By 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