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.

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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?

The Past Two Weeks of Early Intervention

The past two weeks we have been, and are currently, working on the following:

Oliver LOVES books, but only if he’s holding it and turning the pages quickly. While allowing him to do this encourages appropriate book handling, I want him to be able to allow me to hold it so that he can listen and comprehend the story and point at different characters on each page, which would give us a better chance of getting him to imitate words and sounds. I am making it a rule for, when working on goals, I have complete control of the book, while reading it. I give him a chance to turn to page and point at different things on each page. He is still getting pretty frustrated that he can’t just turn all of the pages and then be finished with the book, but there have been several moments where he actually looked at the pages without any grief, so I have hope and plan to persist in this.

We are still working on rolling the ball saying “roll” each time. Playing together encourages engagement, playing across from each other encourages eye contact, and saying “roll” encourages word imitation. He has attempted to say “roll” several times now!

We have been practicing the following songs: Elevator song, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Row Your Boat, If you’re happy and you know it, I’m a little teapot, Open shut them, Ring around the rosie (attempted holding hands and spinning), hickory dickory dock, and old McDonald. He laughed and smiled at all songs every time. He imitates the actions to: Open Shut Them, The Elevator Song, and tried a little with Itsy Bitsy Spider.

We’re currently dealing with feeding issues around texture. He is not wanting to eat anything other than fruit. He is making himself throw up or spitting out/refusing anything that isn’t fruit. We have a meeting scheduled with an OT later this week. He is having lots of veggie/protein powder/coconut milk smoothies to make up for his lost foods. His naturopath thinks that with his supplements and smoothies, that he should be fine until we get this worked out with the OT, but that I should continue offering other foods, of course.

This past Thursday, we had an appointment with one of the early intervention center’s Speech Language Pathologists. She observed Oliver and my’s interactions for a few minutes and then suggested that I use shorter sentences and speak with exclamations rather than questions. I had never thought about or realized this, but I talk to him using long and complete sentences most of the time and ask him questions, even though I know he can’t respond to them. I figured that, by doing this, I would be expanding his vocabulary and giving him opportunities to answer me back. She said that this is okay in moderation, but that I can best engage him by upping my “affect” and using one to two word statements; she called this the “one up” rule. Because Oliver uses one word statements when he speaks, I should be on his level, while increasing my words by one. So, once I can get him to imitate what I say (a word one sentence), such as “UP!” when stacking blocks, then I should add in another word, such as “Blocks UP!” and continue on with this until he can imitate full sentences. This is called the “One up” rule and I find it completely fascinating! Using an exclamation rather than question when it’s my turn lets him know that it’s my idea instead of his– this increases and encourages flexibility in play. So, for example, I would say, “Time to read a book!” rather than my usual, “Oliver, do you want to read a book?”.

One of Oliver’s biggest tantrum sources, when it comes to play, is his stacked blocks falling over. Everytime they have ever fallen over, he is sent into an excruciating screaming fit. The Speech Language Pathologist was able to witness this and suggested saying “Up, Up, Up!” as we stack, encourage pushing them over, then saying “Down!” with a smile then cheering “Yay!” and clapping, as to make their falling over a fun experience rather than a scary one. We have been working on this goal several times a day and have successfully 100% stopped the screaming associated with falling blocks. After cheering and saying “Down!”, I start saying “Up, Up, Up!” again to start the game over again and he replaces his fear of their falling with excitement and anticipation. I am so proud of him and so grateful for this suggestion.

Before using Care Bears (Oliver’s go-to calming TV show) as a coping mechanism, we will use Care Bears print off coloring pages. By turning on the TV for Oliver, when he is inconsolable, I am teaching him that if he cries and cries, that he will get the TV. While I don’t do this all that often, his Special Educator suggested using it as a reward only, because when he is in school the teacher won’t be able to turn on Care Bears for him when he’s having a tantrum. I just Google searched “Care Bears print off coloring pages” and downloaded several of them. I’m going to start using those today– I thought this was a great idea and encourage you all to give that a go with whatever your child’s interest is. Another example would be buying stuffed animals/figurines of the characters/animals/objects of interest, buying a related book, or singing a song from the movie/TV show to calm your child.

Power Outage

I wasn’t able to post yesterday, as we had a bad wind storm that resulted in over 7,000 power outages in our area– us included. Oliver did surprisingly well and seemed to be more content without the usual lights, music, and distractions that electricity and technology bring into our home. He enjoyed the natural light of the fireplace and candles. He, my mom, and I cuddled up in blankets, ate snacks, and danced to our own music. By the end of the night, we “cheated” when we had the idea of playing a Halloween DVD on our laptop until the battery ran out and Oliver sat still in my lap the entire time (that was a first). We went up to bed and he fell right asleep, sleeping through the night to the sound of wind and heavy rain, snuggled up to my side. I’m thankful for the cozy, calm night that we shared.