|Betty Hutchon, conducted by Amy Alberts at the 2002 International NBAS Trainers Conference at Children's Hospital, Boston.
Betty Hutchon, London
When did you first learn about the NBAS?
I first learned about the NBAS from one of my colleagues. My colleague told me that the NBAS would change my life; and it has done just that. I was one of just a few of my colleagues who knew about the NBAS. Once I was trained on the Scale, I made a point of spreading knowledge about the NBAS by training fellow therapists in general and early intervention therapists in particular.
How have you since incorporated it into your discipline?
The NBAS is very much a part of my work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I believe that all families can benefit from the Scale, as it educates parents on their child's capacities. I often perform the NBAS with preterm infants and infants with Down syndrome. Like many NBAS trainers, I feel a responsibility to teach the Scale to as many health care professionals as possible. By working at the grass roots level, one can begin to affect the overall milieu of health care.
Would you please share a vignette or meaningful moment you had while working with the NBAS?
I had one interaction that really stands out in my mind. While still training on the NBAS, I met with a family suggested to me by the Head Nurse of the Maternity Ward. Because the father of this family was a pediatrician, I felt very nervous as I performed the NBAS. Nevertheless, the exam went quite well and the baby was most responsive to many of the items. Shortly following the exam, the Head of Therapy told me that the father/pediatrician reported to the Maternity Ward that the NBAS exam was very useful and should be available to all new parents. The pediatrician's statement affirmed both the NBAS and my utilization of it.
Another meaningful moment with the NBAS took place as I was training several students and nurses on the NBAS in the Maternity Ward of a hospital. I performed the NBAS on an infant boy, whose mother described him as extremely irritable. The mother also explained to me that her son always cries after he wakes. As I began the exam, I discovered that the infant proved to be brilliant with the habituation items. Eventually the infant did wake up and, as promised by the mother, immediately began to cry. I simply stood back and observed the infant. What I saw was a baby trying to get his hands into his mouth to self-console, but could not due to the fact that he had mittens on his hands to protect him from scratching his face with his fingernails. I asked the mother if she could remove the gloves. Once the gloves were off his hands, the infant had immediate success with using his fingers for self-consoling and stopped crying immediately. His mom was delighted to learn that her baby was not naturally irritable, but rather cross with the gloves for stopping his efforts to self-console. This act of self-regulation was a surprise to the mother, who had always viewed her son as an irritable baby. The NBAS enabled the mother to see all that her son could do to manage his own discomfort. As a result, the mother's perception of her son was transformed.
How do you conceive the role of the instrument in the future?
I think that the concepts associated with the NBAS should be taught to as many people as possible. Considering the large number of children who are in need of attention, I believe that it is important to teach particular concepts (e.g., simply stepping back and observing the infant) in addition to the full scale.