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ABA and I Don’t Get Along

October 25, 2011

I did our first hour of ABA therapy.   I hate it. Or it hates me. Or something.  I found this website: http://www.rethinkautism.com  It actually has movies to train you and lesson plans to use to do the therapy yourself.  Within each lesson it has a video to show you exactly how to do it.  There are sheets to print out to keep track of progress and an online monitoring system.  It has trouble shooting and the next step and how this relates to the real world and it is really the best resource I have found to far. You do have to pay for it but I signed up for a one week trial and jumped in to see if we could/would really use it.  This is how it went.

Tom and I sat down and watched all the training videos. I think there are 8.  Videos on rewards and conducting the lessons and what to do with trouble behavior.  Then we went to see what lessons we felt Rett needed.  We added them to our current lessons. Then I printed them all out and 3 hole punched them so they would be accessible when I did the lesson.

The next morning, I got up and wrote out the lesson order on the score sheet along with activities in between that I felt correlated with the lessons and that were fun.  So this is what my lesson session looked liked (in the written out planned order)

1. Identify objects

For this activity, I was supposed to put a block in front of Rett and say ‘hand me the block’ and then once he hands it to me he gets a reward

After activity: playing with blocks

2. Mimicking gross motor actions

For this activity you say ‘Do this’ then clap your hands. Once he claps, he gets a reward.  You also do things like touch your nose, touch your head.

After activity: heads,shoulder, knees and toes song

3. Matching Objects

For this activity I am supposed to take two red blocks. One I sit on the table, the other I put in front of Rett. I tell him ‘match it’ and he puts his block by the other block and then gets a reward.

After activity:  something art

4. Completing a play activity from beginning to end.

In this activity I am supposed to get a puzzle out and take out 1 piece, once Rett puts the 1 piece in I congratulate him for finishing the puzzle. Then we go to two pieces, then three until he can do the entire puzzle by himself.

After activity: ipad play since we are now finished.

I love looking at ‘plans’  Especially after the fact and you know how RIDICULOUS this lesson is.  First off, expecting a 3 year old to sit and maintain for an hour in his highchair so he’s trapped is kind of crazy. But whatever. My goal was to do the lessons correctly once no matter how much fuss he threw just to finally get through a session and look at it realistically.

For the lessons, you teach it then you perform 10 trials where the child is tested to see if they can indeed do the action you were teaching.  So I made myself. Sort of.

Activity 1: Identifying objects using the block

I knew this was going to be a horrible activity for him and so I started with it to get it out of the way. Maybe the wrong way of thinking.  This is how it went.  I put the block in front of him. He has nothing else on the table. Just a red block. I say ‘Rett, give me the block’ and he screams. He cries. He throws himself half out of his chair.  I take his hand, grab the block and give it to myself. He screams louder.  Tears and drool and all sorts of wet everywhere. Not pretty.  I am quite certain he’s got the concept so I start my 10 trials.  He throw the block off the table. He pushes it at me. He does everything BUT hand me the block.  Everytime I put my hand on his and make him give me the block, I’m supposed to reward him anyway so he gets the concept. I used stickers. It didn’t work. I got through the 10 trials and he did… 0 correctly.

The thing is, my kid knows what ‘block’ is. He knows what ‘give’ is.   So not really getting the entire point of this lesson myself.   So.. whatever. We move on to block play.

Activity 2: Mimicking Gross Motor Movements (do this:)

I had already done this activity the night before so I knew that A. he semi hated it but that he would also do it sometimes.  The night before I gave him candy every time he clapped after I told him to.  But the fruit snacks take SO long to eat its annoying so today just dealing with stickers.  So I told him to clap. He clapped.  He expected his candy. I gave him his sticker. He threw a fit. I gave in and got candy. The night before I had asked him to put his hands on his head. So he did that.  The fact that I was attempting to get him to touch his nose instead of touching his head severely pissed him off.   This was followed with 10 trials of me forcing him to do what I said and giving him candy. More wet all over his face and he was actually throwing the candy back at me.  Meanwhile screaming ‘ I WANT DOWN’ ‘I WANT TO PLAY’ ‘ALL DONE’

My kid knows what do whatever is. He knows what clap and touch your nose and all that is. BUT HE WON’T DO THIS ACTIVITY.

I then got out the stamps because honestly I was so over the ‘therapy’ session.  So we are doing stamps.  I let him free stamp. Then I made him ask me for which one he wanted to practice his ‘I want’.  He is getting pretty good at switching between words now.  He actually requested all the stamps starting on one end and working his way down.  This led us to activity 3.

Activity 3: Matching objects

This is the other block activity.  Ok by now I am over the blocks and trying to make him do stuff and its just a freaking waste of time because so far I have worked on him doing things he can already do but won’t do and we’re both miserable and he has learned.. nothing. Because in all honesty, I can’ t see what I’m supposed to be teaching him because he already knows how to do all that.   So for this activity, I say screw the blocks. This is what we did:

I took all the caps off of the stamps. I lined all the uncapped stamps up and mixed up the caps and told him to put the caps back on.  And he did.  And I still wasn’t teaching him anything because he already knew how to do this.  But at least he had some correctly done trials.   And isn’t this the whole point? Isn’t the whole point so my kid can do these skills in the real world. Like all those times you have to put the caps back on your Halloween stamps? I mean, what would we do without that skill?  And I never taught him to do this.  Ever.  He just knew.  Although I will say the third time I made him put them together after doing it twice perfectly he tried to put the circle on the square stamp but I think that was more exploration.  Yah I think we can match things up just fine.

Activity 4: Complete a play activity beginning to end

By this point I’ll admit I was beginning to lose sight of exactly what I was doing here.   I was SUPPOSED to take one piece out of the puzzle and let him do just one piece to feel the nice feeling of being ‘done ‘ with something.  yah whatever. I took all the pieces out, told him to do the puzzle and walked off to clean up the kitchen. He did the entire puzzle.   I then took the pieces out and made him do this again.  Then I took the pieces away and made him say ‘I want’ for all the pieces.  And I counted us good.

Then he got to play his ipad.  He loves the peek a boo and animal game. I did this for an hour.  I hated it. He hated it.  And I have no real idea what we accomplished.

So this is what I’ve decided from this lesson, either ABA therapy has some really deep rooted philosophy with me wasting my child’s time trying to learn this tiny part of a skill he already knows magically without being taught or its stupid.   SO my new plan is to formulate some skills that he is either delayed with or that he should be working on and instead of doing stupid activities, doing our fun activities we’ve been doing.  And keeping track.  And being mindful of what we need to work on to make sure he doesn’t ‘lose’ any of his abilities we’re teaching.  But this hour was an hour wasted in tears, frustrating, no fun and NO skills learned.   Maybe I’m doing something wrong. I have no idea.

Lisa (early intervention) is coming tomorrow.  My goal is to get her to help me figure out what he needs to work on and some activities that go along with that.

Rett went to mother’s day out today. His teacher told me he had a terrific, awesome day and she had no problems with him! Which makes me wonder, does she usually have problems with him.  What are these problems.  Why has no one ever said there are problems. What could I be helping him with if someone would just TELL me what to help him with.   Its funny how I could ruin a teacher’s attempt to show some pleasure with how my child acted that day.  Because I’m so worried about he acts on all the other days that I couldn’t be really happy.

My friend Jen closed on her house today. Its beautiful.  Very southern and green and it looks like she should live there. It has a great porch and land and I can’t wait to see what adventures her family has in this new chapter of their lives as home owners.  My friend Heidi announced that Riley’s bone marrow results came back awesome so the new treatment is working! Riley only has to go get her treatments every 6 weeks now which is wonderful because they really tear her stomach up and they also have to just basically live at the hospital for a day and then Heidi has to stay up with her all night cleaning up her getting sick or her stomach hurts so much she just cries.  And I thank God for the people He has put in my life. Because I can be just happy for them.  I am so glad that great things happened for them today. They both deserve it so much.  And that makes me feel a little more like a normal person that I used to be before autism entered our lives.

I’m selling all of Evie’s clothes.  I am done having babies.  And as I sent the first two packages out today I wondered how I could express to these women who are putting them on their little girls that I sent them my plans for the future. That I sent them our daughter’s memories.  That closing up those envelopes broke my heart.  And yes I know, I already had a girl. And I have another baby on the way. And isn’t 3 enough I mean seriously. But this is my life. And I’d like to be able to make my own decisions without the main reason being we don’t want another kid with autism.   So there won’t be any more pink newborn hats or receiving blankets at my house and her first Christmas and Easter dresses are listed for strangers to buy.   And today I am sad.

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