Founder: Sofia Caldwell M.Ed., mother of a child with autism, founded Early Autism Solutions.
Imagine having trouble talking to people, holding a conversation, or expressing your own feelings. These are the main characteristics of Escher, a boy diagnosed with Autism. Escher is my son, and most of his utterances are in three to four words in length. He is considered to be verbal, meaning he is able to use words to communicate his wants and needs. Although he is often able to request items and sometimes actions using verbal speech, he never elaborates on any conversational topic. The only thing he “elaborates” on is his self-stimulatory behavior. He repeats words or small sentences from specific pieces of movies that he obsesses on over and over throughout the day. Even though remembering and repeating words is considered very important period in every child’s life, Escher does it excessively and almost always out of context. This particular phenomenon is known among professionals in the education field as scripting or echolalia.
From afar, one would never know something was different with Escher, he is handsome, has good posture and balance, he is able to play independently on all the various apparatuses on the playground and he is excellent at climbing trees. Overall he has great physical ability. However, if another child is nearby and starts speaking too loudly, as kids often do, Escher quickly covers his ears as if the sound could physically pierce into his head in a very painful way. Typically he does not enjoy people singing or crowded places where he often has the same reaction.
Escher was diagnosed with Autism at 31 months of age. At that time he had no language, very little eye contact, seemed to be content by himself, and enjoyed spending his time waving sticks or spinning himself around and around. Shortly after his diagnosis he started receiving an individualized family service plan (IFSP). His IFSP included one-to-one Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) home program, speech therapy and occupational therapy. Two months later during one of his ABA sessions he said his first word, “go”, and from that point on he kept learning new words, along with various other skills such as matching objects to pictures, following receptive directions, labeling objects and pictures, identifying letters, colors, and shapes.
Even though other therapies were tried, ABA has been the most constant and most effective treatment in Escher’s life to date. Because of this, I am now in the field today. I have learned how applied behavior analysis can really change the lives of many persons with disabilities for the better.