Life, richly lived

More thoughts on Guidepost Five …

Catherine Maurice’s legendary tome, Let Me Hear Your Voice, hit the bookstores not long after Sam was diagnosed. Her book brought to life the groundbreaking research that discrete trials, a special kind of teaching by applied behavior analysts, helped kids with autism learn.

The only problem was, to “replicate” it at home, you had to have someone working with your child 40 hours a week on tasks like “give me the red block.”

I still roll my eyes at that possibility. Mark and I didn’t have that kind of money, first of all. And if we did, there was no one with the proper training to hire. It was still too new. And, most importantly to us, subjecting Sam to 40 hours a week of discrete trial training felt tantamount to abuse.

I’d read Kaufman’s book, “Son Rise,” too. They locked themselves in the bathroom with their child to effect the same sort of thing at home. We’d recognized there was ethical boundary in a treatment choice, just considering the way both those families tried to deliver what was known to be effective.

I fell into Maria Montessori’s method and decided we could approximate the 40-hour-a-week thing by changing our home to be like a Montessori school. Then, we spent every minute that we could with him as he played. In other words, naturalistic teaching. LOTS of naturalistic teaching.

I never logged the hours. But when he started kindergarten, I suddenly didn’t know what to do with myself with all these long, free blocks of time. In the end, it was probably more than 40 hours a week, but not one as a discrete trials.

Absolutely, the treatment choice affects your quality of life …

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