Saturday, 24 March 2012

Micah


Our daughter had many early signs of autism but they were looked at individually and nobody mentioned autism to us.  We were first referred for early intervention because she wasn’t babbling and she ran her face along the floor but we didn't know until she was older that she should have imitated our facial expressions, waved bye, or played patty cake.  We had several hearing tests done when she was young because she didn’t seem to hear us. 
We were provided with a consultant OT (occupational therapist), who dealt with her sensory problems.  She had low sensitivity in her face and mouth so we used vibrating toys and toothbrushes to help with that.  We were taught exercises to do on an exercise ball to help with her coordination, balance, and muscle tone.  When she was a young baby we had to bounce our daughter hard in our lap and even as she got older she needed to bounce and jump a lot.  We were told to take many parenting classes, and also took the Hanen Program to improve her communication.  She spoke single words and she would say a word once and then never again. 

Jumping at kindergym!
Our daughter had many tantrums that lasted a long time.  They could last an hour or more and she could (and still does) become very aggressive.  I took her to many toddler and preschool programs.  She wouldn’t even play alongside the other kids; she had no interest in them.  She would hide under the slide at kindergym and didn’t want any other kids near the toys she was playing with.  The professionals told us that she had behavioral problems; it was my fault (we later found out about "refrigerator mothers"), and to take more parenting classes. 
We kept trying different professionals, psychiatrists and doctors.  Nobody could tell us what was wrong.  We finally found a doctor when she four and a half who could tell us.  She was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.  She was referred to a psychiatrist who specializes in ASD and he did assessments and diagnosed her with autism when she was 5.

If you feel there is something that doesn’t seem right with the way your child is developing, keep after the doctors.  She had other health problems that we had to fight to get solved along the way also but that is another story.

Once she was diagnosed, we got her on the IBI waitlist, started going to parent support groups and got a consultant at Kerry’s Place.  She is smart and a quick learner so once she figured out she needed to use more than one word, sentences came quickly.  IBI started when she was 7 and in grade 3 and that is when she learned to have a proper conversation (one that wasn’t one sided and just about her obsession!).   To receive government funded IBI, the child must be toward the severe end of the spectrum.  While IBI is best started when the child is as young as possible, individuals of any age can be taught and can learn.  The Ontario government originally only funded up to the age of 6, but a year or 2 before Micah started, that was changed to include all children who qualify.

Our daughter is an advanced learner and we chose to use a senior therapist who knew verbal behaviour  (VB).  Since Micah is an advanced learner,  we used a lot of natural environment teaching (NET).  Here are some clips from her team supervision  meeting.  She is being tested on asking questions, telling a story, and component to composite tacting ie the brown wallet is jumping on the floor.  She has a strong need to be in control so sometimes we allowed her to do the teaching to show what she knew.