Thursday, September 21, 2006

From "Tomborns" to Sit and Spin (Journal#36)

Sometimes I wish I could go back to our summer vacation. It was such a dream this year. Mostly, as I said before, it was uncharted territory for our master mind Sam who remembers everywhere we go, and is the navigator supreme. He did not know anywhere we would go on our vacation until we experienced it. So, as the last official day of summer is here (and we woke up to 30 degree temptures here in Minneapolis), I relfect, I am sad, and I can't wait until next summer.

Above is an attempt at my first "sample" digital scrapbook page. I am going to digitally scrapbook our Yellowstone experience tonight with my "scrapbook girls". This is exciting for me. I am an "in the closet computer geek". I have been scrapbooking for 10 years, and am so excited about taking it to the next level. I hope to share more pages as I practice more.

Even though I am sad about summer, I also LOVE the fall. The crisp morning air (especially in Minnesota), the beautiful lakes and leaves, the apple orchards, the pumpkin patch, and our now annual trip to the north shore of Lake Superior (I will scrap those pages and share when it happens :).

As even more sick than this may sound. I also love mowing in the fall. I prefer to mow in our family by choice. I love our yard and being outside (as does Sam). I also mow by choice because Brent works hard, travels, and when he is home, I want him to be with family, not doing yard work.

This all leads me to the newest love of my life. It is a new love, as I murdered its former. I killed our Lawn Boy. Brent and I were so proud of our purchase almost 13 years ago. It was expensive for us, a new brand named lawn mower. But we researched and purchased Consumer Reports, and made the Lawn Boy decision. We knew it would last forever. That is.......until I rendered its brutal ending last week. Seems ding dong me, forgot to put oil in the gas the last time I filled our 5 gallon gas can up. Yup....I also polluted the enviroment in our neighborhood that fateful day, as loud cranking noises emerged and clouds of smoke pummeled into the air. Several neighbors came by to pay their last respects, and confirmed with me that after running that much plain gas through my baby, that unless I knew how to rebuild the engine, she was through. So, I have placed her in an add in the Twin Cities Free Market for parts. Sniff, sniff.....

But I have a new love. I have a brand new self propelled Lawn Boy. It rocks. I could seriously mow the lawn every day. I felt Sam deserved a new lawn mower too, as his was his brother's 8 year old one. So we went to Toys R Us and bought him a new one with bubbles. As I mowed yesterday, with Sam following me behind, as he always does with his lawn mower, I was reflecting on my mowing experiences in comparison to Sam.

The "tomborn"- Every day when we go outside to play, Sam will say at least once, "mom tomborn?". He has called the lawn mower the "tomborn" for the last year and a half (we believe it may be a combination of "combine the corn"). Ever since we could start understanding his speech better. Seems he is in love with his grandpa's tractors, but especially his combine. Before I ever could figure out what Sam was saying every time I mowed, I kept explaining to him, "No Sam, this is a lawn mower". It wasn't until one day with his extreme frustration of me not understanding, that he used his whole body in motion to show me why it was a "tomborn" (combine). He took his hands and pointed to the lawn mower, then used his body in a swooshing manner and hands, by pushing them along side the side bagger, then up. He took his fingers and wiggled them into the grass container, as if sprinkling something into it. He then screamed to me "TOMBORN"!!!! Duh, of course it was a combine. It cut the grass/corn, sent it up the container/shoot and into the bin/wagon.

That is the way Sam always thinks. He is always trying to figure out the way things go and work. He understands very quickly those mechanical things.

Today he spent much of the afternoon on his Sit and Spin from grandma and grandpa. I couldn't believe he wasn't getting dizzy. He would take off his clothes even and spin, then put them on. But as I watched him, his purpose I believe was trying to see how fast he would go with different weights on it etc... He had super concentration in his eyes. It was finally at dinner time that he came running up the stairs yelling "dot it, dot it, loot" (got it, got it, look). He turned the Sit and Spin upside down to show me the middle part underneath that stays put while the outside goes around. He didn't use any words to explain it, but just like the "tombine", his actions and face spoke and explained more than a thousand words.

I love the way he thinks, I love his dramatic movements, I love how he understands the world...from "Tomborns" to Sit and Spin.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Four S's (School, Schedules, Scissors, and Screams) (Journal#35)

And so the week started with S's and continues...

S #1- SCHOOL!!!!!!!!! Sam's first day of school was Monday. We have been preparing and preparing. Some days he likes, and others, well... not so much. The first big change went much better than expected, and that was the switch from the yellow school bus last year, to a white van this year. I was getting nervous when it didn't arrive at the scheduled time, but it was the first day of runs for them with the special education children. It came 10 minutes late, which isn't that bad, but they ask you to be ready and waiting 10 minutes early, so really we had been waiting 20 minutes with a very anxious Sam. He boarded great, and of course "scrapbooker" mom did not get any pics yet (left camera on vacation) and my camera phone was dead (typical luck for me). It was super funny when he got home, because he did the same things as usual from all last year. It wasn't even like there was a summer break.

Shoes off...coat off...backpack thrown on upstairs as fast as he can to see what is on the table for lunch (no words, just down to business)!!

S #2- Schedules!!! So I am really going to try and be good and stick to a schedule and our home program better than last year. He really does well when we use his PECS schedule.

Sam excited about the schedule? Not so much.

S #3- Scissors!!! sticking with the schedule, we work in some of our home OT stuff. The real scoop is that OT is ALL home programming now. Our insurance doesn't cover everything for that right now, so we are done until it allows us to go back for a re-evaluation in 6 months. So we do our little cutting activity, and it just seems to be going backwards. He used to required me to draw a line from the edge of the paper to the object needing cut, but he doesn't anymore, so that is good....but for almost 5, and kindergarten next year, and me TRYING not to compare him to his NT brother, it still makes me wish I could help him get up to speed a little more. But it is all in his time...and that is okay. He worked sooooooo hard cutting and then gluing them on with his little glue swab. A cool thing he finally did today for the first time was to at least follow the dots I made on paper of S for Sam. He has been working on this for over a year. I wonder if I should push and add the A and M!!!

S #4- Screams!!! The little dinosaur scream has been working overtime. We are by no means stressed by his melt downs. We know he is going through a bit 0f a transition time. This morning, Brent was home to help get the boys ready for school. As much as dad tried to help get him dressed, Sam refused.

Whatever piece of clothing that Brent would put on....

Sam would rip off......

He would then scream, climb up on his bed, and literally climb his wall in the corner and curl up(there is a ledge).

After clothes being ripped off, doors being kicked, dad had done his best. And...we could not let him go to school dressed in his birthday mom caved.

I shared a laugh with my online friend today about our ASD kids and their rituals and routines.

And...this is one of Sam's rituals.

ONLY mom dresses me!!!!!!!

So, we are living the 4 S's, and actually loving them all. Keep your fingers crossed that I can keep a schedule and get our life back on one as well!!!!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Breath of Fresh Air (Journal#34)

After a month and a half of waiting, we finally were able to get in and see a behavioral therapist today. One that our insurance covers with a copay (finally)!!! She has her office at the Autism Society of Minnesota headquarters. By the way, check out this adorable picture of Sam on the advocacy page of our state's website, click here! Okay, enough bragging, although I am sad, because he is already well over a year older since that picture was taken. They grow up way too fast!!

Brent actually flew in early this m0rning (he was out of state for work, we do live together:) to make the meeting. I was so glad he could be there. Given his crazy travel and work schedule, he has not missed a meeting. We asked a lot of questions about our concerns with his need for whole body stim, safety issues, communication issues, his agressive behavior when having a melt down that is leading to more dangerous situations for him and others, just lots of things.

She gave us sooooooooooo many things to work on, and Brent and I are excited to begin. It is going to involve a lot of work, redoing some of our picture schedules, creating more "therapy spots" in the home, lots of time, but mostly lots of love, which we have.

One of the things she shared with us, which I will share with my autism friends is a concept that was new to us when using Social Stories. Instead of verbalizing the written story(and doing pictures), she suggested video taping Sam doing the things we are needing to work on. For example, taping him walking safely across the street, or taping him coming to talk to us before "escaping", I mean him wanting to go out to play :). She told us she has been involved with recent studies looking more at the thing that frustrates us most about Sam. And that is he can tell us exactly what he needs to do in situations after only being told once, but he can't apply it for himself. This has been most frustrating for us, but she explained some of the research showing the brain connections with autistic children,and that they can understand and even apply to other people these procedures, but the part of the brain that allows them to see themselves doing the task doesn't always connect, even with a picture of themselves. For them to physically see themselves moving through the actions on video is finding some success with other familes who have tried it. So, we are excited about taking our social stories to a new level of "animation"!!!

She also suggested we follow through with applying for county assistance for developmental disabilities, as she thought we could use more help in the home, and could get him more services. I have put off filling out the the 200 page application (it just seems that long) because we couldn't afford the TEFRA copay, and because the "waiver" waiting list has been closed for two years with no opening date in sight. So, I am now motivated to do that again, and at least get a case worker assigned to Sam as she suggested. I am sharpening pencils as we speak (oh wait, it says use blue ink only).

The last thing she encouraged, was for us to finally look at RDI. I have been poo pooing it this past year. Trying to just read up on it, but again, thought it looked expensive, considering our stupid insurance. But, I know some of you out there have had success with it, and others also by just going to conferences and self educating, instead of paying providers and consultants. I would love feedback on how RDI has helped any of you, and suggestions on going full boar, or just taking peices that work, or whatever suggestions you have. THANKS!!!

It is nice to talk with someone, and the new behavioral therapist gave us that little motivation to get back at it, and she also gave us a breath of fresh air.