D'Veda Rose is four, and will be turning five in August. She was diagnosed with autism when she was three and has been attending a school for autistic children where they use the Applied Behavioral Analysis method. Feeling like more could be done, I've spent the last year searching and researching and believe I have found the ideal therapy that will work for her. I attended a week-long training course in Massachusetts that has helped me develop a plan for her. This intense parent-involved therapy will be provided over the next three to five years utilizing parents, other family members and volunteers.
This structured play therapy is based on the principles of love and attention. It was developed with the belief that autism is not a behavioral disorder, but rather a social-relational disorder; therefore, the therapy uses intense socializing techniques to at first develop a relationship with the child, and then eventually bring the child into our world. The attitude of the volunteer is essential as it will affect the way they engage with the child.
This method has been used successfully by thousands of parents; however, because it is one-on-one and parent based, there is not yet empirical evidence to create wide-spread usage. Right now, the evidence is anecdotal only. The developers are working on how to gather empirical evidence. If you would like to visit their web page and watch some videos about the program, you can find it at The Autism Treatment Center of America.
There are advantages to getting involved in this program. For someone who needs university or resume' enhancement, it is ideal. For someone who has an autistic relative, this will be understanding and training they can use to bless their lives as well. For someone who works with or will be working with children, they will gain an understanding of autism difficult to acquire in any other setting. And for anyone who just feels like this could be the meaningful service project they've been looking for, this could be it. They will be part of a team that works, learns and teaches together as her progress in communication and social development is tracked and celebrated.
The commitment for a volunteer is extensive. There are no educational or experience requirements. Only people who can commit to the time, energy and growth needed to serve a child. I am looking for dedicated individuals age 18 and above (perhaps a very mature 17 year-old), male or female, who can commit to a minimum of 4 hours per week (2 hours twice a week) for 6 months. As the point of the therapy is developing relationships and socialization, it is necessary that this be the minimum. If anyone should want to do more than that, wonderful. We will be in constant need of finding volunteers over the next three to five years, so if you cannot do it now, please consider it when you feel you have the means.