My son J is 4, will be 5 in January. He has had an autism dx since he turned 3. He has been with Early Steps(FL's early intervention) since he was just over a year. Once he turned 3, he was qualified into FL's public school system. He is able to go for a full day, where he receives OT as well as speech therapy. It seemed to help but did not address most of the behavioral problems we encounter (major issues with transitioning, STILL not potty trained, super restrictive picky eating, etc).
Anyway while at school last year, his pre-school teacher (he is in a blended class) told me about another asd child in her class whose mom found a place that taught her son how to potty train within a week, and I should check into it. So I got in touch with the mom, who talked about this therapist who does ABA therapy. I got in touch with the guy, and my immediate feeling was not a good one. He seemed strange and he is extremely socially awkward (like he'll stare at you waiting for you to say something, allows long awkward pauses in conversations... just really... weird). I chalked it up to the fact that maybe he himself is on the ASD spectrum somewhere, and as long as he has gone through the schooling, received the training, that's fine with me.
This guy was able to put me in touch with the right people at my insurance company to get the therapy covered. The only thing is that it would be $20 copay per VISIT. But this guy said that even though he is supposed to collect it, he doesn't... and that the only time he will need to collect it is if insurance catches on? So being that I want my son to get services that he needs, and his not requiring my copay was a benefit to us, I said OK.
So he runs what they call an academy out of a private school (they basically rent a classroom). He has several workers there, each work one on one with the children. While I know the director has the proper credentials (I don't remember what they are off the top of my head, but I know I looked into it, googled his name and saw that he is legit) - I don't know about his workers? I don't even know their last names, which weirds me out.
Anyway so J has been going, 2x per week (instead of regular public school, which he attends the other 3 days per week) - he goes from 10-2:30. He seems to enjoy it there, but I haven't seen any real benefit other than the fact he seems to enjoy being there. The only thing I ever see him doing is playing the computer. They have them do other activities (like he and the other 2 ASD children in the room took turns playing "baseball" and cheering each other on, etc) but as it stands my son is still not potty trained (and any steps forward we have made have been through us, not through any ABA help), he still doesn't transition well, still throws temper tantrums and throws himself on the floor.
Just today we had his halloween party. This was the first opportunity I have had to spend any amount of time in the ABA classroom with him since my 1 year old was allowed to be there this once. J's (therapist? the girl who works with him regularly) allowed him to get right on the computer and play, and she just basically sat there and watched him. Then when there were directed activities and he threw his tantrum, she would just stand there. At one point I was like "ok how is this addressing the problem?" and she said "well we wait it out, he knows what he has to do..." Whaat??? I will openly admit I am pretty ignorant to what ABA therapy is all about... I am still trying to figure out how to handle my son and I am completely lost with everything.... but just letting him flail around on the ground and not addressing that behavior?? I'm not OK with that.
Then, one of the other therapists there (and I use the term therapist loosely... I know of NO credentials for these people) - I was DISGUSTED by her. She was maybe 25-27, wearing yoga pants and a black shirt (and she had put makeup on her face to look like a "cat") ---- last I checked, cat's butts don't play peek-a-boo. Geezus it was gross. She was wearing NO underwear, had VERY obviously worn a thong while tanning, and her pants kept falling obscenely low every single time she... MOVED, basically. And she didn't pick them up all the time, just half the time. This wasn't something I was trying to see. I was trying as much as possible to avert my eyes because I DON'T want to see that, nor do I want my son to see that! It made me VERY uncomfortable and I couldn't believe she was allowed to be there dressed like that, much less working with the kids like that. And even if the kids don't notice... it was highly - HIGHLY inappropriate. Maybe I'm just a fuddy duddy at the ripe old age of 30, but it was really offensive to me that I had to be exposed to more than just plumbers-butt-crack, but 2/3's of a butt, the majority of the time.
Anyway that whole issue further put me off to this place. Where is the professionalism? Not to mention the party... well, there was no party. I didn't bring my son a lunch because it was said there would be food, drinks, and even candy (everything gfcf) - and there was nothing at all.
I feel like when I bring my son there, it's essentially a daycare with a little more personalized attention. But I don't see the benefit that ABA is supposed to have. I'm not even sure that what they are doing is true ABA.
Anyway, my mom-gut-feeling is telling me to pull him out of this NOW.
Here are my concerns:
1.How else can I get him the therapy he needs? (I know the answer to this one, we have a children's hospital not far from us, I will be contacting them)
2. (the biggest concern): How do I tell this director that I don't think his "academy" is a great place for my son? How do I tell him I'm not sending my son there anymore? I am afraid of talking to this guy because like I said, he is very - very - strange. I may have my husband deal with this because that's how off-putting this guy is to me. Anyway I am afraid a negative interaction might make this guy turn around an insist that we pay all the copays he didn't require us to make (which would amount to hundreds by now, which would be difficult at this time of year!)
Sorry this is so long, and above all, sorry if this is so rambly and doesn't make much sense!!!! I have had to write this in bits and pieces because I have a 1 year old and then my 4 year old is also home because after being inundated with buttcrack and just feeling overwhelmingly like this is a bad place to have my son, I told them that I was bringing him home because I didn't pack a lunch for him and didn't bring him a change of clothes (he came in costume), so we'd just go home for today. "see you wednesday" - except I don't want him going back....
Should I follow my gut? And what should I do regarding letting this place know I don't want him going back?