Potty Training

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Oliver is 3 months shy of his third birthday and I am questioning whether or not he is ready for the potty, despite the fact that preschool is quickly approaching. I have him sit on his little Baby Bjorn intermittently throughout the day, but more times than not, he holds it until he’s in a diaper again. He does not yet seem to understand that if he feels the urge to go, that it is time to go back to the potty. However, he does know when he does end up going that it is a “good” thing and is worthy of celebration. He immediately claps and cheers himself on with an oh-so-sweet “yay!”. I join along with him and then have him help me dump it, flush it, and wash it. Then we wash hands, put a sticker on the potty chart, and end with a high five. While he seems encouraged by this routine, he still hasn’t caught on to the fact that going to the bathroom on the potty is something that we do when we hear our bodies talking to us, rather than when we happen to already be sitting there for a long while.

I am looking to hear from other parents with children on the autism spectrum on what potty training looked like for you. What worked? What didn’t work?

(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?

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.

Lining Toys Up

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Here is my couch this morning. Many kids on the autism spectrum line their toys up instead of playing with them in the way they were “intended” to be played with. Oliver is definitely one of those kiddos, so I though that I would share what some of his play looks like.

I also found a short article titled “What Does It Mean When Autistic Kids Line Things Up?”: http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/mean-autistic-kids-line-things-up-10957.html

Does your child line up his/her toys? What does their play look like?

The Past Two Weeks in Early Intervention Land

What we’ve been working on these past two weeks in early intervention:

3 minute timer where I imitate everything he does. This shows him that I am joining him in his world and that I am able to play on his terms, rather than all work. After each 3 minute imitation, I will invite him to play briefly on my terms (when I would introduce new skills- ex.: rolling the ball back and forth).

Rolling ball back and forth with encouraged eye contact.

Taking turns with toys.

Books: (imitation, attending, and increasing your affect)
-Sit across from him
-Keep control over the book
-Encourage him to turn the page
-Model 1-2 words or sounds for him, give him time to imitate
-Animal sounds are great for imitating sounds!
-Model pointing to the pictures –especially if he is grabbing at the page
-You can remind him-Mommy holds the book. Make it a rule for this activity.

Use countdowns for transitions (5 minutes until ___, 1 minute until ___, 3 more seconds until ____, 3, 2, 1– all done! Time for ___).

Offer him choices between two toys, offer him a choice of who cleans up (him or me).

Singing songs with actions. Examples: Open, shut them. Itsy Bitsy Spider. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. Row, Row, Row Your Boat. If You’re Happy and You Know It. I’m a Little Teapot.

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I will write what we work on this upcoming Thursday. So far, I know that the Speech Language Pathologist will be joining Oliver’s Special Educator that day and we’re introducing PECS visual cards to help Oliver communicate. I’m feeling really good about Oliver’s early intervention program so far!

Successful sharing!

Yesterday Oliver had his 13 month old friend over for a playdate. Oliver has a long, long way to go socially, as he has never shown any interest in another baby, toddler, or child. However, I was able to talk him through his first successful attempt at sharing. He actually played near another baby (this is a first) AND took turns with him, as they stacked rings one at a time. There was no eye contact and it took a few tries, but I couldn’t be more proud of him! I demonstrated how to stack the rings and then held his hand and said, “Now, we let him have a turn, and then you have another turn.” This helped him visualize patience and turn-taking. This gave me such great feelings of hope and inspires me to keep him hard at work. I have to log off now because we have a Tele-Therapy (video chatting) appointment with the Special Educator from his Early Intervention center. More posts coming soon!

Go Outside Today!

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Today we walked down to the river and Oliver threw dozens of rocks into the water. The only tantrum that we experienced was when we had to go home.

May this be a gentle reminder to take your children outside today (and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, etc.). Oliver gets overstimulated really easily in the house, in the grocery store, at other peoples’ homes, and in the city. By taking him into the woods or down to the river, he is able to have natural noise and doesn’t have to deal with bright blinking lights or the chatter of dinner conversation. I know that not everyone lives in the forest like we do, but finding a local place outside with minimal distractions can be extremely calming and grounding.

Comment with where you and your little ones play outside.

Oliver Approved & Allergy Free Bread Recipe

Allergy Free Bread

I was so fortunate to have a friend with a child on the autism spectrum point out to me that the Udi’s bread that Oliver was eating held ingredients that he was allergic to in it, which I somehow missed when ingredient glancing at the grocery store. She makes her son’s bread and gave me this delicious recipe that even my picky little eater enjoys.

Ingredients:
1.5 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca starch/flour or potato starch (not flour)
.5 cup teff flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp Egg Replacer
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 TBSP olive oil
1.25 cup warm water (110%)
2 tsp yeast or 1 packet
2 tsp sugar

Directions:
1. Mix yeast & sugar in bowl, add warm water, let proof 10 minutes or so.
2. Mix dry ingredients.
3. Add vinegar & oil.
4. Add proofed yeast and thoroughly mix in mixer or by hand (no kneading).
5. Spoon into a loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap, set aside to rise for 1 hour.
6. Preheat oven to 350.
7. Bake for 53 minutes, let cool a few minutes before removing from pan to a wire wrack.
8. After cooled, store in plastic bag. One day on counter is OK, then refrigerate.

** Comment to let everyone know how your bread turns out!