Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Andy pointed at me today!

When I went to pick Andy up from therapy, he pointed at me when he saw me. I was so proud of him. It was nice for him to look up and recognize me and then point to me. It was like he was trying to tell the staff, "mom's here"! It was really great.

Then, I was feeding Andy his dinner and salad. When he was ready for his next bite, and I was taking too long, he took his finger and pointed to the salad. I told him, "Wow, good pointing! He just pointed to his salad!" It gave me a great feeling that he had just successfully communicated with me. He did it just once, and it really made me happy.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Week three of ABA therapy

Week three has been rocky. Andy spent a lot of time crying at the center, but was also constipated. I informed them of this, and Andy was rough until he was all cleared up on Friday. They had me listen to some of his crying to try and help discern what he might be trying to communicate.

I emphasized that I often do not know, but I felt that he sounded tired. Andy has gotten back to taking daily naps right after he returns home. He has a lot of stimulation at the center and is asked to do several tasks that tire him.

I was told that it would be hard work to try and "undo" five years of Andy crying to communicate. However, I don't know that Andy is crying to get what he wants, or to communicate. It is just Andy. He cries when he's tired, angry and frustrated. It has never gotten him what he wants, because honestly, I don't EVER know what he wants. And I have honestly, never, gotten him to stop crying by giving him something-EVER. Because I don't know what he wants. I don't know what he wishes to have, and I've never felt that I have successfully remedied his crying.

So, I don't feel that his crying has ever been negatively reinforced in anyway-whatsoever. Though, I am being made to feel this way. As though, Andy is somehow manipulating me through his crying to get what he wants. This just simply is not true. He doesn't think like that. I don't even think he would be able to conjure up such a grand master plan.

I really wish I knew what he wanted, so I could just give it to him.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Week Two of ABA therapy

Andy is still getting used to the new routine of getting up in the morning and getting ready for therapy. I tell him that he is going to go play today. Sometimes, he cries all the way to the therapy building (25 minute drive). Other times, he's happy in the car.

Some days, after working with Andy, they tell me he had a good day and played well. Other days, they tell me he had tantrums throughout the day. Some days, he won't eat much there and can't easily be consoled. I told them to let me know of this in the future, as he might have a headache or gas issues, that could be solved by me bringing up some medicine.

It has been nice to have them working with him for several hours a day. I can tell that they are worn out when I pick him up. He is a lot of work, and can be quite exhausting, I know.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Me and Gabby time

There has been such a huge relief that has come along with my son Andy being able to attend an ABA program several days a week. It has allowed my daughter and I to spend time together this summer. Previously, his preschool wasn't long enough to make lunch plans. I had to be home at noon to get him off his bus. Now, he is going to school a bit longer. So, we made plans to go eat lunch with my mom.

It was so nice, and non-stressful, that I could have cried. I didn't have to worry about Andy's constant squealing and screeching and all the loud noises he makes in restaurants that make people stare. You can also tell that they are wondering, 'why would they bring him here'? Well, we need to eat too, and I  occasionally deserve a break from cooking. You can't always get a babysitter when the mood strikes on the spur of the moment. There are just so many reasons why we bring him into a restaurant, and we always leave thinking, never again. Or at least until I'm feeling brave again.

But not today. I wasn't in a hurry, or frustrated with my son. I didn't want to rush the waiter to stop talking and get the order in, we just sat there with no worries. I wanted to cry because it was too good.

We can shop without Andy kicking and screaming in the cart, and actually try on clothing without trying to keep Andy calm. Luckily, my daughter enjoys shopping, especially if she is going to get something out of the deal. We got to step onto an escalator, which we never do, because I am always pushing Andy around. My daughter thought it was magical and so cool. She wanted to go up and down, and hold my hand getting on and off, because it was a little scary too. And so we did.

She checked out all the "fashion gowns", leftover prom dresses and picked out one for me to try on. She told me to please put it on, and then twirl around. So I did.

I am just so grateful, and am happy to get some time with my daughter.

Week one of ABA therapy

Andy has completed one full week of ABA therapy. He isn't crying upon entering the building any more. He has learned that it is a fun place, and that they will be playing with him there. He is receiving therapy five days a week. He has fun there, and only gets fussy at times.

On the fifth day of therapy, Andy was very worn out. He was having trouble keeping his eyes open, when I picked him up and then put his head down on his tray. He never sleeps in the car, but on this day, he slept all the way home.

I am supposed to attend a parent seminar on ABA techniques for parents, so I'll write about that after it is over. So far the center has been great, and Andy seems to be trying to communicate a bit more with us.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

ABA therapy starting soon

Andy will be receiving ABA therapy soon, several days a week. He has been in for observation twice, and he did not do well. He cried a lot, and had fits. I was so frustrated. I could hear him screeching behind the walls as I was sitting in the waiting room. I think it is because he doesn't know the center yet, or the people. He just knows that I am handing him off to these strangers, and is taken back into a room filled with loud kids, and he gets frustrated.

I've been feeling so sick about it lately. He usually enjoys therapy and school. But he isn't giving this new center a chance. He cries as if they are cutting off his leg. I can see through the window that they are just trying to play with him, and speaking nicely to him as well.

I was looking forward to him getting to spend some time at this new center, as a fill in for school. He doesn't understand why he doesn't have school right now, and he isn't getting to ride the bus. My fuse is so short lately. He is so whiney and cries a lot. I can't always get him to stop. Sometimes, he just needs to be alone. This too shall pass- is all I've got.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Andy's 5th Birthday

We celebrated Andy's 5th birthday yesterday! He was a little overwhelmed with all the people over. His sister Gabby was also celebrating her 7th birthday. Andy laid down for a long nap during all the commotion.

I've been trying to remember to make sure I hold him in a standing position while he's playing at least once a day. We also have a stander that keeps him on his feet with a table in front of it to put his toys on. Andy is actually seeming to want to stand more often now. If he gets fussy on the floor, sometimes me holding him in a standing position helps him to calm down.

We were at the park today and I stood right behind him and had him leaning against me while he was standing. Then I realized that it is better to have him holding himself up, so he can practice balancing himself. So, I kept putting one of his hands on the bar and telling him "you have to hold on, or you'll fall". I still stayed right behind him, because he forgets and lets go.

I was happy to see that sometimes he'd switch hands, and hold on with the opposite hand and play with his free hand. That made me so happy to think that he is understanding something. He still continued to let go though and fall backwards. When he did this, I would just put his hand back on the bar and tell him again, "Andy, you have to hold on", and he would hold on for a few minutes.

I use his chair to transport him to and from the park. Today he was really fussing once we got there. He just did not want to be in the chair any longer. So, I put him in the swing for a bit, then we moved on to a standing activity. I think it wore him out pretty well. He was real tired when we got back home.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Andy continues to make sounds

Andy makes more and more sounds every day. He now says "bay, bay, bay" quite often. It used to be rare to hear it, but now my daughter and husband have heard him say this too. Sometimes he will even say a distorted version of baby. I think the fish oil is helping him. He is also shy to talk, so he is becoming more confident to try to speak.

Yesterday, he was in his room resting and needed a diaper change. I was in the hallway and thought I heard him trying to say "help". So, I went into his room to say "Andy, did you say 'help'? Oh, you did say help, you need a new diaper!"

It is truly exciting to think that he may be on the road to verbally communicating with us. We have yet to hear from his ABA therapy center. I have to call them this week and see what the hold up is on getting his first appointment set up.

Summer is fast approaching as well, and I have to get summer therapy and recreational plans in motion. I've also been sprucing up our house by putting paint colors on the wall, and it has everyone in a better mood. The house is currently all white, and needs to finally get some personality! We like the results so far!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Andy's IEP was today

Andy's Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) meeting was today. His preschool teacher spoke with
Andy's future kindergarten teacher during the meeting and gave tips on how to soothe Andy, and spoke of his likes and dislikes at school. I also informed them of Andy's new Autism diagnosis, and of how I am going to give Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy a try with him as well.

I also brought up concerns of possibly needing bus transportation next year for Andy, despite living very close to the school. Unfortunately, there are big physical challenges/obstacles to getting him to the school in his wheelchair. One of which used to be missing sidewalks! This issue was resolved, but ramps/approaches still need to be added to current school walkways as they are not handicapped accessible.

The weather has also been a huge issue this year, more so than ever. This winter has been a terrible one, and it makes me worry of how I am going to get Andy to school next year in his wheelchair without constantly getting stuck in the snow all the time. This prompted me to add a transportation statement into the IEP, which notes that "Transportation by bus with a lift and tie downs needs to be available at the request of the parents". The reason for this is because I don't expect to be needing to use a school bus for Andy unless we have bad weather conditions.

This winter 2013-2014, Michigan has had record breaking snowfall of 94.8 inches. This has surpassed the old record of 93.6 inches in the year 1880 to 1881! Which for me, meant that I had trouble getting my son to my daughter's school in his wheelchair at times. His wheelchair became stuck in the snow on several occasions, due to my subdivisions lack of clearing the common area sidewalks, and my daughter's school not doing their job of clearing snow away properly. It was very nerve racking and hair pulling to say the least. Luckily, I didn't have to bring him to the school very often, but next year I will have to daily.

The picture above shows me at the park with Andy just days before the final record breaking snowfall. We were at the park enjoying a lovely 70 degree day, and then several days later the temperatures plummeted down to 30 degrees and we got two inches of snow. I know the weather has been crazy everywhere, and I have come to expect the totally unexpected as normal for the past few years now.

I'm very excited for the upcoming school year, and I think Andy will be too. I think we are going to start seeing some wonderful changes in Andy. It will be so great to have him involved in highly beneficial programs that will help him flourish.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Exercising is helping me be a better mom

It never fails, I was trying to get my new routine started of working out a couple times a week, and I picked up strep throat somewhere along the way. Which I then gave to Andy. It was a bit of a road bump.

I went to some exercise classes for a couple of weeks, and the results of feeling less stressed about Andy and family life were immediate. I really enjoyed exercising and taking time for myself. I seemed much better able to handle the stresses that Andy deals out. I was also happier towards him, more understanding, and sleeping better through the night.

I've also been working on trying to be more understanding with my daughter. A lot of times I am not very forgiving with the fact that she is only six, and doesn't have a lot of logic and comprehension of things. I find myself having a very short fuse with her every day.

My bowling league is coming to an end, which was a night out that I got each week. I should really substitute that night by doing something with my daughter, but I'm sure it will rarely happen. There are always so many things that come up, and it is just easier to stay home.

In more exciting news, Andy is occasionally attempting to put random syllables together! They sometimes sound like real words. He blurted out in the grocery store today after a lot of high-pitched squealing, "Haaaay, ebb-er-body" and then nothing else. It was exciting to think he is attempting to talk.

I am currently on the kick again of giving him the fish oil squeeze packs once a day. I think it is stirring up something in his brain. I am going to try to keep it going a bit longer this time, before giving up on it. It's so easy to throw in the towel with it and think, it isn't showing me any results, just forget it. But I think it has a cumulative effect and you really have to just keep up the faith and give it daily no matter what you are seeing come out of it.

Any other tips on how to get him to talk to us would be great!