We are sweating through 100+ degree days and soaking up mornings free of getting ready for school in a mad and crazy rush. We still have therapy every morning, but now we don't have to be anywhere until 9 or 9:30. I'm a big fan of the world starting at 9:30. People need appropriate time to caffeinate and to linger in pajamas.
I'm going to share some things I've shared on Facebook, because I know a lot of you smart fellers don't have Facebook, and you may want to see what's going on. Besides, it's time we caught up.
First- here's a tour of our therapy room. Hopefully even if you don't have Facebook, you can view it. I remember first starting ABA. "Just buy some highly preferred toys and some educational toys. If there was a table and chair to sit in, that would be great." I was told. I had no idea how to set up a therapy room. I had no idea what to buy. This video answers some of those questions.
Here's a video of Parker in Speech Therapy. Speech is one of the highlights of our week. Both boys have come so so so far thanks to rigorous and consistent Speech Therapy, including Summers. Parker goes once a week for 50 minutes and Grey goes twice that amount. One session Grey works on language, and one session on articulation for his apraxia. We would go four times a week if we could afford it. Grey has apraxia- which is a neurological motor planning disorder. His brain can't always tell his mouth, lips, tongue, and jaw and corresponding muscles which way to move to make the right sound. We have to rewire those faulty and often inconsistent error patterns. In any Speech Therapy setting I must make sure he has goals to work on sound errors, not just language.
Only a Speech Therapist can diagnose Apraxia.
And a special moment I shared from the other evening.
My son just went into the kitchen and got me a fork. All on his own. Oh if you could see the replay of his life and see all the work that has been laid down for YEARS to make this happen.
Unless you've been there, you can never fully really understand or even describe the magic of ABA- Applied Behavior Analysis.
"What is ABA?" You google in fear, late at night when they tell you your child has autism and they recommend this intervention. It sounds vague and scary.
ABA is based on the science of learning and behavior. This science includes general laws about how behavior works for all of us- and how learning takes place. ABA therapy applies these laws in a way that helps to increase useful or desired behaviors. ABA also applies these laws to help reduce behaviors that may interfere with learning or behaviors that may be harmful.
But ABA has also given us a life.
My husband and I can go places with our two boys with autism, and we can do things that before felt impossible. We aren't perfectly well behaved all the time (not even close!), but we can do it.
Now Greyson is 8 years old. At 2, he was taught categories. Real life items and then pictures that he had to sort. Things like vehicles, animals, and clothing. He learned "fork" from the real item, and also from flash cards. Painstakingly, day after day for weeks. First receptively (the understanding of language- "hand me fork") and then from a field of three. Then expressively (spoken word- "what is it?" "Fork".)
Then he had to learn rooms in our house. Over and over and over again. "Go to kitchen." "Where is Family Room?" "Let's see playroom." Then he had to learn specific items in the rooms. "Where is the oven?" "Show me the fridge." "Where are spoons?"
Over and over and over. Repetition. Taking data every single time to look for what's working and if need be, where WE need to alter the environment to make it click for him.
And then following directions, and then two step directions. (Ex- go to your room, get shoes.) It's SO HARD for him to keep more than one step in his mind at a time. And then three. All of it heavy in language- a category that autism + apraxia makes so freaking hard.
And tonight I needed a fork and I didn't really want to get up for the 800th time. So with hope in my heart, I turned to him and said- "Go get mom fork." (We don't waste "please" or "thanks" with him. We are only working on functional at this stage of life.)
And in slow motion, he goes to the kitchen and pauses. I hold my breath. I watch him intently as he opens the utensil drawer. I can see his wheels turning. He walks back into the family room and lays this down in front of me like it's no big deal.
But to me, it is everything.
Lastly, our Parker- aka "Doodle" graduated from preschool. Last week. I'm so sad to be leaving our magical preschool that I can't write about it. I don't know how I'll survive two in public school.
Thank you so much for reading.