This week, Nate had two 1.5 hour sessions on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and one 1.5 hour session on Wednesday. He needed no break for either session on Monday. On Tuesday afternoon, he took one break. (The session was from 4 – 5:30 in the afternoon. He gets pretty tuckered out by 5.) And yesterday, he took only one break in the morning session. When we started, Nate would take a break after every activity, usually by hiding under a blanket. Then we got to the point where he could do three to four activities with no break and without hiding during the breaks. Now? The whole darn session is break-less and he gives his therapists hugs, kisses, and high fives, all with improved eye contact. Pretty awesome progress.
Nate’s occupational therapist, Miss Katy, started using Nate’s PECS in a new way. Instead of creating a picture schedule for him–meaning showing him the four activities we were going to do and in what order–she created a menu of options for him on the front of his PECS binder and allowed Nate to pick his activities and in what order. This way, he feels like he’s had some say in the schedule for the session and he’s taken more ownership (if a two year old can really do that) over his choice. We started incorporating it into all his sessions this week. Whining has gone away. And, he’s made some surprising choices. For a boy who *hates* puzzles, he’s picked puzzles first twice and he’s actually completed the hated activity quite pleasantly.
Nate consistently and appropriately uses one word: Dad. I am confident in saying that Nate officially has one word in his vocabulary. While he still uses it in a chattery way, most often at the grocery store (He sings, “Daddaddaddaddad,” to which I reply, “He’s at work. You’re with MOM.” And then he smiles and says, “Daddaddaddaddad….”), he always says it when Dad comes home from work and whenever he hears someone coming down the stairs. (Chad usually sneaks up the stairs when he gets in so he can change in to play clothes.) Nate still says “eat” but it’s vague and only said when making the sign. He’s also saying “Hello,” again with the sign, but it can come up at wildly inappropriate times. The other day, he was in the middle of therapy and just started waving and saying, “Hell-OH!” over and over again to seemingly nothing.
Nate’s recently started to request things with items, which demonstrates how visual of a kid he is. To go outside, he hands an adult a bottle of sunscreen. If he can’t find one, then he hands you one of his sandals. If we can’t go outside, I explain how sorry I am but we’re under an air quality alert or it’s 95 degrees and now’s not the right time. Nate looks at me as if to say, “Lady. Did you not understand? Look.” He takes back his summertime sandal, undoes the velcro, and hands it to me again. He stares at me as if to say, “Do you get it now? I WANT TO GO OUTSIDE.”
Nate’s also started asking for help by handing an adult the item he wants help with. He gets cans of Play-Doh and hands them to you so you can take the lid off. But the biggest “request” development happened on Saturday. For the first time ever, Nate signed “eat” to say “I’m hungry.” To date, he’s only signed it because it’s been requested of him or he will sign it when he sees food. This time, I was in the kitchen, making dinner. Nate rang the doorbell to get my attention, got my eye gaze, and signed, “EAT.” I have never given him a plate of food with greater speed.
The other day, I accidentally left the three-hole punch on Nate’s play kitchen. Nate stumbled upon it and noticed that it was filled with fun, colorful confetti. While most kids would through a ticker tape parade, Nate took each dot–one by one–and, with great consideration, placed them in a line on his birthday bongo drums. He spent about twenty minutes lining them up. If anyone doubts my son’s autism diagnosis, come watch him bring order to the chaos that he finds.
Napping as a problem continues at home but it’s starting at school, too. While he remained a champion napper for his teachers at school, he just stopped doing it at home. I was walking Nate around in the Ergo carrier; he stopped wanting to get in it. If I put him in his crib, he hits his head on the railings until I take him out. If I lie down with him on his cot, he keeps getting up to run around or starts to uncontrollably laugh. I have given up and drive Nate around and around until he’s asleep–the bumpier the road, the better. The driving usually works within twenty minutes but there are days, like yesterday, where he casually sits in his car seat, legs crossed, looking out the window with an expression that says, “Lovely drive, Mom. Just so you know, I haven’t any intention of going to sleep.” (An hour and a quarter later, and he was still just as amused with the pleasant drive.) Just a few weeks ago, Nate stopped going to sleep with ease at school, too. Nate’s best buddy is on a medical leave from school, and I wonder if that has something to do with his school sleep hiccup. But with gas prices what they are, I’m getting tired of mandatory drives that can turn into marathons. Our fourth (and, God willing, final) BCBA joins our team this Friday and I’m hopeful that napping will be brought to the top of the solutions list.
At two years of age, Nate has begun to play with toys appropriately and independently. Yesterday, I was able to put away a massive amount of groceries, unload and load the dishwasher, and make Nate’s lunch all in one go while Nate played alone. (I can see Nate in his playroom the whole time.) Nate raced cars down the spiral track (and didn’t sit endlessly spinning the wheels with his finger), colored on his aquadoodle, performed a bongo drum concert, read some books, and whacked his whack-a-ball toy with the hammer It is quite a reprieve from the days (which still exist) of not being able to go to the bathroom because Nate will be self-injurious in my absence. I was able to accomplish normal chores. It gives me hope that there are easier days ahead.
Finally, Nate has learned to play the kazoo. With his nose. (His left nostril, to be exact.) He demonstrates great talent with the instrument and will be auditioning for Juilliard once he passes the height requirement.