Sunday, July 29, 2007

Another Long Post

We took Ethan to the doctor on Wednesday. He gave us a nasal spray for him and wants to see him again in September. The doctor was pretty good answering our questions and is supposed to call Dan back when he reviews the results of the hearing tests.
Ethan of course is the one who remembers his spray in the morning because mama forgets.
We went to the bookstore to find his summer reading books (which we did not find by the way) and we bought this very good craft book, “My Book of AMAZING CRAFTS”, and he has been nonstop. Its great because all you need are scissors and glue AND I don’t have to sit with him apart from sometimes helping him with the directions he can do it on his own and is very good with it. I may have to go back and get another book so he can have something to do on the drive up to PA.
He had his first sleep over at his cousin’s house two weeks ago and did fairly well. He promised he would not cry and didn’t, although I was told he really wanted to at one point because he wanted to go home :(. He held it together and didn’t fall asleep till 1 am, but over all it was a success, and he may do it again soon.

Our sweet Bianca is getting so big. There are clothes that were big on her last week that now fit her perfectly. She is becoming more aware of the world and is learning so quickly. I was able to teach her some colors in about ten minutes with pompons. She now likes to tell me the colors of things. It’s very cute. She is also going through the “naked” stage. I cannot keep clothes on her. Ethan calls her ‘jungle girl’. Last night when I went to check on them before going to bed she was sleeping on her bed completely naked. The funny thing is, that she has no problem with me putting her clothes on, but then will take them off in a few minutes.
She continues to be very affectionate and now plays with Ethan quite a bit. She even gives him unsolicited kisses, which make Ethan very happy of course.

Our beautiful Fifi is full of surprises. We had our placement meeting for her, and were asked to bring her along so they could meet her. Dan was able to come this us. It was the same people that I had met with for Bianca’s meeting. Fifi charmed them immediately even though she was not very happy about being there. The speech pathologist was very concerned because it is so hard for her to communicate, which frustrates her so much. She made sure that if Fifi doesn’t start to communicate better by the first grading period that they will provide her with a “speech aid device”. We are not sure what that means right now. She will be in the same class as Bianca. Which from what they were able to explain to us is a mixture of different therapies. They use some ideas from ABA, Floortime and TEACH. They also use the PECS system and they are very structured. Fifi will also have 60min. of speech therapy a week.
As they were all writing their reports and we were waiting for our copies, the speech pathologist went to the computer with Fifi and was showing her a game that teaches the letters, which Fifi really liked. She told Dan that Fifi might already have some reading skills.
Dan sat with the speech pathologist as I was signing papers and was able to ask her about extra therapies for the girls. She suggested for us to wait and see how the girls do in school before getting them involved in extra therapy. She said that sometimes people try to do too much and the kids end up overwhelmed and still progress very little.
We believe that she may have a point and will wait, since school is starting very soon. I think that the girls are going to do great. They learn so quickly and I am reading all the books. I have four at the moment: One on ABA, one on Floor time, one on brain damage and “Autism: a parent’s guide”. Thank you Christie. I think that with school and the things that we can do at home with them they will be able to get better. If we see that they need more help after that first month in which we are supposed to have a meeting with the teacher, then we will look for more things to do.
Coming back to our little Fifi. That same day when she brought me the doodle pad to draw for her, I wrote CAT instead of drawing a cat. She said cat, I then wrote FOX, she said fox, she was able to read COW, DUCK, HORSE, and a few more. She recognizes the words, and yes they are all animals. Thank you Baby Einstein. It’s very cool though.
She has been a delight the last few days and between yesterday and today she has been going to the bathroom. Like she did with walking, she took her time and waited till she was ready. Great timing too, because they were going to teach her at school. Now, they don’t have to. She seems to be realizing that she can communicate with us, even if it’s by just pulling me towards what she wants or putting my hand on what she wants to do. Like putting my hand on her pajamas' zipper so I will take it off. So we have a little less meltdowns.
Over all we are all doing well and we are learning a lot with our little ones. They are learning new things each day and we are learning to be more patient and understanding and it is making our lives a little easier.
We will be gone next week end, and I will be back with many more pictures from our trip.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Here we go

I have so much to talk about.
I had the meeting to discuss Bianca's test results. It was with the staffing specialist, a psychologist and two special education teachers. It was determined that Bianca needs special education and will be starting a program this school year. The program is called Self-Contained/Reverse Mainstream Classroom. Here is the description:

The prekindergarten self-contained classroom may serve one exceptionality exclusively, such as a class for children with autism, or it may serve more than one exceptionality with 4 typical Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) children referred to as a reverse mainstream class in a full day program (8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.). Although all children placed in a self-contained classroom are disabled and may be functioning at various levels of abilities, each child's individual needs are met in the daily program. Children have opportunities to interact with other non-disabled children through a variety of different experiences such as eating lunch, playing outside, cooking, reading, or field trips. Many classrooms have 4 nondisabled children who participate as age appropriate role models (through a screening process) for the children with disabilities.

In order to provide an appropriate program for this population, a child-adult ratio of approximately 6 to 1 is recommended (a class size of approximately 14 children with one teacher and one full-time aide/assistant).
Sounds good, and I am hoping that it is as good as it sounds. They all knew the teacher of that particular school, and they all agreed that she was great. She also has two autistic children.

We should have had Fifi's meeting at the same time, but they had an open spot and called me last minute not realizing that they were twins. They should be calling soon for Fifi's and we will be more prepared with questions as to what kind of approach they use etc. Hopefully this time they will call us with enough time so that Dan can come with me.

We went to the Neurologist yesterday where we were told without a doubt that the girls have autism. He said he would not even put them in the PDD category. They are definitely autistic. Which broke my heart yet again even though I was not expecting any different. It just doesn't get any easier to hear those words, no matter how many times you hear them.
They need to start therapy as soon as possible. He recommended ABA therapy, which is not surprising since it is the only therapy recognized by the "community" for Autism Spectrum Disorders, and speech therapy. He also evaluated Ethan and concluded that he is perfectly fine. He does have some comprehension issues and recommended a comprehensive speech evaluation. I think he is still having trouble hearing and that is the reason for the confused look in his face sometimes. So he has an appointment for the ENT on the 25th, and then we will go from there.

We are now looking for therapies for the girls, which will be done at home by me. I have already spoken to somebody at an ABA therapy place and got some information.
We also need to look for a speech therapy program. I'm looking at a lot of books I will be getting on therapy approaches and will also be taking seminars courses etc. so that I can do everything I can to help my little girls. I have created a wish list on Amazon with some of the books I have looked at in case any of you are interested. It is an old list so there are a lot of other books that have nothing to do with autism in there also. I will be posting the names of the books I have and have read in case anyone is interested in borrowing them.
I am going to create some PECS for them too. These are little cards with pictures or drawings on them so that the girls can communicate better. They use them a lot with autistic children because it is understood that they are very visual, and since it is hard for them to speak they can use pictures to communicate.

There is so much to do. They start school August 20th and I'm so sad they are going to be there for a full day. I wanted to keep them at home as long as possible. They are not going to the same school as Ethan and they have the same schedule so we have to figure that out too. The schools are only about 10 minutes from each other.
I'm also not looking forward to Ethan getting lots and lots of homework as I have heard is the norm nowadays. How will I be able to give him my attention and help when I also have to work with the girls on their therapy? Curve balls all over the place, but we will find a way.
It is a lot to deal with but I know we can do it. The more we do now, the less we will need to do later, and it will all be worth it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

We are Back!

We had such a great time this past week. We couldn't have asked for better weather. We were able to go to the pool every day, and even twice on some days. We played mini-golf almost every day too. The kids had so much fun playing in the water. Ethan was soo happy he kept telling us all that he loved us. He got to play with his big cousins who were very helpful and would watch him when we were in the water while Lela and I watched the little ones. The girls would not stop smiling the whole time they were swimming around. Bianca just sang the hole time and Fifif was sure she could swim. We did take some pictures in the pool, I should have them soon. The girls were also very good about leaving the pool. There were no major meltdowns.
Dan went up to get us on Saturday and we went to The Magic Kingdom. It was the hottest day ever. We survived and had a very nice time doing it. We asked for a handicap pass so that we would not have to wait in line. It was a great idea. We were able to get in to all the rides almost right away and the girls kept it together pretty well. Leaving the rides was trickier, they had meltdowns at the beginning because they didn't want it to end of course. They got the hang of it by the fourth or fifth time. They realized that we would go on to something else.
Bianca's favorite ride was It's a Small World, and she would cry and try to go in there every time we passed by. Ethan says his favorite one was the jungle boat ride where we saw the elephants, hippos, Tiger, and snakes. Fifi I believe also liked It's a Small World. She went and sat on her own, and was dancing to the music. She looked very happy in there.
The Dumbo ride was great too. Bianca would say "Yey elephant!" and clap while we were waiting in line.
Over all it was a successful trip, and we are very glad to have been able to take our little ones on vacation where they got to do so many fun things