Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The Big Cheese: Broden Is the One That the Smaller Kids Watch and Look Up to Now ... He's the One Who Plops in the Chair in the Morning and Yawns Because He Knows He'll Tackle This Long Day of ABA, Just like Any Other Day

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The Big Cheese: Broden Is the One That the Smaller Kids Watch and Look Up to Now ... He's the One Who Plops in the Chair in the Morning and Yawns Because He Knows He'll Tackle This Long Day of ABA, Just like Any Other Day

Article excerpt

It was the first day of school at the Autism Learning Center. Broden knew the drill as he slid out of his car seat and grabbed his drink. I followed behind him carrying his backpack as he used all of his strength to pull open the front door to the lobby. He set his drink on the windowsill, exactly in the same place as every morning, and plopped in the chair to wait for his tutor. He let out a loud yawn not really caring that it was his first day of school at his ABA clinic. To him, it was just another day of hard work. To him, it was just another morning back to the grind.

His tutor popped in the lobby right after Broden yawned and sat down next to us to see how our evening went. As I started to talk about how well he ate dinner the night before, the door opened to the front lobby and a little boy walked through. He looked around the same age as Broden did when he started ABA therapy. His mother had his bag in tow and greeted his tutor. You could tell they were new to the whole ABA thing. He was so young and it was difficult for him to let go of his mom's hand. Eventually, the tutor asked his mom to follow him into the center to get him situated and to help put both of them at ease.

As I watched the little boy apprehensively walk behind the tutor, I got a little emotional. I looked over at Broden's tutor and reminded her that Broden started therapy at 26 months old. He was still wearing little onesie jumpers with soft Robeez shoes. On his first day of clinic, the clinical director walked around the center and told all the tutors to watch for Broden because she was concerned he would get knocked down by the bigger kids playing. My son was the youngest and smallest child at the clinic that day.

Broden's tutor, Hillary, interjected, "Look at him now. He plays Red Light Green Light with the kids, runs around and jumps." I nodded my head in agreement. I told her that when Broden started therapy in Kansas, he couldn't jump on the trampoline so his tutor would hold him in her arms and sing to him as she jumped. I remembered feeling so scared leaving him there for hours, but had to trust the staff that they would care for him like I would.

Hillary stopped me and then said, "Well, now he jumps on the trampoline for the smaller children so they can sit and bounce from all of Broden's momentum. …

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