Thursday, February 19, 2009

Floortime Atlanta

Kevin and I are taking a parent class at Floortime Atlanta with Dr. Barbara Dunbar. It is Monday nights from 7-9 so it is a really long time to be away from Will (we both leave straight from work). The class is based on the book Engaging Autism by Stanley Greenspan (see books to right). DIR/Floortime is a type of therapy for developmental disorders.

The most commonly known behavior therapy for Autism is ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis). It is what your pediatrician would most likely recommend once your child is diagnosed. This therapy uses positive reinforcement to get what 'behavior' they want from the child. ABA works for a lot of people but it focuses on actions (say this, do that, etc. and repeat until they get it correct then they get an M&M or some kind of reward). This was definitely not what we wanted for Will. We didn't want him to be able to pretend to fit in this world, we actually wanted him to want to engage.

DIR (Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based)Floortime is based on emotional development. Using DIR/Floortime you asses your child for their unique challenges and strengths and tailor a program specific to the child. "The objectives of the DIR®/Floortime™ Model are to build healthy foundations for social, emotional, and intellectual capacities rather than focusing on skills and isolated behaviors."
Click here for more info
They call it floortime because you actually get down and play with your child. You follow their lead and use things that they are interested in and try to enter into their world so you can help them in ours. You work on building a foundation that might have been missed because of something like sensory issues. The program works on reaching the 6 developmental milestones that your child must master for healthy emotional and intellectual growth.
see milestones

This therapy was recommended by a friend (Thank you Ashley!) when we first started to worry about Will and then again was recommended by Will's Neurologist Dr. Schub.
I have already learned so much in the class and in the book and we have been working with Will and have already seen improvements. I am so anxious to really start spending more time having "floortime sessions".

You can do 'floortime' anywhere and always but it is important to have structured alone time with your child to reach these levels. We are creating a 'therapy room' in our house for this reason. Basically, we are taking the playroom and moving out most toys. Taking away the distractions. Only keeping the toys that we can play with together. Keeping his sensory toys and items to help with his different sensory issues. I will post pictures and items that we are using and the benefits the certain items in anther post.
I believe that with DIR/Floortime and the biomedical approach that Will is going to do great!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A good therapist is hard to find...

Will's speech therapist comes once a week. He works for us through Babies Can't Wait. (I think the program is a good idea but they get so bogged down with all their processes that it is about impossible to get anything done.) I'll get back to that in a minute... Anyway, his speech therapist is a guy and he comes every Tuesday. Now I don't know about your kids, but my 2-year old Autistic son is not going to sit still for 30 minutes and look at flash cards! I pretty much have to hold him down kicking and head butting for the entire time. When we first started with Babies Can't Wait they sent a girl who believed in teaching through playing, what a crazy idea! Well she left on maternity leave and when she came back she was in a different area. So we are stuck with Flash Card guy!

Will talks all morning and when this guy gets here he just shuts his mouth. Now, I would call our "Service Coordinator" with Babies Can't Wait and request a new therapist, easy right? However, when I fired our Occupational Therapist months ago they told me I would be getting a new one and I have yet to see that happen. I doubt by the time he ages out of the program in July I will have gotten a new one. Will does have a "special instructor" that comes on Wednesday's and he really loves her, so I am grateful for that!

It is just really sad that our kids need so much help and it is so difficult to get unless you have above average means (I was just reading about a family who spent over $1 million dollars in the first 10 years of trying to develop their son ). Now we are hoping with our new insurance that some of these services will be covered but typically Autism as a diagnosis is not covered. If you had a stroke your insurance would cover speech therapy because you can recover from a stroke, but the mainstream doesn't think our children can recover so they don't pay for it. Now what is wrong with that picture?!!?!!?