Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Boys of Summer (Journal #29)

My boys got a great chance to enjoy "the real boys of summer", the Minnesota Twins. We had a great time today. We were invited by some good friends of ours who have tickets to go for an evening with both families together. As we left for the game, dad/Brent became ill, so saddly we took him back home. I was to meet our friends in our seats at the metrodome. While sad that Brent couldn't join us, we still ventured on.

I was a little nervous, knowing that we were going to save money and park in Brent's work parking ramp downtown Minneapolis. It is only a few blocks from the metrodome. I had already decided that I was going to use Sam's harness, knowing that I would have both boys and need to carry food in the shoulder to shoulder crowd once inside.

I think I have shared previously how Sam darts away quite quickly, which is a huge safety concern and constant fear of mine. Last year I found this adorable harness that is more discreet and has a cute backpack attached that you can store the monkey tail/harness in when not using.

As we parked in the ramp and got out, I went to the back of the van where we keep it.

I was putting it on Sam, when Zach said, "Mom, Sam is too big for that, it is for babies, he is four."

I replied to Zach, "No, it really is a help for Sam it keeps..."

"I know, I know", Zach quickly interrupted, "it keeps him safe, I forgot, he doesn't get that car thing, like that they can run OVER YOU. Mom, he doesn't get it does he?"

While that wasn't my most imminent fear, it was really being in a packed metrodome, knowing he could run quick and get lost, it was just easier to leave it at Zach's comment, as that too is our usual concern.

My "boys of summer" were great on the few block trek to the dome. We got there with no problems. Zach was so sweet the whole way there looking out for Sam with sincere concern.

When we got to our gate, we still had to trek around the outside of the dome on a ramp to get to our door. It was really hot, and Sam just would stop and lay flat on the ground wherever he wanted, with hundreds of people directly walking behind us. Zach started to get annoyed with Sam's constant dropping, and was getting hot himself. The little stops to rest were hard to predict and were pretty dramatic. If I tried to pick Sam up to carry him in, he would scream and do the "dead man's weight" routine. We ended up merging our way to the outside of the crowd to let Sam lay on the edge of the walkway. He does this a lot, no matter where we are. If he decides he is too tired for whatever trek we are on, he just lays flat on the ground. He doesn't care if it is dirt, grass, cement, or rocks. He just plops.

Zach was completely patient during this whole ordeal, and after 10 minutes, we were able to convince Sam that he had enough strength to make it into the dome. Once inside, we got our food (while Sam continued to just sit on the floor as we waited in the food line) and proceeded to climb to our seats. We made it in one piece!

Throughout the whole game the boys were INCREDIBLE, and I really mean it. Our friends were delighted at the behavior as well. We drove two cars thinking that my friend and Sam and I would need to make an early exit, but he did great. Zach was thrilled and rooted on Tory Hunter, a fav of his. Sam just took it all in sitting next to his R. R is our only trusted sitter, of whom whose parents we enoyed this outing with. R and Sam are great together. She really understands Sam and everything about him. I don't know what we are going to do next year when she decides to leave us for Boston University, ughhhh!!!!!!!! She has been an amazing source of support when Brent and I just need a couple hours away. I guess we may just need to move! Anyway, the moral of this story so far, is that they were awesome.

Awesome until the "potty break" that is. Brents sister K had called to tell us they were up from Iowa just for one day. K is a high school softball coach, and they were up for a coaches retreat and some workshops, and were enjoying a game at the Twins before heading back to Iowa. Since we were both there with other parties, we just decided to meet on the concourse outside briefly to say hi.

Here is where my "overstimulation/deep pressure" issue comes in....

Sam was super excited when I told him we were going to be seeing Aunt K. I had told him well in advance as well as minutes before. But...Zach was super excited too, and he was thinking Uncle J would come up with Aunt K, because he wanted to show him he was wearing the Twins Jersey they gave him a couple years back. So, when he didn't see Uncle J with her, Zach was all excited wanting to get the message to K, and meanwhile Sam started in with "overstimulation", trying again to burry his head into his brother, taking his legs to kick and push into his brother. Of course Zach responds back with the same actions, only he is over twice his size and more obvious, sooooooooooo, while Sam is rubbing his body all into Zach while I am trying to touch base with K, Zach's reactions are of course what I notice most and call him on it as well. DANG!!!!! I hate when I know I am doing the same blame game on Zach, when Sam initiates it. I saw it, it is less obvious, and easier to stop the largest commotion at the time, which is always poor Zach.

This leads me to our next step in therapy with Sam, of which I will take advice on (since we are still pending insurance approval for this new Autism Behavioral Therapist).

We know Sam seeks deep pressure.

We know he loves to seek it from his brother, who loves to wrestle back and give him what he needs in return.

We know Sam gets overstimulated easy, and when his brother is around, he seeks pushing his body into him for that relief that he usually can get at home.

We have tried weighted blankets, but Sam doesn't like them as we can tell he likes movement with them.

I try to grab him, when I see him shoving himself into his brother and wanting his brother (74 lbs.) to lay on him (37 lbs.). But, I can't always be everywhere in our home at all times. When I get Sam, I then wrap him in a blanket, apply what pressure he wants and rock him. This is what he prefers, if he can't wrestle with his brother.

The deep pressure seeking is one of the issues we still struggle with but need to get help other than our private OT, and pending our behavioral therapist.

Anywho, they appeared super "wild and goofy" the whole time I am trying to talk to K. After we got done talking, I took Sam aside, gave him a huge bear hug for awhile (which he does like for pressure as well). This seemed to finally calm him. We hung out for a few minutes longer while I then rubbed Sam's back to also calm him down before heading back up to our seats. The rest of the game was just as it was, enjoyable, and exciting, watching my little boys sit and watch...the real "boys of summer".

Any ideas on how to discourage Sam using his brother for deep pressure, so we can focus their relationship on other things, like communicating and friendship and companionship? Let me know.

Otherwise, until we get in to our new Autism expert, we will just keep on enjoying our "boys of summer"!!!


Anonymous said...

Is he in an intensive ABA progam now? There are actual programs for inappropriate touching, meaning they do teach children what is acceptable and not acceptable when it comes to touching (leaning into, etc.) other people. A good OT can also work with a BCBA and devise a self regulation plan and a plan to meet his sensory needs throughout the day. A BCBA and a high quality ABA program and an OT combined are really the key to success.

mysamiam said...

He is not in an ABA program because of our insurance and not being able to finance it without it at this time. Our OT has had us do several therapies at home (brushing, compression, etc...), but again, our insurance is running out for that in a couple months.
We are waiting for insurance approval for a BCBA and hope to start with her soon.

Thanks for the advice. I didn't realize ABA would look at those things too. I tend to ABA for more language, and Sam is more verbal. Will keep looking at insurance and that option. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

ABA covers all domains. A good book to look at is A Work In Progress.(you can order many books dealing with ABA and materials from A Different Road to Learning.) You can certainly ask your district to pay for ABA and have your Neuropsych or Neurologist recommend 30-40 hours per week of ABA in their evaluations. Are you familiar with CARD or the Lovaas Institute? These two are some of the best programs around. Also look on the websites of center based ABA programs (such as the Princeton Child Development Institute or Reed Academy in NJ) and you can get an overview of just how crucial ABA is. ABA is for children on all ends of the spectrum. It's really the only scientifically proven way of educating and teaching children on the spectrum the skills they need. Everything from receptive and expressive language, to play skills, to self help skills, writing, coloring, drawing, academics, sleep, toileting, eating and many other areas are addressed. Behaviors and behavior plans are also addressed. Please don't let your district convince you that he doesn't need ABA. They do this often in order to save money, no matter how decent they seem. Bottom line, a district will pay for ABA. Parents get them to fund it all the time. A good attorney also comes in handy if the district wants to offer some watered down services.

Additionally a very experienced OT (who is also knowledgable with ABA) will know exactly how to combine the two. This type of OT is very difficult to find, but they are out there.

kristina said...

What a long afternoon and I remember how hot the Twin Cities can get----we only had one air-conditioned room in our duplex (2nd floor) apartment when we lived there.

Charlie used to do the drop-dead thing too. We were amazed at how strong his arm sockets must be---all the times he was basically swinging between us----we taught him to walk without doing that.

Sometimes too much deep pressure can make Charlie even more "over-stimulated," even if he asks for it.

mysamiam said...

Anonymous- thanks again for the additional ABA info.

Kristina- I agree that Sam is like Charlie too, in that too much deep pressure overstimulates too. It is hard finding that balance. Also, I read your post on how hot Minnesota (the humidity) is in the summer, now don't deter our tourism to that east coast!! Just kidding, I love the east coast.

GClef1970 said...

I know I'm late in replying, but I had to laugh out loud at Sam dropping on the ground. Conor does this exact same thing, too. It is getting much less frequent but he'll say, "Mommy, carry me?" and a reply of, "Mommy can't. You're just too heavy!" will usually keep him walking. Not always, though!

No words of wisdom on the deep pressure issue. Conor loves to wrestle too, but I can't recall an issue with it when we're out. He is usually stimulated enough by all of the new sights and sounds.

Have a great sabbatical!