Family Experiences Great Success with Intensive Parent Training Program
Brayden Lee is a 4-year-old boy with autism whose family wanted to learn better ways to communicate and interact with him, as well as work on improving his eating habits. When they heard about Easter Seals Midwest’s Parent Training program, they thought it may offer a great solution. They were right!
The family lives in Doniphan, MO, and traveled two hours each way to Cape Girardeau for two weeks of intensive training, foregoing the typical summer vacation in order to get the help they desperately needed. Brayden’s parents were most concerned about his very narrow diet, which consisted of nothing other than oatmeal with added supplements to ensure he got the nutrition he needed. They were deeply worried with his unwillingness or potential inability to eat other foods, and feared his eating habits would lead to lifelong health problems and potentially interfere with his physical development.
On the first day of training, Brayden’s eating behavior was observed. He did not try any new foods and pushed them away. He cried and screamed when his mother tried to put different foods (other than oatmeal) in his mouth. Brayden would not hold a spoon and his body became stiff when asked to hold the spoon. His mom said this behavior was his typical response to being offered food other than oatmeal.
Over the course of the two-week period, Brayden was increasingly willing and able not only to try new foods—including applesauce, peaches, sweet potatoes, peas and macaroni—but, he was willing to feed himself. At the start of training, Brayden’s parents did not believe he would eat new food or feed himself after just two weeks of training. And they were delighted that Brayden’s increased compliance with eating new foods and self-feeding led to their first dinner as a complete family. Traditionally, the Lee family ate dinner without Brayden since someone had to feed him and because he ate something different than the rest of the family. During their stay in Cape Girardeau, Brayden’s sister talked with Easter Seals Midwest staff about the first family dinner with a sense of pride for her little brother’s accomplishment. She was thrilled that they could now enjoy this family tradition together!
Brayden’s parents continue to see improvements with his eating habits, following directions, and making transitions without a meltdown. He continues to thrive when family members use the countdown method (5-4-3-2-1) to indicate an upcoming change. Brayden is also learning new things all the time, including counting to 100, saying his ABC’s—forward and backward!—and much more. It’s clear that the Lee family continues to dedicate time, effort and consistency to ensure continued success.