Every week, there is a meeting for our ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) “team”. There are so many versions of ABA that I do not know if this is standard procedure for all or more unique to us. Our tutors, the case manager and the Assistant Director attend the weekly ABA meeting with my son and I.
During those meetings, which take, on average 1.5 hours, my son’s progress in mastering skills and his behaviors are discussed, together with notes and data the tutors and case manager take during school and therapy. Sometimes, programs are run for the group to demonstrate how he is responding. Decisions are made about how the programs can be improved, modified or changed to reflect my son’s individual needs.
Tootles has been attending these meetings for about two years now. He knows the drill. In the meetings are boxes of toys and games to keep him occupied while the adults talk around him. He also has always has his iPad available to keep him busy. But the funny thing about it, is that we all have known for quite some time that he listens to everything we say during these meetings, and absorbs it like a sponge.
A couple weeks ago, I expressed concern over the ear-piercing, screaming sirens he was mimicking. The tutors also reported an increase in screaming siren behavior. During the meeting, the Assistant Director asked all of us to take data, including me. Tootles was busy on the floor, talking to himself, playing with toys.
Later that week, at home, he screamed. I took notes. He saw me taking notes over a few days.
A few days before the next meeting, he gave up the sirens. He simply decided to switch his interest from sirens and police cars to race cars. At the meeting, his data showed a decrease in instances of inappropriate behavior. The idea of implementing additional programs or removal of reinforcement was set aside. Hmmm…. problem resolved?
Next, we discussed his recent unilateral decision to go vegetarian on me. His burgers and tacos – (who knows really what “meat” was actually in there) were crossed off of his list of approved food. Instead, he decided that was going to survive on Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Pop Tarts, peaches, Orange Dream Machine Jamba Juice, Lunchable Nachos, plus various candy thrown in such as M&Ms he got for reinforcement and Circus Animal cookies. If it was not for L’il Critter vitamins, I doubt he consumed anything of nutritional value, other than, possibly, the peaches.
The day before the meeting, in a rare ABA session at our house, we did a food program. He was required to eat a mini-lunchable with about two teaspoons of turkey bites (which he used to willingly eat), cheese and mini-Ritz crackers. He devoured the cheese and ate the crackers but packed the turkey in his cheeks, stalling for a full hour before finally swallowing.
We went to the next meeting – food was discussed. We left.
On the way home, he asked for a taco. Next day, he asked for McDonalds.
Hmmm, again, problem resolved?
Who is running “programs” on whom? And yes, one of the tutors is now taking him out to “play” while the meeting discussion takes place. But not before the siren program was put on hold.
Oh yes, now that the sirens are on the down-low, guess what’s made a re-emergence?
Well played, Tootles. Well played.