Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December Craziness

December is a HUGE month for our family.  It starts with Jack's birthday, and encompasses Christmas, New Years, and our anniversary.  Tony's birthday isn't far behind in early January.  Insanity (the good kind) reigns in our house for a straight month!!  

Jack's Birthday ~  It turned out great!!  Friends, gifts, and a totally awesome cake definitely made his 5th birthday memorable.  The only hiccup along the way was teaching Jack his new age.  He kept saying, "I'm not 5, I'm number 4!" He finally started saying 5 at the end his birthday, but the day after it was, "My birthday is done.  I'm not 5 anymore.  I'm 4!"  From what I can tell, he is finally understanding that he is 5 now, but I occasionally hear him argue with his therapists about his age.  If you see him around, don't be afraid to ask him how old he is!

Christmas ~ As far as Jack is concerned, we did very well this season.  Multiple family members remarked on how much less inhibited he is this year as compared to the last few years' worth of family gatherings.  It's so nice to look back and see change and progress.  The only thing I see that's different, that I don't like, is that he's starting to use verbal "stims" more, as in he randomly yells out sounds that aren't words.  They usually involve different pitches and apparently it's something that kids with Autism commonly do.  Jack hasn't ever done that much, but I wonder if it's his new way of handling people, especially large groups like a family gathering.  That's when I noticed it the most over the Christmas season.  A few of the therapists noticed it too, and I'm not sure how they handle that yet.  I tried teaching him to say, "I'm excited!" or something similar but I think it's going to take more than that.
Therapy ~ Jack is definitely progressing each month, but this month we had to add some limits to his therapy. I used to walk him upstairs for his first hour, but our senior therapist thought he was too dependent on that.  He REALLY struggles the first hour of the day, and when we tried to get him upstairs by himself he threw terrible fits.  I just want to say ~ listening to your child throw huge fits, which involve hitting/screaming at other people, is horrible.  If you know any other moms dealing with this, make sure you give them a hug and tell them you support them!  This is one of my biggest struggles with his therapy:  handing the reigns over to someone else whom Jack will likely reveal his evil side to.  It's good for him, but it's not pretty.   We also learned today that one of his line therapists had to resign (his favorite).  I'm not sure how things will play out yet, but I'm guessing it means we'll have someone new in our house and that Jack will NOT like it.  Pray for us if you think of us!!  On the happier side of therapy, we added a few new programs which I LOVE.  One is 'pre-school games' and right now he's in the middle of Hide and Seek, I Spy, and Ring Around the Rosie.  Another fun one is, 'I See.'  This is designed to teach sentence structure and it's fun to listen to.  We also added 'Peer Play' and have had some of his friends over during therapy hours.   Its been GREAT to branch out and do some fun things.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!!   =)

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Every two months Jack has a meeting with four professionals from the clinic, including the psychologist that runs it.  After having a two-week delay, we finally went to our first progress review last week.  The psychologist (who I'm now going to refer to as THE DOCTOR) observed Jack for almost an hour and then talked with me and our senior therapist and supervisor about changes he thought we could make to Jack's therapy.  One of the truly wonderful things to hear him say was, "I think Jack is talking really, really well.  Let's move up his language programs to something more difficult."  We waited for over a year and half for Jack to start talking, and by waited I mean stressed, prayed, and bit our fingernails...  always hoping that he would start expressing himself.   THE DOCTOR also mentioned the magical words, potty training.  They call it habit training because its interval based, and they create bathroom habits before they actually start potty training.  Apparently, it only takes 2-3 months on average to potty train their clients. CAN. NOT. WAIT.  I will do anything, including deed my house to anyone who accomplishes this seemingly insurmountable task.  Ok, maybe not my house..   but possibly our car, bikes, and my parents SUV.  Thank God for psychologists, therapists, and autism research!!  And for Tony's new job with awesome health insurance that pays for intensive autism therapy.

Favorite Mildly Autistic Jack Moment last week:  While in the Chicago area, we took Jack for a ride on a commuter train for 20 minutes.  Before we got on the train, he got it stuck in his mind (and would NOT let it go) that we were going on a freight train.  He started crying, and yelling, "No train ride!  Stay in the car!  No train ride for Jack!"  Knowing how much Jack loves trains, I was confused and frustrated (we prepped him for this all week).  Finally, I remembered that he and Grandpa had walked up to a train station as a freight train was passing by.  I turned to Jack and said, "Jack.  We're going on a passenger train.  Do you want to go on a passenger train?"  In a very quiet voice he says, "Oh yeah.  Yes, I do.  I want to go on a passenger train."  Instantly, he was fine.  Happy, even.  So, the four of us enjoyed our ride through the suburbs - complete with more trains passing by, train gates (for those of you who know Evan, this is important), train stations, lots of cool buildings, and a conductor who only charged us the price of one ticket.