Our story started way back when a little girl named Ziba would play with her dolls. Her play themes intrigued her parents, as she would always pretend (through symbolic play) that her dolls were hurt, and she would take care of them by bandaging their eyes because they were blind or making wheelchair out of cardboard boxes because they could not walk. At the young age of 7, Ziba had no idea what a therapist was, so when people would ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would say, “A nurse, so I can take care of people who can’t see or walk.” At some point, she stopped playing with dolls, and started the buddy program in her high school. You would often find Ziba volunteering in the special education department, having lunch with students with special needs, and she included them in social gatherings by simply “holding their hands.” From a young age, Ziba truly embraced all people with individual differences.
This little girl grew up, went to college, and got married, and has been graced with 4 incredible kids and a devoted husband. Despite her education, training, and passion for individuals and families impacted with special needs, Mark and Ziba were not prepared when their own son received a clinical diagnosis of autism at the age of 23 months. They share this story with her son’s permission. Their personal journeys and experiences as parents of a child with ASD greatly inspired them to help other families and children, and they started Holding Hands. Together, they integrated Mark’s business background and Ziba’s clinical experience founded Holding Hands as a family in 2003. For the Nassabs, serving others has been their calling, and not just a job.
Fast forward: their son, Isaiah, is now in his early twenties and is thriving socially, emotionally, and academically. Isaiah drives, attends college, and is employed at Holding Hands and at a local nonprofit children’s theater. In fact, Holding Hands is still a local family-owned and operated business. All 4 of the Nassab children volunteer, assist, or are employed at the clinic. Their eldest son, Samuel, has been around clinics and therapists for as long as he can remember. Samuel is currently an ABA therapist at Holding Hands, a certified CPI instructor, and is pursuing his graduate degree in BCBA. You will often find their 2 daughters volunteering at the Early Intervention and School Age social skills groups, making slime for the clinic and actively involved in community fundraising events. In fact, in 2018, they put a “Slime-N-Ade” stand in their community and raised over $3,000, which was donated to an autism charity. Most importantly, they advocated and brought awareness to a cause very dear and close to home and got their community involved. Even the family-owned therapy dogs—Daisy (a Goldendoodle) and Cooper (a Labradoodle)—provide animal-assisted therapy at their center and put smiles on everyone’s faces.
Ziba and Mark have extended this family-run center to all of their employees, which Ziba and Mark refer to as the “Holding Hands” family.
Today, they have over 400 family members who carry out their mission. The Nassabs have been operating Holding Hands since 2003 and currently have 4 locations in the greater Los Angeles area, Burbank, Calabasas and Whittier. So, as you can see, this is more than just an agency or a corporate-owned business; rather, our work comes from the heart.
Not only do the Nassabs operate Holding Hands, they are also active philanthropists in the autism and mental health community. You will often find them at local fundraising events and causes where they volunteer, participate, and donate to bring awareness, and help raise funds for causes dear to their hearts.