Although 2020 has brought its fair share of negatives, one big positive came out of this year. Our nonprofit was able to hire a Behavior Services Director to better serve our clients and address the growing need we see in our community.
Olivia Hardy, Puzzle Pieces’ Behavior Services Director, has a bachelor's degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences and a master's degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). She started working at Puzzle Pieces as a direct support professional in the summer of 2013 while she was taking college courses at the University of Kentucky.
“At the time, I was taking a variety of math and science courses as this has always been an area of interest for me, but I was struggling to find purpose and fulfillment in potential career options, until I was introduced to a client at Puzzle Pieces who had participated in ABA therapy for the past several years,” Olivia said. “When I learned about how this treatment had helped him learn to communicate and participate in his community in a safe manner, it piqued my interest and I started looking into courses and training to learn more about this science. I was drawn to the systematic approach to providing students and clients with treatments that are evidence-based for teaching a variety of communication, socialization, and adaptive functioning skills.”
Over the past few years, Olivia has worked in both outpatient ABA clinics providing early intervention services and as a director of an inpatient program for individuals with intellectual disabilities who have lost their residential placement due to extreme maladaptive behavior.
“These positions opened my eyes to how many individuals with disabilities there are in our community who are not able to access behavioral services due to a lack of financial resources or not having a covered diagnosis,” she said. “My goal at Puzzle Pieces is not only to provide behavior support and ABA services to our clients, but also to integrate ABA strategies into our existing programs so that everyone we serve has access to evidence-based strategies.”
Olivia describes what a behavior is, its source, and the role a specialist plays in addressing that behavior.
So, what is behavior?