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