I am also vaguely remembering that I heard the word 'breakthrough' from both teachers working with him last week.
Hard doesn't begin to describe watching your child go from deep, breath-catching sobs to checking out, closing his eyes and wobbling to keep his head up as he wills himself to sleep, and the only sounds heard from him are the deep residual sobbing gasps in between long silent breaths. The ABA requests don't stop; the teacher is gentle but she shows no mercy for the sudden nap, she has seen it before. If the checking-out-of-session to sleep is reinforced (simply by allowing it) this time, then it will be that much more difficult to un-do.
I support her, I believe in her, I believe in ABA, I really do.
I repeat this to myself in mantra form.
I can defend this method to anyone who dares to question it. You think I am creating a trained monkey? Well, my monkey will hopefully be able to function in a world of differences and expectations. You wonder why I put him through rote training 6+ times/day and ask him (force him with a 3-step if needed) to touch his head - touch his tummy - shake his foot - clap his hands - say "GO!" in quick and repetitive succession? And I tell you what I tell everyone else I have determined does not really anticipate a qualifying answer from me as much as an opportunity to question my motives, "Because, how else do you expect to get a child to say something? Repeat after me? Say this? Have you ever tried that with a two year old? A two year old who loves to say 'No!' if you even so much as imply that he should perform on the spot?"
(really, my two year old does look at you like you just asked him to perform the encore to Phantom of the Opera if you so much as ask him to use the label 'milk' for such a thing as 'milk'.)
Bubbles is suspicious of requests. He is getting better. Much of the speech therapy he is receiving now is just getting him used to following requests; Hello, ABA.
About one month ago, we tried something with him called Constant Time Delay (CTD), a bit too early. We knew he could say the 'b' sound, so we chose something dear to him to make him work for: Bottle. He didn't need a bottle to receive nourishment, but he loved bottles enough to work for it, we figured. We figured wrong.
After six days of using CTD to get Bubbles to say some (any) approximation of 'bottle', we gave them up. He was more attached to refusing to say anything on demand than he was to getting that damn bottle. I mean, he is two - it is more than time enough that we said goodbye to bottles. But really? A child who would rather tantrum than get the bottle? Who was this child, and more importantly, who the fuck had dropped him off at my house?
Once I refreshed my memory about the genetic stubbornness and pulled myself together, I wept a few more tears for not being the parent I want to be, and bucked the hell up.
I recalled one of the first questions I had asked the director of Bubbles' ABA program, "What he doesn't improve? What if it doesn't work?"
Her answer was the one that sealed the deal. "If he does not make improvements, then we are doing something wrong. It 'not working' is not an option."
How could you keep from kissing the person who said that? (By nodding quietly and resisting that impulse, I found...in case you were wondering.)
At any rate, I took that part on as my own responsibility as well. If it wasn't working, then I had better request some changes. If it wasn't working, then what more could I do at home to help him?
After my six days of tantrums (his) (believe me you'd thank me for the condensed version rather than the play-by-play hours of tantrums which made up each and every one of those six days) and ultimate failure with CTD, I emailed J and waved my white flag. And do you know what she did? She put herself back on his program to work with him one:one. She revised his plan - ditch the CTD for now. She patted my ego and convinced me that I had not failed, but merely tapped into a clearly difficult level of demand from him. She reminded me that we had been understanding and following his nonverbal requests so well and for so long, and now he could not fathom why we can't (or refuse to) understand him, and that his frustration level would likely get much worse before we saw improvement.
Dark days, I tell you.
Easy to defend your methods and choices to those who question you. How dare they? Being a parent is hard! And it simultaneously subjects you to and exempts you from such commentary which is so often received as judgment.
But it is harder, so much harder, to defend your choices to yourself.
To your gut, which is wrenched and knotted from watching your child sob and sob and heave and sob. To your heart, which is ohsopainfully breaking as it witnesses these cries of angst, this inconsolable frustration. To your brain, which is grasping for intellectual justification as you watchyour child, wavering and half-asleep, barely able to focus, but still following instructions to 'tap chair' and 'put ring on stacker' in desperate hope that this person will just leave him alone if he puts the damn ring on again.
This is much harder to defend. To look past this and convince myself that I am helping him.
This is the stuff that motherhood is made of, I tell you. holyhell.
But, are we making progress? Yes, I would like to think that we are. Bubbles did not spend more than half of his session today screaming. His parroting and babbling have increased by leaps and bounds (this is a huge step towards sound-pairing and articulation), and he will occasionally say a word upon request.
He tosses out the occasional sentence, often said so quickly we don't understand it - but if we could slow down his tape, I think we would find he can say way more things than he gets credit for.
Yesterday, he moved the mouse and it changed the large computer screen in front of him. He reportedly said to Daddy, "Whatdiditdo?"
He even took a chance on a See'n'Say, and allowed it to 'tell him what to do'!
Note his very dramatic 'woof woof'.
Word of the day?