Autism Intensive speech program
A little while back I decided to start keeping track of new skills Charlie develops in a diary. This month, he’s actually made real progress on his way to speaking. It was probably his best single month since he was diagnosed with autism over two years ago.
In August, we started an intensive speech program designed by Charlie’s BCBA. To sum it up, we chose a few items that Charlie could only have access to if he made a verbal approximation of the word for it. For instance, on this contraband list we have: bacon, popcorn, cookies, and M&Ms.
Once Charlie makes an approximation for an item, we won’t accept any less from him on future attempts. For example, on the first day we started the program he said “ba yun” for bacon, so if next time he wants bacon he says simply “buh”, we won’t accept it because it’s not as close to the real word as “ba yun”.
To be honest, it’s sometimes a little bit heartbreaking not being able to give him the food he requests when he makes an attempt that’s not good enough. He’s gotten good at saying “popo” for popcorn but we know he can say “poco” so we can’t give him popcorn unless he says exactly that or closer.
As hard as it is, though, it’s working. It’s the first speech program that’s actually showing encouraging results with Charlie. We had been waiting for this moment for so long- the moment Charlie starts talking. Moreover, speech isn’t his only domain of improvement. There are a few other thing he can now do.
Charlie’s new skills:
- Puzzles: Charlie can now do 12 piece puzzles all by himself. He takes them apart and redoes them. He’s enjoying it too, which is such great functional play for him!
- Following directions: He can follow a couple of directions like “put this in the trash” ,”come here” or “go to the potty”.
- Imitation: This one is huge. Charlie’s been working on motor imitation for over two years. Before this month, he would just “scroll” through all the common things we’d ask of him instead of imitating the exact one we were doing. Not anymore. Even if we ask him to imitate 3 different actions in a row he’ll do it. Imitation is such an important prerequisite to language. We’re thrilled.
- Social: He’s a bit more social. He goes to other children more easily, including his baby brother, Jude. He can get overly excited when playing and start pulling hair but we’re working on replacing this behavior with something appropriate.
- Food: He’s trying new foods now too.
- Physical: This isn’t new from this month but Charlie was very late for for some of these milestones. He can now jump, and he loves it!
- Self-care: With a little help, Charlie can brush his teeth and get dressed. He still need us to be with him and prompt him but he’s getting there.
We are thrilled with Charlie’s progress. We made the hard decision to pull him out of his special-needs (pre-K) classroom to increase his therapy hours. He’s in one-on-one ABA therapy 40 hours a week now. 3 days at the therapy center and 2 days in home. He’s doing well, loves it, and he’s progressing better than ever. We’re cautiously optimistic about the future. Until then, were enjoying these victories as they come.