I haven’t been very active in my writing for a few weeks as I have been training for a new job working with children with autism and as I write this I am preparing for my first day on the job and I couldn’t be more excited, anxious and yes scared, but that’s true for anyone making a transition with a new job. While still in the psychiatric field I have never worked with children before and this position is much different than that in a the hospital. This is no longer just stabilization and send the on their way to outpatient treatment. I am now the outpatient treatment that will work with a child for extended periods of time one on one. I couldn’t be more excited. I once read that the skills taught to a child by a therapist is the therapists way of staying with a child for the rest of their lives. I cant wait to be a positive force in a child’s, and their families lives. I went into the psychiatric field to make a difference and I cant wait to step into this role and see where it may take me.
This was me taking the exam after 55 hours of training
Aiden has made a few strides this month and I have seen a HUGE amount of growth. While his toileting issues continue the frequency of accidents seem to be decreasing and I find him more and more in the bathroom independently.
His self help skills are doing amazing. His prompting for showering is becoming less and less intrusive. I no longer have to use full physical prompts to assist him through the showering process and I have been using prompt fading and the only assistance he requires now is getting all the shampoo through his hair (due to both motor and dexterity issues). When our tech got here this morning I already had Aiden in the shower and as I worked him through the showering routiene she stood there just watching as she stood behind me and said “wow! You aren’t even using vocal prompts that’s so awesome!” As we stood there talking for a moment I put the soap on the wash rag and handed it to him without any prompting Aiden began washing his behind and we both stopped talking and stood there shocked! he was doing this totally void of any prompting. he washed his arms his tummy his legs and his feet! PROGRESS!!!!! after the initial shock wore off i immediately praised him and remembering that just standing in the water was rewarding to him I said “GREAT JOB AIDEN!!! YOU GET TO JUST STAND IN THE WATER!!” and this he moaned happily and I jumped up and sat on the bathroom counter talking to the tech with as a sense of success washed over me and my muscles relaxed.
Aiden’s speech has improved exponentially. And despite my requests to all therapists to not change his version of “Yes” which comes out “wes” in a high pitched tone his voice has deepened and his “wes” is now heard as the appropriate “Yes”.
We have been trying to teach Aiden to play games and take turns so for Christmas I purchased the ever popular Candy land game. I chose this game because it is a linear game with a clear beginning and a clear ending which assisted in his attending skills. after many attempts and the confusion of the people in candy land being the same colors as many of the color squares and moving the blue guy when he got a blue color instead of his actual pawn which was red we decided to replace the colored men with chess pieces and now he plays without a hitch. Today I played a game with my boy for the first time and actually really enjoyed it. “Wow! thats the first time I have actually played a game with Aiden and enjoyed it! can we play again”. So after another week or so of this game I decided that we will move up to chutes and ladders. This game is a bit more complicated and will require a lot more in the way of attending skills as there are ups and downs as you go up ladders and down slides and the ending is much less evident. But I think after a few game plays he will get it.
We are still waiting on the assistive device to come through as it travels through insurance but we have been going to speech sessions where the therapist has been working with him on his aquisition of skill in the app as well as programming the picture icons to things that will matter to him and when his device comes in she can transfer the information into his device. So at least there is some progress being made even if he did call his therapist a “deadbeat” by typing the word into the speech box during therapy because she withheld his iPad until his break time. At this we all laughed and laughed.
*the app pictured here is Touchchat his aac will also be equipped with Proloquo4text*
Today, our ABA technician went with us to a specialist appointment where we discussed the current goings on in this therapies and asked about care coordination. We are in the process of getting new foot braces for his feet as he has flat feet which he will be fitted for next week and there is talk of trying medication to help with his Obsessive behaviors surrounding technology and DVDs. The doctor asked me which I felt was his biggest barrier was it the atttention deficits or the Obssessive tendencies and while I feel that attention is a definite issue I had to say his obsessive behaviors because whenever he engages in escape behaviors he gravitates towards technology or DVDs EVERYTIME. So, I guided the physician towards the treatment his OCD. If this does not help we can always revisit this issue and change course. One thing about autism treatment is that nothing is ever set in stone and much of it is trial and error.
At school Aiden has been moved into a “higher functioning” class and seems to be holding his own. I have seen a lot of improvements in his speech because of this. We had a minor hiccup this week though that got to me a bit. On Wednesday Aiden Kept repeating “no school tomorrow” over and over and over and over (any autism parent would know what I mean by over and over) it was incessant. Now, he has done this before but this time there was almost an anxious tone in his voice. On a whim, after the kids were all in bed, I texted the teacher what could have happened at school to precipitate this behavior and the teacher said that there is a kid in the class that is scared by Aiden’s yelling out which he often does. He yells when he is happy most of the time and sometimes when he is angry with a bit of a different tone. But on this day another child ran to Aiden and said “I don’t like your yelling and I’m not coming to school tomorrow if you are here because you always yell”. The teacher told me that maybe angry was upset by this interaction and she would talk to Aiden about it. Now, deep down in my soul I felt sad because I thought “you can talk to him all you want but he won’t understand what you are saying”. The following day Aiden came home happy as if nothing had happened the day before so I have to believe that he is understanding more and more of the goings on around him.
Aiden has learned to make his own popcorn which he now wants to make over and over all day long. He has learned how to put his dirty clothes in the hamper, he has learned request things using almost full sentences and today at McDonald’s he ordered his own meal and the person working the register understood what he said. I even looked at our Tech and said, “at this rate, by the time he gets his speech device he won’t even need it”.
Aiden’s favorite song is Panic at the Discos song high hopes and he smiles and yells whenever it comes on which i find kind of ironic especially when I listen to the lyrics. It makes me smile too. He still loves being tickled and often says “tickle me please” just like when he was a babe but now his voice is a few octives deeper and his attempts to push me away in reflex to the tickles actually succeeds in its purpose. He is now 71 lbs and I am 109 so that size gap is closing in quickly and he is starting to out muscle me. It is for this reason we stay almost exclusively at home but we do fill in the gaps by visiting his grandma and attending our local autism support group twice a month.
I have found a close group of fellow autism moms and when the kids are in school we meet for lunch on occasion as text back and forth almost daily and I am so lucky to have these women in my life. We love eachothers kids and for the first time our children have friends (even if they dont talk to eachother) just like them.
Well, I suppose that is enough for now. I cant tell you what staying home this past 6 weeks has done for my family and for Aiden. Not only did it give me an opportunity to find a new path in my job but it helped Aiden immensely to have a momma that wasn’t exhausted and overwhelmed. While I wasn’t “working” I was working. I was working on the things that matter most to me. and after I laid the kids to bed I would sit for four hours a night engrossed in training (thank goodness its done). But it was a training that even if I decide this job just isn’t right for me It will help me in the therapy of my son and for that no matter what, I did the right thing. Not all pay is counted in money. well, that was the update for now.
- “Four autism moms walk into a bar…”