There’s a lot going on in the world of Nate.  Lots and lots of really good changes, and it makes me exhausted thinking about expanding each one into a blog post.  So here they are, in no particular order.

  • Nate is rocking out PECS Phase IV!  It’s as if he was silently begging us to move on to something more complex.  When it arrived, he took to it like a duck takes to water.  We all braced for a good month of protests; Nate doesn’t accept change well.  But he’s got this one!  So far, we’ve given him a crutch and allowed the “I Want” card to be on the sentence strip so all he has to do is add the item that he wants.  Then he rips it off, hands it over, taps it out, and gets his item.  Last night, he did it at the dinner table for potato chips.  All about motivation, folks!
  • As for other changes, Nate’s not taking to them very well.  We discovered, quite accidentally, that while Nate has (literally) learned to play in therapy, he has become quite rigid about how things should be played with.  On Monday, Miss Lisa turned blocks into a train that we pushed along the floor.  Absolute meltdown.  If he were verbal, I’m pretty sure the tirade would have been, “THAT IS NOT HOW YOU PLAY WITH BLOCKS! YOU STACK THEM!  YOU DON’T PUSH THEM!  This is madness, I tell you!  Absolute madness!”  On Tuesday, at school, Miss Lisa took Hobbes and wrapped him up in a blanket, like a baby, and rocked him.   The same meltdown occurred.  The nonverbal tirade this time was, “HOBBES IS FOR SNUGGLING AND THUMB SUCKING!  YOU HID HIS PAWS!  YOU ROCKED HIM! NO NO NO NO NO!”  So, the lesson is, we’re now shaking things up.  We’re going to start playing with things that have traditionally been done in one way in new ways.  Meltdowns are expected.
  • Ever since our trip to Disney World, Nate’s headbanging disappeared.  The minute we all dared to mention it (therapists, Chad, and I), it came back with a vengeance.  We have no idea what’s triggering it.  Last night, Nate, sound asleep, got out of his bed and smacked it four times really hard on the floor and then started to hyperventilate.  It was a weird night terror of sorts but with headbanging.  So, we continue to talk to Nate about why it’s not ok and redirect to healthy activities, and pray that this behavior is extinguished soon.
  • Nate starts a new day care next week.  We are changing day cares so that he will have more structure to his day and a stronger curriculum.  This school also has spectacular indoor and outdoor gross motor skills equipment for therapy at school.  My freelance work has increased so Nate will now go there three days a week.  Nate will get therapy at school on all of those days and I will still do therapy with Nate four days a week–on the two days he’s not in school and on two days after school.   We’ve started transition play dates with his new classmates and it’s going well.  Two classmates, Alex & Eddie, know Nate’s name.  His new teacher knows sign language (!!!).  And two of his classmates came to the school not speaking a lick of English so they’re nonverbal for reasons other than Nate’s.  And the director?  She actually sounds like Mary Poppins!  We’re really looking forward to this new school!
  • Nate’s achieving milestones that he should have reached a long time ago.  He just figured out how to take off his shirt (they called him Mr. Chippendale at school yesterday….) and, on Wednesday, he discovered he has a belly button.  He checked to ensure it was still there during two sessions of therapy, lunch, after nap, in the grocery store, at a play date, and in the bathtub. Nate would like everyone to know that a) his belly button can be pushed and b) it is awesome.
  • Nate knows more than we give him credit for.  We started doing photo flash cards.  (Nate has a hard time identifying cartoon renderings of items.)  Out of a field of two,  Nate got 18 out of 21 correct.  He correctly identified foot, hand, nose, toes, mouth, eyes, fingers, knee, piano, squirrel, turtle, bacon, muffin, fish, car, blueberries, and his most favorite ride ever, an escalator!!!  There’s 250 pictures in this set of cards that Miss Lisa loaned us.  Can’t wait to figure out what else he knows.
  • Nate’s mind is growing and that means he’s bored.  Aside from PECS Phase IV, Nate could kind of care less about the activities we do in therapy.  Photo ID?  I know who these people are.  Must I tell you again?  Object ID? Yes, that’s a bowl.  Do you not know that’s a bowl?  Do you need to learn this?  Because I learned it already.  Blocks are boring.  Puzzles are passe.  Mr. Potato Head and Play Doh still rock but we are rapidly approaching a change.  Nate’s therapists want us to focus on buying imaginative play toys (like a kitchen or dolls that he could make talk, etc.) and toys that require turn-taking so he learns that skill.  At Miss Liz’s suggestion, we purchased Lucky Ducks, an age-appropriate, turn-taking game.  The ducks go around a conveyor belt and everyone takes turns seeing if the shape on the bottom of the duck you picked matches the shape on your card.  First one to get three ducks wins!  We also got a toy called Gears! Gears! Gears!  It’s like Legos but they’re gears.  But otherwise, we’re at a loss.  If anyone has suggestions of nutritious toys (no electronic talking stuff), please post them here as a comment or on our FB fan page.  Tater’s getting bored!!!
P.S.  I just uploaded some photos of Nate at Disney World on his FB fan page, so come on over and be his friend!