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ABA or not to ABA

(15 Posts)
MommyToMyLittleStar Wed 12-Nov-14 10:39:22

3 yr old DS1 on spectrum (just diagnosed) doesn't communicate much. Has a few words which he rarely uses, babbles all the time at home. Prefers playing on own, always running/ climbing than playing with toys. Happy smiley boy in general, very string willed- tantrums only when he doesn't get his way but that is reduced a lot these days. Follows simple instructions, even some 2 step instructions.
Anyway his speech & communication is worrying me crazy! NHS have suggested intensive interaction & PECS which we just started & he seems to be responding. With DH working long hours & us having a 3 month old DS2 I can't give DS1 full attention. He goes to a private nursery 3 days a week where he is well settled & well behaved (but again prefers playing on own & very quiet)
I have been looking into ABA- they quote crazy costs plus am not sure wether I want him drilled for so 30-40 hours a week by a tutor. And also am not sure how to find a tutor in Leeds. Called PEACH & they said to join their online community (for £30) & I 'may' find a tutor there- but no guarantee.
I am wondering wether ABA will suit us or not? Last thing I want is to let him not have a happy childhood because he is autistic, which is my biggest worry about ABA- it may make him unhappy. Has anyone had bad experience of ABA?
Also wondering can we apply ABA principles ourselves in interaction with him? That way of he's too upset I can stop than having a tutor continue grilling him.
I would like to hear your opinions/ suggestions please.

boobybum Wed 12-Nov-14 11:05:39

You can most certainly apply ABA principles yourself and you can get trained up to do the tutoring yourself by a BCBA (you can go on the website to find someone near you). When we first started out I did the majority of the tutoring myself and don't worry about 30-40 hours per week of drills - that really isn't what ABA is about. I think research has shown that less hours can have just as good an effect and if you are applying the principles in everyday life that will have a massive impact. ABA isn't all about sitting at a table being drilled especially I would say at the start.
It should be fun for the child and more about them learning that other people can be fun too. It is about reinforcing desired behaviour so it could be as simple as putting your child on a swing (if he enjoys swinging) and waiting for him to say 'swing' (or an approximation) and then reinforcing him by pushing the swing. If it's language that concerns you most at the moment try having a box of special reinforcers (sweets, bubbles, novel toys, lights etc) that are kept out of reach and get your DS to 'ask' before he has access to them. As I said that might only mean saying 'ba' for bubbles depending on his language skills at the moment.

Imitation is a key skill and you can start working on this by sitting opposite your DS and saying 'do this' whilst clapping your hands. You then reinforce him with say a sweet when he copies you. It may be that you need to physically prompt him initially by holding his hands to make him clap but eventually you could fade that help.
Activities that need you are great - such as pushing him on a swing, bouncing holding his hands on a trampoline, blowing bubbles etc. He will learns that others are fun and also that if he communicates (through speech or PECS) he can get what he wants. Incidentally I haven't done it but many others on here have highly recommended the two day PECS course run by Pyramid training. It is also a great introduction to the basic principles of ABA.

There is also a ABA yahoo group and ABA4All Facebook page where you might find local tutors. If you can't find any tutors as I said you, family, friends can get trained up. Or local Uni students, nannies etc.

I would recommend a book by Robert Schramm called 'motivation and reinforcement' and a good introduction to ABA.

Also not sure if you qualify but there is a charity called Caudwell who give grants of £2000 towards ABA so you might want to look into that.

Good luck

MommyToMyLittleStar Wed 12-Nov-14 11:27:53

Thank you boobybum for the information. Very much appreciated. I will get that book. I tried BCBA website- only consultant around says only supervises those perusing a BCBA degree. I have contacted autism partnership & PEACH- they all say we need to employ a tutor- we don't have any family arounds & most friends have their jobs / children...
Did you do ABA yourself in the beginning? We will try the approaches you have suggested.
We are paying a private SLT to help us with PECS & also the NHS has offered stay & play sessions for DS1 from next week once a week.
Did look at the charity & we are not eligible for help.
Are you familiar with VB MAPP? I am thinking of buying & hoping I can DIY.

MommyToMyLittleStar Wed 12-Nov-14 11:36:22

Also in terms of copying DS1 can copy but again doesn't always copy! He's had some regression we thought- but then occasionally he does it again (ex like waving bye/ clap/ point )

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 12-Nov-14 11:50:35

Just a few points from your OP.

'That way of he's too upset I can stop than having a tutor continue grilling him.'

That sounds more like a scenario from Local Authority standard intervention involving ignorant staff who assume difficult behaviours are due to naughtiness. This doesn't happen on ABA programmes, and if you ever see it you must show that tutor the door.

'NHS have suggested intensive interaction & PECS which we just started & he seems to be responding'

There is no evidence base for intensive interaction and PECS is ABA (though unlikely to be being done properly in most cases).

'I have been looking into ABA- they quote crazy costs plus am not sure wether I want him drilled for so 30-40 hours a week by a tutor.'

ABA isn't an organisation. 'They' can't quote any costs any more than Chemistry can quote costs. ABA is a science, - the science of learning. You analyse skills that need learning, and then teach them to the child according to their individual needs and motivations, acknowledging that cooperation and interest having the biggest influence of progress and pace (far more than drilling boring stuff) and so therefore children on ABA programmes are enthusiastic about what they are doing and proud of their achievements.

Also, like anything, the more you practice something, the better you get. 2 hours of violin practice a week could easily make you a violin player. 40 hours a week will do it faster. My son did between 10-15 hours of ABA a week and most of it was delivered by me. The most significant aspect of our programme was that as parents we learned how to slip learning target practice into ds' daily living without him noticing he was doing anything other than what made him happy.

If you PM me your email address I will send you a link to a video of my child's ABA programme. You can judge for yourself his level of happiness.

MommyToMyLittleStar Wed 12-Nov-14 12:03:41

Thank you starlight for replying. I am just coming to terms with DS's diagnosis & am pretty confused. I read about autistic children who had ABA having PTSD later so I got worried. I am glad your DS was happy during ABA & I hope my DS also will be happy.
How did you get a home ABA programme which you delivered yourself? Did you do it by reading books or did you have a consultant to supervise it?
When I said they quote high costs , I meant the organisations I looked into (peach & autism partnership)
What I would ideally like to do is do ABA myself & have a consultant set a programme for us & yes about 10-15 hours/week sounds doable for me.

MommyToMyLittleStar Wed 12-Nov-14 12:06:37

Also starlight, I am new to mumsnet as well & can't see how to private message- maybe because I am viewing from my phone. I would really love to see your video.

salondon Wed 12-Nov-14 12:18:18

nothing more to add... I would suggest looking into ABA/VB

MommyToMyLittleStar Wed 12-Nov-14 12:57:22

Thanks salondon
Will look into it.

boobybum Wed 12-Nov-14 14:49:30

Hello again,

We started off using ABLLS and you can get something called WebABLLS which has loads of videos and was very useful.

In terms of finding a consultant do look slightly further afield as most of them will travel within a reasonable distance.

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 12-Nov-14 20:32:16

My boy had ABA from 3, loved it. all v play-based despite the misinformation I had been fed about it by the LA. Best thing we did, the rest we were offered was shite. Good luck

cansu Wed 12-Nov-14 21:00:39

We did it for our dd for about two years. She started off with twelve hours a week and it was combined with part time nursery. The most we ever did was about twenty hours a week. It was fun for her, it has to be as it is all about motivation. We started off with an independent consultant to train me and two tutors. The tutors were mums with some child care experience one had done childminding and one had helped out at a playgroup. They were both fab. Later on we added a professional tutor so I could step back. It was expensive but not the crazy money quoted by some organisations to run your programme for you. If you are interested start small and. See how it works for your family. Pm me if you want any recommendations. If you are near Essex, suffolk, I know a good consultant who doesn't charge the earth.

MommyToMyLittleStar Wed 12-Nov-14 21:10:37

Thank you all for replying- you all have convinced me about ABA! Cansu1 Thanks! I am in Leeds though & much harder to find consultants up north- on waiting list with AP & still on look out for independent supervisor/consultant (BTW what's the difference?)
I hope to start doing self!

cansu Wed 12-Nov-14 21:25:54

I looked at peach but the had someone who works for herself recommended to me. She was always available to talk through stuff. Was cheaper as she wasn't travelling so far. Felt we would get more of her time and attention. Maybe start trying to get some recommendations from other parents on aba forums. The advantage of being in city like Leeds is the university will be rich source of tutors for you!

salondon Fri 14-Nov-14 08:39:17

Consultants travel across the country, Skype and travel abroad. Shouldn't be a problem. I would say talk to lots of them. Peach gave us a free consult. I didn't go with peach because I liked another independent consultant

I feel one needs a local supervisor/lead tutor. For the rest you can look at students, older cousins , friends' kids, baby sitters, current nursery staff

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