aba therapists

A Dedicated Team Working for You and Your Child

At Positive Behavioral Connections, we are a team of highly-trained Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and therapists dedicated to applying the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) to help your child reach his or her full potential. We are here for you, every step of the way.


Niki Thurkow

Ph.D. Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D)


Niki Thurkow received a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis after studying at Western Michigan University and Florida State University. A growing passion for the technology of applied behavior analysis (ABA) and its application to children led her to the Chicago area. Niki has been implementing positive behavior programming for children in schools, homes and the community since 1997. During this time she has had extensive experience working with children at all levels and abilities, with an emphasis on children on the autism spectrum. Niki also has a passion for adult learning, conducting workshops for parents and professionals, as well as teaching graduate-level courses on topics including Asperger syndrome, autism, verbal behavior, sensory processing disorders, functional assessment, data collection and application.


Emily Deeney

M.S.Ed, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)


Emily (Cain) Deeney completed coursework at Southern Illinois University to sit for her board certification as a behavior analyst. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Early Childhood Special Education with a certificate (LBS II) in Behavior Intervention from Northern Illinois University. She received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from the University of Iowa and was a licensed teacher in the state of Illinois in both special and elementary education. Emily has worked since 2003 with students at a wide range of ability levels, implementing positive behavioral supports within the students’ home and school environments. Emily is fluent in American Sign Language and proficient in Signed Exact English. She has worked extensively within the deaf and hard of hearing programs in DuPage County. Emily has conducted workshops for parents and professionals on topics including autism, basic principles of positive behavior supports, crisis de-escalation, collecting and interpreting data and functional assessment. Emily has also taught several graduate level courses on autism spectrum disorders. Emily is interested in determining the best interventions for each child and family to help improve the quality of daily life including toilet training, verbal behavior programming and building social skills.


Nicole Walker

M.A., Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), Case Manager

Nicole (Zeug) Walker received her master’s degree in behavior analysis from the University of North Texas and has been designing and implementing programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, primarily autism, since 2003. Since becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) in 2008, Nicole’s work has focused on serving children on the autism spectrum in their homes, schools and in clinics. She has peer-reviewed publications in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities and Behavior Analysis in Practice, focusing on providing evidence-based interventions for this population. Nicole has a strong interest in determining the best possible strategies to teach new and meaningful skills for each individual she serves.


Alissa Gaughan

M.A., Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), Case Manager

Alissa received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Kalamazoo College and continued on to the University of Oregon, where she earned a master’s degree in early intervention. She went on to continue graduate coursework in behavior analysis at the University of Washington before sitting for her board certification exam as a behavior analyst. Alissa has been working with children and adolescents with autism and other disabilities since 2005. She has experience implementing positive behavior programming for children with disabilities and their families in the community, school and home environments. Alissa’s interests include early intervention assessment and programming, functional behavior analysis, play-based learning and verbal behavior instruction.

Allie Bragdon

Allie Bragdon

M.A., Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), Case Manager

Allie received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Creighton University and continued on to earn her master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis on applied behavior analysis from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In 2015, Allie became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Allie has been working with children with autism in home, school, and clinic based settings since 2011. Allie has a strong interest in implementing evidence-based programs in the area of verbal behavior, providing parent training and support, and functional behavior analysis. Allie also has an interest in generalizing social skills to a natural group environment. Allie is dedicated to working with families to develop the most functional individualized treatment goals for each of her clients.