After 14 years in the mental health field, Stacey Trapani-Barber ’00 (Psychology) recently started her own consultation business and created a new mobile app for behavior health professionals.
Trapani-Barber has worked in the non-profit sector for individuals with Autism and related disabilities since 2004, including 10 years with the Anderson Center for Autism in Hyde Park, N.Y. A few months ago, feeling stifled by the limitations of working within an agency, Trapani-Barber started her own company, Traber LLC, which provides a multitude of services for individuals and families impacted by Autism and related disabilities.
“My passion, and my biggest focus, is teaching individuals with disabilities a functional way to communicate,” says Trapani-Barber. “One of the major defining features of the diagnosis of Autism is having a deficit in that area. But it really impacts all other areas, because if you can’t communicate, you’re not going to be able to socialize or learn daily living skills, or any skills, effectively.”
A major part of Trapani-Barber’s new business venture includes the development of a new mobile application called ABA Tutor (ABA stands for applied behavior analysis), which was released in October.
ABA Tutor is a unique discrete trial teaching (DTT) app which uses voice recognition software to increase speech production. It is “designed to implement DDT with 100 percent accuracy during each trial,” which is “difficult to achieve via therapist and child during face-to-face instruction,” according to the app’s website.
Trapani-Barber says the app is one of only two DTT apps available for individuals with Autism, and ABA Tutor is the only one designed by a licensed and certified behavior analyst.
The app happened “by accident,” Trapani-Barber says, after she became heavily involved with the Hudson Valley Young Professionals, an offshoot of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. After winning the organization’s 40 Under 40 award in 2012, she was named to the selection committee, and recommended Ahmet Shah, the brother of one of her Anderson Center colleagues, for an award. Shah was only 18 at the time, Trapani-Barber says, but he’d already launched his own internet technology company and had an app on the market.
In February of this year, the two got to talking, at which time Trapani-Barber said to Shah, “If I wanted an app … could you build it?” Not only did Shah say he could, but he showed great enthusiasm for the project.
“He kept being very persistent with it,” says Trapani-Barber. “I ended up doing more research, in terms of what goes into the making of an app, the cost of it, and (Shah) was affordable in terms of what I had at that time.”
Trapani-Barber says her husband even offered to fund the project, but “I wanted this to be mine, from start to finish,” so she took out a loan and signed the contract with Shah in June 2014.
Trapani-Barber graduated from New Paltz in three years with her bachelor’s in psychology, topping off her college experience with a “glorious study abroad” at Middlesex University in England in summer 2000. While attending New Paltz, she was involved with the OASIS/HAVEN crisis center on campus.
Trapani-Barber went on to earn two master’s degrees from Marist College, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in psychology from California Southern University online. She earned her board certification in behavior analysis and also obtained her mental health counseling license.
Trapani-Barber lives in Saugerties, N.Y., with her husband, Stephen Barber, 2-year-old daughter Caralyn, and a son on the way.