Strategies for Success

So the behavior specialist that was over yesterday morning called me back a few hours after she’d left and asked if she could come back over to discuss a few things. I got Javan down for his nap and told her to come on over. She showed me a TON of information from various websites that I can read over, mostly pertaining to ABA, and directed me to 6-10 hours of online courses I can take to help train me in ABA. ABA stands for applied behavioral analysis and it’s a method of observing specific behaviors, when and why they happen, and then slowly changing those behaviors. She’s confident this will work for Javan.

This week, starting today, she has me recording everytime he hits or threatens to hit or hurt, where he was, what happened right before he hit, who was involved, and how we redirected him afterwards. Today, I recorded seven hits and nine threats. After we’ve collected that data for a week, she’ll look over it all and assess it to help us identify triggers and help us begin to extinguish those behaviors. So, basically we’ll be tackling issues one at a time in order of immediate importance. And we’ll be getting training to make sure that the adults at school and at home are consistent with using the same strategies. In addition to decreasing unwanted behaviors, ABA can also be used to introduce and increase wanted behaviors and needed skills, so although there’s an intimidating learning curve I’m excited to have this strategy under my belt.

She also told me to focus on using a strategy called ‘precision requests.’ As you know, dear readers, I tend to use a lot of words. This doesn’t exactly encourage compliance in an autistic child with auditory processing difficulties. Nor does my emotional nature translate well to a child who has difficulties understanding facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. Therefore, I’m to make requests using few words, simple words, in a flat tone. And I’m to make the request and walk away, count to 15, come back and repeat the request in the same way if the task has not been completed. Ok, seriously, this one’s going to be very hard for me. I mean, I’ll try it, but I’ll need some extra calming herbal tea or something.

She also asked if we’d had genetic testing done for Javan, which we haven’t. She said she sees possible indicators of a genetic abnormality or a possible syndrome and that if genetic testing detects abnormalities, we could obtain some really useful information that way. She doesn’t think Javan’s condition is any more severe than other cases she’s seen, she just gets the feeling there’s something different going on here. His diagnoses are all over the place, he has characteristics of this, that, and the other, and genetic testing could possibly help us narrow our focus. So I called the pediatrician, who agreed to refer him to a specialist in Dallas. I’m excited/nervous to see what comes of that.

The last bit of news she left me with was that her daughter, who is a psych major working on her master’s degree (not sure if that’s psychology or psychiatry) is interested in becoming Javan’s personal aide at school. Interesting. I don’t know when I’ll get to meet her and see how she and Javan do together, but at least we have a possible lead there.

That’s all for now. I think this is gonna work!

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