Thursday, February 17, 2011

IEP's are done

Since January, we've had three teacher conferences, one re-eval meeting (every three years to determine if still eligible for special education services), and three IEP meetings. Usually we are able to space them out a bit more, but it just worked out that way this year I guess.

Today was our last IEP meeting, for Bitty. He's doing well and it was nice to be able to take that time to look at how far he's come since we set his goals last year. He still has significant delays, especially in communication skills (and everything that is dependent on communication skills), but he is making tremendous progress.

A few highlights:
- he's working on being able to answer "wh-" questions (what, who, where). Once he's doing better with those, we'll work on why, when, and how.

- he excels at reading (we knew that!) and is currently reading at almost a 3rd grade level (he's hyperlexic). He understands what he reads for the most part, and very much prefers to read informational books of facts and figures. He's not much on reading fictional stories, he can understand the words but doesn't necessarily follow the plot without a little help.

- his progress was most evident in the area of fine motor skills. One of his fine motor goals from last year was to be able to draw basic shapes: rectangle, square, and triangle. We didn't even include circle in the goal because he was still really struggling to just make lines in the correct formation to make basic shapes, much less curves. The triangle was considered a bit of a "stretch" because he wasn't yet able to do diagonal lines. This year, he has more than mastered that and his current fine motor goals revolve around helping him use appropriate size for his letters (not quite so big), pencil grip, and scissors grasp.


The IEP meetings for Cuddlebug and Bearhug last month also went well. They both continue to do well in class and are making consistent progress with their IEP goals. It's hard to believe that next year at this time we'll be looking at transition to middle school. Middle school?! I was glad to hear that there is an ASD program in the middle school that is similar to the one they are in now.

In the meantime, I'm really glad they have one more year of elementary school left! That's also one more year of all three boys going to the same school, which is nice :).

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Stress and gratitude

Apologies in advance for a bit of a "downer" post (it gets more upbeat at the end of you'd like to skip ahead, lol). It was an exhausting weekend (and not really just this weekend) and sometimes writing about it helps me sort things out in my own mind, see patterns that I miss "in the moment," and brainstorm ideas.

Little Bitty has been having more difficulties than usual lately and it's wearing us both out. Part of it has to do with all the disruptions in his schedule. He was doing much better before the break over the holidays, and then before he could adjust to being back in school we had a snow week, and another holiday. A day off for a dentist appt (scheduled six months ago). Then we had two early-release days. And then last week we had to keep him home sick a couple of days. I guess considering all of that, he's actually handling things better than might be expected.

But it's more than the schedule issues (or maybe it's just all interrelated?). He's going overboard with being fixated on things and he's adding new "phobias" too.

Everything must revolve around his favorite numbers: 17 and 7. And his favorite colors: pink primarily, followed closely by red and now green. We had to send our Wii to "Japan" for "repairs" because that's all he wanted to do and he could NOT handle having to turn it off. Ever. It was like watching him go through mega-withdrawal every time we had to leave the house or go to bed (or just wanted to take him outside to play, or heaven forbid, give his brothers a turn to play). NOT cool (and I realize it's not fair to his brothers that the Wii has "disappeared" but they are handling the hiatus admirably).

He is increasingly particular about what he will and will not wear (down to minute details). Getting him dressed every day is a drawn-out, agonizing process of finding whatever is going to be acceptable that day (for every. single. item of clothing). It doesn't help that he is outgrowing some of his favorites and wearing holes in many of the ones that still fit. He obsesses over water and is constantly filling up the sink (bathroom, kitchen, whatever) and wanting to play in the water (yet he fusses about having to take a bath). He loves to make "ponds" in our sinks filled with ducks and other bath toys, which would be ok if he didn't try to fill the sink to the brim and then splash water everywhere (and then let the water out, run it again, repeat repeat repeat). One day I even caught him trying to take a "bird bath" in the sink. You can imagine how well it goes over when we inevitably have to put a stop to his water play in the interest of safety and home preservation.

His fear of fireworks and balloons (he's not afraid of the balloons themselves necessarily, but he's terrified of the prospect of one of them popping) has been joined by strong aversion to other sounds. Yesterday it was the sound of a bouncing ball and nerf guns. He was going nuts and kept running to the window at least once every minute to confirm that he did indeed hear basketball bouncing and nerf battles going on outside. At which point he froze and did his little "shiver." We kept the window closed but I guess he could hear it still (I couldn't but I guess his hearing is better than mine).

Often he doesn't want to leave the house, to go to school, church, or even Chick-fil-A or the park. Last weekend we took the family to the park and Bitty spent the entire time in the car. Dh went with Bearhug and Cuddlebug to ride scooters around the park (yes dh rode too, he borrowed Bitty's scooter, lol). I waited outside the car for a while, thinking he'd warm up to the idea and we'd eventually be able to make our way to the playground, but he never did and I got tired of standing around in the parking lot so I finally got back into the car with him. He seemed really stressed out by the whole thing. I know it's been a colder-than-usual winter but seriously he's going to have to get used to playing outside again!

Like many kids on the spectrum, he seems to hold it together reasonably well at school but then he lets loose with all his frustration and anxiety at home. I totally get that, really I do. Home is his safe place where it is ok to let that stuff out. I also understand the desire to stick to what is familiar and comfortable.

Sigh. Honestly, I have no problem accommodating his "quirks" whenever it is reasonably possible to do so. We all have personal preferences and taking the time to recognize and meet those when we can is one way to show our loved ones that we care about them. We want him to feel the sense of security that comes with sticking to the familiar. On the other hand though, learning to deal with the unexpected, or with disappointment, is an important life skill. So we do "force" compromises on his part sometimes also, and we try to push the boundaries of his "comfort zone" without going overboard, because that's the only way to expand the range of what's in the comfort zone. As with most things, it's a balancing act.

He just seems to be increasingly rigid lately in his willingness to accept alternatives for his preferred items / activities. And it's getting harder and harder to keep up with the growing number of things that find great importance attached to them. Suggestions welcome.


So ok, now that I got that out of my system, I'll move on to something more uplifting.

Just this weekend alone, in the midst of all the stress, we've had two small yet powerful reminders of Heavenly Father's love and I want to share that too.

Yesterday at church, Bitty wasn't up for the children's Sharing Time and kept telling me "Primary iss cwosed. You can't go Primary." (anything he wants no part of is either "closed" or he requests that we "take it back to da store!"). After a rough day prior and more of the same that morning, I wasn't in a mood to argue with him so I took him to get some Scriptures (he loves to look at them, especially the pictures in the back). They put numbers on all the library copies of the Scriptures to help keep track of them. You should have seen his smile when he saw the number on his... #17 :). I took that as a personal "I love you" straight from Heavenly Father to my Bitty.

Another one Saturday, we took the boys out for lunch and had gone out of our way to go to a place that is usually quiet and uncrowded (it's a bit off the beaten path). They have those little machines by the door that you put in 50 cents and get a ball or a gumball or a little play-dollar with Spongebob on it. Bitty wanted the Spongebob dollar but we knew it wouldn't last the day so we steered him to the little bouncy balls instead. Big mistake. The closest thing they had to pink was a red ball, but obviously you don't get to pick, you just have to take whatever comes out.

His was orange.

If you noticed a large mushroom cloud in the distance early Saturday evening, that was Bitty freaking out when he saw the orange ball.

And just our luck, for once the place was crowded. And you couldn't help but notice a little guy screaming at the top of his lungs. "Put it baaaaack!!! NOT DA OOOOOWWWWAAAAANNGGGGEEEE!!!!! DA RRRREEEEEEDDDD OOONNNNEEE!!!!!!!"

Long story short, after several trips to the car (dh and I took turns) to give him time to collect himself, we agreed to let him try one more time.

Knowing that all heck was going to break loose if he got another "wrong" color, but also knowing that he would not be able to stop fixating on the ball and eat if we didn't at least try, we held our breath and waited to see what would come out. I was praying for a miracle and I'm sure dh was too.

Red. Whew!

It truly felt like a "Hallelujah" moment and I said a little prayer of thanks in my mind. Dh and I looked at each other in relief.

All was right with the world again, at least until a few minutes later when he saw that the toast we ordered had been sliced in half (this particular place usually doesn't cut their toast, so he's used to it being all in one piece). "Iss cwacked! Iss bwoken!!!" The offending toast was about to become a raging projectile, but thankfully one piece had been left intact, so we were able to make a swap and diffuse the situation without anyone being pegged in the head with flying toast. Another sigh of relief from a grateful Mama (and Dada).


Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
~Luke 12:6-7

The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
~Jeremiah 31:3

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011



Cuddlebug in his new glasses. He looks handsome as ever, but somehow the glasses make him look more grown up. (sniff)

The doctor confirmed he has double vision and nearsightedness. His glasses have made things clearer but he's still seeing two of everything so they're going to do some adjustments to the prisms in his lenses and hopefully that will help.

Bearhug has mild nearsightedness and astigmatism but not enough to need glasses. Yet, anyway.

Genetically it is probably just a matter of time, considering that both dh and I have needed glasses. We finally got laser surgery for dh so he doesn't need them anymore but I'd rather keep my glasses than do the laser thing so I still wear them :).

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Best moments

Bearhug: "Hey Mom, do you watch football?"

"Sometimes, yeah."

"Did you watch football in November?"


"On November 15th?"

"umm.... I don't know."

"Because one of the best moments in football was on November 15, 2000."


He went on to describe what sounded like a pretty cool tackle. We're watching the pre-game stuff for the Superbowl but I wasn't really paying attention... apparently they're showing clips of some of the "best moments in football."


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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Vision and autism

While I was researching Cuddlebug's vision issues this weekend, I came across several interesting articles on vision and autism. Apparently vision issues are common in people on the spectrum. Makes sense, as visual development is linked to motor development and both rely on good sensory integration.

Here are excerpts from a couple of the articles I found (with links so you can read the whole thing), which may be of interest to others.

"Vision problems are common with autism and many times are overlooked. Normal autistic behaviors, such as: poor eye contact, looking though or beyond objects, extreme aversion to light, unusual reaction to sight, lack of reciprocal play, inordinate fear of heights or lack of appropriate fear of heights and stemming, could be visual symptoms." (full article here)

"In order to function effectively, vision skills must automatically develop along with the baby’s motor and cognitive development. Up to 90% of individuals with autism lack the vision skills which determine how our eyes function. These skills have not developed automatically." (full article here)

More to come, I need to head out now.

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Seeing double

Cuddlebug and I were at Scouts when he told me, "Hey Mom, I see two of everything."


"I see two of everything."

"When did this start?" (thinking it must be a recent change and trying to figure out what might have happened to make him start seeing double).

"Five months ago." (?!??!!)

"You've been seeing double for five months? Why didn't you say anything?"

"I didn't think it was a bad thing."

"How have you been able to read all this time?"

"I read everything twice."

"Doesn't that drive you crazy?" (kind of wish I hadn't said that, because the next day he told me it wasn't driving him crazy until I said that. ugh)

"No, I just got used to it."

Sure enough, as I was studying his eyes I realized one of them appears to be a little crossed.

Later that evening, dh asked him, "how will you be able to play baseball if you see two balls coming at you?" (Cuddlebug has expressed an interest in trying baseball this year).

He shrugged, "I'll see two bats too." LOL, gotta love the positive attitude :).


We tried asking about when it started, and he said something about wanting to cross his eyes a while back. Hmm... once he mentioned it, I seem to recall a conversation that went something like this:

"Hey Mom, is it possible to cross your eyes?"

"I don't know, honey, but don't try it, you'll hurt your eyes."

And that was the end of it... it never occurred to me that he might have ALREADY tried it when he asked. So maybe he did and maybe it got stuck like that (haven't moms been warning of that since the dawn of time?) and maybe he was worried he'd get in trouble and maybe that's why he didn't say anything. Who knows. I didn't want to make him feel bad (kind of late for that now anyway) so I didn't ask.


Anyway, so today we're on our way to see the eye doctor. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to resolve it with glasses and/or exercises and that he won't need surgery.

We're taking Bearhug for an eye exam today too, just to check.

Wish us luck.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Comforting others

Here's one for my journal... my boys are such sweet blessings :).


I started feeling a headache come on as I was leaving work to head home. Due to icy roads it took longer than usual to get home, and by the time I got there I thought it might be a migraine. But it wasn't too bad yet and I knew dh and the boys had been waiting for me to get home so we could get out before the roads froze over yet again.

I took my migraine medicine and headed out the door, hopeful that it would start feeling better by the time we got there.

I should have known better...

It just kept getting worse and soon the pounding in my head was joined by nausea. Not good. Dh suggested I go try to rest in the car and I didn't argue. Of course, Bitty is my shadow when I'm home so he came with me.

He was oblivious to the fact that I wasn't feeling well (still working on recognizing those non-verbal cues), and wanted me to read to him. I knew he wouldn't understand "migraine" and probably not "headache" either, so I just told him "Mama's sick. How about if you read to me instead?"

He agreed but must have found something else to do because he never actually did start reading.

Soon dh and the boys came out to the car and were ready to go home. As we walked into the house, Cuddlebug gave me a close, intense look (which I only saw because I had to open my eyes enough to see where I was going). He must have been taking in the hands on my forehead, squinted eyes, and probably a grimace to go with it, because he said in a concerned tone, "Mom, that looks like it really hurts!" "yeah," I answered, "but I'll be fine. I just need to rest." I didn't want him to worry. He patted me on the arm. "I hope you feel better, Mom." So sweet.

The next morning I woke up and it wasn't gone so I had to take a sick day. Bearhug came in to see how I was doing. I tried to smile and told him I was a little better and just needed to rest some more. A few minutes later, he came back carrying his dinosaur pillow pet, which he named "Tri" because he's a triceratops.

"Here's Tri, you can cuddle him if you want."

What a sweetheart :).

A few minutes later he came back. "I decided dat since you stayed with me all night when I was sick, I should come sit wif you." (he had a really bad ear infection recently, all better now thank goodness!)

"Aww, that's really sweet honey, but you don't have to."

"I'll enjoy it!"

Bless his heart. He brought his DS and the new app he'd downloaded that's a music game. The music is actually pretty relaxing, so he thought that might help. Turns out it did, and I was eventually able to fall asleep.

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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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