Adeline Fletcher is 8 years old.
She loves to swing. She has a ball jumping on the trampoline. She is a big fan of the show tunes of "Mamma Mia!" and "Hamilton."
She also has an autism spectrum disorder.
Adeline gets support from the WellSpan Philhaven Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, with goals directed toward improving her communication and daily living skills.
Help where kids live and grow
When she started therapy, a CADD behavior consultant visited Adeline and her family at their Lancaster home and created a plan with goals for Adeline. To help her meet those goals, a registered behavior technician from CADD attends school with Adeline, providing support to the classroom team in Adeline’s third-grade autism support class, and works with Adeline and her family after school, in her home.
The CADD team incorporates therapy into play and everyday life in a seamless, natural way.
After school, Nicole Ludwig, the registered behavior technician, takes off her shoes and bounces on the trampoline with Adeline but then stops bouncing, which prompts Adeline to express what she wants by saying, "Jump!" Next, the two play a matching game, with Adeline matching shapes on a duck to a paper grid. Afterward, the reward is more outside time on the swing, with "Mamma Mia!" playing through the kitchen window speaker. When the swing stops, Nicole asks Adeline, "What do you want? How do you say it?"
CADD's goal is to transfer behavioral therapy skills, such as prompting, redirecting and positive reinforcement, to Adeline's parents, Angie and Kyle, so they can help Adeline express herself and live a full and happy life.
It is a constant endeavor and sometimes the progress is small but the work of everyone – Adeline, her family and the CADD team – is paying off.
Mastering the ‘mand’
Before she started working with CADD, Adeline could ask for about five things she needed or wanted, important things like a drink of water or even fun things like candy corn. Her requests, called "mands" by therapists, were often one word. Now she can ask for between 80 and 100 things, in sentence form.
"It opened up the whole world for her," her mom said. "It changed everything."
"The gift of communication is one of the most amazing gifts you can have. I have seen Adeline be so frustrated because she hasn't been able to express those wants and needs. Luckily with WellSpan's help we have been able to really increase Adeline's skills in those areas and she's just blossoming and doing amazing."
A name for everything, and everyone
Adeline's family and her CADD team are delighted at her progress. In addition to communicating more fully, Adeline can sit for longer periods, play a short game with her younger brother and answer who/what/where questions ("Where does the milk go?" "Fridge!").
During the pandemic, the team worked with Adeline virtually, via Zoom, for a time. With her parents' steady support, she continued to progress.
"This summer, when I was doing some Zoom sessions, Adeline's mom started asking her some questions," says Mary Summers, CADD behavior consultant. "Angie said, 'What is your dad's name?' and Adeline said so clearly, 'Kyle!' 'And what is your brother's name?' 'Jonah!' For Adeline to be able to identify the members of her family so clearly, it was a beautiful moment."