R. received ABA and speech therapy for nine months. It seems strange to type that because it really feels like it has been much longer. She had therapy for 5-6 hours a day. There were six people on her ABA team, four therapists, a program supervisor and a program director. Plus she had a speech therapist. I felt overwhelmed at first, it seemed like all of R’s waking hours were spent with therapists. I certainly appreciate the services that we received and the energy and attention of the therapists. I have to admit that emotionally, it often felt like the therapists were a constant reminder of all of my daughter’s deficits. Here they were, demonstrating them in vivid detail, all day long. That feeling never completely went away. But as we saw progress it became easier.
In just a few weeks R’s eye contact improved, and she became more aware of people. She would greet the therapists at the door and she had special little games she played with each one. All the therapists were great. They took the time to get to know R., they picked out toys they thought she would like and really seemed to enjoy being with her. “We had fun” they would tell me, and they seemed to really mean it.
When R. turned three in February all early intervention stopped. It seemed like such a shame to have to stop working with the people who had helped her make such progress.
Here are some examples:
Then: R. main method of communicating was crying. She would occasionally say go appropriately, or make mmmm mmmm sounds when she wanted something. She would never ask for help, not with a toy or anything.
Now: She can use PECS to communicate her wants, she hand leads, and she is really starting to talk!
Then: R. would sit on my lap occasionally, and want to be held when she was scared or super tired, but there was no affection. She had never kissed us or hugged us. She tolerated her father, but really only showed any interest in him if he sang to her.
Now: She has developed real Daddy love. She’s happy to see him, has little games she plays with him and she will hug and cuddle with him when she’s in the mood. She will give kisses, but mostly to her father and stuffed animals. I do get affection, hugs and lap time are more frequent. She seems to actually enjoy my company, sitting with me, looking in my eyes and being happy.
Then: The only ways to really play with R. were to play a game of chase and tickle, or to build towers and have her knock them down. Even those games were hard to get her to be engaged.
Now: I could list quite a few “games” she’ll play with me. She will even initiate that she wants to play, by hand leading and sometimes bringing me the PECS icon or toy.