Brooke Tawanna | Founder & Owner of Innovate ABA
"At Innovate ABA, we believe all children can benefit from systematic and individualized teaching rooted in the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Whether your child is neurodivergent with a qualifying diagnosis for ABA therapy, or you’re looking for a little extra support to help your neurotypical child fine tune some challenging behaviors, we have something for you.
We understand this process can be complicated, so we created our
Roadmap to Services to help get you started. For additional questions about ABA therapy, contact us today for your free initial consultation."
Who We Are
We are a pediatric therapy center that provides ABA and Speech therapy to children 6 and under with Autism and/or Speech delays. We are located in Irvine, California in a spacious and cozy clinic. Our staff are trained in Applied Behavior Analysis and early child development. The end result to this robust and comprehensive training is highly skilled clinicians who share in our mission to provide measurable growth in the areas of independence, self-help, functional life skills and self-advocacy as well as offering practical guides to address challenging behaviors. At Innovate ABA, our commitment is to create a partnership with our families and to achieve maximum results in the areas most important to each child.
Innovate ABA was created to provide an inclusive and nurturing environment for children to learn foundational skills that will support their successful transition into school. We believe that children, regardless of diagnoses, deserve respect from adults, deserve to be active participants in their learning, and deserve to be seen and celebrated for their differences.
Q: Walk us through your story!
A: I come from a family of educators, so I always saw myself being a teacher. I studied psychology and education at UC Irvine and thought I would take a year off before starting a teacher's credentialing program. I stumbled into the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and was fortunate to work for a fantastic agency owned in part by a brilliant psychologist, Dr. John McEachin. It was Dr. McEachin who inspired me to study applied behavior analysis, in hopes of learning all that I could about how to understand and teach young children with Autism.
I finished my Master's degree in 2010 and got certified as a BCBA in 2012. I had my first daughter in 2012 and knew that I wanted to take time away from my career to focus on mom life. Life, as it typically goes, had other plans for us! My husband was finishing Law School when my daughter was born, so we didn't really have the financial option for me to quit my job. Thankfully, I had been working at a company that was very accepting and supportive of working moms. I had some flexibility with my schedule and often worked from home with my infant daughter strapped on me in one of our many beloved baby carriers.
I also began teaching BCBA prep courses at that company- again, with my daughter in tow. I always felt an immense responsibility to balance my career with my children however I could manage. In 2014, my husband had finished Law School, and we moved to be closer to family. I had my second daughter in 2015 and was able to work part time with a few different ABA agencies. We moved back to Irvine in 2016 and I began dreaming about my next career goals, once my girls were in school. I dreamed of an ABA company that focused on preschool readiness and prioritized high quality training for therapists.
As these ideas took shape in my dreams, I kept coming back to the idea that I wanted to create an extension of home; a place that I felt at home in and where I would feel comfortable sending my own children. The perspective of building an ABA company and being a mom to young children really helped me to be able to prioritize clinical needs and the needs that parents would undoubtedly have. In 2020 (in the middle of the COVID pandemic!), life just kept sending me small signs that I needed to stop waiting for the perfect opportunity to come along, and to start taking small steps to building my dream clinic. In October 2020, with the support of my parents, my husband and so much encouragement from friends, I signed the lease to our office suite and starting running full force towards those dreams, and Innovate ABA opened our doors to our first client in November 2020.
There is so much about this company that I am proud of, but I think what makes me most proud is the learning happening here, the comradery between therapists, and the trust that we have with each other.
Q: Who has been the most inspirational person in my life and at what stage?
A: When I was a child, it was my mom. She managed a career and our family so effortlessly. At the time, I had no idea how hard it was to do what she made look so easy. As an adult, it's been my daughters. Because of them, the purpose of my life has become so clear.
Q: What has been the most rewarding phase of your career?
A: Being able to trust myself and honor my own needs to shift away from my career when I became a mom, and to pivot towards my career when the timing felt right.
Q: What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career similar to yours?
A: Do the hard work. Don't jump into anything before you've spent time learning and pushing yourself to be better at the things you already think you're good at. Be humble. Your success won't happen without the help and support of others. Have a clear goal and smart business plan. Hire experts to handle things you aren't an expert in- just because you can do everything, doesn't mean you should!
Q: What are the best resources that have helped you along the way?
A: There's nothing that can replace real life experience. I've worked in every position within Innovate from a direct therapist, to insurance billing and credentialing. These experiences have allowed me to plan against common struggles our industry faces. Aside from experience, I'm a huge advocate of lifelong learning. Sign up for courses and invest in classes to help you learn everything you can about whatever industry you're in.
Q: What are your top self care routines?
A: I have gotten really good about feeling comfortable turning off my computer and putting my phone away to be present with the people in my life. My favorite self-care routines include bedtime with my girls, binge-watching Netflix with my husband, weekly therapy appointments and travel (outside of COVID times).
Q: What is the most challenging part about what you do?
A: The responsibility I feel towards our clients, their families, and my staff. That and scheduling. Scheduling for an ABA/Speech clinic is bananas!
Q: What do you do for inspiration? Do you ever hit creative roadblocks and how do you overcome them?
A: We have this thing that we do at the office where I go "Ok, I have this idea- humor me-it's one of those out there things..." I have gotten in the habit of speaking aloud any concepts or ideas that enter my mind, no matter how "out there" they sound. After all, Innovate ABA wouldn't exist if I hadn't dared to entertain those "out there" thoughts!