27 June 2011
ACT would like to introduce our readers to another charming eleven-year-old girl named Hailey. Hailey is a happy, sweet and affectionate child who loves to be with her friends, watch the High School Musical movies, and sing Hannah Montana songs.
Hailey’s parents recall that when she was young, she had extremely limited language. At four years old, she would put two words together (e.g., “Want water”) mostly to express her needs. She had significant trouble transitioning from one activity to another; she tantrummed when her routines were interrupted or changed. She would also tantrum to express frustration. Her play skills were limited as well; she would line up toys and had little interest in playing with others. Hailey’s parents had trouble taking her out to stores and restaurants, because she would tantrum there. Hailey displayed stereotyped hand flapping that was often accompanied by vocal sounds. She was also very sensitive to certain sounds.
At that time, Hailey’s parents had noticed that she had very frequent stomach aches. They tested her for allergies and found that it was likely that she was allergic to gluten and casein. They immediately put Hailey on a gluten and casein free diet. At first, they recalled that not much changed; however, over time her stomach aches decreased significantly, as did her tantrums that were related to the stomach problems.
When Hailey was five years old, she began Floortime therapy and an aide accompanied her to school. She began to a make some progress. At six years old she began behaviorally-based therapy and speech therapy. Her parents recall that her language was improving steadily as a result of the new therapies; however, she still had tantrums frequently, had trouble transitioning, did not use complete sentences and had limited play and social skills.
When Hailey was eight years old, ACT therapists began working with her for eight hours per week at home. Hailey began to use a written schedule for her activities during therapy and her parents used this written schedule for activities during the weekends. These schedules helped to decrease Hailey’s anxiety about what she was going to do each day and helped her to transition more easily from one activity to another. ACT therapists helped Hailey to ask and answer questions, follow three step instructions, hold simple reciprocal conversations, develop pretend play skills, increase her reading comprehension, and develop a variety of other social skills.
In the past three years Hailey’s parents have noted that she has made significant progress. At home she now uses complete sentences for the majority of the time when speaking to others. In addition to requesting what she wants, Hailey also makes comments about what she, and others around her, see, hear, and feel (e.g., “That airplane is loud!”, or, “You’re tired, Mommy.”). Though she may not always know the right words, she has also begun to demonstrate a strong interest in initiating conversations with her friends and family. Hailey has begun to ask questions to those around her (e.g., “What are you thinking about?”, and, “Can I play trains with you?”) in attempts to begin conversations.
Hailey’s parents say that family outings are very enjoyable and fun now that she doesn’t have tantrums anymore. Hailey is also more interested in playing with her eight year old sister. To her parents, the most significant improvements are the increase in Hailey’s language and articulation, the dramatic decrease in her hand flapping and vocal noises, and her decreased sensitivity to environmental noises. When Hailey is upset now, she doesn’t tantrum; she remembers to do deep breathing to calm herself down.
Hailey’s parents wanted to mention that they are very happy with the work that ACT has done and that they know they can come to ACT therapists for help anytime.