ABA, Applied Behavior Analysis, is a popular program designed to improve the overall development of individuals on the autism spectrum.

If you are new to the world of ABA, then my chat with Melissa Willa of Gateway Learning Group is for you. We start with the basics of what ABA is, what it looks like from a parent and therapist point of view and how it is evolving over time.


Melissa is the Chief Clinical Officer and Co-founder at Gateway Learning Group, a leading provider of ABA therapy services to individuals with autism. Melissa heads up the clinical team at Gateway, where she focuses on the delivery of the highest quality of ABA therapy services and the dissemination of positive behavior support practices to the community. In addition to her role at Gateway, Melissa is an active advocate for individuals with special needs. In recent years she has served on the Board of Directors for several SF Bay Area non-profits, helping to advance missions related to inclusion, equity, and access for children with special needs.

Melissa has worked with individuals with autism for over 20 years. She began her career as a teacher and has taught in both general education and special education classrooms. Prior to founding Gateway, Melissa worked as an Autism & Behavior Content Specialist for San Francisco Unified School District where she designed and launched the LEAP program. LEAP was SFUSD’s first formal effort to offer ABA early intervention services to preschoolers with autism.

Melissa is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She holds a Master’s Degree in Behavior Disorders from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.S. in Education from SUNY Geneseo.

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