We at the Lovaas Institute are excited to announce the start of a newsletter not only emphasizing practical strategies from our staff throughout the country, but also incorporating the perspective of many parents with whom we have had the privilege of working.
We will make every effort to write this newsletter in the tradition that Dr. Lovaas still emphasizes at the Lovaas Institute - namely, to bring treatment news and information in collaboration with parents and professionals who are seeking to find the best techniques and strategies to help a particular child reach his or her full potential.
Family involvement has always been a critical component of the Lovaas Model of Applied Behavior Analysis. So what is a common request from many parents who want to be more involved? "Give me more ideas for how I can incorporate what my child is learning into everyday life."
"That's the craziest strategy I think we've ever tried," said Sarah's mom. "But hey, it worked!" Sarah is a 5-year-old child with autism. She made rapid progress learning to identify concrete objects, action pictures, and even room labels, but she struggled with learning the names of different colors.
When Tyler entered first grade, his parents and teachers had high hopes that he would be able to participate in the classroom with little intervention. However, his parents insisted that a 1:1 aide initially accompany him and then gradually be faded.
As more and more research is conducted, support for behavioral treatment only grows stronger. In the past two years, two replication studies from independent authors have bolstered the Lovaas Model of Applied Behavior Analysis in particular.
Luke had always had difficulty using 'yes' and 'no' appropriately. We celebrated the day he caught on to what the words meant. A few weeks later an instructor came for a session and asked what he had gotten to do at school that day. He said, "play Green Eggs and Ham" (his favorite computer game). The instructor said, "no way!" Luke open his mouth, paused, and then shouted "yes way!"
When our behavior consultant was progressing with her pregnancy, we tried to address the topic with our son. Apparently, we hadn't explained the situation well enough. Excited to see our consultant again after a few months of pregnancy, he took one look at her large stomach and screamed, "You ATE the baby?!?!?"
Jason was coloring with one of his instructors and when she selected a white crayon he helpfully informed her that, "the white crayon doesn't work."
Our family has an American flag and one of our son's instructors asked him if he was an American. He said, "Nope, I'm a chocolate milk maker."
It continues to amaze me the way our nonverbal son continues to try and interact with us. After learning to associate animals and animal sounds, he's started coming up to people and handing them different animals so that they'll make the correct animal sound.
The names of all children in this newsletter have been changed in respect for family confidentiality.
In 1995 when I was asked to help a family whose son had recently been diagnosed with autism, additional information on behavioral treatment was hard to come by. Fast-forward eleven years and the amount of information now available to families is incredible. Still, from the number of emails the Lovaas Institute receives every day, one thing is apparent: families want more! Therefore, I've been given the opportunity to supervise the publication of what the Lovaas Institute hopes is new and relevant information for you and your family. I'd love to hear any feedback you have.
Vincent J. LaMarca
Lovaas Institute Newsletter
Basket Airlines! Put the child in a laundry basket and pick them up and fly them around the room as if they are the pilot of a jet plane (with sound effects).
Squirt Gun Attack! Let the child squirt you with a squirt gun. Be sure to act up like you don't want them to get you. Let them chase you around the room.
"When our daughter was diagnosed with autism," says Bronwyn's mother, "it was not the diagnosis itself, but what happened afterwards that was the first real disappointment for us.