Thanks to some amazing friends and family, we have had significant help funding our ABA stash o' swag. That's what I've decided to call it because a)I'm awesome and I can, and b)It sounds less depressing and boring than "ABA Therapy materials." But seriously, people have been so generous, so loving toward M as if she were their own, and so excited to jump on board. I'm humbled and blown away and so very, very grateful. You know who you are-- thank you :)
I wanted to give you an idea of what we've been up to lately. First of all, I started a notebook to track every ounce of M's progress, as suggested to me by one of the wonderful, genius people at SARRC. It is imperative for M's progress to be measurable and trackable. This will help me know what's working and what's not. My favorite thing about the notebook, by far, is that M had a very distinct opinion on which notebook we should purchase ("PINK FWOW-WOES!!!"), so, of course, I obliged. Some of my tracking sheets won't make sense unless you know a lot about ABA, so I'm showing you the two most simple ones so you can get a feel for the types of behaviors we are tracking.
We purchased this book, which I highly recommend to any parents whose child has a new diagnosis. I admit, I knew most of the content of this book before I read it, but that is because I have been obsessively researching. However, this book has become Mike's required reading for next week, because it is basically the condensed version of all of the changes we need to make in our parenting to best suit M's learning style. After he reads it I will most likely loan it to grandparents since M spends so much time with them every week (lucky girl!). It is easy to understand and gives very practical advice. I highly recommend it!
Speaking of Mike, I am so proud of him. He is one of the busiest guys I know, but he is solidly committed to learning as much as he can about autism and being in this with me 100%. And would you believe me if I told you he has yet to drop the ball in his two jobs and other life commitments? Thank God someone in this family is good at time management and stress management. He keeps me on my toes and inspires greatness in me. Sometimes in marriage you wish your spouse was more like you (more sensitive, more aware of feelings... and all that other stereotypically feminine stuff), but in this case--thankyouJESUS my husband is better at stuff than I am. I'd be a wreck without him.
Here are a few of our therapy items we have already purchased or received:
These little guys can be found at Target, and we call them "pop beads" because they *pop* when they snap in place. You can make necklaces, bracelets, rings, etc. We use these to practice imitation (she has to copy my necklace or bracelet, bead by bead) and work on fine motor skills. M gets insanely frustrated with these, but her level of pride when she gets them to work is worth every tantrum. I love these things! We have spent upwards of an hour on these, which is a significant amount of time for M to stay focused on something that doesn't come easily to her.
There are 350 cards in this set with nouns such as animals, food, furniture, colors (which I always thought were adjectives, but apparently...), toys, outdoorsy things, etc. This is our primary vocabulary builder, and these are what we use for tracking on the picture above. Our first module was animals, and as you saw, M is only a few animals away from completing it! Awesome!
This wooden beading set is by Melissa and Doug, and I love pretty much all of their stuff. We use this as a warm up for therapy to help M transition from regular play to therapy mode. Our therapy is extremely systematic and rigid compared to our normal interactions, and these are the perfect thing to ease into that otherwise difficult transition. These are easy for her to bead, so she has little to no frustration with this activity and focuses primarily on imitation instead of motor skills, trying to copy my 'necklaces.' I love these!
These guys are also by Melissa and Doug, and while they are awesome, they are a little more difficult to use for ABA because there is no good way to use a rewards system with these. I can't give M a reward every time she puts the thread through the correct hole (it would take an hour just to complete an animal), and there are not two of the same animal so she cannot imitate me in this activity; however, these are fantastic for motor skills and understanding sequence. M has shown crazy frustration with these because she wants to skip to the hole by the nose, or by the tail, because she thinks that will be more interesting. But the more we do it, she is beginning to understand that we want to outline the animal instead of jumping around from hole to hole.
We have a few other items on their way to us in the mail that I am so excited to use. I will write about them next week so you can see how cool they are! This week started in sadness and ended with hope. Tonight I was tempted to be sad again, but writing this post has re-energized me to keep pressing on toward the prize: M's independence and ability to relate to others and socialize with typical peers.
It will happen, if I have any say at all. It will happen. I have to believe it will.