About Our Progam and Our Incredible Team
Choice Autism Center is proud to open its doors in January of 2017 with a team of seasoned providers and staff. Its sister company, Turning Point Education Services, is a well-established therapy company operating in several cities throughout Maryland. Choice Autism Center is proud to be supported by the same fantastic back office staff that provide the foundation for Turning Point and allow it's analysts to focus on their client's clinical needs. Choice Autism Center's behavior analysts are excited to bring comprehensive, quality services to the Traverse City, MI area. At Choice we provide a hybrid of home-based, clinic-based, and community-based services for the children and families we serve.
Our goal is to provide the most effective behavior analytic therapy services to children on the autism spectrum while bringing awareness to autism and, most importantly, simply having fun. We desire to see learning occur in all children as we set up environments where learning takes place naturally as curiosity is sparked and imagination soars. We believe strongly in the power of hands-on play to grow healthy, strong children.
To provide the most effective behavior analytic services for the children and families we serve in a joyful, respectful, caring, and playful environment.
Meet the Team
Emily Besecker | Director of Operations
Emily Besecker has been with Choice Autism Center since February 2019. Emily has been working in the field of ABA since 2005. She first began her career at the New England Center for Children, a large school for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities, located outside of Boston, Massachusetts. In 2010, she earned her Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis from Northeastern University and also became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Emily relocated to Michigan in 2008, where she began an outpatient clinic and then worked at Mott Children’s Hospital inpatient psychiatric unit. Emily’s experience includes managing challenging behavior, parent coaching, skill acquisition, staff training, and working with schools.
Jessica Hellman | Clinic Director
Jessica Hellman has been with Choice Autism Center since October 2017. She relocated to Traverse City, MI from Muskegon, MI. Jessica has been working in the field of ABA since 2012. She received her Bachelor of Science from Central Michigan University in 2011. In 2016, Jessica earned her Master of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis from Kaplan University. Jessica became certified as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2017. She has worked with a diverse range of individuals with developmental disabilities ages 16 months to 21 years in home, center, and community settings. Jessica’s experience in the field of ABA includes problem behavior reduction, parent coaching, social skills, program development, staff training, various assessments, skill development, and clinical supervision.
Nicole McManus, BCBA | Assistant Clinic Director
Nicole has been working with Choice Autism Center since July 2017 and with its sister company Turning Point Education Services since 2014 first as a behavior technician and now as a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. She received her Bachelor of Science in Child Development from Ashford University in 2011 and earned her Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in Family and Community Services in 2015. She went on to complete a post graduate program in Applied Behavior Analysis through the Florida Institute of Technology.
She became interested in working with children on the spectrum when her own son, and later daughter were diagnosed with ASD. Her experience both as a clinician and as a parent helps her to better understand the balancing act that families with ASD must perfect.
Her experience includes working with individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other special needs in home, clinic and community settings. Nicole’s interests in the field of behavior analysis include early intervention, verbal behavior, potty training and problem behavior reduction in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Nicole currently resides in Traverse City with her 4 children.
Courtney Peterson, BCaBA
Courtney has been working with Choice Autism Center as a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst since November 2018. Courtney earned her Bachelor’s at Liberty University and studied post graduate ABA at Florida Institute of Technology. Prior to completion of her BCaBA, Courtney worked as behavior technician for three years with clients ranging from 2-21 years. Courtney has experience sharing ABA with clients and families in home, in center, and in school and community settings. She loves working with children of all ages, being silly with them and teaching them new skills that enhance their quality of life.
Courtney lives in Cheboygan, MI with her husband and two sons. In her free time, Courtney enjoys reading, biking and playing with her children. Courtney is actively pursuing her Master’s in ABA from FIT and hopes to obtain her full BCBA upon completion of her degree.
Christina Chandler, BCBA
My name is Christina Chandler and I have worked in the ABA field for 11 years. My career has consisted of both center based and in-home based programs allowing me to work with a diverse range of individuals from the ages of 2 to 20. I received my Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Cincinnati, and then went on to get my Masters in Special Education from the College of Mount St. Joseph. Soon thereafter, I continued to obtain my BCBA courses from The Florida Institute of Technology . I passed the BCBA exam in 2016. Throughout school, I was a Behavior Technician working with different professionals and practicing Applied Behavior Analysis. Besides my passion for ABA, I enjoy art, animals, and spending time with my family playing outside!
Heather Smith, BCBA
Heather has been working with Choice Autism Center as a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst since August 2019. Heather earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Saginaw Valley State University in 2005, a Master of Arts in Counseling Degree from Oakland University in 2008, and a Post Master’s Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis in 2015. Heather has been working in the field of ABA since 2011, after shifting her main clinical focus from counseling to ABA after seeing the positive outcomes associated with Applied Behavior Analysis. Heather holds a wide range of clinical experience including parent coaching, staff training, skill acquisition, behavior reduction, the development and implementation of skill and support groups, and training and experience in various areas of mental health counseling.
Heather lives in Boyne Falls, MI with her husband, two daughters, and son. She enjoys distance running, skiing, attending her children’s sporting events, and coaching her local cross-country team in the fall.