Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Our Journey to ABA Therapy

Thinking back to where we were just a few short months ago, it's hard to believe where we were just 4 months ago in our autism journey.

In October I began researching other treatment options for Colton as I was incredibly unhappy, disgruntled, and discouraged with the therapy he was receiving through ECI (Early Intervention through the state of Texas). At 2 years old, he was primarily nonverbal with a vocabulary of two words. ECI still believed that two 45 minute sessions a month was sufficient of speech therapy, OT, and SST (social skills therapy). His social skills therapist constantly cancelled appointments and he continuiously regressed after each and every OT appointment. I was banging my head against a wall and was determined to find a better option for Colton.

I began scouring the net for alternatives and thats when my saving grace came in the form of a Facebook group that dealt with autism insurance in Texas. I spent hours upon hours reading, educating myself, and looking into ABA therapy, which is one of the most effective and best documented treatment options for autism. Through this group we were able to find an amazingly knowledgable autism advocate and insurance broker by the name of Jason Farrell of Farrell Financial. He deals specifically with finding the best possible insurance coverage for autism families. That's when ABA began to be a reality. After the sticker shock of the outrageous price of ABA therapy (most centers cost upwards of $130,000+ a year), with Jason's help, we realized how feasible and cost effective it would be in the long run.

In November we signed up for a secondary insurance policy through Obamacare's Marketplace (due to the Texas Autism Mandate, ABA HAS to be covered through the marketplace insurance, where as most self-funded companies chose NOT to cover autism related services). In December we found the perfect home for our sweet boy and un-enrolled him from his daycare center and on January 4, 2016, Colton was welcomed in to The Learning Lane family. He began attending The Learning Lane full time, 30+ hours a week, nearly the max amount of time that's proven effective. He is currently in a class of 5 students with 4 full time ABA therapists. It's completely one-on-one and tailored to his specific needs. Vince and I, along with his therapists were able to devise a treatment and behavior plan that will help Colton progress and make gains in all aspects of life - visual performance, receptive language, motor imitation, vocal imitation, requests, labeling, intraverbals, play & leisure skills, social interactions, group instruction, routines, dressing, eating, & grooming skills, and fine motor skills. He has goals, objectives, and specific criteria that he needs to master before a new goal is set. He also has a behavior plan which addresses his top 3 negative behaviors - dropping (throwing himself on the floor), biting himself, and hitting himself.

In the past month of ABA, he has gained about 15 words and we have been able to deal more effectively with his behavior at home and in social settings. We couldn't be happier with his progress and the amazing therapists that work with him on a daily basis.

I feel blessed, lucky, and ecstatic to be this little boys advocate and that we have been able to get him the best therapy possible at such an early age and look forward to continued progress!

Snow Day at school!