After watching middle and high school-aged special education students struggle in class and then do well in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) based one-on-one sessions — Alicia decided to get her master’s in ABA to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Her ultimate goal was to open learning centers where children with autism could get the individualized and well-rounded education they need around the world.
ABA is a common therapy or intervention used for teaching new skills. The only problem with it is that much of the research and documentation is outdated, and the therapy needs to be highly individualized. Alicia and her team use the core principles of ABA in a highly compassionate and individualized manner.
Those familiar with ABA from the past might recall sitting in sterile environments while being drilled with flashcards and given timeouts or being ignored if they misbehaved. Alicia’s ABA puts focus on identifying the roadblocks to learning and treating those before moving on to the teaching process. Alicia shared that “every kid can be taught; you just have to learn the key to that one child.”
Her learning centers, Autism Worldwide, concentrate on working with individuals to acclimate them to real-world environments. Alicia shared that “these kids need to learn to live in a natural environment the way it is; no natural environment is controlled by anybody. Ultimately, they need to learn how to function within things that are going to change constantly.”
To fill this need, each center is equipped with an art or music room and dance studio or gym, where children have the chance to express themselves and learn in fun ways. She also takes the children on parent invited field trips, where she teaches the parents how to read cues and react appropriately when the situation becomes difficult.
So Alicia has essentially built out multiple environments where children can find enough comfort to come out of their shells and learn in multiple ways. This structure helps kids get used to some amount of change, preparing them for the next visit to the grocery store and even further into the future for their first job.
In addition to a traditional school curriculum like learning to read or talk, her learning centers work with kids on food refusal, social skills, potty training, functional communication, replacement behavior training and job skills training for teens. She also works with families overseas that might not have access to excellent care, offering a weekly free consultation about her methods for one hour a week.
Autism Worldwide is working hard to give everyone with autism the opportunity to reach their full potential. The group is also working to increase awareness and acceptance throughout the world. Their passion and energy for the project and young people are demonstrated through the success they have experienced.
About Alicia and Autism Worldwide
Alicia was born in Mexico City and moved to the US when she was a child. She is a hard working immigrant who has always been passionate about helping others. As a child, she wanted to work for the United Nations but was drawn to teaching Special Ed in college. Shortly after becoming a Special Ed teacher, she went on to pass her BCBA board exam and opened the first Autism Worldwide learning center.
Alicia now has two learning centers at the young age of 28 and plans to expand outside of the state into Georgia and the Carolinas. Autism Worldwide is currently located in Orlando, Gainesville, and plans to open a third location in Ocala, Fl, in August.
She also plans to expand her overseas consulting offering and help children around the globe, fulfilling her dream of helping individuals with autism worldwide. So if you are wondering about ABA therapy and what it looks like with Alicia and her team, visit Autism Worldwide today!