Sunday, November 13, 2016

More Success!

Giving Mason hair cuts has always been...a challenge. 

Actually... it has always been a nightmare. 

Me holding him, hair flying in my mouth, my 79 year old grandfather sitting and crawling on the floor trying to snip hair, Mason screaming. 

Both of us crying. 

Bribery. 

Me sweating and praying I didn't accidentally get stabbed from all the commotion. You know. Totally fun. 

At 2 years old, it's not that bad. At 5 it's...horrible. 

Anyway since Mason has been in his autism program (since 2013)part of his program has been hair cut tolerance... talking about hair cuts. Watching hair cuts on tv. Practicing fake hair cuts. Me taking to him and telling him he won't be hurt. 

Today was the very first time he got his hair cut and I wasn't in the same room...there was zero anxiety. 

He got the comb, scissors, and water bottle with Pop (my grandfather) and stood on the chair like had been doing it his whole life! And they laughed and told jokes the whole time!!! 

No holding him tight to ensure safety and my grandfather could actually stand and not crawl around the floor. 

Very proud of Mason...and my Pop for never stabbing me in the eyeball by accident lol .

 I think this year a lot of his anxiety triggers have been conquered and I am so happy for him!!


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thank You

Today I was thinking about how people I didn't know (but did get to know and they are all wonderful people) had to actually TEACH Mason communication.

I guess I thought of it this morning when Mason woke me up and said "Good Morning Mom! What are we doing today? Can we go to the mall?"

Ok before I get into this-I have no idea why he asked to go to the mall LMAO.

Anyway-

His sentence was so clear, with the proper inflection.

I have no idea why that was my thought when he simply said good morning and asked to go to the mall.

I thought about all of the people who have helped Mason these last years.

Mason did not just need help speaking.

He was one and a half and had not hit one communication milestone except having a social smile.

I remember when he was evaluated by early intervention, I was asked what my goals were for him?

"I want him to understand that objects and people have names"

That was the first thing out of my mouth.

How is he going to talk if he does not understand what things and people are?

"I want him to mimic"

How is he going to mimic sounds if he does not understand this concept.

"I want him to point"

I remember making a photo album with pictures of mom, dad, Annie (our dog), a sippy cup, a bowl of cheerios, the bath tub.

I remember sitting with him and over and over putting his hand on the pictures and saying what they were over and over.

I remember the first time I knew he understood something had a name. It was actually a fan. Back then, Mason was obsessed with fans and things that would spin.

I said "Do you see the fan?"

And I remember he looked at the fan and then looked at me.

I think that may have been our first true moment where I knew he understood me.

He was probably just shy of his 2nd birthday.

I remember when he started ABA and I was crying hysterically because to me it looked like they were dog training because they were using food as a motivator to get him to mimic. I was assured it would not be this way forever but they had to use food because at the time, he was still functioning at an infant level for communication.

I watched the therapist over and over touch her had and say "do this" then take his hand and put it on his head. Then give him a cracker.

I understood the concept but it just reminded me of when I was trying to teach Annie to sit.

But it was true-once he understood the concept that he could work for something it no longer looked that way to me.

I remember EVERYTHING he was taught was jut repetition over and over and over and I wondered to myself...

Is this how it is going to be his whole life? Will he never learn on his own?

I thought of how we used milk and juice to teach him to ask for something.

I would put a cup of milk and a cup of juice on a table and take his hand and say "milk" and "juice" over and over. When he did develop approximations for those words (I think he called them guk and duh) we added "want"

I would take his hand and touch a cup of milk or juice and say "Want milk. Want juice"

I remember the day it seemed to me everything "clicked" for him.

He was just looking at me and pointing to things and wanting me to tell them what they were. Maybe he was 3.

I remember the first day he asked for juice. He was 3. You can read about it here

I felt like after this, he started to learn from his environment as opposed to repetition over and over. We started to help him understand abstract concepts. We worked on things that gave him anxiety- birthday parties, putting on winter clothing.

We practiced having little birthday parties, singing happy birthday softly and encouraging him to open gifts. This was probably in his ABA program for 3 years.

There was a "winter clothing" tolerance drill in his program where he would have to wear a coat for 1 minute and when the timer went off, he could pick something he wanted to do (a snack, play outside, watch the iPad for a few moments).

I think this is the first year he does not fight me about winter clothes.

He understood his birthday last year. He understood Halloween and he fully grasps the concept of Christmas.

Now in ABA he  does school work type skills and there are a lot of social skills he works on too- he has zero volume control when he talks, and he really doesn't give other children personal space and he touches kids like on their heads or face-he isn't being mean he just gets excited-but obviously that makes people uncomfortable-so we have to encourage him to do something else with his hands.

Anyway, back to Good Morning Mom! What are we doing today? Can we go to the mall?

I thought of the days when I felt like a therapist and not like a mom.

I thought of how my mind felt like a clock and I just felt like I was losing time.

I think it is really weird that is what I thought of.

Now I am looking at Mason and he is singing "Monster Mash" and dancing in the living room.

Earlier he ran up to me and said "Mommy I drew a picture of you without hair!" and he thought it was the funniest thing.

I thought of all the people who have helped Mason learn communication.

I thought of all of my friends and family who have been so encouraging and who have been there and supported me.

Thank you, everyone.










Monday, October 31, 2016

A New Friend

I wanted to share this really cute story about Mason and an interaction he had with another child while playing on the playground on Saturday.

So my mom and I took Mason to the playground and there were about 10 kids. There was a little boy who looked about 7 or 8 who we found out was also autistic.

He was really really friendly and wanted to interact but he could not speak.

He had behavior which reminded me a bit of Mason-kind of doing things and not socially aware that other people may think it is strange-Mason does that stuff all the time.

He took a liking to Mason right away and Mason engaged with him.

They chased each other around here and there but Mason was kind of doing his own thing trying to climb up slides and do the monkey bars (which OMG I had no idea he could do????)

Anyway my mom and I happened to be sitting next to the boy's father and he mentioned that his son was autistic so of course I said that Mason was too.

The dad kind of smiled and looked surprised and said "Oh really? He really looks fine-you can't tell"

I have to say I did wonder if his son was autistic-I could tell he was special needs but as the saying goes-if you have met one person with autism you have met one person with autism and I really just wasn't sure.

I am sure there were a lot of challenges at home that I could not see on the playground, but I saw a kid that was super friendly and he had great non verbal communication and it was obvious he understood everything that was said to him.

His dad told us he used a communication device to speak

He probably worked very hard to get to where he was just like Mason.

I could tell he had a lot of strengths.

Every child has strengths and every child has weaknesses-NT kids and non NT kids.

All of them.

Mason and the little boy shared a really cute moment together and my mom and I seriously got all choked up and I think the dad maybe did too.

They were sort of back and forth playing, the boy would go down this huge slide and wait for Mason and they would run up and down this bridge thing together and Mason had a huge smile on his face.

About 15 minutes of playing, the little boy waited anxiously for Mason to come off the slide.

When he came down, the boy put his face directly in front of Mason's and made a loud noise-he was excited and trying to say something. But it was loud and right in Mason's face.

I am kind of thinking most kids would have been nervous or thought it was weird and walked away or really would not have known what to do.

I am pretty sure I would not have, and I got a little bit nervous because Mason does not like being startled.

I swear what happened next was the cutest sweetest most innocent thing I ever saw.

Mason ran in place with a huge smile on his face, jumped side to side with excitement, flapped his hands and got in the boy's face and made the exact same loud sound back at him. Actually it might not have been the exact same sound-I think he roared really loud.

Then they both jumped up and down and laughed and hugged each other.

O.M.G  I almost died.

It was like they just "got" each other....I really felt like Mason "found his people."

My mom said out loud "OMG they are soul mates!"

I cracked up because that is what it seemed like.

Later they sat on the slide together and I heard Mason talking.

"Hey do you have  a snowman?"

The boy tried to answer but again it was just sounds.

Mason looked at him and said "YOU DO???What are there names? I have lots of snowmen"

They went down the slide together laughing.

I wish we could all be like Mason and his new friend.







Tuesday, October 18, 2016

If you have met One Person with Autism...

Well, someone again asked me if I felt that Mason was misdiagnosed.

I realize that this is a "good"thing however I don't know why but it annoys me when people ask me this.

I would rather people just say "wow he is doing great" or something like that.

I feel like when people start talking about misdiagnosing autism because the kids are doing well, it is saying that autistic people cannot do well and that is not true.

Autistic 5 year olds can thrive, be happy, be silly, be funny and yes STILL (gasp) be autistic.

Mason is not neurotypical in any way. All of his language and social development was atypical and extremely delayed that is autism at its core.

Like...kids shouldn't need 20 hours of therapy to learn how to point. 9 month old babies point.

So yes...he has joint attention but it did not develop normally in any way.

He, at 5, struggles with pragmatic language which is very common for autistic people.

Pragmatic language refers to social language skills used in daily interactions with others. This includes what we say, how we say it, body language, and whether or not it is appropriate.

He also uses scripting for a lot of his communication.

Scripting is when someone uses a phrase they have heard previously and applies the phrase to a social situation.

I kind of think of it like he has a little Rolodex of responses in his head and when someone asks him something, he goes through his Rolodex until he finds the answer he knows applies to the situation.

He does not do this all the time but I notice he does it frequently.

For a while this summer, he was scripting from Peppa Pig.

He kept telling me that Daddy lost the keys in the drain. He would say this whenever we saw a drain.

He kept asking me if our grass was long whenever we went outside.

He kept telling me he wanted a picnic with tomatoes, lemonade, bread and cheese.

It was all really bizarre and very repetitive and then one day he was watching Peppa Pig and all of these things were happening in the episodes.

So...yeah. He is not Rain Man. I think we all know that. But like everyone in the autism community says..if you have met one person with autism...you have met ONE PERSON with autism.

Autism is a spectrum and if you think about it, being neurotypical is a spectrum also.

No two neurotypical are exactly alike.

So...just think of the autism spectrum in the same way.

Anyway-

He LOVES kindergarten and I think he is really enjoying reading.

He comes home every day and tells me about his sight words and spells them for me and he likes to look for them in books!

The things that come out of this kid's mouth kill me!

Yesterday he asked me why witches "think things are funny" and I had no idea what he meant and then he pointed out that when they fly away on their brooms, they are always laughing.

I seriously almost died.

Also over the weekend, he got in a lot of trouble and when I was telling him his toys were going in time out, he told me he loved me and he liked my hair.

LMAO WHAT???

I couldn't even be mad after that!

I do want to sit and write about how soccer is going, but I feel drained just thinking about it.

Mason is great when it comes to soccer skills, but at this time I just don't know if a team sport is what is best for him-but we are sticking it out.

His attention span is like zero and I know everyone says "oh my kid is like that too" but it is really not the same thing.

Overall though-I couldn't be happier with where we are at this point.

I first started blogging in 2012 and I remember wishing so badly that I could see into the future for Mason.

I see now that his future is on track to be bright and I have no doubt he will be successful.

I know autism is different for every person and the journey of having an autistic child is different for every parent.

But that is life for every parent-you just don't know how your child will turn out.

Bringing up Mason has been the biggest challenge of my life and not because of him, it was because of me. I was scared I was going to do something wrong.

In the beginning I questioned EVERYTHING I did.

I was seriously flying by the seat of my pants, hoping that I did not make a mistake that would wreck his life.

I am so proud that he is my son and I cannot imagine him any other way than who he is.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Quick Post

Ahhhh!!!

I have been so busy-good busy!

There is a lot to update on and there are a few topics I want to write about but I just don't have the energy to sit down and do it.

When I first started this blog, words literally came out of my fingertips. I wIould just type and type and type.

Now...it is really not like that.

I have to be in the mood to write-which I think is a good thing because I have realized that my unintended purpose for this blog was to cope when I found out Mason was autistic.

And it did help me cope very much.

It was such a scary time.

Sometimes I still do feel scared.

I am very scared for Mason to go to public school in 1st grade next year-this is last year in his private school where he attended Nursery (from 2-3), Pre-K (3-5) and now kindergarten.

But I don't feel like he is DOOMED or anything..which is how I felt 4 years ago.

He is doing GREAT in kindergarten.

There are only 8 kids in his class-I think most of the kids are autistic and I imagine the reason the class is so small is that parents of NT kids who were sending their kids to his school for nursery and pre-k don't want to have to pay the tuition since their kid can go to public school.

I am glad it is a small class-I think that is good for him.

Up until recently, I had wanted him to be mainstreamed in 1st grade but I kind of think a few years in a smaller classroom could benefit him too.

I am just not really sure what is best-our school district will start evaluating him I think in January and I will get to see what types of programs are offered.

I think he could be mainstreamed, but I think he would need A LOT of support and I just don't know if the districts could give that to him, and if they cannot, I don't want to just throw him in that environment.

It would be like being thrown in the middle of the ocean with no life jacket.

But..we will see how it all plays out-I am really open to whatever is best for him and I know I will make the right choice for HIM and not what is best for ME.

He is playing soccer-I do want to sit down and write about that when I have it in me-but I just really don't.  It has been up and down.

For the most part things are great! I always have the worry back in my mind though.

Next year is going to be a HUGE transition.

Anywhoo-just wanted everyone to know we were alive.

Soccer Practice

Mason with his Dad and me

Kanye?





Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Kid is Really Good Looking ;)

Lets see, so far I have killed two fish and now a hermit crab. I seriously think if my head was not attached I would not have a head.

Mason keeps asking me all about his dead pets and where they are, and I am saying they missed their moms and had to go home. Then he is asking me about their moms and what do their moms look like, what are their names, can we visit them, etc..

AHHHHHH

I win the Olympic Gold Medal in killing small pets.

On a side note, I am actually totally obsessed with watching the Olympics.

It is so inspiring to watch the athletes as I sit on my sofa and stuff my face.

HA!

Anyway I just really wanted to write a quick entry to share this pic of Mason which I LOVE.

I know I am his mom but I think he is the most beautiful child I have ever seen in my life!

I am also pretty sure every mom thinks that about their kid hahahaha.


This past weekend, Mason went on an airplane, rode a jet ski, and went on a boat. I had to miss it all since he was with his dad, and that was seriously heartbreaking but at the same time, I am glad he is able to enjoy these things without any trouble.

I took him on a big ass adult roller coaster when we went to the Poconos...so there!

He is starting Kindergarten in a few weeks and I cannot believe it! This will be his last year at the private school for kids on the autism spectrum that he has attended since he was 2.

I am so sad that this is his last year.

That being said, in September I will be contacting our public school to start the process of transitioning him there as a student, finding out what their special needs program is like and start the process of his evaluations for an IEP for next school year.

This is all totally new territory for me and I have begun doing a lot of research to find out what his rights are and what he actually is entitled to.

What I would like is for him to be mainstreamed in a regular classroom, have his own 1:1 aide, and also  receive Speech and ABA and maybe OT during the week (he is really having trouble with holding a pencil and writing).

So I will have a lot to write about in the next few months!




Monday, August 8, 2016

Vacation


Mason and I went to the Poconos for a 4 day vacation and it was so much fun!

My family has gone the 2 previous years and I have skipped it, basically because Mason was too hard for me to manage by myself. I just didn't want to put him in a situation where a new environment was too much for him and therefore, trying to keep him calm would be too much for me.

This year now that his communication is great and he is potty trained and he understands when we go on vacation, I knew I could take him and have a good time.

We had some challenges (he swallowed a quarter-I cannot even write about it. I don't think I will ever be able to. I thought he was going to choke to death in the Poconos) but overall the vacation was a success.

The kids LOVED the slow motion feature on my phone and I think we did about 500000 slow motion videos.

I personally love all of them but for the sake of not being repetitive, I will post two!

Jumping

Running Down a Hill

Also here are a few pictures.

It was a great vacation (aside from the quarter)
Mason and Georgia in the "Snowflake" chair and "Sunshine" chair (as Mason called them)
Having fun at Knobles

My sister and I tried for 20 minutes to take a cute beach pic. Kids photobombed every one but this one!



My oldest nephews Rocco and Leo. Professional photobombers