Behavioral Programming and Support

Our Behavioral Programming and Support (BPS) department provides comprehensive
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) services
using the most up-to-date best practices in the field of behavior analysis.

What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

ABA is the science of looking at the circumstances surrounding behaviors.  By identifying what happens right before and immediately after the behavior, behavior analysts can alter the events to shape or teach replacement behaviors to improve the lives of those being served.

For more information, please visit www.bacb.com

What is Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)?

This intervention consists of 20-40 hours of intensive 1:1 treatment under the direction of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and for our state funded services by the Division of Developmental Disabilities a master’s level therapist can provide program management under the supervision of a BCBA. The program manager is responsible for creating individualized goals and objectives based on assessment. These programs are implemented by behavior technicians in the home, community, clinic, and activity sites. Collaboration and consistency are very important for a successful EIBI program and therefore families, specialty therapists, and teachers must all work together for the best possible outcome. EIBI has abundant research with respect to its effectiveness for children under the age of 5, specifically those who begin treatment at age two.

We are always expanding

We are continually expanding our services by developing cutting edge programming.

Behavioral Programming

STRATEGIES

We utilize a number of different behavioral strategies tailored to each individual consumer (AKA client).

DTT is a foundational teaching strategy in ABA.  During DTT the skills are broken down into small components, so they are easier to teach.  The BT provides the instruction and delivers an immediate reward (i.e. toy, tickles, break) to the client when given a correct independent response. This reward acts as reinforcement for the expected behavior so that it is more likely to happen again in the future.  If the consumer produces an incorrect response the BT will then provide consequences such as a prompt or error correction procedure.

In ABA, a request is defined as a “mand.”  It is essential that we teach consumers how to get their needs met and how to ask for information.  During Mand Training we first identify strong motivators so that the consumer may be more inclined to indicate their interest in those items.  Next, we then determine what the desired response will be.  This could be a vocal word or approximation, a sign, and/or a communication device.  Immediately after the consumer mands for an item the instructor will deliver the item.  Over time, and with consistency, the consumer will learn that the items they desire will be available to them when they request the item with instructor present.

NET focuses on the interest of the learner.  During NET the BT focuses on what the learner gravitates to during their daily routines and utilizes that opportunity to capture the learner’s motivation within the environment so that they can focus on specific targeted skills and tasks.  This allows the learner to have some control of the learning environment which minimizes problematic behaviors.  NET is a great model for family members because it is easily implemented.

PRT is much like NET, except that it is much more contrived and focuses on specific core skills.  These skills may include socialization, responding to more than one cue, self-regulation, and increasing motivation.  Research has demonstrated that by focusing on these core skills learners will typically increase their success in other domains as well.

FBA helps to identify why a behavior is happening and provides insight on how to shape that behavior or replace it with a more appropriate behavior.  The BCBA will identify the targeted behavior(s) and observe those behaviors to determine what events and situations may be triggering and/or maintaining them.  Once the data has been collected the BCBA will determine what functions the behaviors appear to serve. A behavior plan is then developed to teach the alternative behavior.

Accredited Provider

A BHCOE Accredited ® Organization is an applied behavior analysis provider that has demonstrated it has met and continues to meet an assortment of clinical and administrative standards as determined by an independent third-party evaluator.

Who provides accreditation? 

BHCOE Accreditation is a trusted source that recognizes behavioral health organizations committed to continuous quality improvement. Please visit www.bhcoe.org.

Can Anyone become BHCOE Accredited? 

No, providers are not given the accreditation, it is earned. Providers are evaluated on a number of measures related to clinical quality.

What does accreditation mean for the organization’s clients? 

The BHCOE Accreditation serves as a consumer protection mechanism that indicates the organization adheres to quality improvement, transparency, and accountability. Collectively, BHCOE’s lead a growing movement of behavioral health providers that aim to increase the collective quality of services across the United States. The BHCOE Accreditation requires that the company continue to meet the Code of Effective Behavioral Organizations.

What does accreditation mean for the organization’s employees? 

The BHCOE distinction demonstrates to employees that their company cares about their feedback, is able to look internally, and can set goals for continuous improvement. The BHCOE distinction demonstrates a company’s commitment to complaint resolution. Accredited providers are required to respond to compliance concerns brought forth to BHCOE regarding best practices. Many organizations utilize the compliance process to ensure that consumers and staff have a voice to file compliance concerns and resolve any areas of improvement internally. Think of the compliance review process as a mechanism to create a complaint resolution process that relies on independent third-party evaluation.

https://bhcoe.org

OBTAINING SERVICES

The BPS team supports consumers who qualify under:

For DDD services, a child must have an autism diagnosis or at risk for autism to qualify for the ECA program. This program is a time limited Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention that covers specialized habilitation until the age of 7 or until first grade. A child must be evaluated before the age of 5 to receive this service.

Our private insurance Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is dependent on individual insurance plan’s coverage for autism services. It requires a prescription from a doctor for ABA services and a recent diagnostic evaluation report for preapproval.

We are now contracted with both Mercy Care and United Health Care Community Plan for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This is excellent news for our families who wanted to receive support services for their loved one that was not previously covered. 

For more information about obtaining and funding BPS services, please contact our Consumer Resource Administrator.

SASHA HOUTS
SASHA HOUTSConsumer Resource Administrator
480-621-8361 EXT 136

STAFF

Our staff consists of our Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA), supervisees, and our amazing team of Behavior Technicians (BT) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT).

Our BCBAs are required to have a graduate level degree or above from a qualified institution in one of the following fields of study; education, behavior analysis, or psychology.

BCBAs are responsible for skill and behavioral assessments, creating individual treatment plans, supervision of the Supervisees/BT/RBTs, and family training.

The BCBAs work very closely with Supervisees, BTs, and RBTs to assist them in gaining the skills necessary to increase their fluency in implementing treatment plans as they are designed.

Our Supervisees must complete 1500 hours of fieldwork experience to sit for the National Board Certification exam by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Once passing this certification, they can become licensed in the state of Arizona to provide ABA services.

LIFE has made a commitment to excellence by only hiring Behavior Technicians (BTs) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) who have, or are obtaining, their bachelor’s/master’s degree in a related field and/or on the professional track to becoming a BCBA.

Behavior Technician (BT): BTs are responsible for the implementation of the treatment package as designed by the BCBA. They are the direct staff that take the data and are the first responder when a behavioral situation emerges.

Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs): RBTs are BTs that have completed 40 hours of training in ABA and passed a competency-based assessment conducted by a BCBA and then passed the Behavior Analyst Certification Board exam to become a Registered Behavior Technician.

BPS LEADERSHIP

DANIELLE CANNIZZARO, MA
DANIELLE CANNIZZARO, MAInterdepartmental Executive Manager of Policy and Procedures

Role:

I am the Interdepartmental Executive Manager of Policy and Procedures in the Behavioral Programing and Support (BPS) department. I support the BPS department with the development of management systems and seeking out best practices to support staff and the families served within the department. I also directly supervise all the 1:1 behavior technicians (RBT/BT).

Education and Special Certifications:

  • M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis with an Emphasis on Autism, Ball State University, 2014
  • M.A. in Human Resources Management, Ottawa University, 1999
  • B.A in Psychology, St. Mary’s College, 1993

Career History:

I have been a dedicated L.I.F.E. team member since the organization opened in 2007.

Prior to L.I.F.E. I have always had a passion for helping children. I started off my career in the day- care setting and eventually became a pre-school teacher. During this time, I also volunteered as a family service advocate in which I facilitated family supervised visits, in hopes of fostering positive relationships between children and their parents.

I became intrigued with the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in 2005, when I participated in the Jump Start Program at SARRC, after my own child was diagnosed with autism. Using the methods I was taught in the program, I was able to see the great impact of utilizing the ABA principles in teaching new skills and managing behavior.

When L.I.F.E. opened in 2007, I became an ABA habilitation provider. I had a strong desire to assist children with special needs develop their skill repertoire using ABA principles. Over the years, I have supported the organization in various roles. When the BPS department was initially formed, I was an integral part of developing departmental processes and continue with helping to manage the department today.

Management Philosophy:

I strive to develop a positive culture within the department in order to shape expectations for staff that align with L.I.F.E.’s mission, vision, and values.

APRIL CHAIRES, (M.Ed. BCBA/LBA)
APRIL CHAIRES, (M.Ed. BCBA/LBA)Interdepartmental Manager of Clinical Programming- Academy Support
Role:
  • I support all the L.I.F.E. Academy classrooms with students that demonstrate behaviors and do not already receive Behavioral Programming and Support (BPS). I help teachers and staff to determine the function of a child’s problem behavior and how to appropriately address the behavior.
Education:
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Applied Behavior Analysis, Arizona State University, May 2014
  • B.S. in Family Child Science, New Mexico State University, May 2011 Special Certifications:
  • Arizona Board of Psychology Licensed Behavior Analyst, Oct 2017
  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), August 2017
Career History:
  • I began working at L.I.F.E. in October 2014 with the BPS department as a 1:1 provider. In January 2016 I began working as a program manager. In August 2017, I sat for my BCBA exam and passed. In December 2018, I began working in the Academy to provide behavior support to the students and teachers. Prior to coming to L.I.F.E. I worked as a Family Support Specialist at Healthy Families Arizona doing parent education.
Training Philosophy:
  • I feel that the greatest success I have in this position is when I get to see the clients initiate and respond to social interactions. Celebrating all victories is important no matter how big or small they seem. To know that we are making a difference in these children’s lives is why I do what I do.
Personal:
  • I am from El Paso, Texas. My mom and 3 sisters still live in Texas and I get to see them on holidays. When I am not at L.I.F.E. you may find me at concerts, particularly country, and cheering on the Dallas Cowboys during football season.
TAMI JURSICH, M.S. BCBA/LBA
TAMI JURSICH, M.S. BCBA/LBAInterdepartmental Manager of Clinical Programming- Insurance Services

Role:

As the Interdepartmental Manager of Clinical Programming- Insurance Services, I help to ensure the highest quality care and effective training to those that serve our clients by making sure each client is getting the quality of care needed to help them progress to the best of their abilities. By keeping up with the current research and training staff appropriately, we can ensure the most up to date, effective treatment is being offered.

Education and Special Certifications:

  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), 2015
  • BCBA Certification Coursework, Florida Institute of Technology, 2015
  • M.A. in Psychology, University of Phoenix, 2009

Career History:

I have been working with children diagnosed with Autism and related disorders since 2009. Prior to that I worked in a behavioral health hospital with adults and geriatric patients diagnosed with mental health disorders including Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, and Borderline Personality disorder, to name a few. I graduated with my master’s degree in 2009 and completed my Board- Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification in 2015. During that time, I moved from Chicago- my home town- to Minneapolis. I began working with preschoolers diagnosed with Autism providing in-home support. I moved to a clinic-based setting which allowed me to work with clients from 2-17 years of age. I then moved to Phoenix in 2016 and began working for L.I.F.E. as a BCBA.

Personal Teaching or Management Philosophy:

I believe that all people learn and that all opportunities teach something. My goal is to make sure that we capitalize on teaching to those opportunities as naturally and functionally as possible.

Personal:

I currently live in the East Valley and have two boys of my own, aged 6 and 2. I love to travel and try new foods but spend most of my time chasing my boys around dressed as a super hero (and loving every minute of it). Although not formally trained, I really enjoy cooking for large groups. I regularly host dinners with ten or more people at my home. I love to try new recipes and then enjoy the delicious outcome.

KATHLEEN WALSH, MT-BC, M.Ed., BCBA
KATHLEEN WALSH, MT-BC, M.Ed., BCBADirector of Behavioral Programming and Support
Role:
  • As the Director of the Behavioral Programing and Support Department, I oversee the executive inter-departmental manager and inter-departmental managers over insurance, state-services, and academy support.
Career History:
  • I began my career as a music therapist graduating in 1997. I established a successful private practice working alongside Arizona State University as a faculty associate to educate, supervise, and provide internships to students seeking degrees in the fields of music therapy and education. In 2006 I was approached by the co-founders of Lauren’s Institute for Education to become a co- clinical director for their organization. When the doors opened in August of 2007 the journey began. After a short leave from L.I.F.E. to teach as a faculty associate for Arizona State University at the Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College, I returned to L.I.F.E. to develop the Behavioral Programming and Support Department.
Education and Special Certifications:
  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), 2012
  • M.A. of Special Education – Autism Emphasis, Arizona State University, 2011
  • Music Therapy Board Certification, 1997
  • B.S. in Music: Music Therapy, Arizona State University, 1997
Personal Management Philosophy:
  • The unique multidisciplinary perspective I have acquired in serving individuals with developmental disabilities as a Music Therapist and as a BCBA has assisted me in helping L.I.F.E. develop a transdisciplinary approach to treatment, where professionals such as medical providers, teachers, direct care providers, physical, music, occupational, and speech therapists all work together. My ultimate hope is for the Behavior Programming and Support Department to provide families with the tools that they need to improve the quality of life for their children and their families.
Personal:
  • I have been happily married for 27 years and have two very talented children, one in the Navy and the other an aspiring Nurse. I love music, children, and animals.
KAITLYN WITTIG, M.Ed. BCBA/LBA
KAITLYN WITTIG, M.Ed. BCBA/LBAInterdepartmental Manager of Clinical Programming- State Services

Role:

I support the Behavioral Programming and Support (BPS) department by ensuring quality of care of state funded services. In addition to quality assurance, I assist in providing supervision to behavior technicians/registered behavior technicians and those on the professional track to becoming Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs).

Education:

  • M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Applied Behavior Analysis, Arizona State University, May 2017
  • B.S. in Psychology, Arizona State University, May 2015 Special Certifications:
  • Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners, Licensed Behavior Analyst, May 2018
  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), February 2018

Career History:

I began working at L.I.F.E. in February of 2014 with the BPS department as a 1:1 provider. I transitioned into the role of a program manager in May of 2017. After receiving my master’s, I sat for the board certification exam, passed, and then received my license. Prior to working at L.I.F.E., I provided respite and habilitation for clients with disabilities in my community.

Training Philosophy:

As a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst, I believe in serving the whole child by looking at each individual behavior they engage in. By figuring out the purpose that behavior serves, I can work to teach appropriate behaviors to assist the child in their daily life. My biggest aspirations are providing quality services, supporting families in their journey, and creating an environment of understanding and acceptance one child at a time.

Personal:

I am an Arizona native, born and raised. I have been married for 3 years and have a 10-year-old poodle named Bugsey. When I’m not at work, I enjoy going to Flagstaff with my family to escape the heat. I also love attending any sporting event for an Arizona team and going to NASCAR in November.

RESEARCH

Behavioral Programming and Support (BPS) is a field that utilizes evidence-based (research supported) practices. Here are a few peer-reviewed research articles we have referenced on these BPS pages and a few key articles in the field.

Contact Us for More Information About L.I.F.E.

call us at 480-621-8361 EXT 136 or complete this form

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