The scary side of therapy
We have been fighting for therapy for Gabriel for 7 months. There have been so many set backs and so much red tape that we thought the much needed ABA would never start. Finally, after multiple heated conversations with insurance and the company, we got to meet Gabriel's new therapist... the only problem, when we called the therapist, we found out she was having a baby in three days. Another week passed before we met the therapist. She said therapy could start in two or three days, as soon as insurance cleared the tutor even though she would be on maternity leave. Another week went by and still no therapy, no word from the tutor. Two more weeks and still no word. I called the therapist several times that month. She kept saying it was the insurance, so I called the insurance. The insurance claimed it was the company stalling on starting therapy. We started thinking the therapist was taking maternity leave and just not telling us that she was the hold up. After five weeks, I called the headquarters for the therapy company, they said the tutor wasn't cleared by my insurance. I called my insurance company and they said the hours for the tutor and therapist were cleared 3 weeks ago. two days six calls later, we found out that insurance had cleared the hours but not for that specific tutor and they were dragging their feet on clearing the tutor. The day I threatened to switch companies, the tutor was cleared.services started the following Monday.
That was the beginning of the problem. Over anxious, we met with the therapist. The tutor started and for a few sessions, I sat in on the therapy and listened to the behavior plans and self help programs unfold. Gabe was going to learn to follow directions, stop running away, and stay in the bathroom until he put his pants on and washed his hands after going potty. These were all very important skills we had been working on for over a year with little success. I expressed concern that hand over hand prompting may not work for Gabriel because he didn't like to be touched by strangers. They wanted to try but acknowledged the concern. The tutor seemed good enough. She was nervous about the data collection involved with ABA and wanted to be sure she did everything correctly. Finally, we had what we wanted.
The first day of running the programs, the problems started. I went to pick up the boys from my mom's house and walked into a storm. She was upset to say the least. The tutor had followed the compliance program as written for Gabriel. She had set a time five minutes before the end of play time, warned Gabe that he would have to clean up when play time ended, told him to clean up when the timer went off, waited a minute for compliance, asked again, and began hand over hand prompting. That was the beginning. Gabriel did not handle the hand over hand and she did not say how many toys or for how long he would have to clean. He ended up screaming so hard he couldn't breath. The tutor left him in the basement for a few minutes to deal with his feelings and my mom rescued him. He was not talking. He grabbed my mom and hugged her as hard as he could. The tutor interrupted at that point and said she had planned on getting him. Mom pried Gabriel off of her and went upstairs. The tutor used hand over hand (described more as body over body) to make him walk up the stairs. She carried him under his arms on her arms, held his hands with her hands, and moved her feet with her feet to make my son comply. Once upstairs, she didn't allow a moment for Gabriel to calm down, but eagerly tried to use hand over hand for him to help prepare and serve lunch, a task we have never had to prompt him to do. My mom stopped the tutor then. She let Gabe eat lunch and put him down for nap. The tutor left. I came to get the boys. I got to relive Gabriel's experience through my mom.
After getting mom's story, I called the BCBA (the woman in charge of the therapy programs) and expressed my concern at what had happened. She promised to talk to the tutor and that we would straighten it out. The next therapy session was Thursday. The tutor said that the BCBA told her that she would have done everything the exact same way (not what she told us). The session went better, but my mom interfered more. Again, I called the BCBA and asked what was going on. There was an observation set for the next day so we discussed the concerns and she promised to get to the bottom of it all on Friday. By the time she arrived for the observation, the tutor had walked out. My mom had asked the tutor to leave the bathroom routine to her for the time being (just like the BCBA had said she was going to do when she saw the tutor later that day). That was all it took, the tutor told mom it wasn't working out and left. I got a text from mom at work simply stating, the tutor walked out, the BCBA wasn't mad, and the rest was too long for text. Now, almost a week later, we know the tutor didn't want to find a solution to the problems with Gabriel. The company assigned a new tutor the next day and we are meeting her tomorrow. Hopefully this time it will work out better. The one thing I had to keep assuring my mom was that if it doesn't feel right, it is worth questioning because at the end of the day, the only people in a child's corner is the family, everyone else is there to get a paycheck, only the family is there because they love the child. That being said, don't give up on therapy because the first therapist isn't fit your needs. There are many to choose from and you will eventually find the one that fits your parenting style and child's personality.
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