2015: James Ellis

Step by Step Behavioral Solutions

In 2008, Jim Ellis began traveling to Georgetown, Guyana, three to four times a year to provide consultation for a young boy with autism whose family relocated there for a temporary placement with the British Embassy. Although his primary focus was developing and overseeing the educational program for this one young boy, Jim also volunteered to provide training and support to local families of children with autism, as well as to local professionals. The original family left Guyana in 2011, but Jim has continued to travel there and helped found the Step by Step Foundation (a Friendly Society, the Guyanese equivalent of a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization). The school is completely funded through donations and is currently located in an apartment above a car dealership. There are 13 children attending the school, and six individuals trained to serve as teachers. None of the teachers had formal training in special education nor any prior experience working with children with autism. Training has occurred through overlap with previously trained teachers, lecture-based trainings through Skype, and feedback via video samples and on-site observations.


Based on his experience in Guyana over the past six years, Jim reports there is limited awareness and understanding of autism, and even less understanding of applied behavior analysis. Similarly, there are no resources and no professionals or institutions to access for information or assistance. Through grassroots efforts at the Step by Step Foundation, applied behavior analysis has been introduced in Guyana. In addition to serving a handful of children through the school, the foundation is also working to educate other parents and professionals, as well as the general community.


Many families in Guyana do not have easy access to the Internet; therefore, a resource center, supported by a SABA International Development Grant, is the next step in bringing applied behavior analysis to Guyana, with the ultimate goal of developing training programs for local professionals to become Registered Behavior Technicians and others to become certified behavior analysts. We also anticipate that with the start of a resource center, we can get other local agencies and individuals to provide further support and donations.


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