July 28, 2013
BCBA to the Rescue…
“Over here Justin” I instruct my eldest son, thwarting his attempt to gain entrance to our garage to make a “trade” of one of his coveted music toys. He resists briefly, but then willingly walks over to our kitchen table and takes a seat, positioned inches from a stack of closed plastic drawers with unknown treasures inside.
Without even prompting him he drops his mini-keyboard on a placemat and opens the top drawer, quickly palming the cracker inside before taking out the activity lying in wait within.
He finishes it quickly, replaces it and moves on to the next drawer without so much as even a gestural prompt from his mom or the BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) standing behind him. After ten minutes or so he completes all the activities, stands, and happily walks over to where his DVD player awaits him, and is soon immersed in the drama of Toy Story Two. Our consultant smiles at me, and I walk over to my son, and tell him “good job”, and give him a hug.
One challenge conquered, only 5,182 left to go.
My eldest son, who is ten, has severe autism. At this point in his life he is still non-verbal, and most of the time is an absolute delight. He is the child who nestles into my lap at night for a goodnight kiss, reveling in the reading of one of his childhood favorites.
He enjoys playing games with his parents which involve hugs and kisses, and his joy at seeing us after any type of separation is immediate and boundless. Justin is our snuggly boy, but his type of autism comes with some serious challenges. Our family is fortunate in that we have access to an expert BCBA from the private autism school he attends, and I’ve prevailed upon her to help us in this latest cycle of OCD-like behavior which is wreaking havoc on our home, and most importantly, causing great distress to our son. I’m hoping she can help us.
I’m certain she won’t leave until she does.
We’ve weathered many a challenge with Justin over the years, from potty training to sleepless nights, eating problems and aggression. For the most part we have these issues under control now, which is I believe as much due to teaching our son as it is to his inherent desire to please.
The pinching still rears its ugly head at times when he doesn’t get his way, but even these incidents have dissipated over the years. Our remaining challenges (at least at this moment) center around his desire to “trade” toys from bins in our living room to the garage in an endless cycle that robs him of joy, and his desire to leave anywhere our family ventures within twenty-two minutes of our arrival.
Today we’ve chosen to address the first issue, and so far I’m very pleased with the results, although I know the true test will be whether or not I can engage him in these activities while simultaneously entertaining my youngest son and preparing a meal, neither of which I have to accomplish at this exact moment. So far however I’m thrilled we’ve broken the cycle, that he’s beaming, that my happy child has returned.
I am really, really, hoping this works. Really.
It will be up to me to carry out my “homework” over the next week before our illustrious BCBA returns, and I’m hoping to have a good report for our expert. Next week we focus on leisure activities, including staying at our pool for more that five consecutive minutes, and enjoying the Point Beach boardwalk for more than its convenient carbs.
I am hell-bent on my family of four being able to enjoy fun activities together, but with severe autism as a factor, sometimes I need a little help to realize my dreams. Justin’s BCBA brings with her a bag of tricks and much encouragement, but she brings something much more important.
She brings hope.