Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holiday's! Wishing you peace and joy in the New Year:)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gifts of Hope

Hello! I know, it's been a long time since I've updated. Now the holiday's are upon us and I wanted to share some thoughts. Lowell has continued to make steady progress. Although, in the last few weeks things have regressed a bit as he has had a bad cold. He has become *very* obsessive lately, it seems like as a self-soothing tactic. This has worn on our patience at home, especially as we have all been passing around a cold all month. We are hoping he will enjoy some of his Christmas gifts and play with those toys, rather than obsess on extension cords and karoke machines:)On a positive note, we got the most delightful gifts from Lowell's therapists at St. David's today. The music therapist made a "best of" cd made up of the music she uses while working with the kids, for us to play at home. One of the lead teachers gave us the book, "Changed by a Child" by Barbara Gill. The other lead teacher made an absolutely *wonderful* picture book filled with pictures of Lowell at the Autism Day Treatment program. It brought tears to my eyes as I paged through it, looking at our little guy and all the hard work they are all doing there. What amazing help he is receiving!! The snow ornament Lowell made himself:) The stuffed animal is from a child that receives services at St. David's that wanted to use his Bat Mitzvah money to buy toys for other kids. I was very moved by these gifts and my heart is full of appreciation and joy.
I was also able to spread a little joy myself to my "special mom" friends. It's a group of women that I hang out with that all have little boys the same age on the Autism spectrum. We get together once a month for a mom's night out and offer so much support and hope to one another. I feel so blessed to have them as friends. I made each woman a HOPE sign to hang in their home to remember that we have each other and we have hope. That says it all! Happy Holiday's to you and yours:)

Friday, December 01, 2006

December update

Lots to catch up on with Lowell. He has been making great progress recently in his Autism Day Treatment program at St. David's. He's become much more social and seems to be more in control of his body. We attribute some of this to him (finally) getting into a really good sleep pattern. He's consistently over the last 10 days or so slept until around 6:30 am. Yeeha!!! He has been less irritable and obsessive, probably from being well rested:)

As you can see here, he loves the new door mirror. He likes looking at himself counting on his fingers and he likes to put on his coat, shoes, and hat while looking at himself (above). He really wants to learn how to tie his own shoes. We'll see!

Fabulous update from his music therapist today said:

Lowell really shined with turn taking skills this week. He imitates turn taking language and spontaneously requested turn. He passes instruments to peers with cues and occassionally independently. He is also more interested in watching peers have turns:)

His occupational therapist gave us a list of good gift ideas. For those of you that read this that have Autistic kids, I thought it may be helpful. Anyone else have good gift ideas? I'd love to hear them.

*pillows- the soft, silky pillows that are filled with tiny pellets. They work great for catching and tossing. *bucket or children's basketball hoop *bath toys- squirters, cups for pouring, strainers, etc. (works on hand development and strengthening) *scissors *crayons- better than markers for hand development *whistles, blowers, etc.- good for oral development and calming *squishballs, Kooshballs * bean bags * playdoh, cookie cutters, rolling pin *interlocking, connecting building sets- promote coordination of both hands *Cool Bananas- CD by Genevieve Jereb. Children's songs played slightly slower pace. Can be found at *dolls with clothes- work on dressing doll, putting on shoes, feeding, etc. *exercise/therapy ball

Also, the cover of Newsweek magazine, Nov. 27th issue is What happens when they grow up? Click on the underlined words and you'll get the link to the full text article. Pretty interesting stuff!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Here's lookin' at you:)

Lowell was off today, so we hung out at home. The kids were very mellow and played nicely. I found Lowell with his hat on and these wonderful glasses and had to snap a pic. Too funny!

Lowell's been sleeping a bit later (until 5:30 a.m.) and I really think that's helping his energy level at St. David's ADT. I guess the other day during their hello group he became the "featured soloist" as he broke out into song all on his own. I guess he's really coming out of his shell. It's always so bizarre (and frustrating) that he can sing a song all the way through, but has never used words to ask for a glass of juice, or tell us he wants music or video, etc. Go figure!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Catching up...

I know, Halloween came and went, now it's November and almost Thanksgiving (yikes!) and where have I been?!! Let me tell you all about it....

The Halloween party was a lot of fun. Lowell was a bit overwhelmed with so many people coming into our home and lots (and lots) of activity. Luckily the weather was decent and we were able to go outside and play in the yard, which he really enjoyed. We also resorted to showing some Elmo vidoes to keep him soothed. Overall I think people had a really nice time.

The very next weekend, I went to Omaha for an art workshop weekend. See my other blog. I had a *fabulous* time and it sounded like everything went well here. Wewh!

Lowell has been doing really well at his Autism Day Treatment program. They all seem to really be on a roll and he is progressing nicely. I was floored by this note from his music therapist from this week...WOW!!!..

"I stretched the kids need to watch and attend this week- Lowell did a great job! On Tuesday we did a worksheet activity, listening to recorded animal sounds and indentifying by coloring the correct animal on the worksheet. Lowell attended so well and needed only minimal cues to stay on task to completion. We also listened while I told a story with a picture book. Relaxing music encouraged our bodies to slow down and attend to the story. Again, Lowell was very successful. Today we did a join puzzle activity taking turns putting pieces in puzzle (instrument shapes that played a tune when placed in puzzle). Lowell love the activity and with only minimal cues shared turns with 2 peers in our small group. Lowell continues to verbalize spontaneously, he requests turn, identifies peers having a turn and makes song choices given picture selections. Nice week!"

We had a "parent night" at St. David's last night with a potty training theme. It was helpful and informative. It was also really nice to connect with Lowell's occupational therapist. We asked her about what he is seeing Lowell doing. She is very impressed with showing more joy in new and novel things. She said he is fixating a lot less and really enjoying playing!

I have also tried to organize and change around some of the toys at home. We brought the kiddie pool inside and have it full of balls to roll around in. We also recently bought a trampoline. We now have a play kitchen set up and I've been having so much fun buying fake food and a toaster and other items to play with. My latest purchase is the Doug and Mellissa cutting food. I love how it's wooden food and has velcro in between the pieces for them to practice cutting. They love that!

Finally, Lowell had his "school picture" taken at St. David's. This is before his hair cut, when he still had his shaggy trendy do goin' on. Hehe! Doesn't he look older? We got such a kick out of this picture, we think he looks 3 going on 13! Too cute:)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Getting ready...

As you can see, we're starting to get ready for Halloween here:) Next Saturday is our annual Halloween party. Can't wait!!!

It was a good, pretty even keel week around here. Lowell is getting less frustrated and tries to show us more successfully what he wants. He continues to increase the number of words he says. His latest is taking his clothes off and sitting up on the counter by the sink. He likes to put soap in his hands and then rinse them in the sink. He is mimicking a scene from an Elmo video. He also likes to put his feet in the sink and sometimes a bit of his hair, also from the video. He is recently very into flushing the toilet.

Lowell had a good week at the Autism Day Treatment program. Monday was “picture day”. They said he did pretty well going into a new room and sitting (briefly) and didn’t get upset. Look forward to seeing the pictures!

From music therapist: Apparently, Lowell gets the “sense of humor” award this week! A staff person substituted Lowell’s name as lyrics of a favorite song from music group. Lowell instantly caught the humor and joined in singing and showed appropriate bright and silly affect. What a nice interpersonal connection! Today he made choices given pictures of songs. He labeled his choice independently each opportunity.

From speech therapist: I love how Lowell comes “trottin’” over to my little table and slides into his chair- all ready to get down to business! He has been very cooperative and willing to follow my lead. I am impressed with his verbal choice making. I see much more intent when he says the word- for example; he says the word and immediately reaches for the item, which shows me that he is truly requesting it.

From Occupational Therapist: Lowell had a fun time with me today. He did shaving cream on the easel! It’s nice to see him tolerating a lot more tactile input. He also really enjoyed doing somersaults down a ramp into the ball pit. He came back for more several times.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Right now!!!

TONIGHT on Comedy Central, Jon Stewart is hosting a benefit for Autism Education called

Night of Too Many Stars

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Soaking in Fall

What gorgeous fall weather we're having here in Minnesota. I just love this pic of Lowell I took while taking a walk today in Wolsfeld Woods. He's just taking in the scenery:) Lowell had a great week last week and to top it off, Friday night he slept in his big boy bed with NO crib in the room at all for the first time! He did fall asleep on the bed and slept until 6 am. Woohoo!! He watched us take down the crib and we sang the good-bye song from school over and over again as we took the pieces of his crib down to the basement. He seemed to be just fine with it. From the sounds of his feet pitter pattering across the floor, he seems to like having the extra room to "play"!

He had some wonderful reports from his speech therapist and music therapist at the Autism Day Treatment program last week.

From music therapist: Lowell met goal of following directions 50% of opportunities each day this week. He consistently "cleans up" independently, follows song cue "come on over and sit right down" independently or with minimal cues. This week Lowell has been on task nearly 100% of opportunities during joint singing. Several times he sang complete songs with therapist. With prompts, Lowell approaches peer to include him in play (handing peer play object). On task behavior was increased this week. He is beginning to follow a point gesture (physical gesture) consistently.

From speech therapist: Lowell (why is it that I smile every time I write his name:):) He was his usual chatty self today. Lots of labeling and repeating verbal play routines- mostly in context, sometimes not. I'm continuing to work heavily on teaching him to request. I used pictures (PECS modified) at times, but I'm not convinced this is that helpful. He is definitely improving and I will continue to share any helpful hints I may discover as I work with him.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fall Fun!

We had a nice weekend here. The weather is picture perfect...literally. It is ideal weather for taking pictures of the gorgeous fall colors:) On Sunday I went with the kids and my parents to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. It was a lovely evening for it and we had a lot of fun. Lowell LOVED the water fountains!

Friday, September 29, 2006

New friends

Wow, long time-no post. We've been chugging along here. Lowell finally is on the good side of his cold and seems to be feeling a lot better. He's verbalizing more and more. Last night he turned off all the lights before going up to bath and said "dark" appropriately. Cool! In other news, I went to a workshop on potty training your autistic child. Yikes..sounds like it may take awhile! Lowell also has a new pediatrician that came highly recommended. She seems quite nice and very accomodating. I like that she wants to do some blood work. We've never gone that route and it would put my mind at ease to know that all is "balanced" in his body, as much as it can be!

As you can see in these pictures, Lowell really got into his Baby Einstein puppets tonight. We gave them to him for his birthday. He hadn't shown any interest in them, but tonight went over and put them on his hands. He didn't "talk" to them at all, but was intrigued with them and the fact that they matched the characters in his video. Pretty cool! Last night Lowell was drawing on his Doodle Pro and drew numbers 1-23 all by himself, with no prompting. They even looked like the right numbers:) In school today they said he's now counting up into the 60's. He's been really making some great progress lately.

I did a little project on my other blog about this, but I thought the article written by Temple Grandin would be of interest to you.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Let's go fly a kite!

Last weekend we had the *perfect* kite flying weather. Lowell loved watching us run across the backyard with the kite in the air, so he gave it a try:) Now the weather has turned cool and rainy. Lowell's had a cold this week, so he's been "under the weather" a bit. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Happy Birthday Lowell~

Lowell turned 3 years old today! He had a nice, mellow day. I brought in GF/CF brownies to his Autism Day Treatment class. He took a huge nap this afternoon and then my parents came over for dinner. He's such a simple kid. He was very content with his new Sesame Street book and his balloon, sitting and reading to his alligator friend. A fine way to spend a birthday!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Karaoke Lowell~

So Joe's dad (Lowell's grandpa) came over yesterday and brought Lowell a early birthday present....a real karaoke machine!!! How fun:) Lowell was, of course, very curious about the words on the screen and the familiar songs. He loved pointing at the words on the screen! He even put the microphone up to his mouth, but has yet to say anything into it. What a great gift! He really seemed to be able to handle not getting overly obsessed on the buttons. He touched them, but then let the songs play, without pressing them just to press. I can't wait until he figures out how fun it is to talk...or sing...into the microphone and can enjoy that too!!Here's another pic from today of Lowell admiring his Think Autism. Think Cure. bracelet. Ok, he doesn't know it says that, but it's sweet nonetheless. Lowell has had a very good week back at his Autism Day Treatment program. The note from today said he did really well in music class and is doing very well with his picture schedule. Yay! We've also noticed at home that we can stop mid-reading or mid-song and he'll fill in the blank. It's become a fun game to play and it really shows us how much his vocabulary has taken off! One more week until Lowell turns 3!!!

Monday, September 04, 2006

It's a wonderful life!

I was told about this story in my comments last post. Amazing! I've loved this artist for years and didn't know she has an Autistic son. So fun when you realize that you have so much in common with someone you admire. Very hopeful story! Give it a read:)

So this is the end of our week off from the Autism Day Treatment program. This week went better than I could have ever imagined. Lowell was very calm much of the time and used his words very well. I can't even count how many new things he's said in the last 10 days!! He's also getting much better about letting us know what he wants. I'm excited for him to start back up with the program after some good quality family time. Now he's rested and ready to learn!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A week off...

Hi~ yes, we're still here. This week we've been off of the Autism Day Treatment program, so things have been busy. It's been a nice treat to have both kids together all day again. This may sound terrible, but I was actually dreading it. The few weeks leading up to it, the kids had been feeding off each other so much with their whining and tantrums. I didn't know if I'd have the patience. They've pleasantly surprised me. They've both been behaving very well and have actually enjoyed each other. They've started chasing each other across the living room, back and forth. It's wonderful to see Lowell looking at Chloe and laughing and smiling with her. Running away, waiting for her to catch up and running again. LOVE the interaction:) The other *huge* thing that has happened lately is Lowell's "functional" language has really taken off. He is usually short phrases, (i.e. nap time, bath time, bed time) appropriately and abides by them. It's wonderful. MUCH less whining, tantrums, frustration. That makes us all happy!!! We've also been really enjoying this late summer Minnesota weather. There is a hint of fall in the air, with a bit cooler, more crisp air. It feels wonderful and makes for great fun at the park. This picture shows what Lowell does when you try to snap a pic of him. He smiles and squints his eyes shut really hard. Nice. Have a great rest of the week and holiday weekend!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dear Lowell...

I made this layout and posted it on my other blog, but thought it was so appropriate for here that I would share it. I wrote this letter to Lowell about how far he's come this summer. It's been so much fun watching him. I took this picture on the first day of summer and here we are almost to Labor day, only a month away from his 3rd birthday, and he's made some great progress:)

It says...

Dear Bean,
You've had such an amazing summer. You've grown in so many ways. You started the Autism Day Treatment program at St. David's 8 weeks ago. You now walk in each morning and "greet" your teachers with a smile and giggle, while looking at them! Your vocabulary has exploded! You now repeat words after we say them and identify things on your own. Your eye contact and interaction has improved dramatically. You love reading books, esp. ABC books. We are so proud of how far you've come and can't wait to see what you do next!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Autism Day Treatment program week 8

Wow, hard to believe it's been 8 weeks already! This summer is really flying by. This week was a bit more balanced for Lowell. He did have a fever mid-week that we got checked out and ears, eyes and throat look fine. We also had a parent night at St. David's with the other parents of the kids in the Autism Day Treatment program. It was fun to connect and get to know each other a bit. The teachers had the kids show us some of the fun activities that they enjoy doing in class. This week Lowell seemed to get into coloring. He goes in spurts with this. It is quite amazing how much he stays within the lines!

He has had some increased sensory issues. Lots more irritation with noises and some increased light sensitivity. When he got the fever we thought maybe he had an ear infection and that was contributing to the increased sensitivity, however his ears checked out fine. Not sure what's going on with the sensory defensiveness.

One more week of the program before we have a week off. The weather has been absolutely stellar, so we've spent much of the weekend at various parks. I love early fall!!! Have a great week:)

P.S. Here's a scrapbook page I made from some of Lowell's creative pursuits, art and music!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Autism Day Treatment program wk 7

We got out the finger paints today. Fun!

Wow this week went by fast! Lowell's been pretty up and down at home, although he had a pretty good week at ADTP.

Lowell had a great day! He was very happy and verbal. Nice transitions with his visual schedule- increased independence. I am also seeing increased initiation of interaction with me as well as increased parallel play with other kids. Eye contact and joint attending continues to increase. He did a great job identifying animal photos in 1:1 work today, as well as imitating their names.

Lowell continues to make gains! Overall the time he spends engaged and interacting is greater than the time he spends self-directed. Not only does he respond to my interaction attemps but he initiates interaction with eye contact, touch, singing , words. His affect is bright: he seems to enjoy working so hard!

Now that he seems to be getting the hang of the picture schedules at school, we are going to start using them at home. For some reason we have resisted this and now that the groundwork is laid, we realize how much it could help. He will have a picture schedule for his morning routine, after nap, and bedtime.

We also are still really struggling with his sleep routine. We are now pushing his bedtime from 7:30 pm to 8 pm since he seems like he really has a lot of energy left in the evening. He is asleep by 9 pm. However, he continues to wake up at 5 am or before!!! We're in a catch 22, if we have him go back into his bedroom, he pounds on the door (it's locked) and tends to wake up his sister. If he gets up he can be really groggy and crabby, because it's too dang early for anyone to be up!!! Yikes.
Edit: Today (Sunday) Lowell got up at 5:30 am. We're making progress!!! It's so cute, he now comes into our room and comes over to me and grabs my hand. LOVE waking up that way:)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Let's play!

They're starting to play together now. Yay!! Things are mellowing out at home with Lowell. He's sleeping a bit later in the morning. He's more independent using his picture schedule and with the general routine at St. David's. He actually said "want" tonight (when prompted) when he wanted something. Yippie!!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006


We sure have had our ups and downs lately. Lowell continues to do very well at the Autism Day Treatment program and also continues to be very difficult at home. When I ask his teachers about the increase in intensity of his tantrums they say that it is part of his development and advances that he's making and is actually a positive thing. Of course we're all hoping that with the increased frustration about not being able to communicate he will eventually use some of his new vocabulary and realize the power of words to get what he wants. We can hope!

The best story of the week is that one day they had some potential donors come and watch his class. I guess Lowell was very social this week. He was paying a lot more attention to the people around him and apparently turned around from the table he was sitting at and gave the donors a huge smile. Everyone loved it:) One of his teachers said, " I think they went up and wrote a check right then and there." Too funny!

So our goal right now are to get through this turbulent time. Try to come up with some sort of morning routine and have a picture schedule to go with it. Also try to ease his waking up. He has been an absolute bear after waking in the morning and especially after naps lately. We have our first conference with his day treatment program teachers tomorrow, so that should be good:)

Monday, July 31, 2006

Hotsy Totsy

We're here and it is HOT HOT HOT outside...hovering around 100 degrees and humid. "Hotsy Totsy" as Lowell now mimics me saying! Lowell loves the pool and sprinkler to keep cool:) He was begging to go out in the backyard and turn on the sprinkler at 6 am on Saturday morning. It was already 80 degrees, so we could have, but I didn't feel like waking up the neighborhood....we waited until 8 am:) He got wet whenver he could this weekend. He took a trip to a nearby pool with daddy and Bobo. Sunday night we went to my parents house and soaked in their big blow up pool. Lowell enjoyed kicking around and sitting down in the pool and having the water up to his chin. He also really enjoyed putting a small ball under water and having it pop up with a big splash. He is really into the song "Slippery Fish" and has these adorable hand motions that he does with the song, even when we sing it without accompanying music. Too cute!

Today Lowell was up bright and early at 4:30 am, went to DTP (Autism Day Treatment Program) and didn't go down to nap until 1:30 pm. I don't know how he does it!!

His report was good:
What I did really well today: sang and participated in music- likes parachute games
What was very fun about today: gym and books
My mood was: silly and funny!

Looks like we're supposed to get some rain tomorrow night and cool down into the 80's! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Not so bad..

Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just as my ever-optimistic husband predicted, just when we reach the brink, Lowell seems to always pull through with flying colors. I last posted on Monday after a very rough morning. I'm happy to bring you an end of the week update that things have gotten better. Sooooooo much better!

Tuesday morning things were pretty calm around here. Lowell seemed in good spirits when I dropped him off at school. When I went to pick him up, the teachers seemed elated. They said he was so attentive, made great eye contact and really had a fabulous day. Sheila Merzer, the local "autism guru" observed as well, so I was happy to hear he was having a good day. This is what the school report said.

What I did really well today: great at puzzle (Red Rover) game.

What was very fun about today: tried water/sprinkler play, more adventurous with it today.

From Sheila: I was here to observe today. Lowell appears to have adjusted well to the program and routines. He willingly remains engaged with the others. He really a group activity that involved numbers. It was fun to see him!

From Speech: Lowell continues to be more verbal and socially engaged. Nice use of eye contact to initiate activities/joint attention across activities. He loved the obstacle course in which he got to jump on the ball and crawl through the tunnel to put body parts on Potatohead. His independence with the visual schedule continues to increase. His tolerance of our "PECS trainings" is also improving.

Yesterday afternoon Lowell went in our backyard and played in the sprinker. He seemed to really enjoy it. It's getting very hot outside. I think he loves the water to cool off. When he came back inside he started drawing on his Doodle Pro. He drew a round circle, then said "eyes" and drew 2 circles for eyes, said "mouth", "ears" and either "teeth" or "feet" as he was drawing. I was amazed!! I asked today and his OT said she had been drawing faces with him the other day. Cool! Then this morning he had an alphabet book and flipped up each letter and without any prompting said the word for the picture that was underneat. Wowza, we are in brand new territory here. Yippie!!

Here's his school report for Thursday.

What I did really well today: Lowell is increasing the time he spends in music group.

What was very fun about today: tent and flashlight play- allowed lights off for a while to play with flashlight.

From Music Therapist: Lowell gave me a great welcome back after I was out sick last week. He initiated interaction with bright eye contact and siles. He sustained eye contact and played reciprical initiation games with me. During music group he has increased the time he stays in the circle of peers, he returns with increased independence. During a sond on Wednesday, he gave sustained eye contact and participated in activity for entire song!!!

Monday, July 24, 2006

The dark side of Autism

So today was one of those rough days. This morning Lowell was rearing to go to school by 7:15 am and we don't leave until 8 am. He was getting bored. He started to take my hand and lead me around like he wanted something. He would take me to different spots and then was not at all clear about what he wanted, so he would get frustrated that I was not giving him what he *thought* the wanted. This went on and on an the frustration started to grow for both of us. It escalated to the point that I couldn't deal with him not being able to either a.) say b.) point c.) give me some clue (anything) to let me know what he wanted. I snapped and totally lost it. Definitely not one of my prouder moments. I started bawling and had to leave the room.

When we got to school I asked the teachers if there was anything else I could have tried. The speech therapist said it actually is a good sign that he is leading me around and we just need to keep working on the communication. Yea, I know. She also said it was a pretty "typical" developmental phase. I think what frustrates me most is that we haven't gotten past this yet. Before the age of 2 he didn't have any way of showing what he wanted. He didn't point or take my hand or verbalize anything. It was a guessing game what his grunts ment. So when he started taking my hand and actually bringing me to something I was thrilled. However, now that's where we've been for almost a year now. It's really starting to wear my patience. Ugh! I can honestly say I have never, ever wanted anything so bad as for my son to talk. Some days it hits me harder than others.

So here's the report from class. I'm happy to see they worked on PECS with him after hearing my story this morning.

What I did really well today: working on PECS

What was fun about today: chase in gym, new bubble machine

My mood was: good

Tomorrow is another day. I just need to remember to celebrate the baby steps, they are leading in the right direction:)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Autism Day Treatment program week 4

Ok, we're finally back on track. We had a rough start to the week with Lowell having a fever on Monday and missing his DTP (day treatment program). I think that he may be getting his 2 year molars and they're bugging him and causing a slight fever. Tuesday he was back in class, but was not yet himself. The teachers said he was much more frustrated and when I went to pick him up he was literally "passed out" in their arms from exhaustion. Of course he perked up in the car and then didn't take a nap all afternoon:( Wednesday we were getting closer to his normal self. His report said:

What I did really well today: Red Rover Game- involves listening, waiting, taking turns, following sequence and matching floor puzzle number. (I'll have to ask his teachers more about this. Joe and I looked at each other and said, "Lowell played Red Rover!?!?!?!?!")
What was very fun about today: Red Rover game, hello group (attended well)

My mood was: much better today! More alert and less frustrated.

Lowell took a great LONG afternoon nap and seemed to be a catching up on his sleep.

Today Lowell was much more perky in the morning. I dropped him off and then attended a support group in the same building for mother's with Autistic children. It felt a bit strange (not quite used to being in this new "club" yet) but provided much needed outlet and support. I hope to attend once a month. When I went in the room to get Lowell at the end of the day, he was looking at a book. He looked up at me, gave me a huge smile and hug and said "all done!". SOOO CUTE!!!! His report today said:

What I did really well today: checking schedule went well today- a few trials.

What was very fun about today: jump and crash- seemed to help him keep more alert.

My mood was: good:)

It's been a difficult week getting back into the routine, but Lowell has really shown some wonderful growth. He has been very verbal and repeating a lot more. We were walking in from the garage from class yesterday. I told him it was nap time when we got inside, he turned off the garage light and said, "good night" and we went straight up to bed without a hitch. Bravo!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lowell's trip up north

We're back!! If you want the candy coated version of our trip see my other blog:) Here I will get into more detail about what we experienced bringing Lowell to a cabin in northern Minnesota for a week. All-in-all we felt he did pretty well. Joe brought him up a day early while the rest of us were still in Milwaukee at a wedding. That way they were able to settle in a bit and get somewhat acquainted with the surroundings. When we arrived we went out for a walk in the woods. Back at the cabin, Lowell was immediately immersed in plugging and unplugging fans and hanging out at all the outlets obsessing over what he could put in them. We were able to turn the main outlet that he was interested in off so at least there was no electricity running through it. Immediately we knew we were going to have to pick our battles. He wasn't interested in any of the regular "play" items that he has at home. Each morning at 6 am (yikes!) my dad took him out to the lake and around the cabins to walk around for an hour or so. This picture was taken at sunrise. He enjoyed throwing rocks into the water for a bit, but that was pretty short-lived. They found an open cabin and Lowell loved to figure out where all the outlets and light switches were. There also was a main lodge that he always wanted to go into to play with the switch for the ceiling fan. Each time we walked by was a big event (i.e. tantrum!) if we didn't let him in. There were many things like this throughout the week that we all just had to be patient and work with him on. It was very trying, but a good growth experience for him. In the morning sun we went swimming most days and we did have some productive play there. He kicked around, walked starting in fairly deep water all the way to the shore and one day had a wonderful game of throwing a big rock into the water and then finding it and picking it up and throwing again. There was also a big slide that he loved:)The sleeping arrangements worked out pretty well. He took his regular nap and slept through the night until 5 am, just as he does at home. Joe slept in the same room with Lowell and I slept in a different room with Chloe. On the very last day we offered him a juice box. He has never been able to drink through a straw before but he figured it out immediately!! We were all sitting around the table and cheered wildly and he LOVED it:)
Overall we think that he did a pretty good just in such a different environment. We could certainly see his self-soothing obsessions (outlets, Baby Einstein videos and a toy phone) come into play a lot more than at home, but that was to be expected. The happy ending to this vacation is that since we got home yesterday he has been doing fabulous. He was very happy to be home in comfortable surroundings. He read his entire Dinosaur Roar book cover to cover all on his own over and over. We were able to get it all on tape! He has been very verbal. It seems that the week with his cousins was a growth period for him and now we're watching him blossom. Very exciting!!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Autism Day Treatment program: Week 3 wrap-up

I'm doing a week 3 wrap-up today since it's a short week and we're heading out of town. Yesterday's report:

What I did really well today: catching onto picture schedule. **They added letters onto his schedule (for example: Lowell's Day) so that he can add the letters and say the words. It seems to draw his attention in better.

What was really fun about today: putting shakers into his sandles during music time.

My mood was: good

Today Lowell was videotaped by the graduate interns.

What I did really well today: on swing, demonstrated numbers and letter skills on tape!!

What was fun about today: shared platform swing with peers, sang

My mood was: good

Tomorrow Joe takes Lowell to "school" and picks him up. Then they have a day alone while I go with my family and Chloe to a wedding in Milwaukee. The guys will then meet us up at a cabin on Sunday where we'll all be together with my parents, my sister, her husband and kids for a week. Hope all goes well! I'm a little nervous to see how Lowell responds to the different environment. Hopefully Joe and Lowell can get settled in for a day before we arrive. We've tried to think of what he may obsess about and be proactive. We'll see...

"See" you in a week:)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ready, Set, Go!

Lowell and I were out in the backyard the other morning (hence the pj's) and he started swinging on the swing set. He first stood, poised to go and then would say "one, two, three, go" and release and swing. Sometimes he would mix it up with a "ready, set, go" for good measure:) He completely initiated this on his own and I just stood and watched, cheered and took these pictures!

Here's the sequence:

"Ready, Set, Go!"
"Stop!" What'cha doin' mom? (ok, he doesn't really say that!)

Too cute! Happy 4th of July!!!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Autism Day Treatment program: Week 2 wrap-up

This week sure flew by! We all really felt like we were into the swing of things with the new schedule. Lowell seemed to be well adjusted to his new class. The Friday report:

What I did really well today: peg boards, beads, used his schedule better today

What was very fun about today: peg boards, stringing beads, gym

My mood was: Seemed tired early in the day (note: he was up before 4:30 am..yikes!), but perked up. Got tired again at lunchtime.

Anything else important: We tried adding letters spelling "Lowell's Day" to his schedule and it helped!

Lowell hasn't been responding much to using picture schedules, so I've been trying to brainstorm with the teachers how to tweak it so that he may respond better. I suggested using letters more, since he responds so well to us spelling things out. Sounds like they are starting to try that and had a good initial reaction to it:) They also may use "real" pictures rather than Boardmaker pictures.

Since it's Saturday, we went to the pool today with my parents (Nana and Bobo to Lowell). He loved it and had a blast sliding down a water slide into my dads arms. He also enjoyed jumping from the edge of the pool with some prompting. After we got home he started playing with his glasses. He actually put them on his own face! Lowell has had a facination with glasses since he was very young. He likes to take other peoples glasses off and then put them on over and over. He's never let us put glasses on him. Today he was trying and I offered to help and he let me! He then put them on himself and seemed to enjoy it:)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Autism Day Treatment program wk 2: Day 4

Lowell skipped his nap yesterday, totally out of the blue. I have no idea why. He did alright during the afternoon, which seemed very long without a nap. His speech teacher from the school district came and did a session with him. He was in good spirits. We thought maybe, just maybe, he'd sleep a little later this morning since he didn't have a nap. Guess again...5:15 am he was ready to go! He had another great day at "school". The teachers did comment that he was literally falling asleep during lunch he was so tired.

Daily report:

What I did well today: play in senory table with bubbles and floating fish.

What was fun about today: OT was great today, exploring equiptment, jumping and crashing.

From music therapist: Lowell has increased his time sitting in the group circle for presented activities. Of 5 presented activities/30 min. Lowell participates as part of circle for 2 activities, giving eye contact and singing jointly. During other activities he participates with attention from a distance or follows own agenda and explores room. Continues to respond to song prompt to rejoin group.

He took a huge nap today, and had to be woken up after 2.5 hours. My dad came over and we took him to the park. He didn't have much interest in playing and was still pretty foggy. He also is chewing on things a lot (board books, action figures), which is very unusual for him. I'm thinking that maybe he's getting his 2 year molars?! He also really wanted my one-on-one attention at the park. I'm glad my dad was there to hold Chloe. She is also in a very clingy/attachment phase so it can be tricky when I have the two of them alone. I try very hard to play with or read to each individually in the afternoon. We're all still trying to figure out how to share mommy:)

Autism Day Treatment program wk 2: Day 3

Lowell seems to really be getting into this "school" thing:) He anticipates it now and every morning about 7:45 am he gets on his sandles and is ready to shoot out the door. This week we have had no separation issues. I've been staying in the room for about 10-15 min. just to have that time with him playing. I now get Chloe out of her Baby Bjorn and she walks about the room. She loves watching the other kids.

Report from teachers:
What I really did well today: We worked on identifying body parts and singing "head, shoulders, knees and toes".

What was fun about today: water table, being outside, playing with balloons

My mood was: very good!

From speech therapist: Lowell and I had a great time blowing up balloons and letting them shrink in our hands- what a great "giggle" he has! He did some nice imitating of words (e.g. go, uh-oh, all done, swing) and loved singing along with Twinkle Twinkle. I was also impressed that he imitated me dipping (and tasting) a chip in salsa at snack time!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Autism Day Treatment program wk 2: Day 2

Here's a pic of Lowell getting ready this morning. He's very into putting his sandles on by himself. This time he had the wrong foot, but more times than not he puts them on the correct feet and gets the velcro adjusted.

Yesterday was another smooth day. His report said,

What was very fun about today: finding puzzle pieces in sand and placing in puzzle, also letters in sand. Singing with Lyndsay (lots of smiles).

My mood was: good!

We're really getting into the routine now. One thing that just kind-of "hit" me for the first time the other night was how much trust we are putting in these teachers. Lowell has never been in daycare and has never even had a babysitter besides my parents. I was a bit suprised that it just dawned on me a week into this new program that here's our little (almost) 3 year old, who doesn't talk and is very dependent, off in the world, fairly far away (about 15 min.) from me. I think that I'm not having any fear about it is because the teachers are great, and best of all Lowell seems to really be enjoying it. It's just a strange feeling to have him away and not with my husband or my parents. Glad it's going smoothly for all of us.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Day Treatment program wk 2: Day 1

Off to a great start this week! No separation issues at all:) Lowell seems to really enjoy his "school" and that makes us all very happy!

Monday's report said:

What I did really well today: He played really well and hard in gym. He enjoyed laying on his tummy on the scooter, demonstrated his good motor skills!

What was fun about today: glurch, painting, blocks, gym

My mood was: good!

Anything else? He worked on sharing with the bubble bucket

From the occupational therapist:
I really enjoyed my time with Lowell today. I worked on having him follow a sequence (bounce on ball, "crash" into pillows, get puzzle piece, walk across bridge, put piece in). He needed a lot of assistance at first but by the end he needed only a few gestures to complete the sequence. He did a great job in the gym. He enjoyed going down the long ramp on his tummy on the scooter board. He demonstrated lots of smiles and eye contact. At lunch, I got him interested in the pears by making towers with the pear cubes. He then ate them all!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Autism Day Treatment program week 1 wrap-up

Lowell ended the week on a great note. We are absolutely thrilled with how his day treatment program has begun. On Friday Chloe and I stuck around a little bit and played. Lowell seemed to really appreciate that:) He seemed to have a good day. His progress report said:

What I did really well today: Sat in group well. Played side by side with Theo.

What was very fun about today: Morning hello group. Gym time (very motivating for him).

My mood was: good. He did cover his ears more often today. Stressed at tornado drill, but that's understandable.

Speech therapist said: Lowell did a great job in speech. I am impressed with his ability to attend and reciprocate when given structure in a 1:1 setting. He likes being silly and is responding well to silly interactive play routines. We are continuing to work on helping him use the visual schedule system to ease transitions. I also worked with a wipe-on/off board and was able to elicit some nice language and increased eye contact.

I also received an email from the main teacher on Friday afternoon saying that as a team, they all agreed that the first week went well. Over the next week, they will be working on the Helps assessments. These assessments are observational assessments that determine each child’s strengths and functioning in the domains of cognitive development, motor development, sensory needs, speech and language, social/emotional and self-help skills. After the Helps assessments are complete, they will be focusing in on more specific treatment goals for each child. For the first week, the goals were pretty global and general, such as being able to transition well from parents and from activities and rooms, being able to utilize the picture schedules, and being able to attend to activities for more than 5 minutes at a time. They were broad goals, and the Helps assessments will help focus in more specifically for each child.

I am very impressed with this program at the get-go. We feel that Lowell has responded very well in a very short amount of time and look forward to lots more progress!!!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Autism Day Treatment program: Day 4

Woohoo...another awesome day for Lowell. I know we're still in the "honeymoon" period, but this is so motivating to have such a great start to the day treatment program. We had a seamless transition this morning. He really is getting the hang of me dropping him off. When we got to his room, he got out of the stroller, no problems. He was a bit clingy, but we then found something to play with. I think he really liked that Chloe and I stayed and played with him for a bit. He kept looking right up at me, as if he was thinking, "are you staying here too mommy?" I think they're going to have some parent days that will be fun to stay there and observe their day.

The report from today:

What I did really well today: transitioned well in a.m., transitioned to gym well.

What was very fun about today: finding puzzle pieces, opening eggs

My mood was: very good overall. He became very mellow and cuddly and rocked face to face with me (teacher).

From music therapist: Joint singing! Words and melodies with several long episodes of eye contact. Brightened affect. Using "stop/go" words with instrument/movement games. Generally redirectable when he moves away from circle of group.

Another good day! It's amazing how we're all adjusting to this new schedule. It seems so different with Lowell gone all morning. I think the routine is also keeping me more organized. I am feeling a sense of efficiency with my time.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Autism Day Treatment Program: Day 3

Today Lowell had no issues when I dropped him off. The teacher was saying "bye" and Lowell said bye to me and pushed me away. Ok, I'll take that!! Woohoo:)

His daily report said:
What I did really well today: played with playdough while interacting with me (teacher).

What was fun about today: everything!

My mood was: Very good. When frustrated, he knew how to seek help. :):)

Anything else important: Very impressive transition from mom and sister today.

Another good day. 3 for 3...yay!!! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Autism Day Treatment program: Day 2

Well, today I managed to get both kids into the building in one piece. That was a major goal for me since Chloe ( my 14 month old) will be with us most days for pick-up and drop-off. I put her in her Baby Bjorn and had Lowell in a stroller. It worked pretty well and we got him to his classroom with time to spare:)

After Lowell got out of the stroller he started getting upset. I think he just didn't know what he wanted to start with and there were lots of adults around, so he was a bit flustered. I talked with him a bit, told him that mommy was going to leave and that he would have fun playing. Then I left. I thought maybe the transition would work better if I wasn't within view.

I was anxious to hear how the day went when I picked him up, with Chloe in tow again. Works like a charm! I'll have to take a picture:) When I went into the classroom and he looked over he gave me a huge smile and held out his arms for a hug. My heart was so big at that moment. I love that he is so excited to see me...even when I'm holding Chloe. His teacher looked at me and said, "he did SO well!" My eyes filled with tears and I was so pleased! I didn't have time to chat with her, but she did give me his daily progress report. Here it is:

What I did really well today: He transitioned very well. He only fussed about 2 minutes today. Big improvement from yesterday.

What was very fun today: He loved music and sang alot! Very participatory in group. Loved stop and go activities.

My mood was: Happy and willing to be re-directed.

Anything else important: Excellent day! I was so proud of him and his ability to settle so quickly today.
P.S. He has noticed outlets and stays away from them:) (He has a huge obsession with outlets- so this is fantastic news!)

In the car on the way home I talked about what a big boy he was at school today and how he must have had so much fun. I said "high five" and he gave me a huge smile. What a great start!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Autism Day Treatment Program: Day 1

Well, we made it throught the first day. That's always the hardest, right!? Lowell has been getting up by 5 am every morning for months, so it concerned me how he was going to make it until 12:30 pm when the program ends for the day. Today he was up and at it at 4:30 am. He was fine until about 7:30 am when I think he realized that he got up too early:)

We got to class at 8:30 am and he wanted no part of staying in the classroom. He bolted for the hallway and didn't want to come back in. It escalated and needless to say he was getting pretty riled up. We tried getting him into some of his favorite things, puzzles, books, etc. but nothing was working. He kept grabbing my arm and wanting me to leave with him. Poor little guy! We decided it would just be best for me to leave.

I wasn't sure what kind of report I would get when I came to pick him up at noon. I ran into the speech therapist and OT in the hallway and they said he did great. Yippie! I then spoke with one of the main teachers and she said he settled down nicely and had a great morning. What a relief! Here is his progress report for today:

What I did really well today: puzzles, joined in with other kids in the sensory table and with bubbles.

What was fun about today: playing in the gym, rolling down the mat, building with blocks, puzzles. Loved pull tubes and played reciprocally with them.

My mood was: very good after the first 10-15 min:)

Anything else important? He did very well! Tired by end of morning. Tried verbalizing at times.

From Occupational Therapist: Wow, what a fun day! The kids had fun in the monkey room. They had opportunities to swing and "crash" into the big pillows. They all enjoyed exploring new toys. They transitioned well down to the gym and enjoyed having the space to explore and move their bodies.

From Speech Therapist: It was a great day! We all enjoyed singing and being silly. I'm focusing heavily on building trust with the children and assessing the toys and activities that motivate them. We are also very busy learning the visual schedule system to help transition times.

All in all, not a bad first day:) One of these days I will try to take some pictures of his room to post. Today just didn't seem like a good time to get out the camera. I also have to figure out how I'm going to bring Chloe in with me while I drop him off and pick him up. I am feeling great about the program. The communication with the teachers is fantastic! So glad it has begun:)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tonight was a huge night for us. It was the kick-off for a new stage in Lowell's life. We had parents night for Lowell's new Autism Day Treatment program that starts up next Monday. It will run 5 days a week, 4 hours each day. Up until now he has been getting treatment through the school district, which has been fabulous. However, we found out about this day treatment program and couldn't pass up the opportunity to try to get him enrolled. We also thought he is so receptive right now and seems ready to increase the intensity. He will continue to get treatment through the district as well a few afternoons a week.

The day treatment program consists of 5 kids, all between the ages of 2-3 years old, all with a medical diagnosis of Autism. They were evaluated and hand picked by an Autism "guru" in our area, Sheila Merzer. She's been working in the field since 1972. Tonight she mentioned that all the kids were "high functioning" Autistic, which is great to hear! There are two mental health specialists, an occupational therapist, speech therapist and music therapist all working with the kids on a daily basis. So basically it's a 1:1 student to staff ratio. Can't beat that! There will also be two graduate interns as classroom assistants. We are so pleased that Lowell is going to be in such good hands.

This is going to take some time for us all to adjust to the new schedule and having Lowell gone for so much of the day, but it seems like the best thing for him. As his parents we feel we want to give him the best support that we can and really feel that this is the help that he needs. We are very excited to see what wonderful, creative, innovative strategies they come up with, what progress he makes and hopefully watch him flourish.

They gave us this social story to work with him on over the weekend.

Exciting times!!! I'll be back to post more after his first day on Monday:)