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