11/21/10

Autism 101

Boy I sure wish there was such a thing. Life would be a heck of a lot easier for sure.   I have been wanting to write a post about Eli to update everyone on his progress and setbacks, because there are so many people out there who are supporting him (and us), in this journey.  Each day is different…and sometimes each hour is different.  For mom’s of Aspie kids, you know exactly what that is like – it’s totally exhausting.  It’s frustrating, it’s overwhelming, it’s angering, at times humiliating, but then there are the moments where you are so proud of your child that all of the rest just doesn’t matter.  The joys are so much more than anything that can be described, because you know that each small step in a positive direction takes so much more effort for our special kids than the ones who are considered to be typical, “normal” kids. 

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I do want to say that I believe no kid is “normal”…Normal is just a setting on a washing machine.  Each child is special in his/her own way and some just take a bit more effort to reach socially, educationally, emotionally, etc.  So now on to Eli.

We have been extremely blessed in that we have been told repeatedly that most autistic children don’t bond strongly with people…they form stronger attachments to things or animals.  But Eli blesses us because he has bonded to us and his brother and his extended family.  They have been extremely supportive of his needs and have been aware of what his sensitivities are and are constantly aware of his needs.  We are blessed by them that they are so caring and are so accepting of the challenges that we face. 

Ever since he was released from Laurel Ridge, Eli has been such a different child.  He is much calmer, he can articulate his feelings and frustrations, and he no longer acts out before talking about his anger first.  He is able to use his coping skills when he becomes frustrated with Chase, and he uses what he calls “self breaks” to go to his room to watch tv, play his video games, or look at books until he calms down.  He generally comes to us first to let us know when Chase is bothering him, and before he would just push Chase or hit him or lash out because he didn’t know how to respond appropriately.  He has come a LOOOONG way. 

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He has started a once weekly social skills group (which he loves) at One For Autism.  They go on outings to the library and teach them social skills like how to ask how to look books up, etc…they go to the mall, to parks, etc.  The point is to get them in social situations and show them appropriate ways of interacting with all types of people.  They also play games at the center with a Wii, and that helps them understand that losing is as much a part of life as winning, and the importance of taking turns, etc.  This program is unbelievable, and is critical to his progress.  He will also be starting Occupational Therapy there once a week as well, and he has started Play Therapy that he attends one evening every other week.  The breakthroughs that happen in play therapy are unbelievable, and I have become a firm believer in play therapy for children who are dealing with any type of issue, trauma, problem, or pain of any sort.

As parents, our children will only provide so much information to us.  No matter how open the relationship is, we are still mom and dad, and sometimes it takes that person that they can bond with and feel the freedom to open up to in a special way.  The transformation in Eli is a direct result of his therapies, and I cannot say enough about it. 

His school team is amazing as well, and he has such amazing support with them.  His teacher is caring, and I nearly fell out of my chair at the first IEP meeting we had at the amount of support and time they were willing to work with him, and the programs they have in place already for him.  He may be getting some OT through the school as well as any additional help needed throughout the day with an allotted hour of one on one time each day with a special education teacher to help him with things that are more difficult for him.  I came out of that meeting just overwhelmed and thanking God that He had sent us here…to THIS place.  Everything happens for a reason, and this is exactly what Eli has needed. 

I am so thankful for a husband who puts his family first…no more moves.  This house is our HOME and our children will never have to be uprooted again.  It is too traumatic for autistic children to undergo change, and at the rate of moving every year, it was just taking a horrible toll on Eli and his mental state.  He is so much more relaxed and able to be more like a regular 7 year old.  We are also thrilled that Norman is making progress in putting together the play set for the boys.  This will be awesome for them to play and get all their energy out.  I cannot wait until it is completed!!

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This post focused on the positives because there are so much more of them than the negatives, but my next post will concentrate on some of the setbacks we have faced with him .  There are things that we still struggle with, so prayers are always needed and much appreciated.  He is such a gift; you never know when you hold your newborn baby and make that promise that you will love them no matter what, what issues you may someday face with them.  But you keep fighting…you never give up.  Because no matter what the obstacle, they are worth every sleepless night and every tear shed and every angry anxious moment.  They are worth everything.  And you never stop fighting…not for a minute. 

4 comments:

Julie Jabbers said...

Sounds like a whole lot of blessings!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I know you're most thankful to have Eli home.

Stacey said...

Thank you Julie!!!! You guys have a blessed Thanksgiving as well! I think of you so often and am so thankful for Jonni introducing us!

Darling Daughters said...

Hey - so I saw a lot of therapies listed - but none in Speech?? I am largely the social skills provider at school for "pragmatic language" under the eligibility SI. My kiddos are usually IEP eligible under 1.AU, 2.SI. Since communication difficulties are such a large part of the spectrum diagnosis, there is always an SI eligibility. Since you're in Texas now, I wanted to check on that.

Stacey said...

Hey Katie, they are going to be testing him for speech services between now and Christmas...they were setting it up and are supposed to let me know the date soon. He has never had a need for speech since his speech is clear and his vocabulary is amazing. He doesn't have any difficulty expressing himself verbally, but since he doesn't have as much inflection when he reads or talks about something exciting, they think he may benefit from it. So we'll see. The school is very pro-active, and I have made it clear that I want every program and service that he qualifies for because it can only help him in the long run. He's only little once, so lets get everything we can for him as soon as we can. I'll keep you posted on what we find out about the speech therapy. He used to lash out a lot when he was angry, but it wasn't because he couldn't verbalize his feelings...it was because he just got so overwhelmed he couldn't think before he acted. You have been so helpful with all of your information, and I truly appreciate you! Thank you for being such a wonderful, concerned friend!!!