ABA Therapist of the Decade?

My family and I just celebrated a birthday dinner with a woman I would nominate for ABA Therapist of the Decade, our Les.

She has worked for my family for the last 7 years and become my second daughter.  Our vacation last year to Nicaragua last year was made complete by her joining in the fun, seriously crazy and occasionally dangerous family adventure!  She did not do any therapy while with us or baby-sitting or behavior management she was their to have fun and she did and so did we!

When Les came to us almost 7 years ago it was to answer and ad for a job as a therapist for our then newly diagnosised with autism son Bird who was 2 and a half.

My husband send and email ad to Professor Hurley (a good man despite working for GMU’s special ed dept) with a big picture of a beautiful young Bird and it got us almost 60 applicants to work at our house across the street from the University.

We had people with and without experience who were interested so did not show for the interview and others really wanted enough money to bankrupt us!  The one with the most experience actually used to tell people what losers we were for hiring the life guard Les and not her.  This is truly amusing to me because the short stint she worked for FCPS reports came back that she was not only the lazied person alive but likely the dumbest.  Experience isn’t everything and sometimes it worse…depending.

So Les came to the interview in her typical amalgam of sports wear and pony tail ontop of the head.  She unlike the other applicants did not really engage me during the interview but went straight for the kids.  She would occasionally look over at me to answer a question but overall not going to be my best friend tactic  she wanted to know the kids.

Les was finishing her degree in psychology and was fairly obviously on the basketball team at GMU being tall and extremely athletically built and she was a life guard to boot but had taught some swim lessons to kids and had a great reference from her former employer to that affect.

I was very new to the idea of ABA and only at the recommendation of a group now called POAC-NoVA and a speech therapist named Phyllis Behr (she is amazing and another story for another day) did I even think I would need to hire someone to help my son.

Les and I attended the Carbone 3 day (Dr. Vince Carbone amazing to see lecture) and Dr. Tom Caffrey (my favorite speaker) and little by little she and I worked out what we needed to do while occassionally referencing the ABLLS (a book now out of date and currently replaced by the VB-Mapp a much better book) to see how to carry on with creating success for Bird.  We went to a lot of classes and as often as we could find them.

Now 7 years later Bird still has long way to go but his future is blindingly bright and much of it we owe to our Les.  I will say she only works will us 90 minutes a week but that time is always well used to help me keep level, help Bird break down skills and make sure the entire family is still generalizing.  I heard last week that they have revised the 40 hours a week of intensive ABA to 20 hours a week of intensive ABA if the family is really working to generalize.  I think you can forget therapy all together if you have no intentions of generalizing and NEVER giving up on consistency and high expectations for your child.

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