Friday, April 26, 2013

And Then There Were Two

Okay. So you may have noticed that the blog title has changed. We'll get to that in a minute.

First and foremost, let's update on Jordan. She continues to do well in kindergarten. She can write her first and last name, among many other words. She is quite adept at math, much to my relief because I am just plain old terrible at it. And she is also learning to read and loves to sit down with us to read her Dr.Seuss books. Are You My Mother? is her favorite. She attended the father daughter dance with her Daddy and had a blast, and also went to a friend's birthday party where I learned that she thoroughly enjoys listening to Taylor Swift. We are so proud of her progress and can hardly believe she will be finishing kindergarten soon.

Yet again, we lit it up blue on April 2nd for World Autism Awareness Day. My team at work was so supportive and wore blue Autism Speaks wristbands that I handed out. My friends and family also wore theirs, which goes to show what a great support system I really have. What really made me smile was to see two of my favorite personalities on Good Morning America, Josh Elliot and Sam Champion, wearing blue that day!  Thanks for getting the word out, everyone!

Now, on to the title change.

In late August I referred Johnny into Early Intervention. His speech was just not where I wanted it to be, and he was having difficulty understanding simple commands. He wouldn't make eye contact, or follow adult directed activities. Transitions from one activity to another were also difficult and often resulted in major meltdowns. He qualified for services and began seeing his service coordinator weekly in September. He picked up on a few words and some simple signs almost right away. We found that he responded well to deep pressure and started using squishes* to help calm him when he had a tantrum. At that point we also began using a weighted back pack* to help him slow down and focus, and a weighted blanket* at night and during naps to help him sleep. Eye contact improved significantly, and he began jargoning* with inflection more frequently, but still no real speech or conversation. I saw no real dramatic play*, and his play skills were lacking as well. (Example: not making "car noises" when playing with Hot Wheels, moving his action figures around but not making them interact.) I kept telling myself "he'll get it. he'll be fine." But I knew, deep inside, that I was fooling myself. Something was up.

So I called my pediatrician's office in mid February and they referred me to Mass General Pediatric Neurology, where I was able to get an appointment on April 25th with Dr Gascon. The wait was excruciating, and I saw little progress with Johnny. He picked up a few new words, and even began jargoning to songs he heard on his favorite shows (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Doc McStuffins and Octonauts), but little else changed. If anything, he added hand gestures to his jargoning and started randomly spinning or walking in circles around his toys. Mom and I took him to the appointment yesterday and after a thorough and informative examination, Dr. Gascon determined  from the lack of discernible speech and through observation of Johnny's interaction with toys and other environmental stimuli, that my little Monkey also had ASD.

I wasn't taken aback or blown away this time, because subconsciously I already knew. The doctor recommended educational treatment* from here on out to help Johnny progress and integrate into the world around him. We thanked him for his help and took Johnny, who was only too excited to leave, home.
In the 24 hours since, I have spoken with his service coordinator and also Children Making Strides.  We are in the process of trying to get Johnny ABA services and see if we can extend them beyond the age of 3, which he will turn next month. He also has evaluations at the public preschool over the next two weeks.

And then there were two. Both my babies are on the spectrum, and we are in for the adventure of our lives!

Everyone keeps telling me that God only gives us what He knows we can handle. And like I tweeted yesterday: "Get me my Star Spangled Leotard and Lasso of Truth, because apparently God thinks I'm Wonder Woman!"

squishes: pressure applied to certain points of the body that soothe and calm. Can include the shoulders, crown of the head, soles of the feet, joints and extremities.

weighted backpack: a small backpack weighted down with books or other heavy objects that achieve the same goal as the squishes.

weighted blanket: A blanket used to help soothe and calm people affected by autism, restless leg syndrome, BPD, etc. Often weighs about 10% of the user's body weight and, though not officially verified, helps the release of serotonin in the brain to help the user relax. We use Dream Catcher weighted blankets, you can visit their website for more information:

jargoning: Also known as "gobbledygook," this is stream of indiscernible words and sounds used either with or without inflection.

dramatic play: Pretend play. (house, cops and robbers, etc.)

educational treatment: ABA therapy, integrated preschool programs.

He loves his ice cream!

And she loves her Patriots!

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