First Book available October 1

Autism Parent Book jpg

I’m excited!  First book will be available as an e-book beginning October 1.  This subject is near and dear to me and will focus on guiding parents as they navigate therapy if you are a newbie or in the thick of it.  Topics to be covered include:

1. Moving Beyond The Label

2. Family Needs Assessment…Making Treatment Fit

3. Building A Village

4. Tips for Sane Scheduling

5. Moving On and Moving Out with Data in Hand

6. Parent as CEO

7. Keeping Tabs and Keeping Track

8. Redefining Progress

I’m writing. Someone else editing.  And it will be useful to you!

Let’s Thrive!

Landria Seals Green, MA., CCC-SLP

EMPLOYING AUTISM

HOLDING THERAPY ACCOUNTABLE AND DISRUPTING THE WORKPLACE

According to statistics cited by Autism Speaks and other Autism Advocacy sites, the annual cost of therapy per child per family if over $40,000 per year. The lifetime cost to support an individual lifetime has been is between 1.4 to 3.2 million dollars. Sticker shock?

Let’s back up…costs of education and therapy are high. If the investment of educating an individual competes with average college tuition, why aren’t our client’s better prepared for life? Better prepared to have sustainable and competitive employment? My experience as a therapist is in teaching some brilliant minds. Yet, when there are conversations surrounding STEM, math science programs, and the like…these brains labeled as autistic, are omitted from the conversation.

Where have we gone wrong or mis-stepped in our programming? I have read IEPs, looked at early learner programs…and there is  little  to no preparation for general education transference or inclusion planning. This supports the parent stereotype that special education is a life sentence.  But this phenomenon is happening in private ABA Therapy programs and in school settings.  Let’s not even discuss middle and high school. The indictment here is that many therapist’s running programs are great in their scope of training…but not necessarily in the how to create transferable programs and skills so that success in the real world (Kindergarten) can occur.  The first real world for a child is a school of typical brain developers. The challenge here is that how do I move my client from here (my session, my center, my clinic) to there (successful inclusion and transference of the learned skills)?

Parents are critical in this process. To be the managers of the vision. The vision that you have for your child for 21. Where do you see them? What is their world like?

The first great ABA Therapist I ever worked with told me something that I carry with me “People are comprised of three large areas: Work (Education/Vocation), Leisure (Free time, Daily living), and Relationships (friendships, family,love).” When we look at our children from those three areas, what then becomes the vision? Teachers, Therapists are not vision holders. They can be vision implementers, vision zappers, or vision shapers. How do you know what is realistic? Should John who is nonverbal really have reading goals? Vision implementers would say yes, because the world is full of words and symbols and he must know how to navigate. Vision zappers would say “No and push the concept “functional life”.
Employing people with disabilities is not a new thought. The larger question is what real opportunities will we afford them so that they can lead life in a sustainable and interdependent way? Opportunities beyond packaging centers, laundry, and cleaning. I want opportunities in network computer security, engineering, teaching, computer repair, schedule coordination, physics, and nuclear medicine. Who needs to push? Parents. Who should be held accountable? Therapists and Educators.

I love store greeters. But, I shun at the thought that the client I worked with who can solve quadratic equations faster than I can eat a twizzler will be greeting me at the grocery store and packing my bags.

Let’s push the needle so these adults to be can SOAR!

Landria Seals Green, MA.., CCC-SLP

Resources:

STEM program kits for learners with autism

Support System (repost in remembrance of a boy, his wonderful mother, and gentle sister)

(8.3.2010) About two years ago an eight year old boy with autism who was being treated by our therapy team had a massive seizure in his sleep and died.  I will always remember him because he was one of the severe children with self injurious behaviors and a great smile when he was happy.  I will remember his family as his mother was trying to master the English language and did not receive all the services she could have due to the language barrier.  I will remember the day I received the news that he passed away…it was right in the middle of my day..I still had clients to see after I received the news. I found that throughout that day and week…I just couldn’t seem to pull myself together enough.

What I knew for sure about his death is that he was loved by his family.  The autism brought a stressor to this single mother of two and first generation American.  I knew that this mother was stressed and what I respected most about her is that she spoke to anyone who would listen.  She soaked up all the encouragement she could from others and loved on her son.

She always communicated.  She spoke aloud.  She screamed.  She tried to understand what the therapist were saying.  She worked with him at home.  She found therapists that cared who found other agencies to support her and the family.

I am disturbed by the number of deaths of children with autism by those that love them as this phenom continues to be highlighted in the media.  I am disturbed that this has not caused people to move beyond the talk of disbelief and ridicule of these families.  I am disturbed by the level of judgement toward people who could not deal with their life’s stressors.  Because the truth is, we all get stressed.

Each time I read or listen to these particularly disturbing news stories, I wonder “Did this person not feel comfortable to be authentic and articulate how they really felt?,  Did those around this person brush aside the feelings articulated?”  I also wonder “Were the danger signs ignored?”.

I honestly don’t know how it feels to parent.  That does not discount my argument because it is strengthened by the fact that I am a human being with feelings.   I know that whether your child is an atypical or typical learner, it is challenging work.  I just can’t imagine not being able to articulate to those close to me how I feel when my life is challenging and thankful to those that don’t dismiss my statements whether “over the top” or understated.

As the world moves forward and as we start to support families of people with special needs…let’s give them room to be honest about how they feel, where they stand, and offer yourself as a resource to them.

I continue to applaud the mother of the client that passed away.  She vented.  We listened.  We provided a professional counselor as a resource.  She was healthy.

Remember it only takes one person to assist and listen to another person.

Let’s Support Families (Moms Dads Siblings) and allow them to SCREAM when they must!  Truth be told, we all need to scream…sometimes! 🙂

Enjoy and Be Empowered

Landria Seals Green

Programming AAC Devices for Real Talk and Social Interactions

Many moons ago, I facilitated social groups for users of AAC.  We would watch snipets of music videos, pop culture relevant to their actual grade level.  One of my favorite activities was “Like it or Diss it”.  The students in the group would be coached to have real discussion.  Those that were persuasive, fun disagreements, talking about if they liked the person’s outfit, and much more.  Real communication just like their peers so that they would have real practice for those social opportunities in school.  Their devices were programmed not specifically for the Gwen Stefani video, but according to what the high frequency verbs were along with adjectives, nouns, etc.  As the facilitator, I held a red pen light to help them formulate their sentences and I would model using my computer which contained an AAC platform.  I have to admit, each group gave me chills and I absolutely felt that my influence as an SLP was making a difference beyond functionality, but living life.  A kind therapist told me that when we get to the nitty gritty we are summed by our Leisure, Work, and Relationships.  This is really the categories in which we as human beings participate.

The research by Dr. Karen Erickson and her team at UNC Chapel Hill is absolutely phenomenal.  They have done the work in detailing what words are high frequency and what are essentials to have true communication exchanges.  Dr. Erickson’s team spoke at ASHA 2014 about the latest findings.

Link to Core Vocabulary Research http://www.med.unc.edu/ahs/clds/resources/core-vocabulary

The research surrounding core vocabulary amongst professionals excites and confuses me.  Core vocabulary is just that, the core words we need and frequently use to impart our opinions.  Adding to any device or program should be the specific vocabulary according to the culture, grade level, social opportunities, and social expectations for the child.  Social expectations are defined as the statements the person would make if they were in fact programmed or the learner had the motor praxis to formulate themselves.  They are defined by getting to know the family and programming statements that refuse, refute, and tell people off.  Real communication is just that.  My challenge is when language and therapy is described in making a functional program.  Clients don’t need to attend therapy for functional programming.  Parents bring their children to therapy because they want to experience the magic, the gains, and the miracle.  Function…can be done just by figuring out how to navigate.

This research can be served not only in AAC programming, but also in ABA language programming and treatment as well.

Be Empowered and THRIVE!

Landria Seals Green, MA., CCC-SLP

The Social Connection

Social Communication Therapy should be mulitlayered and meaningfully address the areas of deficit and build the strengths simultaneously!  Whew…that’s a lot of work and preparation on the part of the astute therapist and challenging work for the client.  Still no social intervention program that expects to work beyond the round table and the walls of the treatment room should be void of parent work, community involvement, and real life social patterning and experiences.

Social skills are one small component of building the social person.  Social skills teach the politeness, the niceties, the way to be.  Social skills can often be reflective of the norm of the person teaching rather than the social norm of the general population and the culture of the client.

Real layers of building the social being include: Emotional Development, Regulation, Social Connections, Social Cognition, Conversation Fluency, Nonverbal Comprehension, Nonliteral Language Comprehension and Use and much much more.

Whatever stage social intervention meets the client (early intervention or otherwise), the work should include home, family, community so that the social layers can be created and the difference is made in the clients life in the ways, places, stages, and interactions that matter most.

A study recently funded by NIH and mentioned in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry supports the need for early intervention in social communication and the value of the home component.

My cautionary key word to the EI therapist is MEANINGFUL, EVIDENCED BASED THERAPY WITH INTERVENTION TOOLS THAT ARE EFFECTIVE…many EI therapists believe that being in the home will mask the lack of effectiveness in the tools being used.  I would like to caution that in this study the therapist provided real intervention with a training system with a complementary home program for families.  In addition, they measured the progress with data, assessment information, and clinical information.