If you have, or even know a child with autism, you know how different their milestones are compared to other children. While autism and forms of autism affect every individual differently, there are typically moments that may feel pretty average to some parents that end up being monumental for parents of children with autism.
Such was the case for Chrissy when her 8-year-old son, Greyson. On that particularly special day, Greyson walked into the kitchen and retrieved a for for his mother. To most parents, an 8-year-old child getting a fork from the kitchen is not exactly a noteworthy moment, but for Chrissy, it was everything.
“My son just went into the kitchen and got me a fork. All on his own. Oh if you could see the replay of his life and see all the work that has been laid down for YEARS to make this happen.” she wrote on her Facebook page.
The proud mom goes onto explain why this moment was so big for her and Greyson. Her son has autism, and because of her work with ABA- Applied Behavior Analysis, this simple moment was a milestone.
“ABA is based on the science of learning and behavior. This science includes general laws about how behavior works for all of us- and how learning takes place. ABA therapy applies these laws in a way that helps to increase useful or desired behaviors. ABA also applies these laws to help reduce behaviors that may interfere with learning or behaviors that may be harmful.” she explains.
In her post, Chrissy explains the process of how Greyson began to learn words, categories, and language, through a much different process than kids without autism go through.
“Now Greyson is 8 years old. At 2, he was taught categories. Real life items and then pictures that he had to sort. Things like vehicles, animals, and clothing. He learned "fork" from the real item, and also from flash cards. Painstakingly, day after day for weeks. First receptively (the understanding of language- "hand me fork") and then from a field of three. Then expressively (spoken word- "what is it?" "Fork".)”
After using these techniques, Greyson would then have to find specific items in the house, and bring them to his parents. Chrissy admits that it took a lot of repetition, and it was pretty tiring.
“Over and over and over. Repetition. Taking data every single time to look for what's working and if need be, where WE need to alter the environment to make it click for him.” she wrote.
However, on that particular night, Chrissy had no desire to get up and get her own fork for the “800th time”. So, on a whim, she told Greyson to get one for her.
“And in slow motion, he goes to the kitchen and pauses. I hold my breath. I watch him intently as he opens the utensil drawer. I can see his wheels turning. He walks back into the family room and lays this down in front of me like it's no big deal.”
This moment meant “everything” to Chrissy, because all of their hard work, all the repetition, all of the struggling, came into fruition with the simple act of handing her a fork.
You can read Chrissy’s experience in it’s entirety below.