About Us » Our Story

Our Story


With a global perspective, we imagine each individual who comes our way in need of interventions, whether academically, behaviorally, emotionally, or other, being able to successfully reintegrate mainstream society and perform to their highest potential.

To provide students with the knowledge and practical skills essential for their successful integration into the community.


In 1986 while volunteering for the Special Olympics, Co-Founder, Al El Tagi, discovered his passion for supporting individuals with disabilities. For co-founder, Susan (Sue) Gross (retired), it began during her early college years.

After years of individually developing their passions, a mutual work experience at Northern Virginia Training Center (NVTC) placed them in each other’s paths. Together, they learned techniques to effectively manage the most severe self-injurious and aggressive behaviors and deepened their commitment to serving this particular population.

It was Al and Sue’s time together at NVTC that set into motion a vision for providing an “Alternative Path” for individuals with disabilities.

 In 2002, starting in the basement of a Christian academy in Alexandria with two students, they co-founded what has now become Alternative Paths Training School.  As of 2020, APTS has expanded to include three school campuses throughout Virginia, a central administration building in Dumfries, VA, and several locations across the country and overseas.

Over the years, APTS has been asked many times why we do such important and difficult work. The answer has always been crystal clear; because it needs to be done.

By implementing our unique behavior modification techniques, we have seen the transformations that have occurred when students learn new and adaptive strategies for accessing opportunities through alternative behavioral and learning patterns while here at APTS.  

APTS is not just a school, but an organization that focuses on serving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and other developmental disabilities. Tearing down the walls that separate individuals with disabilities from a better quality of life has become one of our biggest goals.

Our Students, clients in the community, and their families continue to teach us about perseverance, bravery, humor in the face of adversity, and above all, the joy found in each success.  There is no story more compelling than our continued passion in assisting each person along that alternative path.

Since the inception of APTS, we have always valued the undying passion displayed in the individuals called to serve this community. Our leaders, Al and Sue (retired) have established a legacy that continues to grow and evolve.

Although now retired,  Sue was instrumental in expanding and sharpening our strategies and tactics. She helped developed our leadership and ability to learn and improve in Applied Behavior Analysis. We are indebted to Sue for participating in, and developing our ability to achieve a true mission. She has been a true champion since starting APTS and leaves a legacy to be proud of; one which paves the way for others to advance the future growth of the organization.



We act at all times in an honest and ethical manner with the understanding that our actions, as individuals, and as an organization impact the quality of life of those we serve in our community.


We identify obstacles to success and pioneer solutions.  We hold ourselves accountable for meeting our commitments and achieving our goals.  We pursue excellence as individuals and as an organization in everything we do.

We value the contributions of every individual and recognize the importance of diversity and change.


We remain unwavering in our perseverance and enthusiasm for our mission.

We believe every person has a unique ability, learning style and purpose.