When he was in 5th grade, the school had my non-verbal son focusing on “identifying numbers 1-5”. He was also trying to identify shapes and colors. He was 11 years old and yet he was essentially functioning at a preschool level based on a psychological evaluation administered from an “expert” from our school district. That same school year he catapulted his Ipad so many times it was eventually destroyed. He pinched, scratched, grabbed, pulled hair and threw furniture. He made many holes in the walls of our house and we had to remove all the wall hangings in his room because they became flying weapons. I was tired, scared and looked like a battered women. I cried a lot during this time. Our lives were very dark.
In the 1950’s Dr. Ivar Lovaas researched and designed a technique known as ABA or, Applied Behavior Analysis. This was the technique used for people with autism to learn language. Of course, we started this therapy with my son when he was 2 years old and just diagnosed. Everyone swore that it was the best way to help our kids. Jack was using this same technique in school up until he learned to type. Unfortunately, he was presumed to be intellectually impaired when he was actually quite smart. What Dr. Lovaas failed to research or understand, is that kids with autism cannot control their bodies despite how hard they try. So, when jack was asked to “touch the number 5” he couldn’t do it because his body wouldn’t allow him. Therefore, they continued to teach him the number 5 over and over and over again because they made the drastic mistake of assuming that he had control over his body and that he was just “acting out” to avoid doing work. Now I get why he beat the crap out of everyone in his path. He was a very smart kid being ordered to do very dumb things; he was unbelievably frustrated and this made him downright angry.
As a last ditch effort to try “one more” therapy to help him, in November of 2013 we found Soma and RPM (Rapid Prompting Method). With sound technique and the vital presumption competence, Jack quickly learned to type to communicate. Today he is learning and succeeding (aka kicking ass) in general education classes. We just received his statewide assessment scores and he scored above average for students in our school, our district and the entire state of Maryland. Since he learned to type his behaviors have disappeared.
I thank God, Prozac and wine for getting me where I am today. I work on not being bitter that we spent our entire life savings on private ABA therapy but on the fact that we needed to go there to get here. Today, when I received Jack’s assessment scores I was overwhelmed. He did it. We did it. We proved that autism isn’t an impairment that requires electric shock therapy. It’s just a different operating system of learning and functioning and today…people are starting to presume my son’s competence and now, we have proof.
Keep going Jack man…. the best is yet to come.