Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I am most thankful for my son--for having him in my life to love and learn from--but I am also especially thankful for all of the progress he is making.  He is still behind in many things and has many challenges ahead of him, but his speech is coming right along and he is constantly making progress and saying new things.

Until he was 3&1/2 (October of '09)  Ben did not talk.  He would say a word once or twice and then "lose" it.  He did not communicate verbally at all.  At three, he began saying "Mommy" and "Daddy", and he learned four more family names that summer.  Then the progress stopped, which dashed my soaring my hopes, until October, when there was an explosion of speech:words, sentences, sassiness, and even jokes all at once.  Due to Autism, he primarily repeats things he has heard (echolalia) or communicates basic needs, but he does tell us "I love you" and he is beginning to talk in conversation form, although he sometimes has to be prompted to answer questions and respond to others.

Today, the day before Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for conversations with my son, like the one we had this morning:

Me:  "I need to go fold laundry, Bear."
B:     "No.  You stay here and snuggle me."
Me:  "Well, who will fold the laundry?"
B:     "Curious George."
Me:  "Curious George?  Can monkeys fold laundry?"
B:     "Yes.  Curious George loves to fold laundry!"
Me:  "But is he good at folding laundry, or will he make a mess?"
B (giggling):  "He is good at folding laundry.  You make a mess!"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Of ARDs and Trick or Treats

Ben's ARD that I was so riddled with anxiety over went about as well as possible.  Everyone brought their A games and had all of the bases covered.  The school district's Autism assessment team rated him at 33.5 on the CARS scale, which is a standard assessment tool.  His doctor in Lubbock had assessed him at 34, so they were close to that.  29 is considered non-Autistic, and 33.5-34 reflects how high-functioning he is.

They are continuing speech therapy services and will start a little bit of OT-- just 15 minutes weekly, so we are definitely keeping his private therapy as well, which will give him an additional 45 minutes weekly.  Thank goodness his father can take him to his early afternoon appointments, because the therapy clinic has a packed schedule.  His teacher also has a system in place to help Ben focus and work on his fine-motor skills which are so far behind.  At 4&1/2 he knows the alphabet, colors, shapes, numbers, and how to spell his name, but he can't actually write any of it yet.  He just still can't grasp the pencil correctly and doesn't have enough control to form letters or shapes on his own yet, though it does seem like he has decided to be right-handed after going back and forth for a bit.

I still have some concerns, mainly whether or not all of those interventions will be put in place consistently and will be enough to get him on track, and I am also very concerned about his placement for  next year.  His teachers and diagnostician are not ready to talk about it yet because they want to see how much progress Ben does or does not make this year, but I am a little wary of having him put in PPCD for a third year.  I would love for him to start kindergarten on time, but the truth is he just may not be ready for it.  And that is something I will just have to accept.  As long as it is really in Ben's best interests and he is able to continue to make academic gains, I will be okay with it, but circle time already bores him so I do worry about another year of the same things.  Worrying about him and working to ensure his needs are met will probably be a constant issue, but that's okay.

On a bright, shiny note, Ben was healthy on a holiday for once and was able to trick or treat.  He dressed up as Handy Manny (one of his faves) and went to relatives' houses first, and then around our block with Mommy and Daddy.  He did very well, with some coaching, and did not have any major freak-outs.  He said "Trick or treat!" and also thank you, even to strangers, but he wasn't interested in waiting for people to give him a treat, not when there was candy right in front of him in a bowl for the taking.  Fortunately, my neighbors are kind and were very sweet to Ben.  He sometimes gets distracted and doesn't want to continue with whatever game plan we have, but I would call our Halloween very successful and fun.