Alisha Simpson Watt, Executive Clinical Director and Founder of Collaborative ABA Services

Alisha Simpson-Watt LCSW, BCBA, LBA is a compassionate force in the world of behavioral therapy and social work. As the Executive Clinical Director and Founder of Collaborative ABA Services, LLC, Alisha dedicates her days to empowering individuals and families impacted by developmental and behavioral challenges. “I believe in the power of direct engagement and connection,” says Alisha, reflecting on her dual role as a leader and a frontline practitioner. “It’s essential to stay grounded in the realities of those we serve.”

Her journey into the field of social work began in 2008, when she served as a Family Service Worker for an antipoverty agency, igniting her passion for making a tangible difference in people’s lives. Over the years, she transitioned through various roles, from working as an IICAPS Clinician with at-risk youth in the court system to becoming a School Social Worker in 2012. Along the way, Alisha deepened her expertise in Applied Behavior Analysis, earning her BCBA certification in 2015.

Driven by her unwavering commitment to breaking down barriers to treatment and improving outcomes, Alisha founded Collaborative ABA Services in June 2019. What started as a modest endeavor with just two Behavior Technicians and one client has flourished into a thriving enterprise with over 25 dedicated professionals on board. Specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism Spectrum Disorder, Alisha’s credentials speak volumes about her expertise and dedication.

From Social Work to Applied Behavior Analysis

Alisha wears multiple hats as both a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. Her career path was shaped by a profound desire to address the pressing needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in underserved communities. “As a School Social Worker in an inner-city school district, I witnessed firsthand the challenges faced by students diagnosed with Autism,” reflects Alisha. “There were limited resources available, and lengthy waitlists for essential services like Applied Behavior Analysis.”

Driven by a commitment to bridge this gap, Alisha embarked on a journey of professional development, returning to school to study Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). She recognized the transformative potential of ABA not only for individuals with Autism but for diverse populations across the spectrum of disabilities.  “In opening Collaborative ABA Services, my goal was clear: to address the barriers to accessing quality care and meet the unique needs of the community,” explains Alisha.

The primary objective and mission of Collaborative ABA Services, LLC are rooted in the belief in the power of partnerships to effect meaningful change in the lives of children and adolescents with developmental disabilities.  Collaborative ABA Services operates under the motto of “Building Partnerships. Building Skills. Building Futures,” embodying a commitment to comprehensive and collaborative care.

Through an interdisciplinary team approach, Collaborative ABA Services addresses a range of challenges, including maladaptive behaviors, social skills deficits, language and communication impairments, and sensory needs. The team consists of professionals such as Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Behavior Technicians, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, Speech-Language Pathologists and Administrative Operations Coordinator, working collaboratively to provide holistic support.

Over the years, Collaborative ABA Services has been recognized for its commitment to excellence and innovation in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. Achievements include accreditation from the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE), recognition as the 2023 Connecticut Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year by the SBA and CBIA, and recipient of the Outstanding New Business under 5 Years Award from the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce. As featured in Insights Care Magazine, Collaborative ABA Services has been lauded as one of the top ABA providers for its dedication to clinical quality and client-centered care.

A Holistic Approach to Accessible ABA Services

Collaborative ABA Services is committed to providing accessible Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services by meeting families where they are. “Our goal is to eliminate barriers to accessing much-needed services,” says Alisha. “That’s why we offer a range of options, including in-home, telehealth, clinic, and school-based services.”

In the state of Connecticut, low Medicaid reimbursement rates pose a significant challenge for healthcare providers. Many companies are unable to sustain their operations with these rates, leading to limited access for Medicaid patients. However, Collaborative ABA Services prioritizes serving Medicaid patients, with over 70% of their clients covered by Medicaid.  In addition to providing direct services, Collaborative ABA Services is deeply involved in the community through sponsorships and volunteering.

What sets Collaborative ABA Services apart is their interdisciplinary approach to treatment. Recognizing that each family is unique, they tailor their services to meet individual needs. “We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach,” explains Alisha. “Our interdisciplinary team collaborates to provide comprehensive care that addresses the diverse needs of our clients.”

Empowering Families for Positive Outcomes

To meet the unique needs of each child and family, Collaborative ABA Services emphasizes a comprehensive treatment process that begins with an initial assessment. “Our approach is centered on understanding the individual’s strengths and limitations,” explains Alisha. “We assess various areas, including language, communication, socialization, coping skills, safety skills, and maladaptive behaviors.”

Recognizing the diversity among individuals, Collaborative ABA Services utilizes a variety of assessments tailored to each person’s needs. The treatment plan is developed collaboratively with parents/caregivers to ensure its relevance and effectiveness in meeting the family’s goals. “Parents/caregivers are essential partners in treatment,” emphasizes Alisha. “Their input guides our approach and ensures that our interventions are socially significant.”

Collaboration is at the core of Collaborative ABA Services’ approach. A prime example of this collaborative approach is seen in the partnership with a child’s school team to address communication and behavior challenges. “Our team worked closely with the school to support the implementation of a communication device,” recalls Alisha. “By practicing skills across home and school settings, the child was able to improve his communication abilities, leading to a decrease in behavior challenges.”

The Power of Data in ABA Therapy

At Collaborative ABA Services, the impact of interventions is meticulously measured through consistent data collection and evaluation. Data collection occurs at every session, providing valuable insights into the effectiveness of interventions. Monthly progress reports and routine reassessments further inform treatment planning and decision-making. Alisha says, “It allows us to make informed decisions and adapt our strategies to best meet the needs of our clients.”

The impact of Collaborative ABA Services’ interventions is evident in the success stories they have witnessed. “We’ve seen incredible progress in non-verbal children who have gained fluency using alternative communication methods,” shares Alisha. “Additionally, children who initially exhibited severe behaviors, such as self-injury and aggression, have learned to replace these behaviors with functional alternatives and develop coping skills.” Successful discharges from ABA therapy further underscore the effectiveness of Collaborative ABA Services’ approach.

Embracing Growth

Looking ahead, Alisha envisions continued growth and expansion for Collaborative ABA Services to better meet the needs of families. “In the future, we aim to expand our team and services, potentially adding additional providers to reduce our ABA waiting list and expanding our diagnostic Autism evaluation services,” says Alisha.

For Alisha, the driving force behind her work in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others. “What inspires me is the chance to improve the lives of the families we serve,” says Alisha. “I’m constantly in awe of our dedicated staff and their commitment to our mission.”

Alisha’s personal connection to Autism, both as a parent of a child with Autism and having family members with the condition, adds a deeply personal dimension to her work. “As a parent and a professional, I understand the challenges faced by individuals with Autism and their families,” explains Alisha. “It’s a humbling experience that drives my passion for working in this field.”

Despite her role as Executive Clinical Director and Founder of Collaborative ABA Services, Alisha remains actively involved in providing direct services to families. “I believe in leading by example and staying connected to the families we serve,” says Alisha. As Alisha continues her journey in the field of ABA, her unwavering dedication to driving impact and inspiring change serves as a guiding light for the future of Collaborative ABA Services and the individuals and families they serve.

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