Started Treatment:
5 years old

Continues to Receive Consultation Services:
10 years old

"With all of the "hit or miss" therapies, I finally feel Jacqueline is on the right track. As a parent, that means so much. Thank you for your help, encouragement, and enthusiasm during training!"

- Jacqueline's Mother

Jacqueline likes:

  • cheeseburgers
  • drawing
  • summer camp

Jacqueline dislikes:

  • running

* Models used for
family confidentiality

Jacqueline's Story

Jacqueline's first word was "dada" around 15 months of age. Soon after, other words followed, and by 22 months, she was forming sentences such as "Mommy, where are you?" Shortly after her second birthday, her language began to diminish and by her third birthday, all talking ceased. She was diagnosed soon after with Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified. From the age of 3 to 4, Jacqueline attended preschool four times per week in a classroom that consisted of 50% typically developing children and 50% children with special needs. When she made little to no progress, her parents began to investigate other treatment options.

At the age of 5, Jacqueline was accepted by the Lovaas Institute to participate in the UCLA Model of Applied Behavior Analysis. During the initial consultation, Jacqueline played appropriately with her dolls and kitchen set. She also showed a strong talent for drawing. Although she often watched what other children did, she did not seek out or play with other children. She did not consistently follow one-step instructions, imitate actions, or identify objects, although she would on occasion.

An Individualized Intervention

The Lovaas Institute's behavior consultant began to provide ongoing staff training into systematic shaping for Jacqueline's verbal language. Within six months of treatment, Jacqueline consistently repeated 5 single sounds. Within another year, Jacqueline was using sentences of up to 5 words. Jacqueline also made steady progress in other areas of concern. Beginning abstract concepts were particularly difficult for her, however. Although she demonstrated a talent for drawing, she had great difficulty naming colors. The Lovaas Institute's behavior consultant presented the problem as a case study at the Lovaas Institute's annual consultant conference and a variety of interventions were created that capitalized on Jacqueline's enjoyment of drawing.

Meanwhile, Jacqueline continued to participate in her school. Her parents fought hard to keep her home program from becoming disjointed from the school program. Through school observations and team meetings, the Lovaas Institute's behavior consultant provided school personnel with information and recommendations concerning Jacqueline's progress. Emphasis was placed on how to prompt Jacqueline effectively, how to encourage peer social interactions, how to get her to use her expressive language, and how to generalize skills acquired from her home program to the school environment. This generalization was ultimately facilitated by providing Jacqueline with a 1:1 school aide who was also an instructor in her home program.

At home, Jacqueline continued to show signs of progress even in areas not directly addressed in therapy. For example, she recently demonstrated the ability to predict the outcomes to common problems or common situations. For instance, when shown a picture of a girl shivering and told, "Susie is cold. What should she do?" Jacqueline said, "She should get a coat." Jacqueline's progress is due in no small part to her parent's constant attempt to generalize skills from therapy to the real world. From the outset of treatment, the Lovaas Institute provided training to empower Jacqueline's parents to help her to learn. Her parents in turn, used what they learned and applied it throughout the day. When questions arose, they felt comfortable calling the Lovaas Institute's behavior consultant for feedback.

Where is Jacqueline Today?

Jacqueline's progress allows her to participate in a regular education classroom with a 1:1 aide while also continuing to receive special services to meet her IEP needs. She will attend fourth grade this year and is fully included in math, spelling, art, and P.E. Her computational skills are at grade level, as is her ability to read and spell words. In terms of reading comprehension, she can answer basic "wh-" questions about a passage she has just read as well as sequence pictures after reading a story. She continues to receive 1:1 ABA therapy for approximately 2 hours a day at school. Because she continues to benefit so much from the therapy, her parents supplement a couple more hours at home in the evening. Therapy not only emphasizes academic skills but also continual language development, leisure activities, and community outings. Over the summer, Jacqueline is attending the same camp for the third year in a row. As at school, a few girls have taken an interest in Jacqueline and often get her to participate during free time with minimal assistance from Jacqueline's aide. Finally, Jacqueline was recently one of a small number of girls invited to a classmate's sleepover party. It was her first night away from her parents. Among the games they played that evening, the girls also made bracelets. When asked which beads she wanted, Jacqueline pointed to her favorite color and said, "pink."

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