Parent-Coaching model sets up Kristopher's success

A day before his 3rd birthday, Kristopher’s final session with therapist Susan was coming to a close. Kristopher was diagnosed with autism, causing delays in speech milestones, general communication, and a comprehension of multiple step processes.  Susan has worked with Kristopher and his mother, using Sherwood’s parent-coaching model.  They found success by showing repetition until he was able to mimic and understand what was being asked.  For example, a picture of a car would be shown, a toy car presented, and both verbally and with sign language, “car” would be said. Kristopher, unlike beginning visits, started to imitate and mimic when prompted. Susan recalled that Kristopher, “was a saint in [her] eyes” because he would “allow [her] to work with him for thirty minutes.” 

Kristopher’s mother, Andris, incorporated the parent-coaching training she received into every activity she could throughout the day to support Kristopher’s learning and development. According to her, “everything can be a lesson.” She even showed us how she was going to create weighted blankets for the local island community, and used homemade graphics to show Kristopher a sequence of their daily activities. She would map out a morning by showing graphics, for example, “shower, shoes, car” to explain to him that they were going to clean up, get dressed, and leave for the store. Kristopher’s growth was a reflection of his mother utilizing the therapy sessions to create what worked best on a daily basis in their family. 

As his final session was ending, a true manifestation of the therapy lessons took place as we put on our shoes and inched towards the front door. Kristopher stood, walked over to the counter, and grabbed a banana. Methodically, he pulled sections of the peel off and proceeded to enjoy his snack. When finished, he walked over and showed his mom the banana peel. His mom requested that he put it in the garbage, and with no hesitation, Kristopher walked to the bottom cupboard, opened the door, and placed the peel in the garbage and closed the door. His mom said, “Thank you for listening” and she cast her gaze onto us with wide, almost in disbelief, eyes. “He wasn’t doing that when we started!” she whispered with a choke. 

As the front door closed, Susan said, “These are the outcomes that I love to see and this is what makes me love what I do.”  

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