A Different Perspective

Dear Oliver,

April is your month my love! It is Autism Awareness Month and I wanted to write to you about my thoughts on ABA therapy and how we are doing things differently around here.  You are a free bird.  You explore your world and I am there to be sure that you are safe.  That is my job.  I believe that people who have been diagnosed as having autism are highly intelligent introverts. I have been thinking a lot about an alternative, any alternative, to intensive therapy that makes you so uncomfortable that you begin to stim.  When you stim you typically rock on the recliner or jump on your trampoline.  Occasionally you will pace or spin anything in sight.  Stimming is your way of self soothing.  If you are in pain, overwhelmed, anxious, or uncomfortable stimming helps you to cope.  Therapists want me to direct you to something that society thinks is more socially acceptable when you start to stim.  This makes no sense to me.  I am supposed to force you to do something that society says is “normal” and you become so uncomfortable that you try to self soothe by stimming and I am supposed to stop you from doing that too!  People wonder why meltdowns erupt like Mount Etna.  Some questions popped into my head that I think need answers.  Is ABA therapy really effective or are we forcing children with ASD to live in constant discomfort? Are children with ASD highly intelligent introverts and should we instead focus on their strengths instead of pushing them to change what we perceive to be weaknesses?  Would catering to their strengths in turn build confidence and self esteem resulting in less repetitive behaviors due to a lessened need for self soothing?

I have gone in the complete opposite direction with you.  I don’t let autism be your crutch.  In fact your autism gives you an advantage since I am convinced you use parts of your brain that we “normal” people only can dream of using.  By nature I am an introvert so I understand your need to be alone in your thoughts.  I have directed your therapy towards things that you enjoy.  I do not force you to do anything that makes you anxious or overwhelmed.  I have allowed you to have Oliver time.  If you aren’t interested in hanging out I get that.  I have allowed you to grow and develop in your time on your terms.  If you need to stim I don’t interrupt that and sometimes it may last hours of you rocking or spinning but you are happy and personally I think all of your quirks are fascinating.  All day I watch you.  I observe you and everyday you amaze me.  So I have chosen not to go the ABA route but instead focus on your strengths.  The result?  An easy child who smiles almost all day.  A child who has become more and more social, making eye contact, kissing me, hugging me, rolling a ball back and forth with me, and a child who is trying out different sounds.  A child who sleeps and enjoys every day.  I hear horror stories of children who never sleep and have all day meltdowns.  I believe it is because we are expected to change you and mold you into someone you are not.  My method is working.

Oliver I feel compelled to change the methods of ABA therapy.  I know that children with ASD, SPD, ODD, GAD, among other diagnoses would thrive if we would just allow them to be who they are and support them and love them.  You have come out of your shell.  You have stopped spinning plates and lids.  You are slowing eliminating meltdowns and you are becoming someone I admire.  Someone with strength and endurance, a person with interests and a child who shows me love everyday.  Medication scares me and I know that some children require medication but the side effects are horrifying.  I am hoping that as you get older you continue to make your way comfortably without the need for medication.  I am so thankful that you have such a sweet demeanor and such a loving soul.

So together we will show the world that ASD is not a disability at all.  It is simply part of who you are.  Who 1 in 88 are.  Its intriguing and if we nuture it I believe that our world will be a much better place.  A much more pleasant place.  I believe that your intelligence is going to help you soar Oliver.  I love your ASD.  I love your SPD…. I love your soul!!!!!

 

Love,

Mommy

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9 thoughts on “A Different Perspective

  1. If ABA is not for your son, find something that will work. At the end of the day all parents should want the best for their child. I have my son in ABA but he is also in music, art, speech, swimming and Occupational therapy. I cannot be there for my son 24 hours a day. There will come a time he will have to be able to do for himself. ABA is preparing him for this. He has friends who are not on the spectrum. He is able to do his active daily living skills. This is because of God, me and ABA.

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    • Oliver receives in home therapy and his therapist and I agree that he wasn’t responding well to ABA. I just wanted to show that ABA is not the best thing for every child on the spectrum. I would never tell someone that they are wrong for having their child in ABA. I am open minded and I hope I didn’t come across that way. I just wanted to give a different perspective and show people that it’s okay to say no to any therapy and it’s okay if you decide to go against recommendations that you feel are not working. It just shows that autism truly is puzzling. Oliver is doing something new every week and his therapist is thrilled to see that what I am doing with him is working. I am happy that your son is doing so well! I just wanted to show that there is more out there than ABA and it is not the end all be all. There are other options. Being free to raise our children however we feel is best is paramount and I do believe that ABA does work for some children. Just shedding some light. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • So far I think that I found a way in. He is letting me in to his world. Tonight I was repeating the word water as I poured water from a cup into the bathtub and I could see him thinking. All of the sudden he said very quietly wadda!!!!! I think I figured out how to reach my baby! I am beyond thrilled! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. This post made me want to stand up and YES!!! Oliver sounds so much like my Cooper. We got to the point where all of the therapy was make Cooper crazy…make me crazy…it was bad. It became a negative force in our lives. It made me resent Cooper and his behaviors. And then I started to hate myself. We actually stopped everything around 2.5 and then slowly started adding therapy back in. But on our terms. We found people that we loved and loved Cooper. I also do A LOT of activities at home. And they are simple. Like brushing teeth or washing hands. Little challenges that slowly turn into victories and routine. I love this post. Now, I need to read more about Oliver! Thanks!

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    • You just made my day! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much for our kind words. Thank you for sharing Cooper’s experience. Its so nice to know I’m not alone! Thanks for reading!
      By the way I love Cooper’s name!

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  3. The journey into autism that I have experienced is that it is not the child who needs changing but the people around them. Each one so different that a certain set of therapies does not work on everybody. When I look back the things that got us through and get us through now….patience, love and most of all understanding your child’s needs. Of which you do so very well Oliver is a lucky boy to have a mum like you. Like you, I teach my child that autism is just a small part of him and he embraces it, saying it makes him who he is and he would not change who he is. Great post, there are no clear rules or miracle therapies…just you and your ability to see what works and what doesn’t. Have a happy day with your little man.

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