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Success Stories

Kids Playing

Success, I suppose, depends on your definition of the word and perception of the world.  If you define success as graduating from college and getting a high paying job, then this rendition is unlikely to work for you.  But if you define success as gaining in your ability to communicate and get along in the world, then this example should warm your heart.

Let's call him "Mac".  Mac appeared in my office for the Pathways Intake Evaluation.  He was accompanied by his mother and older, 4 year old brother. I figured that this one was going to be a challenge because trying to compile all of the information required to complete  our initial assessment and plan of service in a 2 hour time slot is no small challenge. When you add a 2 year old and his 4 year old brother into a confined space, and then try to elicit all sorts of information from the person responsible for their supervision, you have all of the ingredients for a total disaster. But right from the start, my initial misgivings were unwarranted. Mac sat quietly on the floor for the whole appointment and never interrupted or approached either his mother or me for any sort of attention.  He behaved perfectly throughout the whole appointment. And that’s generally not what we expect from any 2 year old- but Mac isn't any 2 year old.  He has Autism.


Some weeks later, I completed the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule with Mac. This entails engaging the youngster in a number of play activities and observing their responses as well as their ability to initiate interaction and engage with others.  Mac, although cooperative, had difficulty in maintaining engagement. Even though it was apparent that he enjoyed several of the activities, he never attempted anything to demonstrate that he wanted the activity to continue.  For example, Mac was placing blocks by shape into a container.  He appeared to be enjoying the activity but when I covered the hole with my hand, he did nothing.  There was no glance at my face to attempt  to determine my mood (most kids have this skill down by this age); he didn't  move my hand out of the way. He simply sat there.  This was also the case when I stopped making bubbles, stopped running the remote control bunny, etc. Mac was unable to communicate his wishes in any way.  The results of testing showed that Mac was clearly a candidate for the Autism Benefit and applied behavioral analysis.


3 months later Mac was practicing his skills with his paraprofessional staff in the Pathways office.  They stopped at my door, and Mac was asked to greet me.  He looked directly at me and waved.  He was directed to knock on my door and was given permission to enter.  His staff gave me the container containing Mac's treats and Mac looked at me and signed, "more".  WOW!!  Mac has learned how to communicate  his wishes to others- and not only familiar others but us unfamiliar ones as well. That's called generalizing and is not easily accomplished.   This may appear to be a small thing, but it is an essential first step in being an active participant in the human race.  I am sure that if you were to ask the staff directly responsible for Mac's treatment, they could give myriad examples of other skills that Mac is mastering.   And that's SUCCESS!

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