Now that I am done talking about books--since the reason you read this blog is to learn more about Eli, I shall get to the point.
To sum it up real quick, for those who don't want to keep reading--I LOVE ABA & WILL PROBABLY STOP OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY.
I have nothing against my occupational therapist & she is actually leaving at the end of April, so I will finish my last two appointments with her & will have no choice but to be done until they hire someone to replace her. But this ABA program has been going on since last Friday & with what I have seen so far, I don't feel the Occupational Therapy once every 2 weeks will be that effective. Maybe I will change my mind, but so far I am thinking of replacing it with speech therapy instead
This ABA program is a miracle & I wish every kid with autism could have the opportunity to be helped with it. But it is so nice to have them come to my home because it gives Chad & I the opportunity to learn their ways & over time be able to copycat their methods.
Eli has 2 therapists & they come for a total of 15 hours a week. INSANELY LUCKY I KNOW. I actually asked for 10 hours a week, but she gave me 15 knowing how badly Eli needed that extra help. When I found that out, it's one of those moments, (that I have a lot of lately,) where I realize how behind Eli really is. And it can be sad, but I only let it be sad for a moment. :) I am grateful she knew Eli needed 15 hours a week of one on one therapy & got him approved for that.
Eli's first therapist is also over his goals & making the plan that fits Eli best. She is A-MAZING. She knows the ins & outs and doesn't have to think twice about how to help Eli. It just comes second nature to her. She has her masters degree (in what?!, I don't know what the title is)--but it's specifically to help kids like Eli & she ROCKS it. She comes 2 hours a week & at first it will be to show the second therapist how she wants him to train Eli. But eventually it will be to watch & make sure he is doing what he can to help Eli. Eli is in good hands :)
The second therapist is a guy & I actually think he's a real good pick for Eli. Eli gets so excited when we say he is coming over, which is good because that will be every week day. He will come for 13 hours a week, making the total time of both therapists 15 hours. He is a college student getting trained in the ABA methods, but this is something he wants to do career wise & so far we are loving him working with Eli & he does a real good job.
A little bit about ABA is not giving in & getting what you want accomplished by Eli. I don't want to use their names, but since one's a boy & one's a girl you will know the difference. But she said it well & it clicked with Chad & I. She said something along these lines, Eli is comfortable at home, Chad & I understand all his basic needs & wants--but when he is outside the home people don't understand Eli. And this is SO true, I am sure his preschool teacher has learned the basic things Eli needs & wants, because she is with him 4 days a week. But anyone else is clueless to what Eli is saying, if it's a word he can't say clearly. Which there are a LOT of words he can't say clearly. But if we don't start making him use his language more often & teach him to speak understandably then he will stay comfortable & keep to his ways. Therefore, limiting his chances for opportunities outside of our home. The ABA program will test Eli, make him mad at times, & push him to his limits. But isn't this life?! But after all the pushing to the limits each day, Eli is being given the chance to reach his potential & hopefully have a life outside of our home someday.
So this last week was the first 15 hour week for Eli & he has grown to love both his therapists. After they worked their 15 hour week though, the girl therapist after hearing us complain about Eli's eating habits & not trying anything new--willingly volunteered to come Friday night to show us how to get him to try new things. WOW. I invited her husband to come eat as well & the other therapist ended up coming too! But also, WOW on how she works her mad skills. Eli has not tried anything new in the pass year or so & when I make dinner, if it's not spaghetti or pizza he pushes it away & I always end up making him something else. The good news is I will not be making him something else anymore. The bad news is for awhile he might be choosing to go to bed slightly hungry every now and then. But at least I give him an option, right? ;) So after she was at our house for 2 1/2 hours, she got Eli to touch the piece of corn to his tongue in exchange for a Bugle!!! I know this doesn't sound huge to YOU---but trust me it was a MILESTONE!! After he gets use to touching new things with his tongue, it will be on to putting it into his mouth & so forth. So we caught it on video, so I thought I'd share. And I want you to know that this whole time she was sweet to Eli, never rude, & just in control. She said that when Chad & I do it, we need to take turns & switch when one starts to be weak. And to not look him in the eyes, Eli caught me watching him at one point during this whole fiasco & while he was crying alligator tears--my eyes started to tear up & he knew I was weak, so he came over to me hoping I would give in & let him eat something he wanted! He is one smart kid, he may not be able to fully communicate--but he's bright & sly & just the cutest thing ever!
Here's the video:
I love having a blog--maybe someday he will enjoy reading about his childhood from his mom's perspective. The preschool teacher asked for permission for Eli to have another IQ test, when she told me about it--I couldn't help but look sad. It's scary for me & I am nervous for the results. I love Eli so much & I wish he could have the care free childhood I did. And for the most part I believe he feels his childhood is carefree--but there's times when he really wants you to understand what he is saying & Chad & I just have to look at him & say sorry we don't know what you are saying. And he isn't telling us something he can point at, like he used to when he was 3. It's something else, something that an average 4 year old would be able to explain by using words. And I just have to look at him with tears in my eyes, saying sorry buddy I don't know what you are saying. And he has tears in his eyes as well--with frustration that he can't get his words out how he wants them to come out.
When we were making goals with his ABA therapist, she was listing them & said, "for Eli to have a 5 minute conversation with you about something he likes." I had to stop her & say, "do you really think that's possible?" And she said, "yes." This is what I am looking forward to, is my 5 minute conversation with Eli about something he likes. Looking forward to is an understatement. ;)
I can get down sometimes & feel bad for myself or for Eli--as I see other 4 year olds talking away or even 2 & 3 year olds. But Chad during sacrament meeting today wrote something down & shared it with me. "We need to have a perfect brightness of hope that Eli will reach his full potential." So true. Hope is what keeps me going & positive that things will be better for him. I love how faith, hope & charity all intertwine--to make life just that much better. Hope you are enjoying your life. Goodnight.