Gentle Hands

Joey has made progress in many ways—but ever since we increased his hours of ABA (behavioral therapy) a few weeks ago, he’s been getting more and more aggressive with me. The ABA answer is to ignore the behavior. But he’s not doing it to get my attention—he has my attention already at those times. When he hits (or kicks, or bites, or pinches) me, he is telling me that he is frustrated, or that he hates whatever I am asking him to do, or that he does so need a cookie, and to heck with dinner. But his speech, while improved, is nowhere near letting him say any of these things to me. Just over a week ago, he said “please” for the first time and I got all teary-eyed. That Friday he said the longest string of words he’s ever managed: “Mo’ fing peas [more swing, please].” But it seems really hard for him to speak, and every new word takes a long time to emerge—and ends up being used seldom.


Joey’s speech therapist is working on the low muscle tone in his face that is apparently a major hurdle to improving his speech (and the reason why he’s so baby faced), but it’s slow going.


So: on Wednesday, when Joey’s ABA provider showed up and he promptly burst into tears, I suggested that we take him to the park: make it a “rapport-building” day instead of a workday. Krista was amenable to the suggestion, and we pushed Joey on the swing for two hours. He did have a better day after that. I don’t know what a long-term solution would look like; I think that Joey will continue to develop, and that the things that are hard for him now will get easier. But new hard things will keep turning up. Still, as I type this, Joey is coloring—he is also picking up crayons and watching carefully as they spill out of his hands. It’s going to be another long day for him, but right now, he is quietly enjoying himself. And I’m enjoying his company.