If there is anything we wish to change in the child,
we should first examine it and see
whether it is not something that could be better changed in ourselves.
From what I have learned, traveling around the blogosphere, there are different approaches to behavioral therapy. There is ABA, or Applied Behavioral Analysis, Floor Time, and TEACCH. The one that we participate in is ABA. And for that? There are variations as well.
My son has a total of about 30 hours per week of ABA time, divided about half into a one-on-one kindergarten school aide and half on regular therapy and the ABA group call themselves a team. There are two tutors and a third, senior tutor who work “programs” with him. The programs are a couple minutes each and teach a language, school, comprehension, or daily life skill (like brushing teeth, washing hands). Once he completes the task, he receives “reinforcement” in the form of play time with the tutor in a desirable activity like piggy-back rides, playing with cars or other toys, or making a fort.
My son has seen tremendous progress over the last year. The ABA team consists of the behavioral therapist who is the Ph.D., and his assistant therapists who help choose and develop programs based on skills my son “masters”. Then there is a “case manager” who shows up for a weekly meeting, and does a once weekly “shift” to supervise the tutors’ implementation of the programs and to determine my son’s level of progress. And finally, the three hands-on tutors who work with my son on a daily basis in therapy and school.
Throughout the year, there have been lots of tutor changes. Tutors come and go. I have accepted all the changes, although have been sad to see a couple of the tutors go. My son, also, has accepted these changes with very little increase in his behaviors.
All have come and gone, up til now, but one. Our steadfast senior tutor.
She is one that has been a constant in my son’s life, from the time we first started. She has been our miracle worker. She is the one who took my son from a constant screaming ball of meltdown goo, when he saw an escalator, to the kid you barely glanced at, as he alights and steps off from the same mechanical staircase, a year later.
She’s a person who has extinguished so many behaviors, in the year she’s been part of our lives, that I’ve become a bit spoiled by the whole thing. Behavior? Beginning of a meltdown? Take him to Trista. She helps me figure out the why and extinguishes the behaviors. Problem solved. She teaches me, and like a magic spell, it works.
Now, she’s being removed from his team.
Why? Well, I can understand that generally, change is good. And I can understand that meeting new people, and taking instruction from different people, are also good. Where I am perplexed is the manner in which this change is occurring.
Change can be rocky or it can be smooth. This is going to be rocky. First, the details of the change have been vague. I know a name for the new tutor. It’s Jessica. If you read here regularly, you know we already have a Jessica. A second Jessica will be a little confusing.
I have not been introduced. Apparently, she is going to meet my son at school for the first time. She will have a max of four days of training, and our senior tutor, Trista, that he’s known for a year will be gone. Erased. And with her, all her encyclopedic knowledge of the triggers for my son’s meltdowns, the tricks that she uses to extinguish his behaviors, like water on a fire, and the special reinforcers, that she knows he loves.
He will still have his other tutor who has been on his team for about two months. He is wonderful and mellow but he does not know the triggers or recognize all the behaviors. Just last week, his lack of knowledge combined with a mystery meltdown, to put gas on my son’s fire, when he asked my son to “count” to work through the meltdown. The meltdown continued full on for 30 minutes. An afternoon shift was cut off that day due to repeated meltdown, something that hasn’t happened in a long time.
The other tutor? She’s brand new. Still being trained and has worked with my son a total of maybe four times for a total of maybe, six hours. I’m asking this “change” be effected less cold turkey and more easing off.
I’m just wondering. Since I put it out there on Twitter and got three responses so far, what is your experience with a change in tutors or other people who work with your children? Is it a cold turkey thing or is there a transition period? And how do they react?
Meanwhile, with this change I’m already getting a resurrection of some oldie but goodie behaviors, ones that I’d thought were previously extinguished. So, while, I wait it out, I thought I’d put together, my rendition of my son’s greatest hits… I’d change the lyrics but Brian over at Both Sides of the Coin does such a better job than I could ever hope to, that I will just put out my own mix, dedicated to my son’s meltdowns….
Bad to the Bone George Thorogood
Bye-Bye-Bye ‘N Sync
Cry me a River Justin Timberlake
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting Elton John
Winds of Change Jefferson Starship
Fall Out Bitchslap
Same Old Song and Dance Aerosmith
Sweet Emotion Aerosmith
Rebel Yell Billy Idol
No More Tears Ozzy Osbourne
I’ll probably listen with earphones. My nerves will be less frayed that way.
Bye bye bye, Trista. We love you!