web analytics
December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Life Lessons From Raising An Autistic Child (Part III) – Therapy


Arnold-053113-Girl

After several years of not getting past stage one in DIR, of spending every therapy session unsuccessfully trying to regulate his hyperactivity, we finally decide it’s time for a switch.

The ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Therapy Session

“Say ‘more’.”

Menachem looks at me briefly, then tries to grab the cookie on the table. I reach it first, and shake my head at him firmly. “No.”Arnold-053113-Train

I try again. “Say ‘more.’” I over-enunciate, so that he can observe the mouth movements.

Menachem wriggles and squirms, and makes another attempt for the cookie.

“Say ‘more.’”

“Mmmma.”

My eyes widen, and, exultant, I hand Menachem the cookie, which he gobbles up.

He reaches for another.

“Say ‘more.’”

We go through this routine for the prescribed amount of time, which isn’t a whole lot, when taking into account how long Menachem can reasonably be expected to sit. Later in the day, I’m still on a high from our victory, when Menachen begins pushing his little sister. She wails, and my insides tense up. But I know the ABA rules of behavior modification, and I’ve learned to plan before reacting.

“Menachem, no pushing,” I say, separating him from my daughter.

She edges away. Menachem eyes her, ready to pounce. Now is not the time for any rewards. I continue holding him, protecting my daughter from an attack. Slowly, I feel him slacken, feel his body relax, and I can tell the urge to hit has left him. Now I can present him with his reinforcement.

“Good job, Menachem! You aren’t pushing.” I hand him a candy.

No more spending countless hours making Menachem feel we understand his tantrums. In ABA therapy, they don’t stand for such nonsense. Child’s screaming on the floor? Then make him sit up. Not by force, but by behavioral reinforcement. In ABA, it doesn’t really matter what the child’s feeling; this is a scientific program aimed at teaching specific skills. And by acquiring those skills, be it learning colors or learning to dress himself, the child is gaining knowledge that helps him become a more integrated, connected member of society.

For me, this is a breath of fresh air. Finally, a therapy that makes sense! A system that is logical and measurable, that is designed to teach functional behaviors; I wish we’d heard of this option sooner. Perhaps, had Menachem not wasted his critical early years working on eye contact, he would be toilet trained by now.

To me, it seems like Menachem is taking to this approach. I can sense the tension drain from him, as his therapist shows him his daily pictorial schedule. First we say hello and take off our coats, then we sit and do work, then snack time…as each task is completed, each picture is removed from the board. There are no surprises; Menachem knows exactly what to expect. For children with autism, this is hugely comforting.

But there are expectations that go along with this therapy. Unlike DIR, where the focus is on understanding the child, and giving meaning to his world, in ABA the focus is on the child understanding what is expected of him, and complying. And my child, it turns out as time progresses, is not very compliant. After three years, he is thrown out of his school. The therapists say he’s too uncooperative to work with.

No one ever said raising a child such as Menachem was easy.

Will Menachem ultimately grow more using the holistic, child-centered DIR approach? I do know that, in our efforts to learn and use this therapy technique, we have gained something priceless: some wonderful moments of connection that we otherwise would not have known how to elicit. When I join Menachem in his races up and down the stairs, and he suddenly looks at me and smiles, or when he takes me by the hand and starts to jump, telling me in the way he knows how that he wants my company in this activity, I know that DIR has given me the gift of a loveable child.

Is the behavioral ABA the better approach for him? Though he had trouble cooperating with this approach in school, I do know that whatever skills he has managed to acquire over the past eight years have been thanks to the methodical system of teaching and reinforcing that we learned from ABA.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Life Lessons From Raising An Autistic Child (Part III) – Therapy”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Haredi men cast their votes for the 19th Knesset in Bnei Brak, January 22 2013.
New Poll: Shows Netanyahu Will Lead Next Gov’t with Haredim
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

When someone with a fixed mindset has a negative interaction with a friend or loved one, he or she immediately projects that rejection onto him or herself saying: “I’m unlovable.”

Respler-121914

How many potential shidduchim are not coming about because we, the mothers, are not allowing them to go through?

Kupfer-121914

Is the Torah offering nechama by subtly hinting that death brings reunion with loved ones who preceded you?

She approached Holofernes and, with a sword concealed under her robe, severed his head.

Here are examples of games that need to be played by more than one person and an added bonus: they’re all Shabbos-friendly.

The incident was completely unforeseeable. The only term to describe the set of circumstances surrounding it is “freak occurrence.”

The first Chabad Center in Broward County, Chabad of South Broward, now runs nearly fifty programs and agencies. T

The NHS was also honored to have Bob Diener as keynote speaker.

Written with flowing language and engaging style, Attar weaves a spell that combines mystery, humor, adventure and Kabbalah in the most magical place in the world, the Old City of erusalem.

There are those who highlight the diversity of these different teachings, seeing each rebbe as teaching a separate path.

Rav Dynovisz will be speaking in Hebrew on Wednesday, January 7, at 7:30 p.m.

Rabbi Simeon Schreiber, senior chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, saw a small room in the hospital that was dark and dismal but could be used for Sabbath guests.

“The secret to a good donut is using quality ingredients and the ability to be patient and give them time to proof.”

More Articles from As told to Gila Arnold
Challenging-Parenting-logo

Because Menachem lives in Israel, he can feel the ruach in the air.

Challenging-Parenting-logo

Usually Menachem is very hungry when he gets home, and we have food prepared for him. Though logically, he should sit down happily and eat, when he is in such a hungry state logic flies out the window, and, out of frustration, Menachem will knock over and spill the food. So meal time with him involves a lot of cleaning and coaxing. And always, always, vigilance.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what happens when the village has no idea what to do with the child?

Sibling relationships are a world of their own. By nature complex, the intricate dynamic is thrown for a giant loop when a special-needs sibling enters the picture.

The uncle’s story:

When Menachem was a baby, he seemed like any other normally developing kid. Videos from that time show him laughing and reacting to other people; you’d never guess how he would turn out. I don’t know, maybe a professional might have seen the signs, but I certainly didn’t.

The father’s story: What’s your parenting philosophy? How do you feel about discipline? What educational approach do you find most compatible with the sum of yours and your child’s personalities?

Being a preschool teacher is a big responsibility, and believe me, I don’t take it lightly. For these two to three year olds, I’m the first teacher they’ll ever have. My primary concern, of course, is to provide them a safe environment for playing, but I also try to get in some teaching, in a way that’s appropriate for their age.

And underneath there exists the same deep desire for connecting with others that all of us have. More desperate, perhaps, because the desire is trapped inside a mind that doesn’t know how to reach out.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/challenging-parenting/part-iii-therapy/2013/05/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: