Based in Owensboro, Behavior Associates has been serving individuals with developmental disabilities and their families for the past 30 years. Founded a few years ago by Stanley Bittman, the business is still thriving under his daughter Maggie Sargent.
At the company’s recent holiday party, former and current employees wore matching T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Behavior Associates, Vintage 1992” to commemorate the company’s origins. Bittman, the head of the company’s founding in November 1992, jokingly threw his name tag on the occasion to proudly display the words “Behavior Associates Founder.”
“I had a lot of fun with the idea that the company had been around for a long time and was proud of it,” Bittman said. It was a fun experience.”
Bittman jokes that his eldest daughter, Sgt., “retired him” seven years ago so he could provide full-time care for his wife, Barbara, who was battling cancer. He said he cherishes the time he was able to share with Barbara and is confident that with Sgt. in charge, business is going well.
“She has improved Behavior Associates and is running it very successfully,” says Bittman. “Not only does she run a business, but she also does hands-on direct service. and that’s what you need to help people.”
Behavior Associates, LLC currently serves 3445 Wathen’s Crossing and continues to serve clients in Henderson, Bowling Green, Benton, Madisonville, Dawson Springs, and Princeton, Indiana. A licensed psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D), Sergeant has an additional staff of his BCBA and a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). Her type of therapy has changed over the years, she says, but she still appreciates her father’s influence and her guidance.
“He was a great boss and I learned a lot from him, and in many ways I still consider it his job,” Sergeant said. “A lot has changed, but I’ve worked very hard to keep it up over the past seven years.”
One of the many changes, according to Sergeant, is the growing need for behavioral support services for children with autism. Behavior Associates now offers in-clinic services to autistic clients in addition to home and facility visits.
“The children who are being served are getting excellent service,” Sergeant said. “We have a huge waiting list and need more staff to meet that need.”
The original firm Bittman founded provided behavioral intervention services to clients and families, as well as traditional counseling through private contracts with local agencies, eventually becoming Wendell Foster. Bittman believed that all aspects of the treatment process should aim to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities.
“When I started this business, there weren’t many psychologists or other mental health professionals who had experience working with people with developmental disabilities,” Bittman said. “When you connect with the family, the child is no longer the only ‘patient’. Parents must be taught how to work with their children in order to be happy and successful. You are truly treating children and the whole family. ”
Bittman’s parents highly emphasized the value of education, but his path to becoming a psychologist was a bit unconventional. A Bronx native, Bittman graduated from high school in Miami, Florida before attending college at the University of Florida, eventually enlisting in the Marine Corps.
“My time in the Marine Corps really changed me and gave me a sense of responsibility and maturity,” Bittman said, adding that he had struggled with heroin addiction before enlisting. , I kept my head straight and was fine.”
After earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Bittman received a doctorate in clinical psychology from Texas Tech University and moved to Owensboro in 1972. He worked at the Green He River Comprehensive Care Center for 20 years, eventually rising to the position of Director of the Clinical Care Center. .
“In 1992, I decided I wanted to be independent, and I did,” Bittman said. “The transition was easy. There was very little change from doing it individually to doing it through the company. It’s more complicated now, but Maggie is smart and understands what needs to be done. .”
A former elementary school teacher, Sergeant said he always had a “trick” for working with children who struggled with a variety of behaviors.
“I don’t know if it’s innate or nurtured, but it’s not something you can teach,” said the sergeant. “For my father, it gives him a lot of pride, especially since I run it. I feel like he left his legacy to me.”