Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays!

The letter to santa has been written...
Presents were discussed....Lowell was great about meeting santa, Chloe...not so much.The holidays are here! Wow...what a year this has been for Lowell. A GREAT year....dare I say, his best year yet!

Here is Lowell's "school" picture this year from his Autism Day Treatment program. I just love the picture and made this collage frame to house it. Speaking of which, there was a story on Lowell on the front page of the St. David's fall publication. You can read it here.

We've been so pleased with the progress that Lowell has made this fall. He really has made some major breakthroughs with his social skills, his speech and requesting. It's so wonderful to see.

Hope you and yours are well this holiday season.
Looking forward to an exciting 2008!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In one week....

Just last Saturday we finally decided to bite the bullet and try and potty train Lowell. He is four years old, after all, and after two and a half years of two kids in diapers I was ready to lighten the load a little. After thinking about it (and worrying) for over a year how it may go and hearing heartbreaking stories of autistic kids well into elementary school and not yet potty trained, we figured there's no better time to dive in and see what happened. Lowell is in such a good spot right now in his life. He has been developing wonderful social skills, a delightful sense of humor, much more verbal communication and he, himself, seemed to be getting pretty tired of diapers. So last Saturday we put him in underwear. He had been in underwear before for short chunks of time, just to see if he was going to have any sensory issues. Everything seemed fine. We put him on the potty about every 10 min. and he went a few times that first morning. He definitely didn't like the feeling and when he was about to go he would start to cry. We knew that it would take some adjustment and the more he went in the potty and got used to the feeling, the better. She went in his pants several times as well. He wasn't really aware that the underwear was not a diaper and didn't seem to care. So the first day was 10 min. off the potty, 5 min. on. It was a long day....By the second day, he seemed to understand "holding it" a bit better. We waited him out several times on the potty knowing that he needed to go and didn't want him to get off and immediately go in his pants. By the end of the weekend we felt he had come a long way, but had no idea what was in store for him...and school the next day.

He started off great with only an accident or two and was holding it for short chunks of time. Actually on Monday afternoon he held it at his integrated preschool class all afternoon. He got home and wouldn't go, but eventally did and we were feeling like things were going to be ok. As the week went on the progress report was that he wasn't having accidents at all. He was brought to the bathroom every 20 min. or so, but didn't go every time.

Then by Friday we found that a few times at his Autism Day Treatment program he was going into the bathroom on his own. This weekend at home he stops whatever he is doing and goes into the bathroom and takes care of business, flushes the toilet and is done. We're in awe!! Of course there are still a few accidents and he still won't do #2 in the potty, but we're making great progress. Today we even took a trip to Target, went on a long walk and he held it the whole time. We came in and prompted him to go and he went...all on his own. We are amazed at how far he has come in just one week! Yay we like to say around here:)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Walking for Autism....

Here we are today, Team Lowell for Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism here in the twin cities. This is part of the team for Lowell's Autism Day Treatment program.
We walked 3 miles around Lake Nokomis.

Lowell walked quite a bit of it!
We raised about $1000 for a wonderful cause. Thanks so much for all your contributions and support. It is very much appreciated!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Turning four...

Lowell turned four on the 14th. He is doing so well. This was the first year he seemed to actually get that it was his birthday. That was so fun to see! He was interested in opening gifts for the first time ever. What do you suppose was in this GIANT box?
His very own tractor. How cool! He loves it:) He is doing extremely well with his new "all day" schedule. He is in the Autism Day Treatment program in the morning, same as usual. Now in the afternoon from 1-3 pm he goes to an integrated pre-school where half the class is "typically developing" kids and the other half is special needs kids. We have been getting glowing reports about him playing very well with the other kids, using lots of language and lots of great interaction. Yay! We are thrilled to hear that this is working out. He seems to be in a wonderful phase right now. Hope it keeps up! However tonight he had a terrible trip at the park as he was running up some stairs to go down the slide. He split open his chin. The cut does not look deep, but some skin was definitely shaved off and there was lots of blood. Ouch!!! He's a tough kid and handled it pretty well.

Did you all see the Oprah episode this week on autism? Lots of information from it is here.

Happy Fall!!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Moving into fall...

Hello again! Gosh I've had a hard time keeping up with this blog. I do want to say that I appreciate the comments from folks that happen to come across this blog and feel inspired to send me a note about autism. They've been through similar experiences or are currently going through them and offer their compassion and support. It really means a lot. Thank you!
After our summer trip to the cabin (see last post), Lowell had a rough patch. His tantrums grew very intense and he became very fickle about sensory issues. I had trouble keeping my patience with his hugely variable moods that changed at the drop of a hat. He wouldn't let us take his diaper off or put a new one one and he wouldn't let me touch him at all when he had a dirty diaper. His mood has definitely gotten better and more even, however the diaper issues continue. It's frustrating because we'd really like to start potty training Lowell and he seems to be ultra-sensitive with his bodily functions. As the summer draws closer to fall Lowell has gotten out of the August difficult period (same thing happened last year) and is delighting us with her verbal abilities. He is using lots of words spontaneously and appropriately and has developed quite a sense of humor. We also thoroughly enjoy watching him play with his side-kick kid sister. They are quite the pair! Interesting to read this post from a year ago almost to the day and we were experiencing similar joys.As you can see from these photos, we made it to the State Fair this year. It seemed pretty over-stimulating for Lowell and fans in the buildings really set him off, but he did really enjoy the tractors on machinery hill! He had to make sure his seat belt was securely fastened:) We feel it's a good exercise to expose him to some new experiences.
We're excited for our new schedule this fall. Chloe starts pre-school 2 mornings a week and Lowell continues the Autism Day Treatment program 5 days a week. In the afternoons he will begin an integrated pre-school through the local school district. We're hoping it's a good exeperience for him. I'll keep you posted.....

On October 6th the kids, Joe, my parents and I are all doing the Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism here in Minneapolis. Here is our pledge page. If you feel inclined to make a donation to our team for Lowell, it would be much appreicated.

Happy Fall!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Need to remember this...

{Nothing in life is so hard that you can't make it easier by the way you take it}
..quote by ellen glasgow

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Back from the lake...

Long time, no post. This summer has been pretty busy. However, our daily schedule doesn't change much during the summer months. Lowell's St. David's treatment stays the same and Chloe's not in pre-school yet. We did take our annual summer family trip "up north". My sister and her kids were in town from San Diego for over 2 weeks and for one week of that we went up to Thunder Lake Lodge. We never quite know how the week is going to go, but we're willing to give it a try to have some nice family time together. I just read through last years post after we returned from the same place. Very similar experiences we had a year later. Lowell surprised us with his enjoyment of shuffleboard (above) and his love of taking boat rides out on the lake. He also really enjoyed the beach and the playground. A couple of days we took him on a boat ride and he fell asleep he was so relaxed. There were also some very trying times. His obsessions were in full swing in our cabin, since there were 6 fans for him to plug and unplug endlessly. He definitely was outside his comfort zone and tried to soothe his anxiety through obsessive means. That got old real quick.
He's definitely still making progress this summer. After we came back and he was back in treatment, the teachers were amazed at how much his language has taken off. We've noticed a lot more spontaneously requesting things. The flip side of this has been some very intense tantrums. There's always the ups and the downs. We just need to remember to celebrate getting through a week away from home and can be thankful that we're able to do those types of things as a family. As difficult as it was at times and we just wanted to throw in the towel and go home, we try to remember that these experiences help us all. This is our life.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Back down to earth...

Yes, I know....with every surge in development, there's going to be a falling back. This spring has been wonderful for Lowell. The last 5 days have not. Lowell seems to be out-of-sorts and is not using words to tell us what he wants. That is the most frustrating. This is something we have worked on for years, then he finally started to use them and now has stopped again. Ugh! He is also in a stage of extreme obsession. It's so tough to see the little guy having to battle his "inner demons" as we call them. Those obsession monsters that seem to come to the surface, that he has such a hard time working through, but with patience, he does. As you see here, he's as sweet as ever, just sometimes drives us crazy!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Almost there...

A couple of new things about Autism to share. This article in our local paper is about a 7 year old Autistic boy who uses a therapy dog to help him out. Pretty amazing stuff!

Also, be sure and check out this report. It's by the Interactive Autism Network. It was just launched in April of this year. The project, which aims to collect information from families with a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It was designed to accelerate autism research. To gain a better understanding of autism and how to treat it, scientists need what families have: detailed information on children's diagnosis, treatments, environment, and services received. IAN is gathering this information directly from families, giving them an opportunity to "be part of the solution" and to make their voices heard. So cool. What a facinating report!
I leave you with a sweet picture of our little guy. We've had 10 days with my husband gone (1 more to go!) and Lowell has done fantastic! We even had a big storm pass through and lost power. Granted he had some major issues with not understanding that we cannot turn on the ceiling fan or the tv or the lights and he would not accept that. So we had to sleep at my parents. But overall he's been extremely good and I am so pleased.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Poster child?

Lowell has quite unexpectedly become somewhat of a poster child for the Autism Day Treatment program he is in. Kinda funny! I was talking to a friend the other day and she said, "Isn't that Lowell on the St. David's home page?" I don't go there often, so I had no idea. I looked at their web site here and there he was, with an adorable smile going through this tunnel of light, as my mom likes to call it. Then the other day we got the most recent St. David's newsletter in the mail and this same picture was on the back cover page. Pretty neat!

So then I was poking around the web site since I knew that they were going to feature the Austism Day Treatment program in their annual report. I found the online version and there was our little guy again with the following article.

I know this is very hard to read. You can see it online here. Scroll down to page 5. Lowell has been doing fantastic. He has had some nice "explosions" in many key areas of development. He is now using the individual words that he knows for actual requests. He is so much more aware these days, follows directions very nicely and is using his words to help understand and interact with the world around him!!! We are beyond thrilled:)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Continuing to amaze....

Lowell continues to amaze us. He has been in such a good "phase" over the past few months. Really expanding his vocabulary and really "with it". Joe bought a violin because he thought Lowell would enjoy it. He took it out and Lowell immediately put it under his chin and starting trying to work the bow. I asked him what he was playing and he answered "violin" right away. Not only did he listen and understand my question, but answered it. Now that's progress. Awesome! Lowell continues to make great progress at St. David's. Listen to this report from his music therapist. So cool!
"Lowell continues to use a wealth of language; greetings with adults and peers (the spontaneous "Hi Kathy" continues and is so socially apprpriate!) Requesting in choices, commenting about equipment and consistent joint singing. Music groups have been awesome this week- so much fun for all of us!"
We celebrated my daughters second birthday last weekend and I just love this shot I got of Lowell. He had such a good day. He was into her opening gifts and was interested in playing with the presents after they were opened. In the past he was quite unaware of gifts and wasn't into playing with them. Really fun to see! He also loved patting the balloons and got quite a kick out of it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Watch this..

The organization "Autism Speaks" created a music video of the Five for Fighting song, "World", which features images of autistic children and their families.

See it HERE.

The band is generously donating $0.49 to "Autism Speaks" for each time thevideo is viewed - the funding goes toward research studies to help find acure. When you have a moment, please visit the link above to watch the video and pass it along. They are aiming for 10,000 hits, but hopefully we can help them to surpass this goal.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Lowell's world...

The last few weeks have been busy in our household, as I'm sure they have been for everyone. Mommy (that would be me!) went away for 6 days without daddy or the kids!!! My parents were a huge help and all went well for everyone:) Then Lowell had a week off of his Autism Day Treatment program for Spring Break. We had a nice week together. I jumped right back into "mommy duty" here and the kids were great. We saw a lot of nana and bobo (my parents) and got outside as much as we could. The weather has been so darn cold, though!!
Lowell continues to use more words and ask for things. He was pretty even tempered this week. He's very facinated by my camera lately, so here's a couple goofy pictures that he took of himself:) Did anyone catch the episdoe that Oprah did on Autism last week on Living with Autism? Seems like a lot of the same stuff cycling through these shows lately. It's wonderful to bring awareness to the situation, but I would love to hear more about research and the search for a cause and cure!! Speaking of which, there is a new site called Interactive Autism Network that you can register and it will link parents of kids with Autism to researchers to learn more about the possible causes, treatments and cures for Autism. Now that's headed in the right direction!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

This kid rocks!!!!

Lowell has been doing so well lately. He has been much more verbal, even putting a couple of words together. His speech has been much more functional. He is requesting and formulating what he wants. He asks for help. He is naming things right and left. He is using language spontaneously. Of course he's not doing these things every time, but still...this is HUGE!!!
So tonight we were going up to the bathroom to have bath and he ran ahead of me. When I got into the bathroom he had his toothbrush in one hand, the tube of toothpaste in the other. He squirted the toothpaste onto the brush and began to brush his teeth....all on his own!!!!!! We're so proud of our little guy. He is really making some big steps lately. We are thrilled:)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

More busy work...

Lately Lowell has also been amazing us with his writing and drawing. Here he's working on his alphabet...and of course did each of them in order.

This is a clown he made on his Doodle Pro. See the hat, body, arms, *buttons* and shoes?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Music man

I'm always amazed at how well Lowell responds to music. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, Joe's family is very musical. Lowell just really seems to "get it" in a way that I never have. Above he's playing his toy saxophone and is actually playing it...blowing into it (hard) and pressing the buttons to make noise. He's also very, very into his keyboard. It was actually a gift to me from my father-in-law and Lowell has already figured out the program modes and plays like a true piano man! So much fun to see:)
I'm also always amazed at the notes that his music therapist sends home. He has music therapy three times a week. It brings out the best in him. Here's what she said this week,
" The last several sessions Lowell has had more consistent on task behavior. We know he's on task when he gives sustained eye contact, follows directions, sings jointly and independently joins with gestures to action songs. He continues to be the star as he passes equipment to an identified peer. Nice listening and then interating with peer. Good health makes us all do our best!" He's definitely had a very positive surge of development (and lots more words!) after getting over his cold. Very exciting!!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

What a weekend!

Lowell had an awesome weekend! He definitely seems over the hump with the cold he's had. He tends to really rally after being sick and makes some great progress:) Saturday morning Bobo (grandpa) came over and had a "boys morning" with Lowell. He took him to get his hair cut and he was I heard!!! Then the did some errands and Lowell (and Bobo) came home just giddy. What a wonderful morning. Lowell remained in a good mood for the most part and seemed to really have a lot of words this weekend. At one point we were sitting at the table together having snack and he just looked over at me, looked me right in the eyes and said, "juice". Awesome!!
Be sure and check out the 60 Minutes web site for info. on the program they had tonight on Autism. You can watch a 13 min. video that talks about the importance of early intervention. Good stuff!

Also, here's a link to a new study that came out on Genetics and Autism. Very interesting!

We're really excited to see what this week brings for Lowell. He seems to be "primed and ready" for some good advances:)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

What are the chances??

Read this now..............very powerful!
Also listen to Roy Richard Grinker, author, “Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism.” Scroll down to Feb. 8th 10 pm here.
He says the rise in diagnosed cases of autism is not epidemic, but is the result of the scientific community’s ability now to correctly count those with it.
Be Constructive ~ Be Creative ~ Be Positive ~ Be Productive

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

In Autism news...

Yesterday (Monday) the show The View dedicated the entire hour to Autism. Toni Braxton was guest co-host and apparently her son was recently given the diagnosis. I didn't see the entire show (hope to watch a tape soon) but you can see a listing of all the guests and information about them, some video clips from the show and also information on Autism organizations here. Check it out!

It's always emotional for me to watch people dealing with their child getting a diagnosis of Autism. It brings back so many memories. I also have a hard time watching older Autistic kids. I either look at them and think that I'm totally unprepared to deal with what life may bring my way, or I see that they seem "cured" and am extremely skeptical. I try not to analyze my feelings too much and just tell myself that every child is different and we'll just have to see how Lowell's life plays out.

Speaking of Mr. Lowell. After getting over a 10 day cold, he is feeling better and is certainly back in action. He is starting to request a lot and seems to get the gist that when he asks for something, he gets it!!! He is usuing more verbal requesting and just more words in general. He is beginning to understand the power of language. This is very exciting!!!

We have a conference with Lowell's teachers this afternoon for his Autism Day Treatment program. It will be fun to hear about the progress that they are seeing. More on that afterward...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Multiple people have told me that they saw on Good Morning America this week, Diane Sawyers interview with a 27 year old British man by the name of Daniel Tammet. He is an autistic savant with Asperger's. He is extraordinarily unique because he also experiences synesthesia, an unusual neurological syndrome that enables him to experience numbers and words as "shapes, colors, textures and motions." He is only one of only about 50 people living today with synesthesia and autism. Her interview with him is facinating. He discusses the disconnect with emotions that autistic people have. If he wanted to understand something, he would think of it as a number. He talks about autism as different, but an invisible disability and how that can make life very difficult. He has come to terms with it by not being afraid of being different. He now sees it as a gift. The challenge for everyone is to be yourself, he says.

Go here to listen and watch the interview. Look for Book Excerpts on the left column towards the middle.

He also wrote a book called Born on a Blue Day that was just published this week. I must check it out!!!

On the homefront, Lowell is making some good progress with his requesting. He is beginning to use words for things that he wants, with significant prompting. That is a nice success:)

Here are the kids chillin' on a cold winter evening. Cute.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Notes from Lowell's holiday vacation...

Lowell's back to his Autism Day Treatment program tomorrow after 10 days off for holiday vacation. Here are some snippets of his activities. Overall it went really well. He was sick on Christmas morning, which was unfortunate, but seemed to re-coup and enjoyed his break. Some things that made the break very enjoyable were the new toys (of course!), spending time with his cousins and playing a CD from his music therapist that has familiar songs from class. That really seemed to help sooth him. Thanks, Kathy! Now I think we're all ready to get back into the normal routine:)

Happy New Year!!!