Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Verbal Behavior Therapy

Several months ago I spoke with Nancy Kaufman on the phone after she had viewed one of Kiddo's speech videos I submitted to her.  She's among the best of the best apraxia experts, and has created lots of materials for helping children with apraxia learn how to speak.  I've watched her DVD to learn her methods and use them often with Kiddo.  I met her in July when I went to the apraxia conference (read my post about it here).  And in October, Kiddo will get to work with her for FOUR days.  I'm so beyond excited to see this amazing lady in person work with Kiddo and will definitely post about our time with her. :)
Anyway, back to several months ago I spoke with Nancy Kaufman.  I was telling her that he doesn't say a lot of things spontaneously, only if it's been scripted to him over and over again.  And that he doesn't know how to answer or ask questions.  That he's been diagnosed with a mild-moderate receptive language delay, as well as the apraxia.  And she told me to get him into Verbal Behavior Therapy.  That she thought that with a year of Verbal Behavior Therapy for about an hour a week, his receptive delay should be no more.

I had never heard of it before.  As soon as I hung up the phone with her (and well, calmed down a little bit after having talked to THE Nancy Kaufman and told that she would "be delighted" to work with Kiddo for four days) I researched Verbal Behavior Therapy.  And found that it's a branch of ABA therapy (Applied Behavior Analysis), a type of therapy generally used for autistic children.  I was a little concerned and disheartened, because we've tested for autism before and Kiddo is not on the spectrum.  But the more I read about Verbal Behavior Therapy, the more I was sure that Nancy was right.

"What Is Verbal Behavior Therapy? 
Verbal Behavior Therapy teaches communication using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and the theories of behaviorist B.F. Skinner. By design, Verbal Behavior Therapy motivates a child, adolescent or adult to learn language by connecting words with their purposes. The student learns that words can help obtain desired objects or other results.
Therapy avoids focusing on words as mere labels (cat, car, etc.) Rather, the student learns how to use language to make requests and communicate ideas. To put it another way, this intervention focuses on understanding why we use words."
 From Autismspeaks.com

The Hunt Begins 

There were only two ABA clinics nearby.  One had a 6 month waitlist, which I put Kiddo on.  The other was 1 1/2 hours away, and required that we be there at least 5 hours a week, with an hour or two a session.  Nope, sorry, no can do.

I bought a few books on Verbal Behavior Therapy, and decided to try and do it on my own.  I learned a few things, particularly what areas that Kiddo needed help in, but not really how to help him myself.
At the apraxia conference I attended a session that was about Verbal Behavior Therapy, given by an ABA therapist who also was a Speech Language Pathologist.  What she said made so much sense and I spoke with her for a while after the session about Kiddo and she gave me some very helpful suggestions.  I knew Kiddo needed this Verbal Behavior Therapy--and he needed it stat- if we were going to make any more progress with his communication.

So, I called back the first clinic to see where he was on the waitlist.  Another 4-5 months (after already being on the waitlist for three months).  I called the clinic 1 1/2 hours away and practically begged them to let us come for only an hour a week.  No go.  But, the director did tell me that a new ABA therapist had moved to our area and was looking for clients.  She gave me her contact info.  I called her immediately.  And she has been a godsend.  Seriously, I think God brought her to us just when we needed her the most. :)

Verbal Behavior Therapy Begins

She comes to our house once a week for an hour, right during Little Brother's naptime.  She works with Kiddo for about 50 minutes, and then gives me things to work with him for the remaining 10 minutes.  And seriously, Kiddo is making so much progress, it's incredible.  He's learning how to request for things spontaneously, rather than me prompting me every single time with "What do you want?" or "Use your words."  He's learning how to put words together on his own, not phrases we've scripted for him a gazillion times.  He's learning how to follow two step directions, when before one step was all he could handle.  He's learning how to use verbs.  And this is all with just four sessions of Verbal Behavior Therapy.

I am thrilled.  Yes, a lot of this is just natural growth and development.  A lot of it is us working on the same things with him over and over again.  But the Verbal Behavior Therapy is teaching us the strategies for doing that.  It's teaching us "he needs to be able to understand and say ___ and _____ before he will be able to start asking questions."  I'm learning a lot.  And so is Kiddo.  And that makes my heart so happy. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment