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