The ABA Works Story

This is how it all started. The story from one of the founders, Lilyan W.J. Campbell, LMFT, BCBA.

“Passion for seeing the children and parents grow is what makes this work so exciting and rewarding!”

While practicing as a clinician in Europe, I would come across children who were emotionally and behaviorally challenged, often diagnosed with ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or related disorders.  They were unable to communicate with others and felt misunderstood.  They felt singled out – different from other children.  I felt challenged because I did not have enough tools to reach them.

In 2005, I moved to the United States where I was introduced to Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).  I became inspired to make this my life’s work as a result of applying ABA techniques while working as a Behavior Therapist with a four-year-old boy:

I would spend at least three hours per day, five days per week with this boy and his mother.  He was non-verbal and very non-compliant, with constant tantrums and aggressive behaviors.  He mainly spent his days watching TV. When we started our work together, I tried to built a relationship with him by engaging in play.  But he would walk away from me, eat and watch TV. As sessions continued, I applied a variety of antecedent and consequence strategies, which involved reinforcing his positive actions when he would approach me, providing very short instructions with consecutive praise, blocking him from hurting both me and himself, and walking away when necessary.

Initially, his tantrums increased and worsened (which is called the extinction burst).  At first, he would occasionally hit, scream, and cry.  When that did not elicit a response from me, his behaviors escalated – he would kick me, put his fist in his mouth until he would gag (while looking at me), and cry with lots of tears.  His mother watched agonizing every day.  Changing his behavior seemed too painful – as when one begins any new discipline – but she trusted me that we were moving in the right direction.

And then it happened!  One day, after about three or four weeks, this little boy realized that his tantrums were not working – they were not gaining his escape from a non-preferred instruction  From that day, things began to change.  He would sit with me at the table to play board games and take turns.  He responded to visual stimuli (such as showing cards of animals) and began to identify them.  He vocalized more and more, and also made eye contact for longer periods of time, waiting for access to preferred items, etc.  He began to dress, brush his hair, and walk alongside his parents while they would take walks together.  He became intrigued by the environment I was pointing out, such as the different colors of leaves, and the ants that were walking in a trail.  His world opened up.  His mother continued to watch the process and smiled more and more.  She participated in the parent training I provided her to further his progress.

After about 2 years of services, this boy – who had been entirely non-verbal and non-compliant – was able to attend regular school, needing only speech therapy to improve his articulation.  A victory based upon the principles of ABA!

Shortly after I completed my work with this boy and his mother, I began working as a clinical supervisor and collected my hours toward my Marriage and Family Therapist license.  Inspired to learn more about using behavior strategies, I took more classes in ABA and soon sat for my exam to become a BCBA.  In the meantime, I was promoted to the position of clinical director and was able to oversee work on a macro level.  Also, I gained more experience working with a variety of local and national companies.

I then decided to spread my wings and do what I always wanted to do: Integrate my knowledge and use my inspiration to set up an agency that would incorporate everything I had learned that really works to make a difference with clients.

ABA Works started soon thereafter (in 2013) and has grown rapidly.  Our vision is clear:  Passionate staff who will help individuals grow to their fullest capacity.

The success of our company comes from our shared passion and our team who want to continue to learn and grow.  Our supervisors are leaders and are knowledgeable about the latest research.  Our team understands that our clients need their commitment and consistency.

One aspect that distinguishes ABA Works from other agencies is the level of parent training we provide.  Parent training is an integral part of every client session.  The goal of this is for the parent to also be able to work with their own children and continue this important work between sessions.  This promotes more independence and success for the families.

We also use technology to help our staff be more efficient.  We integrate knowledge from occupational therapy by using sensory items and input to help the client be more balanced and receptive to learning.  We observe speech therapy sessions and classrooms, so we can integrate learning in our sessions.  We inform families about additional resources they can utilize when we see they are struggling with issues beyond our scope.

ABA Works’ goal is to be a world citizen – to be able to provide services in any geographic location.  We can train people worldwide in ABA, so families can become independent and self-sufficient, and learning will continue.

You can read more about our services, in the ‘Services’ tab.

-Lilyan W.J.Campbell

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