Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Labels: family, quotes, silly boys
Anyway, so sometimes he likes to rank his family and friends, either by places (1st, 2nd, 3rd) or by percents. He once told his teacher she was his "14th best friend" which I think she was a little hurt by that but when she told me, I told her she should feel honored to be on the list, and not to feel too bad because at the time I was in the 20-somethings on his list, lol.
Recently while I was putting Bitty to bed, Bearhug decided to join us so he could cuddle. He decided to "rank" the family, and told me, "Mama, I like you 100%." (woohoo, yay me! hehe) He went on to say, "I like [Bitty] 99%, Dada 98%, Orion 97%, and [Cuddlebug] 96%."
"Wait a minute," I said, "you mean you like the cat better than your own brother?!"
"Well, you know I like the way he looks, he's beautiful." (referring to the cat) ROFL.
Shortly after that, Little Bitty jumped into the conversation with "trah-degoh" (that's Bitty-speak for "triangle.")
me: "triangle! yep"
me: "rectangle, you're right!"
me: "square!" (because you know I spend a lot of time just repeating back what he says, he smiles every time I do!)
At this point, having seen a clip on Noggin where they count the sides of an octagon and then count the octagons in the picture (one of which is someone's nose), he got a big grin on his face and started counting the sides of my nose.
"nuh... two... dree... foh... fie... sih... senah... eight! aw-tegah!"
Hmm, I didn't realize my nose was an octagon... maybe I should have that checked? :)
Labels: progress, school, updates
Mr. Bitty continues to struggle in the mornings. He throws fits almost every morning about getting dressed, getting shoes on, walking out the door, getting into his carseat, and getting out of the car. In fact, if we're not careful, we can get him totally dressed and ready to go, only to find him running naked up the stairs if we turn our attention to anything else for even a few seconds (like, you know, his brothers who thankfully are AWESOME at getting ready in the morning). And yet, his teacher reports that he is usually calm by the time he gets to the classroom so that is good news. I'm going to make him a picture schedule for the morning routine and see if that helps. Then again, the other night I tried to show him a picture for "bedtime" and his response was to grab it out of my hand and try to crumple it up. Sigh.
Bearhug and Cuddlebug both got lots of smileys on their daily sheets this week, yay! Cuddlebug got a "math star" award for "noticing a neat pattern" during math. When I asked him about it, he said, "50 + 50 = 100, I was the only one that said that." That's all the detail I know...
Based on the notes we've been getting, Little Bitty is doing great at school! I know he's been learning how to cut and learning some new songs, because he's practiced at home. I have to admit I was a bit surprised by his speech teacher's note, apparently he is doing some pretty cool things at school that he must be too worn out to do at home because we haven't really seen it yet. Hopefully soon! His teacher also sent a note asking for an IEP update meeting because he is already starting to master some of his goals so they want to update and set some new ones. I'll post an update on how that goes, right now it's tentatively scheduled for later this month.
[[Full disclosure note: I am not a member of either party, but my views tend to be conservative.]]
Regardless of your political views, Governor Palin is an admirable person. The more I learn about her, the more I like her - she’s a mother of 5, a special needs mom, has strong convictions and hasn’t been afraid to go up against both parties to put a stop to corruption. Her family is so much more like the average American family than any of the other candidates. She's the daughter of two teachers, married to her high school sweetheart, and a hockey mom who started her public life in the PTA.
The first time I heard of Sarah Palin was a few months ago. Glenn Beck was on, and he talked about the birth of her fifth child, who was born with Down syndrome. Here's the clip:
I love her quote:
"Trig is beautiful and already adored by us. We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives. We have faith that every baby is created for good purpose and has potential to make this world a better place. We are truly blessed."
So when I heard speculation yesterday morning that she was possibly McCain's pick for a running mate, I was intrigued. We watched the coverage and I've done some research online. Here are a few facts about Governor Palin:
- she's the youngest and first female governor in the state of Alaska
- she graduated from the University of Idaho in 1987 with a major in journalism and a minor in politics
- in addition to governor, her resume includes mayor, city council, sportscaster, and business owner
- her nickname was "Sarah Barracuda" for her competitiveness as a basketball player in high school (that just cracks me up, I love it!)
- as Chair of Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation, she helped expose ethical violations of the state chairman (who was a Republican); he resigned in November 2004
- she runs marathons
- as governor, she took a pay cut (how many politicians do that?!), dispensed with the gubernatorial jet, and killed the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” project
- her approval rating as governor has been in the 80-90% range (compare that with Bush's 30% and Congress' 17%)
I suppose it's possible that she may eventually turn out to be yet another "same old" politician. But for now at least, it's refreshing to see an "outsider" (because you can't get much further outside Washington than Alaska, lol) who brings actual executive experience, joining the mix with three "same old" senators and their combined eons of legislative experience. (ok, "eons" is an exaggeration, but both McCain and Biden have been there for a very long time and I don't feel like looking up the exact # of yrs). I guess only time will tell where things go from here...
Labels: Finding Courage through Sharing, nicu, ttts, twin to twin transfusion
The topic for this month is memories and memory markers. Share about something that trips a memory in your journey with your child or children, or just a memory that is special to you. The memory can be happy, sad, or anything in between. If you don’t have time to write specifically for this prompt, feel free to share a post that matters to you from your archives. I’m looking forward to seeing what you have to share this month…
Michelle's post about her family's NICU experience got me thinking about our NICU experience. Our twins were born prematurely and were diagnosed with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. I wrote a series of posts about our experience a couple of months ago. Since the topic for today is memories, here is a glimpse of the experience in pictures.
This is a card that the NICU nurses made for me the morning after the boys were born (they were born at night). It meant so much to me that they took the time to do this, I am crying just thinking about it. I spent most of that day alone in my hospital room, as dh was in the NICU with the boys (where he should be!). I was unable to get out of bed for 24 hrs, so I couldn't visit them in the NICU. These are the only pictures we have of them from that first day.
Here is a chart the nurses put up on Cuddlebug's crib, I'm not sure why they didn't do one for Bearhug. I loved how it described him as a person, with his likes and dislikes. I enjoyed doing Kangaroo care with both of the boys when they were stable enough for it.
We didn't really start taking pictures until they were 9 days old. By that point, Bearhug was off of the CPAP and Cuddlebug was out of the isolette, they were able to co-bed, and we were able to hold them both. Here is our first family picture, along with each of us holding them. They were still attached to monitors and had feeding tubes, so we had a lot of "equipment" around but at least we could hold them :).
Here are a few more picture of the boys. The little orange tubes are their feeding tubes. They used to like to work their arms out of their blankies and pull out each other's feeding tubes, talk about teamwork LOL. I like how in this one, you can see Bearhug's little toes sticking out from his blankie :).
Here you can see the little stuffed tigers we got to keep them company in the crib :). Those are appx beanie baby size, so that gives some perspective on how little the boys were.
These are the things I thought about when the boys have gone through their some of their more difficult times. Whenever I started to feel overwhelmed with trying to help our boys overcome the challenges that are part of autism, I thought about how they came into the world. Given the survival odds for babies with TTTS at the time, the fact that they are with us is nothing short of a miracle. Two miracles :). (And 3 1/2 yrs later - a third miracle!) When I thought of that, my feelings of despair would quickly turn to gratitude, and I felt immeasurably blessed to even have the chance to go through these challenges with my boys, because we very nearly did not have that opportunity.
TTTS is a disease of the placenta that affects identical twins with a shared placenta, in which abnormal blood vessels connecting the two babies develop in the placenta. When this happens, blood flows out of one baby and into the other, which if left untreated is life-threatening for both twins. In our case, the boys weren't diagnosed until delivery. They were born with >25% size difference, with Cuddlebug weighing 4 lbs 1 oz (he was the "donor twin") and Bearhug weighing 5 lbs 8 oz (he was the "recipient twin"). (back to top)
Friday, August 29, 2008
Labels: check it out
These are the Hands at Three Channels
"... These are the hands that wrote a note to the rather proper single interior decorator friend of his mother thanking her for the opportunity to “learn more about roaches” in her home. The mother of these hands did not bother to proofread the thank-you note before it was sent..."
Amazing Race at Autism in a Word
"... I was talking to my friend Carrie who has a beautiful little girl with PDD about competition and comparisons one day and she said, “You know, I think I grew up in the overachieving town that invented the “My Kid Is An Honor Student” bumper stickers. It would have been easy for me to get caught up in all that, but thankfully, God took that away from me...”
The Right to not be Scared at NTs are Weird
"...Listen closely the next time someone wants to keep someone from participating in society - how long does it take before “safety” is brought up, and is safety brought up in a logical, objective way or is it brought up in the context of feelings, stereotypes, and “personal experience” that can’t be argued against without bringing the discussion to a personal (rather than logical) level?..."
A Rainbow-Shaped Patch of Dry Grass at Life's Sweet Passions
"...It is usually my son who exclaims that he sees something way cool, and it is usually him who wants to stay and look, while I would rather continue walking because, to me, there will always be another flower... ...I’m glad I have these little reminders that make me stop and take a look at what’s going on around me. And maybe that’s another reason to add to my list of things I’m grateful to my son for: Helping me learn the things I forgot."
Graduation Speech at Storkdok-NOS
"...I'm doing this so that each and every one of you, student or teacher, thinks before the next time you use the word 'retard,' before the next time you shrug off someone else's use of the word 'retard.' Think of the people you hurt, both the mentally handicapped and those who love them. If you have to, think think of my sister. Think about how she can find more happiness in the blowing of a bubble and watching it float away than most of will in our entire lives. Think about how she will always love everyone unconditionally. Think about how she will never hate. Then think about which one of you is 'retarded'..."
Labels: autism, empathy, featured
* Recently, Cuddlebug stubbed his toe and started crying, loudly. Bearhug started screaming at him to stop crying because it was hurting his ears. I told BH that CB had hurt himself and that was why he was crying, and that if it was him, he'd cry too. His reply -- "No I wouldn't, I'm brave." ugh. I told him CB was brave too, but that even brave people cry sometimes.
* As toddlers, they bit each other constantly for a period of several months. Supposedly if kids are on the receiving end of bites, they learn that it hurts and they'll stop. Not so in their case, they just kept on -- I'm talking arms, legs, and backs covered with numerous toddler-mouth-sized circular bruises, sometimes enough to draw blood. Neither of them seemed to make the connection between "when he does this to me, it hurts, so maybe I shouldn't do it to him anymore." Even now, sometimes when they get upset they can attack each other pretty harshly (not biting, but not far from it either). Getting in the middle is
insane not advised.
* No matter how many times or different ways I try to tell him, Little Bitty either doesn't understand or doesn't care that it hurts when he constantly rolls on me. He does it all the time, climbs on my lap and rolls around, rolls on top of me repeatedly when I'm trying to sleep (I put him in his bed but he always finds his way back to ours). The deep pressure feels good to him, but after a while makes me want to
run for the hills find a good hiding place invest in body armor. At least he finally stopped head-butting me all the time - ouch!
So the reality is that like everyone else, my sons don't always show empathy for others. It's something we continue to work on. I believe my original point still stands, but now you have a more well-rounded view. :)
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Labels: Reece's Rainbow
Reece's Rainbow is an organization that works to save the lives of children with Down syndrome who are currently living in orphanages all over the world.
Even in the 21st century, the majority of children with Down syndrome are either prenatally aborted here in the US or hidden away in foreign orphanages and mental institutions. This travesty is a HOLOCAUST in every sense of the word. Donations to Reece's Rainbow are raised as adoption grants, so American families can afford the high cost of adopting these children and rescue them from life and death in a mental institution.
There are forever families wanting, hoping and praying for the opportunity to adopt these children, they just need help with the adoption expenses.
Reece's Rainbow is currently in the running for a $1.5 grant which would cover $20,000 grants for each of the 100 waiting children currently on the website. The project is run by American Express and a general overview is found here: http://www.membersproject.com/.
Reece's Rainbow has collected nominations to bring it up pretty quickly in the running, but needs to be in the top 25 by September 1st to be in the running for any of the top 5 places, thus receiving between $100,000 and $1.5 million in donations toward their project.
If RR makes the top 25, then each day every person that has an American Express card will then be able to vote to continue to get RR to the top of the charts. For now, to get to the top 25, we just need visibility and ANYONE can nominate- with or without a card of your own.
So please click here to go nominate Reece's Rainbow and help save lives. Lots of lives.
Grab the button here
Thanks to Tammy over at 5MFSN for making us aware of this!
So now I get to spread the love to 7 other blogs:
Here are the rules for the recipients of the awards:
1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of the people you’ve nominated.
6. Enjoy your award!
Here are the 7 blogs I am passing it along to:
Musings of the Wife of a Pilot
My Sippy Cup Runneth Over
Floortime Lite Mama
In the Life of a Child
Here are the rules for the recipients of the awards:
1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of the people you’ve nominated.
6. Enjoy your award!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Labels: pictures, progress, Special Exposure Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday
I'd have a hard time believing it! Yesterday while we were getting dinner ready, Little Bitty was playing with the letter magnets on the fridge. I looked down and saw "M A S" and didn't think much of it. A minute or so later, I looked down and he was putting the T on to finish up his word:
As in "Thomas the Tank Engine." He not only spelled it all by himself (from memory!), he spelled it right :). He's 3 yrs old, we've worked a little on showing him how to do "cat" and "dog" and even "train" with the letters (which he's never shown any interest in doing on his own), but not "Thomas."
What's ironic about this is, he doesn't even SAY his own name (I've heard him say it once or twice - ever) but now he can not only say, but SPELL Thomas' name. And he's so cute, he checked his work. After this he went to find a Thomas toy, and brought it back to compare and make sure he'd gotten it right :).
For more Special Exposure Wednesday, click here. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here, here, and here.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Labels: education, ideas and tips, math, Try this Tuesday
Dh gets credit for this one. Cuddlebug and Bearhug really like math, and when they mastered adding and subtracting, dh taught them to add/subtract with several digits (with carrying and borrowing).
He then moved on to basic multiplication. They already knew how to count by 2's, 5's, 10's, etc. so it wasn't much of a leap to say "5 x 3 means count by 5's 3 times" so they picked that up pretty well.
We weren't sure how to go about teaching them division, until dh came up with "chicken nugget math." Basically he told them, if you have x number of people and y chicken nuggets, how many nuggets does each person get? (Illustrated below, the green circles are supposed to be plates, lol).
Because it was concrete, visual (at least mentally), and something they could easily relate to, they picked it up pretty quickly. He even taught them remainders this way. For example, if you have 11 chicken nuggets and two people, how many does each person get and how many are left over? The leftovers are the "remainder."
It was great because he'd start with one and then keep building on it. Like, I have 20 chicken nuggets and it's lunch time for the two of you, how many will each of you get? What if Bitty decides to join you, then how many does each person get? What if mama joined too? dada? You get the idea.
So, for any of you that may be teaching math concepts right now, that's my idea for this week's Try This Tuesday :). Hope it helps.
Click here for more Try This Tuesday.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Labels: artwork, Magic Marker Monday, silly boys, writing
There's a lot of emotion in it, with the laughing faces on the front and the angry face inside. In case you can't tell, "sdenks" is how he spelled "stinks." (yes, I wrote over their actual names with their "internet aliases")
Since they seemed to be fine by the time I found it, I opted not to ask them about it, because I didn't want to rehash any animosity that they seemed to have already worked through on their own. So, I'm not sure what motivated him to write this note.
The next day, I found another note. This one was just folded, not crumpled up (so it must have been received better). It confirmed for me that they'd "made up" and were on good terms again. :)
I thought it was sweet that Bearhug had taken the time to write a nice note to his brother, after the rather mean note the day before. In that last line "famale's" means "families."
For more Magic Marker Monday, visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
Labels: dads, SAHD
* my sons have a very close relationship with dh, and in my experience it doesn't take anything away from their relationship with me, they are still quite the little "mama's boys"
* ok, I'll admit it, dh is stronger than me, which made him better at managing twin toddlers who were prone to frequent meltdowns. I had a hard enough time trying to carry one of them in meltdown mode without having to keep picking them back up because I couldn't keep them up
* security benefit - I'd like to think that anyone with ill-intent is less likely to target a dad alone with 3 kids
* my job is pretty flexible in terms of being able to take time off for things like dr. appts, teacher conferences, IEP meetings, evaluations, and school events. I also have a laptop and blackberry so I can work remotely (double-edged sword, lol) and can finish up work in the evening after everyone's in bed if need be. the flip side is I sometimes have to work late nights or weekends depending on what's going on at work, but it's well worth it IMO
* peace of mind for me during the day, knowing our kids are either at school or home with dad
* maternity leave was a "family affair" with all 5 of us at home together. which was cool for me but by the end of 5 weeks, dh was asking "isn't it time for you to go back to work?" I was messing up his routine, lol. I went back to work after 6 weeks.
* my sons have a great role model of fatherhood
* I don't ever have to worry about dh not appreciating how hard it is to take care of 3 kids and keep up with housework
* which brings me to the next awesome "pro" - dh does most of the housework during the day so when I get home I get to focus on the boys and not the dishes / laundry (yes, I know he rocks! and no, you can't have him!) ;)
* well, the obvious, I don't get to spend all day with my babies :(
* there aren't any dads playgroups in our area, and our kids have only once been invited to join a moms playgroup (one mom invited dh, the other moms apparently looked at him like he was from outer space, so it was a one-time thing). instead of playgroups, dh takes the boys to the park a lot, where most of the moms he's encountered are cool about having a SAHD in their midst, and dh has been perfectly comfortable chatting it up with them
* I have to admit that when I was pg at work, I was a tad jealous of my male co-workers who were "expecting," they got all the excitement of a new baby on the way without having to overcome the effects of nausea or pg-induced exhaustion at work. On the flip side, when I was pg with #3, I realized I was probably getting more rest at work than I would have at home with my two 3-yr-olds. ;)
* not all public restrooms have a changing table in the men's restroom - what's up with that??
* both parents will sometimes need a thick skin. There's quite a double standard (IMO) in that people will give working moms a hard time about going to work, but no one thinks twice about working dads going to work. Aren't they parents too? But no one acts like they are abandoning their kids by going to work (nevermind the fact that the kids are still at home with a parent!). And as to the dads, some people insist on treating them like they're clueless even though they can (and should) be perfectly capable and competent parents.
So there you have it... there's a pretty good book about SAHD's called "Stay-at-home Dads: The essential guide to creating the new family" by Libby Gill, I read it 7 yrs ago when we first started down this road. Another book, "Raising Multiple Birth Children" isn't about SAHD's per se, but it's about raising multiples, written by William and Sheila Laut, and if I remember correctly, the dad is a SAHD (or was at the time).
Overall, we have found that most people are supportive but at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks. Each family has to make their decisions based on what works for them, and this just happens to work out really well for us. Oh, and for the record, he's not "Mr. Mom." ;)
At Home Dad: Men who change diapers change the world
Dad Stays Home - forum for SAHD's to share experiences
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Labels: silly dh
Cuddlebug and Bearhug both replied matter-of-factly, "Yes, Widget is a girl." Dh looks at me. "Did you know Widget is a girl?" Um, yes. She's pink, wears a pink outfit (with a heart on it), and sounds like a girl. I was a little surprised that he thought Widget was a boy. He went back to eating his dinner and watching the show.
A few minutes later, another exclamation, "Widget is a GIRL?!?" Me, ROFL. Yes! Widget is a girl (thought we just went over that a few minutes ago?). Apparently, this was life-altering information that he was having a hard time coming to grips with.
Just in case there is any lingering doubt, if you listen to the song at the beginning of the show, it refers to Widget as "she/her" and both Wubbzy and Walden as "he/him" so it's confirmed.
Dh cracks me up.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Labels: chess club, school, twins
The chess instructor said that one of them (he wasn't sure which) got a little distraught when one of his pawns was captured, but that he quickly recovered when he learned that he could return the favor :). He said he didn't realize they were twins so a while later he was talking to his brother not realizing it was his brother and not him. When he asked them if they were brothers, they said, "No... we're twins." LOL
Hopefully this will be a good opportunity for them not only learn how to play chess and practice their logic / strategy skills, but also to practice their social skills - sportsmanship, never giving up, and learning how to handle both victory and defeat graciously.
Yesterday I was asking them about it, and Bearhug mentioned, "the girl with the hands that make me feel good." Knowing Bearhug and his sometimes unusual descriptions, my first thought was that she had soft hands, but I asked him what he meant so he could clarify. He said, "When she took my pawn, and we shook hands and said, 'Good game.'"
Still curious, I asked, "So, do you mean her hands were soft, or that she was nice?" "Both!" he said excitedly. I thought it was cute that her hands apparently made such an impression, and I'm glad to hear that she's nice too. He didn't know who she was, or if she was also a 2nd grader, but I get the feeling he'll be looking for her next week at chess club...
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I didn't actually get much work done until early this morning, b/c it took all night to get Bitty to go to sleep. At least he wasn't screaming, he just wouldn't go to sleep. I have heard that melatonin can be helpful, if anyone has experience with that with a 3-yr-old, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks to everyone who commented yesterday :). I will be stopping by to visit your blogs also, as soon as I can. And I have lots of updates coming as soon as I have time to post again!
Labels: history, pictures, video
In today's news... we have finally surrendered the kitchen to the "invading forces" after our battered gate finally proved not only useless in keeping out invading toddlers, but was actually aiding and abetting them in their plight to reach "higher ground" (that being the counters). So yesterday I came home to find the gate had come down and said toddlers were wandering freely in the kitchen. :\
On the bright side, it is nice not having to step over the gate anymore but now we have to work on getting them to keep the fridge and freezer closed - they are both so tall they can open the freezer on their own. We had already toddler-proofed the kitchen as much as possible since they were getting in there anyway. The good thing is it's harder for them to get onto the counters now - they can still do it if they try but they seem to have decided it isn't worth the effort.
On a really bright side - they both volunteered to help clean the kitchen last night (without being asked - we weren't even cleaning). Cuddlebug swept the floor with the broom (then swept the carpet in the living room for good measure) and Bearhug mopped with the swiffer mop we use. He knows how to use it, too - he kept squirting the cleaner and then mopping it up :). They are turning into great helpers.
Now if we could just keep the bikes out of the kitchen...
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Labels: pictures, Special Exposure Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday
From the look of Cuddlebug's hands, he was obviously coloring with slobberful crayons.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Labels: church, pictures, quotes, silly boys
I told them I was impressed that they were learning so much, and Bearhug said “yeah, I’m clever. I’m a clever Jesus man.” I couldn’t help but laugh, it was such an off-the-wall thing to say :).
I digress. Back to this past Sunday, and Little Bitty. This happened not 10 minutes after I’d left his nursery class, waited in the hall for a few minutes and not heard any screaming, so figured the coast was clear to go to my class. I had even told dh how proud I was that he was doing so well, as that was the earliest I’d been able to leave his class in a long time.
I went to his nursery class to get him and sure enough, he was screaming hysterically, his face and body were red, and he was in fact, half-naked. He’d pulled off his shirt and shoes. He was still wearing his pants and socks, though I’m sure those were next. One thing that is nice about Little Bitty is that he will sometimes actually calm down when I pick him up. Thankfully, this was one of those times. As soon as I picked him up, from the lap of the poor woman who’d been trying to calm him up to that point, he almost immediately started to settle down. After a few minutes, I was even able to get his shirt back on (I didn’t push my luck with the shoes). He was fine the rest of the time (yay!).
Labels: autism, ideas and tips, meltdowns, silly boys, Try this Tuesday
One of our more successful "evasive maneuvers" to prevent a meltdown when we started to see signs that one was on the horizon, was to get silly. Extremely silly. Here are some examples:
- Say a random phrase that they find funny A couple of phrases that my twins made up are "stink the cat" and calling each other "cheeky belly." Don't ask me what either of these mean, I was never able to figure it out. But if I saw the storm clouds brewing, I could blurt out "stink the cat!" and suddenly they'd both be laughing, meltdown averted.
- Deep pressure, deli style My sons loved it when I made "Bearhug Burritos" or "Cuddlebug Sandwiches." Basically, this is just wrapping them up or covering them in a blanket (depending on whether it's a burrito or a sandwich, lol) and then gently laying on top of them to apply all-over deep pressure. Of course, I added a lot of pretend munching and "yum, yum, yum! I just love [Bearhug] Burritos!" which usually made them laugh.
- Random jokes Something along the lines of "You know what's funnier than twenty-four? Twenty-five!" (another Spongebob reference, lol).
- Tickling You have to be careful with this one, because it can backfire and make them more upset rather than divert their attention to something funny. But, sometimes it worked for us.
- Start counting or saying random numbers / letters / shapes (if your child likes numbers, letters, and/or shapes)
The idea is to catch them off guard and distract them from whatever it is that's upsetting them. Getting silly was sometimes helpful with Cuddlebug and Bearhug when it looked like they were close to the edge of a meltdown. Unfortunately, we haven't yet found much that helps with Little Bitty. Maybe some of these will work as he gets older? I'm definitely open to suggestions if you have ideas!
Monday, August 18, 2008
Labels: autism, meltdowns
Before they were diagnosed, we figured it was just the "terrible two's", although they started around 15 mos, and there was no end in sight when they reached age 3. What we couldn't understand was why people stared at us the way they did when it happened in public -- wasn't this supposed to be typical 2-yr-old behavior? And yet, apparently it wasn't, because we never saw other kids their age (or any age) having the same kind of extreme meltdowns that we experienced on a regular basis.
It usually started with throwing themselves onto the ground, then rolling around screaming hysterically, and it could last for anywhere from a few minutes to well over an hour. They were very strong for their age, so it was a challenge trying to pick them up and carry them out when it happened in public.
As time went on and their communication skills began to improve, we started getting little clues as to what triggered their meltdowns. Reading about autism and sensory issues also helped give us some ideas of what to look for -- things like any kind of change in their environment (no matter how small), anything that could lead to sensory overload, anything unexpected in their routine, etc.
Somewhere around age 4½ - 5, we started to see a slowdown in the frequency of meltdowns, although our concern at that point was how big they were getting, which made it increasingly difficult to manage when they did have a meltdown. Fortunately, with time things have greatly improved. Part of it is we have learned what to avoid and how to spot the signs and take evasive action. Part of it is that the boys have learned how to recognize when they are reaching their limits and how to use more appropriate coping methods before they get completely overwhelmed.
Now, at age 7, full-blown meltdowns are relatively rare for BH and CB. Not to worry though, Little Bitty has obligingly taken over where they left off... Thankfully, his meltdowns are typically not quite as intense, although they tend to last longer -- it's not uncommon for LB to have a meltdown lasting over 2 hrs. The good news is, at least now we know it does [eventually] get better!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Labels: acceptance, autism, communication, featured, speech
Yes, it's true, I live in a bubble. In my bubble, my kids are pretty much just like everyone else, with their unique personalities of course. They are all learning and progressing, and in my bubble that is all I see. Occasionally the "real world" manages to intrude on my bubble.
When we are around other kids it can sure be an eye-opener, I sometimes find myself caught off guard with how other kids act, how well they can talk, or things like that and I find myself thinking they are much older only to find out they're not. Sometimes I think I have offended people by complimenting their kids on things like that and they react with a rather huffy, "well of course he can (fill in the blank)." They just take it for granted and don't realize it doesn't come so easy for everyone.
Once when I was introduced to a co-worker's wife and son (who was 2 at the time), she told him "say hello to Ms. Danette" and he said hello but didn't say my name. She seemed annoyed so I tried to lighten things up with, "it's ok, it's a hard name to say." Her response was an indignant, "not for him it's not!" Ouch. My little then-2-yr-old (2 mos older than hers) couldn't say anything at all yet. I didn't have much else to add to that conversation.
Sometimes I get myself into trouble when we're interacting with the rest of the world, because I don't have a good sense for what other kids their age are capable of or will be like. Like when I signed up our 3-yr-old for gymnastics this summer, not realizing that all the other 3-yr-olds were perfectly capable of sitting still and paying attention for brief periods, and following directions. Who'da thought?? Oops.
As for my older boys, most of the time I don't even notice that they still have issues with their speech, other than their sometimes unusual choice of words and ways of describing things. I'm so used to hearing them, that when I hear other kids their age talk, the other kids are the ones who sound strangely adult to me. But for some reason, the other day listening to them in the car, it struck me. Cuddlebug still speaks with a slushy sound, and his L's are more often than not still pronouced as W's (Little Bitty would be "Wittle Bitty"). Bearhug still pronounces Jupiter as "Jutiper" and has some other unusual pronunciations like "re-ember" for "remember." Both of them still slur to the point of being difficult to understand when they are tired (in other words, it takes effort for them to speak clearly).
For the most part though, my bubble is pretty well insulated. In my world all I see is the continual progress my kids are making, and where they are now is night and day from where they used to be. I see what amazing people they are, and all the cool things they can do (which btw, they can do a lot of things that their NT peers can't). I see how precious and innocent their spirits are. I see three little boys that make the world a better place just by being a part of it. I wouldn't trade our bubble for anything :).
Labels: video of the day
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Labels: autism, awareness, movies
Of course, as a mother of boys, I found myself identifying more closely with the young man in the movie (who was played impressively well by Josh Hartnett). I wondered where his parents were, as they didn't figure into the story. I thought about my sons and wondered if they would face the same sort of difficulties this young man faced. He was highly intelligent and well-educated but unable to secure a job in his field due to social issues impeding his interview (difficulty with eye contact, not understanding the social nuances of some of the questions).
The part at the beginning, where he is driving a cab and it shows a visual of what he sees in his mind - basically a map of the entire area - really struck me. I know my sons are visual thinkers and based on their affinity for remembering directions, they probably have a similar visual when we are driving around. They also have a talent for numbers, although not to the extent that the character in the movie does!
The movie explored the difficulties the two faced in their relationship -- often exacerbated by their Asperger's -- and how they worked to overcome them. The fact that they kept trying despite the obstacles, and most importantly, that they were each willing to overlook the other's "quirks" once they understood them better, says a lot and to me was encouraging. I have every hope that my boys will be able to find love, marriage and family when they get older, and I found this movie to be uplifting from that perspective.
Labels: autism, awareness, movies
It was interesting to watch parts of it again (we didn't watch the whole thing) from the perspective of a parent of autistic children. This movie tends to get a bad rap among the autism community because we get tired of people comparing our children to Rainman and assuming that every person with autism is just like him (and if they happen to be not just like him, how can they possibly be autistic?) Ugh. I totally get that. The issue goes back to the saying, "if you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism." So true, as people with autism are individuals just like anyone else.
Having said that though, if you've seen the movie Rainman, you have in a sense, met one person with autism. Dustin Hoffman's character is patterned after a real person, a man named Kim Peek (if you have a few minutes, it's definitely worth following the link to read more about him, he's an impressive guy!).
As I watched with dh, I saw more humor than I remembered (in an "I've totally been there!" kind of way) and there were sad parts too (seeing how easy it was for others to try to take advantage of Ray made my heart ache, as did the part where he was lost in the intersection). The parts we found funny were the ones that reminded us of our sons and some of the "frustrating at the time but funny now" incidents we have had with them. Like when Ray refuses to get on a plane, won't stay in the car when they get stuck at a wreck, and insists on taking the backroads from that point on. And after all that, he gets worked up about buying his underwear at a particular K-mart and Tom Cruise stops the car, gets out and just starts screaming. Dh and I were ROFL, we know that frustration all too well - with a stubbornness that just can't be reasoned with about things that most people would find to be completely irrelevant.
The insistence on a particular routine (has to watch Wapner, needs 8 fish sticks, not 4) and the lengths to which Tom Cruise's character would go to try to keep his brother happy all hit home for us. So, no our kids aren't Rainman, but yes, they have their moments when there are definite similarities there.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Labels: autism, development, pictures
This was exciting news! When the boys were younger, Cuddlebug wouldn't even get on a swing. The movement was scary for him due to sensory issues. He spent considerable time in OT working on just getting onto a swing, and eventually letting someone push him a little. I was amazed the first time I actually saw him on a swing with a smile on his face (that's him to the right, Nov 2005)!
Bearhug was ok with swings but typically preferred to do the "arms over the swing" approach (that's him in the picture to left, Feb 2004). We've tried for a long time to teach them how to move their legs back and forth to keep the swing moving on their own, but while they have plenty of strength, it takes a lot of coordination and that is an area where they struggle sometimes.
So we were pretty excited to hear that they'd been able to keep the swings going on their own, at least partially. That's a big step and an indication of their developing coordination skills :).
As for Mr. Bitty, he LOVES to swing although he too has yet to learn how to swing by himself. All in good time. He'll swing until your arms feel like they're going to fall off from pushing him, seriously sometimes almost an hour! And then when you ask if he's all done, he'll still sign "more." Usually when we go to the park, he spends the majority of his time on the swing, before finally venturing out to see what else is there. He has sensory issues too, but more on the sensory-seeking end rather than sensory-avoiding when it comes to movement.
LOL, I just noticed that Bitty is wearing the same shirt in this picture (taken April 2008) as Cuddlebug was wearing in the picture above. That's the great thing about having twin big brothers, lots of cool clothes!
So I suggested to Cuddlebug that he take a warm bath as it might make him feel better (it worked for Bearhug when he was sick last week). When I went in to check on him, I found him sitting in only about 2-3 inches of water. I asked him if he had enough water and his response was, "well, I don't want to waste water and hurt the earth."
Ok, I'm all for taking care of the planet, really I am, but when my little boy is afraid to run himself even a half-full bathtub, I think it's gone a little too far.
So I assured him that taking a bath is only borrowing the water, and that when he's done it goes down the drain and eventually back to the earth where it belongs. And I ran him some more bathwater.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Labels: silly boys
Cuddlebug has developed a bit of a fascination with germs and now, viruses. Ever since Bearhug was sick last week, he's been asking me about viruses. A couple of nights ago, he asked me, "If I sniff and swallow my boogers, will I get viruses?" hmm, I told him I thought that was safe (hope so) and he informed me that he has done that a few times. Today he wanted to know what viruses look like and how we can see them, so we took a look on Google. I showed him several different kinds of viruses and also showed him pictures of a microscope, which are used to see viruses. He then proceeded to get out his magnifying glass and start scanning his body for viruses.
Last night, he caught whatever BH had and was throwing up. I also threw up last night, as a result of a migraine. Last night was not a pleasant time to be at our house! Neither was tonight, I suppose, because tonight's bedtime conversation revolved around vomit.
Cuddlebug is quite a curious guy. So tonight at bedtime he started asking me questions:
CB: "Mama, what is throw-up made of?"
me: "umm, it's made of whatever you had to eat."
CB: "What if you don't have anything to eat?"
me: "Well, I guess then it would look like water. Yucky water."
[a brief pause while he takes that in]
CB: "So there's lots of throw-up recipes."
me: [rolling laughing at his use of the term "throw-up recipes" - who else would call it that?!] "Yeah, I guess you're right."
CB: "yeah, everyone in the world has their own throw-up recipe."
me: [still laughing] "Yep, you're right."
CB: "yeah, because it's whatever they had to eat."
[another pause for contemplation]
CB: "Do you know why my throw-up was brown?"
me: [wondering when we're going to talk about something else, or maybe stop talking and go to sleep!] "Because you ate something brown?"
CB: "No, because the honeybun"
me: "Oh, ok"
CB: "What color is your throw-up?"
me: "Well, last night it was brown."
CB: "I think most people's throw-up is brown."
me: "maybe you're right."
You were warned (LOL). Thankfully after that his curiousity was satisfied, at least for the moment, and he rolled over to go to sleep.
Nobody must know... not even... Squidward's house! (LOL, can you tell I've seen way too much Spongebob?)
Last weekend, I took Cuddlebug to a little party they had for all the kids who'd gone to camp this summer. Bearhug was sick so he stayed home with dh and LB. Toward the end, most of the people had left and it was just CB and I along with a few others, he was finishing up his ice cream. He looked at me and whispered, "I want to tell you a secret." Ok, sure, go for it.
His secret turned out to be a confessional of sorts. He whispered in my ear, "I broke my guitar, but it was an accident." I told him I knew about that since he'd asked us to fix the string previously. Then he said "I have another secret." A little more warily, I said ok. This time, he whispered into my ear, "I also broke a blue cup, but that was an accident too." He went on to tell me that he'd hidden these broken items in his closet, afraid he'd get in trouble. I had to admire his courage in telling me, obviously these things had been weighing on him. I thanked him for telling me the truth, and he said, "I try to be gentle but sometimes it's hard." He and BH do have a history of breaking things, usually not on purpose and usually b/c they have a hard time being gentle, so I know what he means! (There's a reason we affectionately call them "Seek and Destroy" LOL)
A couple of days later, I remembered his secrets and went upstairs to look for the broken items in his closet and make sure I threw away anything that could be dangerous. Sure enough, hidden behind some other things, was a broken guitar (and not just the string like I thought, it's actually broken in half, ahh!) and a blue plastic cup with a crack down the side (ok, that one wasn't as "broken" as I thought it might be). I guess now I know where to look if anything goes missing...
Labels: pictures, school
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Labels: autism, awareness, brothers, family, featured, love
When my twins were younger, they didn't understand what facial expressions or things like crying meant. Obviously they cried, but they didn't recognize crying as a sign of sadness or distress in others, so they wouldn't respond "appropriately" to someone crying. We had to teach them to recognize and interpret facial expressions that meant happy, sad, scared, angry, etc. Once they learned to recognize those cues, they began to respond accordingly, which leads me to believe that it is more of a communication issue than truly lacking empathy.
So, I thought I'd share just a few examples of times when my sons have shown empathy. I recently posted about BH singing to LB to try to calm him down, and about both CB and BH being there for Little Bitty when he needed some help. Here are a couple of other examples -- these are just a few out of many:
Last year when BH's teacher missed a few days of school to care for her mother, who was ill, she told me that he was the only one in the class who asked her how her mom was when she returned. He didn't ask because he thought she expected him to (he just doesn't think like that), he asked because he was genuinely worried about his teacher and her mom.
When BH and CB were 4 yrs old, BH was having a rough morning one day because he wanted to stay home and play with his trains instead of going to school. So he threw a fit about everything from having to come downstairs to getting his shoes on to walking out the door to getting in the car… then he went ballistic when I didn’t turn at the “shortcut” he wanted to take (it goes by another school so there was too much traffic that way). So after he’d been crying for a few minutes, CB turned to him and said happily “It’s October, [BH]!” he got no response so then he said “Peekaboo!” BH got mad at him and I told him CB was just trying to be nice. Then CB said “I have a great idea to cheer him up!” and started saying random things like “what about hearts? Does that make you happy?” He was so sweet. And it worked, BH calmed down and then wanted to play peekaboo with him. By the time we got to school, he was in a good mood.
Even Little Bitty, whose communication skills are significantly delayed, has demonstrated his ability to empathize with others by offering his sippy to me or dh when he seemed to think we were tired or thirsty. Not that we were really interested in having his slobberful sippy cup shoved into our mouths, but hey, it's the thought that counts, right? LOL
Please leave a comment with your own examples -- I think it is important for people to see that individuals with autism can and do show empathy for others.
We told him he wouldn't be able to wear it at school, and when we saw his disappointment, asked him why he wore it every day. Turns out, he's decided it has medicinal value. He said that wearing it around his neck protects his throat from getting sick. Sure enough, once he said that I realized that he started wearing it after he got a sore throat earlier this summer. I asked him what made him think that, and he said he hasn't had a sore throat since he started wearing it. Who can argue with that logic?
We brainstormed some ideas of what else could help protect his throat and came up with a watch as an alternate solution (with the added benefit of telling you what time it is!) so we'll be heading to the store this weekend to buy him a watch (and BH too if he wants one). In the meantime, he's been leaving his bandana at home and putting it back on when he gets home from school.
Labels: pictures, Special Exposure Wednesday, twins, Wordless Wednesday
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Labels: pictures, school
The first day went well! The night before, Cuddlebug was nervous and told me he was afraid he wouldn't do well in 2nd grade. I assured him he'd do just fine, and that all the other kids (and his teacher!) were probably nervous too. Bearhug and Little Bitty went right to sleep.
Little Bitty was the first to wake up, and seemed to know it was the first day of school. We've been talking about it a lot, so hopefully that helped. He gave me one of his famous grins and was ready to get up and get ready! He even helped me pick out the shirt he wanted to wear (a Thomas shirt, what else?).
Bearhug and Cuddlebug were not quite so chipper, they were not happy about having to get up early again. Of course I always try to get a picture of them as we head out to school on the first day, you can see by the looks on their faces that they were not particularly impressed, LOL.
BH had actually started out wearing a different shirt, but changed at the last minute. CB's response (in an annoyed tone): "You don't always have to look beautiful on the first day!" LOL
I took the day off (two days actually, yay!) so dh and I could have a little mini-vacation of our own. Ok, so it was only about 4 hrs each day but hey, we had fun anyway! And I got to be there to pick up the boys. When we picked LB up from school, he was sooo tired. He fell asleep pretty quick in the car. When we picked up CB and BH, they were excited about what a great day they'd had, so that was good news!
By the time we got home, LB was cranky. I thought it was kind of funny that literally the minute we walked in the door, he stripped down to his pull-up (he's not a fan of clothes). I put my things down and there he was, sitting in a pile of his discarded clothes, crying one of his "I'm tired and cranky" cries. I got him a cup of cran and let him hold his stack of DVD's. Here's a picture of him decompressing after school while he watched "Wow, Wow, Wubzy."