Saturday, January 17, 2009

Starting Early Intervention

The new buzzword around treatment of autism was early intervention. I had no idea what that entailed but I was willing to try it. At the time, there were two places where any kind of intervention would be available in Denver, Developmental Pathways and the Day Treatment Center. We started with Developmental Pathways.

In the early morning before work it fell to me to take David to a bus where I would strap him in for his ride to the school where Developmental Pathways held its sessions. I took David out of the car and brought him by the hand to the bus where I strapped him into the seat. Then I ruffled his hair and told him that I would see him in the evening. David was wonderful. He did not cry. He did not complain. He simply looked out the window as the bus drove away. For someone who is autistic, David took this change to the routine in stride. I was really proud of him. It fell to my wife to pick him up when the bus came back. We both agreed that David handled the new situation wonderfully well. It was a good start.

And then.... I got a call from Developmental Pathways two weeks later. David simply was not thriving. He did not participate and he did not seem to like being there. Wow. This was completely different from my observations of him in the morning. I took off work and Yvette and I took David in to see the program administrator.

I sat there with David in my lap as the program administrator explained what was going on. David simply was not happy being there in the classroom. One of the teachers would sometimes take him out for a walk and he would feel better for a while, but it was not working for him. While we were talking, David decided to go over and play with some of the toys. That was more than he had been doing before.

After the discussion, David took up a piece of chalk. He was drawing spirals on the chalkboard. I walked over and showed him a square asking if he could draw that. David walked away. One of the teachers explained that I had to follow him for a while and then strike out on my own doing the squares. Then if David was ready he would follow me. By the end of the afternoon, all of us saw that David was at home in the classroom with the teachers. It seemed that if David was going to go into a new situation like that without Yvette or me, he would need to be introduced to the situation. It was a lesson that I would not forget.

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