Jacob is 6 years old, and is Anna’s only child. When he was 3, his parents visited a clinic in Żnin, Poland. They couldn’t manage the Kuba’s fear of unfamiliar people, places and events. ‘The boy also showed a strong separation anxiety disorder towards his mother, who was employed at the time’, says Karina Mróz-Owczarzak, Jacob’s therapist. When Karina met Jacob, the preschooler was unable to establish any relationships with his peers. He would isolate himself, not taking part in the classes. A year later, Jacob was diagnosed with autism.
The diagnosis helped me understand
‘For instance, my son doesn’t like to wait in the waiting room at the doctor’s. He gets very impatient and complains. He says he’s sleepy, hungry or tired, and starts sobbing. Gets very excited and irritated, too, and grits his teeth angrily’, Jacob’s mother tells us. ‘When a toy catches his eye, it’s hard to explain to him that he can’t have it right now. For instance, on Christmas Eve, he got a gift in a DHL parcel. When he saw a photo of their yellow delivery car on the parcel, instead of being happy about the toys he got for Christmas, he said he wanted a car like that. So I told him that if he behaved, the Easter Bunny would bring him that car. After that, every day for a month and a half, he asked me when the bunny was going to come and if he would bring him what I had promised’, adds Anna.
In July 2014, Jacob began early development support therapy at the clinic. The therapy takes four hours per month and is divided into two hours of pedagogical therapy, conducted by Karina Mróz-Owczarzak (pedagogue and early development support therapist) and two hours of speech therapy, conducted by Barbara Szewczyk (speech therapist, special needs teacher and early development support therapist).
A psychological check-up has diagnosed Jacob with a mild intellectual disability.
‘Jacob has deficits in cognitive and social abilities that need working on. His linguistic communication also requires therapy. His speech shows frequent echolalia, which makes it difficult to communicate with him. He has poor manual and graphomotor ability, and an unstable focus’, explains the therapist.
‘Working with Jacob is very satisfying. He’s eager to go through therapy. He’s never refused to do what his therapist asked him to do, even if the task was very difficult for him. Jacob’s progress in therapy is a great motivation to prepare more and more interesting exercises for him.
After Anna quit her job, Jacob stopped crying whenever he would get separated from her. His separation anxiety was gone. ‘Jacob’s acceptance of contact with new people and unfamiliar places grows’, comments Karina.
Searching for solutions
Anna was looking for computer software that would let her work with Jacob. Jacob loves playing on a tablet, but his mother was worried that the boy doesn’t develop when he plays and does not learn new skills or information.
Anna decided to take advantage of what ABA DrOmnibus can offer and, with Karina’s support, introduce the app into her son’s therapy.
‘My greatest hope about the app is that Jacob will learn to differentiate colors because he can’t do that at all yet. Digits and letters are giving him trouble as well. I hope that ABA DrOmnibus will let him improve his skills in this respect. Me and our therapist have been keenly observing Jacob when he’s doing exercises. It looks like he doesn’t even feel like it’s therapy’, explains Anna.
After 6 months of using the ABA DrOmnibus with his therapist and also at home Jacob learned to distinguish basic colors and numbers and he uses this knowledge outside of the application (eg by painting).