Monday, November 7, 2011

Colton's Autism Therapy Part 3 (LAST one)

Whew, this is finally the last post about Colton's therapy! I've already talked about why we are doing therapy, the basics of ABA, and now I will talk about:

Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and things I do at home.

Speech Therapy
Speech therapy focuses on speech obviously, but more importantly overall communication. There is a lot that goes into communication. Receptively understanding what people are saying and asking, expressively being able to communicate to others, eye contact, understanding how to comment/answer questions/follow instructions...etc. Although Colton can say 4-5 word sentences, most of his talking a few months ago was just echolalia (just repeating what I say or reciting a line from a book or movie). Speech therapy works not on just speech, but FUNCTIONAL (or useful) speech.

What we've worked on in Speech Therapy
  • We worked on having Colton make choices between two preferred objects ("do want the cow or the horse?"). This then transitioned into Colton making the choice without the verbal prompt (just holding up the cow or the horse, and having Colton choose). And NOW working with Colton on requesting for things with no prompt at all. This is an important skill because he needs to learn how to ask for things without me asking him first.
  • Along with the above was teaching Colton how to ask for help. Colton didn't have the instinct to ask for help, so he would simply just stand at a door pulling and pulling on it getting frustrated, and never think to ask "I need help mommy." Colton is a pro at this now.
  • Looking up at others eyes to acknowledge that THAT is where the object/help comes from. Ex. I wait at the door until Colton looks up at my eyes and says "I need help" before I intervene. Colton is also doing really well at this now.
  • Following simple one step instructions "put block in" "take puzzle piece out". Colton is now a pro at this too and working on 2 step commands, which he is also quickly picking up on.
  • "What" questions and "who" questions. Colton used to just repeat back the question when I'd ask him. Now he knows to answer basic "What" and "who" questions. Colton's echolalia has gone way down through working on this.
Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy focuses on helping kids with their basic everyday skills (or their occupation), which for kids is playing, drawing and other fine motor skills, self care skills and addressing Colton's sensory a lot of getting Colton's body to feel comfortable in a variety of situations. Colton has major issues with swings/gravitational insecurity, anything flying in the air (especially butterflys), odd textures, all basic grooming (brushing teeth, hair, diaper changes) etc.

OT- Where he was 4 months ago
When we first went in to OT 4 months ago, Colton cried the whole time and we had to go back in a private room where he clung to my lap the whole time. It took us 2 weeks to even get him to LOOK at the main room, and a month to touch the swing. He wouldn't hold a pencil, eat with utencils, or do many fine motor activities.

OT- Where he is now
Colton LOVES Occupational Therapy. He is so happy there, and willing to try everything the therapist wants him to try. He still doesn't like the swing, but tolerates it in small doses. He can draw, and enjoys fine motor activities. He even tried out a tricycle the past few times! It's so excited to see him try new things, where it was impossible before.

Parents make a huge difference in the outcome of early intervention. No pressure right? haha. So, I attend all Colton's therapies, take notes of things to work on, and then actively work on all the tasks. It makes a difference because Colton's Speech Therapist told me that Colton was improving much faster than she anticipated.

I have received training in all the ABA classes, so that everything I do reinforces what he is learning in ABA. There are certain ways to handle situations, and to handle behaviors...and I make sure it is all in line with ABA. Mainly, I am consistent, I follow through on everything I ask him (don't think I'm amazing here. I'm very careful what I ask him to do, since I know WHEN I do I NEED to follow through on it), I am calm and patient, I am positive and always rewarding good behaviors, I don't emotionally give in to tantrums and other negative behaviors.

ME- education
I take all the classes I can. I've taken the ABA classes that my therapists took. I also took a 5 week Parenting Your Child with Autism class. I will continue to read and attend classes to continually learn the best ways to help Colton.

ME- data keeping
For ABA, I keep some basic data to help the Psychologist and Case Manager. I track and tally negative behaviors, I keep a food log, and other logs.

ME- logistics
I manage all the insurance, early intervention, school district, finances, therapist schedules/hours, pay, meetings etc. A team of 8 therapists, and 3 case managers keeps me busy.

And....that's it! If you've made it through all 3 of these parts, you deserve a trophy! Hope you learned a little bit about what we do. I am so grateful to be able to have the support and resources to get Colton the therapy he needs. I realize that this does not happen for all kids, and I feel so fortunate. We are really so blessed. We are a happy family, and I love my little guy.


Kennedy said...

I feel very enlightened! Colton is so very lucky to have you. You are working so hard to ensure him a happy, healthy, and as "normal" as possible future. I think it is awesome that he is showing so much progress so soon. That has got to feel good as a mom, knowing that all these things, people, and effort are working for him!

You guys are always in my prayers and I want you to know how much I admire you. When I think of "Super Moms" you immediately come to mind. Thanks for sharing all of this with the world!

Whitney said...

I am a longtime lurker (not even sure how I found you, but I've loved your blog for at least 3 years now!). I have really enjoyed your posts on Colton and his therapy, and even hope you'll write more. It gives some insight into Colton, you, and the passion that drives you both. It is very inspiring, and interesting too. Thank you for sharing. It is very exciting to read about Colton's progress and successes. xoxo

Renee said...

No my dear, you deserve the trophy! Holy cow you are one busy lady. It is so impressive to see all the resources that are available to help. Loved every post!

Crystal said...

I am exhausted just thinking about all you do. You're awesome! I'm so happy to hear about all the progress Colton has had thus far. I'm sure it is so encouraging to see his all his success and makes all the work you do so worth it. He is such an adorable and sweet little boy. Your optimism and efforts to help him reach his potential is seriously inspirational.

Kurt and Ash said...

I think YOU deserve the trophy! You are an amazing mom, Holden is so lucky to have you!

Baldersons said...

Holy cow angela, I had no idea all the therapy and work that you guys have been involved with. You and Mike are awesome parents and I'm sure with your support and obvious dedication, Colton will come on in leaps and bounds. You are awesome!

The Maughans said...

What a blessing to have the keen mind you have to learn all this, the time to devote , the incentive of course, and the follow through.It's a full time job.Not only will Colton benefit but knowing you, many others will as well. Your amazing gift of learning has been such a blessing. You must be exhausted my sweet and special friend. I love you!

Karen the "Hungry Mom" said...

wow…. i did make it through all three and the only person who deserves a medal is YOU! you have risen to meet this challenge with grace and what seems like never ending energy. i know you didnt write these posts for praise but I’m doing it anyway… you are one heck of a mom, and I’m so so so so happy that Colton is responding to your hard work!!

Sharon said...

Thanks Ang, for writing out all this information. It has been so helpful. Can't believe all the work that you have to do. You are the BEST and Colton is the cutest little guy.

Jill said...

I agree with Sharon. Colton is the dearest cutest little boy imaginable. I am so grateful he has you and Mike as parents. Thank you very much for sharing these posts with us about the therapies. As helpful as they are for our Colton, I think of all the other children who could be helped if given the right circumstances. What you are doing is blessing this dear little child we love so much, and I hope this will spill into a community of awareness for all children who need our extra consideration. What a miracle that you have this plan in place, and can proceed so intelligently and capably. I am thankful for every therapist, resource, and every bit of research that has brought us to this point. And YOU are amazing, even though that's not what you're fishing for here, it is true nonetheless.

becca said...

The future is bright! Once again, it is so remarkable to see the progress of a few months. Maybe some parents who stumble across your blog in a time of need will be able to catch some hope from what you have written.