BEST was started in January 2001 by Sergio Pinto and Jackie Shandy-Pinto. Jackie and Sergio each have over ten years' experience creating and implementing programs and training for children on the Autism Spectrum. They received years of intensive training working for Dr. Ivar Lovaas and other highly credible behaviorally-based agencies. In addition, Jackie worked directly with Dr. Tristam Smith, who partnered with Dr. Lovaas in the follow-up study to the original 1987 Lovaas study. Both have received extensive training in Behavior Analysis and programs for children with Autism, and remain closely involved with each child's case.
Every child's team is comprised of a variety of professional and paraprofessional individuals, whose goal is to determine what is in your child's best interest, educationally and behaviorally. Each child's in-home team, as provided by BEST, typically consists of the following individuals and roles:
Behavior Therapist: Behavior Therapists are responsible for implementing the programs designed for each child. They must participate in clinic meetings, follow all lesson plans and behavior plans as directed, collect data, come to all scheduled sessions on time, and follow all of BEST Consulting's employee policies and procedures. BEST Behavior Therapists possess a minimum of a high-school degree, but college-level coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis is encouraged. Among other screening and interview processes, all BEST applicants must pass FBI/DOJ fingerprint clearance and must also have TB clearance. All BEST Behavior Therapists attend a minimum of three days of in-office and hands-on training which covers Applied Behavior Analysis principles & techniques, Discrete Trials, Principles of Reinforcement, Managing Behavior Problems, Functional Communication, PECS, Data Collection, and the Functional Analysis Model. Behavior Therapists must pass written and hands-on competency checks before they may begin their scheduled sessions.
Behavior Consultant: Behavior Consultants typically have a master's degree or higher in psychology or a related field, with formal training and/or an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis. Behavior Consultants receive extensive training from BEST in the theory of Behavior Analysis, and the effective treatment of children with Autism.
The Behavior Consultant is responsible for the assessment process, the development of the program, parent training, and the on-going supervision and modification of the program. The Behavior Consultant typically conducts 1-2 visits to the program per week; if your child has an in-home program in addition to a school program, some of the Behavior Consultant's allotted time may be spent in your child's classroom to ensure consistency and check for generalization. Behavior Consultants are typically allotted between 15-24 hours per month per child, depending on the intensity of the program. A portion of those hours are used indirectly (outside of the home) for preparation, data analysis, lesson planning, report writing, attending meetings, etc.
The Behavior Consultant is the direct supervisor of the Behavior Therapist(s) on the case. Consultants are responsible for ensuring the competency and training of the staff working with each child. In addition, the Consultant is responsible for reporting on every child's progress to the appropriate school district and/or funding agencies (e.g., health insurance company, regional center).
Associate Clinical Director: An Associate Clinical Director is assigned to the Behavior Consultant on each child's case. The Associate Clinical Director has a master's degree or higher in psychology or a related field, is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and has a minimum of two years of experience in the treatment of Autism. The function of the Associate Clinical Director is to provide additional support to the Behavior Consultant in the form of training, supervision, troubleshooting, and feedback about the overall direction of each child's program. The Associate Clinical Director also functions as another layer of quality control to ensure that BEST is providing the most effective program possible for every child we serve.
The Associate Clinical Director is generally allotted between two and four hours per month per child, depending on the level and intensity of the program. Clinical Supervisors typically make one visit per month per child, and also spend additional time per month consulting and troubleshooting with the Behavior Consultant about each child's case.