DISCLAIMER

ABA Therapy is just *one* therapy option, or approach, to helping your child with developmental delays due to autism spectrum disorders.  There are so many different approaches out there, and they all have their place. . . because there are so many unique individuals, with unique delays due to their particular place on the spectrum.  Our experience with ABA is simply one, singular, unique experience.  I would never, ever, think that this is the ‘one and only true way.’  It works for some, it doesn’t for others.  It’s available to some kids in some school districts, and others due to their health insurance policy.  It is available to some people who have the means necessary, and others who have the drive to scrape the money together and live paycheck-to-paycheck in order to pay for it.

This is simply my story.

COST

Our monthly average cost for 35 hours weekly  of ABA Therapy was about $2,000.  We paid $1,600 out-of-pocket, and the United Healthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) paid the remaining $400 from a grant we received.

I started a crappy call-center job the month Hamhock was diagnosed.  I started working this job (30 hours at night until midnight) to earn the bulk of the cost for our son – about $1,200 a month.  We squeezed out $400 a month from our family budget from Foo’s job* (luckily we didn’t have a mortgage, we rented for $800/month, we had a $160 car payment, and basically lived hand-to-mouth/paycheck-to-paycheck).  Luckily we qualified for the extra $400 a month from UHCCF.  Whew.

YOUR LIFE MAY BE HELL IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE MONEY, BUT IT MIGHT BE WORTH IT

I have to state up front here, that I hope my blog doesn’t give people the errant idea that my husband and I were rolling in the lap of financial solvency, and that is why we were *able* to pursue a private ABA therapy program.

We had no money.  Honestly and literally.  We were renting an old, stinky 1950’s house for $800 a month.  We had a crappy family Ford Focus that kept breaking down, for which we were paying $160 a month.  (Our 8 year old Jeep was thankfully paid for).  Foo worked from 9-5 (*he was finally making about $50K as an attorney in attorney-saturated Utah.  It took him two years after law school to secure his first real law job, earning $37K.  We have $75K in law school debt), and I would leave the house at 5:30 pm, once he got home, to go to work from 6 – midnight.  We literally lived hand-to-mouth/paycheck-to-paycheck for two years to provide our son this ABA therapy.  We had no savings.  We were not contributing to a 401K.  We took no vacations.  We were struggling to pay off our $7K hospital/doctor bill from Superboy’s c-section the year before (because of crappy health insurance).

So, after I would manage my son’s therapy alone all day (hiring tutors, keeping them trained with bi-weekly meetings, monitoring their progress, etc), while also breastfeeding and taking care of my one-year old (proud to say I breastfed him until he was two – yay for breastfeeding moms!), doing all the typical “housewifey” things – laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, ironing, paying bills, etc, then I got the *lovely* pleasure to work at a crappy call center job until midnight, 5 nights a week.

I developed insomnia.  I lost my sex drive.  We didn’t go on any vacations.  I felt like an 80 year old woman with no energy (I was 36-38 from 2006-2008).  I developed serious dark circles and bags under my eyes.  As of March 2013, I am still recovering from each of those things, as well as obviously financially trying to catch up from so many missed years of financial progress.

It sucked.

That said, the progress I saw in our son was invaluable.  I would not trade those two crappy years for anything, because I truly feel it gave him what he needed.

Because of my experience, I don’t think that ABA therapy is just for financially solvent people.  I believe that if there is a will, there is a way.  Maybe I might be a bit unusual in my drive to figure out and fix problems, and my willingness to sacrifice so much of my personal happiness for a short time.  But, it was the only thing that I found myself needing/driven to do.

I sincerely pray that health insurance in all 50 states will cover ABA therapy (if that is the path that the parents choose), so that they also don’t have to go through two years of hell like we did, just to give their child a fighting chance.

Thankfully, in mid-2008, Foo got a much better job with a better firm and that coincided with finishing up Hamhock’s ABA therapy, so we were finally able to start living a “normal” middle-class life.  We bought our first home at the end of 2008 (after 11 years of marriage); a little 1983 2,000 sf bungalow with a one-car garage.  We bought our first minivan in August 2011 (after 14 years of marriage) – goodbye crappy 2001 Ford Focus!!!  We took our first official family vacation to the Grand Canyon in November 2011, when Hamhock was 8 and Superboy was 6.

So, please. . .I hope there are no illusions that only financially solvent or well-off people can run a successful, private ABA Therapy program.  Sure, having money would help and like anything in life, money makes your life easier, but if this is what you feel you are driven to do for your child, then there are ways to figure out how to earn the money that is needed.

(I have to say the worst of it for me was starting my job in June 2006, and having to work and wait and prepare to start the ABA Therapy almost 4 months later – at the end of September 2006.  I was the SAHM mom to Hamhock, age 2 1/2, and Superboy, age 1.  Then I would work 30 hours at night till midnight.  I cried every single day.  Multiple times.  I cried and screamed on the way to work.  I cried and screamed on the way home from work.  I was grieving Hamhock’s diagnosis.  I didn’t have the skills, knowledge or experience to know how to help him through his tantrums and obsessions each day.  He couldn’t talk to me.  I didn’t know what he wanted.  He ran the show, and I just followed him around trying to make it through each day.  He didn’t even call me Mom or Mommy.  He couldn’t say the words.  All he said was:  “Goo!”  or “Ga!” and maybe a “ball” or “da” thrown in once in a while.  All I wanted was a relationship with my child.  I existed only for him to use to get what he wanted.  I wanted the therapy to start NOW, but it took time to hire tutors, earn the money to pay for Scott’s training, earn the money to set up the ABA Therapy room, earn the money to buy the flashcards, rewards, and therapy materials, etc.  LIFE SUCKED IN SO MANY WAYS.)

ABA CONSULTANT

We hired an Autism/ABA consultant who trains our therapists for Hamhock’s program: Pryor Consulting. Scott has been involved with healing kids with autism since 1993. He started out while he was in college as a therapist himself, and definitely has a real talent for working with kids on the spectrum. I would be glad to have him as a therapist myself. Scott charges an initial fee of $1000, which covers his 2-day parent/tutor training. After that, he charges $125 an hour for staff meetings, which last usually 2 1/2 hours. We held staff meetings every 2 weeks at first, and now every 3-4 weeks.

I would definitely recommend Scott as an ABA Consultant in Utah.  Although he is not super attentive after your first month or so (he still has one of my video tapes, which he ‘forgot’ to give me feedback that I requested), he definitely addresses any concerns you have in your regular staff meetings, which occur on a regular basis.  I found his rates to be fair and competitive in the industry.  There is another center that provides the same ABA consulting services here in Utah:  Redwood Learning Center.  I had initially called them and received an information packet from them; and at that time they were comparatively priced as Scott, but then we decided to use Scott’s services.  You can also check out the Utah Parent Center website for other providers in Utah.  I had called a few others; but they seemed to provide a mish-mash of services and not just strict ABA like Pryor Consulting and Redwood Learning Center.

TUTORS/THERAPISTS

We’ve hired 9 therapists total, and have 5 currently working (April 2008). They each work anywhere from 6 – 12 hours a week. We started out paying $8.00/hour, with 50 cent raises every 6 months. Now I hire starting at $9.00/hour. We pay “holiday pay” for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. We give $25 gift cards for birthdays and Christmas gifts. We pay for all supplies needed.

Therapists are probably the hardest struggle to keep your program running.  In a perfect world you’d like the same therapists for the duration of your program.  But in a normal world, their needs change, they quit, get other jobs, don’t like this job like they’d thought they might, need more money, etc. etc. etc.

TRAINING

The first morning of our training with Scott went very smoothly. He mostly gave me, Foo and our therapists the “big picture” overview of ABA Therapy (designed and tested by Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas at UCLA: Lovaas Institute).

On that first day I was not prepared for what Scott did after lunch. He asked Hamhock to “come here” to the little wooden chair in front of his little wooden chair. He rewarded him with tickling and verbal praise for coming to the chair, but as soon as Hamhock was ready to run away, Scott didn’t let him. Of course this made Hamhock mad. So Isaac tried again, and Scott just held his arms in front of Hamhock, not holding him down, just using his arms as a barrier from leaving. Well Hamhock doesn’t like anyone imposing any sort of a rule on him, so of course a full-blown tantrum started, and didn’t stop for 45 minutes!

Holy crap! I felt like it was almost child abuse to keep this little 2 year old (almost 3) in a little wooden chair. “Let him run around!” my heart cried, “Let him do what he wants, don’t “force” him to sit in that little chair!” But my head said, “patience, Scott knows what he’s doing, trust his experience. And besides, he HAS been running around for almost 3 years – the running around has not helped him learn! So shut up and learn from the expert.”

I kept watching Scott’s face; it was completely calm and patient. It confirmed to me that he knew what he was doing; I needed to trust his experience. As soon as the moment occurred when Hamhock calmed himself down, and I’m mean literally THE MOMENT, Scott gave a huge verbal praise reward to him and said “go play!” He ran over to me and cried a little more. The key was to reward the behavior we wanted – the moment where Isaac CALMED HIMSELF DOWN.

He had been completely unable to do that up until this moment.

That is the basic premise behind ABA – rewarding the behavior we want, and ignoring the behaviors we don’t.

PROGRESS

This exercise alone decreased Hamhock’s head-banging tantrums by probably 75-90%. I couldn’t believe it! After at least 9 months of watching these horrible, head-banging tantrums with no skills to help him calm himself down, I felt like I had a miracle.

That September, Hamhock started our with only 5 true words. He mastered the word “more” on 2/14/07, and the word “baby” on 3/3/07. Learning the word “baby” was a break-through. After he mastered that one word, I heard him say “bye-bye” and “bee” for the first time. His verbal skills just flowed from there. By April 2007 he was learning 2 word sentences.

One night when putting him to bed I was just about to close the door, when I heard his little voice choke out the words: “Hold . . . my . . .hand.” It made me realize how HARD it has been for him to form the words and communicate his needs and wants. I think of it kind of like learning German when I was a junior in college, studying abroad in Heidelberg Germany. You can kind of understand what people are saying to you, but it takes a lot of effort to translate in your head what you want to come out of your mouth. It took me probably one and a half years before I didn’t have to translate in my head, and words just flowed out of my mouth. Here was my little 3 year old boy, trying desperately to learn a “foreign” language. Why couldn’t everyone else just understand goo talk?

As of April 2008, we’ve been doing 30-40 hours of ABA for almost 19 months. He generally has an ABA session for 3 hours in the morning, then 3 hours in the afternoon for 6 days a week. He now speaks in full 7, 8, 9 word sentences and expresses himself very spontaneously. He’s a hard working kid!

 

Hamhock and therapist John:

Hamhock and therapist Molly:

Hamhock and therapist Juli:

Hamhock and therapist Claire:

COST

Our program costs us about $2,000 per month.  We pay $1,600 per month ourselves, and a grant from the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation pays the remaining $400. We live in Utah, where no insurance mandated laws exist and our health insurance doesn’t cover anything.  Getting your school district to cover ABA Therapy would require that you first start with an IEP with your school district, and then fight like the dickens until you wear your school district down to eventually come up with some sort of a compromise to cover your ABA program.

The biggest challenges I’ve discovered in running a private ABA program are keeping good therapists. It is also a struggle when therapists need time off (which is normal, and they deserve to have), but then I’m left with nothing to do with both boys, and the soul-crushing guilt that I’m wasting precious time for my child’s recovery. Holidays are the worst to manage with a minimal ABA schedule, and too much bad food and stimulation!

You can see all of our supplies on the shelves above.  The string is a “spider-web” Hamhock made out of thread, his at-that-time current obsession.

Our decision to pursue ABA Therapy, instead of RDI, Floortime, TEACHH, ST/OT with the school district, or other therapy programs was based upon numbers. When we read about Dr. Lovaas’s study which recovered 47% of the children with autism (and by recovered it means that they became ‘indistinguishable’ from their peers), we knew we had to try. We also liked that he recommended intensive therapy, meaning A LOT (30-40 hours per week). I constantly had a nagging feeling that Hamhock needed a lot of focused therapy, and ABA answered that nagging feeling. The other therapies didn’t have any numbers to show for recovery rates.

I also discovered that Utah has very limited options/services for children with Autism. There are many supports for children with special needs, but not much designed specifically for children with Autism.

The breakdown for us was this:

  1. Continue with the Salt Lake City school district in the special needs preschool, with an IEP. The preschool only met 2 mornings a week, and was not autism-specific. It served all disabilities. Of course, we would work with Hamhock’s IEP team to get specific ST/OT type services needed, and maybe ABA eventually. I spoke with a law firm that specializes in disability law, and they said the only way to get the school district to pay for our ABA was to start out with school services, and continue to work and prove and show that ABA is the most appropriate program that would address Hamhock’s specific educational needs. You would have to fight like the dickens until you wear your school district down to pay for your ABA program.  Our main factor in determining not to fight the good fight with the school district was that we didn’t want to waste precious time fighting, when Hamhock needed help now. We didn’t want to waste even 6 months; we felt that time was ticking away.
  2. Salt Lake City has an autism-specific school that serves kids on the spectrum for 10 months/year, 4 days/week: the Carmen B. Pingree School for Children with Autism. Hamhock was on the wait list for 16 months for the state-funded slots. We could have started him immediately if we paid out-of-pocket $2500/month, or possibly $1800/month if we qualified for the The Carson Smith scholarship. We realized that we would spend the same amount for our own ABA-intensive program and have all the control. When Hamhock’s spot came up in October 2007, and I observed the classes at the school, I knew we had made the right decision to do a private program. They do a modified version of ABA, and it’s definitely not 6 hours/day. I wasn’t impressed that the ABA they did was 1:2 (sometimes even 1:3). That’s alot of down-time for the kid waiting to be interacted with.  Also, the therapists there looked very bored and didn’t seem very creative in their reinforcing.
  3. I spoke with Tara Dean Moffat, the only certified RDI consultant in Utah in 2006, and was not overly impressed with her (I later learned that she may have been going through a divorce at the time).  Also, after reading Dr. Gutstein’s book I realized that RDI would benefit any ASD child at any age, and ABA really is most effective when implemented early.
  4. The Children’s Center provides some social skills classes for children with autism, but usually not until age 5.
  5. Floortime sounded like a good option to start before you do ABA if you suspect ASD before 18 months. The Children’s Center is having the director of a Floortime Play Project speak sometime in May.

29 Responses to “ABA Therapy”

  1. Jodi said

    Wow, I just stumbled agross your site here. I’m also in Utah. It sounds like you have done aloooot of work. My son is 3 and recently diagnosed with autism. I was looking for some information on ABA therapy home program, when I saw your site. You sound like super mom to me. Thanks for all the great information on here.

    Jodi.

    • gooagoo said

      Hi Jodi!

      I’m so sorry about your son’s recent autism diagnosis. I hope that you are finding the right therapy that will work for your son and help him progress.

      Take care.

  2. Meagan said

    I know Scott is a wonderful man. He has help my son so much. I highly recommend him.

    • gooagoo said

      Hi Meagan!

      So glad to see your comment. I know! Isn’t Scott amazing? What I appreciated most about him was his ability to completely connect with my son the way other people just couldn’t, as well as his total calm and confidence. We would definitely not be where with are today without ABA, and having Scott lead us through our ABA was invaluable. I’m so glad to hear someone else having a great experience with him. I always wished I could clone him for my tutors!

  3. Tori said

    Hi! I was just doing a google search on hiring therapists in Utah for my 3 year oid Autistic son. Thank you so much for all this info! It has helped me so much! Where did you find your therapists? I have no idea where to even start?

    • gooagoo said

      Hey Tori! I’m so sorry to hear that your little guy was diagnosed. It is a tough road, but improvement and recovery is possible! Therapists – definitely the hardest part about ABA or any in-home therapy. I pretty much targeted colleges – I put ads at the U of U, Westminster and SLCC (in Salt Lake City). I did ads in their student newspaper, as well as flyers around campus. Also get the word out to your family and friends. Sometimes the people who you least think likely will be the ones that work out the best. Let me know how it goes!

  4. What nobody realizes is that many abusive or “in-denial” spouses will not allow a child to be diagnosed in the first place. Therefore we need to study custody battles in family courts and link it to Autism, rather than study Autism and un-link it to divorce.

    • gooagoo said

      I’m so sorry to anyone who has a spouse that is in denial. Divorce for children with autism must be especially difficult. My heart goes out to all who are in this situation.

  5. Angela said

    Hi,

    My son just turned 3 and was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. I just finished Leeann Whiffen’s book and of course have been on the computer like madness for the last few days. I googled ABA Therapy Utah and your site pulled up. You have a lot of wonderful information. I’m so scared but know I have to get the ball rolling on him. He currently is in Special Needs PreSchool and after reading your post I’m wondering if we made a mistake and if we should pursue ABA Therapy in our home. The COSTS seem so umbearable – especially when I saw the breakdown. The DAN Conference is next week and I’m debating if I should fly down there to Long Beach or head to Sandy to see Dr. Humphreys. I hope you can email me back. I just feel like there are TOO many choices and I don’t know the best one!!

    Thanks,
    Angela

    • gooagoo said

      Hi Angela!

      I’m so sorry to hear about your little 3 year old son and his diagnosis. It is so heartbreaking. Even though you’re glad to have an answer to why things just didn’t seem “right,” it is devastating. You’re at the hardest part right now – grieving from the diagnosis, not sure which path to take and how to pay for it, and feeling like you’re just wasting precious time every day.

      As far as which therapy to pursue, it is a very very personal decision. Only you know your son, and will observe how he will respond to different programs, therapy, etc. I have many friends who pursued the school district special needs preschool with OT and ST, and others who pursued the in-home ABA programs. It’s definitely a balancing game to figure out what you feel deep-down is the right thing for him, and of course to sit down with your husband and figure out which is the best option financially for your family. I can’t say any *one* therapy is the best, because the spectrum is so wide and varied, and different therapies will help different kids.

      ABA is terribly expensive, very time-consuming, and somewhat isolating – ie, you’re running it on your own – you arrange for your consultant, you hire your therapists, etc. I don’t regret making the sacrifices we did to make it happen because I knew in my heart that it was the right thing at the time that our son needed.

      I just got an email today from the Autism Spectrum Academy – it’s the charter school for kids on the spectrum up in North Salt Lake. I really liked the school when I toured it. Kids don’t start there until Kindergarten. They just opened up a middle school, with plans for a high school to open up in a year or two. Anyway – the email said there is an Autism Conference on Nov 11 & 12. Depending on your family situation, it might be a good alternative instead of flying to the national DAN conference. You’ll get some good local contacts, too. I’ll forward the email to you.

      If your little guy has medical issues that you’d like handle with the DAN approach, I’d definitely recommend Dr. Humpherys. That’s what he does & he’s DAN certified.

      If you’d like him to have extra Speech Therapy, call the Scottish Rite Learning center in Holladay – they offer *free* Speech Therapy. We went there all last year once a week and it was great. It took about 3-4 months on the wait list. I bet you’d get in by January. Here’s the contact #:

      Scottish Rite Speech Therapy
      3210 Highland Drive, Suite B
      Salt Lake City, Utah 84106
      (801)486-0579

      Hang in there! Email me anytime!

  6. Cassie said

    My daughter is 3 1/2 and was diagnosed with high functioning Aspergers in January. I have been looking and trying to find things in Utah as well and stumbled on your blog. You are amazing, Thank you for sharing all of this and helping moms like me who are trying to figure it all out.
    Cassie

    • gooagoo said

      Hi Cassie! Welcome to the club. Hurmpf. You are in the hardest part right now – newly diagnosed, grieving, unsure what the future holds, wanting to help your daughter but there’s so much (and sometimes not enough) information out there. I always wanted a blog that just laid out the process for therapy without having to search through archives for it, so I hope my site is helpful! For a couple of laughs, checkout the starkravingmadmommy.com website. Her son is currently 4 with Asperger’s, and she is *very* relate-able. Nice to “meet” you. Lisa

  7. Leslie said

    We have used Scott for ABA for almost 4 years now. It has been a fantastic program. We may now ease into RDI…I’m trying to get my arms arounds it and figure it out. It seems ambiguous to me right now. I think it is great that you have put all this great info out for those just starting down this path. It is so hard, but our kids are so worth it.

    • gooagoo said

      Hi Leslie! It’s nice to “meet” you on here. I have met/spoken to two other moms who have used Scott. . . he is amazing! We loved having him as our ABA consultant. I was hoping that Hamhock would be “cured” like it sounds like Leann Whiffen’s son, but the developmental pediatrician confirmed that he hasn’t lost his autism diagnosis. Although he performed in first grade *far* better than I ever would have guessed and is doing so well. I hope your child is doing well? Take care always!

  8. Clay Holland said

    Hello,

    Thanks for such a terrific information.

    My wife and I met with Scott Pryor today to help us setup and run an in-home ABA program for our almost 3 year old son with autism.

    I’d like to connect with other families, (especially Utah families), doing an in-home ABA program to share information, tips, ideas, leads for instructors, setting up play groups, etc.

    Please feel free to contact me, or direct me to known websites where I can make such connections.

    If it’s helpful.We live in American Fork, in Utah County.

    I look forward to hearing from anyone.

    Thanks!

    Clay Holland

    • gooagoo said

      Hi Clay!

      I apologize that I don’t update and check my blog very often anymore. . .

      I am so glad that you’ve found Scott to work your ABA program for your son. It’s so awesome to see families getting therapy for their kids so young.

      I’d love to know more about your experience. I have been out of the loop for a while now (my son is 8 1/2, we finished ABA when he was almost 5), so I mostly meet families through my blog.

      I hope maybe Krystal might contact you. . . in fact, maybe I will email both of you with your email addresses. . .?

      Take care,
      Lisa

  9. km said

    Thank you for this post. Our 3-year-old son was recently diagnosed with autism, and we hired Scott as our consultant. Our struggle is that one of our instructors backed out at the last minute and we are struggling to find a replacement. I wonder what the going rate is for instructors. I offered a girl with 4 months of experience with another family $10/hour, and she declined the position because we didn’t pay enough and didn’t offer gas money. I have already taken a second job to pay for his therapy and can’t really afford more. Is that a really low wage?I thought it seemed like pretty good money for a kid with no degree and minimal experience.

    • gooagoo said

      Hi Krystal!

      Nice to ‘meet’ you. I am so sorry about your son’s diagnosis. . .my son was 2 1/2 at diagnosis and 3 when we started with Scott. It was the darkest, hardest time of my life.

      Scott is great! I loved ABA for our son. . .I *knew* it was exactly what he needed. I don’t update the blog enough, but my son, Isaac, is in 2nd grade and flourishing. He reads and does math on grade level, has friends, and functions really well. I have NO DOUBT that he would not be where he is, if he didn’t have ABA. He still gets speech/articulation therapy once a week and OT once a week (he’s a sensory-seeker) at school. And he still is pretty intense about his interests. . .currently he’s obsessed with playing Halo video game.

      Tutors are the hardest part about running your ABA program! I struggled constantly to keep good tutors, and keep them happy. I can’t believe $10 an hour isn’t good enough? Wow!!!!! And gas money? What job pays gas money? I’m so sorry. $10 is perfectly good enough for a kid with no college degree, geesh. Maybe there was another reason they didn’t want to mention. . .?

      I worked to pay for therapy, too, and it was so hard!

      Where do you live in Salt Lake?

      Let me know how everything is going.

      Take care,
      Lisa Middlemas

  10. Clay Holland said

    I just got notification of your March 28th posting…6 weeks after the fact, so sorry for the late response. I hope it doesn’t take as long for you to receive notification of my reply.

    We have had no problem at all hiring instructors at $9/hr. I believe the whiny girl you made an offer to is one of our former instructors; she would have had about 4 months of ABA experience with our family at the time she quit (the time of your posting). Was her name Maddie? A red headed gal from California (I don’t want to post last names)

    If so, consider yourself lucky that she didn’t take the job. She was good at ABA for the most part, and good with our son, and was all happy/excited when she took the job, but it wasn’t long before she started whining that she wasn’t making enough money (Then why the heck did you take the job?), that it was costing her too much money in gas to come out to our house in American Fork (You knew where the job was when you accepted it AND you can write off the mileage on your taxes at 50 cents per mile).

    We could put up with that, but then she started questioning everything we asked her to do, even laughing at my wife one day when the instructor was given some direction on working with our son.

    Then when she took a second job, she started missing a lot of our son’s sessions, (luckily there was always another instructor who could fill in), and telling us she couldn’t come to team meeting anymore, and also started giving us an arrogant attitude, even making comments about how much more money she was making at her other job, as if we were supposed to match the wages at her other job.

    We do give our instructors raises at 2 months, 6 months and again at 12 months (we’re only 6 months into our program), so we had given this instructor one raise, and she not only never said “Thank you”, but never even acknowledged it (actually, come to think of it, none of our instructors have said “Thank you” or acknowledged their raise…makes you wonder if you should bother).

    We also later learned that she had been in speech therapy as a child, which isn’t that big of a deal, but we did start to notice that she would say and spell words incorrectly (e.g., “diamper” instead of “diaper”)…not the best thing when she is teaching language in ABA.

    Also, our son has been able to read since at least 17 months old, and she used 3″x5″ prompt cards ALL of the time, when it was to be used only as needed. In fact I found a stack of these handwritten prompt cards hidden in the back of the drawer of our son’s ABA table a few days ago.

    Finally, after one of our son’s ABA sessions with Maddie, on her way out the door, we gave her some cash to go purchase some fun reinforcers with, and two hours later, we got an email saying she was quitting and not coming again. She could have told us that before she took our money and walked out the door. Luckily, she did buy some reinforcers with it that she mailed to our house.

    I called her and tried to get her to stay on for a week or two while we found a replacement, but she didn’t care…she just left our son high and dry. Again, fortunately our other instructors stepped up and filled in.

    Good luck!

    • gooagoo said

      Oh. My. Gosh! What an experience! How terrible that someone could be so unfeeling toward your situation. I had a few therapists that “on paper” looked great, but it just was not the right thing, and as soon as we all realized that and let them go (or they quit) it was better for all involved.

      It sounds like your other therapists are pretty good. . . that they will step up and fill in. Whew.

      It’s a constant struggle. Keep fighting the good fight. I have no doubt it will pay off.

      • Jessica a said

        Hi,

        Just read your blog and was really inspired.
        Have been looking for an ABA tutor for such a long time & I’m based in London. Was hoping if anyone at all has ideas of websites or numbers for a child diagnosed with autism for private ABA sessions ASAP.

        Thank you all & all the best!

        Jessica

      • gooagoo said

        Hello Jessica! I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been looking for a long time for an ABA tutor! Arrrggggh! That’s so frustrating. I don’t know how many services are available in the UK. I am located in Salt Lake City, UT, and so I was able to hire one of only a handful of ABA providers here. I solicited at the job boards of the local universities/colleges to hire ABA tutors. We also found tutors by word of mouth to family and friends. What has it been like in London for you trying to get ABA going for your child? Take care, Lisa

  11. Clay Holland said

    Thanks for the info.

    Yes, I would like to get in touch with Krystal, if she would like to.

    Thanks!

    Clay

  12. hi! this is shiea from Philipines. i am aba therapist for almost 2 years. i am very interested to have a career growth and to work abroad.

    If you are hiring therapist outside your country just contact me thru email: shiela_vallejos@yahoo.com
    thanks

  13. vica said

    Thank you for sharing your story.
    I was wondering why instead of working at night and hiring ‘therapists’ (judging by their rate I assume they were not certified and their training was provided by you via your consultant) you didn’t get trained to be a therapist yourself?
    We just learned our son has ASD and considering different options of getting him ABA therapy so your sharing is greatly appreciated.

    • gooagoo said

      Getting trained in the ABA therapy yourself is a fantastic idea. This would definitely work, and would save you alot of money!!! From my experience, I think either way would be exhausting. The bottom line is that parents work hard to do whatever it is they need to do for their kids.

  14. Clay Holland said

    It’s been more than 2 years since my last comment here.

    It was 3.5 years ago (Feb 2011) when we received our son’s Autism diagnosis, and we have worked our tails off ever since. Well…one week from today, he starts Kindergarten in a neurotypical classroom without any aids and supports.

    3 months ago, our school district performed their updated assessment, (they assessed him when he turned 3, and concurred with the Autism diagnosis), and the outcome of the new assessment was that “This student does not have Autism as defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Act…”.

    This means that our son is doing so well that he no longer qualifies for an IEP, (and we haven’t felt the need to pursue a 504).

    We feel that (and our consultant, Scott Pryor agrees), our son is better than 95% recovered. Our little guy has worked so hard over the last 3.5 years, and we are so proud of him, and so happy for him.

    We will of course continue to “polish” out any remaining “rough edges”, but expect that our need to do so will end in the next 12-14 months.

    I share to hopefully inspire other parents/families that are not very far into their own “Autism journey” with their child, that recovery is possible, and that all of your efforts do pay off for your child…just stick with it, do your best, and do all that you can every single day.

    Best wishes to all,

    Clay

  15. gooagoo said

    So fantastic to hear, Clay. Just, wow. So, so happy for your family and your son.

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