Leila’s ABA Therapies
Leila’s first therapist shows up at 9:30 in the morning. Right now she only has a T/W/TH morning therapist. Her M/F mornings have not been filled since two weeks ago. Apparently ABA therapy has a high turnover with a lot of “just out of college” people filling the positions. I would think it takes a very special person to have the patience and tolerance to work with autistic children and stick with it for a long time.
So the therapist shows up and then goes through Leila’s binder to see the previous therapist’s notes. Throughout the session the therapists keep notes on what Leila says, how many times she says it, what reinforcers worked, what type of behaviors and how frequent, how many tantrums… etc. This takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes because they also decide what programs they will run and prepare their sheets to fill out during the session. So the therapist will take Leila into the playroom and that way they can use our toys/books and then some bring their own toys/books. Leila also has a special box of toys that are only used during her sessions as “reinforcers”. Meaning she has to do something in order play with them (yes, this is a cause of a lot of tantrums during her sessions). A few of the programs they are doing right now are a matching program, an echoics program, and a motor skills program (like stand up, sit down, one arm up). They then take the last 15 minutes of the session to fill out any more forms in the binder and record any data in their charts.
Leila’s morning therapist is Sonja; she is also the lead therapist on Leila’s case. She has been with the PFCA for the longest. She is strict with Leila. This morning Leila did NOT want to go into the playroom with Sonja. She became so upset that she started choking, causing herself to throw up. During this I am standing in the kitchen not sure of what to do. Should I interrupt? Would that compromise the therapy? Back and forth, back and forth. Crying myself. Finally, Sonja called me in after Leila threw up. Automatically I comforted her. Leila kept telling me “color, color, color” because at the end of every session she comes out and colors. I had to tell her “Leila you are okay, you cannot color right now”. My heart was just breaking. The thing that gets me too is the therapist said when I walked in “I think she might be sick”. So I said “No. She is not sick. She is so upset she is choking.” Stupid. So Sonja asked at that point if she did things differently then the other therapists. I gave her a look and said “Well, yeah. You do.” We then had a conversation about what she was doing differently and what could be done. I also called the supervising therapist and left her a message with my concerns.
At a certain point you have to ask what’s too much? I will not let Leila get to that point again. I will walk in next time to calm her down. I don’t care if it compromises the therapy. I don’t care if it reinforces her tantrum. I won’t let her feel that way again.
On a different note we had Leila’s transition meeting for when she turns three and gets turned over from the Regional Center to the school district. We met with the Croce elementary school therapist. She explained the whole assessment process and what Leila could qualify for. Leila has two assessments, one in January and one in February. She could potentially start school at Croce the last week of March after she turns 3. She will go everyday and it could be a half day or a whole day (8:30-2:15). Half the day would be ABA therapy and half preschool. That’s more school then Lucy has. Croce has their own wing for their special needs program. It is fenced off from the regular elementary and has 5 classrooms (3 mild to moderate classes, 1 severe, and 1 for speech only) and their own playground. I have heard nothing but good things about the program. All of their employees are ABA trained!! I am excited for Leila to start but I am hoping she will only need the half day program. They said I cannot co-op. I cannot imagine letting go of her for a whole day. I know it would be what is best for her but I can’t stand to think about it yet. That’s a long time to be away from me.