An Interview with Barbara Erby-Young

President of Breakthrough Developmental Services

How long have you been doing what you do and how long has BDS been around?

I've been working with people with differing needs for over 20 years. BDS has been around since 2007. I started out small and as we've expanded we've been able to maintain our family feel. This organization was born out of my passion and faith that everyone can learn something. We don't give up anyone's ability to learn a new skill. I believe that we just have to figure out the way to teach the skill that works best for each learner.

There is no "one-size fits all" solution. Each our programs are tailored to meet the needs of the individual and the family that we are working with. I am grateful that I get to experience children learning, speaking and growing on a regular basis. I get to see the change that our programs make in the lives of our clients and our client's families.

How is BDS different from other companies?

Helping others learn and make long lasting changes in their lives is a passion for me. I want to see each one of our student reach their highest level of independence possible. I have faith in their abilities. I put labels out of my head when I am writing a learning program for our students because the label is not important... the person is. I am always optimistic that we can work together

Have you ever worked with a child like mine before?

I love this question and I've gotten it from lots of different parents over the years. I used to say that I have worked with others who may have similar needs as your child. However, I have to say that the best answer for this question came from one of my staff members (thanks, Stephanie). My new answer is: No, because each person is an individual and I have never worked with your child before. I love this answer because it's the truth.

There is no other person who has ever lived, or ever will live, that is like your child. We all have different likes, dislikes and beliefs. I also know that ABA has been shown to be an effective way of teaching skills and behaviors for a very long time.

What methodology do you use?

I use applied behavior analysis (ABA) when working with our students. ABA is a scientifically proven method of teaching. My main focus when teaching skills is to increase appropriate behaviors. It doesn't matter if that behavior is learning to add, learning to clean, or learning to use the bathroom, we can teach it using ABA.

Before we begin teaching, I like to speak to the family about their goals for their child. I also like to complete an assessment and take the time to develop an initial treatment plan. Taking the time time do this allows us to have knowledge about where your child currently is as well as a plan and a map about the direction of treatment.

Does this really work?

Yes, it does. Everyone can learn something new and we will keep data to show you the change your child is making.

How will we work together and what does your program entail?

That depends on the program that you choose. We currently have several different programs available for our families. Each program is designed to meet different needs. We have both in person and distance services. I encourage you to visit the Our Services page of our website to see the current listing of services that we provide.

How long is the program?

There are several different ways to access our programs. Just keep in mind that change doesn't happen overnight. Students receiving consistent services each week will obtain better results. Think of it like this... With all other things being equal who would get the better grade, the person who attends a 2-hour math class once a week or the person that attends the 2-hour math class 3 times a week? By the same token, you can't expect for a student to make the same progress in 3 months as compared to 12 months down the road.

Families can select month-to-month services, a 6-month and a 12-month option. Why do we offer the longer programs? Because you need to be able to see the change. You will no see the same progress in using our services for one month that you will see in 12 and you need to be aware of that now. I really don't have a magic want to wave. Our programs take hard work, dedication and commitment. I have told parents for years, that ABA (applied behavior analysis) is not something that only my staff and I do in one room of your home. ABA is a lifestyle change for the family. It will effect the way that you respond to and interact with your child. My goal is to teach you how to increase appropriate behaviors and decrease inappropriate ones through several processes. I am going to be there to support you and your child through these changes.

How much do services cost?

It is difficult to place a price on the cost of services without knowing you exact needs. We can provide an estimate of services based on a set number of hours within a specific program, but we would need to know which program you would like information for to be able to do that. You can obtain the best information by using the To speak with a representative link at the top of each page.

After you have had an opportunity to review the Our Services page, click the link at the top of the page and you will be able to arrange a Get Acquainted Call with a representative. We would love to have an opportunity to speak with you about our services and our caring, committed staff!

How can I help my child will learn more with your program?

With our programs, the best way to help your child is to be an active participant. Our programs need consistency and commitment to work well. I have found that parents who take an active role have the children that progress further faster. I like to remind parents that faith in your child's abilities is important.

How long do most clients stay with you?

Length of time depends on individual needs. Clients can discontinue use of services at any time. I have had people stay for 6 months and others stay for 8 years. We always have specific and measurable objectives in mind. When beginning new programs we ask parents to help us determine appropriate goals for their child.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept debit and credit cards, checks and the Autism Waiver (in Maryland only). We are also an in network provider for Aetna Insurance and a non-participating provider for CareFirst BCBS. For information relate to a specific program, click here to schedule a Get Acquainted Call with a representative.

Do you take every client you meet with?

No, I don't. While I would love to help everyone that I meet, I and the other members of my team have experience in specific areas. I am committed to providing excellent service and care to people within my area of competence. I promise that I won't string you along. If I don't believe that I am able to help you, I will do my best to point you in the direction of someone who may be able to provide you with assistance.

Okay, I know which program I want. How do we get started?

Awesome! I would love to learn more about your child's, and your family's, needs. Click here to fill our the request for a Get Acquainted Call. To have the most productive call possible, give as much detail possible in the section titled "Tell us about your child." We have provided some examples on the form to help get you started. I can't wait to speak with you!