Alex is an autistic 5-year-old boy. He was diagnosed very early – he was only 1.5. Today, together with his mother and behavioral therapist, he begins working with the DrOmnibus app. The boy knows the Turkish alphabet and can count in Hungarian, but has problems handling everyday situations. Let us tell you his story.
Alex’s mother noticed that something was wrong two months after his first birthday: he didn’t react to his name or to anyone coming into the room or looking at him. He used to be an ordinary child, when suddenly, he stopped learning anything, no longer understood that a frog was a frog, and didn’t know what a duck or a fish was. He didn’t talk or imitate anyone. ‘I though he didn’t talk because he was still too little, but it worried me that he didn’t imitate any sounds. He also started screaming. I had never heard screams like that before. He screamed very intensely. He woke up in the middle of the night and screamed, but didn’t react when I went into the room. A neurologist referred us to a child psychologist. That was the first time I had heard the word ‘autism’.
What does your work with Alex look like?
Alex shows a lot of stimulation behavior. He jumps, throws objects and looks for visual stimulation. He goes to the ABA Autism behavioral preschool, where each child works one-on-one with a teacher using the behavioral method. The conditions are excellent, and the classes take place in small rooms.
Alex’s mother learned about the preschool from a friend.
‘Behavioural therapy didn’t convince me. “I don’t want to have a robot for a child”, I thought. Alex started going to the ABA preschool when he was 3. After six months, he stopped screaming. He was glad to go there’, says his mother.
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Alex has 25 hours of classes at the school and additional 2 hours after school. He goes to a speech therapist, a special needs teacher, and English classes. He has between 2 and 7 hours of therapy on Saturdays, and on Sundays, it’s just the swimming pool and the ball pool.
You need to try different methods
Alex’s mother worked with her son using the Son-Rise method, which involved her following and imitating him. She spent two weeks with Alex inside a room with a mirror. The boy first learned to look at her in the mirror and imitate what she was doing. They also recorded guidance videos, which he watched when it was time to do a particular activity. ‘We recorded different things, like swinging on a swing. I also recorded him eating, taking his plate to the sink or cleaning up his toys. He then watched these videos when it was time for a given activity’, she explains.
She took him to the swimming pool since he was 6 weeks old. For the first two months, she simply sat with him on the edge of the pool. Now, Alex can already swim and dive. ‘You need to try different things. He wasn’t interested in horses at first, and now, it’s hard to get him to leave the classes. He’s not into dog therapy, but we keep trying. All in all, pigs are his favorite animals’, she laughs.
Turkish alphabet and counting in Hungarian
Alex says words in Polish, French, and English – any word he wants, whenever he wants. He learned this after his neurological treatment two years ago. The boy had asymptomatic epilepsy, so he was given pure protein to rebuild his nervous system. He also took injections to restore mirror neurons.
‘I remember he was almost 2 and didn’t say “mommy” yet, when he suddenly took my phone and started saying numbers. He often uses letters to say what’s happening at home. He once wrote the word “consolation”. I had no idea where he got such a difficult word from until I learned that he saw it in the title of a cartoon’.
Alex shows interest in foreign languages. The other day, Alex’s father asked ‘Aren’t you taking things a bit too far? He’s reeling off the alphabet in Turkish!’. It turned out that Alex had learned the Turkish alphabet from the Internet. He can also count in Hungarian, and up to as much as a thousand in English. ‘But I wish he’d learn to learn to use the toilet’, sighs Alex’s mother.
What does the boy’s mother expect from the app?
Alex has started working with the DrOmnibus App. His mother has some practical reservations. ‘We’ve set down the rule that Alex isn’t allowed to throw the tablet. We even used to have a tablet covered in special foam to prevent it from sinking in the water feature. Alex can’t read, and wants to have everything immediately. I hope, however, that the extra reward games will motivate him and teach him to be patient’, says his mother. ‘Children with autism stimulate themselves often, so when they use multimedia apps, they like to repeat the same level of a game, push the same button or close the app over and over again. With DrOmnibus, this shouldn’t be a problem, since the system adjusts automatically to him. Alex is very independent when he’s playing games. He won’t let me touch anything, so it’s very important for him to be able to choose whatever interests him and to have no trouble using the app’.
How does individualization take place?
Alex’s mother wants him to learn to be independent and handle social situations. ‘I want him to be happy and not hurt anyone. I want him to be able to tell others if he’s cold or hungry. He doesn’t have to go dancing or to discos’, she says.