Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Before And After

A few months into Applied Behavioral Analysis, it's time to reflect on what we've learned from having in-home therapists 10 hours a week, besides humility, and how to hide the dirty laundry.

Before ABA, the rooster still needed diapers, though he could only fit his 50 pound body into Goodnights, and could be coerced into using a toilet once or twice a day, maybe.

Now, he looks cute in his cammo underpants, and has accidents three or four times a week, maybe, usually as he's running in vain to make it to the potty on time.

Before ABA, any time you said "no" to the roo, he would lose his mind. And this means any time, including when he asked, "Can I sit on your lap while you drive the car? Can I drive it myself? I NEED TO DRIVE!"

Now, you can say no to roo, as long as you don't bark it at him in an angry voice (who, me?), and after you gently deliver the refusal, he will often say, "Awwwww. Okay, mom," in a "shhheeeesssh, what am I gonna do with you?" tone, and then comply, move on to the next thing, play. And this means sometimes he accepts no for an answer even when his question is, "Can I have a turn now?" (Thanks, ABA, for his ability to ask that question.)

Before ABA, our rooster considered everything in his home his personal jungle gym, and he made no exception for the bodies of visitors.

Now, he still stands on my couch, but he takes his shoes off first, and for everyone NOT blood related, he has started observing "personal space rules."

Before ABA, the word Rooster used with greatest frequency was "AAAAAaaah."

Now, the words he uses most are, "May I..." Kid has a LONG daily wish list, but I'm just thrilled he's ASKING (to wear my jewelry, eat my dinner as well as his own, watch Star Wars, buy a new toy, make out a fort out of my pillows, knock down the tower I just built, use my cell phone... it's a good thing he has adjusted better to the word "no")! I would say ABA has done more for his speech and language development than three speech therapists combined.

Before ABA, attending a party with Roo meant having a battle plan, including an intricate exit strategy, and doing lots of apologizing. Lots.

Last weekend, J took the Roo to a birthday party while I took Peaches out for lunch. J had the easier time, and he had fun. "I pretty much just let him play, and I mostly talked to other parents," he told me, while I gaped, feeling kind of jealous and awestruck. This was a major first, and I know the deities have horrible plans for us next weekend when attend my niece's first birthday for telling you this, but, Wow. When he told me this, I knew it was time to give mad props to ABA.

Maybe the biggest endorsement I can give ABA is this: before ABA, I had no toolkit, and I ran out of patience all the time. Now, I have a toolkit, and I only run out of patience 60 percent of the time! And technically I'm not really eligible for services, so don't let on to the (bankrupt) state of California...

In no way do I have any expertise about therapies, beyond being a mom and a teacher, nor do I know what is right for anyone else's child who has autism. From what I read, there are all kinds of effective ways to help kids, and I certainly understand why ABA isn't right for everyone. I just wanted to take a moment and appreciate all the resources out there who helped point our family toward ABA, because we see the benefits. We still have a long way to go, but already I'm grateful to D, our ABA director, and JT, our ABA provider, beyond my ability to adequately express it.


Elsita :) said...

So great to hear about Rooster's progress! I can also say that Diego has benefited a lot from ABA. I just wish that they didn't change therapists all the time.So far he has had more than 10. I agree with the part about language.

We just went through a whole report about Diego's progress from when he started ABA to now and it is like we're talking about 2 different people. The weakest area right now is social skills. But that's because he didn't have many opportunities to interact with other kids at the old school. I am looking forward to the next placement :)

Anonymous said...

best way to express it? send them the link to this post!

redheadmomma said...

loved your post! Love the documentation as always. Before Noah started ABA with speech, he wasn't talking, didn't know what motivation was, etc. Everything he knows now - and he knows to do so much - has hinged on what he learned in years of ABA. I'm grateful too. What amazing progress the rooster has had!!!! :)

pixiemama said...

I should have read your post before I posted my own. Even though it's still HARD, the progress is sweet, just like your little roo.

Anonymous said...

That's terrific that ABA worked so well with Rooster. The progress sounds remarkable.