Speech SKY ROCKET!

In the past, I have posted sign language and verbal language vocabulary updates. While that has always given me great excitement and pride, it doesn’t compare to not having a list anymore. I tried to keep writing down all of the words that Oliver says now, but if I would have continued I would have ended up with a novel. He has made extreme progress throughout the past two months. Most all of his signs have been replaced with words, he is requesting what he wants/needs, is counting up to 20 on his own (and up to 100, when going back and forth with me), is very familiar with the alphabet (knows every letter, the order they go in, and recognizes them), and is speaking up to 3 word sentences in a conversation style. He is greeting his teachers and classmates by name and even spontaneously sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star all on his own last night. While he is still on the vitamins, supplements, and diet he has been on for roughly 18 months, in addition to ABA/SLP/OT services for the same amount of time, I introduced a new supplement called Restore to Oliver 3 months ago. He was battling back and forth constipation and diarrhea since birth and, within 2 weeks, was fully balanced out in that department. Shortly thereafter he became more vocal and has since gone from nonverbal to practically needing a list of words he can’t say, rather than the few he can. I am really grateful for this supplement and just wrote up a testimonial for their website, too. I’m loving seeing other individuals experiencing positive results.

I purchase Oliver’s Restore through Amazon to avoid shipping costs, but you can read more about this supplement at: http://restore4life.com

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Oliver’s 2nd Trip to the Dentist

IMG_1003.JPGToday was Oliver’s second trip to the dentist. He receives dental care from a center with doctors who specialize in autism. Our first trip, 6 months ago (you can read about how that went here), didn’t go as well as I had hoped. As a matter of fact, to quote myself, “Oliver’s 1st dentist appointment and, boy did it go as I had hoped it wouldn’t.” Don’t get me wrong, the staff was great, as were the parents; it was just that he was in a new place that he wasn’t able to freely roam around and explore. He was only few months into therapy at that point and, with that in mind while comparing these two trips, it was made even more blatantly obvious just how much progress he has made. The only tears that were shed were during the brief invasion of his mouth. To quote myself in my post regarding his first trip to the dentist, “he shrieked while running around in search of an exit; he wailed as he threw himself onto the floor. I tried to show him videos of himself on my phone, I tried to make a game out of running back and forth, and I tried singing his favorite songs with him; however, nothing helped. When he gets into sensory overload mode, it can be impossible to pull him out of it without removing him from the new environment.” This time was different for both of us. He went into the building in his stroller and a hat to, in a way, “hide” from all of the people and fluorescent lights. He also found comfort in watching videos of himself, which did not work for us last time around. He did wonderful and I couldn’t be happier! This center (visit their website here) is amazing and I would highly recommend it to anyone on the spectrum or who has a child on the spectrum. And…… NO CAVITIES! Hooray for healthy eating and incessant tooth brushing.

(Failed) Movie Theatre Attempt

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This past Saturday morning, we trekked down to an AMC Theatre for their Sensory Friendly showing of Finding Dory (click here to find out when your local AMC theatre is hosting a Sensory Friendly Film). We arrived, found a seat, and were fine (for the most part–there was some running around for all but one preview) up until the movie began. When baby Dory made her way onto the screen, Oliver stood up and quickly wiggled his way past the stroller barricade that I crafted to contain him to the aisle. He ran down to the bottom area, near the screen. I chased after him and kneeled near the lowest seat, motioning for him to come back. He started dancing and running in circles and then, following a look of play, ran as fast as he could toward the other set of stairs and up them. I, for some reason, thought that I could reach him if I ran up my set of stairs and walked around the top. Movie going has been scarce throughout the past 2.5 years, so I must have forgotten that that isn’t the case. I watched him closely as I ran back down, noticing a look of distress when he didn’t recognise any of the faces in the packed full theatre room. With that being said, he ran back down; both of us reaching the bottom simultaneously. I scooped him up and we left. Seeing as how he can’t sit still for the life of him at home, I should have assumed that this would be the case in a loud, crowded room, as well. At least now I know that he is not ready for movie outings. I will try again in due time!

What do movie theatre trips look like for all of you?

Since I Last Posted, Oliver Has..

  • Successfully consumed 2 full sippy cups of juice.
  • Said “mama” and “nana” for the first times in well over a year.
  • Said “no” and shook his head along with it appropriately.
  • Started saying “under” when going under blankets.
  • Starting saying “three”. He can count 1-5 on his hands and say “two” (and now “three”).
  • Hugged and kissed a fellow toddler without being prompted!

Tears of Frustration: Party of 2

While a majority of my days with Oliver reflect growth and happiness, today was one of the  off days. I always try my best to keep my cool; I aim to be persistent, understanding, and encouraging for him.

He is still drinking from bottles, despite working on it in his autism class (and his occupational therapist and at home with me). When he isn’t biting off the tips of the nipples, he is shaking and/or pressing it into the floor to make it all spill out. After yet another puddle this morning, I took it away and gave him a sippy cup and figured if he got thirsty enough he would drink from it. This was not the case.

He is also still having issues with feeding. He’s allergic to a lot of different foods (see my post on “Allergy Test” to read about his allergies) and also happens to be extremely picky. In addition to feeling the need to give him his sippy cup, I also decided that he was going to attempt GFCF waffles, carrots, rice crisps, and almond cheese this morning. I know that one food needs to be introduced at a time, but I have been attempting to introduce foods slowly for so long now with little to no success (aside from the single occasion where he took a bite out of a carrot a few weeks ago). I woke up feeling determined, so I went with it and hoped for the best. He ate all of the cheese and rice crisps (yay!) and then cried when I tried to feed him the waffles. After two attempted bites of waffle, I tried the carrot out and he just kept trying to throw it on the floor.

After cleaning up and washing dishes, he signed that he wanted a bottle. I sat him down and told him that he would need to drink from his sippy cup if he was thirsty. He proceeded by throwing it on the floor. As time passed, I attempted more non-fruit/carb foods and then eventually caved and gave him his beloved toast, fruit, and cereal. Throughout the next couple of hours, he cried between hitting me, hitting himself, throwing himself onto the ground, flipping his table over, knocking the baby gate over, and breaking his nana’s crystal window hanging — all because he wanted his bottle. I knew that if he was truly thirsty and not just wanting a bottle nipple to bite off, then he would drink, so I stayed consistent with my word. The cries and hits began wearing on me before I caved yet again and fell into tears. I haven’t felt quite that frustrated in a while, so it was rather overwhelming. I want to stick with it so that he will learn that I mean business, but it becomes so stressful that all I can think about is how badly I want to end his meltdown by giving in. I know that cutting him off cold turkey probably isn’t the answer, but I have been trying for nearly one year and felt suddenly fed up with the lack of change in this area.

I took a deep breath and cuddled him, feeling like somewhat of a failure. I plan to touch base with his early intervention team on Monday, but for now, I wanted to share a tough excerpt from our day with all of you since I often forget to do so.

Have any of you dealt with this or something like this? I’d love to hear suggestions.

A Big Day for Oliver

A little over a week ago, Oliver had a friend over. He’s about 7 months younger and very sweet. Oliver has spent time with him before, but with most all of his experiences with other children, he kept to himself, for the most part. This day was, however, quite different. We used the visual aid cards that Oliver’s therapist made to talk about how we had a friend coming over. We looked at his photo and I pointed out what they could play with. I wasn’t sure that he understood anything that I was saying, but upon their arrival I could tell something had stuck. Oliver greeted his friend with an electrified “Hi!” and made direct, beautiful eye contact. He brought him toys to play with, fed him snacks, tried to hold his bottle for him, sat across from him to play, and showed off all of his signs. It melted my heart to see him showing genuine interest in another toddler. While I sometimes experience doubts and worries, it is moments like these that reassure me that everything is headed up.

Sensory Friendly Films by AMC

I recently found out about AMC’s Sensory Friendly Films program and immediately overflowed with an abundance of joy. Prior to Oliver’s entrance into my life, I was a big time moviegoer. I grew up attending workshops through an incredible all girl, filmmaking nonprofit in Seattle called Reel Grrls. I have always been drawn to making, watching, and analyzing films, so to lose the cinema experience was a bit of a damper. So, back to AMC’s new program– different AMC theaters across the country are offering special showtimes for viewers who need more sensory  support (particularly those on the autism spectrum). These showtimes are offered in most every state and will occur the second and fourth Tuesdays and Saturdays of each month, with varying 9:00 a.m. and 7 p.m. showings. While I’m not completely sure how Oliver will handle the movie theater experience, I’m planning on giving it a go next week. Stay tuned to see how our cinema outing unfolds!

Here is a bit more information on the program, the upcoming showtimes, and a list of the participating theaters: https://www.amctheatres.com/programs/sensory-friendly-films

CUBS (So Far)!

On the 1st day of Oliver’s CUBS class (ABA, SLP, OT autism class), I stayed in the room from start to finish, to ensure that he was comfortable. However, he had such a great time, that he didn’t check in with me once. On his 2nd day, I stayed in the classroom for 30 minutes before saying goodbye, with no issues. On the 3rd day, I stayed in for 10 minutes, and on the 4th and 5th days we have successfully said our goodbyes at the door. I am so proud of him! I’m so happy that he feels comfortable with his amazing team and in his classroom. I couldn’t be more impressed with this facility and it’s staff. I am now able to have 4 hours a week where I can simply observe him and I think that is much needed. I get to revel in his accomplishments, as well as have the opportunity to take a step back to notice the areas that he’s still struggling in, so I can work on them at home. There is a 20 minute period during each class where they are in the motor room, which doesn’t have a one sided mirror, so the parents have to stay in the waiting room. Today I brought a book and actually got to read without distractions– boy did that feel weird! I have loved getting to know the other parents, what red flags they saw, how long they’ve been in the program, and what other services they’re in. They are all so understanding and really tough. I say that they’re ‘tough’ because they have to work extra, extra hard to take care of their children and I have noticed a sense of strength, unconditional love, dedication, and perseverance that I truly feel the word “tough” can accurately define. All in all, I am happy to report that we are in a good place.

This week’s classes:

Monday:
Oliver was in such a funny mood on Monday. At one point, he took his long sleeve shirt off, but only off of his head, and then managed to wear the sleeves only in a backpack/shirt-hybrid sort of way. He then proceeded by dancing to no music, jumped really high while screaming “JUMP!” as loud as his lungs would allow, and continuously threw his “clean up” rag behind him while saying “uh oh”. One great thing about Monday was that the lovely lady who has been Oliver’s one and only therapist for the past 3 months started as a CUBS teacher in addition to our still-standing weekly visits. He was so excited to see her! She was just as thrilled to have him 3 days a week, rather than 1.

Wednesday:
Today Oliver had a laughter filled snack time with his one on one aide for the day. He pretended to feed her, after he took a bite, and then laughed until he couldn’t breathe. I love nothing more than see him thoroughly enjoying the company of another person. Speaking of today’s snack time, he had his first cookie (gluten and dairy free, but still) in honor of his friend’s graduation from the class, as the boy’s third birthday is around the corner and he will be too old for services.
He also sat still long enough to roll a ball back and forth with one of the adults he was working with– 5 consecutive times! It was another successful day in Oliver’s CUBS class.

Oliver’s 2nd Halloween

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This Halloween, Oliver and I dressed up as Care Bears (his favorite show). Our town was under a flood warning with high winds and heavy rain, which made trick or treating extra tricky. He wasn’t too happy in his Care Bear outfit and was particularly distressed by the head piece, as he is not a fan of hats. We rode in the car from house to house and got out with our candy bucket. When he is outside, he likes to run, so he was whiny as I held him and knocked on the door. Due to his food allergies (especially dairy), he wasn’t able to eat the candy that we collected, however I think that the experience of trick or treating is one that he should still be able to partake in. For future years, I’m considering ordering allergy-free candy and handing it out to the houses we’ll be visiting, prior to our outing. We made it to 4 houses before giving up because of his irritability with the situation, not to mention the crazy weather. I enjoyed dressing him up and taking him out, even though it felt a little pointless. I like the idea of practicing a tradition that we can partake in as a family, even if he can’t eat the candy. Also, the fact that the fun holiday encourages language (“trick or treat”) and socialization (being among other children) is quite a plus.

How did your Halloween go?

First Day of CUBS Class!

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Oliver had an AMAZING first day of his CUBS class. There were 6-7 adults present (SLP’s, OT’s, Special Educators, and ABA teachers), as well as 3 other sweet toddlers. The schedule consisted of: Hand washing, 1 hour free play, 20 minutes in the motor room, hand washing, snack, self clean up, seated circle group time with a song, and then packing up and leaving. For those who don’t know what Oliver’s CUBS class is, you can read my blog post about it here: http://healingoliver.com/2015/10/18/cubs-class/. When we pulled up, Oliver had bitten the nipple off of his green protein smoothie filled bottle and ruined the adorable outfit he was sporting. Then we went in and he shut his finger in the door. Then we were told there was a fire drill, so we went outside to avoid the loud noise. Then, as he ran around happily, I had to pick him back up because the fire drill was cancelled. All of these things sent him into a panic and he was crying hysterically. After he was able to calm his body down, we opened the doors to the CUBS classroom and he was immediately entranced. He ran towards the soft play stairs, tunnel, and slide, where he played for quite a while. I sat near him as he got more and more comfortable and then the woman who was working one on one with him thought that I should try and sit near the wall to see if he can get comfortable with her, as we fade me out of the classroom and into the waiting room. I got to see him laugh with other people who were enjoying his company, play in a tub of beans, play at a sand table, conduct his first arts & crafts project (aside from coloring at home), play with new toys, play near another child, engage with several adults, swing in their sensory swing (at one point, with another child, who he attempted to make eye contact with!!!!), ride a rocking horse, eat snacks alongside other children (using a fork at one point), and much more. I was really nervous that he wasn’t going to do well today because of how the day started (i.e. slammed finger, going outside/coming back in immediately, etc.), but he didn’t even need me because of how amazing his environment was. He very obviously felt safe, supported, and cherished and I couldn’t be more grateful to have had the opportunity to get him into this program. I will be writing about the progress he makes, as time goes on in his CUBS class. I can’t believe how incredible it all was and can’t even wait to go back! P.s. the third photo was taken minutes after we left– they sure wore him out.