Thursday, 3 April 2014

Eager for Assessment Results

We had our last testing appointment this week.  Now we wait a few weeks for them to tot up all the test scores and we'll get our results. 

So far, the psychologist is quite eager.  She won't give us anything definitive until the feedback but she says she thinks it's possible for Alex to overcome some of his limitations (specifically not being interested in following instructions from someone he doesn't know or doesn't have a history with, or when he doesn't like doing what he's being asked, or is busy doing something else he enjoys ...).  She's pretty confident that she can help us put together a program which can help with toileting and eating.

I'm excited about this, too.  It's the first time in a long time we've heard something other than "Hmmm, he's a challenging one, isn't he?" which can be easily translated into "we don't have a clue how to help."  Traditional behavioural therapy wasn't very effective with Alex since he's not very reward driven (meaning he loses interest in rewards quickly and won't do something he doesn't want to do in order to get one) and he didn't generalize when he did learn new skills (if you can put on your shoes for Mommy, you can also put on your shoes for your teacher). 

Over and over, we were told to just keep going, just try harder doing the same things which weren't working.  Toileting is a prime example of this.  We spent four years on something we were assured could be accomplished in just a month or two.  We followed their requests, keeping him in underwear all the time despite the fact that he showed no interest in actually using the toilet.  For over three years, I cleaned up dozens of accidents daily.  We had a stash of two dozen pants and three dozen pairs of underwear.  And I did laundry daily so that we didn't run out.  After the first two months, the therapists ran out of ideas and then kept insisting we just needed to try a little harder for a little longer and he'd somehow spontaneously get it.  And we believed them, because they were the experts.

I don't want to discourage people from following their therapists' suggestions.  The traditional methods are traditional because they work for the vast majority of children with autism.  And there have been plenty of times where I thought a suggestion wouldn't work and it has.

It's been difficult watching other kids with less ability do better because they are able to follow directions (with help, usually) and can be guided out of problem behaviours.  I wish I could explain to Alex that he's limiting himself badly.  Eventually, he's going to want to have independence, earn money or have a girlfriend (or boyfriend).  But unless he can learn the basic skills of compliance and learn basic hygiene, none of those are going to be possible.

But frankly, what kid has ever done something with an eye to how it's going to affect him or her in adulthood?

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