Our Autism Journey

The difference in ABA centers – Entry #15

May 24, 2017

Another world has been revealed to me.

ABA is truly another world for me. We (Ryan did join after he almost canceled for a gold date!!) went to the two centers today. Although I understand that they “follow the same therapeutic modality”, it was two completely different setups. I have learned so many new words that I am pretty sure is going to become part of my vocabulary on this journey. I will explain more as we go along, dear diary friend.

So, the first center was the one near my house (as well as Ryan’s apartment). It was MASSIVE. There were a few trees and a jungle gym that seemed expensive. When we met the director, I got chills. Her eyes seemed cold, but I forced myself to stay open-minded as I obviously knew less about autism than these professionals. Let’s call the director Sue for the slight chance I ever lose this diary and she finds it! That’s how terrified I was of Sue when she started speaking about autism as, sorry to say this, a disease! I don’t get scared easily and people don’t usually intimidate me, but Sue seemed like she was on a war path. She told us (briefly) about her middle child that was diagnosed with “severe autism”. I felt bad for this little girl, although I have never met her. It was just the way Sue spoke about her own daughter that I couldn’t understand.

Ryan gave me his famous “what the hell” look when Sue said that she has recovered over 15 children from autism. We were, rightfully so, a bit exhausted from the last few weeks and I felt we both didn’t have the energy to tell this lady to get lost. After about 45 minutes of her carrying on about the specific targets they have for each child, I asked if I could please get some coffee or water. She laughed, inappropriately if you ask me and then shouted at, which I assume is her personal assistant. I then asked her if there are any children and therapists we can observe. Sue mentioned that two parents have given consent and she took us to a room that was divided into 4 little corners. You could hear all the therapists requesting a variety of actions or words from the adorable children. I felt sad for the children – none of them looked really happy. there were short periods of joy that I noticed, but that felt a bit contrived and I sensed anxiety in most of them. I did not like it there. I wanted to take all the children with Ryan and I and go climb a mountain or something normal.

So, we left and went to the second center. Before we entered I told Ryan that I am going to walk straight out of there if I get the same vibe. He agreed and we were stopped by a little boy playing outside “green robot, red robot”. He told us that he has made his “teacher” stop now for the last 10 minutes and that he feels he is going to get out of a lot of homework this way. I needed that little boy to make me laugh today. I am so grateful for his sense of humour and the ability of that therapist to let him PLAY!

We met with Sarah, the owner of the center and we knew that this place was where Joe belonged! She was sweet, yet had a firm tone to her voice. She was trained in ABA and trained her staff in this therapeutic modality, but combined with others, such as play therapy and floortime when needed. Sarah is open to let Joe settle in slowly – he can start with 2hrs sessions three times per week and then slowly move to a more consistent schedule. The center is called “Miracles”, which I liked too. There are trees everywhere and even a little river (too shallow to be dangerous) that runs basically THROUGH the house where the kids do their therapy. The classes aren’t cut into sections with dividers, but rather they focus on peer interaction and normal circle time! Joe will still have to stop going to his current playgroup, which I don’t know if it’s a good idea. Again though, I need to follow my gut here and I think Sarah’s miracles is agreeing with my gut!

There is so much more to say about Sarah’s place, but I have to go to bed now. Ryan stayed until really late last night. He was his old self again, so comfortable in my space and it seems like we might be working towards another try. When I write that, I feel a bit giggly, probably due to the positive reinforcer (see, I’m picking up lingo).
This was a good day. Night x