Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Babysitting My Phone

So, twice a week Jonathan goes to preschool daycare.

And so now, twice a week, I sit by my phone from about 10am-11am waiting for our EI teacher to call me with a "how he did while she was there" update. Did he sit at circle time? Is he playing nice with the other kids? Is he devastated by his mother leaving him so she could selfishly sit at home and watch her phone? It is like I really cannot go on with my day until I get that call telling me all went well.

Helicopter mothers got nothing on me.

Watch me hover.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Baby Growing Up

Oh, my little baby is growing up and it is killing me!

With all of the changes over the last few weeks, I see him growing up right before my eyes. Now, don't get me wrong... he is behind the curve on a lot of things other kids his age do, and he has to be taught things other children just learn. But his rate of 'picking stuff up' has accerated. And therefore, I have been trying to raise the bar on him and introduce some stuff that he has yet to really learn.

Number 1: Drinking from an open cup.

Confession time. Jonathan has only ever really drank from a sippy cup on his own. I have held a open cup for him, but the few times he has been given a cup on his own he couldn't really figure it out. First, of course, he would just turn it over and spill it. So then, of course, the solution to not having a house covered in milk was to just put just a little bit into the cup. But then, you see, he has to grasp the cup and be able to lift it and tip it up (correctly positioned on his mouth) enough that he gets the milk, but not too much so he is covered in it. And he needs to have his mouth in the right position... not in the middle of the cup like he is trying to lap it up. And he needs to understand the whole point to this. So, motor planning and language skills....Hmmm, not exactly up his alley.

I have tried to figure out solutions to the open cup problem. I know it needs to be a smaller cup, with generally a smaller radius so his hands can go around it and he can have better control. Also, smaller cups allow me to put less liquid in it and have him still get the liquid quickly and with less effort (reward for his hard work). I tried dixie paper cups... but it didn't work. Dixie cups are far too crushable. I have 'cup shopped' for the last several months to no avail.

And finally, a solution presented itself today: IKEA

Specifically, the IKEA's Children's Toy department where I found a tiny little glass.

Perfect for his hands. A little Toddler shot glass (and no, we don't give him Diet Coke).

And, as you can see, success! Maybe now we can move on to Dixie cups.

Number 2: Toilet Training

The J-man is no where near ready to toilet train. And frankly, his mommy is a little at a loss for how to even start introducing the idea. He just recently discovered his "bits and pieces", if you will. Since starting at the preschool daycare, he is going to be exposed more and more to other children potty training, and it was time to buy a potty chair. Grandma and I went shopping and picked up his first potty. He loves it, thinks it is great. But as you can see, he isn't quite sure what it is for.

We are ready... sort of... when he is!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Quick Recommendation: The Signing Time DVDs

I would love to take credit for the small vocabulary explosion that Jonathan has had over the past 3 months, but I can't. At least, not completely.

And I would love to say that all the therapy over the past year and a half was what did it.

I can't say that either.

However, I can say that since Jonathan started watching the Signing Time DVDs (we received 4 of them as a wonderful hand-me-down from some friends), he has learned nearly every sign on each of the DVDs. He doesn't used them ALL in context, but we have seen him sign back to the TV when he is watching them.

Today he signed "cheese" to ask for more cheese.

He TOTALLY learned that from the video.

So, Signing Time DVDs are teaching my son language. Go figure.

If anyone has an extra $750.00, we would love to get the whole collection. Heck, we'd go for even the full first series!!

Got hand-me-downs?? We'll take them! We aren't picky or proud!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A River in Egypt?

This has been a really weird week. A highly emotional week.

It is hard to get a pulse on what I mean. I am not sure how to articulate it. A bit of a roller coaster ride of emotions, both bad and good. But what I can say is that something seems to be changing around here, and whatever it is... it feels Big.

On the downside, we had a re-evaluation with Dr M at Children's Hospital. This evaluation consisted of a lot of questions regarding the J-man's development, where he is at, what he is and is not doing... and some basic observations of him playing in the room. Dr M completed both the Vineland and the CARS (standardized assessments) and from both these assessments and his 'clinical impression' he has diagnosed Jonathan with "mild autism and significant apraxia".

Of course, the "A" word makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. It is such a loaded word, filled with a lot of scary, negative unknowns and terrifing possiblities. While intellectually I know autism has a very broad spectrum and that many, many people have been diagnosed with the big "A" and either 'come out of it' or been so high functioning that (with intervention) were able to lead great lives... but as a parent, it is still a terrifing word to hear. And it isn't like I didn't know this word might be coming down the pike... I think we have been running from this word since day one.
And what does our running from this word MEAN? Is it merely Denial... not wanting to accept what may very well be reality? Or is it something more? Why is it that a large part of my heart and mind that really feels.... believes.... that this is NOT autism? That this is something different, less easy to define, more specific to Jonathan. More based in language and motor planning, not socialization, not sensory. But on the other hand... is that just wishful thinking? Am I turning away from something true because I cannot look it in the eye? He has many of the symptoms... many, many 'red flags'. Is fighting that diagnosis about HIM or ME? If it is me... then I need to get over it. BUT... if it is HIM... then accepting the diagnosis is like giving up on his truth.
To add to it all.... Jonathan has had an amazing week. NEVER has he been more verbal... both with signs and vocalizations. I cannot list the number of spontaneous new vocalizations he has had.... word approximations for things like bike, water, cookie, chip, passy, etc etc. He is imitating up a storm... he even copied me making a gobble-gobble turkey sound WITH ARM MOVEMENTS! Sounds that a truck makes... vrrrooom... beep beep noises. We have NEVER heard this from him. He also started preschool this week and did wonderfully. He even sat for circle time and clapped his hands! He has been so engaged, so involved, so here. These might seem like simple, silly milestones to you, but they are miracles for us. Nevertheless, he is still so far away from his peers.
So how do I accept the big "A" with a week like this? Or rather, DO I accept it? Is my instinct to reject this diagnosis just denial or is it something more?

Right now, I am going with something MORE.

Of course, that might just be my denial talking.

Monday, September 14, 2009

As the Green Snot Flows...

What, Me Worry??

Jonathan is starting a preschool daycare this week.

Not the original fabulous place we had hoped for; alas, that place required that we also provide a PCA or Respite Care worker, and we could not afford that. So, we decided to look around some more and found our new preschool daycare: Jack and Jill Child Development Center. What won us over here? They incorporate Sign Language in ALL of their classes. That is a definite plus. Also, because it is in our school district, our Early Intervention teacher can work with him there. A BIG plus!

So why am I worried?

Probably because I am an overprotective, hyper-controlling, crazy mom?

We visited today for the first of two 'transition days'. The first day (today) we visit the room and let him play with the kids. Tomorrow (day two) I drop him off for an hour and see how it goes. On Thursday he has his first official day. I think my heart might stop.

Today went well. He had fun, and even sat down for circle time (albeit not in a circle... more in the middle of the circle). However, two key things made me a little nervous:

1) Snot. LOTS of snot. Clear snot, green snot, wet sloppy SNOT. Now, intellectually, I KNOW that he will get sick from all this exposure to other kids. This is just inevitable. And no doubt it will do wonders for his immune system. J-man has always been lucky to be very healthy. But soooo much snot..... what are we asking for?!?!?!

2) The Toys. And no, this isn't a tangent on the whole snot-germ relationship. The fact is, we are starting Jonathan out in the intermediate toddler room. We are doing this because the teacher-child ratio is lower, and they don't have expectations that he has a CLUE to what he is doing. They are there to teach circle time, basic routines, etc etc. And many of their kids are also new language learners. So we are hoping this room holds the best possible situation for his early socialization and language.

BUT... and I rarely get to say this.... he is WAY more advanced than their toys. He plays with legos and duplos, not big blocks. He does 24 piece interlocking puzzles, not wooden five piece non-interlocking puzzles. He plays with interlocking train sets, putting together the rails and train together. He plays on big kid slides and climbers, and will want to go on those instead of the 'baby area'.

So, I am extremely hopeful that he adjusts wonderfully, learns routines like a champ, and can 'graduate' to the preschool room before too long.

Where he belongs.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Oral Issue

Don't go there.


J-man has always had 'oral sensory seeking' issues. He has chewed on everything since he could reach toys. It was especially pronounced when he was younger, where he had to mouth every toy he interacted with before he could play with it. As he has gotten older, this 'sensory seeking' behavior has decreased significantly... to the point that I thought we might be over it.

But over the last few weeks it has come back with a vengeance. He is chewing on his hand, his blanket (gross!), his shirt (double gross!!), a variety of toys, and pretty much anything he can get his hands on. Our OTs have tried to shape this behavior to "chewy tubes" and other acceptable things to chew on, but the J-man is the definition of uninterested. The only thing that can interrupt this 'oral behavior' is the pacifier.

The dreaded passy.

Up until now, I never minded letting him have his passy. The way I saw it, it was a more 'normal' object to be sucking on than any of the other possible objects he might try to put in his mouth (like dirt, rocks, crayons, little people, cars, car keys, etc etc). A pacifier is 'normal'. However, the passy is starting to present some problems.

Firstly, he is getting a little OLD for a passy. I mean, he is a big boy, and I am sure he might look older than he is. So, while I could explain why a 2 1/2 year old boy has a pacifier, it isn't an easy sell. We are starting to get the sideways glances and disapproving looks... which does defeat the whole 'look normal' reasoning for using the passy in the first place.

Secondly, it is really hard to encourage vocalizations in a child who has a plug in his mouth. It is pretty easy for him to avoid making ANY noise whatsoever with the passy.

Of course, it is pretty easy for him to avoid vocalizing with his whole hand in his mouth too.

I am at a loss for what to do about this issue...except wait it out. And hope that he doesn't go to high school with a passy in his mouth.

Don't laugh, it could happen...

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Sound of Music

J-Man at 10 months: What a cutie!

Jonathan and I were watching one of his favorite movies yesterday, Wall-E. I am not sure what his attraction to this movie is, but I do think the relative LACK of dialog in the first half of the movie is a plus. I know he loves the expressions that Wall-E shows; the movement of his robot eyes, the quickness of his actions, the 'vocalizations' he makes.

And the music. Specifically, the soundtrack from 'Hello Dolly' that provides the background music for the movie.

As we watched the movie for about the 1000th time, I started to sing along to the movie "....if only, for a moooo-ment, to be looooved a whole life loooooong...." Or something like that. And Jonathan became utterly fascinated with my singing. He opened my mouth wider, looked inside as if to find where this noise was coming from. Now in the spirit of full disclosure, he may have been wondering how the human mouth could make such a god-awful noise. But he seemed to be honestly trying to find out where the sounds was coming from.

Slowly, I sang the refrain over and over again. He opened and closed my mouth, peered inside, and eventually brought his mouth close to mine, opened his and emitted a tiny "ahhhhh".

He was trying to sing!

I realized then that I have never heard Jonathan sing. Not even random sounds to music. He has never even tried. He listens to it, and thinks it is great when we sing, but he never has tried to make the sounds himself.

Until now.


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