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View Full Version : autism spectrum: ABA vs. early childhood(public school)



AmyinWI
06-15-2011, 12:35 AM
my son is on a waiting list for ABA therapy (I think that's what it's called - for autism).
Some background for those that dont' know. DS will be 4yo next week. He has down syndrome, diagnosed with PDD (on the spectrum) was a 28week preemie and was exposed to unknown substances inutero(adopted from foster care). He also has many medical issues, the main one is severe swallowing problems,and a feeding tube.
He is a sweet, sweet , sweet boy.. and oh, do we LOVE that little guy. But he is a challenge,too.:) He has very poor communication skills and fine motor skills. He basically will tell us nothing, although he knows a little sign language and is learning PECS, he rarely uses them to communicate. He is in his own little world most of the time, but can be very loving towards family members.
He has a lot of stimming behaviors, oral stimulation (licking things, bouncing things on his chin), also things like spinning wheels and slamming cupboard doors.

As of now, he's enrolled in the early intervention/early childhood class at the public school . I see very little progress, although they really do try with the limited resources. The ST told me at the end of the year, that she had 43 speech students to fit in each week!!! :eek: His teachers really do love him, and I was hesitant to deal with the public school for awhile, but they really took good care of him.
That said, I am wondering if dealing with the "autism" part of his diagnoses would benefit him more. I read about so many down syndrome people doing well in life, but if my son cant' get past the "autism" part of it, what hope does he have??? If he gets on the ABA list it would be pretty impossible to attend early childhood, which would mean he wouldn't get his ST/OT/PT. the ABA would be 5-6 hours a day.

School is from 9-12. He gets home on the bus,takes an hour to feed and he is wiped out and naps for 2-3 hours. So they would be in our home from 4pm to ? Gabe goes to bed around 7 pm. I dont' see it working, unless I take him out of the early childhood.

Long way to ask.. has anyone had their child in ABA, did you see benefits? Do the benefits of ABA outweigh the benefits of an early childhood program, as well as ST/PT/OT?
any advice appreciated.

Hollie in SC
06-15-2011, 08:46 AM
Amy, does he have summer school or would it be possible to try the ABA out over the summer? Also, since he isn't school age yet would it be possible to send him to school only 2 days/week for his therapies? Just throwing out some ideas in case they might help. :group:

Lisalyn
06-15-2011, 01:02 PM
Amy,

We started ABA discrete trial through Early Intervention right after Eli was dxd with Autism. We had the choice of sending him to an Autism school every day or having their therapists come to our home. Since he also had to fit in OT/PT and speech, we opted for in-home ABA. He qualified for 20 hours a week but due to therapist shortage, we only got about 10 hours a week, on average.

The therapists were great with Eli and were also great at teaching us how to carry on without them.

When Eli started PS preschool at age 3, our ABA analyst went with us to the IEP meeting and helped us come up with a plan for ABA. It was pretty easy since his school is an ABA methodology-based program, but we asked for separate Discrete Trial time also. He also does extended school year during the summer--3 hours a day, 3 days a week.

I credit ABA (both discrete trial and the other methods) for Eli's success. Yes, the OT/PT, speech and feeding are necessary, but I don't think he would be where he is now without the ABA.

How do you feel about doing ABA yourself? It isn't hard to learn, but it isn't easy to do yourself. It's very intense, time-consuming, and can be frustrating, too.

Eli's ABA therapist just told me about a parent-led home program at www.maximumpotential.com. I know nothing about the program, but his therapist and teacher are really excited about it. It seems to be pretty reasonably priced, but like I said, I haven't really looked at the samples.

The biggest thing I had to get past with Eli was my thinking that ABA equals Discrete Trial when really, ABA is so much more than that.

If I can help just let me know!

Alice R
06-15-2011, 05:45 PM
Here in NY, schools for autsim/PDD are ABA schools. Speech, OT, PT etc all use an ABA approach. I'm stunned that if you do ABA, you don't get the other therapies with an ABA approach.

I have seen ABA work effectively for almost every child I see. I've worked for almost 22 years with children on the spectrum.

It looks odd and it seems odd but the reality is, it does work. Maybe not as much as we all would like...we'd all like to see a total recovery from austim. So, I'm not saying it is a cure.

But, it is very effective. :yes:

If it were my child, I'd place my child in ABA rather than a general class. No doubt.

AmyinWI
06-15-2011, 07:24 PM
Here in NY, schools for autsim/PDD are ABA schools. Speech, OT, PT etc all use an ABA approach. I'm stunned that if you do ABA, you don't get the other therapies with an ABA approach.

I have seen ABA work effectively for almost every child I see. I've worked for almost 22 years with children on the spectrum.

It looks odd and it seems odd but the reality is, it does work. Maybe not as much as we all would like...we'd all like to see a total recovery from austim. So, I'm not saying it is a cure.

But, it is very effective. :yes:

If it were my child, I'd place my child in ABA rather than a general class. No doubt.
thanks Alice- I really don't know if therapy would be an option along with the ABA, all I know is that the schools REFUSE to allow an ABA therapist in their doors. I guess I'll have to call tomorrow to see if they can give me more detailed info. I have no idea where he is on the waiting list, which I believe is more for the financial help with it, than whether there is a therapist available.:unsure:

AmyinWI
06-15-2011, 07:27 PM
Amy,




The biggest thing I had to get past with Eli was my thinking that ABA equals Discrete Trial when really, ABA is so much more than that.

If I can help just let me know!

Thanks for your reply Lisa... what do you mean by Discrete trial?

One of my biggest concerns is having someone in our house at all hours of the day, they told me he should have 5-6 hours a day... I don't know if that's actually required, or the most he would be allowed. Having a large family already in a smallish living space, it just stresses me out to imagine one more person being in our house all day. That, and always having to be home when the therapist is here. I know a homeschool mom that does ABA therapy,so I might see if I could request to have her come and work with my son.

AmyinWI
06-15-2011, 07:30 PM
Amy, does he have summer school or would it be possible to try the ABA out over the summer? Also, since he isn't school age yet would it be possible to send him to school only 2 days/week for his therapies? Just throwing out some ideas in case they might help. :group:


well we're still on the waiting list, so this summer is not an option unless I pay out of pocket, have no idea the cost, but I'm guessing it's out of our reach.:unsure:
I asked his therapists about getting summer sessions and they said they couldn't justify it since his IEP is too recent. Something about having to prove he would lose skills over the summer if they didn't continue, but since they only worked wiht him one school year, they couldn't prove that.... :unsure:

Lisalyn
06-15-2011, 11:15 PM
Thanks for your reply Lisa... what do you mean by Discrete trial?

One of my biggest concerns is having someone in our house at all hours of the day, they told me he should have 5-6 hours a day... I don't know if that's actually required, or the most he would be allowed. Having a large family already in a smallish living space, it just stresses me out to imagine one more person being in our house all day. That, and always having to be home when the therapist is here. I know a homeschool mom that does ABA therapy,so I might see if I could request to have her come and work with my son.


Amy,
Most people associate ABA with discrete trial, which is literally sitting at a table with the child, breaking down a skill into tiny pieces and doing actual trials of 10 reps of each tiny piece. Over and over and over. We started with "look at me" for 1 second using bubbles to get his attention. Then once he mastered that (8/10 reps 3 separate times), we moved to 3 seconds. And so on.

ABA schools use discrete trial, floor time, RDI, Pivotal response, etc.
Eli's school is an ABA pilot school for the state which is really amazing. I think there are 6 in the state of TN. Many of the teacher's aides have children with Autism, so they know first hand.

Anyway...

Discrete trial looks really weird but it really works. Most of the other components just look like involved play or lots of direct attention mixed in with sign language, social skills cues, PECS, etc. Everything has a purpose and it all works together to meet that purpose.

For example, the child has 2 hours of ABA therapy. 30 minutes may be discrete trial, using a timer set for 5 minutes increments. 5 minutes work, 3 minutes break for 30 minutes or so. Say the main focus of discrete trial has been 'look at me' for 5 seconds. Next, the therapist may pull out some toys and get in the floor and play with the child, pulling him in and getting him to look at her/him.

Later the child may go to speech therapy where the therapist signs "look at me" or used PECS or both while playing again. (Alice can probably give you much better details. :) )

It was HARD accepting our new life of therapists in and out of our home. We normally had 2-3 hour increments. Sometimes 2 therapists were here at the same time. Our OT/PT and speech/feeding were at a hospital so we spent a lot of time traveling. After being at home, just our family, for so many years, it was really hard and I was always scared about the homeschooling aspect. The therapies took so much time and effort that we did put our younger kids in school. We had to. :unsure:

One of Eli's ABA teacher's aides is not going back to work this fall. She will be doing in-home ABA. She's just starting on her own and will be charging $20.00 per hour. We are hoping to get her for 1 hour a week to help us build a program to supplement Eli's preschool. One hour a week is 80.00 per month! I would love to do more, but how??

We have decided to keep him in preschool one more year because his teacher/therapists feel he has a good chance of going into a regular classroom after that. I hope!

Maybe your mom friend could do something similar for you. Help you set up the program and then come in and help keep you on track.

You know, it makes me mad that we even have to have this conversation. :mad: These therapies should be covered. They work!

So frustrating. :sad:

Alice R
06-16-2011, 10:19 AM
Amy, I should've mentioned that I did ABA a long time ago. I didn't really care for doing it all day, but that is a personal preference of working and has nothing to do with actual ABA. I did some certification in it also. Maybe I would've continued but it wasn't the right timing and I switched to do evaluations rather than therapy etc.

Anyway, back to my point, :lol: when therapists come into your home, they really are pretty discreet. The family has an area set up, away from all the family chaos and the therapist works with the child. I also have only worked in VERY small apartments overcrowded with family and we are somehow, still, in a quiet space and as unobtrusive as possible. I imagine in an actual home with an adequate amount of space, it would be much easier. I have actually worked in bathrooms because that is the only place that did not have people in it. :lol:

I think it turns out to be a blessing sometimes. Your child is occupied, learning something and is safe. You can pop in whenever you want and you can pop back out. Some parents stay for a while and other parents do not and prefer to just carry over during the day and lay low during the actual session. And some parents...let's not go there.

Yes, it is a pain to be tied to a schedule but it is a nice break where you don't feel guilty because you know your child is doing something educational while you cook dinner or work with the other kids or simply do family things that need to be done. :lol:

A special needs toddler is quite a handful and having an extended therapy session in your home is not a bad thing! ;)

Maybe it is different in different parts of the country but I have never seen an ABA therapist like take over the entire living room for hours and make a circus for three hours. :lol: I could NOT handle that at all. :eek: But the way our ABA therapists do their therapy, yeah, I could be OK with that.

Alice R
06-16-2011, 10:27 AM
Amy, as long as there was an ADULT in the home to sign the papers for us, the parent did not have to be there.

What happens when a parent works full time? The therapists go to the babysitter's home.

Of course you are going to want to be home but moms do work and here in NYC, we are working with a large single mother population. If grandma babysits, then we go to grandma's house or grandma comes to the child's home. Or the day care setting. Or the adult older sibling.

We must have a legal adult in the home at all times. It does not matter who it is.

I just did an evaluation yesterday and mom was working and could not take off. The baysitter was in the home, let us in and stayed in the room. We called mom on the phone and she stayed on the line for the entire evaluation. The child has autism, BTW. I'm sure she would've wanted to be there but work is work and not everyone can just take off for these appointments so easily. So, we work together and do the best we can.

Jenene
06-22-2011, 12:52 AM
I know I am joining this late, but I thought since we used ABA with my daughter I could tell you how it worked for us.

We had two different therapist we used. The consultant came once a week for two hours and the therapist came twice a week. Their programs were the same, the consultant just monitored Claires progress overall.
She was also more expensive. We paid out of pocket for the beginning, but then my insurance started paying 70% of it.
Now I noticed my insurance pays for ABA right in the benefits sections. This was not the case when we started, I had to fight for the therapy.
ok, so that was off topic...

Anyway, we couldn't afford many hours, but I know my daughter benefit from 6 hours we did get a week.
I think it benefit her more than the ST and OT she was getting at school. Infact when it came to her IEPs she was always excelling in the very areas our ABA therapist were working.
I was homeschooling my son and Claire and having the therapist come over was a welcomed break.:)
I knew she was getting a great personlized schooling and she loved it. Her therapist became like family. Now, there was one therapist I just didn't feel was working well with Claire and we did find someone else in the same company. We always video taped the session via a set up camera. It was just to monitor Claires progress. It also was a helpful tool in knowing what Claire was learning and how to encourage things she learned. You also get to see how a therapist works with your child.

ABA made a ton of difference therapy wise.

Hope this helped,

AmyinWI
06-22-2011, 11:03 PM
thanks for sharing your experience Jenene!