Tuesday, May 22, 2012

After "Early" and "Intensive": The Next Step

We are making changes in this household.

My son’s time with formal ABA therapy will come to an end soon. At this point, I have no intention to continue it on a professional level. He is scheduled to “graduate” from his school in August.

No decision has been made lightly, despite my moments of rebellion where I insist it’s time to “wing it” already. Oh, just pull the dang band aid off, I think. Throw him in a regular education program already. Sink or swim! Now now now!

I go swinging from both extremes (as usual). Reading blogs by parents who obviously have different perspectives, where they are working on things I haven’t even bothered to worry about. At one point I pull out the ABA Bible, Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism, and I flip through all the programs my son hasn’t mastered.

But I’ve made up my mind about some things. I found him a good preschool. Good on many levels. Some of those levels have less to do with what I think my son needs and more about what would be awesomely convenient for our family. And you know what? I think we’re ready for that type of balance.

I talked to the Director at his school. It really didn’t surprise me that she was supportive—I was surprised she insisted we “fine tune” things with my son, but it doesn’t make me nervous. I feel we are absolutely on the same page.

So where are we at? We have cut his hours back at his formal ABA school, and I’ve already enrolled him at a regular education preschool. He will do two days a week at each school for the rest of the summer. I figure it’s a good idea to see how well he takes to a regular education environment with his typical peers before he leaves his other school behind. NOT that I have any doubt that his ABA school would work with us past his graduation if the situation warranted it, but I LOVE that we can simultaneously  get some practice with his typical peers and address any issues that pop up in real life through therapy.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching about what the end of formal ABA therapy means for our family. It is very easy to say “Okay, we’ll make reasonable progress, and then continue with ABA techniques at home.” It’s another thing to get a real grasp on what “reasonable enough progress” means in terms of ending professional, INTENSIVE services that are obviously helpful. But if he is school ready, I want to push him to do well independently. 

My son has spent two years building enough skills to successfully learn and behave in a school environment. He has pretty effective social and communication skills, but most of his peers are starting to reach a level of complexity he hasn't arrived at yet. I do not think we are done with all professional treatment right now, but we are moving on from the Early Intensive Intervention stage.

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