BASS LAKE — On May 5, 2021, Mark Choe and Shahnaz Sodager Choe forged a life partnership with their wedding at Bass Lake’s Pines Resort, which Choe manages. Now they have created an additional partnership, Gold Stars Behavior Therapy, with a mission to teach confidence-building skills to children dealing with autism and their support parents.
Shahnaz Choe heads the therapy team with ten years of experience in the field of autism. Shahnaz was born and raised in India, moving to Los Angeles when she was 11. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Teaching with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis. She currently oversees the Mariposa School District as their behavior specialist. Her experience working with children on the autism spectrum ranges from ages 3 to 23.
“I discovered how much I made a difference as I watched the leaps and bounds of progress they made each day. There were instances of nonverbal children gradually starting to use their words to communicate and others aversive to toileting becoming fully toilet trained! I love what I do and feel blessed to be in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy,” Shahnaz affirms.’
Gold Stars Behavior Therapy is the only practice of its type in the entire Eastern Madera County community, according to Choe, and they are now accepting new clients. “We believe in developing kids’ unique abilities by building on their innate skills. We want them to have functional access to their world. We help provide parents with tools and mindsets that focus on progress,” Shahnaz said.
“This is a very underserved region when it comes to teaching kids with autism and special needs. Gold Stars will also provide parent training services so that parents can better understand their kids and can help them progress in meaningful ways,” said Mark.
Gold Stars is an outpatient service, working with kids at schools or home. They practice Applied Behavior Therapy (ABA) which is a scientific approach to understanding human behavior and creating a path to teach children to interact, communicate, attend, cope, and play. Each functional behavior assessment plan is tailored to the child’s specific needs.
Mark has been an entrepreneur since he was 19. He moved to the Oakhurst area 7 years ago to manage his family’s business, The Pines Resort, at Bass Lake. He and Shahnaz met the modern way: her picture appeared in Mark’s LinkedIn feed. After a long-distance relationship of two years, Mark proposed and she said yes. They were married at the family resort in May of 2020.
“We are very excited about our future in Oakhurst and look forward to helping make a positive impact in the community with our new service for special needs families,” said Mark.
All photos courtesy of Gold Stars Behavior Therapy.