Last summer, Kasey saw a neuropsychologist and had an evaluation done to figure out what types of things we needed to work on. More than anything I just wanted to know how best to help her. I think that is something that most parents have in common- the wish to know how best to help their children succeed in life.
One of the suggestions made by the neuropsychologist was to get Kasey into ABA Therapy and to also do some parent training to help me know how best to help Kasey with certain issues.
Prior to this point- I did not know much about ABA. I had heard it mentioned before but typically it seemed to be mentioned in relation to Autism diagnosis. I had no idea it was something that is beneficial to many!
One of the first things I learned was that if your child does not have an autism diagnosis- getting ABA covered by insurance (at least mine) is pretty impossible. Thankfully- as a special needs homeschooler in Florida- Kasey receives a scholarship that will help pay for ABA therapy.
We were lucky enough to find a ABA provider who jived well with our needs who was also a direct pay provider for the scholarship Kasey receives. We had two appointments before Kasey actually started ABA. We talked about her test results, our goals, and our concerns. While we did so- Kasey spent some time hanging out with the girl who she would be working with. The second meeting was where we set a game plan. We decided how often we wanted Kasey to receive ABA (3 hours a week) and how much parent training we wanted.
We started off with an hour of parent training a week. I attended parent training for a few months before tapering off (because I felt as if I had a pretty good handle on that portion of things.
Eight or so months into it- ABA has been a gamer changer for us. Parent training was amazing for me. It gave me tools to help Kasey through difficult issues. I won't lie, having someone who understood my frustrations, helped me figure out how to help Kasey with certain things and didn't judge me for what we were going through was amazing.
One of the most important things I've realized about ABA therapy is that you need to use the techniques even outside of sessions. If you only use those techniques 3 hours a week (for example), you aren't going to see much progress.
Now I will admit, we have also added in some meds over the course of the past year. We spent a lot of time looking at pros and cons and getting advice from those on Kaseys care team. Kasey could tell you backwards and forwards HOW to calm herself down. She knew what steps to take when the anxiety was at its highest but when she actually got anxious/upset she couldn't get herself to the point of implementing those techniques.
So we took the plunge and she started a small dosage of something to help with her anxiety. The difference after a month was amazing! The goal is to get her to the point where she can manage her anxiety without medications. I don't know how long that will take but we're taking it one step at a time.
I do know that JUST medication would not be doing enough. The techniques that ABA has taught us have been life changing. Kasey is still receiving 3 hours of ABA a week- except these days the sessions are in our home. She completed the big "curriculum" (Coping Cat) and since then we've been working on a mix of other things. There are days where there are tears, there are days where there is laughter, there are days where Kasey is all over the place. However, she ALWAYS looks forward to her next session. She adores the behavioral tech and is sad when we have to miss a session for one reason or another.
I will say that- your mileage may vary. You may need to shop around for the right ABA center. However, I feel like ABA is life changing and totally worth hunting around for just the right place.
I'm always open to answering questions about our experience with ABA- so if you have questions just comment and I'll respond to the best of my ability!