Our Intro Into ABA Therapy

There are so many mixed reviews about ABA Therapy, that I was actually a little scared to give it a try. I know for certain that both of Avery’s Behavioral Health Specialist and his Neurologist recommended that Avery start ABA but I was uncertain if it would be a good fit for him or not.

For those who may not know, I’m sure you are probably wondering, what is ABA Therapy? I am here to answer that question for you.

What Is ABA Therapy?

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is widely recognized as the most effective, evidence-based ttherapy for autism and is endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General and American Academy of Pediatrics. ABA therapy fosters basic skills such as looking, listening, requesting and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective.  ABA also helps reduce behaviors that make it difficult for children to learn.

What Are The Mixed Reviews?

Although ABA Therapy has been around since the 1970’s, it gained a bad reputation by Palvov and Skinner who took the name ABA Therapy and applied their own tactics of operant conditioning, or the manipulation of behavior by punishment and/or reward. By far, this is not ABA but phycological research, and could never be considered as therapeutic.

A major misconception with ABA is that it is supposed to fix or cure autism. This is obviously not true. ABA is “therapy.”Just like teaching a blind child to read braille doesn’t cure blindness, ABA doesn’t cure autism. An autistic person who participates in a well-run, professionally supervised and documented ABA program will, at the conclusion of the program, still be autistic.

Why Try ABA?

We are giving ABA a try because I am a firm believer in doing one’s own research and trying things for yourself. How something worked for one individual, does not guarantee the next individual the same results. Yes, ABA therapy can come with a lot of hours of therapy. 6 days a week for 3 hours a day or even 40 hours a week may seem long to some, but its conducted through play in a comfortable environment, home.

The Process…

So as I mentioned above, it was recommended by a few of Avery’s doctors back in Ohio and here in Georgia that he receive this therapy. Of course, I dragged my feet about it.

Well, recently when we decided to TRY and take Avery to the movies, (we tried) lol! I spent most of the time in the lobby as Avery would not sit still and wanted to talk. While in the lobby, I seen a lady sitting with a young boy. After walking the hall a few times and passing her, I asked her if he needed a break as well. She said yes and said he was autistic (I figured). I explained to her that my son is autistic and needed a break as well. She then shared with me that she was his ABA therapist and that they took a field trip to the movies. I thought it was pretty cool. As we talked, I was able to learn a lot of how ABA therapy works and how it would be helpful for our family. We exchanged numbers and the rest is history! 🙂

I do not take it as a coincidence, that I ran into her at the movies. It has been almost two years since we tried to take Avery to the movies because the first time did not go well at all. So, to go to the movies and run into her in the lobby, I decided to no longer drag my feet.

After filling out the parent intake form, I met with a supervisor for our intake meeting. The intake meeting went exactly how it sounds. The supervisor came to our home and basically interviewed us asking questions about Avery, us and our thoughts.

The following week the supervisor came back out to our home and evaluated Avery to see exactly what services were needed. The evaluation was conducted through play. She asked what were our main concerns. To name a few, toilet training, Avery dressing himself, eating with utensils and not chewing on items that are not food. Such as cords, clothes and his iPad.

The following week we met with the supervisor again and we went over Avery’s specific outlined plan. This reminded me a lot of the IEP (Individualized Education Program) process.  After agreeing to the plan put in place for Avery, we were able to move forward and the following week we were able to meet his therapist and confirm the hours he would receive therapy each week.

When his therapist came over to meet us, Avery did not readily give her a hug. I could tell he was excited as usual to have company but he was a little standoffish. He was looking like, what’s going on here. He ended up warming up to her and playing and laughing with for about 2.5 hours.

His therapist is very energetic, which is most definitely needed to keep up with Avery! She’s not afraid to get on the floor crawl around bark like a dog or sing songs with him!  One of the things I did to prepare Avery for his first day of ABA training was take pictures and videos of him and his therapist so I could share them to him. This way he could see the fun he had with her and get excited about her coming over to play with him again.

 

I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Have you experienced ABA Therapy? Do you know of someone who has? What was your experience? Would you recommend it?

 

 

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