Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Better PECs communication

Low-key day today again. There was a point where I was cleaning up the plastic food in front of the play kitchen and all the kids sat around me with plastic knives trying to cut up the velcro veggies and fruits as fast as I was putting them together. Needless to say, I gave up. Throughout the day Nikko would bring me a DVD case of a particular movie he wanted to watch. I didn't want to watch the "other" Cars DVD again, so I forced him to watch Nemo. He brought me The Wiggles Yummy Yummy a few times, too. During mealtimes he's getting better at bringing me a PECs picture of the food he wants to eat, but along the way he's dropped signing More for when he wants more of a food. After a slice of pizza I'll ask him, "What does Nikko want?" and he'll either sign the food and/or attempt to say the food. But More, which used to preclude the communication, is no longer there. I can't get him to say More, either. He just jumps right to the food name. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve and I wonder if we can take the kids out and about for one last run around the neighborhood. We won't be doing anything extraordinary for New Year's. Hopefully we'll get to watch a movie on TV and eat Tortorice's if it's not closed early.

Snow again, and lights battle

Feeling better than yesterday, but still sluggish. I had a dental appointment set for 4pm, but wanted to try to get a nap before leaving. Ronin went down around 2:30, and Denis was kind enough to take Nikko outside to play as well. Nikko was eager to suit up in full snow pant regalia with absolutely no complaining. They went outside while I tried to lay down on the floor with Audrey orbiting around me. She kept taking on and off a pair of rubber-soled shoes. She couldn't put them back on without my help, so with 40 minutes left before I had to leave, she kept bonking me in the head with a shoe until I sat up to help her. I think I got 10 minutes out of the 40 before my alarm rang and I had to get dressed. I love going to this dentist, however. They are both so nice and non-judgemental. I also got a name for a pediatric dentist that I'm thinking about using for Nikko since I think all his teeth are in. The Creens also referred one, but I think I'll investigate both before committing. Even Atz is planning on sending me a referral to a DDS who does NOT use sedation on their kid patients. How in the heck can she get them to lay still, if no drugs are used? Gotta wonder...

Nikko has been battling with me about the kitchen light. He'll come in, sneak into his chair and turn off the light, turning to look at me to see if I noticed. I'll say, "Lights ON, Nikko" and he will flick the switch ON while protesting. I'll praise him, then he'll quickly flick it OFF. This process will repeat two or three times before I become irritated and haul him off the chair, tickling all the way, so he'll go focus on something else. I'm not having much success with the living room lights situation either. The Christmas lights along the ceiling help illuminate the room when Nikko turns out the lights, but they won't be there forever. Hmmmm...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nikko Solo Mio in the snow

We decided to go ahead with toilet training Ronin consistently, but to ease up on demanding performance from Nikko. We'll still take him to the toilet, however, and give him the opportunity to sit, but I put him back in diapers. The pressure definitely felt less today, but I was still keeping an eye on Ronin and watching him. He didn't pee this morning when I first put him on the toilet, but then went immediately after breakfast. He avoided the rest of the morning, then "missed" the toilet and got the seat after lunch. Later in the day he literally walked up to me and I saw he was pooing, but it was too late, he went in his diaper. Finally, right before bath time, we sat him down and he started peeing in the toilet. Success! The only problem here is that Ronin is fixated on a DVD song he got from Regina for Christmas (it's really Nikko's DVD but Ronin lay claim to it) that is called "Freedom Train." He sings it often and wants to watch it all the time, but we have regulated it for only the times when he goes pee. So he was really pissed off when we cut him off after he was done.

Nikko didn't seem to mind hanging on the outskirts of the doorway while Ronin sat on the toilet. Since two days ago Nikko's stimming behaviors have increased and he not just spinning around but shaking his head back and forth looking at the ceiling, the Christmas lights, the counter top edge. To counter this, Denis took Nikko with him outside this morning, to "help" Denis shovel the snow. It was not really an hour. Nikko totally did NOT object to having snow pants pulled on, then his hat, coat and boots. And he had a great time outside, exploring and climbing next to his dad. I took a minute to look out the back door when they were both standing in the driveway. Nikko had a kid-sized green shovel and was busy scooping snow from one pile to another. When he heard me open the door he turned around and smiled, and just looked at me as if he couldn't believe he was having so much fun. Then he turned around and resumed his shoveling activity. When he came inside later on, his hands were incredibly warm despite his mittens falling off at some point. I'm glad he got to go outside, but it didn't buy him a nap. No new words today, just noticed that he has agreed not to say Pizza the right way. He'll often use a default noise like "Kwah."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Training Day

I can hardly put words to our day today. All of us except Denis have some kind of drippy nose and colds. We also attempted to start potty training the boys today. Ronin refused to wear the pull-ups, even though McQueen is on them, and practically resisted the bathroom the entire morning. Nikko wore pull-ups, but didn't communicate with us if he was wet, all day. Ronin, on the other hand, told us he'd pee or poo AFTER it happened, of course. But by the end of the night I was watching Ronin pause and go spacey in the kitchen so I rushed him to the toilet, yanked down his pants, ripped off the diaper and plopped him down. He looked like he was about to pee, but then two long dumps fell into the toilet. YEA!

As of this moment, we haven't decided what to do about Nikko yet. He is not giving any ready signs that he feels wet. He is accepting of the routine, however, and doesn't object to sitting on the toilet. He isn't eliminating in the toilet. I don't have a picture schedule on the wall because the one I have has a boy standing instead of sitting on the toilet. I had one to print out but the printer is not operating! Gotta go downstais to restart it or something. Frustrating! We are also considering just focusing on training Ronin full on because getting Nikko to understand the toilet process doesn't seem to be working.

Playing outside in the snow!

3:12p - There's a song called Move Your Arms Like Henry [The Octopus]. When it comes on, Nikko goes to the mirror and starts putting his arms outstretched and waves them like the dancers do on TV. It makes him happy and he almost does it to the beat. It's a cute little song, but I'm really happy that it sends Nikko into action!

1:10a - Denis was a big help in getting the boys outside to play in the snow. I put Audrey down for a nap and was bracing for the worst, meaning Nikko's tantrums for not wearing snow pants. But to my complete surprise, Nikko complied! He must have observed Ronin wearing snow pants and snow boots, then being shoved outside in the snow (Ronin was protesting wearing all the gear, until he literally fell into the snow). Nikko let me put on his snow pants, coat, hat, mittens, and even stepped into his boots. He was excited to go outside! And he had a great time. I spent most of my time trying to keep Ronin's mittens on his hands and failing. Nikko was fine by himself until his boot was falling off; then it was time to go inside. Success!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day Survival

11:40a - Was a relatively good Christmas morning, but got nutty after the kids opened their mom&dad and Santa presents. Nikko was supposed to get a vertical car racer (slanted planks w/cars to run down), and a Disney Cars Chick Hicks Truck. Ronin had a Cars backpack and a fire truck. Audrey had a baby doll and some Hello Kitty washcloths. Mayhem ensued when Nikko wanted Ronin's fire truck, then the Chick Hicks Truck, and back and forth. Ronin wasn't accommodating, either. It was probably 20 solid minutes of crying, fighting and wrestling between the two boys, plus Audrey got hit twice by the fire truck in mid-flight (but she didn't cry either time. She was too busy playing with Nikko's car racer). It was disheartening to witness and be the referee during the meltdowns, but what can you do? Nikko kept changing his mind between trucks. It finally took putting on The Wiggles to calm everyone down. Thank you, Greg Page!

Almost 12 hours later...
Kiddos are in bed, but Audrey's stuffy nose is disrupting a peaceful slumber. We got the kids in the car and shuffled over to the Penepacker's for the afternoon. Ronin fell asleep on the way, Audre had had a 20 minute nap at home, and that's all the sleep anyone else got until now. The kids behaved relatively well throughout the afternoon. They ate lunch, found some random toys to occupy their time, Nikko found some Barbie sunglasses and comfortably donned them to my surprise. He wore them for a long time, looking through the world through rose-colored shades. It was getting on 5pm when we finally had gifts distributed among the kids. Our corner was in chaos because Nikko was fixated on a Cars race track and Ronin wanted to keep on opening presents no matter whose presents they were. Audrey was getting cranky and antsy, and I was tired from lack of sleep and the air was feeling musty so my throat was getting scratchy. When we got home with more loot than we brought in, I was feeling so cranky myself that I wasn't handling the kids in a kind way. I tried to put together that racing track and was as impatient as the boys were to use it. I was irritable at dinner and so was Ronin. At bath time Ronin was screaming for his fire truck, which we wouldn't give him in the bathtub, but gave to him once he was free of the water. Bedtime was so late, 10:30p.

At home, after I put together the race track, I was watching Nikko go berserk near the couches. I tried to figure out why... Denis was surfing the TV using the On Demand feature from Comcast which has a bunch of menu options. I thought perhaps Nikko was angry that Denis was surfing instead of stopping on one channel, like the Wiggles programs that I usually pick for the kids. Maybe Nikko was expecting to watch the Wiggles and was getting frustrated because Denis didn't pick anything. Nikko ran to the remote control area (one of the speaker stands next to the TV) twice as if to get the remote himself and pick a channel. Instead, he was crashing and thrashing and whining in the background. Another thing that seemed to be bothering Nikko were the canned ceiling lights. Sometimes he flicks on the lights during the day, even if it's bright out, and it drives me crazy. But lately he's been turning them off and leaving us in the glow of the Christmas lights, which is nice but starts burning my eyeballs. Tonight he seemed to cover his ears and keep looking up, and when he turned off the lights this time it's almost as if I heard the buzzing of the lights suddenly stop. I wondered if he was sensitive to the buzzing noises coming from the light bulbs. But if so, then why would he want them ON during the day? And he has gone back to playing with the kitchen light switch by his chair. I've been saying, "Lights ON" and he doesn't like to hear that. I'll praise him for flicking it on, but he'll go back and turn them off again. It's getting frustrating again.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve

Today was Christmas Eve and we went to my sister-in-law's house for the family get-together. I wasn't concerned about Nikko, because it was Ronin that has been really dramatic and emotional lately. Nikko behaved rather well, and was really entertained with Lili, the dachshund, who would nip at his feet and chase him full speed down the hallway. Nikko giggled furiously and was never afraid, unlike Ronin of course. Unfortunately, Nikko got a little obsessed with Rex's toy boat still in the box, so I had Amy go hide it. Nikko looked for it for a minute, but it was soon forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind. Tomorrow we'll be at the Penepacker's house and I can just imagine the chaos of kids. Ronin will be hard to manage because he'll be so excited. I hope Nikko finds something to get into that is safe and stays in a good mood.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


9:53a - Yesterday Nikko came up to me with a Ziploc bag that had cutout shapes with pictures on them, like an oval egg, square waffle, triangular pizza. He wanted me to open it, so I signed and said, "Open." He said, "Ooop-n." He only said it once, so I'll try to get him to repeat it today. He's not being cooperative in the verbal imitation department this morning, but there's hope.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sandwich/Banana and repeating words

When I play "Sandwich" with Nikko, I basically use my body weight to crush him up against the couch or on the pillows on the floor and say, "Saaaandwich!" Nikko has started to say "Saaaaa" to request it. Today during breakfast he also said, "Banaaay" for Banana. He was running around with the PECs picture of Banana and put it in my hand to request for it. I tried to get him to say Wiggles and got a "Wuh" out of him along with the finger waggling sign for Wiggles.

Today I also saw Nikko doing some imitating, physically and vocally. During a Wiggles song he got up, went to the mirror and started dancing in a Nikko dance to the beat. On some songs he covers his ears, but others elicit some movement. I also saw him put his fists together for the Hot Potato song, but he ran away from me. When I sing the alphabet to Audrey, she waits until the end of the song for this: Now I know my ABC's, next time won't you sing with --- and she'll say, "MEEE!" Today, Nikko also joined her in saying "MEEE" at the end of the song. In the basement, I took Nikko to the exercise ball and had him sit on it while singing Row Row Row Your Boat. I know it's a song they use at preschool, so when I got to the end of it, Merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a --- and I paused to see what he'd say. Nikko said, "Dreeee." That was great! His ability to imitate is improving, but I still need to stay on track to label things/objects so that they are useful. One last thing I've been observing with Nikko is that he seems to be playing in the play kitchen somewhat appropriately with the dishes, opening the cabinet doors and drawers. He wasn't "cooking" to the extent that Ronin was, running around with a spoon and a saucepan, but hopefully he'll catch on if he sees it happen around him. Guess I have to cook more, too!

Oh yeah, almost forgot! We were watching Disney Cars in the living room during Ronin's nap, at the beginning, when Nikko suddenly said, "Ka CHOW!" He was able to repeat it later in the evening too. Neato!!!

22 words thus far / Duo allergy attacks

Nikko is very adept at giving me a PECs picture for something that he wants. I didn't do it the "correct" way by putting the pictures on the fridge yet. His breakfast ones are in a pile on the table. He's able to fish out the picture he wants, usually it's PANCAKE, then bring it to me and put it in my hand. Then he'll run back to his chair, sit down and wait for me to deliver. Today he did that this morning with Pancake, as well as Chocolate Milk. We sat at the table and I held up a little jar that was a gift from school that had some tea in it. I said, "TEA." Nikko looked at me and said plainly, "TEA." Awesome! I'm also working on saying Grape, but I can't get the P sound, as if it just fell off the end of the word. I just tallied a list of the words that I believe he's said thus far, and will continue to say, and it comes to 22. He can repeat these words, and says some of them spontaneously. We've crossed a BIG hurdle, in case anyone hasn't figured that out yet!!

On another note, today we had two allergy scares. Audrey had some of Nikko's blueberry pancakes w/syrup (not usual in the past, she didn't care too much for them) and some peanut butter on top. When I looked at her in the living room I noticed that her cheek and around her eye were blotchy red. I put her in the high chair and saw some little hives in the redness. She obviously had a reaction, probably to the peanut butter, so I administered some liquid Benadryl via syringe. They went away as the morning progressed, but I think giving her the Benadryl stopped it from getting worse because she was starting to rub her other eye as well. Later in the afternoon I had to go to St. Lambert's to rehearse for my mom's function and the kids stayed home with Denis. When I got back, Denis was out the door to go work out so I got the kids dinner. He came back and mixed a powdered recovery drink for himself. Ronin climbed into his lap and wanted some of Daddy's juice. I heard Denis tell him no at first, but later Ronin stood in the middle of the kitchen screaming and putting his fingers in his mouth. Denis had let Ronin taste the drink from a spoon and it was causing an almost instant reaction. Ronin didn't drink gulps of the liquid (thank GOD!) but there was whey protein, which is basically MILK protein, and it must have been burning his lips. I saw them start to swell, and Ronin started coughing violently that was the onset of throwing up his dinner. Denis held him over the skin while I got a syringe of Benadryl. After Ronin's coughing fit we gave him the syringe and I told Denis we had to watch Ronin's breathing to see if it stops or he has trouble, or if he breaks out, because then we'd have to use the Epi-Pen and take Ronin to the ER. Ronin calmed down after having some "candy" medicine and his breathing didn't get worse, so we let him go. But his lips were massively swollen and even at bedtime and beyond they haven't disappeared completely. He's breathing fine right now, so I hope when he wakes up his lips have cooled down, too. Lucky for us, Nikko is not allergic to anything. :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bye / Jump

This morning we all went to the ped for H1N1 flu shots. Unfortunately, I completely forgot that this vax has egg in it, so Ronin was not able to take the shot. Audrey, however, took it in the arm. Nikko stayed in the car with Denis, and that was fine because the waiting room was crowded. Afterward, we took a trip to Costco where I took Nikko inside since he had been cooped up in the car. He was doing well until we walked past the food court at the exit. He still remembers those churros, so I broke out a lollipop that he hung onto well into the afternoon. He ended up taking a nap this afternoon. Pat, Anna, Jovy and Max came over for a little bit, to give the kids their Christmas present which was a Step2 play kitchen. Pat put it together and the kids love it. Nikko was playing with the dishes and putting them in cabinets; Ronin kept stirring a pan with a spoon; and Audrey "chatted" on the cell phone. When they were packing themselves into the car to leave, the boys stood on the table to look through the window. Ronin kept saying, "Good bye, good bye, good bye," and through his noise I heard Nikko saying, "Bye, bye, bye!" He didn't wave at the same time, but the Bye was unmistakable to me. Later in the basement I took Nikko to the foof chairs and got him to jump back and forth. I kept saying, "Jump!" and Nikko was repeating Jump every time we took off.

Tomorrow afternoon I have to go to St. Lamberts to practice for the Simbang Gabi Christmas mass on Wednesday. I have to leave the kids for a good chunk of the afternoon. Hopefully they will have fun playing with the kitchen and not give Denis too hard a time.

Xmas break starts

Not an exciting day today, but that's ok. When I put Nikko on the bus I gave Mrs. Beyer a little present of candle votives. In Nikko's backpack I had 7 gift cards for the teachers. Nikko was fine when we got home, but I had begun preheating the oven before I picked him up. The buzzer went off within five minutes of Nikko in the kitchen and he took off for the couch with his ears covered and his wails starting. I don't know WHY that happens. I coaxed him back into the kitchen with some popcorn. After lunch Ronin was destined to take a nap, which he has been resisting for a few days, and when I closed his door I tried to get Nikko down as well. He did fall asleep around 2:45p, so that was a little success. I made some spaghetti for dinner, which Nikko didn't eat. He ate 3 slices of pizza instead, but Ronin and Audrey ate the pizza so it wasn't totally a lost cause.

I've been rereading some past emails and am considering doing some research into getting Nikko some vitamins from, and/or looking into probiotics (per the advice of a really helpful lady on one of the autism forums). I also have two autism-related books on my wish list that I hope to get after Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

He used the potty @ school!

On today's progress report, circled and with 3 stars:
Nikko went potty today. He went in the bathroom on his own, opened his pants and starting going potty.

That is HUGE! I wanted more incredulous details so I emailed Kathy. She wrote me back the following:
yep- I walked in the end. Christy said he walked to the bathroom door on his own. He has been willingly going in the bathroom when it is his turn but he hadn't even been called this time. He looked at Christy and she followed him in. He undid his pants and pulled them down and went a little bit. He was standing. He flushed on his own too. very exciting!!!!!

I never thought I'd get a report like that in the next 3 years, and was just wondering the other day if I'd ever see anything written in the Bathroom box of his progress report. Funny how something as simple as that could be very exciting for adutls.

Later in the day Nikko was crabby as hell. I wasn't sure why, I know that he was trying to pass a bowel movement but wasn't having much luck at all. Perhaps it was hurting him inside, which is why he kept punching my legs as he lay in my lap. Finally he fell asleep for an hour nap. I was reading on an autism forum that lots of uncontrollable jumping, laughing and kicking movements could mean an overgrowth of yeast, that when the yeast dies off in the system that's when the kid goes back to "normal." The suggestions were to remove dairy and to give probiotics. I am really kicking around the idea of getting the Dr. Bock book, to read up on tweaking Nikko's diet. To me, he doesn't go ballistic if we give him something sweet. It seems quite unpredictable, when he starts doing the Nikko dance. I wonder if I need to log that better. I know that when he's not stimulated enough, aka bored, then he'll start crashing and/or laughing and spinning wildly. That's an OT solution. But what about the dietary factors? Does diet really have an effect on Nikko? Million dollar question.

Again and oven triggers

From today's progress report:
ST- Great day. He said loud, clear Cracker at snack time. Said Ball 6 times during speech and tried bus a few times. He was vocalizing during Itsy Bitsy Spider and said "Again" at the end of it! At playtime he also spent some nice time in kitchen area playing - pouring, filling cups, putting things on the table.

How cool is that??

After lunch today I hung out with the boys and played brick road and garage cars with them. I was really trying to keep them apart, because Ronin was getting pushy with Nikko for interfering with his brick block road. I could see that Nikko was trying to line up the bricks "more straight" than Ronin had them, so in a way Nikko was trying to help out. But I separated them and drove some cars into Nikko's parking garage, while reinforcing Ronin's road. Ok, ready to play with some dolls now!

I preheated the oven to make some Rhodes bread. For the 2nd time ever, when the timer beeped at the end of the preheat, Nikko put his hands over his ears and his face fell. He started crying hard and it took a while to console him. I wonder why this happens with the oven timer but not the cooking timer. Is the frequency higher? Is it a Pavlovian memory each time it beeps? Offering him juice and hugs didn't solve the problem, but he did manage to calm down. Later at night, we tested the Again he said during speech today and it worked at the end of Itsy Bitsy Spider. He didn't say Again, but said the Gain part as GEN. He isn't saying two-syllable words, only single syllable. I guess my next research project is to look up how speech therapists do things, since that's what I've become.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mystery Meltdown

A mixed bag today. I sent Nikko off to preschool and everything seemed ok. He came back fine as well, hungry for lunch. The OT wrote on his report:
Singing "Jingle Bells" while jumping on trampoline. Still working on tolerating movement on swing - Nikko doesn't care too much for this - we'll still keep working on it. At table, did puzzles. Does well if hand him 1 piece at a time.

Starting after lunch, Nikko started doing a lot of the Nikko dance. He was jerking around, talking to himself. Audrey was still sleeping and Nikko was diving onto the living room floor, making plastic plates clatter loudly, swimming in plastic food. I had to shush him a few times and wondered if he had too much input during OT. Things died down a bit, Audrey woke up for lunch, then I had to put Ronin down for a nap. The same thing happened later on, around 3:15-ish. Nikko was doing the Nikko dance, diving onto the floor, running back into the kitchen and talking to himself. He'd run to turn on the lights. It was stimming without using his eyes. I was shushing him angrily by now. Ronin got up from his nap in a grumpy mood, of course, but he calmed down in front of The Wiggles. Nikko fell asleep for a long nap, too, and I was really grateful for that. But when he woke up, the best I can describe what followed would be a mystery meltdown. He covered his ears. He cried and whined. He was on the floor pushing me away with his feet, then crying when I got up to walk away from his pushing. He followed me into the kitchen and wouldn't respond to my questions. I tried to give him deep pressure with hugs and strokes but he kept on crying angrily. Ears were covered as if he heard a loud, piercing alarm and couldn't get it to stop ringing. Finally, he signed Pancake and tried to say it, all through his tears and upset demeanor, so I got him a pancake. Then another. Then another. At the end of those three pancakes the crying stopped and he sat in the chair looking worn out. It left me to wonder why he woke up like that, if he was really hurting because of a lout noise or some ringing in his ears. Sensory problem? Swing? I can keep guessing about these things but have no idea what exactly set him off. All I could do later on was load up the dishwasher and then trek out to Walmart for more blueberry pancakes. We have six left in the current bag, but at the rate he was going after them today, I definitely don't want to be empty-handed. I got two bags.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Spin / ABA ? answered

10:20a - This morning during breakfast I was chanting some lines from Nemo (during the part when the sting ray, Mr. Ray, sings and bellows) and Nikko chimed in at the appropriate place with an "Ooooooooh!" Funny thing was that Audrey and Ronin also chimed in at the same times. A fun Nemo morning! Also, I sometimes take Nikko's hand and spin him around like during a dance. I wind his arm around his body and spin him like a top. Today I said, "Spin! Spin!" and then Nikko said, "Pin. Spin." He tried to repeat what I said, and then I prompted him to say Spin in order to get a spin. Yea!

I wrote an email last night to the preschool teacher:
Hi Kathy,
We're hoping to get back to Maria from MGB Services regarding ABA Therapy with Nikko, but in our recent meeting she talked about something that has me a little confused. Perhaps we already covered it in our meeting at school with Linda Hoeck, but I couldn't take proper notes at the time and didn't know how to explain it to my husband.

Maria had mentioned that the style of ABA therapy they used was probably similar to the ABA used at school. This is where I got confused. Nikko receives ST and OT, but not ABA according to his IEP, from my understanding. Then again, after our PTA meeting and reviewing his benchmarks based on the goals, I had already noted that the goals were structured to be accomplished within a number of trials (respond to name after 4/5 trials, etc). Is that the kind of ABA that Maria was referring to? It was my understanding that ABA Therapy wasn't offered at Westbrook, but am I incorrect? Or is this a question better suited for Linda?

Linda wrote back:
The drills that will be developed will be directly related to his IEP goals. The format will be different in that it will be in the 1:1 at home.
The process would be that I would first meet with school to develop the drills, then share at the home. Since this is something new for Nikko, if you decide I would start with no more than 3 times a week.
Hope this clarifies.

That made sense in that the home program would be reflective of what they are teaching at school through Nikko's IEP. She also indicates that 3x/wk is the number of sessions she'd recommend for starters.

Kathy took the time to call me directly. She explained to me that yes, Westbrook offers ABA. Some kids have it, some kids don't. From her standpoint regarding Nikko, she thinks that he would benefit from the classroom setting, peer interaction and instruction vs. 1:1 ABA at school. The other problem is that sometimes there doesn't seem to be enough time with only 2.5 hours of preschool. Nikko would be pulled out of class for ABA and again, wouldn't get to be around his classmates. She said that the ABA offered by the school was taken mostly by the older kids. They would want Nikko to complete at least one semester before putting him in ABA. I agreed with Kathy's perspective, that losing exposure to his peers wouldn't be good for him, and his peers like him. I think Denis and I will be able to wrap up our decision on ABA by tomorrow, so we can get back to Maria by Wednesday and see what our timeline would be to put a plan into action.

After the kids had their naps, except for Nikko, I got us out of the house and headed to Costco. I had a big list, putting diapers at the bottom of the cart so that Ronin could sit in the big basket and the other two in the seats. Ronin was antsy and I allowed him to walk around, but not very far since he's so small that he could get run over by other carts and people. When we were leaving and the cashiers said good bye, I saw Nikko cup his hand and start waving good bye. It lasted as far as the food court, because then he started getting agitated and wanted to get out of the shopping cart. I think the Churros memories came back. We left, and Denis was already home so it was continuous for dinner, bathtime and nighttime.

Sleep troubles

Today Nikko had an episode prior to his nap where he was covering his ears and sobbing on the couch. It worried me, but I watched him to see if a nap was forthcoming. I had left him on the couch watching Cars because that's what he requested, but when the sobbing started and stayed for a while, I sat next to him and let him lean on me until he fell asleep sitting up. Poor little guy. He must have had a hard time falling asleep tonight because after 1.5 hours when Denis and I were cleaning up in the kitchen, I heard Nikko's feet running down the hall and he appeared in the doorway. He didn't look like he just woke up. I walked him back to bed, tucked him in, and sang a little bit before leaving him. Hope it's just an anomaly.

Earlier today I saw Nikko sitting on the Thomas chair, head turned 90 degrees to look at himself in the mirror on the wall. He was sucking in his cheeks and making faces at himself, grinning, gritting his teeth and shaking his head a little. I crawled next to him and tried to copy his face, but after I left he resumed his own personal interactions with the mirror. I suppose it's self-awareness. Today he also said Eat when it was dinnertime, and tried very hard to pronounce [pan]Cake to me. He'd hand me the PECs card of pancake and then try to say Cake. How could I refuse him? He had a pancake after dinner as a result. Too bad he couldn't say broccoli, or TREES, which is the word Denis used with Ronin. Ronin heartily ate Trees with his nuggets and Hot Potato (mashed potatoes with rice milk and Earth Balance butter spread) and asked for MORE TREES.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Attempting to say words

Today we went to the Hinsdale Church. It was less crowded than usual because many families attend the bigger Hinsdale Adventist church if there is a bigger function going on. The kids were in decent moods, and Audrey was very civil to my MIL when she usually just wants to be held by me. We sat in a big activity room because we couldn't sit still during the services. The boys wanted crackers and Nikko was attempting to say it when prompted. He tried to say panCAKE earlier in the day, too. And later at night, after dinner, Nikko handed me the Cars DVD and tried to say Cars a few times. Normally I'd reward his efforts by putting on cars, but this time I just praised him and really didn't want to watch the entire Cars movie. So I put on The Wiggles instead.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bye, no tears

It was too cold for the kids to go play outside during school today. However, the OT emailed saying they worked on putting two mittens on Nikko vs. one and he tolerated it. The ST wrote: Great waving "bye" today! 1-step direction, requesting. That's great! I noticed this before I got her message, when I set Nikko down after lifting him off the bus seat. I turned him toward his classmates to say good bye (they always chant Good Bye, Nikko when he leaves), and then I turned him toward Mrs. Beyer and told him to say good bye. He wasn't looking straight at her, but was indeed waving. I wonder if he was waving at his peers instead?

Tonight I'm going to a concert with Regina, who graciously invited me to attend along with her mom, at Harvest Bible Chapel. I've been there with her for another function, a LONG time ago. I am glad to get away for a bit because we've basically been indoors for the past two weeks due to the weather. I am going batty, and yesterday I yelled my head off at Ronin (first time in a long time I did that) because he has started tantrumming when he wants something, or is relentless in his demand for something. Again. He won't stop crying long enough for me to get through a negotiation so it's either totally distract him with something even better than he wanted or match his screams and give in, stewing in anger the entire time. OK, the former isn't the best approach, but it's what I've been doing. The latter is more logical, and my goal.

1:12A - Denis' report was that the kids had a little bit of a late start for bedtime, but all were in bed by the time I called at 10p. He said that Nikko didn't cry when I left, that it was Ronin and Audrey that were wailing and crying and whom he had to calm down later. As I walked out the door, Ronin was indeed whining like a fire truck, and Audrey erupted into cries when I closed the door behind me, but Nikko just stood with his hands covering his ears (probably from Ronin's cries) and watched me go. Tomorrow I think we're going to the Hinsdale church in the morning. I'm glad the kids will get to be out in public and run off some steam, but I'm also dreading it because all three kids will be mobile and it will be hard to keep tabs on Ronin while I'm chasing after Audrey. There's no WAY they'll sit in the big room. I need to make sure Ronin doesn't eat anything that's not safe, that Nikko doesn't run away and get lost, and that Audrey doesn't fall on the floor too much that her hands get all dirty.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Eat / H1N1 shot

12:10p - I asked Nikko what he wanted to eat, while signing Eat, and he said, "Eat...Crack...Grrrr. " AWESOME! He actually said Eat, while he was signing Eat. He sat and smiled at me when I returned to my seat.

Today Nikko got the H1N1 flu shot at school. The teacher emailed me a note saying he had the nasal mist. I'm assuming it's because it was thimersol free. The drawback is that it has the live virus. Well, we're taking our chances. What boils my blood is that the pediatrician sent us an email blast saying they have 100 H1N1 shots but only for kids 4 and older. And we shouldn't ask them when they'll get more in, they'll let us know. What the heck am I supposed to do about Ronin and Audrey? Sure, blame the manufacturers for being late, but hell, they are walking time bombs if they catch this flu. Tomorrow I'll call another ped office that supposedly has a supply. I have three at-risk kids with immune systems that may not support even the regular flu, especially Ronin. Anyway, Kathy told me she held Nikko during the shot, he was mad but then got over it. They are supposed to play outside tomorrow at school, and I'll have to pack Nikko some extra clothes. Unfortunately, he won't wear his snow pants OR boots. I'll pack extra socks and shoes... I'll have to!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

ABA - the initial visit

On Nikko's progress report, Mrs. I said that I should pack along Nikko's other glove because they are practicing putting on winter outside clothes in the correct sequence at school. The only thing he's missing from his repertoire is boots, which he still won't wear. Perhaps I'll pack boots on Friday, but still include his regular shoes plus extra socks. I have to remember to try on the snowsuit at the back door of his room, but I think it's too small for him. *sigh*

Today at 1pm Maria, the director of MGB Services, came for a house visit. She was very nice, asked questions and told me all about how ABA would run out of our home. She emphasized cost a lot because she knows that ABA therapy is very expensive, but their services are probably the lowest rates around. It's true from what I've researched; an ABA center had therapists that charged $125/hr, whereas her fee for her services is $50/hr, for a senior line person around $25/hr, and for a line person between $10-15/hr depending on experience. Those are the numbers I have to work with, to crunch them and give us a rough idea how much this could cost over a few months to years. I was able to ask questions, but she answered a lot of them while we talked. The night before I had re-read up on ABA Therapy (Applied Behavioral Analysis, for those who don't know) as well as Verbal Behavior Therapy since that sounded like the route we'd like to take with Nikko. The whole premise of this kind of therapy is that it is rewards-based, using positive reinforcers to get a desired behavior. Pavlovian, sure. Effective? Yes, and proven. Some of my questions were:

Q: Nikko has really strong separation anxiety to me. How do the therapists handle that?
A: Linda H. will be consulted and have the final say on that, but all the therapists have dealt with this kind of behavior and can handle it. They'll most likely distract. Will physical restraint be used at times? I asked. She said that Linda would be asked, for sure. I'm not worried that they could hard Nikko by restraining him, but that they could be hurt by him because he's a strong fellow.

Q: Where would sessions take place? How long? Structure of a session?
A: We scouted out the house. She asked for a room where a door could be closed, a table and chairs accessible. We ended up in the basement which she said was ideal because it's a big enough space to do large motor activities, and a small space can be cornered off as well. I can listen in at the top of the stairs if I want. I am welcome to sit in on sessions, but things would be more effective if I didn't, and if the kids weren't around either. We would stay upstairs, basically. A session runs between 1-1.5 or even 2 hours. Nikko will soon welcome the sessions because it is 1:1 time with an adult and they will make it FUN. She showed me an outline of a structured session, starting with a snack, then ranging from 10-15 minutes of drills (perhaps matching or sorting or whatever the skill of the day is), then a 5 minute break of self-play, then 10-15 minutes of drills again, then a break to do a sensory activity or a motor activity, then 10-15 minutes of drills, then a 5 minute break of playing games, and he will learn how to take turns through ABA.

Q: How will a schedule be determined?
A: Linda H. will be consulted for her recommendations, but Maria said she thought Nikko would probably start at 3-4x/week for 1.5 hrs. Days to be determined. We'll work around his preschool schedule.

Q: Nikko is highly motivated by FOOD. How can we overcome this?
A: She was writing down the foods he likes, and mentioned that Linda has the final say on whether or not we'll start with food, but they intend NOT to use food as a motivator. She continued asking me what kind of toys Nikko liked to play with.

Q: How will I know ABA is working?
A: She said I'll see a difference within six months or sooner. As his parents, we'll also learn things from ABA that we can use with him in his daily life. I think they'll help us out with this part, because Maria suggested a training class that Linda offers as well.

Q: What should I NOT be doing with NIkko on a daily basis? (like TV)
A: Maria said I don't have to change anything. Keep doing what we're doing.

We're going to look over the contract, crunch some numbers, see where we can find some $$, and then formally move forward next week. I'll let Maria know.

Our day was out of whack because of Maria's visit. Ronin's nap was at 3:30p instead of 2p. Audrey also slept a little off. Nikko just wanted to watch Cars, and when prompted he said CARS to me after signing it. Now I've got to get him to label an actual car, not just the DVD movie. That would be called generalizing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


1:56p - During lunch I was working on saying Cracker with Nikko. That was another hard word for him. I tried to break it into CRAK-GRRRRR. It took a while but I think I got the Grrr from Nikko.

Right now they're all sitting here eating 2nd lunch (as if I never even fed them a first lunch!) and singing Fruit Salad/Yummy Yummy. Even Nikko was rubbing his tummy like the Wiggles do in the video. He was also chanting something like the song.

12:42a - Nikko refuses to wear his snow boots. I guess I just sprung them upon him, so tonight I took them out again and tried to put one on his foot. Refused. I think the teachers are going to think I really don't know how to dress this kid. Remember, he's been wearing ONE mitten to school, and he just recently accepted wearing his hat. The boots are harder. I think the last time I got him to wear boots he was kicking and screaming, also in a snowsuit, and we had to literally push him out the door for him to see that it can be cool walking in the snow in boots. Last winter we didn't have this problem because I don't think I took them out in the snow at all. BAD MOM. His boots were too small for him, too. Ronin inherits them this year. I'll have to keep trying with his boots, or when it's Friday and time to play outside on the playground he may just have to wear his sneakers and get them all wet. I'll have to discuss this with Kathy. Tomorrow, Maria is coming over to meet Nikko and we'll see if these are the first steps toward ABA therapy. I have questions for her that I'll have to jot down before I forget.

Last thing, wanted to reiterate the notes from school today:
OT - Did arrival routine independently except for locating hood to hang up. Did well. :) Also did lots of body awareness and sequencing activities through an obstacle course. Lastly - took a coloring sample.
ST - Nikko kept saying "Go" every time we said "Stop", Stop to the Gingerbread Man. Also signed Cooke & Eat with story!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Car / Cheese

I HATE when I type a bunch of stuff, then my wrists might glide over some unforseen button or panel on this laptop and I LOSE EVERYTHING I JUST WROTE and I can't find a Back button to recover it. I HATE THAT.

While I was on the phone this morning, I saw Nikko take a play cell phone, put it up to his ear and have a conversation by nodding his head. It's rare that he does this, but I thought it was very nice to see.

After reading more autism boards last night and seeing that other moms have their ASD kids in multiple therapies despite school, I decided that Nikko really does need more help outside of preschool to get his life skills going. I made the effort this morning to call and leave a message for Maria with MGB Services and she called me back. She got my email but didn't respond to it last week. Must be very busy over there, is how I rationalized it. We went ahead and set up an appointment for this Wednesday for her to come over and evaluate Nikko to see what services he can do and how to set up a team for him. It will probably get moving after the holidays. Everyone is an independent contractor, and this helps to keep costs down for everyone. She is aware that many, many people pay out of pocket, which is why keeping costs down is important to them. It will cost $80 for her to come out, but she's not doing a full intake since we've already met and been evaluated by Linda Hoeck. She said we're lucky to have a coordinator through the school already, because this service could cost about $160/hr. Her fee is normally $50/hr. The price for a senior person is $15/hr and for the line people (assuming these are the day-to-day people for Nikko, likely special education students and/or others obtaining degrees in these fields) their hourly rate is about $10/hr. Compared to other companies, these fees truly are a good deal. Maria also told me that a lot of what they do is Verbal Behavior/ABA, which is something I read about that sounded very good. Nikko might do well because it helps kids that are nonverbal.

When I told Denis what's going on, it occurred to me that we will have to stop Ronin's speech therapy so we can allot that $100/month toward 10 hours of ABA therapy for Nikko. It made sense to Denis, so I went ahead and called Mary Leonard our coordinator. I also spoke to Pete and he wants to do a final evaluation on Ronin so he can do exit paperwork. That's fine, even if it did cost us $25 but Pete mentioned that there's something about cancelling services before the 15th, maybe we won't be billed for December at that rate. Don't know. Don't really care, just want to make sure it's all done by January.

In the early evening we had Nemo on TV when Nikko came up to me with the Cars DVD. He shoved it in my hands and I put it aside. He put it back in my hands and I asked him what he wanted. He kept pushing it to me, Ronin chirping in the background that he wanted to watch Cars, but I kept asking Nikko what he wanted. He signed Car, and then while watching my mouth he said, "CAR." Okey dokey! I certainly put it on after that. Then during dinner he was finished with his bowl of mac cheese and wanted more. I asked him what he wanted and he signed Cheese. I knelt down and said Cheese twice to him. He watched my mouth and said, "Cheees." No problemo! Instant mac cheese for him!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Star / The Christmas Tree

It's been a quiet day. We broke out the train tracks from last year and they were a source of conflict with Ronin. He was much better after taking a long nap in the afternoon. Nikko was sitting around so I took out some shapes from a big shape-matching game and spread them out on the trampoline. Ronin came along and I was naming the objects in the shapes, lining them up per shape, and then trying to make the sounds more pronounced so Nikko could say them. The one shape that elicited a sound from Nikko was a STAR. He repeated that and I praised him. Then we all cleaned up the shapes by putting them back in the bag with a "Bye bye, [insert object]!" That was my developmental/speech therapist investment for the day. Another sound that I got from him today were Tick and GULL for Tickle, as well as Pop for Popcorn.

Denis helped me put a two-foot tall fiber optic christmas tree in the corner behind the couch. Besides the xmas lights on the ceiling, there really wasn't anything festive enough for me to say it was the holidays. It illuminates nicely, but the motor seemed to get hot after two hours so I won't be able to leave it on all day. Maybe I'll get a few safe decorations into it so it doesn't look so bare during the day. The kids seemed to like it. Overall, they seem to dig the xmas lights in the living room, as if we're under the sea while watching Nemo. They were all grooving to The Wiggles after dinner, such a cute sight. Bath and bedtime were smooth, but Audrey was coughing up pretty hard around midnight. Nikko actually fell asleep for a 1.5 hour nap today, thank goodness. Tomorrow we don't have anywhere specific to go, but I'll see if there's anywhere we can venture that's not crowded like crazy. I thought about going to Woodfield Mall, but honestly it would be hard for me to do it alone. Watching Audrey is tough since she's toddling, and someone could easily come up and snatch Ronin since he's so light. If all else fails, we'll end up in the basement, probably.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Shark / Vitamin

11:46a - While dressing Nikko for school, Denis was reading aloud from Nikko's Nemo library book. He was mimicking the movie and chanted, "Shark bait! Shark bait!" Nikko started saying, "Shah, shah," while I put on his clothes. If you weren't paying attention it could have easily been missed, but I noticed he did it after each time Denis said Shark. That's cool. On his progress report from school, Kathy wrote that he was saying "Kuh" for car when prompted. She was also saying "Go" when it came to opening doors. I think we're both pushing for more language from Nikko.

2:06p - HOLY SPEECH THERAPY, ROBIN! I just took 50 minutes with Nikko trying to get him to say Vitamin or a derivation thereof. We started around 1:06 and he kept pointing up to the cabinet for the jar of vitamins. He wouldn't say it. He tantrumed, threw himself on the ground, beat his ears with his hands, spun around and kept landing on his knees. At first I pushed for the entire word, but 10 minutes and I tried for MIN. Any kind of Min. He cried so hard, then stopped at a few points. The last point he simmered down and I sat him in my lap. Other times he tried to climb into my lap and I wouldn't let him. I showed him some Chips, and got him to say "Chp", so I knew he was capable of imitating a word upon request. At the end I tried to coax him and he seemed to be so tired from fighting it. FINALLY, at 1:50p, he said, "Mmmm." It was short, but it sounded like the beginning of Min, so I gave it to him with lots of praise. I couldn't get another sound, so I had to end the session. Poor Audrey sat in the high chair and had to wait, me throwing her some cereal with her bottle of milk because I couldn't give her a proper lunch. Ronin wanted vitamins too, but I had to shoo him away for a while. I am TIRED from being a speech therapist for almost an hour. I don't even know if my tactics were successful (well, he said an "M" sound so that's technically successful) or correct in the speech therapy world. This is exhausting!

11:44p - Nikko was pretty calm the rest of the night. He watched lots of Wiggles with us. He even shows an interest in the brick block road I made for Ronin, so I had to make another one for Nikko (since Ronin was getting territorial and shoving Nikko away just for gawking at Ronin's car tunnel). Ronin turns everything into a physical squabble. He starts pushing and shoving Nikko, who will turn over on his tummy in defense, and even land on top of Nikko. I guess it's the small dog syndrome. I'm not sure how to curb Ronin's aggressiveness except to haul him away, distract him, or be firm and tell him IT'S NOT NICE to do whatever he just did to Nikko, and to Audrey. When Audrey cried the last time Ronin shoved her, I showed him that she was sad, that he hurt her, and he said he was sorry to Audrey and gave her a hug. OK, fine, but that didn't solve the problem later at night when she was getting into his car tunnel business again. It's a vicious cycle and it wears me out to be the referee. I truly don't mind running away after the kids are in bed because I need to get desensitized from kid stuff for a few hours.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Library book / Potty training thoughts

12:03p - Nikko hasn't liked wearing any hats or gloves in the past. Two days ago I got Nikko to wear a hat that had some ear flaps. Unfortunately the "cap" is on the small side, and Nikko actually likes wearing it. He tilts it, however, so that one ear flap covers his left eyebrow. I think he envisions it as a hat brim. I'll have to look for a hat with a brim to see if that's truly the case. Today the temps are in the 30's so I thought I'd try putting out some fleece mittens. I put them on the table for him to explore, and somehow he got fixated on wearing ONE glove, the left one. I couldn't get him to accept wearing the right one, so I had to send him off to school with one red glove and the other cradling Nemo and the burp cloth. When he came home, I saw a library book in the backpack. They made a trip to the Westbrook library, something they'll do every Wednesday. It's a book of Nemo. I was fine with seeing it, until it was time to serve him lunch. He was having pizza and Nikko wouldn't let go of that book. It made me extremely paranoid because I had to keep an eye on him, wiping his hands every time they got red sauce on them. Now I understand why they sent home a permission slip as to whether or not the parents would accept responsibility regarding checking out books. He's going to be so attached to that book that it could possibly get ratty and torn. Thankfully it's a hardcover book, but I hope it doesn't get too beat up. Uh-oh... the oven pre-heating timer just went off and Nikko put his hands over his ears, crying really hard as if the sound hurt him or it sparked a really bad memory. I gave him hugs and back strokes, but in the end I offered him Signing Time or Nemo on TV. Signing Time was hastily agreed upon with his hands pedaling furiously before putting them back over his ears. He has not triggered like this against an oven sound before so I wonder if this will be an isolated incident. Hope so.

In yesterday's Chicago Tribune in the Chicagoland Extra section there was an article about a Jewish boy who had autism and was completing his bar mitzvah. It was an interesting look on a Jewish based special needs program and raising an autistic son to achieve bar mitzvah even through a learning disability. They have to memorize and read from the Torah, and some kids use PECs pictures and schedules to understand the cermony of it, even if the real meaning is lost on them. A person who runs the program, Abbie Weisberg, said, "We don't say 'no,' we say 'how.'" I thought that quote was so poignant and one I'd take upon myself to say it's a favorite.

12:44p - This evening I went to Target after the kids went to bed. My plan was to go grocery shopping after Target closed at 11p. I bought diaper genie refills and a bunch of underwear for the boys. I am really trying to mentally psych myself into the potty training mode. I AM DREADING IT. I have two kids to train at the same time, and need a 100% success rate with Ronin. I have an indefinite success rate with Nikko, but hopes he will catch on. I dread the cleanup I'll have to do when they have accidents. Ronin already refuses to sit on the toilet because we started with him standing up. I must have screwed up on that one. Nikko seems tolerate to sit, probably because they do that at school, too. But he hasn't peed on the toilet sitting down yet. I'll think about this later... it's stressing me out. Anyway, I lost my grocery list at Target, five minutes before close. I checked all my pockets, then starting running back down aisles that I had visited, all to no avail. I couldn't recall from memory what I needed from the grocery. Defeated, and with the Target cashier hurrying me out the door, I went home. Boooooo.

Ugh, I forgot to mention... I'm still working on Tickle with Nikko. I got a "Tick" out of him today, but he's mixing it up with "Chp-COM" again. Another sound I heard from him today was "Ju" for juice. I'll try that word again tomorrow. I will keep pushing something for him to vocalize every day, probably at every meal if I can. It's kind of addicting, trying to get him to say more and actually hear a sound close to it come out. I think it started with "Pop," which he says when prompted by me when he's signing for Popcorn [corn puffs].

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Trying for Tickle

5:06p - In Nikko's backpack I sent back some family pictures of us per their request for a unit on family. The last time they had the kitchen play area set up as a home, Nikko apparently went ballistic when he discovered that the boxes of crackers and pop-tarts in the kitchen were empty. I think he recovered the next day, but I wonder if the set-up will upset him again. It looks like there were cheese and crackers for their snack, but Nikko still came home with an appetite and ate some grapes on his own as well. The afternoon was low-key but I did try to work on the word Tickle with Nikko. It's something that he comes up to me with as a direct request. He signs More, then I ask him "More what?" then he signs Tickle. I tried to model the word for him today and I did meet some resistance because he knew I was trying to make him work. He didn't throw himself on the ground in a tantrum and I kept pressing him to say something. Once or twice he did squeak out a "TUH" or an "ICK" but they were both muddy. Still, I gave him tickles for trying, and that's really all I can ask for at this stage: for him to try.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Back to school

Nikko went back to school today and he did well in OT according to Mrs. I on the report. I have to remember to pack him a change of clothes because he apparently spilled water on his outfit; when I saw him sitting on the bus I noticed he was wearing sweatpants and wondered if he leaked. Next week the school is supposed to be administering the H1N1 flu vaccine, but I haven't seen any permission slips in Nikko's backpack. Yet. I emailed the teachers today and will see if his class is going to get it. Nikko's mood was better today, I'd say. The last two days of Thanksgiving break, Nikko seemed to end up under the kitchen table, bawling or being emotional and I couldn't figure out why. Perhaps he was upset that he wasn't going to school, or just had enough of being in the house. I can totally understand that.

After Nikko came home from school he was pretty hungry so I started getting lunch out to him. The other two (Audrey didn't fall asleep in her crib at 11a. I think she wants a later naptime, thanks to the Thanksgiving break and us slacking on her 11a naps) wanted to eat so I fed everyone and then put the little ones down for a nap at 1pm. Ronin didn't want to sleep and cried for 45 minutes, but eventually succumbed. When everyone was awake around 3p I gave them snack. Nikko didn't take a nap, as much as I tried to coax him to. I scrambled to get jeans on everyone and take them outside before it got dark. We didn't get outside until 4-ish, which was fine because by 5pm it was getting dark enough that I couldn't make out the kids' faces very well. We ran around the driveway, I got them to go down the slide, we kicked a volleyball around like a soccer ball, and we just got some fresh air. The rest of the evening was ok. Nikko wanted to watch Signing Time, but later I had to switch it to the Wiggles to keep things upbeat and to prevent him from falling asleep. They're sleeping now, but I still have to fold kid laundry. Denis might come home tomorrow evening from his business trip. It will be nice to have his company around; it's been pretty quiet and lonely after the kids are in bed. I'm busy cleaning up, being on FB, online shopping for xmas, but it's not the same as having him in the house.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lights ON

2:47p - For the past few days Nikko has gotten into the habit of stepping up on his booster chair at the dinner table and flicking the light switch above his head OFF. This turns off the (ghastly fluorescent but necessary) overhead light and the room is half dark. Ronin doesn't like it and it gets me dizzy, but when I told him to turn LIGHTS ON, Nikko wouldn't do it. I'd turn them on and then physically sit him back down, laughing with him as if it were a joke because he'd wriggle out of my hands and flick it back on again. It's been a constant power struggle. When Ronin objects, I tell him that Nikko just won't stop turning it off and I can't seem to do anything about it. I felt powerless.

Then a thought occurred to me. What would an ABA therapist do? Well, I reasoned, the therapist would probably say to give a positive reinforcer to Nikko each time he turned the light on instead of off. That sounds good, but I didn't want to reward Nikko with a fruit snack or candy every time he turned the light ON. He would soon just want the food all the time. What if the reinforcer wasn't food, but was praise instead? Not tangible, but still a reward for positive behavior. So I walked over to the light switch and turned it on. Nikko scrambled up and turned it off. I said, "Awww, noooo Nikko." Then he flipped it on. Immediately I said, "YEA NIKKO! WOW! YOU TURNED THE LIGHT ON! WHAT A GOOD JOB! YEA!" I heard Ronin nearby also praise Nikko, "Yea!" Nikko looked at me like I was going nuts. Curious, he flipped the switch off and I said, "Awwww, nooooo Nikko, Light ON." He flipped it on and again I heaped on the praise, followed by a big hug and an offer of grapes. He seemed to get it, that lights ON was followed by praise and hugs, and maybe even grapes. So guess what? The lights are ON, right now. Yea!

1:15am- The rest of the day was ok for Nikko. He almost fell asleep this afternoon but I had to wake him up to change his diaper because he was full, and sure to leak. He didn't go back to sleep, and my plans to take the kids outside were ruined by nap timing. Tomorrow is supposed to be the last 50 degree weather day so I'll try my hardest to take the kids out after lunch. We could play outside, but I might sneak in an errand if need be. Nikko seemed very specific in what he wanted to watch on TV today. After breakfast we spent time watching The Wiggles DVDs and On Demand. I turned the TV off during lunch, and then after lunch Nikko came up to me and pulled me to the TV. When asked what he wanted to watch he circled his hands in front of him and I thought it was to the song The Wheels on the Bus. But after looking at his sign, I said, "Oh, you want to watch Signing Time?" Bingo. He was satisfied with what I said and retreated to the couch to wait for me to put in the DVD. Much later in the day he signed Fish, which is for Nemo. Before dinner I put up Christmas lights, stringing them around the perimeter of the ceiling. In the past, I've lined the windows with the lights, but last year the boys were playing in the window often and tugging at the lights. With Ronin's recent destructive behavior I really don't want to deal with tape and lights dangling from the window sill, so I put the lights high up near the ceiling. I could have put them outside, but then we wouldn't be able to see them. By putting them in the living room, the kids can enjoy the lights and maybe not have to turn on the regular incandescent lights, which are very expensive and will probably blow up soon since they burn for a long time when Nikko is at the light switch. It looks pretty cool. I may do the kitchen windows and/or the "dining room" area, too, just to be festive. There's no room in the living room for a real tree, so I hope to put a little fiber optic tree up. I might put it in the corner of the sofa, since there technically is a space, but need to put some kind of table support there.

Nikko goes back to preschool tomorrow. I'll bet that will make him happy! I should really go to bed soon since I have to wake up by 7a to make sure Nikko gets up.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Stop! Go!

I'm not avoiding a post, I've just been compressed for time to finish things after the kids go to bed, even though I am so grateful we finally got a portable dishwasher. I'm STILL very busy. Yeah, sure, I could cut out some frivolous minutes by not being on Facebook, but since it's one of my only social gateways to the outside world, it actually helps keep me sane. So why chuck it? Oh yeah, so I can clean up the kitchen, mop the floors, load laundry and catch up on reading autism boards.

Yesterday (Saturday) and today were pretty ordinary days. Except for last night, where I went to a gun safety seminar that Denis signed me up for. I learned quite a bit, and got to shoot a variety of revolvers and semi-automatic guns on a range. I also shot fairly well given that I haven't shot any gun for over 13 years or so. Denis fed the kids and put them to bed and didn't have as hard a time as he has in the past. "I must be getting better at it," he remarked. YEA!

Yesterday morning and this morning as well, Nikko was not really in the best of moods. He woke up decent, but he's been ending up whining on the kitchen floor before breakfast. This morning I attributed it to him not wanting me out of his sight since I wasn't home when he went to bed. Understandable. There was another point during the day when I was playing "Sandwich" with him where he's on the floor and I roll on top of him to put my weight on him, giving him some input, or pressing up to him against the couch in a full-body smush. When I played this with him, he seemed to enjoy it, but I think I kept pressing on when he decided he'd had enough. When I didn't let up, he got really upset and then he was bawling and swatting at me. I was very apologetic and told him I'd stop when he told me to. He had to calm down from that one. Speaking of stop, something else he's been doing lately takes his word "Go" and uses it to our disadvantage. At school he was prompted to the phrase "Ready, set..." and Nikko would say, "GO!" I noticed at home when I would say "Stop", he would say, "GO!" Sounds appropriate, right? Well, nope. Sometimes he will be doing something like hitting a toy hard against the oven or hitting at Ronin (because Ronin started it, nonetheless) and I'd restrain Nikko and tell him, "Stop that! Stop!" Nikko would turn to me and say, "GO!" every time I said Stop, until I could read the pain in his face that he was misunderstood and his last word would be "GOOOOOOOOOO!" and he'd be crying. That makes me feel so bad that I realize I have to use another word besides Stop when getting him to stop an unwanted action. Haven't figured out what that word is going to be yet, unfortunately.

Nikko will be back in preschool on Tuesday. We don't have any scheduled outings for tomorrow, but it's supposed to be partly sunny and in the 40's so maybe I can take the kids outside to play. If not, I will try to take them somewhere, anywhere. They need to get out of the house! It's going to be hard until Thursday night because Denis is in Springfield on business and I have to put the kids to bed by myself. Then I have to clean up everything after they are asleep by myself. I did it tonight and it's 2am and there's things I'd really love to accomplish but have now run out of time. I'm going to have to dig deep for patience for the next four days. Deeeeep.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Random autism thoughts

Thanksgiving Day (yesterday) was busy because we did double-duty: Mom's house at 1pm, and the in-law's house at 6pm. The kids did rather well at both places despite having so many different people around, lots of noise. Nikko was happy to investigate other people's plates at Mom's house, looking for their dessert. I had made some chocolate chip cookie bars that were Ronin-friendly, and Nikko gravitated toward that a lot. At the in-law's house, Nikko seemed interested in exploring their treadmill and stationary bike than playing with any of the toys in the basement. I think they enjoy the living room because it is wall-to-wall carpeting where they can run and tumble on the floor without getting hurt.

I didn't take advantage of Black Friday because I didn't have anything specific to hunt for. Definitely wanted to avoid the crowded malls, and absolutely wouldn't be able to navigate it with kids in tow. Denis had to run some errands after lunch and opted to take Nikko with him. I advised him to take along some Dum Dum lollipops just in case. I know he wanted to try to have a normal outing without giving in to anything, but I told Denis that Nikko will probably get agitated at some point and if he wanted to get something accomplished, it would be better to bring the Dum Dums than not have anything on hand at all. He told me later on that he did end up giving Nikko a Dum Dum, and when Nikko finished it he was patting down Denis' coat looking for more. I'm still at odds about having just-in-case food during outings vs. not having anything on hand. That one online post a lady wrote back to me, when I made an inquiry about behavior in the store, really made me feel guilty. She said that it was my fault that Nikko cries and tantrums for a treat because I taught him that if he tantrums, he'll get something. That sounded harsh, but there's probably some truth to that because I don't want Nikko to burst out and make a scene. But the other thing this lady said was that I had a choice: Do I want Nikko to function like everyone else in society, even though it will be hard, or do I want to keep him quiet for the short term, which is easy for now? Sounds like a baited question, but it made me think, and am still thinking about it.

Another thing that was on my mind lately was the two stories this past week in the Chicago Tribune regarding autism. They covered two kinds of biomedical-related therapies, which were chelation (removing harmful metals from the body) and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The article was obviously biased and against these therapies, but pointed out some reasons why many families with autistic kids go these routes even though pediatricians tell them not to because there's no scientific proof that they work. A big reason is that right now there's no cure for autism, and many people don't want to wait 10-20 years for some breakthrough research to find a cure. These kids need help NOW, and if there is something that comes along promising to aid/cure autism, people are willing to try it. Parents are desperate. They want their child to get better. I can relate to this because a few months ago I read some forum postings from a lady who said she tried a vitamin called dimethylglycine on her non-verbal child and the next day he was talking and continued to talk. Of course, hearing news like that makes me start wondering if it would work on Nikko. I researched it a little bit and almost went further but then realized that without knowing how much of it to give to Nikko, I could overdose him. Tricky business, without proper guidance. But what is proper guidance nowadays? Ah, the way these thoughts swirl in my head.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


3:50p - CHIP and CORN are the two sounds Nikko is making when prompted. "Chp" = Chip, "Kohn" = Corn. It's interesting, really. I think he knows that Chip is really a chip. I'm almost scared to announce to the world that Nikko said two almost-words (aside from GO), like I mike jinx it. It's snacktime here, and that sent everyone to the kitchen. Ronin had some Oreos and veggie stix, Audrey had animal cookies and veggie stix, and Nikko started out with pop-CORN (Pirate Booty corn puffs). He also had an Oreo, but when I prompted him to say Cookie he protested angrily and started crying and throwing himself on the floor. I think he knew I was trying to make him work and he didn't want to do it. I made him sign instead so he could earn his cookie. Later, I pulled out a bag of Gardetto's rye chips and he was curious. He came to me, signing but didn't know what to sign for. I made the sign for Chip (left palm facing up, right palm skating face down as if to chip off the left hand's fingertips), and also said "Chip". Then Nikko said, "Chp, chp!" So I gave him some.

Speaking of breakthroughs, I've given the boys cups that have straws attached to drink their juice at most meals. Breakfast milks still come in sippy cups. But this is to facilitate speech in Nikko, and for Ronin it's supposed to help tighten the seal his lips make so he'll drool less. But now that he's been drinking from straws more often, he picked up the harmonica and was blowing in and out of it very nicely. I was impressed! I also saw him pick up the pinwheel I got over the summer and he blew into it, making the wheel spin. Before the straw, he would try to blow and nothing happened, no motion whatsoever, just a lot of spit. I think the straw is doing wonders. I wonder if the straw is helping Nikko too, or if he's just progressing to the next level.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Parent/Teacher Conference

Today was Nikko's Parent Teacher Conference at Westbrook. I brought along an IEP they sent me with his first semester progress. He had eight goals and I've edited them here to show the progress:

1. Will sort a variety of preacademic functional objects (colors, shapes, animals) into a field of 2, in 3/5 trials. Benchmark Met.
2. Will participate appropriately in routine structured small group activities with no more than 2 verbal/picture cues, for 2 minutes, in 4/5 trials. Not Met. Nikko is inconsistent with his participation.
3. Will follow 3 different 1-step directions in 4/5 trials. Not met - understands stand up, turn around, sit down, walk, run but is not consistent. Often needs physical prompts as well.
4. Will independently use signs, gestures, pictures and/or words to express wants/needs in 2/10 trials. At snack time he requests 8/10 with pictures or signs. In other areas not met yet.
5. When given an individual picture schedule, Nikko will independently transition between activities 25% of the time. Benchmark Met.
6. Given verbal and visual sues, Nikko will demonstrate the following 2/2 of the following skills 1) respond to his name (turn, look) 2) respond appropriately to greetings from peers or adult independently in 2/5 trials. Met with verbal and visual cues.
7. With adult support and visual cues, Nikko will take off his backpack and place it in the designated location on 4 out of 5 opportunities. Benchmark Met.
8. In a one to one setting with visual and verbal cues, will perform one of the following skills in 4 of 5 trials 1) complete a 6 to 8 insert puzzle 2) string 5 beads 3) color with approximation a simple picture with 60% coverage. Benchmark Met. Nikko is able to string beads independently.

The teachers also included something they called "Three stars and a wish":
*Nikko has adjusted quickly to the school routine. He shows an awareness of his surroundings. He seems to be happy at school.
*Nikko plays in a variety of play areas. He plays alongside his peers, using similar/same play materials.
*Nikko is using sign language and pictures to communicate.
WISH: We would like to see Nikko continue to improve his usage of sign language and/or pictures to communicate and transition in the classroom.

Finally, Mrs. I showed us video of Nikko doing his morning sensory diet when he comes to school. They take him to a room to do the wheelbarrow, jump on the trampoline, sit on the floor facing to do row-row-row-your-boat, and then some fine motor table skills. She also gave me a printout of what we can do for him at home for his home sensory diet. After looking at the sensory diet, as well as all the PECS stuff and picture schedule materials they gave me, I realize that I am really going to have to restructure our days so that Nikko gets more out of them than just watching TV and some tickle games. I think having Ronin and Audrey around tend to keep me from doing complex things, but Ronin's at an age where he can learn the same stuff and maybe excel. Audrey might be harder to control, but I'll have to come up with activities for her, too. This doesn't mean it has to be school around here all the time. It can't be! But I will have to strategize how to incorporate the large sensory breaks into the afternoon, and do some mini sensory breaks as well. Sure we'll have days when we have to go to the store, or to mom's house, but I'll think up a generalized schedule, something that can be tweaked. Kathy gave me the picture schedule materials that will be useful to keep Nikko on task, for getting ready for school, to use in the bathroom, eating, and getting ready for bed. I have a LOT of materials to go through!

My mom was kind enough to come out and watch the kids while we were gone. She told me there was crying in the beginning from Nikko, which woke up Ronin, but then he calmed down and went to watch Nemo. When she was getting ready to leave and was getting kisses and hugs from the kids, Nikko independently leaned in and gave her a kiss, then ran off. That put a smile on Mom's face. :) After dinner, we were trying to prompt Nikko to say Chip for some Sun Chips, and he made a "chuh" sound. We took it as an attempt and rewarded him, but when we tried it again later, he was making the sound without looking at us so we pulled back. I had asked his teachers if we should continue to try verbally prompting Nikko and they all agreed that hitting Nikko with visual (pictures and signs) and verbal cues was the best thing we could do with him. Nikko didn't take a nap again today so he was ready for la la land. I have read on some autism boards that some moms give their kids melatonin to sleep better, but these kids have severe sleep issues. Some kids get only two or three hours a day! Nikko gets nine and doesn't seem to have any middle of the night wakings at this point, so I guess that should be satisfactory to me. I really hope he doesn't start having FEWER hours of sleep or it will also affect Ronin, who is in the same room. If that even happens, we would probably have to put Nikko back in the middle room, alone, and Ronin and Audrey would share a room for a while. I figure that there are probably other problems to just giving melatonin straight up to Nikko, like an overdose of melatonin. I don't like to mess with the medical stuff when it comes to Nikko. Maybe having a home sensory diet will help push him toward a daily nap...maybe...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


2:52p Nikko signed Popcorn around 2:45p. I didn't really want to give it to him because lunch finished around 12:45 and I was about to totally resist when I figured I could try to get him to work for it. I said POP-corn many times and I thought he said POP in the beginning. I wasn't sure, so I tried to get him to say it again. He didn't want to, but I was pleasantly persistent today. I pointed my fingers up like popping corn, saying Pop, Pop, Pop-corn! I got down on my knees to his eye level, I held his mouth in an O, I put his fingers on my mouth, on his mouth, and was working with Pop Pop to get him to at least make that sound again. He was getting frustrated, and then he made a rough "kuh" sound. I took it to mean Corn, and said, "Pop - CORN? Corn?" I rewarded him for the effort. That's what my book said to do. Man, I feel like a speech therapist right now, but isn't getting paid for being one. Right now Nikko is eating his Corn Puffs, but my Williams Sonoma catalog is sitting right beside him on the picture of a huge sandwich cookie cake. If it were life-sized, it would give me a tummy ache!

Monday, November 23, 2009

@Yummy Gourmet

Not a whole lot to report regarding behavior. Today was my nephew Max's baptism and when we got to the church I had already decided that we would hang around the back of the pews. There were 5 other kids getting baptized and there were a lot of people around. Nikko did rather well, only had a few vocal outbursts but nothing terrible. He followed me like a duckling. Ronin, on the other hand, tends to be more challenging in public when it requires being quiet. He can't help but vocalize what he sees. We had lunch at Yummy Gourmet in Arlington Heights and were lucky to have a seated area that was somewhat separated from the public. We chose to sit at a table separate from the main u-shaped table because we would be busy paying attention to getting our kids fed and entertained, rather than socialize. That's really the stage we're at right now, but hopefully next year we'll be able to sit and have more conversations with people around us. The boys were in front of the DVD player but it ran out of juice because I forgot to recharge it completely. FIGURES. Maybe the screen-saving lighting wasn't on, I'm not sure. But the kids survived without it, and toward the end of lunch all three of my kids were running around the open u of the table arrangement along with Jovy and the Penepacker girls. It was a nice time overall.

Nikko doesn't have school all this week because it's Thanksgiving week. I will have to find ways to fill up our time, and will probably laminate some cards for games that I got from that activity night at school. I also have to meet up with Daria either tomorrow or Wednesday to get her some baby clothes.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


There was a form in Nikko's backpack for the PTA's movie night in two weeks. I had to decline and felt guilty, but also know that the kids would NEVER sit still for this. Not at this age, and even though it's in a gym, it would be too exciting. Maybe next year.

It was a Nemo/Cars kind of day because my head felt so cloudy. I have some pressure behind my ears, and at night my sore throat kicked in. Small temperature, so I'm eating soup. The kids and I are passing colds back and forth to each other, and I heard Audrey coughing up a storm earlier. This sucks! One noteworthy thing that Nikko did today was show Audrey some real attention. She was laying on the floor looking at the mini family picture album I assembled for Nikko. Nikko looked over her shoulder, as if to look at the pictures, but instead put his nose and chin on Audrey's head for a few long seconds as if to give her some kisses. She didn't flinch or push him away, and it was so cute! Another thing that happened was after dinner. Ronin and Nikko were running back and forth from the living room to the kitchen door and back again. I watched to see Ronin tag Nikko (or push him, really), then Nikko would run away from him, and Ronin would catch up to him and tag him again. Nikko didn't tag back, but he'd laugh when Ronin pushed him. The push wasn't as violent as the other kinds I've seen today, so I didn't interrupt and let them both have their giggly moments. :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Inside joke

As I got Nikko ready for school, he made a funny face where he gritted his teeth, jutting out his jaw, and shook his head quickly back and forth as if he were vibrating. I copied him except I opened my eyes wider to exaggerate the expression. He looked at my face and totally cracked up. Then he copied ME. Then I copied HIM. And we had this nice little exchanged that made us laugh together before school. We did it a few times later in the day and it was almost like an inside joke for us to share. That was a nice part to my day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pissed at me / The short bus

8:56a - Didn't have a great send-off to school, unfortunately. When it came time to dress up for school and change his diaper, I normally just do it in the kitchen with Nikko standing up, but today I thought I could do it in my bedroom and put him on the bed. He must have thought it was a game, or didn't like the change in routine, because he flipped over onto his tummy and didn't want to be changed. Tickling him started laughter, but I didn't want to disturb Audrey and Ronin so I put him on the floor. Nikko protested, and then he didn't want to put on his clothes at all. I tried to gently coax him into his sleeves by talking about going to school, but his crying was turned on loud and I was irritated. I finished dressing him in the kitchen and had him still sulking by the time we got outdoors into the rain. Luckily the bus was rolling down the block so we didn't have to wait long. I put him in his seat, put the Big Blue Box across the aisle, then came back and gave him a kiss on the head. I think after I buckle him in, he looks up and expects that g'bye kiss. The morning will fly by until he comes home, then I plan to lunch everyone and ship us off to Mom's for a few hours.

12:06 - Wow, this kid hates my guts today. He came home from preschool ok, but wanted to watch Wiggles and wasn't satisfied with one of the TV episodes I recorded. He seemed to want to watch one of those single 3 episodes On Demand, so I finally switched to one after his whining. Even then, he was not satisfied. I went to the kitchen to make lunch, very exasperated. Even now, he's really pissed at me. I heated a second round of nuggets and he got mad that they were too hot. I'm not sure anything I do for him today will make him happy.

12:48a - We made it to mom's house, but it took FOREVER for me to finish feeding Audrey, get the backpack assembled, get the kids' diapers changed, get their socks, shoes and coats on, and walk out the door. I didn't get on the road until 3p and I really craved a nap. Never got it. As I was driving, I looked over to my right and saw one of the short school buses. I looked at the windows and saw two kids sitting toward the back. One kid was laughing heartily to himself while the kid behind him sat just staring out at the traffic. Ronin announced that he saw the school bus and I agreed with him. Suddenly the thought that this was the kind of bus Nikko was supposed to be riding to school every day hit me like a ton of bricks. The bus he takes is a regular one with the first five or six seats equipped with a pull-down panel to reveal a five-point harness. All the preschool kids are required to be buckled in. Because the harness exists on this new bus, Nikko doesn't need special bus services, with the exception of getting picked up in front of the house. I started crying because thanks to the Transportation Department of District 57 and Westbrook School, Nikko doesn't have to suffer the stigma of riding the short bus to school. Even if he did have to ride the short bus and it came to our house every day, I would be very grateful for the bus service, but right now Nikko gets to be normal and ride a long bus like all the other kids. The short bus gets a bad rap and everyone knows it. Someone on Facebook made a joking reference to stupidity as riding the short bus and I felt completely cold toward the remark because that's what my kid was supposed to be on, and that's not a funny thing. I don't know WHY I had to cry about it, but I was overwhelmed with thankfulness and appreciation.

Dad was off from work today so it was nice to see him around. We mostly stayed upstairs and the living room. Chinny had pinched Ronin's cheeks and he was clearly angry with her for doing it because he shunned and ignored her for a long time. He wouldn't give high fives to her or even look at her willingly. Nikko had slept longer from his car nap, but woke up slightly flustered and ran to the kitchen to find me. Thank goodness his mood was good. I got us home around dinnertime and things quickly forwarded to bath and bedtime.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sensory Diet

9:56a - I checked on Nikko around 10:30 last night, I think. He didn't have a fever and was sleeping soundly. At 1:30a I heard him babbling to himself. I worried that he would get into Ronin's bed, or toggle the doorknob, but he stayed put. I went to bed and heard him chatter a bit more, hoping he wouldn't wake Ronin up. My alarm rang at 6:45a, and I heard Nikko chattering again. I don't know how long he had been awake, but it worries me that he woke up so early after waking up in the middle of the night. Somehow, I have to encourage this kid to take a nap after lunch! This morning he was very "talkative" during breakfast. He didn't finish his pancake, and opted to lean off the table with one leg in his chair. He was LOUD, too. He would babble and then crescendo. His eye contact was also very poor, unless I put my hands on either side of his face and made him look at me. I've concluded that he needs more physical input. This weekend I didn't do much with him at all because I felt crappy and was on the living room floor a lot, trying to catch a nap. He gets restless during the weekends because he's more active in school, and so I emailed Mrs. I to see what his sensory diet is at school. Perhaps I need to do one with him every day he's not at school. Deep down, I know I should have been doing this with him anyway, but having three kids put it by the wayside. I can see that he needs something, though, because his behavior this morning was erratic and it set red flags off in my mind like crazy. I know better. So, that's what I'm going to do. He'll get input from school 4 days a week, but Sat/Sun/Mon I'll make sure to do some deep pressure and trampoline jumping or other activities with him. I'll still try to get him active during the week, too, as usual, but the past three days have been a setback for me because I didn't have the energy or motivation to do it. But that's it, I have to keep moving forward or we'll suffer through Nikko's actions.

12:46 - lunch is over for the boys, Audrey's still working on it. Mrs. I wrote me back and said she'd show me video at the parent/teacher conference on their sensory diet. Nikko came back from school quieter. I hope I can coax him down for a nap after Ronin goes down. Nikko's class picture also came back and I am impressed. He is looking directly at the camera and smiling. He almost doesn't look like my daily Nikko. He looks really happy! Again, it must be school. There is a rotating show-and-tell box (rubbermaid blue box w/lid) and kids guess what's in the rubbermaid. Does it shake? Is it soft? Is it a food? I wonder what we should put in the box for him to bring to school. He's already carried Nemo to school so I have to think of something else.

7:01p - Nikko finally fell asleep at 2:45 until 4:30. That was a good nap for him. But he woke up with flushed cheeks and some lethargy. His temp is around 99.3, so he's probably feeling icky. He didn't touch his dinner, just drank some juice. I gave them early dinner since their naps were beyond a reasonable snack time. If they get hungry again, I'll snack them on something when Denis comes home. Right now they're in front of Nemo, which seems calming for Nikko. Last night and this afternoon Nikko was signing to watch The Wiggles. Luckily, we have Comcast On Demand but unfortunately there are only 3 episodes that I can rotate. I set the DVR for a few episodes during the day to add some variety. I think I'll delete some Thomas episodes, as I think we're moving beyond Thomas slowly. I think I'll try looking at the library online to see if they carry The Wiggles. I blame the Sprout channel for this, because they have The Wiggles in the morning. I remember Shelly the OT telling me that Nikko was probably ready for The Wiggles, and I thought they were a silly-looking group of grown men singing songs I'll never remember. After watching a few episodes, I do think they look a little silly, but they've grown on me, especially the lead singer, Greg Page, who left the group some time in 2002 (?) because he had a medical condition that basically caused vertigo all the time. That sucks! He has a really good voice, though, and he looks like Superman, so it's worth watching after all.

1:35a - Went to Meijer between 10:15 and 12:30. It took me a long time because a.) Meijer is a BIG store, lots of distractions, and b.) when I got to the grocery part, I had to read labels that pertained to Ronin due to his allergies. I got stuck on looking at some food storage containers called Lock and Lock ( They looked inviting because we're on that BPA-free kick, and some containers had stickers on them saying BPA FREE, but some didn't. I'm glad I came home to look them up first. They're not shady, but unlike Rubbermaid they don't explicitly indicate which items have BPA and which don't. Some items are made of polycarbonate (which has bisphenol-A) and some are made from polypropylene, which is recycled under the number 5, which usually doesn't have BPA. It's technically misinformation as well, because while number 7 represents Plastics and Other Plastic Materials aka Probably BPA, number 5 doesn't necessarily mean We Have NO BPA. It does mean We Most Likely Don't Have BPA, But Nuke Us At Your Own Risk. I kind of like those odds, to be honest, so I think I'll go back to Meijer soon for these Lock and Lock storage containers, but only the ones made of polypropylene. Gotta love the internet. Back to Nikko, he seemed to perk up once Denis got home, and when bathtime rolled around he was bopping like his usual self. I don't hear him talking to himself right now, that's a good thing. For his show-and-tell, I'm going to put in his green alligator, the one wedged between him and his bed by the wall. I don't want to put in Nemo or Dorie because they might break. Anything else would be too heavy, but hopefully he'll recognize the alligator. I had written a note to Kathy telling her that Nikko had been acting wacky this morning, so watch out. But she wrote back that Nikko wasn't wacky at school and had a great day. Good! I guess he misses school on the weekends.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Not feeling hot

2:48p - Audrey's sitting in the high chair with a lunch of turkey deli meat, mac cheese and cocoa krispies on her tray, which she's mashing with her bottle of milk. As I was mopping up her face I said, "Ready, set..." and Audrey said, "Go," in the prettiest little voice. I paused, not sure she meant it, so I said it again and she repeated, "Go." It broke my heart because she said it so effortlessly and on cue, whereas it took Nikko until he was 3 years old to echo "Go." He doesn't do it all the time when cued, either. He will do it when I'm frustrated at some thrashing behavior he's doing, or wriggling out of a diaper change; I'll tell him to stop, and he'll say, "GO." Not appropriate to the situation, of course. He needs lots of speech therapy, that one.

11:12p - I was getting irritable as the evening dragged on, and Nikko was getting tired but it was too late for him to nap after dinner. I took him in my lap to read some books, and when it was about time to give Audrey a bath Nikko just wanted to lay in my lap and sleep. He felt slightly warm all day but nothing close to a temperature that required meds. When I put Audrey to bed, Nikko was in the room and tried to curl up on the ottoman, but I ushered him out. As I did that, he suddenly heaved and threw up on the floor in the hallway. Luckily we were headed to the bathroom so I stripped him down and Denis took him straight to the tub while I cleaned up the icky, smelly mess. Nikko was whining the entire bath and when Denis was dressing him up, Nikko looked over at me as if he were trying to hold down any more vomit in his throat. He looked sad and uncomfortable, so I immediately softened and tried to reassure him that he'd soon sleep. In fact, after stories he didn't hesitate bedside for his burp cloth; instead, he slid right onto his pillow and looked up gratefully when I handed him his cool burp cloth. Poor thing. I checked on him later and he doesn't have a fever at all, so I wonder if he just had a little upset stomach or buggy feeling. I hope he doesn't throw up tomorrow morning so he can go to school. If he goes, I hope he doesn't throw up at school! I think I am just a bit weary from having this tiring cold. But I plan to get back on track tomorrow and keep my wits about me. The kids don't need their mom yelling at them all the time.

I think Nikko likes watching Nemo because he likes water as well as the fish. He's always had a liking for water. I harbored the idea of getting a fish tank for a while, and dreaded the cleanup. But today I saw a picture of a boat in the ocean on the front page of the Chicago Tribune and noticed that Nikko took a liking to this picture on the table. He would put it near the edge of the table and peer at it, as if he were studying the waves. I suppose it turned into another stim object. I wonder if he'll stim off the fish if we get a fish tank. I'm in no rush just yet.

Saturday playdate

Can't stay on long tonight, am feeling my cold getting slightly worse, need more sleep than I got last night... My fault, really, because after the playdate I had with the Owsleys, my girlfriend Rachel suckered me into hanging out with her after the kids went to bed. She's a nurse and works nights. We went to Chinatown and ate at Seven Treasures, then came back and walked through the 24-hour Meijer in Rolling Meadows. I got home after 3am. That was not my best judgement, but I did have a nice time having adult conversation about things other than the kids, even though they were a big part of it. Having adult company and being around different people can be refreshing, I have discovered, even though that's really a DUH concept. :P

Back to the playdate... It was originally just my 3 kids and Rhonda/Dave's 3 kids, but Rachel and Tony and their two kids showed up and it became a mini-party. It was fun! Audrey was ultra-clingy, but Ronin and Nikko were ok with exploring the living room, watching a train DVD as well as part of the movie UP. Nikko even tussled around with the boys a bit, but Aidan (the 4 yr old) got a little tough with Nikko, taking back a wheeled toy, and Nikko fell flat to the floor, covered his head with an arm, and cried softly. :( When Ronin beats up on Nikko, Nikko does this defensive move as well. I wonder if he does it at school and hope he does NOT. When I went to Meijer later on, we walked up and down each toy aisle. I usually have to do a speedy shopping job, but this time we strolled and I was very impressed with the toy section. In all honesty, their toy section ROCKS. It's better than Target's toy section. I made a list of things I could get the kids for xmas, and will definitely go back there when I have no kids in tow.

Today we stayed at home all day and didn't do anything exciting. Easy. I recently joined an autism forum that branched out from and am at the beginning stages of reading past posts. There's a TON of information on this site that I want to read, but with the kids pulling at my leg or climbing on my back it's really hard to sit still during the day to digest it. I am excited about catching up on all the info, however, because I've seen some posts about ABA that I would love to scour. Tomorrow Nikko doesn't have school, but I'll see how I am feeling. I may introduce a new activity so these kids don't die of boredom or we burn our eyes on the 20th viewing of Nemo. If I'm illin', we won't go out and I won't go to Costco, even though I have to get more Coke. I'm running out!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Playing downstairs

Not as toxic a day for Ronin as yesterday, so that set the stage for a good behavior day all around. Nikko came home from school with a binder in his backpack that had pictures and a family description of his peers and teachers. His is the last page and I forget that his last name starts with a "U" so he'll be at the end of the line. Not like growing up, where my last name started with "A", so I'd be up in front. Nikko was really hungry when he came home and he ate four nuggets, grapes and crackers before I unveiled that I made pizza for him. Two more slices followed. Lunch was early for all the kids (Audrey didn't nap at 11a) so by 1-ish I put Ronin and Audrey down. Nikko wanted to watch Cars so I put it in, with the hopes that he'd get tired and take a nap, too. I saw him yawn once. But he didn't take the bait and stayed awake. After everyone woke up, I gave them snack and pondered where I could take them today. It was chilly outside, plus these kids were getting better from their temperatures earlier in the week. I wanted to go somewhere to see/interact with kids but not be outside for a long period of time. I wanted to go to Woodfield Mall but I didn't want them to pick up any germs from the play area and get sick all over again. Target was an option, but I didn't feel like chasing after them either. Finally I ditched leaving the house and announced that we would play downstairs. I hauled down the vacuum to suck up all the dead and alive spiders, webs, dust and carcasses in the corners. YUUUUCK! I also put a dust mop to the mats because they felt dusty. The kids enjoyed playing with brick blocks and other toys they don't see often, while sitting in front of the big screen to watch The Wiggles. Nikko still didn't get tired enough to sleep. He was glued to my elbow while I vacuumed and even while I tried to coax him to relax on the bean bag chairs. We came upstairs when Denis came home, and he left to go to a gun seminar. It was a bit after 6p so I decided it would be ok to serve dinner. Nikko had four pieces of pizza; he liked it so much! It was a four-cheese DiGiorno pizza that Denis bought. Good choice. I put on Nemo after dinner and that kept Nikko from falling asleep before it was time to take a bath. He was carrying around the plastic Nemo toy that Atz gave him. Nikko really enjoys that movie. I put the three kids to bed tonight, and will do it again tomorrow and the night after. I was getting tired during the boys' bathtime, and slightly irritable because I had been with them all day, but I kept my voice down and didn't yell. Day two of being patient with my kids.