The little engine that could

I know. I know!! We’ve been missing in action again. Sorry folks! The last 2 months have been about nothing but transitions. Caleb turned 3 at the end of June which meant the end of our early steps services, his lovely therapists who had been coming into our home for the last few months would no longer be coming to see US. The good news is Caleb would be eligible to start the pre-k program at our local elementary school due to his diagnosis and would continue to get services through the school district. In the meantime though we had to fill the gap for summer (June-August) and with that I decided to enroll Caleb in the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services. It would cost me but I felt like him not having therapy for months, when it had proven to be so beneficial, would cost us more in the long run and I don’t mean financially. So off to ABA we went!

Surprisingly I found a place that could take him right away. I say surprise because we had been told to be prepared to get on many wait lists some of which could be up to a year-long. In fact, the first few calls I made that’s exactly what we were told. Of course Caleb had yet another evaluation and once that was complete it was determined that he could use between 12-20 hours of service a week, my budget opted for the 12 hours so he goes 3x a week for 4 hours a day. When we left the evaluation he cried so I knew he would enjoy it there and that made me feel great. All the therapists were overjoyed at how sweet and cute he was so naturally he ate up all of the attention.

In addition to new people and new therapy and a new schedule, we also moved to a new place as well. I turned every aspect of this kid’s life upside down! Caleb has more space to enjoy but it was a challenge to say the least getting us packed up, moved and unpacked. Oh yea and two weeks later there was a 3rd birthday to plan! Nevertheless, my little boy handled it all like a trooper. I continue to be amazed and in awe of Caleb and his resilience. He may have trouble transitioning between tasks but I tell you the things I often feel would bring him great anxiety he just takes them in stride.

Within Caleb’s first two weeks he was mastering the initial levels of his ABA program his case worker recommended. Examples of things they work with him on are eye contact, peer interaction, responding to his name as well as simple instructions, pre-school prep, fine motor skills. Almost immediately we began to reap the benefits at home. Caleb’s vocabulary has increased, his aggression has decreased. He is responding appropriately to instructions and questions. It’s been wonderful (a word he is now using to express when he is pleased)…LOL. He is also doing more imagination play and has become less focused on having the ipad or tablet at his finger tips at all times. The best part is he loves his “school” and his therapists. On the days he goes he is too excited to even eat breakfast and he often asks for “school” on the weekends. We could not be happier.

The joy of dropping him off and not worry about getting a call about his behavior is such a relief. Having professionals who understand how to handle him and still love on him has been a huge blessing.

Recently I read a comment in a Autism blog about how some people and families with autism don’t like the thought of ABA because they are trying to “normalize” our children and “take away the autism”. I couldn’t disagree more. Do they acknowledge and work on decreasing some of the stimming behaviors? Yes but only to so that they don’t interfere with the child’s ability to focus on tasks.

And before I go on my rant let me say I can only speak for our ABA facility and the providers we’ve worked with. I do not pretend to be an expert on ABA and the intentions of all providers.

Anyway, at our facility they definitely try to interrupt Caleb’s pattern behaviors that prevent him from focusing to his full potential. Our main goal with Caleb is pre-school prep and increased independence and it’s been really helpful thus far.

Stay with us as we continue down yet another path on this autism journey. I promise not to keep you all waiting so long again.

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