Friday, January 22, 2016

Wh Questions Mastered!

Evan met another milestone today, one that most kids master without being taught and their parents don't think twice about: the "Wh" questions.


Each one, systematically taught over the last many months.

Evan has been in speech therapy since he was 3, but even with that he couldn't keep his "Wh" questions straight. Or, and this was most often the case, he would choose silence during those times when a "Wh" question or response was appropriate.

Can you imagine having an extensive vocabulary and comprehensive thoughts and having to choose silence because you can't ask, "why?", or "who?", or "when are going to...?".

We can thank ABA (applied behavioral analysis) and Evan's ever patient team of therapists for helping him to master this skill - one that they identified because we had grown accustomed to his silence and word confusion. ABA is often thought about in terms of reducing negative behaviors, but it is actually so much more and in this case gave him functional language that so many of us take for granted.

Congrats to you, Buddy, for working so hard. I'm laughing now though, because you are sitting on my lap yelling about how you hate therapy and their rules are boring and their strategies are awful (and it's funny that you are 7 and have struggled with using "Wh" questions but can use the word "strategy" appropriately in a sentence) and you are banging your head into the chair. You've come SO far, Bud, but you don't even know it. Don't worry...when you start to doubt whether or not you can conquer the world, we'll tell you, "you CAN and you already have".

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Seconds Tick By...

Delayed processing. What does it mean, and why is it a big deal? I just asked Evan if he wanted rice or noodles with his chicken. Or, I said, potato. That is exactly how I said it.

I waited for my response.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

For one minute I waited. And then he finally said, "Just chicken. No, rice."

Maybe one minute doesn't seem too long, and most times I would agree that it is not. But ask your child a simple question, then sit back and wait one minute. It feels like forever.

If I ask the question again, Evan will most likely get mad at me. I think it muddles his brain, but sometimes I'm not sure if he's heard me. Today, I knew for sure he had, so I waited. If I wait too long, it's possible that he'll get distracted and forget what I asked him.

99% of the time, Evan is incapable of rushing. I've gradually added so many minutes to a deadline, like leaving the house to go somewhere, that if he moves at a normal clip then we are ridiculously early. Sometimes, no matter how early I start, we are late. Like, when the three days in a row we were late for school because he couldn't tie his shoelaces fast enough, and wouldn't let me tie them, so I had to leave him in the house (with Jayme, of course) and take the girls to the bus, then come back and get him. If you try to rush him, he gets angry and flustered and becomes incapable of functioning. I know this; I've seen it in action several times, but every once in a while I - GASP - get frustrated and say, "hurry up, Buddy".

This type of parenting requires a lot of patience. I've become significantly more patient since I became Evan's mother - patience I was incapable of having when my oldest was born. Is it because he is my third? Or, do I innately know this is what he needs in order to flourish? Sometimes...most times...he uses up all my patience and there is none left for anyone else in my house. Occasionally I'll apologize to my girls for losing patience with them, but not often enough. It's even harder to say it to my husband.

Your ability for your brain to process information is programmed by birth, so the deficit that Evan exhibits will never get better. For him, it's also inconsistent and is variable dependent: is the information you are asking him for easily accessible to him? Is he distracted? Is he irritable? Etc., etc. Some variables we can predict, but others we can't. I wonder...if he can't answer whether he wants rice or noodles at home, how is he doing at school? How, on earth, will he ever keep up with his peers? And, will his friends have the patience needed to talk to him as they get older?

If patience were measured in years, than I shall live to be really, really old.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Must See For Parents Like Me - Watch PBS Tonight

When you raise a neurotypical child, it is easy to have a vision of their future; ultimately, your vision may not live up to the reality (or maybe reality surpasses your expectations) but there is a vision nonetheless. For my girls, my vision is easy...they will exceed in high school, go to college, get jobs, and hopefully fall madly in love. I don't particularly care at this point if I have grandchildren or not, though I'm sure that will change as the girls get older.

My vision for Evan is less clear. In fact, at this point I can't even envision 2nd grade. I'm not sure if he'll make it through public elementary school. I think he'll be able to go to college with accommodations, but maybe he'll have to live at home (which would be fine with us).

So, when shows like Love on the Spectrum (tonight on PBS) are aired, parents like me eat them up. Seeing adults with autism allows us to fill in our visions. Hearing from adults with autism help us understand our son and allow us to better guide him into the future.

Be sure to tune in (or record it like I will), if you can relate...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Feeling Uninspired

I was inspired to write a post about feeling uninspired. It's been a while (almost a month) since my last blog, and I've had no good writing inspirations. Maybe it's because I'm not running right now - thank you to the 45# weight I dropped on my foot - and that is when my mind works best. Maybe it's because I really tried to enjoy the holiday season and live in the moment, then was sure to do NOTHING for a few days afterward and that, along with all the junk food I ate, left my brain all mushy. It could be because Evan is in an angry phase, and feeling as if we have to walk on egg shells around him on a daily basis leaves me feeling blah.

Here are a few fun quirky things that have happened in the last month:

  • Evan was sure to visit our family cemetery on a recent trip to my parent's house. It was a short visit, but long enough to clean off two headstones and to re-inspire his longing to know more about how old I was when my parents died. Nope, I didn't mis-type that...queue explanation #1050 on how my grandfather is not his grandfather (both my parents are, thankfully, still alive).

  • Overheard car conversation between Shayna and Evan -
                     Evan: Is Justin Biever still in jail? Misspelling intentional
                     Shayna: No.
                     Evan: He drunk drive, right?
                     Shayna: Yes.
                     Evan: Why he drunk drive?
                     Shayna: Because he is BAD.
                     Evan: Hmm....

*Evan's poor use of language in this situation made the conversation hysterical, but you probably had to be there to appreciate it.

  • We took the kids ice skating and this is how Evan spent his time:

Funny, I used to take him ice skating a lot when he was little and the girls were in school, until one day he decided that he wanted to wear only his boots on the ice and not his ice skates. That was the end of that, though last winter he managed a short bit in hockey skates, but quickly switched into his snow boots; we were the only ones on an outdoor rink in Maine, so he was able to stay on the ice that way...public indoor rinks are not so accommodating to the boot request.

I'm going to end my uninspired post here because, you guessed it, I'm no longer feeling inspired to write more. My foot is nearly ready for running, so expect some good stuff soon :).