What does the program involve? The program involves the individual and a parent or support person working one-on-one with Melissa Norgren. The initial steps of the program are designed to bring about individuation, a harmonization of perceptions, and a beginning sense of personal identity. After individuation has occurred, each session is designed around a series of ‘life concepts’; each concept is explained and modeled in plastalina clay. The concept is then explored in a ‘real world’ environment; this can include the immediate environment or specifically designed excursions. The individual will also be guided through a series of non- invasive, gentle exercises, in order to provide the ability to maintain focus and reduce anxiety.
What changes will we see and how long will they take? Everyone is different with different, needs and expectations; the program has been designed by an autistic individual, for autistic individuals, to enable them to participate more fully in life. We have seen changes in communication, both socially and verbally, a greater tolerance to confusion, and an increased awareness of the immediate environment. We have seen changes in the understanding of ‘change’ and ‘consequence’, resulting in reduced stress, due to the individual being more able to predict outcomes of varying situations. We have experienced individuals being more confident, more independent, enjoying and understanding social situations, and being able to take on responsibilities.
The most common change that has been noted is the individual and their families report they are much happier and less stressed.
As for how long it takes, some changes are obvious and immediately apparent, whereas others will take time. The program is designed to create life long change through building a foundation upon which all future growth and development can be built.
Do I have to do any work during or after the program? We would encourage the family to be involved as much as possible and get to know the concepts for themselves during the program; this way they can be integrated faster and more effectively into the home environment. There are no drilling or repetitive exercises to be completed at home; we only ask that the concepts are discussed and integrated in a fun, interactive way.
Can anyone do the program, and at what age do you start? In order to participate in and benefit from the Davis Autism Approach, an individual must have these abilities:
The individual must have the ability to understand and comply with instructions from the Facilitator or support person.
The individual must be able to make something (a clay model) that can represent ”self”.
There is no minimum age for the program.
The Facilitator will evaluate the abilities of the individual during the first phase of the program. Davis providers are trained in specific techniques geared toward establishing rapport and a sense of trust, and thus can evaluate any individual who appears to have at least some receptive language ability. (Ability to understand and respond to some verbal instructions).
If the individual is not able to meet the above criteria, the Facilitator will not continue to work with the individual. In some cases, the Facilitator may be able to provide the parent or other support person with some tools that can be used at home to help prepare the individual for the program at a later time.
How will the program affect the rest of the family? We have found that, in many cases, the family benefits themselves from the concepts. These concepts are ‘life concepts’, so they can be integrated and explored throughout daily life, minimizing any disruption to family routines. One family took all of their children through the program and found it greatly reduced their daughter’s ADHD behaviors.
Is there a chance my child will regress? Because the concepts are designed to set a foundation for future learning, we find that individuals continue to progress building more understanding of the world through life’s experiences. We have had only one case where, due to ‘mental retardation’, the individual’s progress after the program was minimal.
Does it help with reading and writing? It has been found that orientation and exploring the concepts alone can improve academic skills. However, after the program, should the individual wish to address specific reading, writing or math skills, Tracy can continue to work on these skills through specifically tailored Davis Correction programs.
What are the hours and how long does it take? There is no set time for delivery or completion of the three phases of the Davis Autism Approach Program. The time will depend on the needs, motivation and stamina of the individual, as well as the schedule and available time of the Davis Facilitator or support person working with the individual.
Times have been varied, ranging from mornings only, to full days; from one day a week, to full week blocks; to working several 5-day weeks continuously until the program is completed.
One gift that many individuals with autism or Asperger’s share is the ability to hyper focus, so in some cases the client may be ready and willing to work very intensively and may also progress extremely rapidly. On the other hand, it is quite possible that the individual may only be able to work in very brief sessions, and progress that may take a matter of hours for one person may take days or weeks for another. As a general rule, we suggest one day per concept, so on average it will take a minimum of 30 days.
Does the program address behavior - anxiety, rigid thought etc? Although these areas are not specifically addressed, we have experienced marked improvements in these areas. This is due to the concepts providing a framework to enable the individual to retain previous experiences and in turn transfer them to new similar situations.
My child is on medication - does this affect how you work with them? We ask that you disclose any medications to your Facilitator, who will discuss how they could affect the effectiveness of the program. We have found that some medications prolong the time taken for individuation to occur and to grasp some of the concepts. In such cases, the program may take a little longer.
Can you work with someone with limited language? Some facilitators have worked very successfully with individuals with limited language. As long as there is sufficient understanding in order to comply with instructions, we can begin. We have found that language can improve during individuation; also, in these situations, we have found the Facilitator coaching the parent to be an effective option.
What qualifications does Melissa Norgren (Autism Facilitator/Coach) have? Melissa has been a licensed elementary school teacher for fifteen years. She is also an experienced Davis Dyslexia Correction Facilitator who underwent rigorous training to be licensed and certified as a Davis Autism Facilitator/Coach.
Professional services described as Davis®, including Davis Dyslexia Correction®, Davis Symbol Mastery®, Davis Orientation Counseling®, Davis® Attention Mastery, Davis® Math Mastery, and Davis® Reading Program for Young Learners may only be provided by persons who are trained and licensed as Davis Facilitators or Specialists by Davis Dyslexia Association International.