OUR GOAL IS TO TEACH SKILLS THAT MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR CHILD AND FAMILY
By Carol A. Briggs, M.S., CCC-SLP
CHILDREN WITH AUTISM, like all children, have their own personalities, preferences, emotions and desires. They belong to a family and to our society. So what makes these children different? The difference lies in how they perceive the world and how they process information. This difference creates behavioral and communication challenges for the child and his parents.
Parents and professionals who work with children with autism are challenged to discover how each individual child perceives their world. Can we think like they think? What are their unique thought processes? What are their perceptions? What are the other associated or complicating factors? What aspects of their world make them feel comfortable or uncomfortable? What facilitates interaction or engagement? What dominates their attention? What are their aversions? What are their problem-solving skills? So often we look only at the resultant behaviors, but we must look deeper. Each child is unique, and it is when we understand their uniqueness that we are successful with treatment.
The right recipe
So is there a “recipe” for a successful treatment plan? At Abilities, we believe that successful treatment plans start with learning about the child from observation, interactions and parent reporting to determine the child’s most prevalent behaviors, learning styles, preferences, desires, social-emotional development and processing skills.
These are not the only ingredients to the recipe. Once information has been collected, we turn to the family to discover what is most meaningful and critical to the family. What aspects of the child’s life need to be impacted immediately and what aspects need to be considered in the future? The plan must meet and embrace the child’s uniqueness and meet the family where they are in the understanding of their child.
The last ingredients needed to complete the plan are the techniques, programs and strategies used for treating the child. It is here where we make substitutions, omissions and additions in recipes. We use our skills in language, processing, motor skills, social emotional and child development to make practical choices in the treatment plan. At Abilities, we avoid fitting a child to a program; instead we fit the program to the child. We cannot adopt “one program fits all;” instead, we are trained and knowledgeable in many techniques that benefit children with autism. We may use behavioral techniques to achieve one set of skills and play strategies to achieve another set of skills in addition to numerous other programs or strategies. Our goal is to teach skills that make life better for the child and family. Our success is determined by how that child uses those skills “across people, across places and across time.” Our therapists are committed to search for the right recipe for an individual. Treating the “whole” child means we cannot leave out an ingredient. If we do, the recipe will be compromised. With effective treatment many of the children that we have treated at Abilities are having normal childhood experiences at school being integrated with their peers. At Abilities, we simply love working with children with autism.