Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bye-Bye to Behavior Therapy--Waaaaaaaa!

It's that time of the week again for Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. The letter this week is "B." "B" is for behavior therapy. When addressing issues brought on by autism, the behavior therapy technique that has the most proven success is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA is a pretty complex system whereby a behaviorist will run a different program and collect data on how the child with autism is doing. The goal is to get the child to master skills and then move on to more complex ones until those are mastered as well.

My daughter started receiving these services a little over a year ago. The behaviorist who worked with her was amazing. She taught my daughter many skills to address her controlling her emotions, along with many other areas. The agency providing these services believes that my daughter has gained everything she can from ABA and is moving on to a parent training model. This involves the behaviorist's supervisor working with me for about an hour or two a week to train me on how I can collect data on my daughter's behavior and teach me the tools to address her issues. We are no longer working with the behaviorist, and yesterday was her last day with us.

It's hard for us to make this transition. My daughter really adored her behaviorist, and it's scary for us to try to figure things out on our own, for the most part. I think the behaviorist was sad to stop seeing us also. I know she feels that our daughter doesn't need the services anymore, but the two of them had bonded so well, I know she'll miss our daughter.

To "celebrate" our daughter ending behavior therapy, we decided to make the last day to have a graduation party vibe! We had fun, for the most part. There was one bittersweet moment where my daughter took her stuffed polar bear over to the behaviorist. She was pretending that the bear was crying. When the behaviorist asked why he was crying, my daughter answered that the polar bear thinks this is the last time he'll see the behaviorist. I almost started crying when she said this. The behaviorist then asked what else the polar bear thought, and my daughter answered, "How should I know? I'm not him!" That turned the tears to laughter pretty quickly.

The last few minutes were really hard on all of us. Luckily, my daughter's school was having it back-to-school night. Both my husband and I wanted to attend, so we had hired a babysitter who was due to come right when the behaviorist was leaving. This ended up working great, because right as my daughter was going to cry, the babysitter came, and my daughter ran to her and started bonding. She stopped paying much attention to the behaviorist. We even had to prompt her to say bye to the behaviorist!

I totally understood why my daughter switched gears like this--she really didn't want to deal with the sadness of that moment. But I think we were all relieved for the diversion!

It's hard when you meet such wonderful, special people who bring love and laughter to your child's life, just to see them leave a year or so later. We've been very blessed in having great in-school behaviorists in addition to our after-school one. It's never easy to see them go!

26 comments:

  1. awww. thats a tough transition.

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  2. Tough as it sounds, it also seems to be good. Spread those wings and fly.

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  3. When I read one of your posts, it just goes to show you what a strong woman and mother you are - having to make tough choices and go through periods of transition - but you write and perform this with confidence.

    Kudos to you mama!!

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  4. I'm still not over saying goodbye to our California early interventionist. That was 3 1/2 years ago! But hopefully new people will come along that will be just as special to you and your daughter.

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  5. Sometimes there is such a strong connection with the people in our childrens' lives. What a blessing that your daughter had a teacher who was a perfect match for her!

    I still send holiday cards to my son's first deaf/hoh teacher (she worked with him over 8 years ago). She has a very special place in my heart because of everything she did for him.

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  6. Sometimes progress is hard. But I guess it is onwards and Upwards

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  7. I have such a hard time with transitions. I hope she does well.

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  8. Sometimes it's hard to see them go. But, for us at least, great new ones always seem to pop into our lives.

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  9. Sometimes those transitions for good reasons can be the hardest because of the attachments formed. Good luck with this.

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  10. It's amazing how many truly phenomenal people we've met during this journey. Therapists who have saved our sanity and wonderful parents like yourself who provide inspiration every day.

    Congrats to your smart girl on her graduation day!

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  11. I really liked your post this week! This is such an interesting model and it seems to be applied in so many other applications. We did something very similar when my son was young to address his learning problems.

    I though the part of the story about the bear was so interesting. That is a coping mechanism I think we all use when things get too emotional too handle...we call it 'black humor' around our house somedays.

    I'm really glad she had this step to the next level...but, boy, change can sure be scary for everyone.

    Thank you for linking!

    A+

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  12. What a wonderful story of encouragement and devotion to your daughter. It takes very special people to manage the mastery and changes that occurr in a special persons life. It sounds as if your daughter has many special people in her life.

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  13. That would be hard! Good idea to make it like a graduation.

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  14. Such a great post. We often don't get to hear of the success of this work. Well done to your daughter. Up, up & away now!

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  15. Oh, how bittersweet to see her moving on. I love how you made it a gradutation for her and your daughter's words from the polar bear...just too precious.

    It's so wonderful your daughter made such a strong connection to her. I'm sure she will always remember her even though right now the transition is tough. Good Luck to you :)

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  16. Yea! What a milestone to have passed; onward and upward!

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  17. It sounds like you are really doing a good job of addressing your daughter's needs by providing her with all the help she needs. I'm sure it was sad to see the behaviorist go (love the polar bear story...so interesting how we "take care of" feelings, isn't it?), but you guys will do a good job working with her. You are clearly tuned in to her on every level.

    She is lucky to have you!

    =)

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  18. I can only imagine how close you got to the behavior therapist. After all, she came into your home and got to know the entire family environment. But, I do need to say, Congratulations! I think it's wonderful that your little girl "graduated" so to speak and is doing so well. The polar bear story is too cute!!!

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  19. Hard to move on for any of this...that is why graduation was always a sad event....she is so lucky to have you as a mom...bkm

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  20. It sounds like you are all a little sad. Everything will workout!

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  21. oh best wishes to you all, I know the challenges are ever changing. Hang in there

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  22. Stopping by from SITS- we're in the same "Tribe"! :) Behavior therapy was started for children with Autism, but recent research is showing that this therapy is good for kids with Down syndrome (which my baby boy has)- as soon as he turns 3, I'm gonna fight for this service! Everyone who has had it raves about how their kids grow with it!! I understand the conflict, though...of being happy she doesn't need it, but missing the connevction she made with her therapist...

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  23. so good to hear of successful outcomes when it comes to children! best of luck to you all. :)
    Susan

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