Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Where We Are At With Therapy

It's been almost 2 months since Little Bean's diagnosis of Autism. It's been closer to 6 months since we began the process of trying to figure out what was going on with him and began seeking a diagnosis. Here's the run down of where we are at now:

Anger Therapy: This was a group therapy class that was meant to teach kids with all kinds of medical and psychological backgrounds skills for coping with anger. Little Bean attended this class once a week and either myself or my dh would go with him. This class was literally painful for me to go to. For some reason, seeing him with all these other kids who, although they clearly had anger problems, could relate so well and befriend eachother, killed me inside. I was a stark difference between how Little Bean played and interacted and the way the other children played and interacted. After the first 3 or 4 classes, I asked my husband to go instead because it was just too hard for me to see how different he was in so many ways. I was always near tears (or in tears most of the time) by the time I left that class.

However, we did learn some valuable information in that class. No, her techniques were nothing new, but I realized that there were things I could do to help prevent the rage cycle from happening, and honestly, his behaviors have lessened since finishing this class. It is on break now, and I don't know if he will be recomended to continue going or not. At this point, I think it's not necessary. This class is covered, with only a small copay by our current insurance.

Social Skills 1:1 Therapy: We were very lucky in that the woman who evaluated him initially for Autism was more than happy to take him on as her patient. We really like her gentle manner, and the fact that Little Bean seemed comfortable with her was a good thing. So we were able to start his 1:1 therapy basically right away. Since this therapist does most of the testing for Autism, she doesn't have a ton of time for regular appointments, which means his appointments will be very sporadic, but at this point it's the best option we have if we utilize our insurance for this. So far, he's practiced using an appropriate tone of voice (he tends to speak just above a whisper, which means no one can hear him!), two-way conversations, greetings and eye contact. We get this therapy through our insurance with only a slightly larger copay than the anger classes.

Social Skills Group Therapy: This is by far the most important of all his therapies because it involves learning targeted social skills in a setting where he must interact with peers. Unfortunately, since this isn't covered by our insurance, it's taken us a lot longer to get things started. We visited the facility probably a month ago to just learn more about the cost involved and what services he would receive. He is scheduled to go in for another assessment this week, during which time they will observe him playing with peers and create goals for him. After that, it shouldn't be long before he can get started with the group. As I said, this group is not covered under our current insurance, and is very costly. We have asked my parents to help pay for his therapy here.

I hate asking people for money, but in this case, I know how important it is that Little Bean have these interventions as soon as possible. We would eventually like to take over the responsibility for all his therapy costs, which is part of the reason why we feel a move to Oklahoma is in our best interest. We feel that if my dh can get a higher paying job in OK, with the cost of living being cheaper there, we can hopefully take some steps to better our situation and eventually pay for his therapy ourselves.

Occupational Therapy: When Little Bean was assessed, it was suggested that he have an occupational therapy evaluation as well. It was found that his fine and gross motor skills are completely on target for his age, so he does not medically warrant occupational therapy. However, they said that he would benefit from continued occupational therapy to address his sensory needs. They found that he is tactile defensive. This shows up in his stiffening or jumping away when touched, his toe-walking, and refusal of hugs. They also found that he is sensory seeking. This shows up in his easily distractable manner, playing or hugging too roughly, in repetitive behaviors like spinning and repetitive speech. And finally they found that he is auditory defensive. This shows up in his covering his ears for sounds like crying, loud noises, etc and in his becoming very upset when he hears any background noise when he is trying to concentrate. His OT is a really nice Christian lady, and she has given us a packet of ideas to begin a sensory diet with him. I am supposed to try out different activities with him throughout the day to address his sensory needs and report what worked and what didn't. Eventually the hope is that with a regular sensory diet, he would become less defensive and more open to and relaxed with sensory stimuli. His OT is about every 3 weeks, and is covered by our insurance with a copay.

So that's the run down for now. Course, it could all change when we move to OK if my dh finds work out there. Depending on the insurance situation, more or less could be covered, and also it is dependent on what services are even available to him out there. So while the payment situation could change, I'm fairly confident the types of therapies will be basically the same for him wherever we go. And hopefully, a move will enable us to take back some of the financial part ourselves.

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Annette W. said...

Wow. The therapies sound effective...and costly.

Is he not eligible for services through the school district because you homeschool?

How soon are you considering moving? Is it something that is the goal one day in the near future or sometime in the next few years? Why Oklahoma? Family?

Lori said...

I have a question regarding your son's spinning. Did it just appear as something that he enjoyed doing or that he did when he was overwhelmed or both. My son spins when overwhelmed and for enjoyment. But he does so for L-O-N-G periods of time. Just curious....

Jennifer said...

Annette, I think the therapy is going to be really helpful for him. It is costly, and yes, because we homeschool I do not get services through the school district. Homeschooling isn't sometihng I'm willing to trade for therapy at this point, but as always, it requires prayerful thought of course.

As for why OK, my husband has family there, so that's why we would pick that particular state. He is actively looking right now, so it could be any time, we hope before summer at the very latest. Also, the cost of living there is better, so we can hopefully save more and eventually own a home, etc.

Lori--Spinning isn't one of Little Bean's main stims, but he does enjoy spinning for comfort, relaxation, enjoyment, and is fascinated with spinning objects (tops, wheels, swivel chairs and stools, etc. The way it was explained to me is that if a child is spinning and then saying, "Look at me, mom!" etc, then it's probably not stimming. If they are doing purely for their own enjoyment/need/comfort then it's probably stimming. I don't think the amount of time spinning is as relevant as WHY the behavior is happening. Hope that helps!

S Club Mama said...

we're right behind you http://thesclub.blogspot.com/2011/01/ados-results-finally.html

will be back to read more!

S Club Mama said...

OK I had a minute to really read through this - I can't wait to get to this part of the process. I feel like now we are just always waiting for the next step but not getting anything to help him out.
In a few weeks he'll start preschool to help his social skills (we're moving in a few weeks) and hopefully it won't be 6 months before we can meet with the doctor like it took to get him diagnosed.

Is Little Bean autistic, PDDNOS, or Asperger's - my Moose is autistic

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