~Once you have gone through all the steps of getting your diagnosis and deciding on ABA as your intervention core you then have to choose whether to seek an outside service provider or bring the services to yourself! Here in Provo, the only option we had was to bring the service here. At first, this looked like a separate therapist working with Josiah outside of our home. Once the financing for that could not work, we moved on to the therapist being ME! Now, the way that works is that someone who has a WHOLE lot more of a clue as to what is going on (see one Tameika Meadows, MEd) writes programs (targets and the steps to get there) based on the data taken on Josiah's skills in several areas (or in fancy,"I have a degree in this." talk- domains). After having been coached in the Errorless Teaching Procedure (basically how to teach the RIGHT responses to a child before they have time to cement the WRONG answers in their heads!), you are off and running!!
~Your Supervising Therapist (who might not be named Tameika Meadows....but SHOULD BE!:0D) will then help you construct a day schedule that is suitable for your lifestyle, goals and the child's development level. You gather, buy or make (mostly make) materials to assist you with your program execution....and you're off!!! Flying on wings of living song toward the horizon of healing and progress! (Can you hear the violins playing in the distance?) Your child becomes a veritable sponge for knowledge as you ascend to heights of achievement that you yourself did not even dream possible! Each day is a dance of bonding and hope as the chains of trust are forged stronger and stronger between mother and child! Refreshed from your day of discovery, you will greet your spouse and other children with grand enthusiasm as you share with them in detail every nuance of the time spent tending to the blossoming flower in your family garden. You'll laugh at the cute anecdotes over freshly baked cookies while the siblings all take turns expanding each other's vocabulary with stimulating conversation. Your spouse, responding to the raw energy you emit then reinforces all your days efforts with games and play with the children, whilst you, the weary soldier, relax into a warm bath, lovingly recounting the moments of your day and come up with titles for the best selling book.....no!.....MOVIE that your life will surely become (thus paying for all of the children's college educations and your autistic child's personal assistant who will accompany him on world tours for his speaking engagements before the intellectual giants of the WORLD!!) MWAH-HA-HA-HA!!!.........this is what your home program should look like.
~Now, will this happen? Will this be the outline of your days toward improvement? Most likely not. Well....at least MINE aren't! Don't get me wrong. Some days are amazing to say the least. Some days you can actually see Hope sitting in the room with you, smiling and waving at you while he whispers all the correct responses into your child's ear and guides the little hands into all the right activities! SWEET! Then, there are the other 26 days of the month where you must push for every level you achieve. Push to get there, and push to maintain it. Push yourself to stick with it! When the other kids and the hubby gets home, you are usually too tired to care whether or not THEY care about how your day went! And your child is probably acting like he never had an ABA session in his life! You need to talk about it, but are too pooped to whine....You may even momentarily forget why you are doing this in the first place! What was it that made you think for a second that you could do this? You get a little lost....A bit panicky...It's that feeling you get after being in the mall all day and only coming out with one bag, full of stuff for someone else, your feet and head hurt and as you dig for your keys at the bottom of an over full purse, causing you to spill your cold coffee, its raining and you suddenly look up and think, "Now, where did I park again?"
~It's OK. You have a right to feel this way. And, it may occur more than once. That's OK, too. The key to getting through this is COMMUNICATION!! Between every member of your family (kids included) and your Supervising Therapist there must be honest and constant communication about your needs, the needs of the child you are teaching and how you are managing your load. Your Therapist can only help you find your pace if you are truthful about what is going on behind and away from the work table. Set realistic goals for your family. Work within the realm of what you know is doable. Your family and therapist are all members of the team that will help your child with autism. There must be clear roles given that are consistently executed and backup plans must be ready if certain components falter once in a while. Your home program will look any which way on any given day. Keep striving for the goals you have set. Regroup and recoup when necessary. The bottom line is that you have to expect to forget where you parked every now and then. The important thing is to have a team that will help you remember and walk you back to the car!