LOCAL NEWS

Tooele High School finds success using a new approach with an autistic student

Jun 6, 2018, 6:40 PM | Updated: 10:28 pm

TOOELE, Utah – Imagine a life where a new face or a loud sound throws you into a tailspin. Then try navigating high school.  “He was getting aggressive,” said Shiloh Vigil, Louie’s Mom. “He’s a fighter, for sure.”

16-year-old Louie Vigil has autism and brain damage. Last year at Tooele High was rough. Joe Krueger, a life skills instructor at the school, said, “He did bite. He will scratch. He will claw.” Krueger noticed old efforts weren’t working. “He would learn that he could get upset and then he’d get the thing that he wanted,” he said.

So, Krueger tried something new. He started looking for cues when Louie became anxious. “A repetitive, high-pitched noise. I almost refer to it as, ‘the alert call.’ We know he’s getting agitated and he’s letting us know,” he said.

When Louie gets upset, they clear the room turn out the lights, and that has made all the difference. While a teacher stays with Louie, he’s given the time he needs. “We don’t wait for it to peak. As we start to see those triggers, we know that we need to let him come down from that,” he said.

Patricia Aguayo is a child psychiatrist at the University of Utah Health who specializes in Autism. She said the approach is spot on.  Changing the environment to avoid expected behavior is a principle that works. The scientific practice is called Applied Behavior Analysis. “We look at the behavior and the antecedent, what was going on before this behavior or after,” said Aguayo.  “The trigger and then the consequence. Those are the things you can modify.”

One in 59 kids has autism spectrum disorder nationally, according to a 2018 prevalence report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Utah, it’s one in 50, according to experts with the Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

The new approach has led to success for Louie. “Now we’re seeing him want to go out when we do our jobs throughout the school. When we go to the park, he wants to come with. He’s excited to go swimming with our class tomorrow,” Krueger said.

And though he still struggles, Louie’s bad days went from weekly to only a few times a year, Krueger said. “We’re seeing a social nature and just a kindness.”

Louie is even helping with chores. “I walked in and he was sweeping and I got to see it. I got to see him do stuff, you know? That’s improvement, that’s progress, that’s huge,” said Vigil, who celebrates the victories. “He told me that he loved me the other day, and I was just crying, just thinking about it. Those are the things that are, ‘Wow,’ you know?”

By helping Louie find some peace, it’s helping him find his way.

Experts say each child with autism is different and interventions should be tailored to individual needs.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

...
Karah Brackin

‘Ghost Rider of Clinton’ brings cheer to neighborhood

A longtime Clinton resident has become a local legacy in the way he cheers up others.
14 hours ago
...
Eliza Pace

Study says Utah among the most expensive states for road tripping this summer

A recent study names Utah as the third most expensive state for those road tripping this summer. 
14 hours ago
Young Gru (Steve Carell) dreams of being the baddest villain of all time in MINIONS: THE RISE OF GR...
ANDY FARNSWORTH, KSL TV & KSL NEWSRADIO

REVIEW: Solid story, setting, voice cast lift animated sequel/prequel ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ above its predecessor

MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU brings back everyone's favorite little yellow troublemakers from the DESPICABLE ME franchise, this time in a tale of how Gru began to be a super-villain. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says it's a much more enjoyable entry from start to finish over the first MINIONS movie, with clever villains, a great voice cast, soundtrack, and just the right amount of Minions hi-jinks mixed in.
14 hours ago
FILE PHOTO (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)...
Josh Ellis

Police: Man dead after riding lawn mower falls off terrace

A 47-year-old man died after the riding lawn mower he was using fell off a terrace Thursday afternoon, according to Assistant Chief Casey Warren with the Riverdale Police Department.
14 hours ago
FILE: UHP trooper stops wrong-way driver (Utah Department of Public Safety)...
Shara Park

A look at impaired driving in Utah: fatalities skyrocketing since 2019

2022 is on pace to be the deadliest year on record for impaired driving in Utah. Already this year there have been 53 deaths because of impaired driving, coming off a record year in 2021 of 158 people killed.
14 hours ago
...
Shara Park

Wednesday’s Child: Angel wants to have a forever family as she becomes a teenager

Angel, short for Angela turns 13 this summer and she doesn’t want to spend her next birthday in foster care, she’s been living in foster care since 2017.
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Tooele High School finds success using a new approach with an autistic student