Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chapters

We wrapped up a chapter in the book of Rooster's autism, and for us this means we come home at the end of the school day like free citizens. Yes, friends, we have graduated from ABA. For almost two years, I hightailed it from work to pick up each grumpy, noncompliant child, fought my way through LA traffic, and pulled in my driveway to find a therapist waiting for us to start part two of our work days.

When we started, we thought if we got nothing out of ABA but potty training, it would be worth it. We got a lot more than that. Roo learned to tie his shoes. To take turns. To sequence ideas. To stay on topic. To play games. To be a friend.

I can't say ABA did it all, but Friday when I picked him up from school, a little girl with pigtails abandoned her place in the jump rope line to race over and give him a hug before he left. Today we carried on a long and meaningful conversation about why he cannot quit going to his math tutor. And this afternoon he played a great monkey game with me while we got assessed for the next chapter -- AKA social skills classes. Ah, yes. We won't be slowly galavanting home every day all of a sudden. But during the holiday season, we plan to live a little freer, enjoy our newfound ease.

I remember right before we started I told the members of my autism Meet Up group that we had just been approved for 15 hours a week of ABA. "Oh!" several moms remarked. "Well! We will miss you! See you in a couple years!" I am looking forward to seeing them again. They were right. We stopped going to meetups because ABA took all our nights, and we saved weekends for chores, family time, tutoring, and horseback riding. This week, we ate dinner in a restaurant! Like regular families! Friday night I even took the kids to the holiday parade. Ah, to be a bird released from its cage...

I did not love ABA, but I have to say I feel really happy we did it. We struggled significantly more than the family on Parenthood, to be sure, and I longed for the privacy to eat dinner in my pjs once in a while, but ABA gave us some worthwhile tools, strategies and structure. For Roo, the programs did not look like the DTT programs I expected from my limited knowledge of ABA. Mostly, his ABA focused on play therapy. And while he didn't conquer every challenge, he took it as far as he could in the realm of playing with his sister, his therapist, and me every day. Now we're ready to try it with four kids in a social skills class. But get this... social skills is once a week. And. (Are you ready?!) I. Can. Drop. Him. Off.

Peaches has waited almost her whole life for some undivided mommy attention, and as Roo's behavior improved, hers fell apart completely. If she qualified for play therapy too, believe me I'd sign her little self right up pronto, but since her only diagnosis is stubbornness, I'm going to try to work some one-on-one magic with her my own ABA-trained self. I think this could be a good new chapter.

7 comments:

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

YAY!!! So very happy for all of you with this chapter behind you and a new one ahead. I can sense your sense of freedom through your words in this post. You've all worked so, so hard to get to this point.

The one-on-one time will be a gift, believe me. Boo goes to a social skills group 1x per week and during those 1.5 hours, Betty and I visit the library together. She constantly says it is her favorite part of the week.

Enjoy, and congratulations again!

trydefyinggravity said...

that's fantastic! congratulations to you all. That is a tremendous amount of hard work - for your whole family. Way to go!!

pixiemama said...

:)
Congratulations!
Give everyone big squeezes from me. Aww, heck. Paint Peaches' toes for me? Sometime? While you're on holiday break? And tell Roo he is always dear to me, as are you, love.

Niksmom said...

Reading this makes me smile broadly! Such a different tone from your posts of a year or so ago, yes? I know things aren't ever textbook perfect, but it sure sounds like Roo has come such a long, long way. So glad the ABA has helped. Can't wait to hear about more of your 1:1 time with Peaches, too.

HUGE HUGS!

kim mccafferty said...

Major milestone, and congrats! The first time I dropped Justin off at speech and LEFT I almost did a happy dance in the driveway (all of Jersey is happy I didn't). Thrilled for you!

ghkcole said...

Wow. I just realized I offended myself. I can't remember the last time that happened.
I was perusing my blog reader, stumbled on my own writing that we ate at a restaurant "like regular people" and decided to write a comment to myself to watch my mouth.
First, there really is no such thing as regular people.
Second, if there were, they'd be in no way superior to irregular people, and as an irregular person, I say this with pride. I dislike how this post implies otherwise.
Finally, restaurants? Not friendly to lots of folks, and somewhat overrated.
I could have said it better.

Boy Wonder's Mom said...

YAY! I wait for our day to come when ABA and Speech Therapy in our home 6 days a week is a thing of the past. To able to leave my house a mess, to leave laundry in baskets for days, to eat dinner our during the week.

WOOO HOOOO! I am happy for you!