CASP - Member Spotlight: Leila Farshchian, M.A., BCBA of Learners’ Compass
How many people can say that babysitting changed their life? Probably more than you think.
Leila Farshchian, M.A., BCBA is one of those who can count babysitting as a life-changing experience.
She first came into contact with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as a 15-year-old babysitter. Her early experience with ABA inspired a career and a lifelong passion leading to a Masters of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis from Columbia University, Teachers College. She has developed curriculums for over 1,200 ABA data-driven programs and been recognized at the state and local levels for her work.
Today, as Director of the Learners’ Compass in Tenafly NJ, an ABA clinic for Autism Treatment and Behavior Interventions, she leads a 45-member team of ABA professionals dedicated to combining the science of ABA with the art of teaching to ensure that every moment is a teaching and learning opportunity.
Learners’ Compass is one of the Council of Autism Service Providers’ (CASP) newest members, so we thought it would be interesting to speak with their director and get her perspective on the industry, ABA and why they joined CASP.
Q: Tell us about Learners’ Compass. What are you most proud of?
A: Learners’ Compass has been a gift to the community it serves. We have prided ourselves in providing quality ABA interventions to individuals with Autism ages 0-21 over the last 14 years. We’re proud of our dedicated and committed ABA Providers who work tirelessly to combine the science of ABA and art of education to enhance the lives of each and every learner and their families. We have started utilizing the ABA Toolbox software, which ensures we’re providing the best interventions for the families and their children we serve. We also support the Global School House Project, whose mission is to build schools around the world in the most impoverished regions.
Q: What, in your opinion, is the single biggest challenge faced by autism service providers today?
A: Our biggest challenge is streamlined care and quality standards. In our field, unlike Occupational Therapy and Speech, we have many unlicensed professionals providing direct treatment. In our practice, we have many seasoned dedicated masters level therapists with 15-20 years of experience. However, they fall into the same category as providers without a higher education degree. Research shows the effectiveness of treatment depends on the training and expertise of ABA Providers and the support they receive from their Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). I think there’s room for improvement in this area in our growing field. I believe we need a new category for the “highly qualified professionals” so these very effective therapists can feel supported, encouraged, and have proper compensation.
Q: Learners’ Compass is one of CASP’s newest members. Why did you join CASP?
A: We’re honored to join CASP to collaborate with colleagues who aspire to provide quality interventions that each and every child with autism deserves. We continually seek to elevate our practices with state-of-the-art care.
Q: What do you want people to know most about ABA?
A: My first experience with Autism Spectrum Disorder was at age 15. I babysat a very sweet adopted 5-year-old. I was deeply inspired by how hard she worked in her ABA sessions to achieve each milestone. ABA tapped into her potential and fostered her skills in every facet of her life. I witnessed her becoming independent and social with each passing day. Over the course of my journey to become a BCBA and a practice owner, I have learned that ABA will foster maximum potential while considering and respecting the individual’s pace. The science is rich and limitless in its contributions to the education of the gifted and neurotypical populations, the treatment of individuals with disabilities, corporate management and more.
Q: When you are not working, what do you do for fun?
A: For fun, I love to spend time with my family and friends, especially my 11-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son. I love hiking, meditating, and traveling. I’m happy to say my children have had the privilege to befriend a few of the students at Learners’ Compass over the years through small social skills groups. They are proud to serve the community and enjoy their diverse friendships.
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