New Words...

This week there was an explosion - the good kind.  DS's vocabulary exploded into 2-word sentances!!  It has been a long time coming, and we knew he'd do it, but I was quite shocked when day after day I heard another one and another one.  After the first day, I started writing them down to share with Jen (SLP):
More Puzzle
Careful Sissy
No-No Sissy
Daddy Chair
ByeBye Mommy
Silly Mommy
Juice All Done
No, Too Hot
It's ok Sissy
Here Ya Go Sissy
As you can tell, its all about 'sissy'.  Something about his sister must make him want to talk.
We are SO proud of this achievement & look forward to more spontaneous sentances.


Lost in a Whirlwind

Well, I'm sure I've been takin off everyone's reading lists since I have hit a dead silence for over a month. Well, we are still alive & things are going well. DS is starting to put together some 'spontaneous' 2 word sentences.... Today I heard 'Careful Sissy' in the correct context, 'NoNo Sissy', and 'More Puzzle'. These are breakthroughs since for the most part all 2+ word sentances are prompted. However, at the same time he is struggling to bring his wants/needs/thoughts out in spontaneous speech, he has picked up the pace on reading. I promise we don't beat it in him, he just loves it. I have been treated to 'Are you my Mommy' on several occasions recently. The WHOLE thing. Complete with running all the way to me to point at a word if he doesn't recognize it. He was also sitting behind me eating one day as I was emailing & he was reading my email back to me. LOL Anyway, he's doing great.... our SPL evaluation showed some great improvements. The biggest one I can remember was a question regarding sorting 'foods/clothes'. He did it perfect & we've only been working on it for a few weeks... I didn't even know he was THAT good at it. Hope you are all well. I can't promise life will slow down enough to allow blogging until 2009 is upon us - but in the meantime - if you need a unique gift.... visit my new shop online!! I handpaint glasses, mugs, candy jars, candle holders etc. There's still a few days to ship if you're interested. VineyardGifts.etsy.com


Natalie, OT, DT

Natalie - 'Parents as Teachers' doesn't make it to this blog regularly... but we did have 3 sessions today. DS was acting out already this morning starting at 8:30. He is seeming to have trouble with Sissy being a part of things. She's a part of this (we'll call it an activity since she's not a therapist) activity because it is just a parent session talking about child development, brain development and activities to do with your kids. We usually do a craft and chat and she usually gives me some good tips for things going on this month. We barely cracked open the material because of 3 time-outs, 2 warnings, diaper changes, a bottle, and multiple meltdowns.
OT - Mitzi came in and did her normal thing. I told her how our morning session went, just to warn her. DS didn't really want to participate. He saw an alphabet game in her bag and only wanted it. He let us play cars (a game to encourage pretend play) for about 5 minutes, but continued to say 'All Done Cars'. Good sentance, Good words, but NOT what we were looking for. We finally let him play the alphabet game and he got really fixated on letters and never re-directed to anything else. I'm going to chalk it up to a bad day & he just needed his coping mechanism to help him through his day today.
DT - 'Oh How I love thee... let me count the ways....' Ok, that's a little far, but I DO love Suzanne. She is a breath of fresh air. She knows exactly where I am. She sees him in all his wonderfulness and all of his struggles. I don't quite know how she does it, but at the moment I'm going to call her my 'Superwoman/Supernanny'.
We started the session talking about 'Boardmaker', which is a program that helps make those PECS Picture cards that she and Ron have been talking about. She wanted us to get all the toys up and out of reach so DS would be forced, ok... lets say encouraged to use his words. Play is MOST of what a 2 year old is all about and (unlike food) they are GOING to get those toys somehow. So, I've been MORE than excited to get started with this new change, but didn't really know where to go past moving the toys. I took pictures of everything... bin by bin... so he could have a written word for each toy that he might have a choice of playing with. Her program easily formats a picture and a word label on a small square card. She is going to print them, laminate them, and velcro each one of them for us & next week we will have a 'storyboard schedule for him'. We can use it to show him choices for toys, foods, to tell him what we're going to do today etc... It might seem a bit extreme for our verbal child, but he is kinda stuck in his rut of specific phrases, so I think it'll be great. Eventually it is supposed to turn into him spontaneouly picking the card he wants (so he can visualize it first) and then come ask us for whatever he wants.


The Beach

Compliments of the Grandparents, we took the kids to the beach this weekend. We had a great time, and although out of his element DS had a hard time during parts, he really did have a great time. We'll never forget 10,000 requests for a ride in the elevator....but he also enjoyed rides in the wagon, holding hands up and down the hall, rides on Papa's belly in the lazy river, playing in the sand with Memaw, and the pool.


I asked Ron today about moving the toy bins out of reach (as Suzanne suggested). I wanted his take on it so we can make sure everyone is on the same page (since he uses picture exchange & Suzanne suggested using picture cards). What he explained to me was that to get someone to communicate, the conversation needs to be relevant. If we are at a table full of people talking about nuclear physics, we won't be nearly as MOVTIVATED to speak up, direct our conversation toward others, and participate. This is what he wants me to think about when we choose what to put away and what to keep down. He said that DS will need SOME stuff down in his reach, but the things he loves most and talks about most will encourage that spontaneous speech that we're looking for faster than anything else. I think that TEACCH may focus a bit too much on his likes because there are plenty of things we need him to talk about that have nothing to do with things he likes. However, I think it's a great suggestion - especially to get DS to understand this new system & what we are expecting of him. I am excited to get the toys re-organized tonight and get some amateur-picture cards made. Daddy will be home tomorrow, so we can both work on DS's understanding of where his toys have gone and how to get them. More on TEACCH later!! There is a lesson plan for each week, and I want to share the big points of each lesson... but I'll have to do it when I find more time.



So - THATS what a good DT is like.
Suzanne asked me about 15 min's in what my biggest concern that the other DT wasn't working on was and I said 'You've already done more than she did in 4 weeks'.
She came in and asked DS to sit under a little lap table. Game #1 was a peg board. His job was to choose which color peg he wanted, say 'Push In' as he puts the peg in, say 'On Top' as he puts the peg on top, and then follow her directions for 'in' and 'on top' as directed. She got a good feel of his hesitancy to answer choice questions with new objects. He also struggled to say the phrases and required prompting each time. When she asked him to 'push in right here' in a specific hole, it took a LONG time for him to follow the direction, but he finally got it. He was very good to look at her each time he knew he wanted help, but never asked for help. He reverted back to echolalia in his speech as she asked various questions today, but it seemed more as a coping skill to the hesitancy of doing something wrong for the new person. She said part of her strategy (this is different than the way we do speech) is to NOT repeat a task over and over and over. She wants him to LEARN not to REPEAT when possible. She said once he got the in and ontop correct she would stop, play something else for a minute, let the brain rest, and then do it again. She said this would facilitate her knowing when he actually learned something instead of him just repeating what she was doing. Second, we did a puzzle with firetrucks and dump trucks. What she did with this goes so far past anything I've ever tried, I was impressed!! She really got a good feel for where he struggles today. She said she wanted to see him match up the puzzle, but more importantly she wanted him to identify with different parts by her prompting. So, she let him assemble the puzzle and then asked him to hand her different pieces. 'Can I have the dump truck? What color is it? What kind of sound does a truck make?' 'May I have the yellow truck? No, the other one.' 'May I have the truck with blue windows, the ladder' She really pushed him to LOOK at what he was doing before just jumping at the first command. She allowed him to take his time and think. She allowed him to make a mistake and then corrected him. She was very graceful with him, and at the same time VERY firm and didn't back down once she asked him for something. We let him play free play while we chatted a bit. She noticed that he had taken the piggy bank toy over to the side. She engaged with him and told me that she sees that he is at risk to isolate himself while playing. At his developmental age, she wants to see him coming in between our conversation to interrupt us because he wants to play WITH us. She wants to see him improve on choice questions - yes/no for accuracy - more abstract choices with more language. She wants us to move the toy bins up out of his reach so he has to ask for them SPONTANEOUSLY. I think that is a KEY for him. Jen has gotten him to the point where he can say 'Mommy, I want juice please.', but he does it VERY choppy and it is 90% prompted - 100% prompted when the object is out of site. Suzanne wants to take him the step further where he KNOWS he wants something and he finds his OWN language to get it. This is another example of taking his language from 'repeated' to 'learned'. THIS is what he needs!!!! She said that our major challenge with a High Functioning child is to help him to NOT stand out in a crowd. She said that already, he fits in very well... but she NEVER made me feel like that meant he DOESN'T have a form of autism. She said that he will do really well in a classroom, she doesn't see any real behavioral issues, and he is very social. She caught onto him really quick. Before she left, her observation had told her that his eye contact was great, but not used the same way as typical children. She knew that his jumping/gross motor skills are lagging some. She knew that he is very social but he needs to learn more appropriate communication. She even knew that the little 'marching dance' that he sings to in the same pattern around the house was one of his coping skills... she said 'awwww' when she saw it and immediately knew... Every single motion, word, etc.. that she made was for a purpose. She made me feel like a great mom. She made me feel like we're going to get A LOT of work done. This is an awesome day!!!



I understood more about TEACCH this week. Ron really 'got his number' last week - watching him master the cognitive skills tasks. This week he brought alphabet matching, spelling, and the MORE important pretend play skill tasks. So, rather than this be a progressive learning experience (like speech where we do relatively the same stuff each week and I learn from that), this is more like an actual CLASS. Each week we have a lesson and I have homework. This week I am supposed to create a learning area and some stations for DS. The only thing I really need to BUY for this week is a collapsible bookcase or shelving unit. I forgot to blog just after Ron left, so I am forgetting major things..... DS did a great job transitioning, but already showed a preference for wanting to do the 'work' instead of play part of the routine... and I had warned Ron about that. We are also supposed to start thinking what kinds of choices we are needed him to make on a daily basis so we can get some picture cards made to facilitate him in more SPONTANEOUS speech.


WOW! One word says it all...

Yes, Mommy was in charge of dinner last night. Had Daddy been home, this game would not have carried this far, guaranteed. However, it was QUITE entertaining. He spelled multiple words and then ate them letter by letter. This is the only one I got a picture of: 2+2=4 (that's what he told us it said anyway). I can imagine 2's would be quite hard to make out of Lo Mein for anyone...... WOW!

SLP - Beaten Down

I'm glad I didn't have time to blog this morning after Speech. I felt so beaten down. I feel like Jen spends more energy trying to defend why everything DS does is normal than she does on working to figure out what challenges he DOES have. I feel like we've been doing the same games and activities forever because she doesn't branch out to find something new. Why is it necessary for me to focus on his strengths and NOT talk about autism with a therapist? It's as if she thinks that I don't recognize his strengths. I've done my best to point out how well he is doing, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't still need help. Sometimes I feel like I need someone who better understands ASD - especially High Functioning kids. Sure, she has plenty of cases (I'm assuming) with kids who are non-verbal, or don't pick up skills as fast as my DS, or maybe they have difficulties that will never improve. I'm not trying to compare my DS to everyone else. I'm just trying to do what's best for MY SON & making me feel like I'm barking up a dead tree isn't going to help. NORMAL 2 year old? I dare to say there is No such thing. She tells me that her little boy won't eat Strawberries either (this is in response to a comment that no, he doesn't eat strawberries.. just strawberry flavored things). Well, that's fine. I DIDNT say that DS won't eat strawberries b/c he has autism. I just answered a question. When you add 1+1+1, does it NOT equal 3? Autism is defined by the COMBINATION of factors. Well, if you have 1 factor... it doesnt add up to 3 now does it? So, his difficulties will ALWAYS be in combination with the normal behaviors as well. Geez. Give me a break!! Anyway.... after she left, I realized I am totally out of formula for DD. OOPS! Our 2nd therapy of the day starts in a littlewhile. So, I run up to Food Lion and think on this on the way there. I held back my tears as best I could..... geez....why am I so emotional today? On the way home I am harping in my head over and over about 'why is she against me'....which brings to mind Romans 8:31.... 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' So, my harp time, my vent time, my beaten down feeling leads me to prayer. Thank you Jesus for being for me. Thank you Jesus for covering all my sins. Thank you Jesus for the chance to be made whole and perfect in you. That's all that really matters. Again, I am comforted that one day my son will have that same chance to choose Jesus.



I'm laughing at myself today. I question the diagnosis, still to this day. Why? I don't know. However, all it takes is the task of filling out a questionnaire to bring me back to Earth. Does this help YOU at all?? (these are from a questionnaire I need to fill out for TEACCH) Q: What are some of your child's favorite toys or activities? A: Numbers, Letters, Reading, Spelling, Singing Songs, Dancing, Writing/Painting Q: What is comforting to your child? A: Spelling words, PDA, Cellphone, Calculator, Superwhy/Elmo Q: How does your child presently communicate to you and/or to others? A: Prompted verbal language ('I want...') via carrier phrases or single word labels.

Inspired Art

Thanks to blogger 'Laura' I was inspired to post some of DS's work. The cat is out of the bag on this post - as DS likes to write his name *wink*. No translation needed for 2 of the names here, but the one at the bottom is 'Daddy'.
The cat's name is 'Patches'.
I asked him to DRAW Patches.
This is what I got.
...and this is what he did for me when I asked for a picture of a 'Cat' and a 'Dog'. ;-)
...and this was what HE wanted to do. Circles, Hearts, Rectangles, and Triangles.
Before he drew circles all over top of his picture, there were about 6 different tries at his name. When he gets to the edge of the paper and runs out of room to write, he moves over and starts over again. It is quite amazing to watch a 2 year old writing his name. As wonderful as that is, I am sad that he doesn't draw beautiful squiggly line pictures anymore - so today our project will be working on drawing PICTURES instead of names. Maybe he'll enjoy that.



Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped CHildren
Ok, so I'll do my best to explain what TEACCH is - or at least the part as it relates to us.
What we are enrolled in is a 12 week parent instruction course using the TEACCH intervention approach called “Structured Teaching.”
A specific routine is established between 'work' and 'play'. The child is prompted to 'work' in a chair at a table for a specific number of tasks. At the end of each task, we say 'all done' and put it into a bucket. When all the tasks are done, a visual cue is given to let the child know that 'play' has begun. The child is prompted to 'play' on a carpet (to denote the play space) for a specific number of minutes. Then, there is a visual prompt to come back to the work space. This is repeated 3 times in one session, each rotation lasting between 10-15 minutes.
Work = A table + chair, bookcase to the left with all the tasks, and a bucket to the right for 'all-done' tasks. The tasks are either 'shoebox tasks' or 'folder tasks'. Basically, each shoebox has a specific job that has to be done. In my example picture, the child must remove the papers from the clips, drop the papers in the paper slot and drop the clips into the can. Then, the child is all-done. The folder tasks are very similar, the ones I have seen have velcro and require some sort of matching.
Play = A carpet and a basket of toys. If we need to use toys from our home, they must go in the basket first. The playtime is prompted to start, but is not structured outside of the fact that the child is supposed to sit on the carpet. The adult can engage and play with the child if they want to.
The visual cue we used today for going from Play to Work was a piece of play food that you feed to a little group of animals. I guess it was just something to grab his attention and make him want to come back over to the table. The visual cue we used for going from Work to Play was a noisy little ring stacker piece - that again grabbed his attention and he was interested to go after.
From what I understand, this structured learning is supposed to facilitate a very concrete way to learn new things (be it colors, labels, numbers, emotions) AND allow children who aren't great at picking up on cues the ability (eventually) to use their environment to figure out the rules of what is required AND facilitate an environment that will involve lots of transitions and change. The hope is to get them to look for cues and generalize what they learn.
Our visit: Ron comes in today - we chat for a few minutes - DS decides that Ron's name is 'Charlotte Bobcats' (because that's what was on his sweatshirt). It was quite hillarious. DS is going C-H-A-R-L-O-T-T-E-B-O-B-C-A-T-S, RON!!!! As if he is spelling RON. Then, he calls him 'John' several times, and then finally understands. ;-)
He totes in an amount of stuff that fills my entire livingroom - complete with a plastic bookcase, a table, a chair, 4 large totes, and a laundry basket all filled to the brim with exciting new things for BOTH of my children.
DS and DD are both immediately interested. It was really neat to sit and watch DS master each of today's 'age appropriate' tasks. He had no problem transitioning back and forth from play to work and work to play - as he LOVES new things. We'll see how great that goes the first time he is bored of the toys and he'd rather sit at the table and read words.
Ron had to go back out to the car to get new more challenging games 3 different times. He said not to worry - today was just an evaluation day and he had PLENTY of games that would engage and challenge DS (on future visits). He just needed to get a bottom and top level idea so future sessions would be challenging enough to get some real work done.
Well, that is my amateur version of TEACCH for today. I'm sure I will learn plenty over the course of the next 12 weeks - and I know more than I did yesterday. I never knew anything about TEACCH except the fact that they use picture cards to communicate. Not so.


Suzanne called this morning to double check on our time. She didn't feel comfortable introducing too many new things in one day, so we're going to wait until next Thursday to start. I'm excited to get started!! Mitzi is on vacation this week, so we are DONE with therapy for the week. That's good considering the surgery and just life business in general.


We played with the little chubby cars & DS was much more independant today. He usually needs a bit of prompting to ask for 'help' popping them together, but today he seemed to want to do it himself. We did the same stuff - just helping him use his language in play & had a good time. Then, we did 'spin art'. Look at his beautiful painting!


Awesome Week - Part Two

And...thats not all. This week started awesome, but has also continued that way. Do explain...... OT Wednesday, Mitzi came, all went well. She had 'game day'. We played a fishing game (working on noises and pincer grasp), Memory (Sorting animals, foods, etc..), and 'Don't spill the beans (Fine motor and turn taking). DS had a great visit. Nothing ground breaking, but progress is not bad, so I have no problem with that. It was pretty low key, so we had more time for general questions and conversation, which is good every now and then. Later that afternoon, I got a call from Suzanne. She can pick up DS on her caseload for DT. We work out our schedules, and decide on Thursdays at 915. Next week we're starting on Monday due to DS surgery next Thursday. She also wants me to email her his likes, dislikes, issues, and any other concerns that will help her get to know him faster. That's my cup of tea. Then Thursday I got a call from TEACCH. I've been waiting on this call since mid-July. Ron can start coming out to the house immediately. He has an open slot on Monday's at 11ish, which works in our schedule. I'm super excited about this one. The two options were we either get in with Ron (12, 90 min sessions at our house) or we go to the TEACCH center (8 sessions, 60 miles round trip). I have heard awesome things about Ron & if nothing else, it'll be SO great to have one therapist who ONLY deals with autism and the spectrum. The sessions will be for DS, but will also be more parent based than OT,DT,SLP. He is only here for 12 sessions, so we will work on what routines and techniques work well for DS, set those up, and make sure I understand how it all works. TEACCH uses some techniques regardless of the child, but most of it will depend on DS specific needs. And next week I will be attending my first HFA/AS meeting. They will have a speaker from TEACCH & I have already submitted a question about what to expect with DS surgery coming up with regards to behaviors and how I can try to prepare him. If I haven't previously posted about DS surgery, we are having his 'Bilateral Preauricular' Ear tags removed next Thursday. Yep, that's right... 2 on each side. Or, as we refer to them his 'Wingdings'. For whatever reason, an 'oral surgeon' will be removing them in a fairly 'simple' procedure that should take about 45 minutes. I am going to miss them, but we know it's the best for him later in life.

Awesome week - Part One

One more post that will be more about ME than about DS, but its another notable week for us... At the beginning of the week, I prayed for some clarity on finances. It's always a strain to stay at home, but we knew that God was calling me home to stay with our children and so I quit working nights after our daughter was born. Sunday, I just layed the issue at Jesus' feet and said... 'here, you have it... I really and truely understand why you already knew I can't handle this alone'. Monday comes. It's a good day... Jen comes, we play, DS is actively involved, enjoys the games, participates well, uses his words well. DS and I are searching for a bit of downtime as DD naps, and so I sneak over to a website devoted to Stay-at-home-moms and chatted for a bit. Everyone is talking about 'ChaCha'... what in the world is ChaCha, if it's not a dance? Evidently, it is an answer to prayer...that's what it is. So, I'm now an employed SAHM who has a job - based on her home computer - in her jammies if need be - with her cup of coffee.... I can log on and work when i can, log off when I can't. The work comes to me (quite fast I must say... can't even scratch my nose between questions) Simple as that. It is legit, there is no money going to this company from me, and the questions can be quite hillarious. The BASIC premise is that people text or call in ANY question they want to know the answer to. It comes to me.. I use my 'googlePhd' to answer them. And, Voila, they pay me per answer. (If you would like a more detailed description because you are interested, please just leave me a comment & I'll email you a more professional description and links) I signed up, took my training, took my testing, and waited about 36 hours to be accepted and hired. All the while, I was a bit worried about the TYPES of questions that people would send in. This is probably majority teenagers we're talking about.... so, as I am contemplating my moral delimma and deciding what I'll do if I get a vulgar question... I start to think that maybe this isn't the right job for me and maybe this really wasn't an answer to prayer. Think no more. I logged on. Got my FIRST question within less than a millisecond and my FIRST question was 'Do you believe in God'. BAM! An opportunity to share the gospel. I couldn't have said it better myself. 'Our God is an awesome God.' No, He doesn't speak to me with a human voice... but it couldn't ring any clearer than that. What an awesome week!!!


A breath......

Finally... I give my brain a rest A rest from the chaos of thinking about Autism A rest from the constant of Autism A rest from the nagging what if's of autism As you can see, I didn't blog about any therapies last week. I will continue - this has been my sounding board, outlet, and record - but I have had a breakthrough this week that I would like to share with you. After 4 months of daily - hourly - and sometimes minute by minute searching for WHYS, HOWS, WHERES, WHOS, etc and so on.... I finally just rest in the comfort of God's peace. Not to mention, i'm pretty sure I found the end of the internet ;-) I'm at peace with who my son is. How God created him. What HIS plans are. That the outcome of his life has purpose - meaning - no matter if he's different or the same as everyone else. As Christians, we're to look different anyway. We're to let our light shine - be IN the world, but not OF the world. God has CREATED my sweet boy just like He created your son or daughter or you or me. So, He must have had a reason. I'm going to try to just be the mom I'm called to be - to help him as best I can - to train him up the way he should go so he might not depart from it. I won't be perfect. I'll certainly go backwards and falter. But I want to choose to see this in God's eyes. Certainly ANY child of God is made in his image, why would I doubt that? I have been humbled this week - as a fellow blogger dealt with heartwrenching circumstances. All the while, she chose to look on toward God's purpose and God's will. It broke me - when she said as she went through the most difficult of circumstances - she would be praying through Psalm 121 over and over.... I will lift up my eyes to the hills - From where comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore. The WHYS, HOWS, WHERES, WHOS are all questions of selfishness - not of faithfulness. God, WHAT now? What do You ask of me now? Unlike sweet Isaac (who was born and passed this week) - I have held my child for 2 years already. I get to hear him tell me he loves his mommy. I get to kiss his precious face. I get to see him learn and grow. I get to celebrate huge accomplishments. I get to hold his hand across the street. I get to be proud. I get to help him learn. Has he made me a better mommy? Have I stopped to pay better attention? Have I spent more time? Will he have the capacity to accept Jesus when the time comes? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. This week I taught my 1 year old Sunday School class about Noah. A classic truth of the Bible - Noah's ark. Most of us know the story. But I was caught off guard by one simple line - (Gen 6:22) Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did. It doesn't say that Noah asked why. It doesn't say that he logged onto the internet in search of flood statistics. It doesn't say that he questioned the odd requests and specificity of the instructions at all. It says NOAH DID, According to all that God had commanded him... How often do I stray from the simplicity of just DOing? Lord, help me to find your way...... it is ALL joy if it is in you....James 1:2-5


Genetics Testing

Amino Acids: Normal Fragile X: Normal Chromosome Study: Normal Microray: Normal Everything came back without anything alarming. However, I still really couldn't even BEGIN to tell you what any of this means & I'm disappointed, b/c I was hoping to gain a better understanding of our genes through this. Not So, but good news nevertheless. Off to get us well - OJ, R&R, and maybe some TV

OT - Cancelled Today

We are cruddy with either the after effects of a bad allergen season, or something else we picked up. More Next week.



So, last week, I met with Tammy (coordinator) and we worked on updating some of DS goals. One goal we added to Speech was to begin working on 'function' questions. I will post all the new goals for SLP and OT once I have them in my hand.
Q: 'What do I need to open the door?'
A: 'A key.'
So, in order for him to learn the function of something (what opens a door? what cuts the banana? what do I need to call someone with?) we need to start using more complex questions -instead of just looking for a response to a question - we need to prompt him to answer these types of questions.
This morning, Jen used the 'Parents Animal Hospital' (one of my all-time favorites) to show us how to tap into this new concept. She would ask him 'What do we need', because he already knew he wanted the animals out. Then we would say 'We need the key. The key opens the door.'
Seems simple enough. We'll just try to add these questions to our vocabulary so that we're prompting him to answer the questions before we just give him a handout.
Reallife examples:
If he wants a drink.... 'What do we need to put the drink in?' 'A cup'
If he wants to brush his teeth... 'what cleans your teeth?' 'A toothbrush'
Still brainstorming...


Oh the Joy!!!

There have been a massive amount of improvements recently. In part - its the therapy & the constant working on of therapy (mostly speech). In part - its a 2 year old hitting some big language growth spurts. In part - its the stress leveling off and having a little sister who is more capable to be social WITH. In part - he's just a smarty pants (yeah, I said it ;) No matter which part adds which element - the fact that I am able to sit back and ENJOY my son is wonderful beyond words. Sometimes - the JOY cannot be contained. Yesterday, we took a trip to the library. It is getting easier and easier to get both kids in and out with enjoyable parts in the middle. Last night, Dad was able to go too. I headed straight for the 'Early Reader' section to pick out a few books that DS might want to read. Sissy was crawling around the floor and DS pulled a toy into the floor. A little girl (maybe 6or7) walked over to the toy DS was playing with and I asked him to share. He didn't care and grabbed a book to look at instead. Then he stopped what he was doing to observe her playing and walked over. He stooped down to get in her face and said 'Hi'. She looked at him like.... uh.... whatever... which I guess is pretty normal for a 6 year old girl. But, it was one of the most amazing things I'd ever seen. I just couldn't believe it. If I wouldn't have looked like a total fool, I'd have done a little dance.



Today we talked about DS goals. We have been working our way through activities that will challenge his senses - therefore showing us if he has issues with sensory stuff or not. He seems to display a pretty good amount of hesitance when faced with a new sensory activity, but he eventually digs in and has fun. My amateur analysis is that he has some subtle sensory issues, but his age, other areas of development, and personality also factor into the equation pretty heavily. I think his resistance to trying new foods have something to do with sensory issues, but he's also got the 2yr old opinion going on. The 2 senses he tends to have the most trouble with are sound, and sight. He is very agitated when the sun gets in his eyes. If we're in the car, he'll start screaming and crying if its in his eyes for too long. Loud & different sounds also get him worked up. We decided to add: He will transition to Adult directed activities w/o displaying resistive behaviors and follow through with minimal cuing. And decided to discharge: He will play appropriately with new toys brought into his natural environment. Games today: Slide around the house on a sheet, play fort with the sheet, play on sit'n'spin, play in tunnel, roll ball through tunnel, swing laying down on the sheet. He loved swinging (she says he loves 'vestibular stimulation' and says that this type of thing is great for calming him.) We discussed that swinging would be a great activity to calm him before nap time. Now, we just have to work on the 'transitions' too so that he doesn't have a fit when we're done with the swing. PLUS he likes to slide even more than swing, but that gets him all worked up. The sliding around the house was ok. He didn't understand the sit'n'spin at all, the tunnel we already have - so he and sissy had a BLAST in that. New food: Yogurt... OOPS...thats his favorite food already. So, we just had casual conversation over lunch b/c he didn't have a 'new' food to try. That's ok....



Speech went well. Nothing huge. Nothing too different. Still working on most of the same things - 2 word responses. He did spontaneously tell Jen 'Your Turn' when they were playing with the cars and bears.
On another note, this weekend we found him reading 'Go Dog Go' on his own in his room. Of course there were a few words he missed, but for the most part he just sat there reading every word. WOW.

Genetics Testing

I called to see if any of the tests were back today. I should get a detailed report when all is said and done, but so far... Amino Acids: Normal Fragile X: Normal Chromosome Study: By end of the week Microray: 2 weeks


DT... or is that what it was called?

Well, today is un-noteworthy. The only things I have to say are negative. I hate being that NEGATIVE person, but I am assured that she is not the right fit for us after today. At least I feel confident in that. The part that makes me feel bad is I think she's that employee who gets fired and says 'What, but I didn't do anything wrong...' No, Mary, it's not that - its that you just plain didn't do anything. Maybe she'll fit another child better - moving on......



I just have to say that Mitzi mentioned last week what a difference the taste of organic bananas is from the regular, and now my son is eating them whole - just peel and hand it to him. No forcing, No Peanut Butter, No tricks. He just WANTS it!! wow. This week, she wanted to focus on food. She brought a little shopping cart full of boxes to shop. They went through the whole process of shopping and then we did lunch. The new veggie this week was cucumber. Didnt try it at all. We avoided all the drama that we had last week by not making it too stressful and forceful. I will go get a cucumber and just try it several times this week.

Why can't doctors diagnose Autism?

This is exactly what I like to hear. Someone who understands. It's amazing that so many parents are sent home from the pediatrician with 'just give it some time, every child develops differently' - just like I was. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94386599 LOVE the NPR interview (thanks Little Bit Autistic!)



SLP is postponed until Wednesday afternoon. Jen has an appt. The weekend has gone very well. On his own - he has said several things!! Sissy was in the bath - he walks in and says 'My Turn' I've never heard him say that!!! Especially Spontaneously. He is saying HI and BYE much more often now. He is still not waving as he says them, but they are 'greetings' all the same. It is cute to hear him say 'HI' - just like Jen does. We don't say HI, we say HEY. We are seeing his scripted responses generalize more and more each day. He was playing 'Happy/Sad' with a 1/2 eaten piece of bread today. (I did it with a Waffle the other day...silly Mommy) He identified OUR expressions accurately when we asked if we were Happy or Sad - when we WAY overplayed the emotion on our face. He was sharing his water with Patches the Cat, Bubba the Dumptruck Driver, and Sissy earlier. However we are dealing with some tummy troubles. On Thursday I was convinced that I had been on 'Maintenance Mode' feeding him Juice and Milk as he commanded too much and it was causing the upset tummy. But, he has had issues several times a day throughout the weekend. He has added some fruit to his diet - BUT has been eating MAJORITY of items that would stop him up - not the other way around, or at least thats what 'Toddler 411' says (Raisins, Nuts, Apples, Yogurt, Etc...). Once he leaked out of his pants this morning and then again at church - I decided we'll have to give the doc a call in the morning. I can't decide what to do. On ONE hand - if we give him only water (b/c we think juice/milk is causing it - overload on Casein/Gluetin/Sugars/Fats), and thats not the issue - he might dehydrate easily or not get the nurtriants he needs. On the OTHER hand - everything Recommended to treat the VIRAL reason would contribute to the SUGARS/FATS/and GC problem. Hmmmmmmm....



Outcome = Totally different than expected. Ok, so this week I made a phone call to our old DT (group) owner/therapist. I told her I was just lost on what I needed to expect. I told her that I didn't see any therapy going on and described a couple of scenarios. She agreed and helped me to understand what my expectations should be. I was completely prepared to call our coodinator and switch therapists. This morning I spent some time stressing over the fact that I WANTED to do the right thing and tell her what I saw that was bothering me (you know, so she can fix it and actually be given a chance to defend herself), but I felt like I would probably slink back into my little corner of 'niceness', smiling & nodding. As usual, we started by reading books. However, she did ask DS if he wanted to read books or play blocks. He chose to read books. As a creature of habit, he already KNEW that was what Mary comes to do, so it was no surprise to me when he chose to read. There was a distinct difference though, because she was actually interacting with me and showing me concrete evidence of what she was doing and why it was supposed to help. She was working on 'preliteracy skills' of opening the book (he already does that well), reading Left to Right (he does this 95% of the time) and realizing the story goes with the words (which he is picking up on recently). She also worked on drawing his attention to the storyline (which he doesn't usually do at all). Then, I redirected and asked her if there was anything else she wanted to work on (because he was bringing her book after book after book) and so we asked DS if there was another toy he wanted to play with. He said 'Blocks', and went towards some little counting blocks that he likes to play with. She helped him to get them down and then tried to find a game that could go along with the blocks. Then, she caught on & realized (or at least this is what I thought happened) that I wanted to pick up the pace a bit. If you just let HIM pick the pace, he'll do the same thing over and over and over. He needs the redirection. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and tried to SHOW her that. I think she got it because shortly after he lost intrest in learning anything from the block game, she asked me for crayons and paper and told me that he seemed ready to begin working on emotions. We drew happy & sad faces, showed him our happy & sad faces, and then showed him the happy & sad faces in the book we were reading. It went over his head...but THATS OK... because that means its something worth working on. :-) Ok. So, I watched intently today and began my conversation on what changes I see that need to be made by saying 'What Im seeing in our sessions overlapps a lot with Speech, but it also seems quite outdated for him. I was the one who chose the objectives, but it was during our 2 hour evaluation in June. I was not prepared, nor was I qualified to be the one to make his objectives that day.' She agreed that they seem outdated and explained to me a bit about how the EI program works; they have to do what the objectives are. They write up what they did in the session, and really can't go too far outside the plan. I told her that what would work best for Me would be for her to bring me some questions that would identify where his 'developmental' struggles are. I feel like I do ok seeing where he struggles in things he already participates in, but there have to be some holes where we aren't supporting development at all & I can't see something I don't know about. I told her that we already do the books, we already do the blocks. Speech is doing a great job of working on imaginary play, etc. And, while its fine to focus on those things part of the time OR even as a part of something else - that if we do that at both Speech and DT each week, then I have nothing new to work on. At that point, she said that she was very thankful that I said something. She said that I am not typical of most parents - that what she typically sees are parents who expect her to come in week after week and do her thing for an hour and then its done. They don't ask questions of what to work on throughout the week. I told her that I just wanted to make the best of the time we have. EI is a short program. It's over when he's 3, and then we move out of EI into something else. So, here's what we came up with. Next week, we'll spend more time talking about what we need to work on than doing actual therapy. That was my suggestion. I told her that while I know she is held to a certain standard of what she is supposed to say or not supposed to say - that I want her to tell ME what he needs to work on. I'm not his therapist. I might know DS best, but SHE knows DT best. She already suggested that we add 'Self Help Skills' into his plan & just leave it broad so she has more room to play with. If we put very specific things - like work on desire to undress and dress himself - then she can't do other things (isn't that sad). We discussed the benefits of going to a group and decided that it would be great to get out of the house and do every-other week somewhere else (chickfila, the mall, grocery store, etc..) Her explanation is that she is supposed to be a support to the parents - working on anything that we see makes life a struggle for DS. The best place to work on this is his 'natural environment'. Her idea of natural environment is not just our house or church - also anywhere else that we go. Something that concerned me a bit; she mentioned at one point doing DT on a bi-weekly basis. I felt almost as if she wanted to take advantage of my willingness to participate. She said that she could come every-other week and work on new skills and then I can carry it over for 2 weeks. I was quick to tell her that there were other DT's that were offered bi-weekly, but I specifically chose weekly & I was not interested in cutting his therapy down anymore. I'll just keep this in the back of my mind. It also disappointed me a bit that she never brings any toys/games with her. I asked her about that, and she said her company comes from the point of view that a child's natural environment in the home includes that child's own toys as well. I told her I was split on how I feel about that becuase DS tends to focus much better when there is something new to focus on. However, since I understand that now, I asked her if there is something I can set up for next week that would facilitate a NEW topic (since he will always relate Mary=reads books if we dont). I told her I can set out his kitchen set & she added that it would be great to use a book we have about cooking to talk about cooking eggs and why we're doing that. Great! Now, that's what Im talking about! To work on this week: +Think about where he needs to participate that he's not already (on/off clothes, picking out clothes, chores, cooking) +Think about what he needs help with that he's already participating in +Work on Preliteracy skills, point to each word as we read it & Ask questions about the story as we read +Work on Emotions - Happy-Sad-Angry. Use any situation we can to point out these emotions. Point it out in books. On the faces of his animals. Etc.. Off to call Tammy the Coordinator.

Alright, here goes....

Mary should be here any minute. I'm mustering up anything in me to make it known that we're not happy with the therapy. I'm a softie - so we'll see how this goes......



Its Rainy... the day was off to a good start. We all 3 ate a healthy breakfast together at the table. I have to admit that in my frustration at the rest of the day falling apart I am quietly sitting here contemplating on scripture & my role as a parent. Really, these kids and all the therapists are children of God. My children aren't even MY children. I am here - given a job from God - to raise these gifts the way HE would have me to. I am in no way in CONTROL of anything that happens, but I am responsible for my reaction and my job. I struggle, as does everyone else.... but I also hold onto the HOPE that God has promised - For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. The chubby little fingers, the heartbeats, the smiles and the tantrums. It is all embodied inside the growing little children in my house. God put them together.. piece by piece. How awesome is that? He knew who they were - who they are - who they will be. That really does make it all better. The daily happenings around here are just a 'by-product' of the bigger picture. I'm going to sit back and try to enjoy the bigger picture instead of nitpicking on tiny details that get me off track into the world of negativity. OT today. Leap Frog Book - went well. Theraputty - went great. Fingerpaints - tenative, but successful. Back to Leap Frog Book - doesn't want to give it up. Lunch - meltdown - won't try the new food of the week 'carrots'. Total meltdown over wanting APPLES which aren't at the table and mommy can't give in. Back to Leap Frog Book - more meltdowns as Mitzi tries to escape without causing further damage. (not that it was her fault, he is just in a mood today). *Sigh*



'Hey Jen!' This morning I didn't talk about Jen before she got here. I didn't bring any attention to her coming in the house or anything. DS was looking out the front door and saw Jen when she got here, and when we walked into the living room he shouts 'HEY JEN!' How awesome! Praise, Praise, Praise. We had a great session today. Jen pulled out some new games and it showed us how far his language has come in 12 weeks time. It was awesome to watch. He's asking for help spontaneously. He's asking 'please' for things. He's answering Yes/No questions. We both noted that he is using the same questions and answers that we have supplied him with, but he is using them appropriately and getting quicker and quicker with them. He isn't just saying 'Need Help Please' spontaneously and RANDOM... he really does need help. He is understanding how to use those words functionally. Now, we move to more kinds of questions and more complex games. Jen made me feel really good because she said that she can tell when parents are really working on the goals throughout the week & that this type of progress doesn't happen without it. I turned it around and also thanked her b/c this also doesn't happen without the instruction that she provides. It is also MUCH easier to continue working on these skills when it WORKS. He has worked SO hard & is really blossoming on his receptive AND expressive language. The new game she brought today was a neat little puzzle board. There are lots of animals and when you put the front & back pieces (say of a cow) together on the board correctly, it moo's. Since it was a new toy, she let him practice his existing skills this week. He asked for help to open the bag appropriately. He asked for the pieces appropriately. He asked for help to get the pieces in the right position appropriately. It was great. Next week, i fully expect NEW questions with this game. We had a great time!


Last week... I got busy and didn't post, but I just want to update that I have been advised that if someone comes to clean your house & they start fixing the computer, there's a problem. Im feeling confident on switching DT's, but now, how to go about it??


Misunderstoods of the Spectrum

When you say the word 'Autism', people most likely think about Lack of Eye Contact, Resistance to physical touch, Strict Routines, Lack of or Restricted Language, among others. I have heard this response on many occasions :
What! Autism! No way. But, he is so happy
and has such great eye contact.
He talks so well and is so smart too...
This response has come from many whom I know well. I don't go around telling every grocery cashier I see... just the people close to me. So, as you can imagine, it's hard to be left feeling confident in the diagnosis, in yourself, in the fact that you've got therapies lined up. Its easy to feel like everyone who knows looks at you like an alien. Sometimes I even feel bad for making a deal out of it. Like, in some regard that things are more normal than not, and I should just keep my mouth shut and deal. I DO know that there are people out there that deal with a lot more. I really feel for them. I can't imagine. But I have to constantly remind myself ~ that doesn't mean I can't feel too. At the moment, DS is only 2. He isn't feeling any of these effects yet. I feel it for him. But, I have to look forward to HIS future and make sure I'm making the right choices and educating those I can. It's NOT important that he has a label, but it IS VERY IMPORTANT that we do something about it. If there were a child who couldn't eat, you'd do something about it. This is just a little more difficult to understand. I am well on my way to a Google PhD, and find myself looking up anything that can help me to understand my son better. I ran across some descriptions of Aspergers and PDD-NOS that make good sense. These are 2 of the misunderstoods of the Spectrum. I'm sure there are more. In my Mommy Gut, I feel like DS will fit somewhere around one of these diagnosis as he grows and is re-evaluated. I will add that Therapy has made improvements in LEAPS and BOUNDS!! We are so thankful for catching this early and for all the help!!! I can communicate with DS without all the whining most of the time. We have tools to work with and things that work. From just a few months ago, this is a huge improvement! Asperger's "Children with autism are frequently seen as aloof and uninterested in others. This is not the case with Asperger's Disorder. Individuals with Asperger's Disorder usually want to fit in and have interaction with others; they simply don't know how to do it." As an overview, children with this disorder often have very limited interests, rely heavily on predictable routines, don't interact well with others, and have a hard time understanding the many subtleties of social interaction. At the same time, they often have impressive memory and language skills http://www.babyzone.com/baby_toddler_preschooler_health/autism/article/asperger-syndrome PDD-NOS A diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) serves as a kind of catch basin for the autism spectrum: If a child development expert does not see enough signs that fit into the diagnostic criteria for classic autism or Asperger's, for example, the child who has trouble with social interactions, communications skills, and demonstrates repetitive behaviors will be classified as PDD-NOS. The child could demonstrate problems in all three areas, but they appear less severe than children who receive a classic autism diagnosis. http://www.med.yale.edu/chldstdy/autism/pddnos.html Chromosonal Testing We recently took DS for some Genetics testing as well. The Pediatrician recommended it, I'm not 100% sure why it's important to know, but I also don't know the least bit about Genetics. I think I skipped that course in school. This link talks about ONE of the possible links between Chromosonal Abnormalaties and Autism. http://www.fragilex.org/html/autism.htm



Again, Dad got to be in on another session. Mitzi (sorry, I've been misspelling it) is the type person who is much easier to warm up to - I think Dad joined in more because of that. We played with all sorts of balls, koosh, squirmy, wiggly, flashing, tiny, slick, sticky, etc... He did great. Just played. She brought out her sand and rice buckets. Hides little things down in it to get him to stick his hand in. He sorted through the sand and rice as plain as day and found all the gadgets and balls. He's not too sure about keeping the grains on his hands, though, he was pretty quick to wipe them off. Although, we do notice that most of the time he uses one hand to do things (open a box, grab for something). I posed the question to Mitzi, if she had any idea if that had to do with anything (since we're 110% sure its not a muscular or otherwise issue, we've seen him use 2 hands on many things). She said that we definitely need to encourage the use of 2 hands, so no big deal. On to lunch. We did another lunch date with Mitzi today. She brought an Apple and Peanuts. He's been exposed to Apple many times, but not peanuts. I fixed a plate of: Graham crackers w/peanut butter (the thing he will usually eat) Blueberries & Strawberries (things he never eats) Peanuts (new) Then, we let him eat. He ate the Graham Crackers w/peanut butter of course. We encouraged him to name all his choices, talked about peanuts, and all ate a peanut together on the count of 3. He finally stuck one in his mouth. That was it for him. No more, Please. Then, we cut up the apple & I encouraged him to help cut. We talked about smelling it - that it smells like Apple Juice and Applesauce. We asked him to lick it several times. He went back to wanting crackers. Then, all the sudden, he started licking the apples again & he PUT IT IN HIS MOUTH!!! We clapped and he looked a mix of startled and satisfied at that. He started putting more apple and more apple in his mouth. I was trying my best to hold back tears, but he was eating APPLE!!! I've tried that a gazillion times. What worked? We don't know. I'm just happy.
All in all, its been an awesome day!!!
O LORD, the king rejoices in your strength.
How great is his joy in the victories you give!
You have granted him the desire of his heart
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
~Psalm 21


Today went very well. Dad was home today for Labor Day, so he finally got to meet Jen and be in on a session. I think he enjoyed being a part of things. Games as usual. I could tell that we've played the 'put cars together in a train and then let bears ride' one too many times, becuase he got quite silly and way off course. That's what he tends to do with his own toys when we're playing and trying to practice his Speech Objectives - since he's so familiar with them. He tends to focus MUCH better when its a new game.
While we were still playing the 'put bears in train' game, he did several things that he doesn't typically do. He kept taking all the bears out of the train and throwing them on the floor, so I pretended that the bears wanted to jump. Jen pretended the bears wanted to sleep. DS decided that ALL the bears were sleeping, and as I would stand them up, he would lay them down and pretend they were snoring. That makes Mommy smile. During our session, Jen was telling us that he is mastering things Light Years faster than she ever imagined he would. She said that she never thought he would catch on to the concepts she is throwing at him so fast. She said that she wants to just keep going as far as he'll let her take him and keep adding new concepts. Jen wants to add as many different scenarios as possible, since he catches on quick but still has a hard time translating a skill over to everyday life scenarios. What do I mean by that? I mean that while he'll answer 'want green truck' during a game where we've shown him the only acceptable answer to get what he wants is 'want green truck', he doesn't say 'want red block' or 'want orange juice' to prompt me to come get those things for him. Now, I will say that he DOES ask for more and more things on his own. If we've repeated it enough times, he knows to say 'Mommy, I want Juice Please' - but if not - he usually comes barelling in the room going - Elmo, Elmo, Elmo, Elmo, Elmo, Elmo..... It's all a bit confusing... it still feels like a lot of this is just normal 2 year old stuff - but I get new confirmation of the reason he's 'on the spectrum' on a daily basis. I guess when you COMBINE all the issues... it = Autism. Nasty little A word. Why do you have to be so confusing little A word? No matter how great he is doing - I still see the importance of having the Speech Therapy. I hope Jen doesn't say 'ok, he's done' - I dont know why I fear that.... But, if we didn't have her to teach us what helps bring language out, we wouldn't know what to work on. It is only through DS's sheer Genious, repitition, and of course God's Grace that he is doing so well. He really really does need to be taught things that other children pick up on their own. Good for us, he's a QUICK STUDY! I feel for those mom's who don't get to see improvements so often.... I find myself thinking on that often... and I take a quick moment to be thankful for all of this. It will make me a better person. Jen commented that he's picking up on things that are well above his level of development. She said that 2 year olds will usually pretend play putting a baby to bed or feeding...but they dont pretend conversations between toys - and he's doing that more and more now. He has mastered questions with a one word answer: Want Truck or Car? Truck Jen wants us to move on to multiple word answers: Want Green Truck or Red Car? Want Green Truck As Jen was leaving... he MADE HER DAY! 'Bye Jen' He said it! Finally! Without anyone telling him to! Week after week, we walk outside to watch Jen leave, as I tell Jen Bye and tell him to say the same thing..... and sometimes he will give in to my request, but never on his own.



Unfortunately Dad was sick all day today throwing up. We took care of him all day, but then decided to get out of the house for a bit. We ended up eating at Cici's Pizza (which has gone UP in price considerably!!) where kids eat free under 3. So, I only had to pay for me & if DS wasn't interested in anything - no loss.
It was the most peaceful, calm, enjoyable meal that I have had with my 2 children in I can't tell you how long. I am SO glad we went. I have been feeling like DS has been on the verge of some big breakthroughs recently & it has been so exciting to see the little tiny things that seem SO HUGE to me that he's put together for himself.
So, after getting both kids out of the car - wondering all the while what in the WORLD I was doing trying to go to a buffet with 2 small children - we headed inside the restaurant. The first obstacle is usually that I'm holding the baby & DS won't stay with me while I pay and get my tray (not that we ever go, but I'm thinking of other instances when I'm holding baby sister and I can't exactly hold onto DS). I walk in, greeted by a manager who is obviously in need of a serious chat, and DS starts to walk off.
"DS - Please come back, I need you to stand right here with Mommy"
The next part felt like slowmotion, because I fully expected to tell the manager, excuse me, while I ran after him and then tried to juggle the two of them while I paid. I was exhausted just at the thought of that battle.
Not this time. He came right back and stood by my side . . . .
GASP! That's NEVER happened before.
Then, we got our two rolling highchairs and find a good seat near the pizzas so I don't have to walk far away OR drag the two of them over to the counter.
I moved baby sister down the table far enough so her little 'sticky fingers' couldn't get into the pizza as I brought the plates, but didn't really think about moving my plate further away from DS. By the time I got back with his plate, he had already found the cinnamon buns. Oh, well. He enjoyed them.
The next GASP moment was that I got us all settled and questioned myself on whether to take the time to pray or not - and decided I had better. So, I reached out to grab their hands - both sticky at this point - and began to pray. As I was finishing up, I peeked out of the corner of my eye to see what DS was doing & his eyes were firmly shut - not doing anything else but praying. I've NEVER seen him do that either. At the end, he said AMEN and then opened his eyes.
My last GASP moments of the night were each time I asked DS a question.
Do you want more drink? No.
Are you all done? No.
Do you want more Pizza or more Cinnimon Roll? Bread. (which is what he was calling the rolls)
Can I wash your face? Yes.
Can I wash your hands? Yes.
Can you help Mommy cleanup? Yes.
Are you all done? Yes.
And he even helped pick up all the little crumbs Sissy left around her seat too.
It was just so much fun. See??? These are REALLY just a bunch of blessings. How many parents have children that do these things so easily - and it all gets taken for granted. Not with me. I pray I continue to see the Blessings - because it really is a lot of work too - but to see improvement of these proportions makes it all worth it.

Berry Trials

The book I got from Mitsy (OT) has some good insight. I have only made it a couple chapters in, but it sparked some ideas that I HAVEN'T tried on getting DS to eat. Evidently he is somewhere between a Picky Eater and a Resistant Eater. I will not jump to put him in the latter category, but it is definitely an issue that deserves to be revisited once I've read more of the book. Anyway.... I bought two containers of fruit that DS has not really been exposed to very many times. I decided that for a week, I will put Blueberries and Strawberries on his plate at every single meal. I will not focus on them. I will not force him to eat them. I will not make it stressful. They are the 2 items on his plate that he is allowed to do whatever he wants to do - as long as it's not hazerdous. If he wants to squish them, lick them, stick them in his ears.... I'm not going to make a big deal out of it. I want to see if the presentation of food and his confidence/stress level will affect whether or not he will eat something new. Day#1, Meal #1: Placed items on his plate. We named everything & he identified both berries. I got one of his books and showed him the blueberries, which he proceeded to spell from. I asked him what strawberries smelled like? He sniffed it. I asked him if he wanted to lick them. He did. Then, he tried to feed me. I took the bites he offered and then left the table. He counted the blueberries, but no bites. He seems MUCH more resistant to the strawberry than the blueberries. Day#2, Meals 2, 3, 4: Licked, Smelled, Fed Mommy. No bites Day #3, Meals 5, 6: Licked, Smelled, Counted, Held, Rolled around, Fed Mommy. No bites Days 4,5,6 - Lots of meals later... same stuff... never ate them. However, he ate Apple during our OT appointment (detailed above)



Why oh why does this have to be so difficult??!! Ugh..... tantrum over. Mary was late today. I had this sinking feeling that she wouldn't come this week for whatever reason, and so even though I had already pumped DS up of what Mary would do and where we would sit and what we would play etc.. when she wasn't here 13 min's after the appt, I figured she wasn't coming. I already planned it in my head that this was her 3rd strike and I would call and get a new DT. (Strikes 1 & 2 were just plain out not doing things that she promised she'd do for us on 2 previous occasions. I dont remember if I blogged about those or not) 920, she pulls up. Traffic is her excuse. Im in a bad mood, trying to make the best of the appointment and be gracious (as I KNOW should be my reaction since Ive also been late to many things and traffic is sometimes a good reason-but mostly because God gives ME grace - that I never deserve). But, my skepticism gets in the way and I am not doing a great job of making the most of the appointment at all. So, my judgement was clouded today. 20 minutes is a LONG time to be late when your session is only supposed to last between 45-60 min. She did decide she was staying longer today since she was late... but she spent about 35 min's reading one book to DS. Would that have bothered me if she wasn't late? I don't know. I asked her at the end of the appointment if she was still trying to let him get used to her and feel him out and she said not really. She said she was trying to work on 'WH' questions with him (with the book). He does get very focused on things (like this ABC book she picked). I guess I'm used to more fast paced therapy that moves from one activity to another quicker and is more demanding. I guess I already know that he is great at labeling things in books (which is what they were doing together) and I should have spoken up then. I guess I was waiting for some groundbreaking therapy to come out of it & it never did. Then, they played with a dumptruck and some blocks, made up a game where they clean up blocks by putting them on their heads and letting them fall back into the dumptruck. And we discussed his newest issues with his reactions to 'Uh-oh' and 'Oh-no' (as detailed in the post 'new this week'). We agreed that Uh-oh and Oh-no are reactions that he will experience in the world all the time & that he needs to be exposed to those reactions in a setting that will allow him to understand WHY someone is hurt or surprised and that its OK and its not the end of the world. She really didn't give me concrete examples of how to do this other than to go to the library and look for books on emotions. About mid-sentance discussing these issues, she jumped up and said - well, I'll see you next week. It's almost as if we are important as long as the clock is ticking and she's getting paid. Then, as soon as those minutes are over, it doesnt matter that we were in the MIDST of discussing an issue that she thought was important & needed to be addressed. My experience this week - EH. Bad mood - Yes. Clouded Judgement - Yes. Try again- Yes.



Somehow, I also missed blogging about our OT session last week. So, I'll just do BOTH of our OT sessions that we've had together here. Last week... Mitsy came out and wanted to have lunch with us. She wanted to see what kinds of eating issues he has and what games and tricks will work with him to get him to eat something he either doesn't want or is new to him. Well, the short answer is NOTHING works. We already know that... so she said she'd get some information together and bring me some help next week. She played playdoh with him and just got to know him better for this week. Her tidbit of advice for now is to just leave him alone, have him sit with us at dinner, give him a plate of what we're eating and just let him be. The hard part of accomplishing that this week has been that he STILL asks for his drink and we refuse to let him just have his cup because we KNOW he will drink, be satisfied, and then its a lost cause for him to even eat a bite of dinner. This week... First, she brought me a book called "Just Take a Bite." Yeah, that's how I feel most of the time. It's about challenging eaters & some ways to help us understand why they are so challenging at mealtime AND hopefully some ways to help. She advised me to read through it since she can't be here for all mealtimes. Then, it was on to the playing. He sits down in the spot where all the other therapy takes place, waiting patiently to see what new games this lady has for him. :-) She brought a bucket of McDonalds play food. We sorted through them, named them, sorted them into food categories and helped him pick out good meals. What a great idea. That's definitely a game we'll play more of. The second game was a Thomas the Train Aquadoodle. It has a little water pen that draws a track and the train follows the water track. How cool. Im not too sure what this is supposed to do - he kept picking the train up and examining the buttons. But, it was neat. If she brings it next time, I'll ask more questions. I guess it's just one more game to get him thinking about what toys do and why they do it. The third game, I was totally unprepared for. A tray, Cheerios, Whip Cream, and Straws. Hmm. This looks messy. She wanted to test him out on getting messy. We hid the cheerios in the whip cream to see if he'd dig for them. We stuck our hands in it, squished all around, ate some, sprayed it in our palms etc... After quite a bit of prompting, he started to pick out the cheerios that he could see. Then, he put one hand in. A second hand. and finally started rubbing around. He lasted a few minutes before he wanted that stuff off his hands. He did a good job and tried something NEW and MESSY today. I also secretly enjoyed having permission to play in a can of whip cream. Who never wanted to do that???

New this week....

The sassy side of him came out this week. Naptime yesterday, I was trying to put him and sissy down for naps at the same time. We had been out of the house & her naptime was pushed back, so it was a perfect time. Usually, they end up in seperate rooms, but I decided to give it a go of putting them both in their own beds. He was instructed to read books. She was swaddled and layed down. Well, about 20 mins later, I hear giggling. I walk in to find him passing books through the slats on the bed. THEN, I told him to get back in bed and I was taking the books away. (I was already holding back my laughter about has hard as I could, it was too cute...sharing with sissy) So, he looks dead in my eyes - glances a sly look at sissy - and says 'BYE BYE MOMMY' waving and all. It was all I could do to get the door closed before I busted out laughing. So, how come will he do a greeting without prompting when I cant praise him for it?? Baby steps, I know. Then, he was playing with blocks one night. He has all shapes and sizes, and usually either lines them up around the room, on the table, or sorts them through the top of the bucket. A line I remember from his IFSP is that he 'doesn't attempt block structures' which basically means when given a few blocks, he WILL line them up and he WILL stack them, but he doesn't attempt to BUILD anything with them. So, he takes 3 cylinders... stacks them... holds them all in one hand... starts to shake them & brings them over to Sissy. "Bottle" "Bottle" "Bottle" What an adorable sweet face he has, looking up at me and wanting to share his pretend bottle with sissy. Yep, I shed a few tears. It was wonderful to see him translate some of the imaginitive play we've been doing to a new game all on his own. And, last, is his newest aversion to 'Oh-No' or 'Uh-Oh' His feelings have always been extra sensitive, just like mommy. At the mere mention of being in trouble or getting hurt that bottom lip starts to quiver. Well, I forgot how awful he used to react to the two words mentioned above... until recently when he started to get super upset when someone reacted to them again. When he falls - I have to cover my mouth to avoid saying it & he's fine. If I slip up, he ends up getting So upset crying. Anyway, there were 2 incidents that really come to mind. One, he was watching Super Why - his new favorite. In the episode with 3 little pigs, I watched with him and when the Big Bad Wolf was changed into a Small Good Wolf, I said 'Oh no - the Big Bad wolf is sad that he was so mean to everyone. At that moment, he started to bawl and sob. I had to hold him and comfort him and finally he settled down. At the mistake of showing that episode to him again, his lip began to quiver and he said 'No, No, No'. The second was a book we were reading. 'Who will Fat Cat sit on?'. I thought it was cute & funny. The fat cat talks about sitting on all these other animals, and then it implies that he might eat the mouse. Of course, mommy says, Oh No - the cat will eat the mouse for lunch. And Goose Tears, sobbing, the whole works again. I've tried to read the book again recently and he just says 'No, No, No' with these big scared eyes.


OOps... I wasn't on the ball this week. I forgot to blog about Speech this week. Nothing mind-blowing. We played one new game (amongst old repetition). She forgot about his LOVE of numbers & brought a fishing game. At first, we couldn't pull his focus away from the 6 or 8 on the fish, but then we started calling them Blue Big Fish, and Red Little Fish and his focus shifted. This game was to teach turns. And, not just to teach him about taking turns, but that HE has a turn and its called 'MY TURN'. He was good at echoing 'My Turn', but never did it on his own. We've found that he will play the turn taking game with Sissy and their door toy quite well, and so we've found a good way to work on 'My Turn' at home too. This week was the first time he said 'BYE JEN' as she was leaving. Up until this point, he really wasn't even good at echoing greetings (hey, bye)... but he has started really picking up on Hey + waving and Bye + waving. Im quite impressed. Jen said it could take a long long time. I've also heard him say Bye-Bye ONCE without any prompting. He's on the verge of some new skills! YAY!!!


SLP: Goals

* increase pretend play skills while interacting with others * use words to label, protest, request, and comment in 3/4 opportunities * answer y/n and simple wh- questions in 3/4 opportunities * independently greet/say goodbye to others * correctly produce all early developmental phonemes /p, m, n, b, t, d, w ,h ,y/ in all positions of words 80% of the time.


Hi Jen. Greetings will still take a while, says Jen. He's not picking up on them, but she says this can take lots of work. He WILL repeat a greeting, but not do it on his own. He only does it when you say 'TELL JEN HI.' That's ok. We'll keep trying. One day he'll surprise us. Choices... Choices... We always work on choices. The game of choice today was Cars. She shows him 2 cars and asks him which one he wants. "Would you like a Green Car or a Red Wagon?" He did what he usually does, which is to say back to her "Green Car, Red Wagon......... Green Car...." and then... BREAKTHROUGH She modeled with ME "Would you like a Red Train or a Blue Jeep?" and I said to her "I want a Blue Jeep" (My choice was without the repetition) On his next turn... he chose what he wanted without repetition. He just said "Red Car" We also continued with greetings in a lift-the-flap book, and he focused more on the numbers than anything. He was already getting tired of the session, so we didn't push him too much. 9 weeks & 7 hours of Speech Therapy. Countless hours of us working with him at home. Part of me is frustrated that we're doing the same things over and over. Part of me understands that repetition is the best way for him to learn. We can't expect that something not coming naturally will be mastered in one 45 min session. I continue trying to not feel guilty for not spending MORE time working on all this stuff. I continue to try to tell myself that I am NOT a full time therapist... Im a mom trying to do the best I can with EVERYTHING that needs to be done... not JUST therapy maintenance. Now, help me remember that. In the meantime... he's not doing bad. He has had improvement. He is Much faster with choices. As we saw today, he is overcoming at least SOME of his echolalia (it did not translate into other situations, only with the car choices that I modeled for him. Translating it to all choices will take a lot more work) He is answering Yes/No questions without echolalia fairly consistently & accurately. He is getting better at processing our questions and focusing on what we're trying to ask.



The New Developmental Therapist came today. I think it went well, but I am left feeling a bit confused too. Each therapist has their own style. Each therapist has their own opinions. I am getting confused because I want to trust them all & I also want to make sure the people we have coming to do therapy are qualified and a good match for our son. But when they disagree on things and say things that seem contrary to what another therapist believes, it is very hard for ME to distinguish between minor differences and vital beliefs. I will stick it out. I will give this new therapist and all the others some time. I will seek the opinion of our coordinator. I will learn new things about Autism, beef up on my knowledge, and try to be a better advocate for him. On to the Therapy session... I was very happy with the way Mary came in and greeted our son. When a new person (not just someone else...but someone brand new to him) enters his environment his atypical behavior escalates. Now, I don't mean to get off subject... but when someone who knows him says that they don't see anything wrong - THESE are the things that THEY dont get to see. So, she came in, watched and talked with him. She didn't jump right into THERAPY, she wanted to get to know him. What a wonderful strategy. She asked him if he had a favorite toy or book & played to get a feel for him. She also worked hard to ask me questions so that she would understand better - because of course she won't get the full picture in an hour session. She seemed like she just wants to take this slow and know as much as she can about him before jumping into 'therapy'. She seems very down to earth and also has some personal experience. She said that she was relying not only on her experience with Development, but also on experience with her nephew who has been diagnosed with Aspergers recently. She told me that she can't believe how similar they are (I think he is 10 or 11 now, but she is comparing them when her nephew was 2ish). My hope is that she doesn't rely TOO heavily on her experience with her nephew and just assume that what our son needs is the same as what her nephew needs. However, I have suspected Aspergers or PDD-NOS from the beginning, so that is ONE MORE clue that leads me back to the same suspicion. From what she saw today, she thinks one thing we can work at is helping him to understand that the other people in his environment are there to interact with, to ask for help, to play with, etc... This is one of those skills that rather than acquiring on his own, he is having to be taught. As for typical autism traits... this is one of those things that steers me towards Aspergers. With classic Autism, a child may not want to be touched, or not speak, or not make eye contact. In our case he doesn't really have trouble with those things. AutismSpeaks.org says "Many parents wind up with a multi-pronged approach to treating Asperger's Syndrome, choosing regimens and strategies that address their children's main challenge: inability to connect with others." Now, for him... it is more that he has a hard time with connecting to others - UNLESS he is very familiar with them. I don't know if this is the case with most Aspergers... but I have heard that they tend to really connect to their family members, so I think so. One example: We drop him off for Sunday School & when I go back to teach the second hour, he is not usually participating at all. He is either staring at the CD player, sitting alone reading, or doing something else off by himself. The first time I interact with him and show him to share with someone or help him understand what to do... he opens right up and at least makes an attempt at playing with the other children. What is Developmental Therapy all about?? Mary is taking the approach that in order for us to help his Development, we will need to look at every detail of our normal routine. Where does he participate? What is he participating with? What opportunities are there to help him participate more? Example: He loves to go 'bye-bye car'. We go bye-bye to the store, or to the mall, or to the park a lot. So, if we focus in on the grocery store... usually he rides in the cart. He enjoys singing or talking about fruits and veggies for a little while - and then he's not so interested anymore. We usually give him his calculator or other coping tool and allow him to do what he loves and cool off. So what can we do different to pull him OUT of his world of comfort with the calculator and actually enjoy the social experience more fully? We will have to come up with strategies that USE his STRENGTHS to make his experiences more involving of others. In the store, I can give him his own list. He loves letters and spelling. So, I can make HIM a list of things he can find on the shelves - and as I go down my list, we can talk about those things. This will allow his eyes to focus on something OUTSIDE of his cart. We will be in conversation and he will be 'helping'. Also, when we get to the checkout, he can help pass things to the cashier. We can greet the cashier and ask how her day is going. Etc.. Sounds like she will have some great real-life examples for us!


Breakthroughs and Challenges

Breakthroughs of the week: 'I see Sissy' 'I see Rain' He spontaneously made new sentances all on his own this week. I see is a 'carrier phrase'. All that means is that 'I see...' is the part that stays the same. He will then anticipate what comes next. He only has to plan for ONE change in the sentance. He in turn starts to understand what I see actually means. Since he was telling us what HE saw... I think we had a breakthrough in understanding what SEE means. Yes/No He has become quite quick at his answers to Yes/No questions. There are questions that we ask frequently that he used to have to repeat, think, and then answer. But, over the past couple weeks, he just answers. Examples: A few weeks ago - "Do you want to watch TV?" " TV......" "Do you want to watch TV, Yes or No" " TV... Yes or No" Now - "Do you want to watch TV?" "Yes"

Making Jokes

This was a new one too!

"Do you have a poopie diaper?" "No....."

"I smell something, you have a poopie diaper" "No....."

"Well, what smells then? I smell something. What is that smell?"

"Foot (pointing at mommy's foot)"

"Mommy, Help!" Daily, he is coming from anywhere in the house to find us to ask for help. This is a huge change for him & will be extremely helpful in his communication. He is fairly accurate at asking either of us for help when he needs it during play or during meals. Challenges of the week: Harping!!!! Two incidents. He just wouldn't give it up. #1. We were playing with a lift-the-flap book & he was having a great time opening the flaps to see what was inside. So, he went through Oval, Circle, Square, etc... opening - naming - closing... Then he got to an oval that LOOKED as if it should open, but it wouldn't. He came to get me 'Mommy, Help'. I tried every possible way I could to explain that the oval was not going to open, there wasnt anything inside, it doesnt open. After a literal 15 min's of 'Oval, Oval, Oval, Oval, Oval, Oval.." I finally stopped trying to explain, took the book & hid it, and distracted him with TV. :-( #2. Breakfast time. We had a small amount of Yogurt left, and something inside me said to just give him something else for breakfast. Well, I didnt listen and gave him the small bit of yogurt. When it was gone, he wouldn't give up asking for more. 'Yogurt, Yogurt, Yogurt'. Same sceneario. He would NOT give up. I tried telling him it was all gone, etc.. Finally we had to be all done with breakfast, I distracted him with something else and then fed him something else later.