This post has been rolling around in my head for almost a month now. It seems that a lot of bloggers talk about what's working for their children. You get a lot of people who think their way is the best way. It's kind of hard for a new autism mom to navigate her way through all of it.
So, I think more for myself than anything else, I'm going to go through what didn't work for us and what's working well for us now.
ABA didn't work. Well, we're still on the waiting list for the waiting list for the provincial program so I should say ABA done by us in the home didn't work. Patrick just couldn't generalize any of the skills. And a lot of the skills were things he'd learn easier if they were just explained. It got very frustrating and we eventually stopped. We might be willing to try again if we feel he's needing it and if we ever come to the top of the list.
RDI didn't work. This one I was sure was for us. But again, Patrick couldn't go from a game with balls teaching him to be ok with change to actually being ok with change. The games were fun and we still do some of them because we like them but they are more for fun than anything else. I loved the idea of floortime and we do spend a lot of time on the floor together (laughing) but we no longer really follow that plan either.
What's working for us?? Life. Life is working for us. Want Patrick to get used to a loud room with lots of kid running around? Take him to a loud room with lots of kids running around every week and help him deal with it.
Want Patrick to understand how to deal with new bus drivers? Put him on the bus with different drivers and help him deal with it. Want Patrick to learn to sit in a circle at school? Expect him to do it everyday until he does.
Want him to eat more foods? This one was more difficult and left up to daddy. But they sat together, in a loving and peaceful way, and worked every day on eating different foods. He talked quietly and calmly into Patrick's ear keeping him unruffled so to speak and kept helping him. Result? More eating....yay.
This sounds so simple when I type it out. And maybe all autism parents do this and we're just behind the ball. I really don't know. Basically instead of backing away from potentially embarassing or difficult situations (which we used to do a lot) we just jump right in. We intentionally seek out these scenarios and work on them together.
Don't get me wrong. Patrick still goes to speech therapy. He gets some OT in school. He's not being cured. He'll always be autistic and he'll always be Patrick. But somehow, with our life plan, we've gotten him to a point where meltdowns are fewer and school is working.
In dealing with these thoughts and ideas I've come to a very important conclusion. What another autism parent is doing is not necessarily a jump off point from which to start when you're new at this. I found myself copying a lot of other parents trying to do what was right for my son. What I found out? What's right for my son is something I had to learn through trial and error. I had to take HIM and work with HIM until we hit on an approach that would work for us.
The biggest lesson I've learned this year? Don't judge. Don't assume. And learn to think outside the cubicle.