Friday, October 5, 2007

The Zoo!!

Today we went to the teaching zoo at the local community college. One of the members of the playgroup we belong to is a graduate and gave us a tour. It was so neat, the animals are kept in a beautiful natural layout and are so healthy and pretty. We took lots of pictures and if you peruse my photobucket you can see about 20 that turned out ok. The link is listed below, I hope.
The picture here is of a white footed gibbon..he was swinging around and watching US.

Sophie fell at the snake exhibit and hurt her foot, though, and was kind of grumpy and wouldn't look at the snakes. She cheered up when we saw turtles, though. She was terrified of the gators, however. They also have some beautiful bald eagles, which are really HUGE birds.

Come visit us in Gainesville soon, the exibits are free but you must take a guided tour. They have tours all weekend long!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Yesterday was Tom's Birthday!

We had a great day, here. While Eli was at school, Sophie and I went to the store and picked up a cake, frosting, and birthday candles and hats. Sophie was so excited that it was daddy's birthday and we were going to have a party. I promised when Eli got home, we were going to make the GF/CF cupcakes.

So, Eli got home and I gave him a little while to get settled, and we made cupcakes. Eli helped pour the ingredients in and stir, and Sophie helped stir and lick the bowl after I put the batter in the cupcake holders. It was so great that BOTH children could help me make the cakes. After we got done with frosting (Sophie's favorite part), we made construction paper birthday cards with stickers and crayons. They each decorated the card for daddy.

I think the best part was when Tom got home from work and Sophie came in from outside and yelled, "DADDY! It's your Birthday!" and sang to him. He was really pleased with the kids' efforts and was smiling a lot. After supper we had cake while wearing birthday hats and also ice cream (the children had soy ice cream). A huge mess was made by the cupcake eaters. Tom and I had chocolate cake with creme brulee ice cream..YUM YUM..Good fun was had by all!

I think one of the best things, though, is that Eli willingly participates with us now. He helped make the cake, he helped frost, he made the birthday card for daddy, and he put on his birthday hat and sung his own little birthday tune. I'm so pleased to have him as part of things now. Even 6 months ago I couldn't have gotten him to be in the moments with us like he was yesterday.

Tom and I stayed up way too late chatting and I'm up way too early with the boy who is on a normal sleep schedule!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Back to the Blog!

Now that I've finally got my camera back and a little bit of time in the mornings before Sophie gets up I can get back to blogging about the children and especially Eli and the RDI program.

First off, let me just say I have nothing but positive things to say about RDI. The vibrant, loving boy that we had before age 2 is coming back to us. He is now actively seeking us out for engagement, looks at me or his father often for information when approaching situations, and just overall seems to feel more confident and happy. I feel more confident as a parent with him now.

Yesterday, both children helped me clean the kitchen. We are now applying our RDI activities to life as often as possible. Eli loves to play his woosh woosh game (basically I spray and he wipes) so we've translated it into helping me clean surfaces all throughout the house. Sophie is at that age where she wants to help mommy too, so both children got to help wipe while I sprayed water for them. The counters look great! The hard part for Eli is translating the wiping from a table top surface to the back door glass...the upright surface is harder for him to process, but we are working on it. The door has a lot of funny streaks!

The other thing that made this week particularly hard is Eli found himself on a mound of fire ants and got bit all over his feet and legs. It was just awful..he had one bad night that was very reminiscent of my older children with chicken pox..just up miserably crying because it itched so bad. Feet are SO sensitive, and to have these horrible painful itchy bites all over them..well..
Benedryl helped a lot, and then apparantly with fire ants the bites get we had to pop all the bites and get that out. After that things were fine, but then the other night his feet got bitten by mosquitos (that being the only bare spot on him) and he was miserable all over again. This time I used Caladryl, then Hydrocortisone, neither finally benedryl cream which took a while to sink in. He got so fascinated with creams providing relief that I had to hide every cream and lotion in the house yesterday because he kept applying them to himself...!! He is a sensory seeking boy and enjoys textures like creams and lotions. I think I'm going to get him some of his own lotion to put on every day.

Anyway, the good news is, RDI is definitely the right choice for him still..he is blossoming. His teacher at the new program says he is participating more at school and I am seeing the signs of that at home. It's like doing RDI has brought me a happy child who feels a whole lot less frustrated and a whole lot more competent and content. There's still a long road to go, which will have bumps and turns, but we've gotten off to an amazing start!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

I think Eli is growing again..

in such a positive way. I got shared attention with him yesterday and he was showing off to me!! Usually Eli will play or draw on his own, he doesn't explain what he is doing unless you directly ask him. Well, yesterday he was drawing on his magnetic drawing pad..came running to me with it all the way to the back porch saying "Paw Print!" He brought it to me and said "Paw Print, Paw Print!" so I said, "Oh look, you drew a paw print!" He looked at me and smiled! He just showed off to me!!!

Later that night he did it again. He drew a paw print and brought it to me to show me, then he climbed into my lap and erased it, and drew some more, each time telling me what he was drawing. Once, I took his hand and drew his name for him and he said, "Ewi, dat's Ewi", and then he erased and drew something and said, "wook, a cart, a cart!" and looked at me and I said, "Yes, that's a cart, very well done!" and he said, "Want me do it again?" (I was gaping by now) and I said, "Yes, draw again" so he erased and drew and said, "wook, a guitar!" and I said, "Wow, well done" and he erased and drew a cart, etc. He was sharing with me. Looking at me and telling me what he was doing. It was a beautiful moment. I tried to get his daddy involved, but he really just wanted to share drawing with me this time. I am beyond astounded at this right now and I can't stop thinking about it. It's progress!

He does so well with RDI activities. I took him outside last night after Tom took Sophie to bed at 8pm and took him for a walk. We'd walk ten paces together and stop, over and over down the block, across the street and back. Near the end of the walk I pointed out some mushrooms in the yard across the street and Eli said, "Oh, marshmellows!" and went over and touched one whereupon it broke. So I just kept merrily going and said, "well, they looked a lot like marshmellows, but when you touched it, it sure wasn't a marshmellow" and we went home doing our ten pace walking. He is really doing so well. I'm so proud of him!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Just regular days..

Around here until school begins in a few weeks. Jake comes to visit soon so that will be a change of pace at least.
Right now everything is hunky dory. Eli is just getting better and better every day. He is doing such an amazing job with RDI ...we have put pausing into the routines to elicit facial referencing and it is working so so well..

well, the demands of children never end..Sophie is begging for something back tomorrow!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Playing Catch Up after the Whirlwind!

Well hello from our new home in Gainesville!

It's been a long while since I did this, because we had so much going on in our lives I didn't have time to post often. First, we went on vacation, a family reunion of sorts in Maryland where Tom's Aunt Jane had her 80th birthday party. I discovered that Sophie has definitely got some Howard family traits in her on that trip. Her great grandmother's chin and her Grand Aunt Jane's lips. Pretty neat all around. She kind of looks like her Great-Uncle Van at times, too. It was a really neat trip and we got to be beachy people. Sophie thought her cousin Amanda was the best thing since sliced bread and asked for her for days after we returned home.

We got home and went house shopping again and ran across this brilliant rental in Gainesville and decided we really wanted it. But the only way to get it was to move by July 1st! With a whole lot of help and very quick packing we were able to do it. I met a group of like-minded parents almost immediately and established a playgroup at our house every monday. The new house is fantastic, with a fenced in yard and a playset already here. The children are thrilled to have a yard they can go out in anytime they want. We also had room for a playroom/guestroom which is really terrific for containing toys. It's not a big house, but it's so cozy and lovely. Thanks to my Stepfather Paul, who is now only an hour away from us, we have a formal dining room too..he had the 1 peice of furniture I needed to make the room beautiful. My mom would have loved it.

RDI proceeds apace, and Eli is making such good progress with it. We just threw in some twists in the exercises we've been doing with him, and he is making a lot of facial reference contact and just doing so well. The whole thing feels like a dream at times, but it's so wonderful to have this way to have fun with our son and help him learn the things he missed with his autism. He goes to school again in August, so we'll see how that works. His Pre-K class is all day (7:45-1:45) every weekday so that's a lot of school. This time, he'll get a bus, which picks him up insanely early. (6:24am!!!).
Jake will be coming soon to visit, and I'm so excited. I can't believe I have not seen him for a whole year!

In other news, Sophie is right in the thick of potty learning and while there are still lots of accidents, there are also lots of successes. Hopefully she'll be fully trained by her 3rd birthday in November. We hope to have Thanksgiving here at our house with lots of family this year. I have to remember to invite them all very soon before other plans are made!

Thats it for now, I have to go clean up for playgroup and get the kids awake!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

How Amazing..he's wearing us out!

Ok..I'm not complaining..let me just say that first...!! Eli wants to be engaged and playing all the time right now. What a change from the little boy who avoided us all day and played on his own or just sat in a chair..the only time he'd come to one of us was for a snack or a meal..

Last night, after I had already blogged, Eli decided he wanted to play with his parents all night..Sophie fell out around 8:30 and Eli just had to play with me and his dad all night. We had nice long gazes, asking for play, adjusting to our changes in the play, you name it. He was here, with us, for hours. We were exhausted from smiling so much. I'm serious, my smile muscles did Tom's!

We did RDI activities in the midst of it all, yes. They were the "breaks" in the large physical play. He seems to really LOVe his activities now and I even caught him today with the spray bottle (which contains water) and a napkin (soaked) spraying and doing a one two woosh woosh to wipe the spray. By himself. So, I set it up with the usual rag and took over the spray bottle and we did it a few more times. I also threw a new variation in the pouring last night, instead of exchanging cups, I poured the water back to his cup. At first he didn't like the change, so I went back to normal, then I threw it in again, and he took to it, even looked at me to check in!!

I hope Angi has some new wrinkles and things for us to do, because he's mastering things so fast that I'm not sure we can keep doing them for much longer.

But the biggest thing with Eli...he is happy. He is smiling, he is joyful, he is with us :D We definitely picked the right way to approach therapy!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

And so it goes..

I was out all day today at a workshop for RDI..a parent training of sorts in which i learned how to do some "framing" or setting up of an activity to accomplish an objective. I got a lot out of it.

When I got home, my son came to find me and get a hug. That was so cool..usually he ignores when people come or go (except his daddy!) so it felt pretty good. Then later he came to find me so that i would play a game with him, the tossing on the bed game. He just grabbed me at first and said, "Again?" and I said, "Again what?" and then he said, "One, two, Three!!" so it was great because we we played the game for a bit.

After that, before I started supper, Tom had lifted him to ask what he wanted to eat, and he grabbed the marbles and handed them to his dad. Tom said, Do you want to do the marbles? and Eli said, Pweez! so they did their RDI activity and Eli even got to the point this time where he could take the marbles up on his own and go through the pattern :D He is just turning into such a happy little fellow. Later after supper, he and I were out on the porch and he accidentally flipped over Sophie's little ride on car and I said, "oh oh, it fell down!" and he repeated that and then went and figured out how to turn it upright on his own so I said, "wow, you put it right side up all by yourself!" and then he did it a couple more times, knocked it over and then put it right. Pretty neat stuff.

I am now wondering if his teacher will notice anything different on Monday or if Eli will simply fall back into familiar patterns at school and not show what he is doing with us. Either way is fine, we are only focused on his learning with us, and not worrying about his learning with others right now.

Almost time for vacation! Can't wait to go and see lots of family. Hopefully the kids will do well on the long drive :D

Thursday, June 7, 2007

I love my boy!!

He continues to amaze me, day after day, with the progress he is making.

Suddenly, he can dress himself and has preferences on what he'd like to wear...I didn't know he could dress himself fully, but he can!! Wow!

Today his OT and ST again remarked that he is attempting to initiate play and engage them rather than the other way around. They feel he is more responsive to the therapies and that he is having a good time. I'm so excited by all the growth we are seeing!

Last night, I started a new "game" with Eli after we had played with the pillows. He loves the big physical play so much he kept coming to me to say, "again, 1, 2, 3!" so finally I picked him up and tossed him on our bed. It's a tempurpedic mattress so it's not bounceable and far less dangerous. I tossed him into our pillows several times. Well, today we got home from therapy and it was so so so HOT outside that I just fell onto the bed to cool off. Eli started tugging on my shirt, so I looked at him and said, "I'm very tired, what's going on?" and he said, "1, 2, 3!" and started pulling my shirt insistantly and looking right into my eyes. So, I said, "OK!" and he started his happy wiggle until I picked him up and did the toss...we did this several times, with him saying "Again!" a I decided to vary it a bit and do some unexpected things..well, this only made him laugh harder and happier. What fun...and I'm hurting, but it's a good kind of hurt..he espeically likes it when I fall with him and we giggle for a while gazing at eachother..I can't help but feel that this is like another RDI moment, ya know? I'm loving that he comes to find me anywhere in the house now, and TALKS to me, and looks at me. He gazes at me randomly a lot throughout the day too. He loves to play with me again :D That has to be one of the best son doesn't have to be chased down to be engaged, he wants it and seeks it out!

Ok..well, back to being mommy...we need some free root beer floats from Sonic...:D

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

And the week goes on..

And I keep seeing more and more positive things happening with Eli. Progress is happening, even if it doesn't always look like it. Today he kept gazing at me for a long time, as if trying to figure something out. He is also subtly initiating play with me by looking at me and starting a song, I either join in or dance and he holds my eyes and does the same thing.

He called out for his daddy tonight from the bathroom! As soon as he was done in the bath, he got out, opened the door, and started calling, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!". This child didn't say daddy and mommy for a long time (he did when he was a baby, but not in the last year or so), so every time he says it, we're both totally filled with joy. We're both still sitting around stunned that he called for Tom tonight, though!

We really are getting our child back. I seriously think I'm about to become a zealot for RDI. This thing works!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Continued Changes for Eli

Today I noticed a really important thing, Eli is enjoying us. He is HAPPY! He is enjoying his RDI activities that he is doing with us, he is having fun all day long. The only hard spots all day today were at the grocery store when he didn't want to sit so close to Sophie. I'm hoping he can learn to share joy with Sophie someday, but right now I know he is learning to share and experience joy with us, which is just fine.

The other big thing today, Eli decided to stack non-matching items! He is also drawing faces again, and points out to me every time the EYES! I'm so excited by these changes. They are small to most people who have 4 year old boys, but for our son, these are enormous things. He is using more and more language, he is addressing us as mommy and daddy. He wants to play with us, he wants to walk with us.

These are huge changes for us, and in such a short time, that I'm afraid to be more hopeful now because things will probably slow up, and obstacles will come. I'm ok with that. He's going at a pace that is ok for him, and that is exciting for me. I can sit down with my son and play with him.

I have been thinking that some of the activities we've been learning are being incorporated in our life in a very good way. First, we learned to use more declarative language. I think this helps Eli to open up his language to us since he is not under constant pressure to answer questions. I had been the kind of mother to constantly question him, and now I am just trying to share experience. I noticed today while doing activities that he was really enjoying the patterns.

I also noticed that he references our faces a LOT more often. He asked for bubbles today. I blew the first round and stopped. When the bubbles all popped, he looked up at me. I then blew again. I waited each time, no words involved, for him to look at me to signal me to blow more bubbles. I think this is part of the lifestyle change. I am waiting for my son to work with me in whatever way is comfortable for him at that time. I am becoming a more patient and loving, a more involved mom.

Today I also read some articles on the differences in brain function between a typically developing child and a child with autism. The one article had presented findings that the mirror neuron system in autistic children is impaired or non-existent. This seems to fit right in with the principle that children on the spectrum have deficits in specific functions relating to the brain. I wonder if the RDI folks have seen this research. I am going to ask our consultant if she has.
The other article related to the methyl-b12 shots we've been giving Eli. We think we are seeing some improvement in language with the b12, but it's hard to tell with all the other things we have been doing. What works for one family, doesn't work for another, and I think that's the biggest problem of all with Autism. I feel like I'm a bit fanatical about the RDI approach as it is so logical to me, however, so I have to hold myself back from trying to tell the world.

Eli is amazing right now. I hope he stays amazing to me forever!

More RDI Success

Eli is doing so so well with the exercises that we've been sent home with! People other than us are already noticing positive changes in his relational style and I myself am noticing lots of great changes.
I took notes all week when we did the exercises, but rather than re-write them here, I will just summarize that each day we are making small progress and seeing nice changes. Eli actively seeks us out for play, is starting to look at us for information, and is talking a lot more.
He loves some of the "games" and some of them are just for establishing regular patterns and we're making progress on that, too. He continues to adore the marble drop game with his father, and looks at him a lot during it. He loves to pour water with me, but doesn't need to look at me, though our consultant noted that he does look for my action. He also loves to help "wipe" when I spritz, but he desparately wants to spritz, too. But part of the exercise is establishing the framework and NOT changing the pattern to suit him..we are the parent/coach, and we set the pattern.
I'm still really excited by how well he is doing, and it's very satisfying for all of us that he wants to be a part of our family and looks to play with us. I'm hoping in time he'll be better with his sister too.
Another cool thing we noticed..we were at friends' house in Gainesville who have a 7 yr old daughter who enjoys playing with the kids. Eli was trying to figure out how to use a hula hoop, so June came over and took the hoop from him and showed him how to do it. Eli watched her demonstrate and then tried it himself. This is HUGE..he would in the past either get upset that someone took the toy, or just wander away to do something else. This time he stayed and watched her and then tried it! I was so proud!!
We have a lot of work to do with the RDI, but it's very heartening to see that though the marathon has begun, the progress has also begun and it feels like we're really getting our boy back :D

Saturday, May 26, 2007

RDI Success Already!!

Today we went to Gainesville without Sophie to start learning which exercises to implement with Eli and we had an amazing day!

We got there, and while Eli played with one of the other consultants, we learned some things from our consultant about our strengths and weaknesses as individuals and as a couple. We talked about what we thought was really good about our personal styles, too. I think this really helped us when learning the exercises themselves.

Next, Tom learned a set of three exercises alone with our consultant, Angi. the first was just walking with Eli in a small obstacle course. The idea was that Tom would control the action of the walk and show with a big guesture how to get over or around any obstacles in the path. Next, Angi showed him a couple of other exercises. After Tom felt he had mastered what he should do with Eli, We brought him in. So, he did the obstacle course and it looked like (I was watching in another room) that it was hard to control Eli but that he was successful at the process in the end. The 2nd exercise was a push me pull me sort of thing with large facial expressions and noises. The third exercise was helping Eli put coins in a jar. The parent controls the action, while the child learns the patterns from the parent in each exercise. Once a pattern is established, we can do small variations in our zones of connection (how close we are holding him, etc).

So the beautiful part of this was during the coin exercise. The goal of these exercises is for Eli to learn to visually reference us for information on how to proceed. That is why we do noises and variations so that he learns to look at us when he needs information. So, Tom and he were putting the coins in teh container. Tom was holding Eli's hand and had Eli in his lap at first to establish the pattern. Then he put Eli in the chair next to him, and established the pattern again. Then Tom started making a noise or a facial gesture before Eli put the coin in. That would get Eli's attention and then Tom would "reward" him by saying 'You're Welcome!" very boldly and loudly. Eli LOVED this. So then he would get a coin, immediately look at Tom, and Tom would say "You're Welcome!" as soon as he did. watchign from the other room, I was CRYING with joy. It was beautiful to see Eli look for information from his father each time!! Angi was pretty close to crying too. Tom describes the process as a perfect moment in time. He got Eli to be the "apprentice" and the joy in all of us was indescribable. We KNOW Eli will be progressing now, we know that he can and wants to be a part of this master/apprentice relationship we are trying to establish. Amazing, I can't tell you.

After I calmed down (I really was crying my eyes out. I wish I had the video to show because it really was truly inspired and beautiful), it was my turn to learn a set of 3 activities to work on with Eli. I didn't have the success that Tom did, but I did establish patterns with him and have this next week to practice whenever we can fit it in (that is, when Sophie is either sleeping or distracted!). Tom will practice his, also. Our other activity is simply to go walking with Eli and share experiences along the way, or just have quiet time walking.

I have to say, I am loving feeling like we are doing something POSITIVE for Eli each and every day. We are teaching him and he is retraining us in a way to be better parents to him. We are learning to help him create his first real relationships in life, with his father and I.

The effect of this wonderful day, is we got home with a very happy child. He is bubbly, he ate somethign different tonight (Peanut butter on bread), he is finding ways to look at us for information, he is playing more with his father and I, and miracle of miracles, his sister! He tried to "show" her how to play his push down game with noises!!! She showed him that she loved him by giving kisses..

All in all, it was a miracle kind of day for us. It's great to have hope, and it's also great to have gotten started. We have a LONG road ahead, but that's OK, because now we know that we are doing a good thing for ourselves and our son.

What a GREAT day!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's been a while!

I have been driving myself crazy the last week with my little real estate obsession, which I think now that I know our credit situation, has safely passed. We really probably can't get a house right now without a really bad rate or something, so I'll stop worrying now and try to fix the credit instead. I had seen a house with a yard and tile floors that I was yearning for so much that I got caught up in the belief that we could have it no matter what. Realism has set in now!

I took this shot of Elijah today, it was his last day of the regular school year. I will have him at home with me for a few weeks before he goes back for summer sessions. I'm glad, because Saturday we finally get our first set of RDI exercises to start with Elijah and I'm excited that we'll be doing something.

I did discover after stopping the b12 injections that Eli became a lot quieter in the last few weeks. Last night I resumed the injections and today he's quite the vibrant little boy. He is talking more, he was out peddling his tricycle, and he's making lovely eye contact and referencing me a lot today. When he was peddling his tricycle, he kept looking at me, checking to see if I noticed what he was doing. So I did, Loudly! I saw visual referencing and a new skill being shown off, it was really great! He's been talking so much more today, saying interesting things. He was sitting on his bed earlier and he got his shoes off, and then his socks. He looked at me and said, "Scary". So I said, "Something is scary." and he said, "Monsters Scary". I said, "No monsters in our house". and He said, "Monsters scary, no monsters scary". I'm not sure what that meant, except he just wanted to let me know that monsters are scary, perhaps.

I just finished a fiction mystery that has a young autistic boy as a character. The novel is called Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern. It was a really difficult book for me to read. I admit I like to hold on to my hope that Elijah will lead as normal a life as he can. I like to hold on to possibilities and feel like I'll never give up. I want to believe with all my heart that things will improve dramatically over the next year. I do believe that. So, when I read books about children who are autistic and have done many therapies and none of them really did anything significant, I am prone to losing hope. Until today, when I realized the B12 shot DOES do something. It seems to make Eli more here with us. He is doing a lot of looking at me in particular, and he just now asked to go potty and sat there without me singing songs, just saying, "potty, potty". I'm very proud just now.

I also wonder if it's the changes I've been trying to make in my overall language/communication with Elijah. I am trying to shift from the constant imperatives, the questions and commands, to simply being declarative. For example, I don't ask if he wants to go outside, I just tell him I'm going outside and let him make his own choice. It seems to be helping both of us, because I don't feel like he has to answer me anymore, he just has to make his own choices and it is ok, because I'm not demanding or expecting anything. I think this is also helping him make more eye contact so he can try to figure out from my face what I might actually want.

He is a very sweet fellow. I can't wait until Saturday when we can truly embark on our RDI lifestyle! I hope we do find a great house someday in Gainesville, it's just going to be a while, maybe another year while we work to repair our credit, maybe only a few months, who knows. Meanwhile, I will spend my summer break with Elijah, learning to help him, caring for him, and just generally being his mother, which teaches me more about life than I ever expected.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Flu found us..ugh..

Well, mostly the flu found me.

Sunday we went to see the Lippizanner Stallions perform at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, a benefit for the hippotherapy place we love so much. Anyway, as we were sitting there, I thought I was having a weird sensory reaction to the lighting in the place. When we left I had a tremendous headache and neck ache and couldn't wait to get home and get some medicine. We got home, I got some medicine, and I just felt icky and achy most of the evening, then developed a fever. The fever got very high and I had a rough night. Eli also had a rough night, though his fever was low grade so he didn't get medicated.

All day yesterday I couldn't get the fever below 100.4 degrees even with Advil. I felt awful and I kept the kids home thinking they would probably get it too. Eli continued to be slightly feverish but nothing else wrong and Sophie was somewhat lethargic but no fever. After Tom got home I went to sleep for a while and woke up with a spiking went up to at least 102 (that's when I had to take the thermometer out of my mouth and cough) and I decided to get in the bath. I almost never get high fevers so I felt pretty darn bad. The bath and the advil got the fever back down to 100 or so and I managed to sleep pretty heavily last night. This morning I'm sweaty, but NO fever, thank heavens. I still feel nasty and tired and achy and my throat hurts a bit, but the high fever is broken for good, I hope.

Anyway, because of the fever, I'm calling it a flu bug and not a cold bug. Today i'm going to keep Eli home from school since he still feels warm in his sleep and we'll see about therapies. I want us all to be better by friday for RDI stuff.

That's all for today..the simple act of sitting here has exhausted me!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Lazy Saturday Morning

Not a lot going on in the last few days, so I didn't bother to post. Biggest news is Alexis is not moving home, at least not for a while. I'm pretty sure not for a long time. She has a new boy, which I knew was the case, and I confirmed it yesterday. You can never tell a child, especially an adult child, what is best for them and expect them to listen. I don't expect anything now, I just want her to be happy as I always do. I'm sad she won't be around where people who love her will always be here for her, but at 20 she has to live her own life, and that's OK.

Otherwise, we're just going day by day as we always do. Tom is at an RDI seminar this morning in Gainesville and I miss having him around today. I look forward to weekends when I'm not the only parent in the house dealing with all the stuff. I look forward to being out and about, even if it's only to a park or grocery store. I really just love spending time together with my husband. I hope he knows that!

I feel restless and unstructured today and don't know what to do. I have been house shopping, for rentals and buys and I am still so conflicted as to where to live. In some sense, I want a permanent home with a yard for the kids to play in, and in others I'm afraid to settle for one house in case after a couple of years I don't like it. That's what happened in Atlanta, I think as a result of Tom's unhappiness and just realizing the house had features I wanted missing from it. I really don't want carpet, for example, and while our yard there was really pretty, it was fairly useless as a place for the kids to play in whenever they wanted. So, I have only 2 real requirements in a home now..non-carpeted living areas (the bedrooms can be carpeted), and a fenced in yard. The yard doesn't have to be big, just enough for kids to have a play space that they can be in anytime. It would be a plus to have a screened in porch, or a really nice covered deck, too, but not as necessary as the other two things are. Yesterday I also figured out I want more than 1 bathroom. After that it's just where to live! I'm conflicted between south of here in Clay county, Green Cove Springs. Or Gainesville, which is a progressive college town. I just can't decide what is better for all of us right now. I need some more information about the schools in Gainesville I think, but don't really know where to get it.

Well, that's all for now. Eli has just woken Sophie..I don't think she feels well today :(

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Smoke and Rain

I finally managed to get up and get Eli off to school this morning. It was very smoky and rainy out all day today and I don't cope well with cloudy yukky smelly days at all.

Today I discovered! What a cool website for learning the alphabet and all the sounds..Sophie is doing her usual learn it extremely fast routine, while Eli just watches in fascination. I'm going to use this with both kids as a sort of at home summer curriculum with the idea of just learning some fun stuff, but hoping that they will absorb it, too.

While I have been writing here, Eli is very frustrated with me because I'm not getting him a cookie. He has used gestures and the word "cookie" but I know he can say the sentence, "I want a cookie" so I am waiting for that to be said rather than get up and run get him a cookie. It's funny, every few days he decides to see what he can get away without saying. I have to stay vigilant and make him keep using words. I know it's hard for both of us, but it's really important.

Starting with a new playgroup tomorrow..if it's successful for me and the kids, I'm totally reconsidering moving to Gainesville, as much as I like it there. Sophie needs kids to play with or I'll have to put her in preschool to get her social time. As it is, I'd like to keep home educating her and give her plenty of play opportunities with other kids. We'll see. She's so smart I feel like we can accomplish a lot of learning that they might not do in a normal preschool setting, yk? On the other hand, she's also very social and needs time to be with other kids.

Today at the store she decided to tickle Eli..he actually liked it but in normal 2 year old fashion, Sophie went overboard and Eli wanted her to stop. It was a good trip though..they sat next to eachother in a special cart and did very well for the most part.

Not much else to say today..I'm being really lazy and not doing chores that I know I need to be doing and I am just plain tired, too.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The IEP and other stuff..

So yesterday we had the IEP meeting at Eli's school. They seemed surprised that my husband would want to come and be involved in that process. In all honesty, the meeting went very well. The teacher seemed to anticipate anything I might have asked for and wrote it into the goals already. Everyone agreed that he needed at least another year with his current teacher with the goal of moving him into short periods of inclusion classes throughout the next school year. He is still a pre-k kid so that works ok for me. I am hoping he will make it to kindergarden on time, but probably he won't make it to a regular classroom for a while yet. That's ok. I want to allow him to have the time to learn and grow that he needs. I'm just happy that his current school seems to agree with that.

The only problem with that is, that I am now very hesitant to move to another county since he is OK where he is. When you move you face uncertainty of placement and services all over again. We already have to pursue a florida diagnosis, which sort of irritates me. Why waste time and money (thankfully not ours) to get a diagnosis that he already has? I'll pursue it anyway since I can get it done for no money, but it just bugs me to have to go through that process again.

Yesterday we also had Hippotherapy again. Unfortunately, Eli fell asleep in the car on the way, which took extra time because it was rush hour. As we were driving, I could see plumes of smoke and clouds from some of the current massive brush fires in Bradford County, not far from where we live. It had an eerie sort of beauty to it, but it made me very afraid too. There are currently 210 fires in Florida, most of which are small, but some are quite large. Of course, north of us in GA they are dealing with even larger wildfires that have destroyed some 100,000 acres of land.

But I digress...I was going to say when we got to therapy, I woke Eli up and he was a major grump! Must take after me! I, of course, couldn't give him coffee and a good book so he could center himself, so he just fussed and cried for a while. His therapist let Sophie have a short ride, which was pretty cool. I have to remember to have a camera so if that ever happens again I get a picture! Anyway, Eli managed to get it together and got a half an hour of horse time after all that and did pretty well. Today he had regular OT and cut through a whole paper by himself with scissors! I am proud that he has learned to do that. I thought he didn't know how because he so far won't do it with me.

In other news, Eli continues to remove his diaper constantly, and training is still not really happening. It's very frustrating, honestly. I hope we get some progress on that front soon.
Also, Sophie has officially weaned off the breast. I am a little sad today, but I wanted it to happen so I'm also relieved that it finally has. She hasn't nursed since Friday. She asked to today but I offered her milk instead and she was just as happy to take that. Now I have to figure out how to get her to go to sleep without nursing!!

We also joined a new playgroup today. I hope I get to meet these folks on Thursday morning. :D

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Big Day Yesterday!

For starters..we got up early yesterday morning so we could get to Gainesville to meet some of Tom's friends and then to the first part of Eli's RDA evaluation. Eli got himself up in the morning, and much to my surprise, he came out to the living room walking funny. He'd apparantly put his own shorts on but put both feet in one leg of the shorts which was pretty cute. I figured I'd better check otu the diaper situation and get him dressed for the day. I take off his diaper and there is poop on his butt but not on the diaper! I am baffled so I look around and notice a dirty, poopy diaper on the floor..thankfully not spread around. Apparantly, Eli woke up poopy and decided to change his own diaper!!! AMAZING!! Not only that, he tried to get his shorts on afterward! I was so proud of him! I have been doing bunker potty training and trying to at least catch something by taking him every half hour so we are at least getting somewhere.

After we got it all together, we headed for Gainesville a little later than we'd anticipated, and got to Tom's work friend Tim's home for lunch. I really enjoyed our time with Tim, Lynne, and their 3 kids. They have a lovely home and a great yard for kids! Eli and Sophie had a great time on their playset and just enjoyed it tremendously. It was a great warm up for what was coming next, the RDA evaluation process.

So, we got to the RDI offices and first they had Tom go into the playroom with Eli alone and help him get comfortable and play with him for about 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, we waited in the office. Sophie was fascinated by her Daddy being on the TV screen and also knew her daddy was in the other room and tried to get to him. It was sort of hard on her, but the psychologist was amazed at her totally knowing where her father was. After 10 minutes of play, Tom and Sophie left for a while and went for a walk, while Eli and I worked together on several exercises, probably about 10 all together. It was really great. Eli did great and we had so much fun with one exercise, falling onto a load of bean bags, that he actually looked up at me and said, "That was FUN!". It was pretty tiring too, so when we got done, we set up scheduling for the next couple of sessions of RDA evaluation stuff, and headed out.

After some food and relaxation, we went to Orlando to meet up with my stepfather and his kids and my aunt and cousin. It was a really nice family gathering at my parent's timeshare place, a gorgeous 3 bedroom home with a personal pool/hottub setup. The kids had a blast and really enjoyed seeing their aunts, uncles, grandfather and cousins! It was so nice to see everyone, and it was especially gratifying for me to hear that they all thought Eli had improved a ton since the last time they saw him. Even my stepfather thought Eli had come a long way since he'd seen him in February. I knew Eli was making progress, but for me it's a day to day thing where I see all the ups and all the downs and not a big picture. It felt good to know that he's doing well from others' perspectives!

We had such a busy day that today we're pretty much just taking it easy and hanging around at home and relaxing. Tomorrow morning is Eli's IEP meeting so there's a lot to deal with then. I'll write that stuff up tomorrow. Meanwhile, back to a relaxing sunday after a great saturday!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Nice Quiet Day at Home

We're taking it easy today, not doing a whole lot. Just hanging out and being. Both kids are being little wonder children today, they must sense my need to process and be quiet.

I wanted to address some of my family who seem concerned about some of the posts sounding like I'm having a hard time of things. I'm really not. Each day is what it is and some days are hard and some are easy. That's just parenting. I've done my mourning over Eli's autism and I don't mourn anymore, I just simply love him.

I went through a hard time when Sophie was born and it was as though I let Tom become Eli's parent while I dealt with Sophie. It took a long time for me to come to the realization that I wasn't as connected with my son as I had wanted to be. I've worked long and hard on this now that Sophie is bigger, and I feel even more connected to him than ever now. He plays with me, he looks for my company, he comes for cuddles and love and tickles. And now when I come to school to get him, he comes running for me. On the way home yesterday he chanted, "mommy, mommy" in the car. He knows me again. For the longest time he only said Daddy, because he only had 1 parent while I learned to have 2 children again. Now he has 2 parents and says both Mommy and Daddy. It's a wonderful thing. I refuse to be guilty. All parents are only the best parents they know how to be at any given time. We are human and we make mistakes, and then later we laugh at them. On the flip side, Tom has had time to be very connected to Sophie and the blossoming father daughter relationship is joyous to watch and see. She looks so much like him!

We are a happy family who has ups and downs and is still learning to fly. We laugh, we cry, we sing and we make mistakes and we fix them. I love us :D

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Finished the book..

Making Peace with Autism was a really good book, I was filled with ups and downs and spent every minute reading it processing how I feel about autism and my son over and over again. Our sons are not similar..autism comes in many forms, it's a spectrum disorder because like children, each manifestation of the disorder is different.

Elijah is going to be a wonderful person, and is now a wonderful person. I think that is why reading this book was good and bad. I was filled with hope for my son, but also filled with fear that if I don't fight hard enough, he won't get what he needs.

I feel like I'm so very lucky to be his mother, to have a chance to love this special, unique little boy.

In other news...I don't know for sure, but I think we might move to Gainesville this fall. I'm finding myself somewhat uncomfortable with the area we are in now and hope that a change will be good for our family. Tom is still wanting to find people with more in common and he knows people from work that live there that he will travel with. I like the idea of living in a college town with more progressive views and stores and fun places for the kids. We shall see. We will only rent so if we change our minds it's only a year.

Otherwise, we're having a nice, slow day. Last night the children both fell asleep around 7 and didn't get up until 8am this morning. It was amazing. I don't expect it to happen again!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A very sweet moment

today I turned off the TV all afternoon and played with my kids. We read books, we rough housed, and we played games...

In the middle of rough-housing, I pretended to be hurt and cried...Eli reached with his sweet little hands and an expression of concern and touched my was so sweet I wanted to really cry then and there..! Such a fun and lovely boy..

Ramblings and Hippotherapy..

So here we are again, a fine Tuesday morning and Sophie is still sleeping in, so I thought I would review our afternoon yesterday.
1st Eli is in the midst of evaluations at school because next week is his IEP meeting and we are all getting ready to fight for what he needs. The schools in Florida are a little behind the times, just now learning to update their definitions of autism to include autism spectrum disorders like Eli's PDD-NOS as an autism thing and not just a developmental delay and language impairment like they have him classed now. The difference may not be plain to everyone, but it makes a difference so that he can get the appropriate classroom needs met. He still needs a lot of work and we need to fight for a lot. Florida is not known for great school services, unfortunately, and they also plan to cut funding to the disabilites department so that less children will get what they need. In this age of 1 in 150 children diagnosed with Autism, that is downright insane. More families will need more help in the coming years, not less. It's particularly hard for those of us who are known as "middle class", since we don't qualify for medicaid or state insurance, but we still don't have insurance companies covering enough of the things that autistic children need for treatment, and it's not like middle class folks make enough money to finance everything without incurring a ton of debt. Of course, this country thrives on debt.

But enough of my high horse..let's talk about Eli's horse!! His name is Jiggy and he's more of a pony for the smaller guys. Every week, Eli goes to Hope Therapy (, and rides Jiggy while recieving some occupational therapy atop the horse. He learns how to sit in good posture, how to direct his horse, and plays some motor skill strengthening games. There is a picture of this at the top. He loves this part of his therapy program. I'm excited to have him riding, as it was one of my childhood joys, too.

Back to reading. I am reading Susan Senator's Making Peace with Autism right now and while I've just started, it's helping me explore some emotions and thoughts that I had felt I'd already processed. I wonder if you can ever fully process the emotions you feel when you have a child with a special uniqueness like Autism. I'm not sure you can. So right now I'm only at the beginning but it makes me think a lot about Eli's infancy and wondering if I missed some signs back then that things weren't perfect. I believe in the individuality of all of us, so I think many times I chalked up his quirkiness as being himself. How would I have known otherwise? No one expects autism and starts looking for it from birth unless they've already got reason to be suspicious. No, we thought he was introverted and terribly gifted, but never thought autism. Every so often we'd notice a strange sensory type thing about him, but nothing that would make you stand up and take notice and get help. For example, he used to enjoy touching everything he approached with his feet. He used to find the sound of cardboard ripping unbearable, too. Later on, I remember him being really sensitive about being in loud, flourescently lit places. In any case, I'm sure there will be more of my ramblings as I once again make my own peace with autism. Let me just say, I adore Eli. I can't wait to see what life brings him and us as his loving family, but I'm still going to do all I am able to do to help him grow up. That's what all parents do.

Ok..enough of my rambling for today. I'm off to crochet while I can.

In OTHER news..nearly forgot, Alexis is now coming to florida circa June 1st, and will be living with my Aunt Margie down in Orlando instead of by me. So long lots of help and babysitting..but hello a better time of things and lots of support for Alexis, which is what really matters in the end. Orlando is at least only 2 hours away! Way better than 3,000 miles for sure.
And that's enough for this morning!

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Rest of the Weekend..

I kept myself pretty busy yesterday.. I woke up and looked around our clutter filled apartment and just said, Ok, that's it. So we went into full on spring cleaning mode, getting laundry all squared away, all the dishes done and put away, counters cleared, etc. And then I sent the kids and Tom out for a while and I shampooed all the rugs in the apartment, well, steam cleaned actually.

Today I got up and was just..ahhhh, I don't have to do much today except pick up and be mom. The rug looks great, for a change, the floors are all mopped where there isn't rug..the bathrooms are sparkly..the kitchen is clean. I do have some folding to do, but I can deal with that :D

Last night, Sophie wouldn't sleep again, so we were up watching sprout and hanging out together when a gigantic palmetto bug flew by. I think it was somewhere around 1:30am..I jumped up and freaked out and woke up Tom to go kill it. I'm such a girl! By the time I got him out there, we couldn't find the thing, so I just put up with the whiny crying stuff from Sophie and we stayed in our room so I wouldn't spend my night wide eyed searching for the bug. This morning I even made Tom go out and clear the room before I could go out there. I really hate bugs that size. I can handle the tiny midge things that are all over here in Florida, but not the giant bugs!

So, this morning it was especially hard for he and I to get out of bed..took a good hour of snooze alarms to get moving. But I did it..and Tom nicely took Eli to school for me so I could rest up a bit before really getting going. Plans for today are to start a crochet top for Sophie and just keep up with keeping it nice in here, for my own sanity if nothing else. And fold laundry.

I'm sure I'll have more to say later on!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Back from Gainesville!

Well, today was really great so far. Alexis sounds a little better on the phone, and we finally had our initial appointment with Angi (our consultant) for the RDI therapy. A little background..RDI is a type of therapy that works on the missing piece in autistic children, namely, social and relationship development. You can read more about it on their website:

In any case, this is basically a parent led therapy, where we get to do the work. We need to go back to where Eli is developmentally and slowly but surely bring him forward to where he can be. I'm very excited about this process and feel like it gives us so much hope for Eli's future.

So today we went in for our initial appointment. They smartly have a room set aside with some bean bag chairs and balls and blocks where the kids can entertain themselves or they can hang out with us in the office which is very kid friendly. They did both. In the other room there is a camera and a tv in the office so if they did wander off we could still keep our eye on them. Very comforting for me. Anyway, then Angi did a little background stuff and tried to see where we were emotionally as a family coping with the realities of autism. She found us to be calm and receptive where many families are still operating in crisis mode. I'm glad I've been able to move away from that mode, honestly. I see so much potential and hope in Eli that I don't really allow myself to believe there is any badness about our situation. There is challenges, and we as parents meet those challenges. We adore our son and just want what all parents want, for him to grow up and have a life. We think he can do that, and RDI gives me hope he can do it with meaningful relationships and social skills.

So we have some exercises to do. One of the big things they think parents should do is spend time together and build their OWN relationship so the children have a positive example to look at. I have to agree. We both know we need to make time for ourselves that way. And time for alone time, too. One of the exercises is to write out a schedule, getting really nitty gritty, so we can find time for the all important things like that. The other exercise is to visualize a scenario for 2 yrs, 5yrs and 10 years from now. A moment in time, and write about what you think it will be like. I'm looking forward to thinking on that, too.

Anyway, next Saturday we start the evaluation process in earnest and then have a couple weeks off with exercises to do before they finish the assessment May 18-19. I'm hoping we can catch some time to go visit some of my family while they are in Orlando next weekend too :D

Friday, April 27, 2007

Today...Was not so Easy

I'm worried sick about my older daughter. She is not doing well alone in California, but I won't post the details in public. I love her and I hope I can get her here to Florida soon. She needs loads of help and her family's support.

Eli was kind enough to sleep a 12 hour night last night. He never does that and it was extraordinary. I think he is also much more alive and vibrant today because of it. I narrowly avoided a poop disaster today but he managed to climb the counters in the kitchen and get some foamy soap to play with. I had allowed the kids to paint today but apparantly that was not enough for my sensory seeking little fellow. Out came the rug cleaner so I could clean the chair where he deposited the foam! At least it smells really good in here now :D

I'm tired and sweaty and I hope that Tom has the energy to do the dishes so I can cook up some supper. I just need to stop worrying and get clean and find a nice attitude. Tomorrow we go start the RDI begins with the RDA evaluation, which takes about a week's worth of time to do. I'm so happy to get going with this, especially with Eli having slept and having a sweet attitude today.

The next thing for our family is teaching our kids to eat yummy nutritious snacks. I've allowed a few things that I'm hating now. Lollipops are a big problem. Cookies, Chips, etc. Today I asked Sophie what she wanted for lunch and she insisted on fries. I told her yes, but that from today on, she would only get food I gave her. For breakfast I gave her grapes and corn flakes (without milk). It took some doing to let her understand there wasn't going to be anything else, but once she did, she ate. I think it's going to be a battle, but it's a battle better fought now than when she is 4 or 5. Eli is harder than her because of his oral motor issues and because he doesn't really like utensils...though now he will use a spoon very well for soy ice cream at the least.

That's enough for one day..I'll try to remember to write tomorrow about the RDI process!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

What an Afternoon!!

I'm sure no one wants to know about our crazy life, but it helps me to get it out there and stop obsessing about it all.

So, today after we picked up Eli from school, we had about an hour before having to go off to Occupational and Speech Therapy. Both children are really into stripping off their clothes these days, normal kid stuff, but my kids aren't trained, we live in an apartment with really easily stained carpet..

I noticed that Sophie was naked so I told her to go sit on her potty if she had to pee. She went and sat and didn't do anything. I reminded her to sit there if she had to pee or poop. I then went and did some computer stuff, and then went and checked on Eli. He'd stripped and pooped on the floor and proceeded to spread it about the room. Of course, it was time to get ready to go and here I had to clean up a kid and the floor and get him dressed again.

Got that done, and went to go dress Sophie, only to find she had also pooped on the floor, thankfully she didn't play in it, but now I had another child to clean and dress and more floor to clean. It's a wonder we made it to therapy on time, as I was about to hit total mommy meltdown at any moment. Driving calmed me down at least.

Sophie fell asleep in the car so we dropped off Eli at the therapy office and went for a ride, because it was too hot to sit in the car and I really didn't feel like sitting in the waiting room with a sleeping kid for an hour. We got back and got Eli, his ST said..he might have pooped..the OT was concerned and tried to find you. HAHAHAHAHA..well, he hadn' I basically deadpanned that oh, he must have tooted. he he he.

Got home, I'm so tired I made some old coffee from this morning just to perk up...went into Eli's room and noticed I'd missed a bunch of poop...sigh. More cleaning. By this time I decided to call Tom and tell him I was done being mommy for a while. Like anyone is ever done with that!!

The good thing today, though, was that I asked the universe to send me something good, like maybe a check in the mail. I was pleasantly surprised when we got home, and not only did the checks from our new account come, but an actual check for money was there too. woohooo!!

Tom is taking us out to dinner so I don't have to cook and cope with making a meal while chasing crazy people. Of course, going out to dinner with a GF/CF child and a toddler who is very messy is always a joy. We leave big tips :D

Day one of Blogging..

Elijah's new therapy starts on Saturday with the initial evaluation so I thought I would start a blog to give us a way to record how therapy is going and how we are coping as a family, etc. Sometimes I figure someone might want to know how RDI is, how living with autism is, or just how we are as a family.
Today we have OT and ST and Sophie and I have a playdate, so we must go now. More later.