Thursday, March 15, 2007

ABA?

Hello, I have decided to blog about ABA Therapy. I have worked along side ABA teams but, have never crossed over. I use more of a child directed or Greenspan approach to therapy/ teaching. It seems like schools are quick to recommend ABA Therapy. Here is the question; If a child is capable of learning through a less restrictive and less controlled method (such as child directed, Greenspan) should ABA be considered? Ultimately, the choice is the parents. I would recommend that parents actually observe ABA being done and see if they are comfortable with the teaching method. Some parents feel it has helped while others feel like their children are merely being "trained". ABA works because of the repetition and reinforcement. So, one must ask themselves is the child actually learning or are they just conforming or in a sense "giving up". I think the success has to do with who is administering the therapy. I have seen ABA administered in ways I have strongly disapproved of. I have seen "a form" of ABA that seems to be somewhere between ABA and child directed. As a Speech Pathologist I like to facilitate communication in the most natural and spontaneous situations possible. After all the ultimate goal is that the child communicate effectively. If a child only speaks when told what to say or in response to "practiced" questions are they truly communicating? I think ABA is necessary for some. But, feel that if a child can learn more naturally (least restrictive) they should be taught in that manner. I would like to get some feedback and discussion on this topic from parents who have made a decision one way or another. Tell us the positives and/ or negatives.

Friday, February 16, 2007

play

What is play? Play is FUN!!! If your child is smiling, laughing and is engaging you are doing it right. In todays world I see so many parents wanting to teach their young children (letters, counting, colors, etc.). This is especially evident in parents of children who are delayed and receiving therapy. But, it is important to remember the importance of play. Did you know that play can actually reflect cognitive functioning? It is true. Play is early language. Try to focus on keeping the child's attention, getting a reaction, reinforce that reaction and make them smile and laugh. If your child does receive therapy you may think they are "just playing". But, pay attention to your child's responses and ask questions. It all has meaning and is working toward a goal. Try just imitating your child's actions (even if they are just tapping their foot) watch for a response (They may look at you, smile and even do it again). Simple turn taking games are so important and it doesn't have to be planned or structured. When you roll a ball to your child did you know they are learning? They learn to anticipate that the ball will come to them. They look at you in anticipation of such. Their eye contact with you is reinforced by your rolling the ball back to them. When someone misses the ball they display joint regard by attending to the ball. They then may get up and get the ball, bringing it back to where they started off. This may be their way of requesting "more". Every time the ball gets rolled is a "turn" and if your child is enjoying it perhaps you might keep them engaged in this activity for several "child turns". As simple as this activity may be it is teaching/ learning through play. Make your goal simple (To laugh, smile, make eye contact, request more). Relax and have FUN!!!

Friday, January 26, 2007

"The Spectrum"

Hello to all. Welcome to the site. I am a Speech Language Pathologist and a mom. I have decided to begin a new blog on "The Spectrum". There is much controversy in this area. Typically, children are often identified as having PDD. What is PDD? Pervasive Developmental Delay. What does it mean? Many people feel that PDD and Autism are the same. Some signs may include lack of eye contact, not responding to their name, difficulty attending (while some may over attend), speech delay and some sensory component. Most parents feel the Speech Pathologist is the "most important" member of the team working with their child. However, in my opinion the Occupational Therapist is just as important if not more important. The best scenario is to have both professionals working closely together. The "sensory" part can sometimes be so significant that it can impact a child's ability to learn. Oftentimes, when the sensory part is being worked on the child is better able to attend and learn. Sometimes children with PDD end up being diagnosed as Autistic. However, I have seen many children initially diagnosed as PDD not having Autism.
Theories on PDD/Autism..... I have heard many theories on why a child develops PDD/Autism. Currently, there are no clear cut answers. I have heard theories ranging from, inoculations, food allergies, ear infections, over use of antibiotics, too much TV and even microwave oven rays. Some may contribute and others seem like nonsense. Children with PDD often do present with a history of chronic ear infections and do take a lot of antibiotics. There are dyes in some antibiotics which can cause behavior difficulties in children who are sensitive to dyes. In my opinion, I think there are a number of components which contribute. Should the diagnosis really matter? I think "NOT". Instead, lets look at the different components and try to figure out ways to help each specific issue or "symptom". While in school I recall hearing an analogy which really helped me understand "The Spectrum". Think of a shoe. This shoe has an old sole (thinned out and loose). There are no laces, the leather is a bit torn and there are pebbles in it. Now if your child were wearing this shoe they would would not be walking correctly or typically. It would be uncomfortable. Now, lets go to the shoe maker/ fixer. Well if you fix the sole then it could be walked on a little easier. Remove the pebble- even better. Fix the holes- even better. Now lets put a shoelace in. WOW! Now that's better. So to get back to PDD/Autism..... Take a look..... If a child has chronic ear infections how can we eliminate that from the picture??? Perhaps tubes? If there is a possibility that they are sensitive to the dyes in the antibiotics? Well, lets ask the DR. for an antibiotic without dyes. Foods????? Yes, I feel this is a significant component. The majority of children with PDD/Autism have what we call "a sensory diet". They all like the same foods even though most don't even know each other. Some theorize that their bodies are craving foods high in starch, glucose, yeast, sugar, milk......... and that they can not break certain foods down. It is possible to have tests run to see if a child has sensitivities or food allergies. And... I have seen many sensory and behavior symptoms diminish as a result of identifying a "trigger" and eliminating it from the diet. This should not just be done by a parent!!!! You need to see a nutritionist and MD to find out for sure and to follow up on a diet. If children cant get certain things in their regular diet a nutritionist can often help get it elsewhere. Now..... What about actual physical causes???? Hmmmm..... Well often people will tell you "Its just PDD". When are they going to start running actual/ medical tests. I feel very strongly that any possible medical contributor NEEDS to be rules out. If your pediatrician refuses look for an "alternative" physician. I have personal experience with PDD diagnosis which actually turned out to be hyperthyroidism. Had the parents not pushed it would have gone undiagnosed. Once diagnosed the child was put on medicine and could learn and succeed in a "regular" education classroom. Well I hope this helps in some way and hopefully you (the readers) will comment on this one. Tell us what you know! Tell us what has helped!!!
You can even comment on some of those "nonsense" ideas you may have heard. Have a great day!!!!!!

Monday, January 8, 2007

Speech delayed

Hello, I am new to this. I am a Speech Pathologist, Teacher of Speech and Hearing Handicapped and a mom. I have been working in the field for 13 years. In that time I have seen a lot. I began this blog because many parents have similar concerns. Due to privacy issues I am unable to put families in contact with each other. My hopes are that through this site parents will know they are not alone. Their concerns are many peoples concerns. There is a lot of new research out there, especially when it comes to "the spectrum", PDD and Autism. Perhaps people could add what has worked as well as what has not worked. May I add that I too have personally experienced the feelings parents have when we are looked at as being in denial, or not knowing our own children. Just remember that no one knows your child like you do!!!!! Please add comments and I hope this site helps. I will respond to questions. However, keep in mind: Please use screen names- no personal confidential information. Also, while I can help with some educational and developmental questions I do not know your child personally. I am in the process of setting this up so hopefully in the near future there will be helpful links.