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:)

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I am feeling a bit melancholy today. Change is a brewin'. I always have a bit of grief in letting go of the old before I can welcome the new with open arms. This time of year is always a little hard for me. I'm not always sure what to do with myself. Routines change so much, there's anticipation about what lays ahead. I was thinking back today about how it has been 3 years since I was on bed rest all summer, before having Lowell. My life was right on the verge then. I didn't know what to expect. I will never be the same again. I took a drastic turn and gave my life a whole new meaning...having children. The best decision I've ever made.

This week we've been wrapping up Lowell's special ed classes that he's had at school. In 10 short days he will begin his Autism day treatment program at St. David's. He will continue to get services through the school district, so most of his teachers will stay the same. Although one of the special ed teachers, Jan, is leaving to go work in another district. We've developed quite a relationship over the past 6 months. She has done home visits each week working with Lowell. She has invested quite a bit in helping him. It's hard to just say good-bye. We are so grateful to have had her work with Lowell. Thank you Jan!