Monday, October 26, 2009

Sensory stuff

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So I just wrote a long, rambling post (in draft mode) trying to sort out my thoughts about the sensory challenges we've been having lately, mostly with Bearhug. When it comes to classic autism, his is the mildest of my three boys (with Bitty the most affected and Cuddlebug somewhere in the middle), but Bearhug's sensory challenges are the most severe of my three. He is really struggling lately - at home, school, even church. It seems to be a combination of overstimulation, various changes in the routine, difficulty focusing, and somehow just general out-of-sync-ness (to borrow the term from this book).

There are a few possible "triggers" but it's hard to tell if those are actual causes, effects, or just exacerbating what would still be there regardless. I don't think it is just one thing, it seems more like one thing after another after another... and when he's overwhelmed his ability to effectively communicate is impacted, so we're trying to piece together what clues he is able to give us. We're doing our best to help, and to be patient in the process, but I have to admit to feeling a bit at a loss.

Today was a rough day.

I was in this frustrated state of mind (and recovering from a migraine which I think is probably directly related to today's misadventures) when I read this post from Patty at Pancakes Gone Awry... if you have a child with sensory issues it's an encouraging read. I can so relate to what she describes with her son, and she's right, it does get better. Reading her post reminded me of just how far each of the boys has come so far. And not only that, if they've made that much progress up to this point, I have to believe that although we may be at a bit of a rough patch right now, more progress is yet to come and we will find a way to help them work through their current challenges.






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Magic Marker Monday: Flowers

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Bearhug brought this home from school. It looks like it may be of the same vase that Cuddlebug painted at school but it's interesting to see how different Bearhug's interpretation of it was :).



For more Magic Marker Monday, visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs.





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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cuddlebug and Bearhug on the go

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Some pictures from our trip:

Cuddlebug enjoyed the view from the window of the train at the airport, while Bearhug was focused on his pizza :). We encountered lots of big escalators at the airports (we visited three that day). Cuddlebug insisted on riding the escalators, while Bearhug was terrified of them, so we compromised by letting Cuddlebug ride up and back down, and then we all took the elevator together.


We went to a pizza / game place where the boys had fun riding bumper cars (great for sensory-seekers!) and playing air hockey.


They got tired of hitting the puck back and forth and decided it was more fun to "throw" their handles at each other, lol.


My dad took us on a brief tour of the hangar where he works. The boys got a sneak-peek at the plane insides without all the seats and "trimmings."





And a visit to the park for some low-key fun. We were trying not to overdo it.



There were lots of groundhogs prairie dogs at the park :).




Cuddlebug buried a pack of "Smarties" candy in his volcano.





Then he was off to join Bearhug at the prairie dog field.


They walked around the entire perimeter of the field on the wall. When they got to going too fast, I told them to stop running. Cuddlebug responded, "we're not running, Mama, we're power-walking!" lol


On our way back to the car, Bearhug couldn't resist splashing in a puddle.


A little worried about overstimulation, we took the boys to pick out some Pokemon videos for some downtime.


The videos helped but it was not enough to prevent a rage of a meltdown, the likes of which I haven't seen from Bearhug in years. He stayed in control so well until one little thing set him off and it was downhill from there. No sense going into details... but it was worrisome because he's so big now I was afraid that he'd hurt himself or someone else or do some serious property damage but thankfully we all made it through ok.

After that, we pretty much stayed at the house the rest of the trip. The boys had fun playing with airplanes, and Bearhug enjoyed having Python attack the various planes, like this. He liked it when I took pictures of them like that, so I have a bunch of these with different planes. Aren't you glad I didn't post them all? hehe


And then it was time to go home.

We nearly had a repeat of Bearhug's meltdown when we found that Pizza Hut at the airport was closed during our layover (and I had told him we'd get pizza). So I assured him we'd get one when we landed at home before heading out to the car and he was able to stay in control (thank goodness because we were starting to attract stares and I was worried they wouldn't let us board the plane if he didn't calm down).

In the air we saw huge billowy clouds and blue skies, but on the ground it was back to rainy, grey skies.


As it turned out, the terminal we landed at does not have a Pizza Hut, and no other pizza would do (sigh) so we had to go on a quest for Pizza Hut before we could go find the car and go home. Of course it was the opposite direction of where we needed to go. We finally found it. That in itself was no easy feat - the airport was VERY crowded at that point, and to top it off Cuddlebug was insisting on pushing the suitcase (on rollers) for me and no matter how many times I told him you're supposed to pull it because it's easier, he was obstinate about it (and have you ever tried to push one of those things? It goes everywhere! not good in a crowded airport!). I was pulling my hair out, but we weren't really in a rush at that point and I knew they were both at their limit in terms of overstimulation, so I just took a deep breath and tried to keep the peace.

Anyway... so this one was taken on the underground train in our pizza quest.


And we had a breakthrough - Bearhug finally worked up the nerve to get on the escalator. I was really proud of him, I know how difficult it can be to overcome our fears. And he didn't just get on any escalator, he got on THIS one, which is huge and really messes with your visual sense of perspective for some reason.


All in all, it was a good trip and a relatively successful "experiment." We've been "paying" for it for the last couple of weeks because much like any vacation, the combination of overstimulation and change in the routine takes a while to work its way out of their systems. But it was great being able to go visit my parents for a long weekend and it was nice to have some one-on-one (or two) time with Cuddlebug and Bearhug, although I missed dh and Bitty while we were gone. It was also all the evidence I needed that we need to wait a long while before trying to take Bitty on a flight ;).





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Friday, October 23, 2009

Social story: Airplane ride

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UPDATE:
The .ppt file has been uploaded to google docs, you can view and download it here:
Airplane Ride Social Story


I made this for the boys before our trip, thought it might be helpful to share.

New experiences, however fun or exciting, can be really stressful for Cuddlebug and Bearhug so the goal of this was to walk through what to expect step-by-step. With flying, I knew there would be a lot of steps involved and wanted to help them transition as smoothly as possible from one area to the next as we went through the process of getting checked in, going through security, finding our gate, waiting, boarding, etc. The fewer surprises the better :).

I put the pages together in powerpoint and then printed them out with each slide taking up half a page. Then I cut the pages and stapled the edges to make little booklets. They didn't actually spend a whole lot of time looking at the booklets but having thought through all the steps helped me to be prepared to talk them through everything as we moved from one step to the next.

















If anyone wants the .ppt file so you can adapt it for your own family just send me a note or leave a comment, I'd be happy to share it.






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Alex Barton Update

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As you may remember, Alex Barton was the little boy whose teacher had him "voted out" of his kindergarten class by his peers. He is now an honor student at another school that is obviously doing a much better job of meeting his educational needs.

I saw this on Fox & Friends yesterday, I am really glad to see that he is doing well. And he was cracking me up doing "thumbs up" and big grins (to the cameraman?) while his mom was talking :). What a cutie!








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Friday, October 16, 2009

We're in luck! Thomas clothes in bigger sizes

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Just wanted to share this for anyone else who may be in a similar predicament, as well as for my own reference so I don't lose it :).

~~~~~~

I'm pretty sure I have commented before about how Bitty will only wear clothes with Thomas on them. And how we have up until now been unable to find Thomas clothes larger than size 5 (and those are hard enough to come by). His 4T's are getting small, and his size 5's won't be far behind. Just a matter of time...

Well, it looks like we'll be able to delay the inevitable for a few more years, and hopefully by then he will have broadened out his "acceptable clothing" list to include non-Thomas attire.

I found a site called Totally Thomas that carries Thomas shirts up to size Youth Large (12-14). Granted, there's not much selection that big, but there are a couple... and there's a decent selection up to child size 7.

AND there's more... they also carry Thomas underwear up to size 8. How cool is that? I've never seen anything above toddler sizes at the store.

Amazing how something so seemingly mundane has really made my day, but I know ya'll know where I'm coming from! ;)





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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where in the world have we been?

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Ok, I guess it hasn't really been that long but it feels like a long time! Here's a hint:



Yep, I took Cuddlebug and Bearhug for their first plane ride... we went to visit my parents for the long weekend. Dh and Bitty stayed home. We aren't quite ready to put Bitty on a plane yet (we don't want to end up on the news for getting kicked off a plane). Maybe when he's 8... we'll see.

Overall, the boys did great, I'm really proud of them! More to come soon, and I'll hopefully get time to catch up on all of your blogs this weekend :).






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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

SEW & WW: Like Uncle, Like Nephew

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When we were kids, my younger brother used to go running to look at airplanes whenever he heard one flying overhead, which was pretty often because we lived on an Air Force Base. If we were inside, he ran for the window :).

That memory came to mind this past weekend when the boys and I were in the garage (with the door open) and we heard an airplane flying by. Bitty perked right up and went running outside to catch a glimpse of the plane:




Click here for more Special Exposure Wednesday. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here or here.





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Monday, October 5, 2009

Potty training update :)

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I waited a few days before posting this because I wanted to be sure this time, but I think I can safely say that Bitty is now officially potty-trained :). At age 4 1/2, it took him about a year longer than it took his brothers (they were about 3 1/2, finished potty training not long before Bitty was born), but the process was much less messy with him so I have no complaints. ;)

After he did his #2 business in the potty that one time, we hid the pull-ups. I admit I started to question that strategy when he got really upset and decided to hold it rather than use the potty. He figured out that he could wait until bedtime and use his bedtime pull-up (because he's not always dry at night so we always put a pull-up on at bedtime).

But it wasn't long before he got tired of having to wait and decided the potty wasn't so bad after all. That, and he decided our offers of chocolate made the effort worth it, even though that didn't work before.

So whenever he went, he'd come running running to tell us,

"You di' gwayjah poop-ah-da-paw-yee, you geh CHWOCWIT" (you did a great job pooping in the potty, you get chocolate."

That's quite a sentence, huh? He can do that when he's repeating something he's heard, and of course he was telling us what he expected us to say, hehe.

We did, in fact, reiterate what a great job he did and offer him a little chocolate (he's partial to the "red" chocolate, the plain Nestle mini's that come in a red wrapper).

In fact, for a little while there I thought he'd figured out how to "game the system" because he'd do a little bit of #2 in the potty, ask for a chocolate, and then do a little more and want another chocolate... like he was trying to spread out his business to maximize the chocolate, lol.

Anyway, I noticed that today he didn't ask for any chocolate, so I guess it's becoming "old hat" for him now :). He WAS pretty impressed with himself for waking up dry this morning though, and we haven't made a big deal out of that yet. His conversation with himself (heard while I was half-asleep because it was the crack of dawn) went something like this:

"Iss 'Bitty' weh o' dwy? 'Bitty' iss dwy!"
(yells loudly) "GWAY-JAH 'BITTY'!!!"

He is his own best cheerleader, it's so cute to see him cheering himself on :). Obviously he's internalizing what he hears, both from us and from his teachers at school, and it's great that he recognizes on his own when he did something good.

Anyway, so the next step, as he already decided on his own, is to work on staying dry all night. He still likes a cup of chocolate milk to help him relax at bedtime though so we're not going to push that one for now. It's not entirely realistic to expect him to stay dry at night until he's ready to give up the bedtime drink. Another goal for another day - for now I'm just enjoying the newfound freedom from pull-ups during the day :).





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Kreativ Blogger

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Kajoli of Floortime Lite Mama was kind enough to nominate me for the Kreativ Blogger award. If you haven't read her blog, go check it out! She has an adorable little boy whose progress I love to read about, and she shares a lot of great insights and inspiring thoughts along the way :). Thanks, Kajoli!

For those of you who don’t know how these shameless bits of linky love work, here are the rules:

• You must thank the person who has given you the award.
• Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
• Link to the person who has nominated you for the award.
• Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
• Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers.
• Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
• Leave a comment on which of the blogs to let them know they have been nominated.

7 things about me that you may find interesting

1. I am a pack-rat but don't always have time to really get organized, so I have lots of stacks of papers and things. I make it a point to keep them out of sight for the most part (in closets, boxes, and drawers), because dh will throw away anything left out (don't get me started on the things he has thrown away because it "looked like trash")

2. I have enjoyed photography since I was a teenager, but am really getting into it since I got my cool new camera a few months ago :)

3. I stopped taking quite as many pictures during holidays though because I started to realize I was spending more time capturing the events than participating in them and missing out on a lot of the fun.

4. It has taken me 2 weeks to fill out 4 questionnaires that the school sent home for Cuddlebug and Bearhug (2 each, part of updating their evaluations).

5. Those questionnaires drive me nuts because I spend way too much time overthinking the nuanced differences between answering "never," "sometimes," "often," or "always." What if it's really rare but it's not quite "never"? Or where do you draw the line between "sometimes" and "often"? ugh.

5. Speaking of forms, sometimes I wonder if people think it's weird when they see 3 boxes checked in the "ethnicity" question. I'm 1/2 Hispanic and dh is 1/4 Asian (Japanese), which makes the boys 1/4 Hispanic, 1/8 Asian, and 5/8 Caucasian. I always feel like if I don't check all 3 boxes I'm somehow denying part of their heritage, so I do.

6. I LOVE angel food cake :). And red velvet cake, yummeh. Ok, I love pretty much any kind of cake :P

7. I found out the hard way when I went to college that when it snows all the time it's no big deal and nothing closes. What good is snow without snow days? I was glad to move back to warmer regions :).


And I actually wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and had to save it for later to come back and make a list of 7 blogs to pass the award along to... but here we are two weeks later and I really haven't had time to do that yet so in the interest of getting this posted sometime before Halloween I decided to open it up for whoever among my readers would like to participate. If you do, please leave your link in the comments, I'd love to read your 7 things and get to know you a little better!





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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.

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