Michele Gagliardi has been a BCaBA (Board-Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst) on FOCUS Therapy’s ABA Therapy team since 2021. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education K-6 from FGCU in 2013, Michele graduated with a Master’s of Arts in ESE with an Emphasis on Applied Behavior Analysis in 2021. Additionally, she has supervision credentials (meaning she can supervise RBTs, or registered behavior technicians), as well as a Reading Endorsement and ESOL Endorsement.
Born and raised right here in Fort Myers, FL, Michele has always loved spending time with kids. As a child, she was always playing pretend games where she was the teacher. It was little surprise to anyone when she actually became one. It was a career she embraced whole-heartedly. However, she began noticing how kids in her classes truly struggled with behavior, impeding not just their academic progress, but social-emotional growth as well.
“I started looking up strategies and procedures I could use to help kids in my classroom,” she said. “I learned more about behavior in general and how children with autism spectrum disorder are helped through specialized programs in ESA and ABA.”
Now in working almost exclusively with children on the autism spectrum, she stresses the point that autism is a not a disability, it’s a different ability.
“Having a disability does not define a child,” she says, “Every child I work with is unique and capable of advancing in life. Instead of focusing on what someone can’t do, I focus on what they can do.”
She’s constantly seeking an individual’s strengths and talents to be used to motivate and reinforce expected behaviors. Having particular success in working with patients on early intensive behavior intervention and verbal behavior intervention, she’s found progress accelerates when therapists of all disciplines are collaborating to help the same child.
“It really opens a new world of possibilities for a child,” Michele said. “Speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA therapy – all these go hand-in-hand. When therapists across disciplines are using consistent strategies, it helps those lessons really stick and sets the stage for success.”
In addition to being a dedicated behavior therapist, Michele is a devoted dog mom to Shilah and Gator and loves cheering the Steelers and jamming to country music.