, with a passion. Classroom and in-home competence and credibility increased exponentially with the addition of Jan Montgomery, and from his first day on the team Bryon Neff brought astute and frequent contributions to all aspects of the project.

Special thanks are needed for Glenn Latham, Cathy Williams, and Teresa Rodgers. Dr. Rodgers made it impossible to quit. She believed in the project, believed in the team, and promoted realism at critical junctures. Ms. Williams contributed social work expertise, became a Certified Behavior Analyst, and crossed over as a behavioral social worker. She was there from the beginning, nearly every day, and occasionally even missed a storyteller’s retreat. Finally, Dr. Latham pointed out and then led the way. He vanquished any lingering doubts, and bestowed the farm.

Although Dr. Glenn Latham and Michael Hemingway are no longer here to give guidance and inspiration, their good works live on.