High Functioning Autism

During the first three years of school, numerous interventions were provided so that Sid could function within the classroom. Although very bright, it was difficult for Sid to maintain attention long enough to learn. Through the school's IEP team, behavioral, learning and social goals were identified and interventions were established. Sid was frequently off task and needed an aide to provide frequent cues to learning materials. If pushed too hard, Sid would scream, wanted to leave the classroom and tell his aide to let him go back to his nest. Sid obsessively chanted Angry Birds phrases in between tears. Little schoolwork was completed during days like this. On other days, Sid could complete half of what others were doing and was withdrawn in his own fantasy world. He would not engage in group activities or approach others spontaneously.

When referred to Quest, Sid and his parents were met by the director for screening. With his parents and the director, Sid was able to focus on discussion for brief periods of time. Sid was particularly interested in the Legos in the office and was preoccupied to play with them. After negotiations, Sid agreed to listen to how he could earn points at Quest Camp to buy Legos. Sid was capable of maintaining attention for 15 minutes of discussion about how he would be paid to try at Quest Camp. He needed to work on goals. When asked what goals he would like to work on, Sid mentioned that he should learn to manage his anger. He also agreed to work on flexibility and making friends at Quest. Parents provided additional goals for home; keeping his hands to self, respecting others' personal space and working on eye contact when people were talking with him.

Sid was very anxious in the car when he arrived at camp. He had not been to this place before and he was afraid of the noise and so many kids. When his mom tried to get him out of the car, he refused. Mom sought the help of the staff who greeted her at the front of the school. One of the counselors assigned to Sid's group came to the car, greeting Sid. At first, Sid would not talk or get out of the car. The counselor asked questions about what he liked to do and what toys he liked. Sid started talking about the Star Wars Legos. His counselor reminded Sid that he could buy Legos at camp with the points he earned. It wasn't how good Sid would be but rather that he tried. When the counselor offered to show Sid some of the toys at store, he agreed to get out of the car and go with the counselor. After viewing the Legos at the store, Sid entered the meeting place, still scared but "taking a risk". His counselor praised Sid for his efforts.

After two days at Quest, Sid realized that he would feel safe at camp. He would not be forced to do anything but counselors would encourage him to "take more risks", "try new things" and "initiate interactions with others". When he was confused or upset, he could sit by himself and then talk to his counselor to calm down. Each day became easier. Sid tried to play games he never would try before. He not only earned points but he was having fun. He couldn't believe that kickball could be fun. Over the course of the summer Sid took more risks, found other boys who liked Legos and enjoyed the "Quests" science activities. At home, parents were focusing on Sid's goals to be kind and considerate of others and paying attention to social cues. This frequent identification and feedback made these smaller goals easier to attain and improve Sid's skills and self-esteem.