October 31st marks a significant milestone for Samara and for us as a family. For the past 3 years Samara has been participating in Arizona Department of Disabilities Habilitation Masters program (recently renamed Early Childhood Autism)and we will be transitioning out of this program. This is an intensive ABA (applied behavioral analysis) program that brings providers into the home to work your child on sensorimotor, mobility, daily living skills, behavioral issues, socialization and more. This helps give a child with autism the best possible outcome at life.
She has also received 2 hours of a speech therapy and 2 hours of occupational therapy each week, both in home and in clinic. On our own we enrolled her in gymnastics for two years to help with proprioceptive problems caused by an additional diagnosis called sensory processing disorder. She has also been in music therapy for the past two years focusing on her love for singing.
While having 40 hours a week of ABA, many appointments, meetings and a lack of privacy at home has brought a great deal of stress at times, I am thankful. I have spoken with parents who have come from other states that say there are better autism intervention programs in place, and I have also met many who have come from where there are no autism specific programs available. I am very grateful to live in a place that has provided this vital intervention for my daughter. I honestly do not know what the outcome would have been for Samara without it, nor how we would have coped mentally and emotionally as a family.
What comes next?
Samara will continue with her speech and occupational services each week. Our 40 hours of ABA will be replaced with 15 hrs a week of habilitation services. Thanks to the Arizona Department of Education Empowerment Scholarship program we have been able to provide homeschooling tools as well as additional therapies for Samara that are not available through state or private insurances. We will continue her music therapy and we started a new therapy in June called RDI (relationship development intervention), which I will touch on more in an upcoming post.
This may all still sound like a lot to most people, but for us it is a huge break. It’s going to allow us more time as a family and time to build our new “normal”. It will give me the chance to step back in as the role of the parent and guide for Samara, which is something you lose somewhat when all the professionals move in an take over. I am going to attempt to carve out some exclusive and much needed time to be an individual person again. Make some new connections in the homeschooling community for support and also so Samara can make some new friends once she has acquired the necessary skills to do so.
Samara has made some amazing progress this summer and even just since turning six this September. We are looking forward to seeing her blossom even more as we move through this journey.
Thanks for reading my friends.