How does a parent measure the growth and success of their child?
For an average parent, they may look at how many words their child can say, if they eat their vegetables, or where they are on their growth chart. They may marvel at their child’s easy-going nature, or the way they stand up to bullies on the playground. They fuss over rumpled clothes and tangled hair, and they worry into the night about protecting their child from the world while preparing them for the future.
The world of an Autism parent often looks very different. Success has to be scaled to a completely new metric, just as their child marches to different music. Perhaps, that parent has no idea what is happening in their child’s mysterious inner-world.
One of the benefits of Applied Behavior Analysis therapy in this situation is that each child is given their own metric, and then success is measured accordingly. That way, in a world where children are pushed to achieve academic success even before entering Kindergarten and are enrolled in dozens of activities before they can even stand on their own, our clients’ successes are recognized and celebrated every step of the way.
Our client Caleb is a prime example of the joy of measuring a child’s success incrementally. He’s a boy that doesn’t speak, wears a diaper, and has perpetually tangled hair. Last year, Caleb was struggling to function in any meaningful way. His most common form of communication was tantrum behavior that included laying on the floor and banging his head. He couldn’t express his wants or needs to anyone, including his adoring family. Sessions were challenging for Caleb and home life was just as hard.
Through his work focusing on communication at Kids on the Move, Caleb has learned an extensive repertoire for expressing himself. He knows how to exchange objects and pictures to request things that he may want or need. This success has markedly changed his behavior at home and in the clinic, and everyone has noticed a drastic increase in the amount of time he spends smiling instead of crying.
Caleb’s method of communication through picture exchange is not typical, and it wasn’t what his family expected for him. But in learning to work with Caleb’s strengths through intensive training and dedication, everyone around him has seen him learn and grow in extraordinarily meaningful ways. He functions much better at home and in the clinic, and it’s been ages since anyone has seen him bang his head.