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Day 114

Updated: Jun 26, 2019

With 26% of the costs of Constance’s therapy for autism covered by two insurance policies, I listed our house for sale to fill in the additional $231,000 needed.

Our home could only be sold once. I needed a plan to get the rest of Constance’s therapy covered.

I did the math. It was cheaper for me to get a master’s degree in ABA therapy for autism than for me to be hiring out the job to someone else who had the degree and credentials.

I applied, was accepted, and began attending an online graduate school ABA therapy for autism program at Arizona State University. It was a program for autism therapists who will work in either private practice or a school system’s program.

Thank you to Erika, Alyssa, Melissa, Meg, and Carla for writing me letters of recommendation to get into that program.

Years prior, I earned an MBA from Loyola. Loyola’s MBA program is exceptional. It was very hard for me to keep up while working full-time. I made it through, graduating early and getting a promotion at work. To stay motivated to study and work into the night, I would repeat the advice that others had given me. For example, “If it was easy, everyone would do it and it wouldn’t be worth the investment.” This is the kind of mantra that MBA’s come up with; one with an economic implication.

Taking the ABA therapy classes meant my schedule was a bit challenging. I worked full time, cared for Constance full-time, took Constance to and from preschool at Cherry, kept the house showroom clean for potential buyers, took Constance to her therapy appointments (ABA, ST, OT), took ABA graduate school classes online, and worked with Constance 1:1 to help her learn to speak.

I was working around the clock and looked like it.

A couple of days a week, my cousin Amanda would come over and babysit for a couple of hours during the workday. These midday hours allowed me to make whatever phone calls I needed to for work during business hours. Amanda had just moved to Chicago and so it was a tiny bit of money for her and a tiny bit of much-needed help for me. She made these lovely lists of all the words she thought Constance might have said or tried to say while they were playing together. Amanda is an artist. When I recommended her for a job in graphic design, the company’s owner saw her incredible talent and hired her immediately. While that was an end to my help, it was the right thing for Amanda.

Working with Constance was a joy. I used techniques like verbal patterns to get her to verbally say words. For example, saying “ready, set, go” and then pushing her on a swing. Then the next time saying “ready, set” and waiting for her to say “go” before I pushed her swing. The goal is to phase out your language prompts until eventually the child will develop such strong language neuropathways that they can say “ready, set, go” whenever they want to.

I noted every word that Constance said every time she said it. Those notes became the mantra to get me through this exhausting period. “Constance said cat, dog, go, and eat.” They became the fuel in my tank.


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