Sunday, August 28, 2011

Christopher's Language

Christopher has been talking up a storm this past week! He's getting better at some of his more difficult alphabet characters, namely W, and he seems to be showing off his knowledge of all the words he knows associated with each letter. We used to step through the alphabet with a standard set of words: A, Apple, B, Ball, C, Cat, D, Dog, etc., he's now prone to using other words where he knows them, E might be Egg or Elephant, K might be Key or Kangaroo, J might be Juice or Jacket - he's definitely making language progress. :)

Hurricane Irene

Was reported to look "terrifying" from space. We never even lost power.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blog Pages

Been payin' some attention to my blog. I like it. I wish I could password protect some of the content tho, so I'm not done tinkering.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Phoebe to Selena Gomez at Hershey Park

My baby girl has been invited to a concert! :) Rachel's Mom Susan is taking the girls to Hershey Park this weekend. She is so excited! My first concert was not until my 21st birthday, James Taylor at King's Dominion. I'm so glad that Phoebe is getting this opportunity early in life. This will be her first out-of-town trip without Mom or Dad, but it's only over one night, and she'll be with her little bff and "Mom#2" so I know she's going to be fine.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

ABA versus Son-Rise

There appears to be some very fundamental differences between two leading programs for the treatment of Autism. This account of the differences is from the Son-Rise side.

ABA vs The Son-Rise Program

Understanding of Autism
The Son-Rise Program
Sees Autism as a behavioral disorder, with behaviors to be either extinguished or reinforcedSees Autism as a social interactivity disorder, where the central deficit is relating to other people
The child needs structure and must learn to sit appropriately, follow a schedule, and comply with requestsHelping the child to be flexible and spontaneous enables him/her to handle change and enjoy human interaction

Area of Focus
The Son-Rise Program
Changing the behavior of the childCreating a relationship with the child
Seeks to “extinguish” the child’s repetitive “stimming” behaviorUses “joining” technique to participate in the child’s repetitivebehavior

Method of Teaching New Skills
The Son-Rise Program
Repetition – Uses discrete trials or similar method to prompt the child to perform a behavior (followed by a reward) over and over again until the child has demonstrated masteryMotivation – Builds the child’s own interests into every game or activity so that the child is excited, “comes back for more,” generalizes skills, and relates naturally rather than robotically

Areas of Learning
The Son-Rise Program
Often focuses on academic skillsAlways teaches socialization first
Sees academic areas such as math as an excellent way to help the childcompensate for lack of social skillsSeeks not to help the childcompensate for social skills deficits but rather to overcome them

The Role of the Parents
The Son-Rise Program
Professionals are the major players, with parents having a more observational roleParents are given the most central role because their love, dedication, and experience with their child is unmatched

The Role of the Facilitator’s Attitude
The Son-Rise Program
Sees attitude as largely irrelevant, with effective application of behavior shaping techniques being what mattersSees attitude as vitally important, since having a non-judgmental and welcoming attitude determines whether the child feels safe and relaxed enough to interact and learn

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ABA Therapy

I love my friend Jan's encouraging words from the last post. :)


from Wikipedia

ABA is defined as the science in which the principles of the analysis of behavior are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior, and in which experimentation is used to identify the variables responsible for change in behavior.

Baer, Wolf, and Risley's 1968 article is still used as the standard description of ABA. It describes the seven dimensions of ABA: application; a focus on behavior; the use of analysis; and its technological, conceptually systematic, effective, and general approach. Baer, Wolf, and Risley's seven dimensions are:

Applied: ABA focuses on areas that are of social significance. In doing this, behavior scientists must take into consideration more than just the short-term behavior change, but also look at how behavior changes can affect the consumer, those who are close to the consumer, and how any change will affect the interactions between the two.

Behavioral: ABA must be behavioral, i.e.: behavior itself must change, not just what the consumer says about the behavior. It is not the goal of the behavior scientists to get their consumers to stop complaining about behavior problems, but rather to change the problem behavior itself. In addition, behavior must be objectively measured. A behavior scientist cannot resort to the measurement of non-behavioral substitutes.

Analytic: The behavior scientist can demonstrate believable control over the behavior that is being changed. In the lab, this has been easy as the researcher can start and stop the behavior at will. However, in the applied situation, this is not always as easy, nor ethical, to do. According to Baer, Wolf, and Risley, this difficulty should not stop a science from upholding the strength of its principles. As such, they referred to two designs that are best used in applied settings to demonstrate control and maintain ethical standards. These are the reversal and multiple baseline designs. The reversal design is one in which the behavior of choice is measured prior to any intervention. Once the pattern appears stable, an intervention is introduced, and behavior is measured. If there is a change in behavior, measurement continues until the new pattern of behavior appears stable. Then, the intervention is removed, or reduced, and the behavior is measured to see if it changes again. If the behavior scientist truly has demonstrated control of the behavior with the intervention, the behavior of interest should change with intervention changes.

Technological: This means that if any other researcher were to read a description of the study, that researcher would be able to "replicate the application with the same results." This means that the description must be very detailed and clear. Ambiguous descriptions do not qualify. Cooper et al. describe a good check for the technological characteristic: "have a person trained in applied behavior analysis carefully read the description and then act out the procedure in detail. If the person makes any mistakes, adds any operations, omits any steps, or has to ask any questions to clarify the written description then the description is not sufficiently technological and requires improvement."

Conceptually Systematic: A defining characteristic is in regards to the interventions utilized; and thus research must be conceptually systematic by only utilizing procedures and interpreting results of these procedures in terms of the principles from which they were derived.

Effective: An application of these techniques improve behavior under investigation. Specifically, it is not a theoretical importance of the variable, but rather the practical importance (social importance) that is essential.

Generality: It should last over time, in different environments, and spread to other behaviors not directly treated by the intervention. In addition, continued change in specified behavior after intervention for that behavior has been withdrawn is also an example of generality.

In 2005, Heward, et al. added their belief that the following five characteristics should be added:

Accountable: Direct and frequent measurement enables analysts to detect their success and failures to make changes in an effort to increase successes while decreasing failures. ABA is a scientific approach in which analysts may guess but then critically test ideas, rather than "guess and guess again." This constant revision of techniques, commitment to effectiveness and analysis of results leads to an accountable science.

Public: Applied behavior analysis is completely visible and public. This means that there are no explanations that cannot be observed. There are no mystical, metaphysical explanations, hidden treatment, or magic. Thus, ABA produces results whose explanations are available to all of the public.

Doable: ABA has a pragmatic element in that implementors of interventions can consist of a variety of individuals, from teachers to the participants themselves. This does not mean that ABA requires one simply to learn a few procedures, but with the proper planning, it can effectively be implemented by most everyone willing to invest the effort.

Empowering: ABA provides tools to practitioners that allow them to effectively change behavior. By constantly providing visual feedback to the practitioner on the results of the intervention, this feature of ABA allows clinicians to assess their skill level and builds confidence in their technology.

Optimistic: According to several leading authors, practitioners skilled in behavior analysis have genuine cause to be optimistic for the following reasons: Individual behavior is largely determined by learning and cumulative effects of the environment, which itself is manipulable; Direct and continuous measurements enable practitioners to detect small improvements in performance that might have otherwise been missed; As a practitioner uses behavioral techniques with positive outcomes, the more they will become optimistic about future success prospects; The literature provides many examples of success teaching individuals considered previously unteachable.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Son Has Autism

JR says he knew it in his heart anyway, and obviously we were well aware of his developmental delay and that he needs special support, but I wasn't prepared for my own emotional reaction to the diagnosis. :( My little guy needs SUPER-parents, and we're just regular, figuring it out as we go, struggling ourselves parents - and I'm worried that might not be enough for him. I know that our love for Christopher will drive us to do the very best we can, but we're the first to admit that we are already struggling with the basics, where do we find the strength to do even better? And can we do more/better for Christopher without affecting our ability to also do our very best for Phoebe? I know what happens at work when my plate gets too full - things start falling off the edges - and that's just not an option when the plate is full of my children's well-being.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Developmental Specialist

Yay! I finally got an appointment for Christopher with a Pediatric Developmental Specialist! Dr. Jacquelyn Lucile Calbert. We were (are still) waitlisted with both Doctors Panitz & Pearl, but I was still looking for someone who could see him sooner. Dianne suggested one of the pediatricians at AJ's pediatrician's office, Dr. Farber, but when I called to schedule with him they clarified that he wasn't a developmental specialist, although he does take interest in developmental pediatrics, but they did refer me to three specialists - one of whom had an immediate availability. Phew. Dr. Calbert, like Dr. Pearl, is affiliated with the highly-regarded Children's National, so I'm good w/that.