About Us

At ABS we do things a little different and we think it’s what sets us apart!. Our goal is to hire, train, and supervise the highest quality staff in the field. We believe that experience, training, and dedication to our children, their families, and this company is one piece of the puzzle. We also believe that anyone working with children must also possess certain characteristics. They must be fun, energetic, caring, nurturing, and they must be able to look at the positive in any situation. Because of this approach, we are proud to report that parent referrals are our #1 source of client referral and our staff retention rate is some of the highest seen in this industry!


Sarah Hively – Executive Director (MA, BCBA)

Hello! My name is Sarah Hively. I am the owner and Executive Director of A.B.S. Behavioral Services, LLC., and am also a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).  My love for working with individuals with and without disabilities stems from my own experiences having a learning disability and ADHD.  I know firsthand what it feels like to learn “outside of the box”, to feel frustrated at times because of these challenges, and to exercise patience, understanding, and perseverance to stick with something until I achieve success!  It is my belief that because I think and learn in a different way, I am able to have insight into our kiddo’s experiences. This perspective allows me to be creative when problem solving and developing functional programing and interventions. 

After working and gaining experience in public and private schools, homes, and clinics ranging in size from small startups to larger organizations such as The Marcus Center, I decided to take a leap of faith and start A.B.S. Behavioral Services in 2012.  My continued mission is to provide individuals with and without disabilities, families, teachers, and schools with quality services that will lead to a meaningful change. With so many potential stressors and challenges individuals and families with disabilities (especially autism) face, we strive to provide support and realistic solutions without judgment. I truly think of the kids and families we serve and work with as extended family members. Whether it is tackling those tricky challenging behaviors, teaching school readiness, joint attention, communication, play and social skills, or more everyday functional life skills such as potty training, bedtime routines, or sitting at the dinner table eating a meal together, we will approach the behavior and skill in an applied, functional, and realistic way to ensure progress that will have a positive impact on every individual’s life!

In my free time I enjoy going to the gym and working out, watching Bravo TV, and “Fun Fridays” with my husband and two daughters. I strive to always be a team player, have a sense of humor when I (inevitably!) drop the ball either as a boss, clinician, wife, or mom, exercise patience with myself and others, and most importantly be appreciative for the things I have and people in my life!


Colleen Coley, MS, BCBA, Staff Development Coordinator

Hi!  My name is Colleen, and I have been on the A.B.S team since 2013. I began as a practicum student when working towards my Master’s degree, have worked as a line therapist, and I am currently working as a BCBA and the Staff Development Coordinator. I grew up all over the place as my dad was in the Navy.  My family landed in Indiana, where I went to high school and graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2012 (Bachelor’s in psychology).  My first introduction to ABA was through an undergraduate course on Autism, and from there I never looked back!  In 2011, I began to work at the Logan Center in South Bend Indiana as a line therapist, and I loved getting to work one on one with the kids and knowing that the work we were doing was empirically proven to make a difference.  After graduation, I enrolled at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology to pursue a Master’s degree in ABA, which I did in 2014.  Since then I have worked with children, their families, their teachers, and their other service providers in a wide range of settings and with all types of skill sets.  I especially love working with staff and parents to ensure that clients are set up for success across every aspect of their life.  I have a particular soft spot for my social skills group, which focuses on social skills, problem solving, and flexibility.  Working with children with disabilities has always felt like a natural fit for me.  I grew up in a family with children with a range of disabilities, which has taught me to be creative about finding ways to be inclusive.  In high school, I was the president of my school’s Best Buddies chapter, a club that pairs kids with and without disabilities in one-to-one friendships.  What I thought would be a high school friendship turned into one of my longest (and most fun) friendships today, and taught me that disability is a tiny part of what makes a person who they are. My priority in my job is making sure that all children have the best chance they can to become independent and build meaningful friendships.  When I’m off the clock, I enjoy cooking, crafting, being outside, and sharing those activities with my family, friends, and crazy dog.


Trisha Gorfin, MS, BCBA, Services and Outreach Coordinator

I began at A.B.S. in 2013 as a practicum student pursuing my master’s degree in ABA and I am currently a BCBA and the Services and Outreach Coordinator at ABS. I grew up in Libertyville, IL and graduated from Illinois State University in 2008 (B.A. in Psychology) and from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2014 (M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis). I am a big fan of corny jokes, spending time with my niece and nephews, hanging out with my dog (and husband!), playing bingo (seriously), and Netflix marathons. I lived in the city for 12 years and loved every single minute of it! Living in the suburbs now has it’s perks too- especially a yard for my dog! In high school, I volunteered in the special education classroom and became interested in working one-to-one with the students, including my cousin! In undergrad, I worked at a vocational center with adults with disabilities and I was also a job coach for a woman with intellectual disabilities. It is through these relationships that I found my passion for working with adults with disabilities. I have participated in the Polar Plunge every year since 2011 which raises money for the Special Olympics of Illinois. I am very proud of my friends, family members, and clients that participate in the Special Olympics and I look forward to cheering them on during their events! The absolute best part of my job is watching and helping my clients learn and grow, and the look on client’s and parent’s faces when they achieve another milestone. In addition to working with teens and adults on functional living skills and increasing their independence, I truly enjoy teaching our little ones the skills to succeed in learning for life. ABS is different from other ABA companies in so many ways which is what I love about us! We commit to our clients and their families fully, our BCBA’s are extremely involved on their cases, and our communication and teamwork is unparalleled. It has been a joy to learn and grow within such a wonderful company!


Our Team

Katie Kustes, MS, BCBA

I began working in the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA) in August 2010 after volunteering at a verbal behavior (VB) clinic for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during my last semester of college. Watching how effective ABA principles were to help those clients learn and grow immediately sparked my interest in the field. I began my journey with A.B.S. in 2014 as a behavior therapist while enrolled in the ABA masters program at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. It has been an incredible experience to be able to grow with A.B.S.- not only have I broadened my experience from only using the VB approach to teaching language, but I have also had the pleasure of working with some of the best behavior therapists, RBT’s, and BCBA’s the field has to offer! It is so rewarding to know that each of my colleagues loves our clients as much as I do and is doing everything that they can to improve the lives of every client. In my spare time, I love cheering on the Cubs and continuing to explore the city with my husband and dog, Wicket!


Brian Blazek, MS, BCBA

I started with A.B.S. in March of 2018 but have been working as an ABA therapist since I graduated from college in May of 2015. I truly enjoyed growing up in Bartlett, Illinois and what I remember most was all of the neighborhood block parties and cookouts! Some of my hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, and anything including a boat on a lake! I also love anything sports related, such as baseball, basketball, and handball. My favorite part about ABA therapy is all the amazing kids that I have been fortunate enough to work with. Each person has such a unique personality and it is incredibly fun getting to know and work with them! Additionally, I have met some amazing parents and families while working in this field and it has been a great pleasure to be a part of helping their child learn and grow as much as possible. The A.B.S. team is an amazing team to work with- everyone is so supportive and knowledgeable in the field of ABA. Each person is so helpful and willing to spend the extra time to answer any questions you may have to ensure that you feel comfortable and confident while working.


Breana Berdis, BA Psychology

I graduated in 2017 with a psychology major and a double minor in early childhood education and child advocacy studies. I grew up in Rockdale, Illinois, which is a small town outside of Joliet. I loved growing up knowing everyone; it was like a huge extended family! I went to school with the same people from preschool to 8th grade and I am still close friends with a lot of them today. I love being outside! I am a huge beach bum and enjoy bike riding, playing basketball, kayaking and roller skating. I have worked with kids since 2010, starting as a camp counselor for the YMCA, then as a nanny for two awesome girls for three years before starting with A.B.S. in August 2017. I love being a part of the kiddos learning experience and watching them grow. I specifically love ABA because it addresses each child’s individual needs, which is important because each kiddo is unique and learns differently. I love that our team feels like one big family! Coming from a small-town background that is something very important to me.


Dani Bennett, BS Behavior Analysis

I grew up in beautiful Traverse City, Michigan and graduated from Western Michigan University with a major in Behavior Analysis and a minor in Women’s Studied. In addition to studying behavior analysis in school, I spent two years as a crisis counselor and suicide prevention specialist in middle and high schools. I absolutely love working with children and seeing them learn to communicate and advocate for themselves. It is wonderful and profound to be a part of helping someone find and expand on the things they are passionate about. In my spare time you can find me outside! I love being at the beach, listening to music, watching films, and above all else spending time with family and friends. I have been with A.B.S. since April 2019 and love being a part of such a supportive workplace.

Lynda Vo Arredondo, BS Psychology

I have been working in the field of ABA since May 2018 and I am currently working toward an Associate of Applied Science for an Occupational Therapy Assistant. I started at A.B.S. in January 2020 and I love the professional bond between the staff which is something I have never experienced in this field before! My favorite thing about working in ABA is the excitement from a child when they learn something new or meet a new goal. Each child has their own personality and they really grow on you! I love to travel, especially to Japan to experience their rich culture, I love ot watch Korean dramas, try out new restaurants and recipes, and hang out with friends and family. I have a multi-racial background and my first language was Vietnamese and I can also read, write, and understand Spanish. My dream is to open a multidisciplinary school dedicated to children with special needs!


Natalie Zawrazky, MBA, RBT

I loved growing up with all of my cousins on the northwest side of Chicago with everything in walking distance. I really enjoy biking, yoga, spending time with my family, and traveling. After being a software engineer for 20 years I changed directions and became an RBT in May of 2016, and have worked as a preschool teacher since 2015. I love watching our kids make connections that help them achieve incremental independence. I am very interested in working in schools and on social skills, as these skills are imperative in life. I love that ABS helps integrate our client’s skills in the home, school, and other related services!



Kiara Gilchrist, BA Rehabilitation Services, RBT

I graduated from Wilberforce University in Ohio and have been in the ABA field since 2016. Since then, I have found my passion in helping neurodiverse children grow and become more independent. Knowing in my heart that I am making a difference in every child makes coming to work very fulfilling! In my spare time I like to read, journal, and do fun activities with my little boy. I love working at ABS because teamwork means a lot to me and the way that ABS supports each other and works together to achieve a common goal is very rewarding!



Hannah Freese, BS Communication Sciences and Disorders

I graduated from Illinois State University in 2021 with a major in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a minor in Children’s Studies.
My goal is to become a speech-language pathologist. During my studies, I became interested in the language acquisition of neurodivergent individuals. Helping children achieve their goals has been a very rewarding experience. I love working at ABS because of its positive environment and supportive staff. In my spare time, I enjoy drawing, cooking, and competing in fast CATs with my best friend.


Kimberly Spalding, BA and RBT

I started working in the ABA field in 2020 and I love working in the clinic with elementary aged children. One great moment in therapy was hearing a nonverbal child say my name after just a few months of therapy! I love seeing children master their goals and it’s rewarding when they socialize with their peers. In my spare time I volunteer with the Ronald McDonald house, and I read to low-income children as a part of my book reading foundation. I love the positive vibes at ABS and how Sarah goes above and beyond for her staff!


Fernanda Balleza, BA expected Fall 2023

I grew up in Chicago and love that there is always something fun to do and experience in the city. There is never a dull moment! I love reading, bike riding, scenic walks, and hiking. I start with ABS in June 2022 after several years working with children. I started off as an early childhood educator and have always had a passion for the education and development of young children- they are all unique and gifted in their own special way. The best thing about working at ABS is they always provide us with the tools and support to provide the best, top-tier services for our clients!


Daniella Buljan, RBT

I started with ABS in June 2022 with 4 years experience in ABA. I have worked with kids aged 2-12 with a variety of skills and seeing their progress, both daily and the big wins, is the best! I am from Croatia and love to visit my family there any time I can. At home, I love to cook and bake! I love being a part of the ABS team and being able to connect with everyone to help our kids in a big way!


Molly Corrigan, BS, MS in ABA expected December 2023

I began working in the field of ABA in 2015 and also branched into childcare as a sight director. I applied my ABA skills in that new environment, but knew I wanted to get back into the field and I am now pursuing my master’s degree in ABA. I started with ABS in August 2022, and my favorite part about working with children in ABA is getting to know each child and celebrating their differences, while emphasizing and harnessing their skills for growth. ABA is an individualized therapy that is unique for each client. It’s a systematic approach that promotes a happy, healthy and engaged life that is established personally by the individual. My background is in recreation administration and facilitating play for all ages and abilities. I have a unique perspective on how to provide behavioral therapy in a fun, exciting way for each client.


Emily Zimmerman, BS Psychology, MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling expected Summer 2024

I grew up in a suburb just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I absolutely loved the feel of a small town surrounded by horse farms and open fields. Now, living in Chicago I sometimes miss the quiet of it all but have found that I am a city girl at heart. I have been working in the field of psychology since high school, but really jumped in throughout college. It’s been nearly 7 years now and I fall in love with the work more and more every day. I have a special place in my heart for working with littles! I have a good bit of experience working with children ages 3-11 who have been diagnosed with a wide range of diagnoses such as Autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome, and ODD. My favorite thing about ABA/working with the kids is the relationships that are formed. ABA has an amazing community of therapists, supervisors, etc. and I always feel extremely supported. With the kids, being the person that they look towards for everything including support and fun is the best feeling. The excitement that comes along with that for both the kids and the therapist is like no other. I have been with ABS since September 2022 and I love how supportive and kind the staff is!


Penelope Anastos, BA Early Childhood Education expected Fall 2023

I grew up in the Chicagoland area where I was surrounded by my big loving greek family. I love living here because everything is so close and you can experiences so many places, visit/eat at different cultural restaurants, and experience the city! My favorite thing about ABA is the growth and development you see in the children overtime. Along with the progress you see in the children’s development, you see something even greater when the parents see how far their child has come and it truly is priceless. Some of the things I like to do in my free time or my hobbies are working out and baking! I also love dancing, reading, embroidery, and doing creative crafts! I love being a part of the ABS team because everyone is so loving, caring, and smart. Everyone here is working hard to help our kids grow in a variety of different ways!


Katy McCafferty, BA expected December2023

I started with ABS in December 2022 after working in the ABA field for a year. I love learning with the kiddos and seeing them grow and evolve is incredible and never fails to warm my heart! I plan to complete a PsyD program in clinical psychology and specialize in forensic psychology to combine two of my passions by working with kids and adolescents in and effected by our justice system. In my spare time I love researching true crime cases, going to the gym, and hanging out with my 8-year-old rescue pitbull Malcolm who I adopted when I lived in New York!


Mary Heyl, BFA Acting and Dance Minor

I love to sing, dance, act, draw, paint, read, and play card games. I would love to start my own theatre company for kids with disabilities and get my masters in drama therapy. I started with ABS in January 2023 after 5 years of SPED experience as a camp counselor, paraprofessional, and director. It’s incredibly fulfilling to see the kids achieve their goals and everyone at ABS is incredibly nice and supportive!


Michelle Peraza

I came to ABS in January 2023 with experience in a daycare and I love how rewarding ABA is! Working with the kids brings a sense of meaning and purpose and I love how ABS is centered on establishing and prioritizing a foundation of trust, care, and play with the kids. In my spare time, I love to stay healthy with hot yoga classes and weightlifting, and I love baking to feed my sweet tooth and my soul! I grew up nearby but lived in California and out of the country. I spent three months in a small rural village in Nepal working to rebuild homes and lives after the 2016 earthquake.


Mayra Martinez, BA Psychology, RBT

I grew up in Chicago and truly love this city and all there is to do and explore! I love personalizing items through Cricut crafting and am always looking for new projects to take on. I also enjoy watching TV shows, anime, movies, and playing games on my PC/ mobile. I can speak and read Spanish and am currently learning ASL. I joined the ABS team in February 2023 with ABA experience working with teenagers. My favorite thing about ABA is we are constantly teaching our kids skills to become more independent and seeing their progress over time! I hope to get my masters in Clinical Mental Health to become a counselor to continue to help kids in meaningful ways. ABS is a company that makes sure the kids are always getting the best treatment possible and they care for their therapists as well!


Kellie Holder, BA Psychology

I am originally from Atlanta, Georgia and moved to New Jersey my freshman year of high schooo. I miss the southern comfort and community in Georgia as well as the people and rich history! I love traveling, painting, being creative, laughing at TikToks, and getting dressed up and exploring the city. I joined the ABS team in March 2023 and have previous experience with early childhood and elementary-aged children. I love working with our kiddos to see their growth and the genuine connections you create with them- I love their vibrant personalities and high energy! I plan to receive my RBT certification and receive my masters degree.




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