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FEEDBACK ON ABA May 2013
I am exploring ABA therapy for my 4 year old son. He is unable to use expressive language and was looking at ABA therapy to see if this could help him. He has completed a year of speech therapy and he has not made any progress in terms of his ability to use language to communicate. I would like to know other parents experiences, good and bad. I have trawled through the internet but I would appreciate recommendations from parents about good therapists, programs, etc .....
I cannot speak highly enough of ABA and PECS - my 4 year old son is severely dyspraxic as well as autistic and he cannot speak at all BUT he communicates well via PECS, which he learned via ABA. He started with a folder and laminated pictures, but now uses an ipod and AAC app (Proloquo2go) and can let us know what he wants, which makes life so much easier. And he is considered severely delayed!
I am not sure if you have tried PECS via your speech therapist, but I think so highly of it that I am looking into working with non verbal children, (teaching PECS!) once my children are in school.
In regards to ABA and expressive language, verbal behaviour ABA teaches functional language in a way that makes sense,
focussing on getting a child to realize that language will get him what he wants, when he wants it. Requesting is often one of the first verbal skills taught; children are taught to use language to communicate, rather than just to label items. Learning how to make requests also should improve behaviour.
My son learns well with lots of repetition, and he loves his therapists and has lots of fun during his sessions - a good ABA provider will make sure the child enjoys the learning process!
I am not sure if you are in Sydney (are all members in Sydney?) but there are plenty of options in regards to providers in Sydney, and you can somewhat tailor a program to fit your budget. The most flexible and budget friendly provider are Momentum Learning, and it also helps if you can get a registered psychologist as your program supervisor, as then you can use your 10 annual mental health plan medicare visits and your 20 HCWA visits as well as the 5 EPC visits each year.
We have set up a FB group as a directory for parents looking to recruit junior therapists, and also an associated website, which includes info from some of the providers.
This is the facebook group link http://www.facebook.com/groups/449870855035683/
and this is the website http://abadirectory.wordpress.com/
I hope this helps somewhat....
I am an experienced therapist who has been implementing ABA for almost 10 years and been working with children with autism for approx. 15 years. I would definitely say that ABA is usually beneficial simply because it involves the child receiving individual attention with a program addressing their areas of need.
Having said that, I strongly believe that it is equally as important to look at family circumstances e.g. siblings, finances, etc. When done through an ABA service provider, costs can be quite high and recommended hours can be fairly intensive
especially in the initial stages. There are experienced therapists working independently which may be a more affordable option, however you do need to ensure they know what they are doing and are in a position to help your son.
My son went through ABA briefly... It was useful to have some structure but after a year, i stopped as i found they were too rigid.
At the end of the day, no matter how 'good' the practitioners may be for one person, you'll have to see if you can connect with them and vice versa...
I had an excellent OT and a speech therapist... Both on the northern beaches and north shore, respectively... Very
professional and gentle... Not ABA, but great personalisation of the program to suit the needs of my son. ...
We did ABA many years ago, and I have kept up with how it is going now. My feeling is that, IF you can afford it, then do give it a bash for 6 months or a year. You'll know quite soon whether it will help.
BA really is bringing the big guns out. I think we'd have regretted not doing it. but anyway it worked well for our son, we were lucky.
Benison O'Reilly has updated the Australian Autism Handbook and compares and contrasts all the early intervention approaches. I'd definitely read the new chapter in that book if you haven't already.
(I co-wrote edition one of The Australian Autism Handbook with Benison)
Hi Suzi, it is always a hard decision when trying to choose which of the thousands of therapies out there will be the most
effective for your child. Although as you know every child who is on the spectrum is so individual and what works for one child may not necessarily work for another. In saying that i will tell you a bit about our son. My son is 5 turning 6 and has a moderate global delay and autism. When I look at my son I see a child that is very much in his own world, yet loves his family and friends. I see a child who struggles to express his needs verbally but had good receptive language. I see a child that has so much potential but is trapped by what ever signals in his brain that tell him he has to mouth everything and chew on things and stim on objects by waving them around his face. When he gets into the zone of learning by giving or feeding or stimulating his senses he understands and learns so much. He has a thirst for knowledge but attaining it can be very hard for him, if his brain is over or under active. however with the right tools and therapy his brain wakes up or calms down and allows for learning. I feel the most important therapy for every child is for the parents to understand their child, to spend as much time as they possibly can interacting with their child and building a relationship. So therapies like Floor time and RDI are great for helping to build that. Because even though you may think you know how to play with a child, playing with a child who finds most things in life uninteresting or hard is a challenge. So the first step is to build a relationship with that child, so it gives him the motivation to interact, learn and imitate. Once that had been established then ABA is the next step. The reason why I say it is the next step is that, I feel every child with special needs would benefit from this therapy and is already getting this type of therapy. When you visit a speech therapist they use the ABA techniques with your child to get them to attend. The problem I have felt with seeing one O.T.and one speech therapist and then maybe going to a group and them giving you advice on what to do with your child is that although your child is still definitely benefitting it is not consistent enough, it is not repetitive enough and not intense enough. The way I see it, all children special needs or not, get more benefit from a 2week intensive swimming program verses a once a week lesson. With ABA you have that consistency and intensity and you have a team of therapists working with your child. To help you implement all your speech and O.T. goals.
If you feel your child, needs constant attention and finds it hard to transition, hard to attend, If you feel like no other therapy is working then I would take the chance on this therapy as it is the only therapy that is evidence based and has been proven to work. I wish I was able to start it sooner as I feel for our family it is a blessing.
I am definitely happy with Aspire early intervention as they are very flexible with the amount of therapy. They also take a naturalistic approach to their intervention, which I felt was very important for our child.
If you want any more information , don't hesitate to ask.
ABA is for behaviour, but not sure it is designed or cater fully for speech. Hanen program ("more than words") is another option that might be explored.
Overall, ABA programs are costly but this is because of their intensity. Perhaps an intensive hanen (or other) programme might work just as well, compared to speech therapy that can sometimes lack that intensity. hard to compare ST which has weeks in between sessions versus ABA therapy which can have up to 20 or 30 hours of therapy in a single week.
We did 2 6mth programs of ABI (Assessment Behavioural Intervention) which uses the principles of ABA, and LOVED it. It was by far the best thing we have done for our daughter who was 4 when she started it. Hayley could not eat well, not sleep well, had dangerous behaviours of running away (she was wearing a child's harness at 4) and climbing, was not toilet trained in the day or night and had a severe speech delay. We have done years of therapies-OT/speech/floortime etc. but none of them gave us the improvements we had with ABI. It is run through ADHC and is fantastic- as if you get into the footprints program it is also FREE- and the therapist comes to your home each week too.
MASSIVE imporvements were gained through ABI- Hayley eats well now, sleeps through the night in her own bed, is fully toilet trained in day and night, has improved her speech so much, she is in mainstream school, and coping very well there, and does not run off or engage in dangerous behaviours any more. Can highly recommend it, and if want to read more about it, can have a look at magazine MY Child- - Issue 28 Autumn 2013, as we feature in a story about our experiences of ABI.
Hope this helps,
regards and good luck,
I am not an advocate for ABA therapy. I have seen many families use this therapy with poor results relative to the cost and time involved. For some kids it manages to teach certain skills through persistent drills but more often than not these skills are acquired through rote learning with very little meaning to the child. In other words it doesn’t always allow them to
generalise. RDI on the other hand allows the child to learn and develop skills in a much more natural way allowing experience across a range of circumstances. This method I found develops understanding as well as developing skills. Also, RDI is very different in its approach to developing language, it has more of a focus on developing communication
rather than teaching words/language and makes much more sense from a developmental point of view to me.
I actually worked for 2 years with a family many years ago who ran an ABA program. It cost them an absolute fortune and in the end achieved very little for the child.
Hope this helps more than it hinders.
I tried using Speech Therapy for my son when he was about 3 years old without any success. I just existed for a long time, trying to make him feel safe in our little cocoon and hoping that school would be the answer. A few years ago, he started OT to manage his sensory needs. We continued to put our effort into building a relationship with him. He started a GFC diet in October and ABA in December last year. I am so impressed at the progress (more in 6 months than in 6 years at school) that he is now being homeschooled with a 25 hour per week program. He is 12 years old. The ABA provider is The Learning Centre at Gladesville. The biomed doctor is Dr Criticos at Marrickville.