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.