On Wednesday, January 13th, Oliver had an exceptional day in his class. Watching from the waiting room on the other side of the two-way mirror, I felt an abundance of pride. He made eye contact with and, unprompted, said “Hi” to every teacher in the room, all separately and at different times. He made eye contact with and smiled at the other children. He sat down and played with three different children individually and at different times. He spoke words, he pointed, he imitated. He is making so much progress every day! It is beautiful watching him grow into a social, self-calming little boy.
Oliver’s incredible Special Educator shared with us a link to a very detailed list of apps that have proven helpful for children on the autism spectrum:
The apps are organized by their purpose, including picture communication, memory match, learning games, text to speech, verbal storytelling, auditory processing, cause and effect, social stories, and more. This was a useful resource for us, so I thought that I would share it with all of you.
Included in this article are some of the most common responses that you’ll here as a parent with autism concerns for their child. Some of these include, “I’m sorry”, “He’ll be fine”, “Really? He seems so normal.”, and “Oh, I hope not.” While all of these responses are said with good-hearted intentions, it isn’t always what we need to hear. The two words that you should say to someone facing an autism diagnosis are “I’m here”. I’ve heard most of these and didn’t feel offended whatsoever because I know that every comment came from a good place, but I am agreeance with the author of this piece that “I’m here” is the perfect response to such a delicate situation.
Read the full article here: https://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2015/07/09/two-words-you-should-say-someone-facing-autism-diagnosis
Here we are on the front page of the NW/Local section of today’s Sunday The Seattle Times paper.
Earlier this month, I was interviewed by The Seattle Times regarding Oliver’s progress. We discussed my initial concerns, where he’s at now, and where I see him going. My blog was also discussed and quoted in the article, so that was pretty excited. Check it out at the link below!
2 whole years ago at 11:02 a.m, Oliver was born… WOW! I can’t believe how quickly time has passed and how much excitement, surprise, and love has filled every passing moment. Oliver has been blessed with a caring and compassionate community and, for that, I couldn’t be more grateful. He is a sweet, funny, musical, cuddly, dancing, clumsy, spirited, deep thinker of a little boy and I am so fortunate to watch him grow each and every day. He has come so far in such a short time– I can’t wait to see what this upcoming year will bring for us! Also, it should be noted that we went to the aquarium yesterday with zero meltdowns and endless amounts of fun. To end the day, we ate at a restaurant (for the first time in a year and a half) and he did amazing. He blew me away!
Wish my sweet boy a ‘Happy Birthday’ in the comments, if you so desire.
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.
Before I jump into the appointment details, I want to mention how amazing The Center for Pediatric Dentistry in Seattle is. They offer an “autism clinic” every Monday, where a dentist who specializes in autism spectrum disorder sees all the kids on the spectrum to address their dental needs. This is such an important program because there aren’t enough businesses, much less medical professionals, who specialize in autism. Every doctor that specializes in autism that I have contacted doesn’t accept insurance and charges $450+ an hour. As a young, single, low-income mom, that just isn’t possible. The thought of taking Oliver to the dentist was something I had been dreading and putting off for a while, but upon my discovery of this center, I felt eager and excited to pursue an appointment. While I felt less scared than I would have before heading into a “normal” dentist, I still feared the stress that I could still be facing as I would head into those doors. So, with that in mind, Monday was Oliver’s 1st dentist appointment and, boy did it go as I had hoped it wouldn’t. Five days prior, I had my impacted wisom teeth removed and had been laying low up until that point. We arrived 20 minutes early and they brought him back roughly 10 minutes past his scheduled start time. He was in an unfamiliar environment, with loads of other children near him, and all he could do was scream. 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. Back to my post-wisdom teeth state, I hadn’t eaten many solid foods, not to mention my having become quite attached to my couch, so chasing a screaming toddler through a waiting room of other children on the spectrum, having equally hard times, wore me out. After we were called back, they let us pick a movie on Netflix for their overhead T.V. and as I held him, belly-to-belly, I laid his head down on the dentist’s knees and he brushed and checked out his teeth. Now, for the only good part of this outing… *drumroll* NO CAVITIES! Because of Oliver’s sensory issues, brushing his teeth is always a battle, so I was extremely nervous for cavities and what would come after. So, all in all, while this was a stressful day, it was necessary. I encourage everyone in Washington to look into getting their children’s’ dental care from this center; it is so refreshing to not get dirty looks from other parents and staff members while your child is having a meltdown.
Here is a link to the center’s website: https://thecenterforpediatricdentistry.com
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
I have been certified to practice Reiki 1 & 2 for around 4 years and it’s one of my greatest loves in life; I feel very confident in my energy reading and healing skills. I’ve recently been reading that reiki has been extremely beneficial to many people on the autism spectrum, so I’ve begun putting more time into working on Oliver. For those who are unfamiliar with this practice, reiki is “a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy,” (www.reiki.org). I only give Oliver reiki treatments when he is sleeping or when he is sitting down calmly, so that I can concentrate on certain areas with adequate focus. I begin by sitting down next to him and thinking about how much I love him and how greatly I want to help him. I rub my hands together, then slowly (about 2-3 inches away from his body) begin slowly “scanning” his body. By going slowly, you can feel tense energy in certain areas over others; this feeling, to me, has a similar feeling to that of when you attempt to put the wrong sides of magnets together. After performing the scan, I focus on the tense areas by holding my hands above said areas and just thinking of him thriving and feeling good. I do this for a few minutes then move on to the next spot. During this morning’s reiki treatment, I felt tension on Oliver’s head and, after finishing up, he turned to me with immense eye contact and put both of his hands on his head and smiled. He really felt it!
A few articles I have come across:
Reiki Mom Helps Kids: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/ART02746
Reiki and Autism: http://www.sallykobrien.com/reiki/reikiandautism.php
Reiki Practice Helps Son with Autism: http://reikiinmedicine.org/reiki-stories/reiki-healing-aspergers/
Reiki for Special Needs Children: http://www.wildiris.ca/pages/Reiki%20and%20Special%20Needs%20Kids.htm