Our Approach

Our Approach

For more than two decades, TOTAL Programs has helped hundreds of individuals with Autism and other developmental disabilities live richer and more satisfying lives, while offering their families and teachers the assistance they need to interact successfully at home, at school or in the community.

“The fundamental motivation behind the work we do is to have people with disabilities accepted into the world and the only way that will happen is when people are not afraid of them,” explains Dr. Sean Surfas, Ph.D, the educational psychologist who founded TOTAL Programs of Sierra Madre, CA.

TOTAL provides customized programs for individuals of all ages. TOTAL staff specializes in working with children and young and older adults with Autism or disabilities who are often turned away from other programs.  Rather than focusing primarily on changing disruptive behaviors, the goal is to create an environment that encourages clients to behave in a positive and socially acceptable manner.

“Our goal is figuring out why that person had five minutes of doing well and not focus entirely on why the  individual is struggling,” says Dr. Surfas. “If they had five minutes, then how can we can turn that into a life time skill?” 

Families play a key role in everything TOTAL does.  Working in collaboration with the individual clients, families, care providers and community members, TOTAL’s specially trained staff develop customized behavior support agreements.  These agreements include a collaborative behavior assessment, a detailed explanation of the supports and services that will be provided and the expected goals or outcomes.

TOTAL’s services include early intervention, community integration, positive behavioral supports, adaptive skills development, social and leisure skill development. Our organization also provides parent training and behavior respite assistance, which allows the parents to take a break and leave their family member with trained staff who understand their needs.

TOTAL’S programs are based on the following methods: Applied Behavior Analysis, functional communication training, precision teaching, and visual support methods of organization.

TOTAL works closely with numerous Regional Centers, School Districts, and provides intensive 1:1 Home/School interventions.   We are currently a vendor for San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center, Inland Regional Center, North Los Angeles Regional Center, East Los Angeles Regional Center and the Lanterman Regional Center.   TOTAL services are covered by a number of insurance programs.

At TOTAL, “Yesterday’s Future (the one you’ve dreamed about) is Today!”