ABA Therapy. Is it necessary? Is it worth it?

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Earlier this year my son, Jordan, started ABA therapy.  I’m asked a lot about what this is and if it is actually effective.  ABA therapy is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism.  Over the last 10 years, there has been an increase in the use of ABA therapy to help people with autism live happy and productive lives.  ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills such as looking, imitating, and listening. Complex skills can also be helped such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective.  Several completed studies have demonstrated that ABA techniques can produce improvements in communication, social skills and relationships, self care, play, school and even employment (Autism Speaks article,2015)  This ranges from ages preschool to adulthood.  Most ABA therapist work one on one with the child at their home and school.

Before Jordan started ABA therapy, me and my husband talked about going gluten free.  The reasoning behind this is that my son was using the bathroom independently and two weeks before his 6th birthday he started using the bathroom on himself.  We don’t know what happened, he just couldn’t hold anything in after he would eat food.  I read an article about people who gave up gluten and go on “special diets” and it would make a significant impact on the child.  So when the kids went on Winter break from school (2 long weeks) we went gluten free.  In 3 weeks to one month, Jordan was using the bathroom by himself again!  His behavior started to change; he was much more affectionate. We started ABA therapy in February 0f 2015 and within one week he spoke his first words.  “Hi” “Bye,Bye.” Before Jordan was diagnosed with autism he used to speak all of the time and it was great, once he was diagnosed he lost all words and we started teaching him sign language. He would point to the things that he wanted ( or get frustrated and get it himself). My youngest would start saying words and Jordan would have these “fits” or “tantrums” because Dominic would speak and we would understand.  My youngest son stopped talking when he was with his brother.

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I have seen Jordan improve so much with ABA therapy.  To say that it is a convenience would be an outright lie, but I can proudly say it is truly effective.  Gone are the days when I could come home, get the kids from school, go to the store and take walks on a weekday.  My grocery and family fun time planning must always be right on point.  The thing is I will not complain for ABA therapy there is a 4 year waiting list.  Families that wouldn’t mind giving up everyday of their lives for a chance to hear a spoken word from their young child or adult.  Jordan has therapy everyday after school for 2 1/2 hours.  I was just informed that the therapists would like to come 3 hours a day and 4 hour weekend sessions.  Do I want to complain? Yes.  Do I want to cry? I sometimes do.

I have learned in life that when you become a parent it is your job to do everything that you can to make sure that when you are gone from this earth, your child is well equipped to handle this world that we live in.  I don’t want to be that mother who spends my life making excuses and one day my youngest son Dominic has to be left with a burden.  I should be the one to lighten any load that he may or may not have to carry.  My boys will love each other and I have no doubt that they will be best of friends. Jordan is capable of so many things and I don’t want Dominic to feel as if he can’t live his own life because I didn’t handle my “mommy business.”  I will cry, I will continually work on my Faith in God, I will sometimes feel that life is not fair.  Im human, Im allowed to feel these feelings; as long as I don’t allow those feelings to overcome me.

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When I was 5 months pregnant, me and Will were leaving Walmart when we were run off the road by teenagers who stole a car and took a joyride.  The seatbelt pulled so hard at my stomach that when I went to the hospital they told me that my son would not live.  Wait 48 hours, they said.  Im sorry, but its not going to happen.  I had increased doctor appointments where I was told not to get my hopes up and that they don’t expect him to survive.  My son was born an overcomer, God made it so that he lived against all odds so how can we not overcome autism.  I will not rest until he reaches his full potential.  Keep us in your prayers and know that we are not a family of quitters, just overcomers!

Thank you,

Nyisha G

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