Friday, March 28, 2014
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Friday, March 21, 2014
Autumn began receiving speech therapy (ST) in April of 2013 and then DI in June 2013 because I decided to wait to start DI until Autumn's tubes were in place to see if her behaviors would change once she could hear more clearly; they became worse. She started off at once a week for both. Then once her DI joined our team, she noticed a lot of sensory issues with Autumn that we had no clue she even had like the sporadic running, the need for squeezes/pressure, etc.,. She and her ST suggested that we should have her evaluated for OT once we're settled into the new house. I would've done it sooner, but we were in the process of buying a house and selling our condo and that alone is a story for another day. This was also when I made the appointment to have her evaluated by a pediatric neurologist at the suggestion of her EI coordinator.
In the meantime, Autumn's behavior started to slightly improve. She started to become more engaged but still had a difficult time focusing and saying new words. She also still remained distant from her therapists and had a difficult time transitioning with sharing and following directions, hence the "non-compliance" piece. Once she received her diagnosis, we wanted to increase her therapies and incorporate an OT for sensory issues only. She was also tested by her therapists within the five areas/domains mentioned above for the Battelle.
At the time of the testing (end of August, so after 4 months of receiving speech therapy services) she scored the following:
Autumn: 25 1/2 months of age
Self-Help: 18 months
Social/Emotional: 24 months
Fine Motor: 22 months
Gross Motor: 23 Months
Cognition: 24 months
Communication: 6-9 months receptive language (listening/understanding) and 9-12 months expressive (using words, talking)
It was very difficult for me to hear about her speech. I knew that the self-help would be lower because she didn't use the potty and I wasn't allowing her to walk down stairs. Her social/emotional and cognition is/was her age because she can do puzzles and play well perfectly alone, but allowing others into that circle, well then that's where we have the problems. When Autumn is focused, she learns and does exceptional.
At her September meeting, the team (my angels), pleaded to get an OT eval for Autumn's sensory issues because this is what we all stated would happen once Autumn started having OT:
An OT would implement a sensory integration diet, which means the following:
Autumn will be able to self-regulate her sensory needs by the activities outlined in her sensory diet, which will then lead to her being able to focus, then with focus will come the less negative behaviors/tantrums and more expressive/receptive language. Following Along? I thought so. Hence: OT= less problematic behaviors = focus/attention = higher expressive/receptive language.
It took a month to get her an OT eval and then a month later to get her OT. Luckily, her DI and ST have some OT experience implementing some of the OT techniques outlined and with their increases in therapies, things were moving along well. In addition, during this time, Autumn also started to get into watching Signing Time. Her DI was kind enough to make us copies of the signing time videos so that we can watch them whenever we wanted. I put these on for Autumn often because, I admit, I enjoy watching signing time and learning sign language as well. Autumn started signing and saying new words daily because of her therapies and watching signing time. I also made sure to provide follow-through and implement the techniques I had learned during her sessions. I would try many different activities with Autumn: flash cards, puzzles, reading/identifying objects in books, shapes, colors, coloring, sensory activities such as using the tunnel, pushing/pulling, parachute time, singing, dancing, identifying body parts, shaving cream/play dough, and other things to help her become more integrated into her own surroundings and of course to help promote the expressive and receptive language.
I also never give in or back down from a tantrum. I allow her to get frustrated, console her, but we push through. Thus, Task completion is the key here. Granted, if she has a horrible day or is becoming overwhelmingly frustrated, we will shorten the task. Her DI decided to implement an ABA book mainly for non-compliance because Autumn has a difficult time focusing and staying on tasks. Within the past few months since implementing ABA (not your standard b/c Autumn would become very bored and annoyed), she can now point to what she wants, she makes eye contact (mainly in the structured setting), she can identify different objects, and she's using her words more.
Self-Help: 22 months (but scattered skills that are 30 months, it's her not being potty trained that's holding her back)
Social/Emotional: 33 months
Fine Motor: 27 months (she couldn't draw a circle at the time of the eval, now she can)
Gross Motor: 30 Months
Cognition: 30 months
Communication: 18-21 months receptive language (listening/understanding) and 18 months expressive (using words, talking).
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Friday, March 14, 2014
Thursday, March 13, 2014
I also found myself wondering for a moment, "What would Autumn be like if she could speak full-fledged sentences, was able to have conversations right now, etc."? Would I still have the same sweet and loving child God gave to me? Most likely, but things would be different, she would be different and so would I. Thinking about the above also made me realize how happy and content I am to have the daughter I do, the little girl who listens when I tell her "no, don't do that", who waits patiently to put on her coat and hat, who thrives to learn and explore and who knows her boundaries for the most part. A little girl who is so beautiful to look at with her curly blonde hair and big blue eyes, who towers over most children her age, who always seems to be smiling whenever we go anywhere unless its Lowes then that's a different story.
I also find it very interesting when encountering other moms in public places like children's play areas or parks. It always feels like an awkward first date. I tend to be the "loner mom" as most of the play groups/places I've gone to there's always those moms who've been friends since their first-borns popped out of the womb. Being the kind of person I am, I always say hi and start conversations. I don't ask a lot of questions but I like to listen to other moms talk. It must be the therapist in me. I also noticed today that the play place we went to was more for the parents than the children. It was a place to let the kids run around while the mommies sat in their chairs talking, drinking their coffee, and keeping a semi-watchful eye on their kids. It's nice to see play places that allow moms to be able to relax while their kids play together. Totally worth the money I say, minus the germs though.
I decided to sign Autumn up for the Easter Egg hunt they're doing in a few weeks. I'm sure she will enjoy it as she likes to pick up things. I can't wait to see how she does but will be prepared for the worst as she is still young and does have a lot of sensory needs. I'm sure she won't want a picture taken with the Easter Bunny either and that's perfectly okay. I also signed myself up for a pediatric CPR/First Aid class as I've always wanted to become certified in childhood CPR. We do have a pool and heaven forbid, I want to be able to use it correctly if I ever have to be put in that situation. I am sure the class will be worth its weight in gold.
Otherwise, the rest of our day went well. Had a decent lunch, but I need to remember to never buy kids meals until she's older because it's a waste of money. She never eats anything I get for her while out unless its tortilla chips and applesauce. She also did very well in the restaurant. Despite not being entirely socially connected with others, she does enjoy going places and looking at the sights and sounds. I also enjoy experiencing with her as well.
Here's to tomorrow and hopefully warmer weather!
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Some Mothers Chosen By God
Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit.
This year, nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children.
Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen?
Somehow, I visualize God hovering over earth selecting His instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation.
As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.
"Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron saint, Matthew.
"Forrest, Marjorie, daughter. Patron saint, Cecelia.
"Rudledge, Carrie, twins. Patron saint… give her Gerard, He's used to profanity."
Finally, He passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a handicapped child."
The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy."
"Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a handicapped child a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."
"But has she patience?" asks the angel.
"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she'll handle it."
"I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has his own world and that's not going to be easy."
"But Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."
God smiles. "No matter. I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness."
The angel gasps, "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"
God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child who is less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a 'spoken word.' She will never consider a 'step' ordinary."
"When her child says 'Momma' for the first time, she will be present at a miracle and know it! When she describes a tree or sunset to her blind child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations."
"I will permit her to see clearly the things I see… ignorance, cruelty, prejudice… and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side."
"And what about her patron saint" asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.
God smiles. "A mirror will suffice".
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Friday, March 7, 2014
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Becoming a parent was something I always thought would happen as I grew up. I imagined having the "perfect" most beautiful child who would excel in everything thrown their way. I had imagined a future so bright for my baby that even the sun needed to wear shades. Now, here I am, a mother of my one and only Autumn Belle, who will be 32 months soon, who has developmental delays, Sensory Processing Disorder, diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, whose days consists of therapies and evaluations, who can't join regular play groups or classes because of her inability to sit and focus (she needs to move and of course all of the times for a gymnastics class are smack dab in the middle of one of her therapy sessions), and who, someday, more than likely will be diagnosed with ADHD. When I look back at pictures of my pregnancy progression three years later, never did I imagine the journey we'd be on together, or the many obstacles that I would face internally, externally, as well as professionally. All of these decisions and expectations that I had thought would be my life with my child has changed. No parent ever imagines their child with a disability of any sorts. Why would we do such a thing? Even despite the negative above, I still see the most beautiful child, perfect to me, who has just as much potential like the rest. From one of my idols, Ms. Temple Grandin (don't know her, look her up), "she may be different, but not less", and that my friends, has become my parenting model.
So here I am, back writing again. I wrote during my pregnancy with my little Autumn Belle as my muse then and now she continues to give me strength, tests my patience as well as inspires me to enjoy life in general. There are those days that I feel down, depressed, and sad. The cold and the snow hasn't helped my emotions, but when I look into her eyes and see her smile or hear her say a new word, she pulls me back into her light.
I decided to "officially launch" my blog today (aka, letting friends and family know on Facebook) because today is my maternal grandmother's birthday. It is also the first day of Lent, meaning Ash Wednesday. My grandmother introduced me to religion and raised me and my family to be Catholics. When I look back at those memories, my heart beams with joy. So I only thought that it would be only appropriate to start something that will bring joy into my life on such a special day. Lent may be about giving up/sacrificing, but it is also about doing some good with that choice. I was going to give up Gluten and I might try it, but that's more of a health choice. Thus, my goal is to write a blog piece each day for the next 40 days, even if that means getting up early or going to bed later than normal. Let's see what I can do.
The purpose of this blog and my sometimes endless rants isn't to make others happy, it isn't to "change the world" or to bring more awareness to the Autism community, there's plenty of that. It is to bring acceptance. Autism isn't a choice, just like one's sexual orientation, race, or ethnic background. It isn't something to be ashamed about either. Its taken me six-seven months to get the courage to finally start writing again, especially regarding my daughter and her diagnosis because of fears of hurting other family members who want to keep Autumn's "issue" private. That's the last thing I want to do is to hurt anyone I love, which is why I am going to say the following: For those family members who may disapprove of my blogging choice, please remain respectful. Yes, Autumn having her delays might affect you on some level, but you're not living this life 24/7. This isn't your life. It is ours: Matt, Trish, Autumn, and Leah. The only other people who truly have a say in this blog are Matt and Autumn. Matt approves 100%. Autumn may not approve someday, but for now, I am telling her story, sharing her progression, so that one day, she can read this and know how far she's truly come. I can only hope to break down these barriers and stigmas attached to having any sort of delay, diagnosis, or disorder, as it shouldn't be something that's brushed under the rug or taken less seriously. It's not something that she will just "grow out of", that's simple-minded, ignorant talk and please don't tell me that I am "overreacting". Unless you have a degree in counseling and studied the DSM-IV, then you have some grounds to even suggest alternative prognosis. Believe me, I can only hope that's the case (she will just grow out of it) and all of this extra therapy, services, and alternate life plans were just precautions, but for now, this is our life, my life, and I am not going to censor myself or fabricate the truth. Thus, read if you choose. You all know that I have Autumn's best interest at heart. That I will advocate for her and fight for her as she grows older. That's my ultimate goal, to be the best parent my daughter needs and requires (isn't it for all of us). I am not going to apologize for the above. Just being real and being myself.
So here's to the first official day of my blog/Facebook page. I promise that my posts will be more enjoyable as the days march on. Belle (that's what I call Autumn b/c it means "beauty") just finished eating her breakfast and I need to shower and get ready because she has therapy soon with one of my new favorite people in this "butterfly life" (I will get into the whole meaning behind the name of the post at a later date). Then I am going to try to attempt to bring her to an open play place up the road from me. As a SAHM (stay-at-home-matriarch haha okay mom), we're always trying to find things for our kids to do to keep them busy, socialized since socialization seems to be "so important" nowadays (especially with children on the spectrum), and to get out ourselves because staring at the four walls becomes redundant and the shinning-like. I am hoping that she will enjoy playing because like I said before, there isn't many classes/play groups offered during the times she doesn't have therapy.
I hope that everyone enjoys their days and I will see you all tomorrow. For now, stay strong, be positive, and feel blessed.
(Belle watching her favorite show: Signing Time, clapping to "The Rainbow Song", while I virtually toast my coffee mug to you all)