ISABELLA’S CASE STUDY
Izzy’s parents contacted SOAR because Izzy hadn’t learned to talk and wasn’t responding socially or interacting with her family and peers. She also engaged in self-injury where she would hit her head into hard surfaces like the floor or walls. We asked her parents what their most important goals were and they said “to get her to stop hitting her head and to get her to talk.”
We began with a thorough assessment where we discovered that Izzy hits her head so that she can view YouTube, especially her most beloved TV show: Yo Gabba Gabba.
We started with making pictures of Yo Gabba Gabba characters. Next we taught her to give us those pictures as a form of communication. Whenever she gave us one of those photos, our behavior technician would say “Yo Gabba Gabba” in an effort to attach language to the photos. And then we would let her to watch Yo Gabba Gabba for about 3 minutes.
Of course, this wasn’t the only thing we were working on to develop her language. Another important skill to develop was imitation skills. Things such as clapping her hands, nodding her head, touching her nose, etc. in imitation of the therapist.
Once she became an expert at motor imitation, we began working on oral-motor movements like sticking her tongue out, opening and closing her mouth etc. After that we added making sounds while imitating mouth movements. We worked on all of this for about a year.
After lots of work, Izzy learned to say “Gabba” along with giving the therapist a photo. Over time we got rid of the photo of yo gabba gabba and instead only responded to Izzy saying “Gabba.”
One of the most amazing things to come out of this was, now that Izzy could communicate her wants and needs, she no longer needed to hit her head. As it turns out, hitting her head was her way of getting caregivers to scramble to figure out what she wanted. And once they found it, she would stop hitting her head.
Furthermore, one Izzy learned the power of language, she started growing rapidly. Today, Izzy can tell her parents she loves them, tell you how she’s feeling, and ask for just about anything she wants.
By the end of Izzys therapy, she had stopped hitting her head entirely and was communicating using full sentences. She also found a new way of having fun: interacting with her family and playing with them. When she entered kindergarten, she was placed in a general education classroom with pull-out resource specialist support.