ABA is one of the most recommended therapies in the United States for those with autism. But there is a lot of controversy in the autism community surrounding it. Some see it as extremely harmful compliance training. Others have had a fantastic experience.
If you are unfamiliar with it, I broke down ABA in an extensive 3-part series, which you can find here.
On top of that, I am doing a weekly series of what ABA is for us and will try to post a weekly update every Saturday. I’m not trying to promote it or discourage its practice. My aim is simply to inform you so you can make an informed decision on whether ABA is right for you or your kids.
You can find an index of all the video’s here.
And now, the post!
**note, these are pre-recorded from about 2 months ago to allow time for editing and because *life*
So week 4! This week, Jonah started his extended preschool program. This is an additional 2 hours of 1:1 intervention at school just for learners with autism.
They use the STAR program. (I’m not sure if you are familiar?) Apparently it is also an ABA based curriculum. I haven’t found anyone else who has info on it. In either case, there are only 2 people in his class and 3 helpers.
So he will have 3 hours of preschool, 2 hours of extended day, and then he will come home and have another 2 hours of ABA.
It is exhausting for the little guy.
But he has taken it in stride. His ABA therapist and BCBA have made it fun enough that it doesn’t seem like more “therapies.” It feels more like “play time.”
Some days, he will fall asleep before the therapist gets there. And to their credit, they don’t make him get up. If he’s sleeping, they leave it up to me. I know that Jonah’s exhausted so I tell them that he needs some rest and they leave.
But the days that Jonah is awake, he is making more progress.
They are working on “turn-taking.” His therapist will play with an item (like a LEGO) and when Jonah wants it, he will hand it to Jonah, but not let go. Then he will ask Jonah if he would like a “turn?” and Jonah will repeat “turn!” and then the therapist will give it to him.
We were working on this last week as well. This week, when one of the therapists asked Jonah for a turn with a toy, he actually gave the toy to her! So, some good progress on the sharing front.
Also, he is verbalizing multiple requests. He asked his therapist for more music AND a turn with a toy. From where we were a year ago (only being able to say “done”) this is a huge accomplishment.
Also, his pretend play has taken off. He will play “pretend” with his Daniel Tiger action figures for hours. Those had sat untouched for almost a year. We were thinking of giving them away. Now, they go down slides, say “bye-bye” and go outside to “play” or whatever else Jojo’s imaginative little brain comes up with.
So. About a month in, ABA has been an extremely positive experience. I haven’t seen anything negative about it.
Still no aversives. Still no “consequences” for failing to “comply.” There are no treats or “scoobie snacks” as a reward for compliance. Only the natural praise he receives for the progress he is making. His therapist is very open about any concerns I might have and willing to work with me. If Jonah is at the end of his stamina, his therapist doesn’t make him continue. He pretty much follows Jonah around and allows Jonah to direct the time they have together, whether it’s building lego towers, blowing bubbles, or listening to music. He turns it all into a learning opportunity and reinforces positive behavior with praise, the same as I do….the same as any parent would.
So we had a lot of good things happen this week. Stay tuned for more next week!