When we first got Gus’s Autism diagnosis, we started looking at ABA therapy for him. I wasn’t in a huge rush as he was receiving speech therapy and occupational therapy through early intervention, and I wasn’t quite ready to put him in such an intensive therapy program, as he was still very young. However, once he was around three, we decided it would be the best thing for him.
For those unfamiliar, ABA is Applied Behavior Analysis. It’s generally a fairly intensive therapy program in which behaviors and skills are taught by breaking down the goal into small steps, using lots of repetition, and rewarding goal behavior. Intensive programs are usually 25-40 hours a week for approximately 1-3 years. This is just “general,” every person is different, and every treatment plan is different. For some more information about ABA Therapy from sites that can explain it WAY better than I can, click here, here, and here!
We have been working to get Gus in ABA therapy for almost a year now, and it’s been difficult. First, it was places that didn’t accept Gus’s insurance. Then, we found a place that looked great but turned out to be a communication nightmare. The center never returned calls or emails, it took four months to get Medicaid approval (most locations it takes 3-6 weeks from what I’ve found out), and once we got an evaluation, the center never called me back with a start date or returned my calls or emails. My gut and common sense told me that if they’re so lax about getting him into a program to begin with, how hard will they work to treat him? So, I wrote them off as a loss.
After a lot more research and phone calls, I found a center that seemed like a good fit. The tour was awesome – there was lots of safety and security measures in place, an outdoor play area, tons of different rooms with library spaces, sensory spaces, school settings, etc. The therapists were active and very interactive with the kids (when I came in, there was a piggy-back race happening on one side of the lobby and wagon races on the other), and there were a lot of social group activities. Each child had his or her own cubicle too for “study” and quiet time, and they were assigned an iPad for their individualized lesson programs. Also, the center was good about getting in touch with me and returning my emails and phone calls. The only drawback was the waitlist, which, while a bummer, we could deal with that. So FINALLY, after nearly a year, we have a start date of May 16th.
And now I’m starting to panic. While Logical Me knows he will learn, have fun, and thrive, Helicopter Me is internally screaming “NOOOOO!!” He’s going to be at “school” from 8:30-3:30 every day, which feels like such a long day for a not-quite-four year
old. I’m going to miss my little guy. Fortunately, I know if it seems too much, I can scale back the hours some, and if the center is not the right fit, I can find another center. Overall, I am really excited to watch his progress, though, and I can’t wait to see how he does!