ABA – Our most successful autism treatment

One of my priorities when I made the switch to my new domain was to write more about autism and it’s affects on our family.  Mostly because I want to share what has worked for us, but also because I know how it feels to get a diagnosis and feel you are all alone.  I believe the internet is probably the best place to feel surrounded by support, sometimes even more than by those we are surrounded by in our lives offline.  That’s why now more than ever I’ve been testing my memory and replaying much of our lives over and over again in order to share our story of autism over the last thirteen years.  Recently, I touched a bit on the challenge of navigating treatments and therapies for autism where I mentioned ABA (applied behavior analysis)  and how it truly was a major game changer in our life as a family with autism.  It is an intensive drill-based therapy, but also filled with a lot of built in play time.  Really, when it’s done well with amazing therapists, which we had, the child is hardly aware that they are working and learning. Cody was very echolalic, which is very common in children with autism. Basically this means they will most often repeat most a of what you say, including questions.  Rather than answer the question because this is a skill they need to be taught.  Imagine that?  We answer several questions over the course of any day, but kids with autism often don’t realize they are even being asked a question so they need to be taught very methodically that they are being asked for information.  This is something that could take months for a child to learn through repetition, determination, and positive reinforcement.  Positive reinforcement was one of the most important factors for me when I learned about ABA and the teaching methods that would be used when working with Cody.  There was never a negative tone used and the word no was not in the vocabulary of his therapists during their sessions.  On any given day Cody received four to six, or even eight, hours of ABA therapy, so a positive environment was an absolute must.

To give you an example of the accomplishments we had the joy of experiencing I’ll share one of my most proud achievements for Cody. When he was little if you asked him, what’s your name? he would always repeat your question, not realizing you were asking him for information.  Through ABA he learned this skill.  He learned to tell anyone and everyone who asked that his name was Cody. What’s most important to note is that he was able to carry this skill outside of the four walls of his therapy space and utilize this skill whether he was at home or at a store or at the playground.  This is when you know all the hard work paid off. All the hours upon hours of focus and creativity had brought you to this one seemingly little accomplishment.  My name is Cody.

There is so much more I could share regarding ABA, from teaching prepositions (one of the most super challenging skills for many with autism) to pretend play and shapes and colors, but mostly I wanted to offer a glimpse into a therapy that gave Cody a strong framework that would assist him in much of his future learning.  I feel so lucky and grateful every single day that we were given this opportunity and for the tireless work that all of Cody’s therapists contributed to his success.

For anyone reading this I’d love to offer to answer any teeny tiny question to more detailed ones you might have about autism or specifically about ABA.  Please don’t hesitate to send me an email.  I feel like we have to support each other because this is one of the toughest diagnoses to receive for out children and the best source of knowledge comes from others who have or are living through it with us.

Comments

  1. Cheryle Barnes says:

    Four words that meant so much!:)

  2. since DS1 was recently diagnosed w/PDD-NOS we’ve been doing so much research and have recently started to look into ABA. Thank you for sharing…I’m sure I’ll have questions for you =)

    • Oh you are so welcome! Researching online can certainly get daunting. The best resources are truly other families and what has worked for them and I’m happy to answer questions anytime. I mean that. Any time.

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