Hard Copy of our The Seattle Times Feature

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Here we are on the front page of the NW/Local section of today’s Sunday The Seattle Times paper.

Online version: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/if-he-keeps-improving-i-see-only-good/

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The Seattle Times Interview

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Savannah Slone and her two-year-old son Oliver read a book at the end of class at Kindering Center in Bellevue. Oliver is in a class with other toddlers with autism (diagnosed on the autism spectrum). Fund for Needy story about Kindering Center in Bellevue. Oliver’s mom Savannah Slone is a 20-year-old single mom who lives in rural Skykomish. Kindering is a godsend for her as there are no similar services near her home.

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!

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.

Oliver’s 1st Trip to the Dentist

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

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

Reiki for Autism

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

1 in 45

Today is a big day for autism in the news. The statistics have, again, been updated and have risen from 1 in 68 (2013) to 1 in 45. The articles shows that 55.4% of those being diagnosed are between the ages of 3 and 10, 75% are male, 59.9% are caucasian, and 68% coming from a two parent household with 67.6% of those parents having post-secondary educations. It has broken my heart to read all of the articles published throughout the day. We have to get to the bottom of this!

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Read the Washington Post article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/rweb/politics/report-1-in-45-children-have-autism/2015/11/13/4dde04521051ba7c5f22b9a409feab0a_story.html

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.