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Answer my ABA questions please

(8 Posts)
DayBurner Tue 18-Feb-14 21:09:57

Evening all!

I'm looking to start an ABA programme with my nearly 4 year old with Asperger's and have done so much research over the last week that my head is spinning. I've read loads of old threads on here but can't fathom the answers to the following.

Any information will be gratefully received!

1) Considering my DS age and diagnosis, can I do, say, 21 hours per week instead of the recommended 35-40?

2) Can he continue to attend nursery as usual (i.e. without an ABA tutor) for 2 mornings a week? He enjoys it and I'm not sure I want to rock the boat there for the few months remaining before summer hols then school.

3) What are the benefits of going through Peach? Is it the vetted and experienced Case Managers and access to their list of tutors?

4) Who decides the day-to-day tasks for DS? If I employ someone with no experience, for example, I know they get training but do they report back to the Case Manager every evening and get told what to do the next day?

5) Is ABA suitable for improving speech, eating, the ability to play and the ability to concentrate (our main issues currently)?

6) I'm a SAHM. What do I do when the tutor is with my DS? Do I listen in? Help out? Stay well out of it?

Well, that looks quite long blush. Thanks to anyone who has time to post.

bialystockandbloom Tue 18-Feb-14 21:33:18

Hi, just to answer you quickly:

1. Yes, we only did around 18-20 hours a week.

2. Of course he can attend nursery without a tutor, but it might be sensible to talk to them really thoroughly to ensure consistency of approach, tell them about what targets you're working on, how to support him etc

3. We used an independent consultant. I would probably look more at VB (verbal behaviour) approach, and as much NET (natural environment teaching) as possible as opposed to table-top stuff. If he's high functioning, table top prob not suitable.

4. Targets set by consultant and supervisor, with lead tutor ensuring all tutors are following programme.

5. Yes ABA can be used for all the above, and used for whatever you want to teach. It's just a teaching method. With a good programme, consultant, and tutors, you should see success in whatever areas you are targeting.

6. Being around is the absolute best opportunity for you to learn how to do it too. And really important to show you how to remain consistent with what the tutors do. Don't worry about how it'll work - it should fall into place. If the tutor wants to work on something without you, they'll tell you. If they want your direct involvement they'll tell you too. And the rest of the time you can just get on with doing what you're doing, and the programme will fit around everyday life.

Good luck, hope the programme all goes well for you and ds smile

Hi there, I just typed out a full answer but my phone then played around and deleted it somehow! But I do want to answer so will do so when I am at the big computer tomorrow morning!

bialystockandbloom Tue 18-Feb-14 21:34:29

Only other thing I'd say is start thinking really carefully now about schools.... if you're doing ABA and want to continue at school, getting school on board/statement etc is crucial!

AgnesDiPesto Tue 18-Feb-14 22:30:43

1) Considering my DS age and diagnosis, can I do, say, 21 hours per week instead of the recommended 35-40? Yes we did 15-20. We now do more as we have it funded by LA (via tribunal) and DS has more severe autism

2) Can he continue to attend nursery as usual (i.e. without an ABA tutor) for 2 mornings a week? Yes but consistency of approach does help so try and get them on board with what you are doing at home. Its useful to tell them you are starting some home therapy and see if they notice a difference - that proved to be great evidence for us ABA was working then we brought ABA approaches into nursery once they had noticed positive effects and were interested in what we were doing differently

3) What are the benefits of going through Peach? PEACH wasn't able to cover my area. We use an established provider and it does take a lot of hassle out of it e.g. find tutors and train them all etc

4) Who decides the day-to-day tasks for DS? CaSe Manager or supervisor / consultant - we had tasks set and updated weekly to fortnightly (depends how quickly progress). Weekly - fortnightly supervision would include watching tutor / us work with DS and correcting / training us.

5) Is ABA suitable for improving speech, eating, the ability to play and the ability to concentrate (our main issues currently)? YES! All we have seen great progress with all of these.

6) I'm a SAHM. What do I do when the tutor is with my DS? Do I listen in? Help out? Stay well out of it? A mixture. Learn what you can so you can follow it up, but children can be different when you are there and also take opportunity to have a break!

Kakty3 Wed 19-Feb-14 16:44:13

This is going to be long, but hopefully useful. Just like you I crawled all over this board last year to try and piece it all together, so I am glad if I can pass some of what I have learn since then down.

Also, I perfectly understand that many parents aren't able to afford a full-time ABA programme for their children and this is not meant to discourage those who are able to do even a few hours of therapy a week.

1) Considering my DS age and diagnosis, can I do, say, 21 hours per week instead of the recommended 35-40?

As I read through the original research when I was in your position last year, I noted that the intensity of the programme and the intensity of supervision (see below) were two out of four variables (IQ and age at intake being the other two) that were statistically significant for programme outcomes. Therefore, we have gone with the full time (37.5 hours a week) programme.

FYO, our DS was nearly four when we started and has a diagnosis of Autism (with higher than normal intelligence, although his language was disordered).

2) Can he continue to attend nursery as usual (i.e. without an ABA tutor) for 2 mornings a week? He enjoys it and I'm not sure I want to rock the boat there for the few months remaining before summer hols then school.

He didn’t attend nursery at the time (in fact, trying to start him in nursery is what lead to the diagnosis), but given our experience, it was difficult to imagine how it would fit early on.

It is very important, in my view, particularly in the early days, that your child is treated consistently in all settings and the fact that his nursery staff is probably treating him as a ‘quirky’/’naughty’ child, for example, may be unhelpful.

For us, “learning to learn”, i.e. compliance, was the major skill he needed to gain to progress that took several months to achieve and we, as a family, thought that anything that was taking away from that goal was a distraction.

Having said that, we started nursery after NY (with our own shadows) and he is really enjoying it there (i.e. actually talks about going there and looks forward to it). He is still not engaging with his peers much, but has already charmed the adults working there and is very comfortable participating, listening to the stories, doing arts & crafts, etc. None of these would have been possible without our ABA team.

3) What are the benefits of going through Peach? Is it the vetted and experienced Case Managers and access to their list of tutors?

We interviewed Peach (as well as other providers) and decided to go with UK Young Autism Project, not least because their full-time intensive programme comes fully staffed (the programme consultant, senior tutor plus two junior tutors). Each of our team has a relevant Masters degree and has been pre-vetted by UK YAP, for us that was a major advantage. Also, once you factor in the level of supervision (we have a weekly all parties meeting for 2.5 hours plus two sessions attended by the consultant, plus a monthly Director meeting) they actually become more competitive than a lot of indi providers, who will gladly match the level of supervision (at their standard daily rate).

4) Who decides the day-to-day tasks for DS? If I employ someone with no experience, for example, I know they get training but do they report back to the Case Manager every evening and get told what to do the next day?

This is what the team meetings are for. The progress is measured, reviewed and discussed and everyone provides their input (including parents, as we also observe the behaviours and impact the priorities). The consultant (together with senior tutor) is then responsible for writing the programmes for the team to implement during the week; each programme deals with a specific area/skill/etc. Of course, the team continues to communicate through the week, as needed (and the consultant and senior tutor also do 'overlap' sessions where they test the consistency of the therapy).

5) Is ABA suitable for improving speech, eating, the ability to play and the ability to concentrate (our main issues currently)?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. A lot of DS's language was repetitive and disordered and generally broken (mixed pronouns, etc.) when we started. He has improved significantly since since late August and about a month ago he finally started asking independent questions (a major breakthrough only a parent of a child with SN would understand!).

He had no imaginary play whatsoever on intake (ipad and puzzles only), and this has been a major area we wanted to bring out, so he has done a lot of imaginary play, scenarios, turn taking, character imitation, etc. I am not going to tell you that his play is now indistinguishable from a NT child, but he can pretend-play now, take turns, voice over and make up new scenarios with his characters, dress them up, etc. It’s a joy to watch.

His flexibility is significantly improved too, and that was another biggie for us (in general, rigidity is his trademark quality in common with a lot of other ASD children).

We left food out of it until recently, as even though he has a very limited diet, it’s actually not too bad from the nutritional standpoint and we are supplementing in those areas that needed addressing (Vitamin D3, zinc, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B12 and Omega-3). We have recently started on the food-specific programme, and early results are encouraging.

I can't truly comment on the ability to concentrate, as it may mean somewhat different things to different people. For us it was more a case of getting him to engage in things other than on his agenda, and yes, he can do that. He actually enjoys the table work that forms part of the programme and would come and ask me to do some of this with him on the weekends ("Daddy, let's do the opposites!" with flashcards smile).

6) I'm a SAHM. What do I do when the tutor is with my DS? Do I listen in? Help out? Stay well out of it?

Our DS was extremely attached to my wife (I am a dad, btw), so she had to spend the first two months pretty much glued to him and the tutors. In her own words, it was the hardest period of her adult life, as he used every possible way of getting out of doing things now on his agenda and the boy can tantrum. He loves his tutors now and looks forward to doing “some nice work” as “he needs to learn” smile

She is SAHM too and is involved in some of the sessions, but finally has some time to do things on her own or around the house for the first time in four years. We don't formally do ABA sessions during the weekend, but we continue with a lot of the social and language elements of the programme regardless.

DayBurner Thu 20-Feb-14 21:22:43

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for your replies - I truly appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences. Sorry it's taken me a while to reply - I took to my bed with the lurgy shortly after posting!

I'm going to look into your suggestions and may post again when I've done my homework.

Actually, I feel like shouting "bingo" as I had a mental list of a few people whose previous posts I've read on the subject and who I hoped might rock up and reply, and here a few of you are grin

Sorry, did not get back to you as I said I would. The other posters have said most of it so I will just add my brief comment from my personal POV:

1) Considering my DS age and diagnosis, can I do, say, 21 hours per week instead of the recommended 35-40?

Whatever level you do will be beneficial. We did up to 30 a week before DS started school, he is now at 20 a week, as that is what we have managed to get funded, and we eventually ran out of money funding it ourselves.

2) Can he continue to attend nursery as usual.

We managed to get the nursery on board with allowing the tutors to come in to the nursery (was a private nursery). We felt strongly that although we wanted an intensive programme we did not want him to become socially isolated. I think this stood him in good stead in managing to go now to mainstream school at present despite being non-verbal.

3) What are the benefits of going through Peach?

We went to a Peach seminar but decided that we preferred to keep the control ourselves. It really is a matter of personal preference. I am too much of a control freak to allow anyone else to run the show! Others may find the more packaged approach easier to work with.

4) Who decides the day-to-day tasks for DS?

In our case it is the consultant who sets the focus and elements/targets of the programme, but the tutors (who are very experienced) do make their own decisions about exactly what they will do each day. And I make up and collate all the data recording sheets so i know exactly what is being done every day.

5) Is ABA suitable for improving speech, eating, the ability to play and the ability to concentrate (our main issues currently)?

Yes yes yes yes! (In our case we have not got speech, as DS does not appear to physically capable of this, but we are working on communication in general,which is now including a typing programme).

6) I'm a SAHM. What do I do when the tutor is with my DS?

I am not at home most of the time (or am working when I am) but our nanny is and what she does is let the tutors get on with their work, but also watch sometimes, ask their advice about dealing with behaviours etc, and help them if they ask for it. We all (family, nanny and tutors) attend all the consultant workshops, so we all know what is going on, but we let the tutors actually deliver the formal programme. (see also my comments in the other recent ABA thread on her about being a Mummy when I am with him rather than a tutor).

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