Sunday, April 28, 2013

Autism Understanding & Acceptance 2013, Day 27: Why we’re lucky

There are some symptoms of autism with which we do not have to contend, most blessedly. Thomas sleeps through the night. This is HUGE. He’s always been a good sleeper, and when I hear stories of parents going for years without a full night’s sleep, I simply cannot imagine the exhaustion.

We also have a gentle boy who treads very lightly on the world. I don’t believe he’s ever broken a toy, and when he does get angry, his attempts to act out physically are so minimal that I actually have to turn my head so he doesn’t see me grin.

He is a good eater. He just doesn’t like combined foods, like casseroles, chili, soups, etc. He also eats just one food at a time on his plate, and heck, I know TD (Typically Developing) people who do that, and who also don’t want their food to touch on their plate!

We are lucky in very many ways, but I believe that one of the most important ways we have been lucky is our access to 5 years of full-time ABA therapy. He has been under the supervision of Carl Sundberg, BCBA-D, since October of 2006. He attends Carl’s therapy clinic, The Behavior Analysis Center for Autism (BACA) full-time. ( For those of you who have been along for this whole ride, you may recall a statement I made about miracles happening after weeks, months, and even years of dedicated, HARD work. Thomas’ progress with the BACA has been nothing short of one of these miracles. Seriously, families who know what ABA can do have moved here from across the country and in some cases from around the world for their child to be at the BACA!

Walk in this center, and you feel that you have walked into a special place. The love & dedication to their clients is palpable. Kids come out of their shells; they blossom because this place is designed to meet their every need. Each kid has a therapist assigned to them (two actually: one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and then during mid-day hours the kids rotate through lunch and group activities tailored for their particular needs) and a program is written specifically to address their deficits. Undesirable behaviors are not punished; instead, good behavior and following direction are enthusiastically reinforced which is WAY more fun and interesting than the alternative. The child learns that those “undesirable” behaviors don’t get them what they want, and they eventually fade away. Sometime I may have to blog about the Eagle Shriek of Thomas’…blessedly, those days are over, thanks to ABA. He can read thanks to ABA. He can tie his shoes thanks to ABA. He can add & subtract thanks to ABA. Just about every skill he has learned is thanks to ABA.

I could go on & on about the BACA & its staff: all the wonderful angels that have worked with Thomas through these past years. So for those of you from BACA who are reading this, THANK YOU. I literally am getting misty-eyed as I write this. Thank you, to all you miracle workers.  
Yes, that is Thomas, front & center in their conference table promotional material.

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