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Meet Lucy, Age 8
Lucy was clever and very verbal, yet very much in her own world. She had difficulty carrying a conversation with her peers, had trouble initiating social interactions, and didn’t understand how others perceived her. She would insist on her parents’ help with basic activities of daily living such as showering, dressing, brushing her teeth, or making her bed.
When Chris and Laura noticed that her sociable 2-year-old sister seemed to have surpassed her developmental level, they knew they had to reach out for help.
Chris and Laura consulted with a neurologist who assessed Lucy, diagnosed her with high-functioning autism, and recommended ABA at Circle Care.
What is ABA and how does it work?
Firstly, appreciate that ABA is nothing new! ABA has been helping individuals on the autism spectrum since the 1960s.
Though it’s been around for a while, there are constant improvements being made to the ABA method all the time.
Still, if it’s new to you, read on and Lucy’s story will help you understand why thousands of parents turn to ABA therapy to help their children with autism.
Lucy’s care plan:
Lucy began an after-school ABA program for a total of 15 hours a week but was initially resistant to therapy. The 8-year-old did not see the need for therapists sitting on top of her, and we realized we needed to take this into consideration in order to win her cooperation.
Dawn, Lucy’s new behavior therapist, began by pairing, an ABA technique that helps build a good rapport between the child and her therapist — and discovered the activities Lucy enjoyed. She then incorporated those into the ABA sessions to build skills for independence. Dawn also conducted a preference assessment which helped identify the best way to reward Lucy for positive behaviors.
Lucy received a written visual morning routine for her to follow so that she could get ready for school independently.
Because Lucy expressed a desire to “be cool”, her social goals were introduced as a way of becoming cooler, which gave her all the motivation she needed to work towards mastery.
Actively involving Lucy in her care plan and welcoming her input also went a long way in increasing Lucy’s motivation and confidence in herself.
Lucy’s ABA program included goals aimed at increasing
- Emotional awareness of herself and others
- Reciprocal interactions
- Independence with daily living skills
- Understanding of social norms and expectations framed as “cool rules”
It’s been just 6 months and the progress has been remarkable! Lucy is now seeking an emotional connection with others after developing an amazing rapport with her therapists. As she sees she can dress and make her own sandwich, she feels increasingly proud and confident, and as a result, she has grown more independent. She has learned strategies to control behaviors that make her look “uncool” to her social groups. Lucy has tasted the sweetness of social connection through ABA.
Has your child been diagnosed with autism?
When your child has been diagnosed with autism, you may have mixed feelings. On one hand, it can be a relief to put a name to the atypical behaviors your child is displaying and to know that there are resources and services out there to help your child. On the other hand, you may be concerned about what this means for your family and for your child’s present and future.
A diagnosis can also be a shock to you, and trigger feelings of worry, fear, and denial. Rest assured that all these reactions, as well as anything in between, are completely normal.
When your physician delivers a comprehensive assessment for autism, they will also give you recommendations for different types of services based on your child’s needs. One of these recommendations will likely be for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) which is an evidence-based therapy that reduces or eliminates problem behaviors and increases appropriate behaviors in children with autism.
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