Co-founders James Kidwell and Paul Mullan pose with their staff as they present their BHCOE accreditation certificate. BHCOE accreditation puts Connections Behavior Planning & Intervention in the top 10 percent of ABA therapy providers, according to Mullan.

Kirkland behavioral therapy center receives national accreditation

A local behavioral therapy center recently received national accreditation, making it one of the three accredited organizations in Washington and one of only 47 in the world.

The Behavior Health Center of Excellence evaluates organizations that practice Applied Behavior Analysis and Connections Behavior Planning & Intervention, which has two locations in Kirkland, recently became a BHCOE-accredited organization and uses ABA therapy to work with children who have autism spectrum disorder, reactive attachment disorders and developmental disabilities.

According to the BHCOE, their accreditation is to ABA, what LEED certification is to buildings or USDA certification is to milk.

“That was a really big thing because it acknowledges the quality of the services we provide,” said James Kidwell, CBPI co-founder, about receiving the accreditation. “We feel like we’ve set a really high bar for ourselves, it’s really exciting that we’re able to do it here in Kirkland (and) we have this really unique opportunity to give back to Kirkland.”

ABA is the only ASD treatment that has been endorsed by the U.S. surgeon general and is viewed as the gold standard by numerous studies, according to the CBPI. CBPI behavior therapists are trained in ABA and use behavioral procedures to help children improve their social behaviors in a real-world setting.

Alexa Smith, a behavior therapist at CBPI, said that they set up part of their facilities to act like a preschool. Children from 2-5 years old learn developmental skills with other kids, while behavioral analysts set goals for individual children that therapists then implement to build their social skills.

Currently, Smith works with older kids, from 10-16 years old, to develop social skills, such as having a conversation with someone or knowing appropriate social actions. Additionally, therapists help older kids learn management behaviors, such as making food and vocational skills, such as shopping and stacking mats, in hopes that they’ll later have potential for employment.

CBPI grew from just Kidwell and co-founder Paul Mullan, to 30 board-certified behavioral analysts and about 140 employees, who serve nearly 300 families at their three locations, two in Kirkland and one in Kent.

“We’ve been able to really balance out in the Seattle area with the communities that we’re helping,” Kidwell said. “So it’s not necessarily only the Microsoft and the Boeing (families). It’s also the families that wouldn’t have those opportunities.”

CBPI works directly with families and schools to provide individualized support for students who have special needs. According to Kidwell, they base the intensity of their intervention on how the individual child responds.

“It’s kind of like the way society works,” he said. “The rule is you can only drive 35 miles per hour and 85 percent of people in society are going to follow that rule just because it’s the rule. But then there’s this other 10 percent who aren’t going to respond to just the sign and maybe you need one of those signs that flash…But then there’s another five percent that even with the flashing sign, they still floor it right there.”

That five percent of children receive highly individualized and high-quality assistance. According to Mullan, CBPI provides that level of quality because of their small therapist-to-child ratio.

“It’s all about providing high quality service to kids,” he said. “We can actually make a difference in these kids’ lives (and) it gives the parents and the students a much higher quality of life.”

Mullan originally worked with about 14 students and said that he simply couldn’t meet all of their needs. Through CBPI, Smith and other therapists currently work with about three children each.

Mullan said that while he was extremely happy about their BHCOE accreditation, he still sees room for improvement.

“Unfortunately I’m a person who asks how can we get from 96 percent to 100 percent (family satisfaction),” he said. “(But) I understand for my staff that we have to spend time to celebrate, because it’s a big deal.”

CBPI hope to expand their service and accommodate some of the more than 100 kids on their wait list, while also maintaining their high-quality service.

”I think on a day-to-day basis, our staff…are following (our) vision and they’re working their butts off to do it,” Mullan said. “Without them, this legacy would be nothing. I attribute all this to the great staff that we have.”

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