The last three years has been a remarkable path of development for eight-year old Avery Winship. At the age of five, Avery was diagnosed as being autistic; he could not speak and doctors believed he would likely only reach the development of a four-year old.
Today, Avery is social, bright and humorous and is only months behind his peers instead of the anticipated years that he would have been delayed.
Avery’s mother Caroline says she owes a huge debt of gratitude to the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Program that Avery has participated in since pre-school.
The program started out very basic, with a tutor coming in to the Winship’s home every day from 8:30 in the morning until 4:45 in the afternoon.
“The program is dependant on the child’s needs,” said Winship, “so for Avery it started out with the basics; teaching to speak, teaching him to walk, teaching him to use a toilet, and then we built up to getting him ready for school.”
Winship runs the first home school in Manitoba to use to ABA program and a tutor is no longer being utilized. Avery’s tutors for his first three years in the program were Lindsy McKay and Angie Buckham.
“I actually trained before the tutors and then I trained the tutors,” said Winship, “and then there’s consultation from the St. Amant Centre in Winnipeg and they kept in touch with me and asked what programs I thought Avery needed and then they help develop them and then I trained the tutors to administer them. Now I take it all on my own.”
Winship home schools all four of her children while juggling the role of mother, she says that there is an obvious difference in the way Avery is educated with the ABA program and that the structure is a mixture of a fixed curriculum and trial and error.
“We have a big long list of what we call “ables,” which means abilities and as Avery goes along the list we’re able to go from one set of programs to the next and each program is an individual curriculum for that skill,” said Winship, “so if we want him to learn to raise his hand, there’s a program for that, that’s an able.”
As Avery achieves more ables, there are more skills that he can build on to, for example: he can not learn to tie his shoes before he has learned to sit patiently and take direction and have the fine motor skills. The skills all build on to each other.
Avery was one of just 24 children provincewide who qualified to receive funding for the ABA Program and just recently completed his three-year pre-school program that was split between Riverside Daycare and at home.
Caroline’s long-term goal is to eventually integrate Avery in to her home school program which her other three children are a part of. At present, Caroline has found a happy medium, with some courses done together such as science and reading; Avery is given one on one time with Caroline for skills like mathematics or any other skills he may be falling behind on.
In total, Avery gets about 15 hours of one on one time per week, as Caroline also fills the role of educational assistant.
“It’s very go, go, go,” said Winship, “our day starts at 6 a.m. and I’m still doing grading and paperwork before I go to bed at 10 p.m.”
Winship says she is grateful for the resources she has had with the ABA pre-school program, as well as the consultation and continued support from St. Amant in the school age program.
Avery and his brother Colin, who is also on the autism spectrum, both participate in music therapy and Winship says it is a blessing to have someone like music therapist Russell Peters here in Thompson.
Avery just celebrated his eighth birthday on Oct. 4
More details on the ABA school age program can be found at: