Madison WI Autism Behavior Therapy

Case Study: Sam

A note from Sam's family...

My family has been receiving services from Achieving Collaborative Treatment (ACT) for 8 years now.  When I was researching/interviewing therapy companies, I looked at the three I was aware of: ACT and two other local providers.  We’d been using another provider for a year and thought we’d continue using them but felt that I owed it to my child to look at all available options.  Our Senior, from ACT, came to our house to meet my son and it was within the first five minutes of seeing her interact with him that my decision was made!  We all seemed to connect with one another and you just know deep within your soul when something is right.

I say that my “family” has been receiving services rather than my son because ACT is concerned with how autism affects every member of our household.  Of course, my son is the one receiving the actual therapy but ACT feels like family to us.  I don’t think I’d be comfortable with it being any other way.

About the therapy itself-  it is individualized to meet my son’s needs and to address our concerns as parents.  We are involved in all decision making and programming choices.  ACT combines various forms of therapy from ABA to Floortime, with the idea that not any one therapy is the right or wrong way to teach and generalize skills across environments, especially since all children are different from one another.  This was something that was very important to me for my child; a variety of methods that would allow him to learn and receive the intensive therapy he required without taking away his childhood.  Also, ACT puts a considerable amount of thought into finding right fit therapists for my son’s therapy team, which is so key to his success.

One of my most cherished services we receive from ACT is collaboration with school staff.  ACT knows how to develop a rapport with schools (without stepping on toes), provide them with invaluable teaching methods, as well as incorporate programming at home to support and improve upon areas of difficulty for my son in school. Many schools object to having outsiders come in to observe: my son’s Senior Therapist has been collaborating with his school for 6 years now and they welcome her with open arms.  Without ACT, school would have been a complete and utter disaster, no exaggeration!  

I honestly do not know where we would be today if it weren’t for ACT.  As much as I dream of a day that my son may no longer need therapy, I also dread the day that we won’t have these wonderful people in our home and life every day!

Reflections from Sam's team...

Sam was one of the first clients to start with ACT when our company began. The family had done their research and came to us full of questions about the therapeutic process. Like many families, they were nervous about how treatment would progress, unsure of the future for their child, and looking for a partner to help create a path to address their child’s needs. I remember my first meeting with the family. They had been working with another provider for about a year and had strong feelings about which approaches they felt were helpful for Sam and others they were more skeptical about.

We had a wonderful conversation about ABA therapy and how ACT sees every child as an individual and creates a program for them that considers their needs, their interests, their individual learning style, and unique barriers to learning. The family felt strongly that they wanted a play based program and were concerned about incorporating teaching that was too “formal.” We discussed the that intensive therapy is “intensive” due to the need for creating many opportunities to target skills that Sam is not learning on his own in the natural environment. Our program would focus teaching things in fun and creative ways in play and in more natural interactions as much as possible. However, some things are not easily worked into play and may require more intensive teaching. I remember mom feeling a little apprehensive about this, but willing to take a chance with us. I was so excited to start this journey with them and I knew that together we would create a program that worked for Sam and that they were confident in.

In the years that have followed we have been partners every step of the way. We have not always agreed, but we have communicated and compromised to create a plan that everyone felt comfortable with. We have built strong relationships with Sam’s school staff and ancillary service providers. Their input in the collaborative process has helped us to create goals that have generalized skills across settings. Together we have worked to make sure Sam continues to be successful in all environments across his day. I have loved seeing the family grow in their understanding of ABA. They have become more confident in their skills and ability to advocate for Sam and his needs.

On a personal level I have enjoyed collaborating with the family, my team, and Sam’s teachers. It has been a joy to see how Sam has grown over the years. He is an amazing young man who makes me smile every day I am with him. He still has many skills to learn and together, we keep moving forward with patience, creativity, and confidence in treatment.