So when mr. L’s therapist told us that she felt our son no longer benefited from applied behavioral therapy my first question was, why? I wanted to know the logic behind the decision because there wasn’t any accomplished paperwork proof, or specific data collected that proved mr. L would succeed outside the walls of his therapy.
Remember in my last post how I wrote about mr. L graduating from ABA therapy and my husband and I being over the moon excited? Well I have to be realistic too. Regression is a real thing.
I have been advocating for mr. L to be mainstreamed and both his special school and the public school want data and proof and numbers and graphs… amongst a plethora of other things before they feel like he is ready for such a big step and change in his life.
So with my son’s therapist miss. J just abruptly announced this accomplishment I wanted to make sure she had anticipated the chance of regression being a thing. We have experienced small moments of regression in life, and we had went through a huge one just over 4 years ago.
When mr. L was 4 years old we moved across our state. The move was only 3 hours difference, but with the move we had to find a new case worker, new ABA therapy, speech, and OT. I knew my son was severely autistic but the local school district did not. We had moved at the beginning of the summer and getting any school help was a joke.
Despite me calling 2-3 times a week for months, little progress happened for the first few months until I decided to tell all parties involved that I was going to press charges for discrimination. That got things in motion pretty quick. But during that break in services our family experienced regression hard.
Mr. L before the move could verbally get most of his needs met, meltdowns happed maybe once a week, and he was usually content. Soon after the move he became non-verbal again, he was losing words again, he was having meltdowns 3-4 times a day, he was banging his head again, and started destroying rooms. He would rip everything apart so he could pile it up, and burrow underneath the weight of it all and hide.
The only respite we got from the nightmarish stress was the beach. If I took my 4 and 2 year old boys to the beach and keep up with them, mr. L was content and at peace. But I couldn’t LIVE at the beach, it was exhausting. I took my boys every day that summer, and sometimes I’d take them to a splash pad park in the same day just to avoid mr. L’s meltdowns.
Needless to say, the thought of mr. L regressing after leaving ABA therapy is very real and sits in the back of my mind. I just remind myself, Mr. L has more coping skills and I have more useful knowledge, skills, tips & tricks then I used to. I mean really, my parenting style has been flipped, smashed, glued back together and wrapped in autism ribbon. I have more parent training in my tool belt then I’d like to think about. When it comes down to it, my parenting style naturally has ABA therapy built right into it now, I use it everyday naturally, and it just comes second nature.
I think things are going to be just fine. Otherwise I would have pushed back and said, No thanks! But I think it’s going to be ok. Life is too short to live in fear. Even if mr. L does regress down the road, we will still gain experience from this life change. I just keep it in the back of my mind as an ever living possibility. Having a child with autism has taught me to be a planner, to be constantly thinking of what his next step will be and what I can do to help him succeed. So 3 more sessions of therapy and we get to graduate from applied behavioral therapy! 🎉
Have you experienced regression either in yourself or with a friend or family member? What did you do to help? Tell us about it 😊
Yes I often go through……
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We see ebbs and flows. As it relates to speech, we’ll sometimes see slight regression before a leap in improvement (or what our Speech therapist calls a ‘language burst’). I find it helpful to document so I can look for patterns and trends. It helps me understand whether it’s likely regression or something else (i.e., food sensitivity related or lack of sleep). I feel like I’m one part parent, one part investigator!
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I feel like you just summed up special needs parenting perfectly, “one part parent, one part investigator”, I feel like this every day! And that is so interesting, about the slight regression right before a leap in language improvement. I have never heard the term “language burst”, that is fascinating, now I want to watch for this in mr. L.