Our Autism Journey

Barclay first day of preschoolBy 2 1/2 years old my son, Barclay had been diagnosed with a speech disorder called Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). By age 3 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) became his third diagnosis. It was the one that made everything make sense.  It tied the loose ends together.  I remember the day we took Barclay to his developmental pediatrician for the Autism evaluation.  We were crossing our fingers he would get the diagnosis.  That may sound the opposite of what parents would want to hear, but in our case, the diagnosis would be a blessing!

Prior to the ASD diagnosis, I had a phone call with the director of Barclay’s preschool.  She told me, as gently as she could, they could no longer fill his needs.  It was tough to hear, but I totally understood.  Because of his severe language delay, he couldn’t communicate with his teachers.  They couldn’t understand him and he couldn’t understand them.  It was frustrating on both ends. In addition, because of his extreme impulsivity due to his ADHD, having him in a typical preschool setting was no longer working.  He would run away from his teacher. He had difficulty focusing in structured activities.  He played very aggressively with his peers, and this was just some of the challenges.

I knew Barclay needed to be around other children to help develop his lagging social and communication skills.  I also knew, because of those lagging skills, that I wouldn’t find what he needed in a typical preschool setting.  I began searching for alternative programs. I found a local school that used Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) for children who had ASD and related disorders.  It was a 30 hour per week intensive program that offered a one to one student to therapist ratio.  It was perfect and because of Barclay’s recent ASD diagnosis, he met the criteria for the program.

ABA therapy is a scientifically-based approach to help children replace undesired behaviors with desired.  Therapists look for ways to use what motivates children to encourage positive results. I cannot say enough amazing things about ABA therapy. The results have been miraculous!

The ASD diagnosis opened the world up to our son and got him the support he so desperately needed. His amazing team of therapists is helping Barclay learn social skills like how to share with his peers and to be safe walking in a parking lot.  They are working on his communication skills and he’s finally learning to use three-word sentences when asking for something and to be part of a conversation.  These things have made an enormous positive impact on our entire family and we are so grateful!  We can’t wait to see where our Autism Journey goes from here because so far the sky is the limit!

If you have a child with ASD in your family are they in ABA therapy?  If not, have you ever considered it as an option?  What other types of therapy, programs or strategies have been successful for your child? Please leave comments and suggestions!

If they can’t learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn. – Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas

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Author: bigabilities

Amy Nielsen lives in Orlando, Florida. She is the proud mother of four children ranging in age from 3-30! She and her husband, Brent enjoy sports and traveling. Amy is a former teacher with 20 years experience, a freelance writer, and special needs advocate. Her mission is to help educate and empower families of children with disabilities to focus on their child's interests and strengths.

3 thoughts on “Our Autism Journey”

  1. Hey there! So happy you joined CFAC and now so happy I get to read your blog!! My son was in ABA for quite some time and had made a lot of progress. Recently I have made the decision to switch from 20 hours of in clinic ABA to just 2 hours of parent training during the week. I’m currently a bit of a nervous wreck but so far it has been decent. I am learning more about things to do to make life easier for him as well as taking him out to experience more – like the Dreamplex in Clermont! I don’t know how long this therapy stall will last but I am enjoying it (for the most part 😁😬) thus far.

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    1. It’s scary to make the move from in-center to in-home ABA. My little guy is still young so we will stay at least another year but I know the time will come that he will be ready. That’s amazing you are getting out into the community! I know what a big accomplishment that is, both for our child and for us!

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