Issue with Junior ABA Therapist. Am I expecting too much?
I am new to CafeMom. I did a search and found that a lot of other moms have issues with their therapists too. I hope this doesn't sound redundant or just a rant. This is a long post, so you may skim through it if you want to.
I have a 2.5-year-old son who was diagnosed with autism. He's considered very high-functioning with few "autism characteristics." He started ABA (and speech) therapy in early July and has been progressing very well. The company providing for his ABA therapy was chosen by our local regional center (in California). The overall experience with this company has been ok with some minor hiccups. All in all, I'm just SO HAPPY that my son is progressing well and having fun (most of the time).
On his ABA team, he currently has 1 program supervisor, 1 behaviorist, 2 junior therapists, and 2 senior therapists. It has been 1.5 month and one therapist left and they added two senior therapists to the team.
During the initial assessments, the program supervisor gave me inaccurate dates for the submission of the report. The report was eventually submitted two weeks later than what she told me.
Multiple consultation cancellations during therapy. The last time, she didn't even tell me. So it's still kind of ongoing.
Underscheduling. My son should be receiving 20 hours/week but there were four weeks that he didn't get all his hours. I only found out when there was one day one of his therapists didn't show up and I recalculated all the hours. They have made up all those missing hours in this week.
Current Issue (with Junior Therapist):
I don't dislike this therapist as a person. I think she's a nice person. She seems to adore my son. She's a great playmate -- very energetic and doesn't mind being silly. I just don't think she knows what she's doing (at least most of the time). She's a recent college grad and have been an ABA therapist for less than a year. She started out really strong -- her playful and energetic personality was great when she was pairing with my son at the beginning.
At the beginning, things were simpler -- getting my son to look at the person talking whenever, have him give some response whenever, having him point at whatever, etc. As things progressed, they got a bit more complicated and simply having my son perform tasks like a puppy is not enough to challenge him or teach him the right behaviors. That's how I feel the recent sessions have been, anyway.
Example 1: The therapist grabbed one of the pieces off my son's structure as he was building it, then told him to show her his tummy (identifying body parts). My son was clearly concentrating on building his structure and he was upset that she "ruined" his it. Hence, he didn't do as she requested and got marked down.
Example 2: The therapist and my son were doing a puzzle. The therapist wanted to run some programs and she chose to run "stand up." Honestly, I thought that was just stupid when you're doing an activity that requires concentration. Instead she could've ran VVI ("puh") or maintenance ("huh" for help) which would be appropriate and not make my son lose his concentration which then would make him unnecessarily frustrated. She also kept shoving puzzle pieces toward his way before he could figure out where the put the piece he already had.
Example 3: The therapist wanted to redirect my son to playing with blocks instead of the iPad. When my son began playing with the blocks, the therapist bust out her slinky and started rambling on about how cool the slinky is. My son just ignored her and her requests.
I can't remember all the specific incidents, but here's a list of "issues" I have with her methods/approaches:
1) She ALWAYS speak in a monotonous (albeit soft and cheerful) tone with my son. It just sounds like she's always rambling on and on and on. Even my son ignores her most of the time. Hence her prompts are often hard to distinguish from her casual rambling.
2) She doesn't know how to properly redirect. She usually just picks up a toy and go on (and on) about how fun and cool it is -- my son doesn't buy any of it.
3) She doesn't know how to properly ignore "bad" behaviors. When my son climbed on to the couch, she kept repeating (in her soft and angelic voice) why he shouldn't climb and struggled to yank my son off the couch -- my son only got more fixated on the couch.
4) It's always like a flea market during session. She doesn't enforce cleaning up.
5) She doesn't give my son enough challenge. When she prompts my son to do something, she'll take anything for an answer and praise him. I don't know who is tossing who a bone.
6) She doesn't teach my son the appropriate response in a certain situation, like when she prompts him to stand up during puzzle
7) Bombarding him with toys and activities. Once he takes up an activity, she change it up abruptly. It feels like she wants to make the call on what to play, but can't (lack of authority) -- and she would only play what SHE wants to play.
8) Overuse of reinforcers (i.e. monotonous praises and tickles). I know we're supposed to praise my son a lot when he does something whether because he cooperates or he does it independently, but I don't feel like my son cares for her praises and tickles. She does it so often, it seems like my son just tunes her out most of the time.