Sunday, August 24, 2014

your reward shall be in....the lego store

People, things are getting better! And they were really bad there for awhile. The list of interventions over the past few months includes a new doctor to manage medicine, a new counselor, a new ABA therapist who comes to our home, a social worker, and a few occupational therapy sessions. It has taken a lot of time. And money. But people, we are starting to see some results.

Martin went to church today and had fairly good behavior. He has not been to church in weeks because he knocked someone over and regularly yelled and hit. Although school was a nightmare for him back in April and May, he now says he's looking forward to its start tomorrow. Although he sometimes still struggles with following the social rules of the world, he has been going to places like the pool and the YMCA without much incident. It feels like a miracle.

To be more scientific, that miracle has been realized through ABA therapy. You can find a good synopsis of this once-controversial, and now generally accepted therapy, as part of this article. Most basically, ABA involves breaking down daily tasks and behavioral expectations into tiny chunks. When children perform one of these small acts correctly, they receive rewards. When Martin had ABA therapy as a 4-year-old, he was rewarded for answering yes-or-no questions and making two-word sentences. He was then motivated to work for the rewards offered for three words and four and so on. With ABA, Martin learned to talk.

Martin's current ABA therapy is focused on behavior. It establishes a set of expected (or good) behaviors as well as unexpected (or bad) behaviors. As part of the therapy, we check in with Martin every 15 minutes of the day. He gets checkmarks for every 15 minutes of expected behavior. When a certain number of checkmarks add up, Martin gets a reward. On the flip side, we ignore bad behavior. Even if Martin screams at us or hits or kicks, we pay no attention to it. The goal is that Martin learns that bad behavior does not get him what he wants. Good behavior does.

Martin is currently at the lego store because he made it through church this morning. I know that some of you might think, "Wow, buying kids legos to fulfill basic family obligations? No way." If I didn't have a kid with autism, I'd feel the same way. If a kid can apprehend the rules parents can and should create the expectation that these rules be followed. But what if your kid can't apprehend the rules? What if no amount of explanation gets through? What if the only way to learn it is to do it BEFORE understanding it?

Since Martin got through church today and received a reward for it, it will most likely be easier for him to go next week. And we won't need as big a reward as incentive. Perhaps some ice cream after lunch. The hope is that rewards will no longer be necessary within a few weeks. And then we'll have a kid who understands that he's capable of going to (and maybe even enjoying) church.

Right now, we're still breaking down our days into 15 minute blocks. But soon it will be 30 minutes. And then hours. If I really let myself dream, I think about a time in the near future when there are no charts and checks necessary. And Martin is happy. And I'm happy. I will buy a lot of legos now in order to have the chance of such a day in the future.


  1. There is no such thing as "autism". Psychiatry itself is a bogus science. The following articles and essays explain this:

    12 Part essay that exposes psychiatry as a bogus science

    Inventor of ADHD: “ADHD is a fictitious disease”

    Co-Founder of DSM admits there is no way to scientifically prove that mentall illness is real

    One year old babies and younger being put on psychiatric drugs

    Psychiatric Drugs Shorten Life Span by 15 years on average

    Psychiatry is based on lies and falsehoods

    Psychiatry is a fake science

    Every human emotion is now a "mental illness"

    Ten Myths about Psychiatric Drugs

    Studies show psychiatric drugs have no benefits and are dangerous

    Psychiatry is now giving 3 year old children drugs

    Psychiatric drugs make you sicker

    A few free eBooks talking about how psychiatry is a massive hoax

    A list of THOUSANDS of psychiatrists who have committed crimes against their patients

  2. I am not sure you have ever met anyone autistic. It has nothing to do with psychiatry or drugs. I love Martin. He is different in unique ways. Drugs are not the issue.