Meet The Founder

STEPS Behavioral Health is a company that specializes in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). “STEPS applies ABA behavioral interventions for individuals with Autism and Developmental Disabilities, in order to guide and facilitate learning.” STEPS focuses on assisting families and individuals with Autism and Developmental Disabilities to achieve their goals with tailored therapy. This blog will share some insight into the vision and passion of the founder for STEPS and the origins of how the company came to be. It will also discuss the success and challenges that came along with running such a business and the vision of how STEPS grew as an organization. 

Section 1: “What inspired STEPS? Explain the mission statement.

This video below explains how Erin Stern, the founder and current president of STEPS, was inspired from a very young age to aid individuals with autism and special needs. Erin has extensive experience working with children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). For 10 years, Erin worked for Howard County School system as a special educator teaching children in preschool through fifth grade. In the role of a BCBA, Erin has supported clients and their families for over 13 years. Erin explains how STEPS was founded organically in 2008 when she partnered with Sam Schnitzer, the founder of The Therapy Spot (TTS). TTS is a pediatric therapy center that provides speech, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. TTS and STEPS cohesively work together to provide multi-discipline services to best aid the children. STEPS focuses on assisting families and individuals with Autism and Developmental Disabilities to achieve their goals.

Section 2: “What have been some successes and challenges? 

Running and developing a business comes with both successes and challenges. Covid-19 was a major challenge for STEPS by changing the status quo of how typical services were conducted. Because of the demand and necessity for virtual services, STEPS had to change its approach to services to meet the demands of its clients. Within the short time frame of two weeks, STEPS was able to pivot from an all in-person model to a complete telehealth model. Although this was challenging, therapists quickly adapted to the transition. 

Children often face many challenges when coming into STEPS such as following routine, being away from family, finding success in school, or communicating and socializing with others. Our early STEPS program services children as young as 18 months. Most children come to STEPS and experience being away from their families for the very first time. Clients often struggle for the first few weeks when being dropped off from their families. 

Often learners have difficulties with expressive speech and have language delays, which impacts their ability to function within their environment. STEPS counters this by incorporating practice opportunities, such as daily morning and afternoon groups along with weekly social skills groups. This practice has been beneficial for learners in developing their expressive and receptive language with their peers. Through the hurdles, STEPS has participated in the success of helping many children and their families in overcoming their individual circumstances. 

Section 3: “Where do you see STEPS in the future?

Erin would like to continue the great work in which STEPS currently participates. She hopes to expand STEPS by serving the larger Maryland community with the eventual goal of expanding to other states. While wanting to see improvement and growth in the children, Erin also desires to see the growth of the staff in their endeavors and goals. Erin is excited to spread the awareness of ABA even further and disseminate ABA techniques to others to help better serve the community. She would be elated to see more individuals find success through ABA therapy.

STEPS has grown into a thriving company with a growing community. We’ve learned that Erin Stern is passionate about autism and those with special needs. As the ABA field continues to grow it is apparent STEPS has laid down the foundation to expand as well. Due to the time it took for STEPS to come into its being that it is now, it is evident that Erin is dedicated to the ABA field. STEPS’s philosophy is that each family is unique and as a result, we work to tailor support and advocacy towards each individual and/or family.  

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