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:)