Autism...first things first

Over the past 5 months (is that all it's been?), I have devoured every book I could find on autism and asperger's. I have gotten to the point where I can read book after book and learn nothing new of the history and best treatment options available for autism. I have read text books on ABA therapy and taught myself how to write effective programs for skill acquisition and target behavior reduction. Still, I want nothing more than the opinion of a professional in the field.

Over the past few months, I have learned that I am considered one of the lucky few. My insurance happens to cover speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and applied behavior analysis therapy. The part that seems funny is that I may be able to have these services covered for my boys, but getting them start has proven to be nearly impossible. I started the battle April 20th 2012. That was the day that both my boys were diagnosed with ASD. I learned that the first step was to contact the local school district for my oldest son because he was too old for the early intervention services my younger son receives. I contacted them on day one.

Our IEP meetings were a joke. They said my son, with no sign of potty training, flight responses, sensory issues, tendencies to speak with only scripted sentences, and inability to answer any "wh" questions was only eligible for 15 minutes of occupational therapy every other week, speech for 30 minutes twice a week, and an optional ABA consult if a teacher found it necessary. On top of that, they needed me to change child care from my mother's daycare (free to me, but running as a full fledge daycare, complete with preschool curriculum) to a daycare center in the district limits so that my son could be sent to the worst elementary school in the district (no schools in the district have passed standardized tests for special education since the implementation of no child left behind). After a couple meetings with no real changes to the IEP, I decided to decline school services and work with private services only.

Five months later, my son is enrolled in a special sector of his insurance that allows for the long term therapy he needs. Ironically, he is not attending many therapy sessions. He was approved for 45 minutes of speech twice a week, and 45 minutes of O.T. once a week, along with 6-12 hours of ABA therapy every week. He is currently receiving 40 minutes of O.T. once a week and 45 minutes of speech therapy once a week. I have been fighting with insurance and providers to begin ABA therapy for 3 months (4 if you count the month spent thinking I was on the way to services beginning).

Five months after I initially contacted the ABA company and got the referral for ABA therapy sent to the insurance company, I know my son's therapist is less than two minutes from my house and that she is having a baby in less than 48 hours which can only mean more delays in the start of much needed ABA therapy.

Today, I took everything I learned from the stories in Autism Everyday and the books on parenting children on the spectrum, and finally the text book on writing and implementing ABA therapy, and wrote 5 strong ABA programs to track his problem behaviors and teach him the new skills necessary to be successful at my mother's daycare. Tonight, I cannot help but remember that this is only the beginning of our journey with autism.

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