Donna Highley head shot
Interview with Donna Highley, Behavior Technician

What drove you to the ABA profession?

While working in the public-school setting and utilizing ABA therapy techniques with children with special needs, I realized how positive reinforcement and education combined, can bring confidence and a true desire to learn.

How do you balance your career and family?

I am fortunate to have an understanding and supportive family. While encouraging me to maintain my commitments to my job, they also help out with the daily commitments of the household. Teamwork!

How has Golden Care helped you in your career development?

Working for Golden Care has given me the opportunity to use my skills with my students and their families. In a school environment, I wasn’t able to truly experience the rewards of watching a family embrace the joy of their child’s success.

What advice do you have for prospective Golden Care candidates?

Prospective Golden Care candidates should always be open to new ideas. Good listening skills is a must while keeping your mind open to learn all you can! Lastly, do your best to keep all your commitments.

What do you find the most challenging in your work as an ABA?

The most challenging aspect of my job is turning off the switch at the end of the evening. Sometimes giving your mind a rest is the best thing but the hardest to do.

What have you gained from working at Golden Care?

I have gained creativity as I research different and unique ways to achieve goals.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I was ever given was not to judge someone’s reaction to things or their attitude, for we do not know the battle they are fighting.

What’s the one thing you’d tell your younger self?

Never stop learning.

What is the favorite part in your work as an ABA/ of working for Golden Care?

My favorite part of my work is all of my work. I have such a rewarding job being on the Golden Care Team. I look forward to every aspect of each session.

What is your proudest moment at Golden Care/ in your work as an ABA?

My proudest moment was hearing my nonverbal student speak!

What is one thing that you wished people knew about your job?

I truly wish people knew how the nature of the job makes me who I am. Working with such an amazing child and their family has brought more to me in every aspect of my life than I could ever give to them.

GCT: Thanks so much for your time Donna, and for sharing your insights on what makes you such a great ABA therapist. And thanks for being a valuable member of our team, delivering ABA therapy to children! We really appreciate all you do for our clients!

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Nicole D Agostino headshot
Interview with Nicole D’Agostino, BCBA

GCT: Hi Nicole, please tell us a bit about your job as a BCBA.

ND: I’ve been a behaviorist in schools as well as in the home. When I make suggestions for children, whether it’s in the home or in school, not only do I utilize strategies that have been proven successful, but I also make sure they can be implemented within that setting and that they’re appropriate for the child. I enjoy doing assessments because you really learn a lot about each child and their family, but I also love watching children interact with their therapists and seeing relationships being built.

GCT: What drove you to the BCBA profession?

ND: I started as a paraprofessional for students with autism. It was so interesting and rewarding for me. I had my certificate in general education but immediately started looking into becoming a BCBA after working with amazing behaviorists at the school for students with autism.

GCT: How has Golden Care helped you in your career development?  

ND: I’ve learned so much about the assessment procedure since I started at Golden Care and more about insurance and billing. I’ve met so many helpful and supportive people.

GCT: What advice do you have for prospective Golden Care candidates?  

ND: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, be open minded and flexible. Also, if you don’t have passion for this field and a desire to learn more, then it may not be the right field for you. I feel that in order to enjoy and succeed in this field, you must start out invested because you’re working with someone’s child and you need to be patient and committed.

GCT: What do you find the most challenging in your work as a BCBA?

ND: Ensuring continuity and consistency between sessions and within the home can be very challenging.

GCT: What drew you to Golden Care originally? And how has Golden Care changed since?

ND:  I found the posting and as soon as I met with the director, I was drawn in by how organized and supportive the staff were. There is always someone willing to answer questions and assist in solving problems.

GCT: What have you gained from working at Golden Care?

ND: I’ve gained more knowledge and confidence in this field and I’ve been able to work with amazing staff and families, and watch children grow and make progress.   

GCT: What is the favorite part in your work as a BCBA/of working for Golden Care?
ND: I love studying behavior. I love figuring out what a child needs or developing an intervention and seeing it make a difference. I love when a child masters a new skill or the pride on their parents’ faces. And I love making a connection with a parent and the look of happiness on their face when they feel understood.

GCT: What is your proudest moment at Golden Care/in your work as a BCBA?

ND: Receiving this award, it means so much to be recognized.

GCT: What is one thing that you wished people knew about your job?

ND: I wish people realized how much of an emotional investment it is. You don’t forget about the cases when you’re at home. And every child is different. No intervention or recommendations are identical because there are so many factors in each case that affect how a child learns and grows.

GCT: What does the day to day of your job look like?

ND: I’m a fulltime teacher in a behavioral disabilities class. So usually, I’m teaching all day and then I transport my children where they need to be while I attend a case and then come home and care for my family before I go to bed and do it all over again. But my career is very fulfilling and I know I am doing exactly what I am meant to do.

GCT: How do you balance your career and family? 

ND: This field is very flexible and I have a supportive husband and family that watch my children when I need them to.

GCT:  What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

ND: To have confidence in myself.

GCT: Thank you for your time Nicole and congratulations again on being January’s Golden Star Award winner. Please keep up all the great work that you do, we really appreciate everything you do for our clients.

If you would like more information on autism resources for families in New Jersey, visit our blog directory. Or if you would like to find out more about the ABA services we provide to children with autism, you can get in touch here.

 

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Kendall Bacskoczky head shot
Interview with Kendall Bacskoczky, Behavior Technician

GCT: Hi Kendall, can you please tell us a bit about your job as a Behavior Technician (BT)?

KB: I provide ABA therapy in homes and in different community settings in order to teach children different social, play, and functional life skills.

GCT: What drove you to the BT profession? 

KB: I have always enjoyed working with children. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a position early in college and have continued since then. 

GCT: How has Golden Care helped you in your career development?

KB: Golden Care was the first position I received where I was providing services in homes. With Golden Care I’ve been better able to determine the settings I enjoy working in the most. 

GCT: What advice do you have for prospective Golden Care candidates?

KB: My advice to prospective candidates looking to work for Golden Care is to ensure you can make a commitment to the client when taking on a new case. Home services are shorter and later hours and sometimes it can be difficult to schedule sessions when things come up. When accepting cases make sure the commitment is something you can handle! 

GCT: What drew you to Golden Care originally and what has changed since?

KB:  I had first moved to New Jersey in 2017 and was looking to try ABA In another setting besides a school. Then, Golden Care’s billing system was paper! I have worked with many new staff in the time I’ve been a part of Golden Care. 

GCT: What have you gained from working at Golden Care?

KB:  So much fieldwork experience! Working with Golden Care while finishing my masters has given me the opportunity to apply my learned skills in real life situations. 

GCT: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

KB:  Be the person you needed when you were younger! 

GCT: What’s the one thing you’d tell your younger self?

KB: Keep working hard because it will all be worth it! 

What is your favorite thing about working for Golden Care?

KB: Working directly with kids and running programs! 

GCT: What is your proudest moment at Golden Care/ in your work as a BT?

KB: I am definitely most proud of the simple successes that clients make during sessions, such as pottying, playing or eating routines! 

GCT: What is one thing that you wished people knew about your job?

KB: It can be difficult to determine the best way a child can learn. You really need to get creative sometimes! 

GCT: What does the day to day of your job look like?

KB: Currently I work for Golden Care in the morning and evenings with two clients! My afternoons are spent providing ABA at a clinical space for children with autism! 

GCT: What do you find the most challenging in your work as a BT?

KB: Perusing my BCBA while working full time hours as a BT. Finding time to balance personal and free time with work and supervision can be very challenging.

GCT: Thanks so much for your time, Kendall, and thanks for being such a valuable member of our team! We really appreciate all you do for our clients!

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Interview with Krista Gerleit, BCBA

GCT: Hi Krista! Can you tell me more of what drove you to the BCBA profession?  

Krista: I started out as a teacher for students with Autism and got to work closely with BCBAs who consulted in my classroom. I appreciated their systematic and effective approach to teaching, and quickly decided that I wanted to become a BCBA to strengthen my teaching practice and better serve my students.

GCT: What does the day to day of your job look like?

Krista: Something that I love about this job is that no two days are ever the same!  I spend time working directly with children and families, providing support and training to therapists, collaborating with other BCBAs, conducting assessments, writing treatment plans, creating teaching materials, and researching new treatment protocols just to name a few. Every day is an adventure!

GCT: What do you find the most challenging in your work as a BCBA?

Krista: For me, the most challenging part of the job is also what I find most rewarding. Since each client and family is unique with specific goals, learning styles, and needs, each treatment plan needs to be highly individualized. It can be very challenging to figure out the best approach for each client and family, but once I do, it’s a great feeling!

GCT: What drew you to Golden Care originally? And how has Golden Care changed since?

Krista: I was originally drawn to Golden Care by the supportive and collaborative work environment.  From the beginning I have been given ongoing support and guidance, which makes me better as a BCBA, which in turn results in more effective treatment for clients.

GCT: What is the favorite part in your work as a BCBA/ of working for Golden Care?

Krista:  My favorite part of my work as a BCBA is helping kids learn. I especially enjoy teaching communication and social skills.

GCT: How do you balance your career and family?

Krista: It is definitely a challenge to achieve a balance.  As much as possible I try to stay in the moment and give my full attention to whatever I’m doing at the time. I am fortunate that I have a fairly flexible schedule as a BCBA, and am able to plan my work and family commitments around each other.

GCT: Thanks so much for your time, Krista, and thanks for being such a valuable member of our team! We so appreciate all you do for our clients!

 

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Spotlight on Jennifer Lopez, BCBA

Hi Jennifer! Can you tell us a bit of what drove you to the BCBA profession? 

I did not know about ABA until my last year in college. Originally, I was a behavior neuroscience major in college and switched over to Psychology on my last year because I feel in love with a particular class “Developmental Disabilities”, from there I did my senior internship at Princeton Child Development Institute and that is where I learned about this profession. I immediately feel in love and applied for my masters that following semester. And here I am now.

What drew you to Golden Care originally? And how has Golden Care changed since?

I love accessibility and the support from the staff and office. I love that I can pick up the phone and have meaningful conversations with the office staff. Although I am not physically working in the office, there is always a sense of belonging when I interact with them.

How has Golden Care helped you in your career development?

Working with GCT gave me more confidence to become more independent and freer to just ask for help. As BCBA’s, we usually have the feeling that since we passed that big exam, we should “know it all” and usually that is not the case. When I first started with Golden Care, I remember Estee spending a whole HOUR! just walking me through how to use catalyst. I felt that this was the support I was looking for all along.

What do you find the most challenging in your work as a BCBA?

Managing my time, making sure that the stress of scheduling does not consume me. Most of our cases as in Home BCBA’s are after school hours, which in a way restricts us from having an able time frame to choose from.

How do you balance your career and family?

It is something that I am still working on, however, I try my best to work hard during the week and have a relaxing and meaningful family time during the weekends.

What’s the one thing you’d tell your younger self?

Your change in career was one of the best decisions you would ever make.

Thank you, Jennifer! Pleasure speaking with you, and we feel so fortunate having you on our team!

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An interview with Lauren Ventre, Behavior Tech

GCT: Hi Lauren! Can you tell me about what drove you to the ABA profession?

Lauren: I started working with individuals with disabilities back in high school. Once I got to college, I specifically began working more with people on the autism spectrum. I was a peer mentor at The College Support Program at Rutgers, where I peer mentored adults on the spectrum, those of which are still some of my best friends today. When I graduated with my Master’s in special education, I began teaching and fell in love with educating those on the spectrum. I started reading up on ABA and using many behavioral strategies in my classroom. As much as I enjoy working in my classroom, especially now that I teach ABA, I knew I wanted to be more involved! I found Golden Care and feel in love with in-home ABA therapy!

GCT: Wow! So how has Golden Care helped you in your career development?

Lauren: Working in GCT has provided me with experience and guidance to further enhance my practices. In addition to working as a behavior technician, I am also a teacher. I was working in a self-contained learning language disabled classroom, but this past year I made the switch to an ABA classroom. The direct consultations with my BCBA from golden care provide me with insights not only into my client, but into my practices in my classrooms. Things I experience with my client (who is older than my students) provide me with insight into what their futures hold. Further, working with my client and the staff at Golden Care makes my love for working with people on the autism spectrum grow continuously, and makes me want to continue pursuing a career related to ABA.

GCT: How do you balance your career and family?

Lauren: It’s definitely hard, as I’m juggling a lot- I’m getting married in June, have a gorgeous puppy, and hold down too jobs. The main thing is learning to compartmentalize. When I arrive for session, that’s where my brain is. I give my client my full attention because that’s what she deserves. Because I truly love my career, I am able to be completely happy when I am at work, and I arrive home and share that joy with my family. That is the only thing I let carry over between both, the happiness they each bring me!

GCT: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Lauren: The best advice I’ve ever been given is simply to work hard. Working hard can help you learn and be good at any skill. It shows that you are willing to go above and beyond. It keeps your mind sharp and helps you grow as an employee and a person. I try to always live by this advice because I love the idea of being limitless, as long as you are willing to try.

GCT: What is one thing that you wished people knew about your job?

Lauren: I wish people knew that my job always has a positive aspect. Even on a day that is more difficult or not quite as productive as it was meant to be, there is ALWAYS a reason to smile and to be proud of my client. It is so rewarding to see her make progress. Her success is my success and it is really remarkable to get to be a part of her story.

GCT: It is absolutely your success too! You can be proud of all the incredible work you do! We certainly are😊

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Interview with Gina Keating, BCBA

GCT: Hi Gina! Can you tell me about what you like most in your work as a BCBA?

Gina: I love seeing families become more confident in meeting the needs of their children because of the work we do with them.

GCT: Yes, it’s amazing! What do you find the most challenging in your work as a BCBA?

Gina: I find that people who are not BCBAs, do not understand the complexity of the work we do. FBA’s cannot be rushed, multiple observations are warranted, and BIPs and treatment protocols need time to work before they are revised.

GCT: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Gina: To not forget the big picture. Sometimes we spent do much time focusing on a specific skills or limitation. Less is more. One effective intervention is better than multiple inconsistent ones.

GCT: Can you tell me about your proudest moment at GCT?

Gina: One moment that I will treasure always while working for Golden Care, is getting a text from a parent who shared that they went out to dinner for the first time as a family, and it went well. That to me is why I do what I do.

GCT: What’s the one thing you’d tell your younger self?

Gina: Take things one day at a time and hope that each day is more productive than the one before.

GCT: Love that! You’re a mom, and a professional too…how do you balance your career and family?

Gina: My children love that I love helping families and working with children, so they support my work, which makes me feel less guilty.

GCT: Thanks for your time Gina! We feel so fortunate to have such an experienced and dedicated BCBA like you on your team!

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Interview with Stephanie Loibl, Behavior Tech

GCT: Hi Stephanie! Can you tell us about what drove you to the ABA profession?

Stephanie: Working in a school district has taught me a great deal over the years. Most importantly it helped me realize how rewarding ABA is and I wanted to make more of a difference. In a district we are faced with so many hurdles such as overworked and understaffed so even our best doesn’t seem to be enough. ABA seemed lime the best way to make a difference.

GCT: What does the day to day of your job look like?

Stephanie: My day is a blur usually. With my ABA clients I usually work anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours in a session depending on the day and the client’s mood. Somedays we get through 3 programs and spend lots of time teaching the challenging programs and other days we can work through 10 programs. I can tell you one thing for sure; every day is different! But whatever the days is like, working with my clients brings challenging days as well as many smiles. Every time a client masters a task or progresses in the smallest way fills me with pride.

GCT: What do you find the most challenging in your work as an ABA tech?

Stephanie: Working through the challenges. Some programs gained mastery in a few short days and others take a tremendous amount of time. Finding the patience to not give up when a program becomes difficult can be challenging. I have to remind myself to breath deep and push through it

GCT: How do you balance your career and family?

It has its challenges. I am a workaholic, so I spend a lot of time away from my family, but we make it work. Honestly, I try not to think about it because I am away from my kids so much.

GCT: What have you gained from working at Golden Care?

Stephanie: I have gained so much knowledge from the awesome BCBA’s I have worked with. Pranali and Megan are two of the best BCBA’s I have worked with. I am fortunate enough to work with them and learn from them.

GCT:  What advice do you have for prospective Golden Care candidates? 

First and foremost, develop a relationship with all that you worked with. The client, the family, and your BCBA. You cannot be successful without the support of the BCBA and the family.

GCT: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Stephanie: Be yourself. Be kind always. Take time for yourself. You get what you give, so always give your best.

Thanks, Stephanie! We are amazed always by your dedication to the GCT team. Thank you!

 

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Spotlight on Noele April, BCBA

GCT: What drove you to the BCBA profession? 

Noele: I love behavior!  More accurately, I love working on behavior change. As a School Psychologist intern (17 years ago) I was trained to complete FBAs. I applied that knowledge to help students (and staff) to have more positive experiences through behavior change.  I found the process of analyzing behavior and formulating intervention to be incredibly interesting…problem-solving for a great purpose!  After several years, the ABA course sequence for BCBA was brought to my attention by an intern I was supervising. I was hooked!

GCT: How has Golden Care helped you in your career development? 

Noele: Working with Golden Care has expanded my professional development simply through the variety of needs and values expressed by my clients and their families.  I learn and grow by finding ways to address needs that fit each unique home and family, and by reading up on strategies and procedures that may be applicable to my client’s needs.

GCT: What is the favorite part in your work as a BCBA/ of working for Golden Care? 

Noele: Next to seeing progress, getting to know my clients, their families, and the fantastic, hard-working, and skilled therapists!

GCT: What is your proudest moment in your work as a BCBA? 

Noele: It is difficult to choose just one. When a client learns how to communicate mands or demonstrates progress with reduction in unsafe behavior; those are big wins in my opinion, because of the degree of impact for the client and family. Also, a future BCBA recently shared a client success story with me, and thanked me for how much she learned while we worked together. That felt fantastic!

GCT: How do you balance your career and family?

Noele: Good question! Balance has always been a challenge for me.  My children are with their father two nights every week. Those are the nights I typically see my clients and do treatment planning.

GCT: What do you find the most challenging in your work as a BCBA? 

Noele: I recognize that for as much as I have learned, there is always more to learn. I don’t have all the answers. Therefore, my best may not always be enough.

GCT: Thanks, Noele! We always get great feedback about you from the families you work with, and we are so grateful to have you!

 

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Spotlight on Alonda Braxton

Hi Alonda! Can you tell us about what the day to day of your job look like?

My motto is learning through play, I create an atmosphere that is fun, sensory friendly, yet challenging to create a positive change in behavior. Each day is different, being able to adapt and have fun is imperative to growth and learning.

That is quite the balance! So, what do you find the most challenging in your work as an ABA tech?

What I find most challenging as an ABA tech is watching my student become frustrated when faced with a challenging task.

What have you gained from working at Golden Care?

From working at Golden Care, I have grown as a person; because I have learned the true meaning of perseverance. Perseverance is the key to patience. Patience is a quality that is essential to succeed in everyday life. I have taken this quality and have applied it in every aspect of my life, which has made me a better employee, friend, sibling and daughter. I want to continue to grow as a person and with the encouragement of an outstanding role model at Golden Care, Jennifer Lopez (BCBA), I am now continuing my education to become a Behavioral Analyst.

That is incredible! Can you tell us about you proudest moment at Golden Care?

I have had many proud moments, all which come when the success of an obstacle is reached, but if I had to choose, it is when my nonverbal student finally began to use words.

What is one thing that you wished people knew about your job?

With every challenge whether big or small, the reward is unforgettable. From watching your student learn to sit still in a chair to learning to speak his first words.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I have ever been given is to have a humble spirit and to always have empathy for others.

Thanks for your time, Alonda. Your dedication to your clients is incredible, and we love having you on our team!

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