Kasey-and-Noah1At BY YOUR SIDE, we know that it’s important to incorporate several types of therapy into helping our kids on the autism spectrum. Our team includes Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists and ABA therapists at our 2 centers.  Our ABA therapists also serve our in home clients.

What is ABA Therapy?

ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) is an evidence-based treatment approach of recognizing and altering environmental contingencies to improve a socially significant behavior. ABA is data driven; data is collected on target behaviors, analyzed by the BCBA and behavior therapists, and therapy decisions are made based on trends in data.

That’s the technical definition. What does all of  that mean? We asked BYS ABA therapist Natalija Vaznelis to give us a definition of ABA, in her own words. Natalija explains, “ABA Therapy encompasses many different therapies all in one, in my eyes. There are aspects of OT, Speech and obviously behavioral therapy that are carried through in our sessions. It’s a way to teach children life skills, academic skills, social skills, and many others.”

So, what’s it actually like to be an ABA therapist at BY YOUR SIDE?  We’ve asked  3 of our ABA Therapists to shed some light on this rewarding role by answering a couple questions each.


Here are the thoughts of Jessica Zendner, ABA Therapist of BYS Schaumburg.

What does your typical day look like?

I begin my day with the sounds of little feet, voices and gestures of children.  Each day brings new rewards and challenges.  I start each day of the week in a different setting, in-home, in-center and in-school. We work on behaviors, social interactions and academics.  My day is full of games, laughs, acting, playing, working hard, being silly, being serious and touching the lives of the children I work with and their families.

Why did you choose BY YOUR SIDE?

I have always been very interested and motivated by ABA therapy from working in the school district. I moved here from Minnesota almost 2 years ago. Once I was here I searched and researched Autism centers. BY YOUR SIDE was very welcoming, especially for someone new to the area.  Finding a welcoming company is what made Illinois feel like home.

Ellie Lichtenberger, ABA Therapist of BYS Schaumburg, had the following to share.

What is offered here at BYS for you to advance  your education as an ABA?

BYS is generous enough to offer RBT training (Registered Behavioral Technician). This 14 week class is led by a BCBA and is offered to ABA therapists. The class addresses the main ideas of what BCBA's learn during their Master's program. After graduating RBT training, the BCBA will continue to supervise ABA therapists. This benefits both the therapist and the client, by making sure therapy is being implemented properly. There are also co-treat therapy sessions, where an ABA therapist is working with either an OT or speech path. This is a helpful way for the therapists to collaborate while working with a client. I have found that co-treats have taught me so much more about the child I am working with, and I am able to put new ideas into place during my ABA sessions.

What is your favorite part about being an ABA therapist at BYS?

My favorite thing about being an ABA therapist is working directly with the children. They have taught me to be patient, think outside of the box and to look at the world differently. While my main focus is working on behaviors, I am able to incorporate all three disciplines in one session, which include ABA, Speech and OT. My caseload consists of children ranging from all aspects of the spectrum, and I can say I have seen progress in every single one of these kiddos. Being an ABA therapist is incredibly rewarding and seeing the gains in each child gives me the aspiration to continue working hard each day. I love telling parents the progress their child has made, and enjoy hearing how therapy has impacted their child for the better. The best part is that every day is different. This is a job that definitely does not get boring!

Next, Natalija Vaznelis, ABA Therapist of BYS Burr Ridge, had these additional thoughts to share.

What is a quality you feel someone must have to be a great ABA therapist?

It is hard to just pick one quality that is most beneficial for an ABA therapist, because I feel that there is so much that goes into this job. First and foremost, you need patience and understanding. Every child is different, and so are their ways of learning. So, while one approach could have worked for one child it might not work for another. Having that open mind will allow you to help each child individually for what their specific needs are. Having a calm demeanor is also an underrated quality in an ABA therapist. This field can obviously be challenging at times. Yet, remaining calm while in a tough situation or when a child’s behavior is occurring is a major benefit to the job. The child will know that you are not phased by what they are doing and most times will comply. Some other qualities I think that are necessary are organization, compassion, and obviously… a genuine love for children!

What is something that surprised you most about being an ABA therapist?

I don’t know that there is anything specific that surprised me most about being an ABA therapist. Some days can take a lot of energy but for the most part when you step back and think about it, you are able to see all the progress that a child has made, thanks to you (along with many other therapists) and you just can’t quite describe that feeling. You get a sense of pride,accomplishment and genuine happiness for affecting someone is such a positive way. It’s the best!


The ABA Therapists at BYS are so dedicated to the children they help every day. They work hard, and always think of new and creative ways to make therapy fun, and create an experience to look forward to for our kiddos.  If you are interested in applying to join the team at BYS, here are the requirements/characteristics we look for in our ABA therapists:

  • High School Diploma Required
  • Bachelor's degree in psychology, communication disorders, education or related field is preferred but not required
  • Previous experience or a high degree of interest in working with individuals with autism
  • Interest in working within a collaborative team environment
  • Creative and independent thinking skills
  • Time management skills and flexibility
  • Transportation and the ability to travel (valid driver’s license and vehicle insurance)

To apply for positions with BY YOUR SIDE, please click here.

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