Thursday, April 2, 2009

Good Looking At Me!

"Touch red. No, this is red. Touch red....GOOD JOB!" Several high fives and loudly proclaimed yays later, we are back at it.

"Eli. Eli. Look at me. Look at me....GOOD LOOKING AT ME!" More yays and high fives and maybe a tickle.

"No. It's worktime." (Sign work time.) "First work, then ball."

"Ont baw."
"ELI! Good talking! Good talking to Mama!"

"Touch stomach. Stomach. Here. This is your s.t.o.m.a.c.h. Eli. Touch stomach...YAAAY!"

"Now it's breaktime." (Sign break time.) "Take a break, Eli."

And so it goes. Over and over. This is what Discrete Trial sounds like. Discrete Trial is a component of ABA therapy, or Applied Behavioral Analysis, the therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Kids with Autism must be taught in small repetitive increments. One skill must be repeated ten times, one hundred times, one thousand times. The color red, for example. Eli is learning the color red. We have been working on the color red since November. He is 'touching' red most of the time now. But, we haven't started adding a distracter yet. It's just red. A red square or a picture of something red. No other color. Next, we'll work on blue. When he willingly touches blue at least 80% of the time, we'll start back with 'touch red' while showing him a red object beside a blue object. And we'll go on and on until he can identify his colors.

At 3 yrs, 4 months old, Eli has speech therapy, feeding therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy every week. He attends a public school preschool that is ABA methodology-based five days a week. He receives his discrete trial therapy every morning at school and works again at home in the afternoon.

Every opportunity is a learning experience. This is true for all of us. With Eli, every opportunity is a basic, broken-down-into-pieces learning experience. If he wants to work a puzzle, he works a puzzle. We talk about the picture on the puzzle, we trace the shapes within the puzzle, we point to the color red. If he picks up a toy, someone in the house is down with him for Floortime, another component of ABA. This is when he learns to interact with another person and make more eye contact, share (my turn, your turn) and play with the toy appropriately instead of just, say, spinning its wheels.

Eli is diagnosed with PDD-NOS. This is also called Atypical Autism or sometimes High Functioning Autism. Eli happens to love discrete trial work. A real blessing. He lives in a home where he has four siblings and two parents who love him and care about his future. Everyone pitches in to help. Another blessing. Blessed? By autism? We are so blessed because of Eli!

Because Autism therapies are not covered by health insurance, his home therapist is....me. I'm not a trained ABA therapist. I'm just his mom. And I'll do whatever it takes to help him.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Here are some facts about Autism.

*Taken from Autism Speaks.org:

  • 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism
  • 1 in 94 boys is on the autism spectrum
  • 67 children are diagnosed per day
  • A new case is diagnosed almost every 20 minutes
  • More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined
  • Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
  • Autism costs the nation over $35 billion per year, a figure expected to significantly increase in the next decade
  • Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
  • Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism
  • There is no medical detection or cure for autism

To find out more about Autism, visit the following web sites:




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