Shortly after getting Cameron diagnosed, we quickly found ourselves in a world of waiting as programs and services were all under funded and over filled. Because speech was our biggest priority, we bit the bullet and forked out the $150/hour it took to get our son in for speech therapy right away… the condition was that my wife, his mother, was able to sit in for each session to not only be a part of it but to learn what methods to continue reinforcing once our son was home.
After a little while and some good progress, the free speech therapy program was available to us which, at the time, was very welcoming since we really were in no position to afford $150/hour. So we quickly shifted him into the new program where we quickly realized that not all therapists are created equal.
This lady would give Cameron a toy and a task to perform with it, if Cameron wouldn’t or couldn’t do it, she would take his hand and force him to do it. Now, I would have thought that lesson #1 with Autistic children would be to know better than to even make contact, much less hold them and position them in such a way. This sort of manipulation did not sit well with Cameron and he got quite upset.
Then, once the task was performed, she demanded that Cameron put the toy away immediately after. He had just started to use this new wonderful toy and was now being told, and then forced to put it back.
This kind of hand holding and give and take process with the toys was very counter productive and would ultimately set him back several weeks. Rather than learning how to speak, he was learning how to regress… to shy away back into his shell further.
Luckily my wife is very hands on, she stays home with him full time and was able to be there to witness this. After discussing it together, we felt that we had no choice but to speak up and insist that my wife be in the room during these therapy sessions… and that most of all, that some things are made clear, and changed.
I’m sure you can tell by my tone that we expected a struggle in getting this to happen but no, they were very receptive and even though they suggested that she not be in the room, they allowed it, and they changed how they approached our son.
We saw immediate results and Cameron did very well, so long as she never grabbed him by the hand and she gave him ample time to explore and discover the toys he was given.
The lesson we learned was that you can not just hand over your child to anyone, no matter how well trained, how well paid or how highly recommended they may be… ultimately no one knows your own child as well as you do and what they think will work for most children might not work for yours.
Since then, we’ve been to several other programs and are even getting started with some programs now and the first thing we tell them is that we insist that his mother be there during the sessions. If they truly want what is best for our son, then they won’t deny us.