Saturday, November 19, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Then there are the good days. The days when I can see Liam breaking out of his shell. The days when I can see him interacting with his world and the people in it. The days when I can see how far he has come. The days when I get to see other people love on my child.
Liam has been attending the ABA therapy center for a year. He is now asking questions and making eye contact and generally trying to be involved with things that I was pretty certain he was completely oblivious to a year ago. People who don't see him often tell me they can see improvement with each visit. My most recent meeting with his program coordinator was fantastic. She said that she has a hard time with his program because he is currently acquiring skills so quickly. We attribute much of this to his current therapist. She has been with Liam since earlier this summer, and he has made drastic strides since then. This to me is such an amazing testament to having the right people involved.
The sweet man who drives the van had our family over for dinner. It turned out to be a little birthday party for Liam which included his therapist and a couple of other people from the center. They had spent their whole day working with Liam and other kiddos like him, and then spent their evening with us. It was heartwarming to witness the genuine love that these people who were previously strangers have for our son. I couldn't believe it. Liam's village is expanding to include such a fantastic group of people and I can't help but smile.
We had a birthday party for Liam too. We really haven't attempted that the past few years because Liam usually doesn't deal well with that sort of event. We decided to give it a try this year for his SIXTH birthday, but we did it Liam style. No organized unwrapping of gifts, no forcing everyone in the same room together for singing and cake. We invited family, and a few friends - all of Liam's people. I had so much fun preparing and Liam had a blast. We let him do his own thing, going inside or outside, everyone ate when they wanted and got their cupcakes when they wanted. We had a fire and a hayride. It was a perfect fall day and a very easy and peaceful night. It felt really good to have a party for our son, who truly seemed to "get" for the first time that it was his special day, and his special party. I think maybe this is what this is supposed to feel like.
I intend to put in a concerted effort to focus on the good things instead of dwelling on the scary things. Instead of obsessing over the bad days, I will be thankful for the good days and keep looking forward to the next one.
Off we went. Liam did great, even with having to get his eyes dilated. His eyes are physically fine. To no ones surprise, however, he is definitely nearsighted! I guess he has my eyes not only in color, but in this way too. Poor kid!
I was worried that he wouldn't keep them on his face since we have never been able to get him to leave sunglasses on. He struggled for the first couple of days. At some point, though, I think he realized that he can see better with them on. He just keeps taking these things into his stride and keeps going. What a great kid!
These are things I never anticipated having to teach my child. Nevertheless, it is rewarding to see him learning and growing every day!!
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
- If you’re going to teach your autistic child to look both ways before crossing the street, teach him to look both ways at ten different streets so he can begin to generalize it.
- Visual thinkers like
have bottom up thinking instead of top down thinking like verbal thinkers. They don’t picture the house and then decide what pieces it needs…they think about each individual piece and eventually get to the whole picture. They fixate on details. Temple can’t hold one thing in her mind while manipulating another piece of information. Case in point: If I ask Liam to go get his shoes, then ask him some question, and he answers the question, I shouldn’t expect him to remember that I asked him to get his shoes. Sometimes I forget this in the morning when we're rushing to get out of the house. Turn off your light! Put on your shoes! Say bye to Daddy! Where's your coat? Paralysis.... Temple was shocked to learn that others didn’t think like her. Maybe we are approaching this whole thing wrong. Maybe we shouldn’t be trying to “fix” how Liam thinks, rather figuring out how he thinks and approach his education from a direction that he understands! Temple
- If visual thinkers and verbal “typical” thinkers work together, amazing successes can be achieved. The two ways of thinking compliment each other and serve to cover all angles of an issue. Imagine a beautiful bridge or building where someone forgot to focus on the details. It could be disaster!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Sometimes when I am behind Liam's van I still get choked up by a crazy combination of emotions. I still can't believe MY boy is in there, even though its been almost eight months. I still feel extremely fortunate that we are able to give him the absolute best possible thing.
Drive carefully red van, you are carrying precious cargo!!
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I love hearing those sweet little words. Six words in a row that form a complete and polite and perfect question. Not only that, but it’s a question I rarely feel the need to say no to! I have said no, but really, who needs four pieces of gum in five minutes time?
Liam LOVES gum. All kinds of gum. It can be big or little, soft or hard, minty or fruity or cinnamony or sour. He loves it all. I used to think he didn't really know what kinds we had or what kind he is given to chew. I have realized that I was dead wrong. We have had a recent influx of gum due to the Easter bunny’s visit and the arrival of a package from Grandma and Grandpa, and no two packs were alike. The gum section of the cabinet is now overflowing. In fact I am looking into a new storage option since I usually have just one pack of gum open at a time…and apparently that isn't enough.
Last night Liam asked for green gum. I pulled out the open pack of watermelon. He said, “No! Apple!” I responded, “I don’t think we have any apple gum, buddy. Just take this.”
[Insert minor freak-out here.]
“Fine, Liam. Get a chair and show me.”
[Insert dragging of chair to cabinet.]
“This one!!” He exclaims while handing me a brand new pack of apple gum. How the heck did he know it was in there and I didn't? You’d think by now I’d have learned not to doubt him. :~)
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
But we went. For an hour.
Liam LOVED it. He would have stayed all night. I loved it too because he wasn't as bothered by the chaos and noise as I expected him to be. Granted, its a big place and it was a weeknight, so I imagine it gets way worse...but still. He was amazing.
I was talking to one of the therapists who was there. She made a very casual comment about how much fun Liam was having. I fought back tears as I told her what a testament to the center's work in his little life this night was.
In our house, we celebrate the small victories.
Keep climbing Liam!!
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
In the interest of socialization, structure, and draining the checkbook, we enrolled Liam in preschool. They will get him caught up for sure. He will see the other kids eating with their forks and peeing in the potty and he’ll want to do it too. About six months in, he was in the four year old class. I got a call from school asking to set up a meeting with us. I asked what about. The director proceeded to tell me that Liam is performing below a three year old level and that they thing he needs more help than they are able to give him. Uh oh. This isn’t going away. He’s not catching up. They suggested we find out who in the school system can do an early intervention evaluation. Of course they didn’t know who that might be since we live in a different school district. Luckily, I had a friend who knew who I should contact. Thank God for her. I’d still be trying to figure out who to call. So I called this “parent contact” lady. She asked lots of questions about Liam and mailed a mountain of paperwork to fill out. Phew. Made it though without my hand breaking off. His evaluation – two 2 ½ hour days of “preschool” where several experts in different fields analyze my boy – was scheduled. This presented what I’m guessing is the first of many logistical challenges. Josh dropped him off and I picked him up and delivered him to his actual preschool 20 miles away. The first day when I got there to rescue him from all of the mean people….I mean to pick him up and make the transfer….the psychologist asked if I had a minute. Shit. Not really, its , Liam has to be at school by for lunch, and I have to get back to work. But for this – of course I have a minute. For Liam I have the rest of my life. Then, she became the second person to mention the A word in connection with my perfect boy. Have I considered it? Sure. But you are a professional and if you are considering it…GULP…this is not happening…PLEASE NO this CAN’T BE HAPPENING. The next couple of days were difficult. We decided to attempt to figure out what is going on privately as well and started that process. (Another mountain of paperwork). Now we wait.
Liam started out behind the curve. He was born a little early, was tiny, had issues with colic, and spent most of the first months of his life crying. Poor thing. We tried several formulas and landed on soy. Not sure if that helped of or if he grew out of it on his own, but he gradually started being awake without crying. I remember snapping out of my own funk at about that time too. He was always small though, and was late talking – we started signing at about nine months and that helped. Eventually he got there. He was late walking – but he walked. He was a little behind on some things that he was “supposed” to do. But all kids are different and do things at different paces. That’s what I thought and that’s what the books say. My parents were the first ones to bring up the A word. It was shortly before his second birthday and his two year well child exam. This came from two people who didn’t see my child on a regular basis. I felt like they were comparing him to their neighbor’s boy who has an older brother, and went to daycare where he is around other kids all day long. So I asked the pediatrician about it, mostly to appease my parents. She did not think the A word applied either, but suggested an evaluation with First Steps, the government run early intervention system in our state. I didn’t want to because I have never wanted to be the mom who has her child poked and prodded and analyzed at every turn. But we did. So they came to our house and spent some time with my sweet boy. They ended up confirming that he was behind developmentally, but that they didn’t see any signs of autism. They agreed with us that his being behind was likely a product of his daily situation with the old lady babysitter. So we agreed that with some socialization, he would catch up in time for kindergarten. We didn’t dig any deeper.
Not my son. I am a smart woman. I was a smart child. My husband is a smart man. We are good parents. We read to him, play with him, talk to him, travel with him, show him things. We do more for and with him than most of our friends do, save those lucky moms who stay home. We are both well adjusted, level headed people. We come from good families. He is not surrounded by turmoil, chaos, disappointment, or even sadness. He has everything he needs and wants. He has two involved parents – one mom and one dad. How can my son be having trouble? There isn’t anything wrong. He is just behind. But he will catch up. I’m sure of it. He will be one of the oldest in his class, so by then he’ll be fine. I think. I hope. Maybe. Oh god, what if he’s not???
Sunday, March 20, 2011
I will begin by posting some of my journal entries that I have written over the past year. My goal in this blog is to be able to write in the present, not only to keep interested peeps updated, but also as my own version of free therapy. I feel like in order to do any of that effectively, I need to start at the beginning. I apologize in advance but invite you to stay with me. I promise that I won't post as much in the future as I will in the beginning. :~)