Aces: Applied Behavior Analysis


Courtesy of ACES

The Aces team is working with their younger community. The behavioral technicians’ goal is to foster a sense of community and independence in the children.

Valentina Montenegro-Venero, Staffer

Have you ever heard of Aces? With 51 locations across the United States, it is one of the top Autism care centers in the US. Founder of Aces, Kristin Farmer, shares her passion for working with Autistic children and adults. “Our company is really about serving.”

Farmer grew up in Dallas, Texas, and got her masters at the University of North Texas. She started interning as a teacher for Autistic kids, and one day, she met a boy named Jonathan. He was seven years old and severely Autistic. She felt empathy for Jonathan who could not communicate his needs, but she taught him how to imitate sounds and words, and he eventually learned to speak with his mother. Although it was very emotional, everyone’s quality of life was improved. That was when she knew that she had found her calling. 

If Farmer could describe her organization in three words, they would be passionate, highest quality, and inclusion. “Everyone has the right to participate in life.” Their motto is head, hands and heart. As founder of ACES, Farmer’s job is to make sure that everyone is getting the best care possible. Although ACES delivers care to thousands of children across the United States, their support extends to all ages. Farmer finds the best practitioners to help the children, and makes sure everything is running smoothly. As a former teacher herself, she says: “I love to give opportunities to people finding their careers.” The question that she asks herself is “Where is the need?” “Everything down to the design of our clinics is based on the needs of the child.” The clinics are called Aces Spaces, and they collaborate with schools and local communities. They do not just work with the children, but they work with the children’s teachers, dieticians, and pediatricians. “It’s that local community environment that allows those individuals to be successful.”

Technology is constantly growing. Aces is always testing different types of technology and looking at the outcomes to see if their clients are benefiting from them. Since they want to make sure that their clients are receiving guidance, they offer parent training, and they also have world class training. There are different options for the sessions, such as tele-health, sessions at the clinic, and sessions at the client’s house. They help fund the University of North Texas, as well as the ACE program at UCSD. ACES offers many types of therapies, such as Teach, which is picture-oriented, Discrete Trial Training, which utilizes behavior/consequence and positive reinforcement, and PECS, which is taught through expressing your needs with visuals. ACES is working with Microsoft to build a bigger platform for people with autism, and their goals are to one day become the household name of the highest quality autism care in America, and “To be able to have the ability to help any child everywhere…and the United Nations one day.”

Farmer loves inspiring others through her work. She offers opportunities to work with ACES for high schoolers, college students, and healthcare workers, such as doctors or nurses. There is a Saturday program for students called WABA (weekend applied behavior analysis). This program allows volunteers as young as 14 to help out at the clinics on Saturdays. Aces strives to have a Catholic program across the US, and there are only four requirements to volunteer. Any student interested in volunteering should contact Marilyn Lord: 714-438-9464

The goal is to raise awareness and provide volunteer opportunities. Farmer encourages people to apply for a job at ACES, because she believes that more people need to be in this field. They host programs that work on diversity and inclusion not only at ACES, but more broadly. Farmer says: “It is really making a difference one child at a time.”

ACES has 3000 employees, such as behavioral technicians, supervisors, group leaders, feeding sleep specialists, social skills specialists, HR professionals and more. There are so many different teams that have worked together to get this organization to where it is today. Most clients only need 2-3 years of intense one-on-one services before they leave ACES, but they are always there for them. The clinicians usually work with the children twice a day, and forty hours a week. The sessions can last anywhere from three to four hours. Most of the clients are children, but they have some adult clients. Farmer wants “to help pediatricians identify the signs before the age of one so the earliest intervention can happen.”

When asked how she grew so fast, Farmer explains that she was recognized as an expert in the field after getting her masters degree, and that few people knew how to do it like her. School districts started asking her to train their teachers and she needed a business license to get paid, so she got one. She then had to hire people to help her, and just kept saying yes. More people asked for her help, and she only needed twenty contacts to open up a facility, so she would open one wherever there was a need. She loves to grow, and says: “I truly do believe that what we do at ACES is different than other providers…a humanistic, loving, approach to ABA and autism care.”

In conclusion, ACES offers support to everyone, and just wants to help spread awareness. There are parent groups and classes so that everyone can learn how to be helpful. What the organization teaches the parents is based on their child’s needs, and they report that it makes the parents feel like they are also part of a community. Remember: “The impact one person can make is huge.”

The Aces Team is hard at work to improve their services for children with autism. (Courtesy of ACES)