Master’s Student Helps Children Thrive Through Applied Behavior Analysis


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Masters student Kayla Gussy.

Kayla Gussy is a Program Specialist at SageWay Behavioral Health in Bentonville, where she is doing hands-on training toward a Masters in Special Education.

She works one-on-one with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, focusing on social skills, self-regulation, and transferring learned behaviors into new environments. Gussy uses individualized treatment plans created by a board-certified behavior analyst. By this time next year, she will be writing her own plans. Gussy will graduate from the University of Arkansas in December, majoring in Applied Behavioral Analysis. She is a strong advocate for children with autism, ensuring they receive the same opportunities as their peers.

“My favorite thing is seeing kids succeed in areas where they’ve struggled before,” Gussy said. “These children go on to live fuller, more enriched lives thanks to the skills and goals we worked on in ABA.”

Gussy earned an undergraduate degree from the U of A in human development and family science in 2014. She went to work as a senior behavioral health technician at Piney Ridge Treatment Center, a psychiatric residential facility for children and adolescents.

Prior to joining SageWay, Gussy worked at the Jean Tyson Center for Child Development Studies on the University of Alberta campus for four years. She started as an assistant educator in the infant room and was promoted to head educator.

“I had the privilege of staying with these children for three years until they went to kindergarten,” she said. “I loved watching them develop from an early age and really gain their personality.”

She began her graduate studies at College of Education and Health Professions while teaching Jean Tyson. It was then that she learned more about the field of Applied Behavioral Health.

“I fell in love,” she said. “I am delighted to work with children who have special needs and to help them improve their daily lives.”

Gussy’s heart is also open to young adults. She is part of a committee that brings the inauguration “Campus Walk Out of Darknessat the U of A on March 5. The university will join a quarter of a million people marching on campuses across the United States to bring attention to the fight for suicide prevention. The march will support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s goal of reducing the annual suicide rate in the United States by 20% by 2025.

“I love spreading the message of the importance of mental health,” she said. “With everything going on in the world, sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves, especially when taking care of others. I hope this event can help some of our students and faculty find the resources they may need. need if they are in a difficult situation.”

To know more Dean’s Spotlight Stories and other news from the COEHP community, visit the College’s online magazine, the Coworker. the College of Education and Health Professions provides advanced academic degrees as well as professional development opportunities and learning communities to serve the education and health systems of Arkansas and beyond. Visit the College website for more information on special education degrees.


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