For the past few months, we have been getting trained and prepped for ABA. Our girl, Ellen (who we love!) has been coming once a week for 1-2 hours showing us the ins and outs of this therapy and training us on how to apply this at home 24/7. It’s been a little chaotic and stressful. Last week, I get the call I have been waiting a year for. The one I’ve had to go to battle with insurance companies and wait lists for. The one that people told me couldn’t be done at 3 years old. The one that says “we are ready to begin ABA with Dawson.”
This week marked the start, and it has been exhausting. We have ABA therapy Monday through Friday 1pm-4pm for months/years to come. I have been waiting for this day for so long, but I will admit, it has been a huge adjustment for all of us.
First of all, this is nothing like what I imagined it would be. I googled and watched so many YouTube videos trying to prepare myself for what ABA would be like….and my research was pointless. I thought we would be in for a dreadful, demanding and rather unpleasant 3 hours of behavioral “torture”. Seriously, I thought we would be forcing Dawson to sit in a chair in which he would need to complete tasks in order to get reward. Example: make Dawson put a block on top of another to receive and MnM. This made me nervous for so many reasons. If Dawson was expected to stack blocks for candy already, why would I need a therapist? How could they get him to do what was requested, but I could not? He would need to be restrained, because Dawson can not sit in a chair for 3 hours. His sensory needs wouldn’t allow for that. Lastly, how could we get through 3 hours of meltdowns everyday, and how could this be beneficial? Here’s the thing. When you watch your child struggle every single day….when you see him try time and time again to complete simple tasks without success….when you get to the point where you question whether or not you are doing your job as his mother correctly….you do whatever it takes. So yes, even after having that image of what ABA would be like, I was still all in. The statistics for success with ABA is truly amazing, so going through the dark to get to the light was worth it.
While it does have its challenges, and I’m sure it will have many, many, more….ABA is actually kind of wonderful. I have seen Dawson progress so much in just 5 days, I can’t even begin to imagine what could happen in the next year. After only 1 day….1 DAY of working on it, Dawson can clap, BY HIMSELF!!! It’s hard to put into words what moments like these feel like. It’s not comparable to the wait that comes with a first word, first step or first wave (of a typically developing child). We know that with certainty, they will happen eventually. But with Dawson, his entire future seems unknown. Will he ever talk? Will he potty train? Will he drive a car? While I have hope, I can honestly say I don’t know if he will do any of those things….so when moments like these happen. Moments of the unexpected. The moment where he can clap his hands on his own, with a smile so bright and proud…it changes me. It makes my heart ache with love, happiness and appreciation that i was chosen to be his mom.
It won’t always be this good, I’m sure. We will triumph and we will fail. We will take 2 steps forward and 1 step back. That’s life. ABA is a time commitment, and a lot of effort goes into every session…but I am already so grateful for this experience! Stay tuned. The best is yet to come ?.