Monday, August 23, 2010

Trip to the dentist

I am happy (and relieved) to report that after having given up for quite a while, we finally found a dentist who is AWESOME with our boys and they had a great visit last month.

Our last trip to the dentist did NOT go well. In fact, it went so not well, that we decided it wasn't worth bothering to go because they were not able to clean the boys' teeth, they were just baby teeth anyway, and we were afraid any more traumatic dentist visits would just make it that much harder to get them to go when they got "big" teeth and needed to start going.

I was dreading it, but Cuddlebug and Bearhug have several of their permanent teeth by this point and we really needed to go. And Bitty needed a dental form to complete his kindergarten registration.

So I started a search for a dentist who would be patient and work well with kids with sensory issues and communication challenges.

I have learned though, that everyone SAYS they can handle such situations ("oh sure, it'll be fine" they tell me... uh-huh), but the reality is many can't and it is usually painfully obvious within the first few minutes.

So I checked our local autism parents group for recommendations, did some research on the ones that got the most mentions, and then started calling.

The one I ended up calling was highly recommended by several parents, and after I talked with someone at his office I felt pretty good about taking the boys there. He's a pediatric dentist, and they have a designated day where they see only children with special needs. They limit the number of appointments on that day (and it's only one day a month) so it takes a while to get in (I made our appt about 2 months in advance) but it is SO worth it, because the trade-off is that with few appts that day, both the staff and the dentist have the flexibility to spend as much time with your child as needed without being rushed, and the office is calmer and less overstimulating for the kids.

Very cool.

We walked in and Cuddlebug and Bearhug immediately found the little alcove with video games in the waiting room, while Bitty went straight for the aquarium. He kept looking for piranhas and eels, lol, but obviously there were none in there. He was excited about the clown fish though :).

Cuddlebug did an *awesome* job letting them clean his teeth.

Bearhug did really well (better than expected) but finally had enough at the end, jumped up and ran back out to the waiting room shrieking. When he gets upset like that he just can't talk, so he couldn't really tell us what it was that set him off, but later that night he told me one of the tubes was blocking his nose, and when they wanted him to close his mouth over the suction thing he couldn't breathe. I can relate, I had a dentist appt not long ago and somehow between the squirting and the suction I was starting to feel like I couldn't breathe too. I didn't jump up and run out screaming, but I kind of felt like it.

At least now we know what was wrong so I can mention it next time as something to watch for. I know if they'd known they would have fixed it for him, but he was already at his limit from tolerating the cleaning and that was enough to push him over the edge. He did a good job calming himself back down once he was back out in the waiting room though.

This was Bitty's first dentist visit, and he did amazingly well too. As the hygienist was cleaning his teeth, she started counting and told him she'd be done when she got to ten (that actually worked pretty well). The *second* she said "ten" he jumped up, pushed her hand away, and said, "gway, job!!" lol :).

They tried doing an x-ray but Bitty wasn't having it. He tried, but since she said something about taking a "picture" of his teeth, all he wanted to do was his "say cheese" face and he was confused by the little cardboard thing they kept asking him to bite down on. He didn't quite seem to get that he was supposed to stay biting down for a second and hold still. But it was his first visit, so we'll just try again next time :).

We didn't try to do Bearhug's (it took effort just to get him back in to actually see the dentist), so Cuddlebug was the only one who actually did x-rays.

After the hygienists were done, the dentist came in to take a look at each of the boys' teeth. Bearhug was still in the waiting room at that point, but when the dentist found out he and Cuddlebug were id twins, he joked about just looking at Cuddlebug's teeth twice, which Cuddlebug thought was pretty funny :).

We did manage to get Bearhug back in to see the dentist, and he did great. Turns out both he and Cuddlebug have deep grooves in their molars (so do I, guess it is genetic) so he suggested having their molars sealed at their next visit to help prevent getting cavities in those teeth. He said it should only take a few minutes so hopefully won't be a big deal.

All in all it turned out to be a really good visit, much better than expected (given our track record). And no cavities, yay! I look forward to going back to this particular dentist for a long time.

Since it was Bitty's first visit, they gave him a little card with his picture on it. So cute!

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Talk

No, not that talk. The one about autism.

As I have posted before, we have talked to Cuddlebug and Bearhug before in general terms about some of their challenges (and strengths) relating to autism / SPD, but we haven't actually gotten into the technical terminology before.

Until now, that is. As I've mentioned, they have a new resource teacher this year, and we got an "introduction" letter from her over the summer. One thing she touched on was wanting to know how much the students know about autism, do they know they have it, and to what degree are we comfortable with her discussing it with them. The reason being, at this age they are only 2 years away from middle school and will soon be at age where they do need to be more able to advocate for themselves. She also mentioned in the letter that sometimes the kids hear her being referred to as a "special ed teacher" and want to know why they have a special ed teacher. Makes sense.

So... I wanted to be able to give her permission to talk to the boys about autism, but I wanted them to hear about it from us first. Dh and I talked about it, and then I waited for good opportunity to talk with the boys.

It turned out to be in the car, on the way home from taking them to the fountains at the park to play. Bitty was home with dh, so it was just the three of us in the car, and having just had the opportunity for so much sensory fun, they were in a good state of mind to be able to have a discussion without being too distractable, if that makes sense.

So I asked them casually if they had ever heard of "autism." They both said no, but they were interested in finding out what it was.

"It's when someone's brain works a little differently than most people." I answered, purposely using the same wording that we have used in talking to them about their specific issues before.

They both immediately recognized that and said excitedly, "Oh, I think WE have that!" I told them that yes, they do, and we talked a little bit more about what that means. Bearhug asked if that has anything to do with his "special effect" (the name he has taken to calling his um, outbursts, which thankfully have been few and far between in recent months). I told him that yes, I think that is part of it, and we talked a little bit about sensory issues specifically, and how it can be easy to get overwhelmed sometimes.

They thought about that for a few minutes, and I got a little concerned that they might get too preoccupied with the whole thing (after all, these are the same boys who get overly worried about things like mesothelioma and allergies after seeing commercials about them on tv). So I told them, "you know, it's not really a big deal."

Bearhug: "ok... because it SOUNDS like kind of a big deal."

me: "well, it's important to know, but it's not a big deal in the sense that it's not anything you need to be worried about. Just something that's helpful to know. Everyone has something that can make their life a little harder sometimes, so understanding what that is for you can be helpful."

Then Cuddlebug asked about a friend of theirs that has asthma, "that makes his life harder too."

I figured that was a reasonably good comparison so I went with it, and told them that yes, just like asthma can make some things harder their friend, autism will make some things harder for them. It seemed to click, and we went on to talk about all the things that are hard for some people (one of mine - I have no internal clock so it is really hard for me to keep track of time).

After we got home, it occurred to me to tell them that their little brother also has autism, so we had a short chat about that too. I told them that is why he is still working on learning to talk (they get frustrated at times with his communication skills and have asked about it at times), and part of why he has his meltdowns sometimes (the other part being, well, he's five).

It was a relatively short discussion, and no doubt there will be many more over the years. But I felt pretty good about it, and felt like it opened the door for us to talk about more things, and more specifics, as time goes on. I've talked with their resource teacher about how she handles the discussions at school and feel comfortable with her approach. She also assures me that she'll keep us posted on how those discussions go and any questions the boys have so we can address them at home too.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Survived the first week of school

Actually it went pretty well, this was probably our best "first week" ever - I have been so impressed with how well the boys have managed the transition into the new routine. I know it's still an ongoing transition so I don't want to speak too soon, but the first week went better than expected. Only one meltdown (Bitty, 2nd day of school, when he realized this getting-up-in-the-morning thing was going to be an every day occurrence now!) and minimal complaining. We'll see how it goes this week as our resident 4th graders have a series of quizzes throughout the week and a test on Friday to prepare for.

We've even managed to successfully expand the "horse on Sunday" rule to a more general rule of dressing nice for school (ie. save the worn-out, shredded, faded, CHEWED-on, and increasingly too small Thomas shirts for after school). His latest thing is chewing on the neckline of his shirts and now even the ones that looked nice are starting to have tears in the neckline. Hopefully limiting the wear on the Thomas shirts will help the ones he has last longer... and he still gets to wear his Thomas shirts to school on Friday :).


Funny story from church yesterday - when I picked Bitty up from his class he showed me his little "badge" that said "I can be obedient" and was really excited about the new word he'd learned, "obedient." When we got home and he changed into his Thomas shirt, he even wanted me to put the badge onto his shirt so he could wear it all day. Until he started misbehaving and we reminded him that he wasn't being "obedient." You should have seen the look on his face, as if to say "it means WHAT?!" and then he pointed to the little badge and said "Take it OFF!" LOL

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Monday, August 9, 2010

First day of school

They look pretty enthused, LOL. They all did great getting up and ready though, I was really proud of them. I look forward to hearing how their day went.

I walked Bitty in for his first day, but his big brothers will walk him to class tomorrow.

(Posting from my phone at lunch so I'll apologize in advance for any weird formatting errors)

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summer's end

Hard to believe, but summer is almost over. Not the ridiculously hot weather (100+, really?!), that will probably last another month or so (ugh). But school is about to start back next week.

Bitty is really getting excited about Kindergarten. Of course we've been talking it up :). And practicing with our Kindergarten workbooks. And if we forget, this is the only kid I know who actually ASKS for homework, lol.

Cuddlebug and Bearhug are not so excited, they have gotten used to their summer routine of staying up late and sleeping in. We've been having them go to bed earlier for a week now, and this week we'll start actually getting them up earlier too (because they've been staying awake even after they go to bed so they're still sleeping in).

On the upside, at least now that Bitty will be at the same school, they don't have to worry about getting up early to drop him off at a different school anymore ;). Dh is excited about being able to drop off / pick up all at once for the next two years.

Bearhug and Cuddlebug will be in the same class for the first time this year. Hopefully that will work out well. I'm looking forward to them having the same homework on the same nights, and the same tests on the same days :). No more going crazy trying to keep it all straight as to who is supposed to study for what and when, and no more ornery boys about one having homework when the other doesn't. Honestly that wouldn't have been as big a deal if it went back and forth, but last year at least it seemed to consistently be one of them who had way more homework than the other and we heard about it all year.

Class lists were posted on Friday, turns out Bitty has the same Kindergarten teacher that Bearhug had. She was nice, and very structured, so I think Bitty will like her and do well in her class. He's already learned her name and is looking forward to meeting her at open house on Thursday. We've already met his resource teacher, he is very nice and enthusiastic about working with the kids.

I'm not familiar with Cuddlebug and Bearhug's new teacher, but I talked to another mom with a daughter in the ASD program (who will be in the same class) and she was excited about the teacher as she's heard really good things about her. So I'm feeling pretty good about that and looking forward to meeting her on Thursday. We've already met their new resource teacher too and she is great.

I'll let you know how it goes on Thursday.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

SPD Blog Carnival: Sensory fun photos

Hartley's Life with 3 Boys is hosting a blog carnival to share photos of our kids having sensory fun (h/t to K @ Floortime Lite Mama, since I saw it there!).

Here are some of our recent sensory adventures, most involving water (it being summer and all) and a couple from the park.

The best sensory therapy for our boys (along with bouncing) is swimming. Unfortunately we don't get to swim often, but we visited my SIL recently, who has a pool, and the boys had a GREAT time!

Little Bitty called it "da penguin pool" lol.

I recently took Cuddlebug and Bearhug to the local park with a fountain. Of course, my (not so) little sensory seekers were right in the middle of the biggest, most intense fountain.

Bearhug let Bitty spray him in the yard :).

Cuddlebug doin' his own thing (we've been telling him for years to stop running up the slide, guess we neglected to mention not to run *down* the slide)...

More slide action, from Bitty who actually sat on his bottom to slide :).

See more entries here.

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Deev likes the black shirt

Bitty has made some progress this summer with his handwriting. He pretty much couldn't write a couple of months ago (he could do his name but anyone outside of his family and teachers would not have known that's what it was). He still has a REALLY hard time with writing, but he can make some recognizable letters now. Shaky and hard to read, but recognizable. What's even more impressive (to me anyway) is that he can spell some words on his own. I think he remembers the letters from all the reading he does.

A week or so ago he asked me to "wite a memo" with him. Not sure where he heard the term "memo" but I asked him what he wanted to write.

"Deev wike da bwack sert."

At first I thought he meant "Steve" from Blue's Clues (but doesn't he wear a green shirt?) because Bitty had been watching that just before he came to me with his memo request.

I started telling him the letters to write "Steve," but he handed me the pencil and said, "Mama do."

Sometimes I'll hand it back and say, "Bitty do." but that time I took the pencil and wrote it for him.

"Steve likes the black shirt."

"Nooo, not Steeeb, Deeeev!" he said in a silly tone (trying to be patient with his clueless mom, lol).

Deev? Who is Deev?

So I handed him the pencil and said, "Bitty do."

He took the pencil and with much effort wrote a "D" and a "V"

Light bulb moment for me, lol. Sure enough, he wasn't referring to Steve of Blue's Clues, but to Darth Vader, or "D.V." from his Mii Plaza on the Wii.

Hahaha :) And he's right, "Deev" likes to wear a black shirt.

He used my "memo" as a model, stopping to carefully check the letters he wasn't sure how to make, and slowly wrote out the rest of the sentence.

"DV likes the black shirt."

He did a great job on it, I had him show it to dh so I'm not sure where it ended up but if I can find it I'll post a picture :).

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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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