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Collaborative ABA Services, LLC: Providing Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities to Reach Their Full Potential

Collaborative ABA Services, LLC
Collaborative ABA Services LLC

In a time where resources are limited and the need for support is growing rapidly, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy providers work hard to improve the quality of life for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other special needs. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an evidenced based practice that focuses on the science of behavior and learning. Although ABA is mostly linked to treatment for individuals with Autism, the treatment can also benefit individuals with and without disabilities. Currently, there is a shortage of these vital services in many communities, escalating the issue of limited access to ABA therapy services.

Alisha Simpson-Watt, a devoted Social Worker and a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), took this pressing issue to heart. Motivated by the dire need for expanded access to ABA services, she established Collaborative ABA Services, LLC in 2019. This visionary organization is poised to confront the mounting challenges faced by individuals impacted by developmental disabilities, as well as the scarcity of ABA services within the community.

Collaborative ABA Services, LLC is an accredited behavioral health practice, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The company provides services to children ages 2 to 18, and their families struggling with Autism and other developmental and behavioral disorders. The organization boasts an interdisciplinary team of professionals, including Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Behavior Technicians, Licensed Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, and soon-to-be Speech and Language Pathologists. Their comprehensive array of services encompasses ABA Therapy, Parent/Caregiver Trainings, Community Trainings, Social Skills Groups, Diagnostic Evaluations for Autism, Case Management, Consultations, Occupational Therapy, and an upcoming addition of Speech and Language Therapy.

As Collaborative ABA Services, LLC illuminates the path forward, Alisha’s vision and determination breathe life into a community in need.

We at Insights Care had the privilege to interact with Alisha and found interesting details about why the organization is one of the leading ABA therapy providers.

Let’s dive into their inspiring story:

Alisha’s Dedication to Transforming Lives

Alisha serves as the Executive Clinical Director and Founder of Collaborative ABA Services, LLC, an accredited behavioral health practice located in Middletown, Connecticut. In addition to her role as the owner of Collaborative ABA Services, LLC, she also dedicates part of her time to serving as a School Social Worker and Board-Certified Behavior Analyst for an inner-city school district. “I have always been motivated to not only improve myself, but also the lives of others,” shares Alisha.

In her capacity as a School Social Worker, she worked with a diverse student population, each with unique social, emotional, behavioral, and academic needs, including those diagnosed with Autism. Through this experience, she recognized the need for more professionals specializing in Autism and ABA. Despite the increasing number of students affected by developmental disabilities, there was a notable shortage of available programs. This resulted in extended waitlists for services and a limited number of mental health professionals with the necessary training and expertise in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism.

In 2014, Alisha took a decisive step forward, choosing to further her education and specialize in Applied Behavior Analysis. This pursuit led her to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst, equipping her with the skills and knowledge needed to make a lasting impact in the field.

The Distinctive Approach of Collaborative ABA Services, LLC

Collaborative ABA Services, LLC is guided by a mission centered on the significance of partnerships in collectively pursuing a shared objective. Through this collaborative effort, resources are mobilized to instigate meaningful improvements in a child’s skills and behavior.

The belief at Collaborative ABA Services, LLC is that every child and adolescent possesses the potential to learn and achieve their full capabilities given the appropriate resources and support. Highlighting the organization’s motto, Alisha states, “We go by our motto of Building Partnerships. Building Skills. Building Futures.”

Distinguishing themselves as a leading ABA therapy provider, what sets them apart is that the business is owned and operated by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Board-Certified Behavior Analyst, rather than being under the ownership of an equity firm or third party. They implement an interdisciplinary approach to treatment, tailoring their services to meet clients at their unique stage of development. They refrain from applying a one-size-fits-all approach, recognizing the distinctiveness of each member within their interdisciplinary team and the individuality of each family. Diversity and cultural competence are deeply valued.

Collaborative ABA Services, LLC has garnered recognition for the quality of services they provide and their positive impact on the communities they serve. Recent accolades and accomplishments include the achievement of accreditation from the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE), an independent evaluator that mandates organizations to demonstrate clinical excellence through a rigorous evaluation process. Additionally, they were honored with the 2023 Connecticut Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year Award by the SBA and CBIA and named the recipient of the 2023 Outstanding New Business under 5 Years Award by the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce in Middletown, Connecticut.

Navigating the Landscape of Medical Funding and Insurance

When Collaborative ABA Services, LLC engages with medical funders or insurance providers, they acknowledge the unique expectations, rules, and guidelines set forth by each insurance. Irrespective of the treatment plan’s structure, the organization adheres to a consistent process. This begins with an initial assessment, evaluating the individual’s strengths and limitations across various domains such as language, communication, socialization, coping skills, safety skills, and any concerning maladaptive behaviors.

Collaborative ABA Services, LLC employs a diverse range of assessments tailored to the specific needs of each individual. Recognizing that one assessment measure may not suit another person due to factors like age, language proficiency, and other personalized characteristics. The resulting treatment plan is crafted based on the findings of this customized assessment, done in close collaboration with parents or caregivers. This ensures that the treatment is not only socially significant but also addresses the unique needs of the family and recognizes parents and caregivers as vital partners in the treatment process.

The Integral Role of Parents at Collaborative ABA Services, LLC

At Collaborative ABA Services, LLC, families play a crucial role in every stage of the treatment journey, from intake to discharge. Parents and caregivers can initiate services, either independently or through community referrals. During the initial intake assessment, the team takes into account parent concerns and desired treatment outcomes. Prior to commencing ABA Therapy, the team conducts a comprehensive assessment and devises a treatment plan, which is then shared with the parent or caregiver for their approval.

Throughout the treatment process, parent and caregiver training is an integral component. These sessions occur on a weekly or biweekly basis, tailored to the specific needs of the parent or caregiver. Here, they receive training on implementing their child’s programming and behavior plans to enhance skills and reduce unwanted behaviors. Often, other family members may also participate in these sessions, recognizing that some clients have siblings and extended family members who are affected as well.

In addition to parent training, Collaborative ABA Services, LLC also provides monthly progress reports to keep parents and caregivers informed about treatment progress. Every six months, the child’s progress in treatment is re-evaluated to track advancements and adjust treatment goals accordingly. Parents and caregivers are actively engaged in this reassessment process, similar to the initial assessment, and their approval is sought for any updates.

Furthermore, parents and caregivers are involved in the discharge process, which includes transition planning. Beyond their participation in treatment, Collaborative ABA Services, LLC may periodically administer surveys to parents and caregivers to gather feedback on the quality of services. This feedback is instrumental in refining and enhancing the offerings of Collaborative ABA Services, LLC.

Bridging Personal and Professional Worlds for Autism Advocacy

Sharing her experience of working with children and adults with autism, Alisha shares, “My experience is both personal and professional. Personally, I have family members with Autism. Autism does not only impact me professionally, but it also impacts me on a personal level.”

Professionally, Alisha boasts an extensive background, having worked with children and adolescents, ranging from infants to 18-year-olds, in diverse settings including homes, schools, and clinics for over a decade. Her expertise encompasses a wide array of responsibilities, such as implementing ABA Therapy, overseeing staff to ensure treatment fidelity, conducting parent training sessions, offering consultations to families, schools, and community providers, organizing social skills groups, providing professional supervision to aspiring Social Workers and Student Analysts, facilitating community trainings, and performing diagnostic evaluations for Autism.

Recognizing the dynamic nature of the field, Alisha places great emphasis on collaboration with fellow healthcare professionals. This collaborative spirit is at the core of Collaborative ABA Services, LLC’s approach. The team at Collaborative encompasses a range of specialists, including Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, Board Certified Behavior Analysts, and Behavior Technicians. The organization is actively seeking a Speech and Language Pathologist to further enrich its diverse team. Alisha firmly believes in acknowledging one’s own strengths and, when necessary, seeking the expertise of other professionals to provide the best possible support and assistance for today’s population.

Elevating the Standard of Care

Collaborative ABA Services, LLC is dedicated to delivering high-quality and effective services for the patients and families it serves. They have a dedicated Quality Assurance Officer responsible for establishing and upholding stringent quality standards for the staff, thereby enhancing the delivery of ABA services to their patients. Moreover, Collaborative ABA Services, LLC proudly holds the distinction of being one of the 9 ABA Providers in Connecticut that has successfully achieved accreditation. This recognition is conferred by the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE), a third-party evaluator that demands organizations undergo a rigorous clinical evaluation to demonstrate clinical excellence.

Furthermore, they actively seek feedback from both staff and families through surveys to continually enhance the quality of care provided. The organization places a strong emphasis on monitoring client progress and success through rigorous data collection during every session, regular issuance of monthly progress reports, scheduled re-assessments, and the tracking of successful client discharges from treatment. As committed ABA therapy providers, they understand the pivotal role that data plays in tailoring treatments to the unique needs of their clients.

Advancing Inclusion and Equity

Alisha is an advocate for greater inclusion, diversity, and equity within the ABA therapy industry. She emphasizes the growing need for a more diverse and culturally competent pool of behavior analysts, especially with the increasing number of culturally diverse families affected by Autism. According to data from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), approximately 52.76% of BCBA certificants identify as White, with smaller percentages representing other racial and ethnic backgrounds [Source:].

Recognizing the importance of cultural competency, behavior analysts must effectively collaborate with professionals from various backgrounds and integrate cultural considerations into their client programming. Alisha believes that achieving these goals can be facilitated through staff training, self-awareness of personal biases, and the promotion of diversity within the workplace.

Addressing another critical issue, Alisha highlights the need for improvements in the delivery of services based on health insurance and funders. In Connecticut, low reimbursement rates from Medicaid can lead some ABA therapy providers to limit the number of patients they accept with Medicaid, as these lower rates may impact their revenue and sustainability. While this is a valid business concern, it can result in extended waitlists for services, creating an inequitable situation for families in urgent need of these services. She advocates for a collaborative systems approach, which involves advocating for higher insurance reimbursement rates and exploring alternative revenue-generating strategies to sustain the business while also providing equitable services to families.

To ensure that their organization remains at the forefront of ABA therapy, Alisha and her team actively engage in professional development opportunities, maintain memberships in professional organizations such as CTABA and ABAI and stay updated on the latest research and developments through continuous reading of relevant articles.

Success Outcomes

In a successful ABA program, a team approach to treatment is crucial, involving both the ABA team of providers and the family. Noteworthy outcomes observed include instances where non-verbal children, initially limited in their ability to communicate, have now become proficient users of pictures and/or AAC devices.

Additionally, children who began with severe behaviors like self-injury, aggression, and elopement have shown significant reductions in these behaviors. They have learned to substitute them with functional alternative communication methods and have developed effective coping skills. Furthermore, there have been several successful discharges from ABA Therapy, underscoring the collective effort of the team, including the family, and the crucial role played by parents/caregivers in contributing to the child’s achievements.

Advice for the Enthusiastic minds

Sharing a few words of wisdom, she highlights, “ABA is a great field to work in. It can be fun and rewarding to see the changes you make in another individual’s life.”

She suggests starting by becoming a Registered Behavior Technician. A Registered Behavior Technician works directly with the client under the supervision of a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. “This is a great entry job into the field of Applied Behavior Analysis as it will provide hands-on experience and training and will help prepare you to become a well-rounded Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) as you continue your studies,” concludes Alisha.

Alisha Simpson’s Vision for Collaborative ABA Services, LLC

Talking about future goals she states, “In the next coming years, I envision that Collaborative will continue to grow and expand our team and services to continue meeting the needs of families.” She further adds, “This may include adding Speech and Language Therapy, adding additional providers to reduce our ABA waiting list, and expand our current diagnostic Autism evaluation services.”

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