At the age of two, our daughter Shayla, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It was devastating news for our family; we did not fully understand what ASD represented, but we were told that it is a lifelong condition, which severely impairs a person's ability to communicate. As we became aware of what we were facing, reality started to set in. My wife and I cried during many nights, because we knew that this would be a very long battle for us to fight.
We tried out a few therapies at first, such as OT and Speech, though we did not see much progress with these therapies. The OT therapist would ask Shayla to do something, and Shayla would either not understand, or would be tuned-in to something else. The same would happen with the Speech therapist; for instance, when Shayla would throw a fit, the therapist wouldn't know how to maneuver Shayla back into a state of learning; they were not able to connect with Shayla. Then, we tried ABA, and we were relieved to see that the therapist knew how to redirect Shayla's attention towards whatever it was that they were trying to teach her. This is something which is fundamentally unique to ABA; the ability to connect with the child, in order to teach him or her the skills which are naturally acquired by neurotypical children.
Shayla, began attending Behaviour Analysis Inc, when she was about two and a half years old. At that time, she had no speech, and her ability to retain anything, which you would try to teach her, was zero. Though, we saw the potential with ABA therapies; Shayla would actually pay attention to the ABA therapist, and she began to learn little by little. At first, they had Shayla repeat certain physical actions, and once Shayla mastered that, they moved on to the next target, and so on. This structured form of teaching, which is also unique to ABA, is critical in helping Autistic children achieve the milestones which are expected of neurotypical children.
Shayla is now six years old, and soon going on seven. She is able to speak, although not yet in a conversational manner, and she has acquired a wealth of knowledge, which we can honestly attribute to her ABA therapy. Her behavior is that of a neurotypical child, and she even behaves better than some of her classmates, which are all neurotypical. She is able to follow directions, and can even complete her homework on her own. Overall, Shayla is very obedient. When she is motivated, she is able to sit and learn, which is something that she has been trained to do throughout the years, during her ABA sessions. She still has some trouble concentrating, but it is either because she is not motivated, or she just has an off-day.
If I were to give another parent advice on what I thought were the most effective treatments for Autism, ABA therapy from Behavior Analysis Inc. would be first on my list, followed by Biomedical treatments (Methyl B-12, Glutathione, Probiotics, GF-CF diet), and finally Speech therapy with an ABA approach. I highly recommend Behavior Analysis Inc. for the simple fact that they know what they are doing. We have heard from other parents who have tried other ABA centers prior to Behavior Analysis Inc., and they all have said that Behavior Analysis Inc. is hands-down the best in town.
It's been a long battle, and it is surely not over, but we feel confident that Shayla is on the right track to recovery.
- Tony Ugando