Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cracker Please!

We tried to be proactive and take everyone on a grocery run during the morning before we ran out of gas. Denis took Audrey to Jewel and I took the boys to Costco. Ronin was really hooked on playing with a backyard play house that was set up for customers. Nikko was curious about it, too, but wouldn't stay in the house very long or if I was out of sight. We came home and got lunch for the kids. Crackers seems to be the golden gotta-have-it food of the moment. When I asked Nikko what he wanted to eat besides his pizza, he looked up at me and tilted his head as if I wouldn't approve of what he was going to ask for. I asked again, and he said, "Crack-grr!" I said, "Cracker, please," expecting him to say it and just sign please. But he said, "Crack-grr PLEASE," and signed please at the same sign. I was surprised! So I gave him crackers and praise. How could I refuse that kind of request? :)

11:55p - After lunch I took the kids into the basement to play a while, then came up to put Ronin down for a nap. I was also pretty tired from waking up at 2:30 thanks to Ronin, so I lay on the floor for some sort of a nap with Audrey climbing over me. Nikko lay next to me and I believe I fell asleep for 30 minutes in front of The Wiggles and Audrey behind me. Nikko fell asleep for an hour and I didn't have to wake him up since he automatically bolted into the kitchen upon waking. After 5pm we all went to our group's annual post-holiday get-together, this time at the Owsely's residence. The kids and I have been there twice before for play dates, and when Ronin came inside he took off his coat and shoes and ran right to the basement where all the toys were. Nikko didn't stray too far from me all night because there were many people and kids milling about. Audrey missed her late afternoon nap, unfortunately, and was extremely cranky and clingy. Overall, the kids behaved rather well, playing with toy cars in the living room and only fighting minimally in the grand scheme of things. There was a gift exchange for the kids and I was so humbled that my girlfriends had been really thoughtful in their gifts to the kids, giving Ronin Disney Cars-themed things, and Nemo-themed things for Nikko, and Hello Kitty for Audrey (and me). The kids went to bed late (almost 11-ish) and were very tired. Ronin was cranky as all hell. Nikko didn't fight sleep, but I hope he doesn't wake up at 3:30a. Audrey was exhausted and was glad to find her crib.

Best behaved @ the ped

Nikko's speech report:
Getting a good approximation on "open" to get doors open! Said "hi" to mommy picture & said Daddy many times! Close approximation for Audrey! Good "hi" & "bye".

Kathy also emailed me (responding to a library book mix-up) that it's probably easier for Nikko to say Daddy than it is to say Mommy. Boooooo. Nikko came home with an extra backpack that had a stuffed polar bear and two polar bear books plus a journal. We are supposed to play/interact with whatever is in the backpack and write about it for Tuesday. All the kids took kindly to Polar Bear, and I read the books to the kids during lunch. I don't plan to take it on all our weekend adventures, however, because it's [sort of] white and I don't want to get it dirty. Nikko almost started playing with it during lunch, and he was still eating pizza, which would make the polar bear streaked with red.

After lunch, Audrey had a 3pm appointment at the pediatrician for her 15 month well visit. I had to take everyone with me, of course. Our regular pediatrician wasn't in today so we had another one on staff. She's somewhat new to the practice and seems very conservative. I also don't think she's that warm and fuzzy because once she ordered that Ronin should go to the ER during a spell of breathing troubles and I didn't follow her advice, opted to stay at home and monitor him instead. I think she called the ER to follow up and found out that I kept him home instead. I just didn't think Ronin needed another round of albuterol pumped into his veins. Anyway, I brought the DVD player, a backpack of toys and some crackers for the haul. Nikko was the most behaved of all the kids, watching the Other Cars on the DVD player. Ronin was pesky because he found the container of crackers and dangled it in front of Audrey and me every few minutes, asking for some. Audrey wanted to eat as well, and she got very annoyed when she finished a cracker and wasn't given another one right away. She squirmed and fussed, whining like a little animal. Ronin was all over the place and really making me look frazzled while I dealt with the squirmy Audrey. It took us a long time to pack up our gear and get out of there. Nikko didn't cry at the doorway like he did last week when we visited the ped because he was sick. And thankfully he followed me outside, albeit slowly, as we trekked back to the car. When I set Nikko down and tell him to stand right in one spot while I put the other kid in the car, he really doesn't move. I have to keep an eye on him, of course, but he doesn't dart away like he used to. I shouldn't have 100% confidence that he won't bolt, but thus far I've been lucky that he stays put until it's his turn to get into the car. It reminds me of that Chicago Botanic Gardens visit last year, Mother's Day, where he got away from everyone and ran REALLY far away from us. That was an awful post. :(

We were supposed to go to the in-laws for dinner tonight but Denis wasn't feeling up to par and has been hacking all over the place. I didn't mind staying home, but kind of wanted to get out and see other people at the same time. We'll be seeing our group of friends tomorrow at our post-holiday get-together. It will be crazy over there because there will be so many kids around, and mine will be exploring and we'll have to keep an eye on Audrey because she'll be looking for stairs, so maybe it won't be as relaxing as I hope. Nikko almost fell asleep on the way home from the peds, but I woke him up and he didn't fall back asleep until bedtime. I hope he stays in bed until at least 7a in the morning. Now that I've said it, it won't happen. Booooo.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ah Choo!

Nikko and Ronin ran into the kitchen while I sat here and Nikko said, "Ah, ah, ah, ah--- Ah CHOO!" And he cocked his head back and whipped it forward in a fake sneeze. Then he giggled. He was getting a kick out of it so we all mimicked him and he did it again. We even took turns sneezing. He did this two days ago and I wonder if he picked it up from school. I thought it was particularly funny today so I wrote it down.

2:48p Nikko finished his ABA session with Maria, the President of the company, around 2:25. I heard the baby gate being moved so I opened the door and Nikko was grinning at the foot of the stairs. Very cheerful coming up. Maria said he did really well. He had cried a little at the beginning, when I was leaving the basement with the kids, but the crying didn't last long at all. Maria said he sat for her, she did 20 minutes of drills, he played, he had a little snack of fruit snacks, and when they did more drills he caught on reall quickly. She thought she'd have to leave my picture with him, but he didn't need it. I went ahead and asked Maria her thoughts regarding Nikko's 3:30a wakings and should I remove Ronin from the room. Her first suggestion to me was to be consistent about putting Nikko back into bed without talking to him. Then to come back in 15 minutes and do it again. Like Ferberizing him all over again. But the point is to be consistent. She said not to move Ronin out of there right away, see how it goes with putting Nikko back. It's like reteaching him how to sleep again, that if I give him an inch he'll take it and more. I gave Nikko some leeway because he was sick last week, and this week was his full ABA week, but probably starting tomorrow (Friday) I should try not to sleep on the floor anymore. That will be good for my back, too.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Meijer / ABA thoughts

Nikko doesn't have therapy on Wednesdays so that's a free day to do afternoon errands. He came back from preschool in a good mood and hungry. I had planned to take the kids to Meijer (a superstore with grocery in it as well) right after lunch, forgoing Ronin's nap. But Nikko fell asleep leaning against the couch around 1:30p so instead of waking him up right away, I let him sleep. I decided to put Ronin to sleep after all, but he resisted quite a bit. We didn't head out until almost 4p, which was exactly what I didn't want to do. Bitter cold outside today. I had to go to Meijer because we ran out of Ronin's Sunbutter this morning. It tastes almost like peanut butter except that it's made from sunflower seeds. It tastes much better than the soy butter I got. Yuck! And Ronin really likes it, demanding it for the past two mealtimes with the Ronin-safe bread I've been baking (Rhodes frozen bread). I decided to get a few other things such as Play Doh for Nikko's ABA, a few groceries, and a gift card for the group's post-holiday get-together. A few things also led to a Veggie Tales DVD, a mini-Lighting McQueen car and a Land Rover truck on clearance. I wanted to get Play-Doh because in Nikko's therapy I had found some clay from Rose Art that is really not as good quality as Play-Doh. The clay was really stiff and the color (Nikko's been using blue) has been bleeding onto hands. I got another smaller set for Ronin to play with because I recall a few months ago that he was very captivated by sitting in his high chair playing with a small wad of Play-Doh. Nikko seems to love playing with clay, so why not push it in therapy? Nikko and Ronin both did great in the store, but things were a little dicey because I had to go to the toy section to find the Play-Doh. We passed by other toy aisles and I saw Ronin slow down to look at this and that. He wanted everything in sight, so I had to point out two trucks he could have. Nikko was eyeing some moon sand, but I steered him away from it. As I walked slowly around the store with Audrey in the cart, the boys followed me like ducklings but at a slower pace. I took a stop to give them some vanilla Oreos and that preoccupied them. Nikko was happily munching on his for a long time while Ronin would wolf his down and ask me if he could open his truck to play with it. One of the thermoses in the food bag wasn't closed all the way and subsequently leaked. The bottom of the food bag is all wet, thanks to me not making the thermos secure. Grrr.

Nikko had napped for a little over an hour and I think it affected how he fell asleep tonight. I had the boys tucked in and left the room. Nikko continued to babble to himself. Eventually he got up and cried at the door so I went to put him back to bed. I heard Ronin sleeping deeply and was glad he withstood Nikko's gibbering. This doesn't mean that Nikko will be in bed for the rest of the night. He may wake up at 3:30 or 4, like he did last night. I went to bed at 1a, late for me nowadays, and then I heard him cry long and hard at 4a. I must not have moved fast enough because when I opened the door, I saw Ronin just getting out of bed, woken up by Nikko's crying. I put them both back in bed, told Ronin to go back to sleep, and then pulled out some blankets and a pillow for me to lay on the floor. Again. I think I knocked on wood too lightly in the last post. :( I'm going to ask Maria tomorrow what her opinion is about getting Nikko to stay in bed. I have a feeling she'll also suggest putting Ronin with Audrey so Nikko can cry himself to sleep, but my initial feeling is that I don't want to segregate Nikko. I don't want him to be alone at night. But I also don't want him to wake up Ronin with his antics.

One more thought regarding ABA... I still wonder if it will work for Nikko. I have read about how it is the most scientifically proven of all the autism therapies, meaning that there are studies with measurable results. Of the many, many posts I've read regarding ABA, almost every mother has said that they have seen significant results. Not miracles, but that ABA has helped their son with skills. It's discrete trial-based, but there also seems to be a hybrid of styles out there. The company we're going through has told us that it blends different styles with the sit-down-at-the-table method. We're in the initial stages of ABA, and it looks like a regular DT session to me, but that's also because I have to leave to take care of the other two kiddos. I think it's in the way they play with Nikko that makes the difference, using motivating tools and incentives to get Nikko to respond. When Nikko is downstairs, I will have to use my time better, depending on which kid is awake. Or maybe I should just play with the kids that are awake instead of trying to accomplish filing and sorting, since it's an expensive 1.5 hours of respite. Quality time, right? It's not really respite if only one kid out of three isn't in the room, you know. Anyway, I don't expect Nikko to love it this week since it's the first real week that he gets to interact with all three therapists. Next week he'll meet up with them again, so by week three he should understand that when the therapists come, it's time to go downstairs to play/work.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2nd ABA session - Jenna

Nikko's progress report from school today:
OT - Nikko was so happy to be back at school and we were happy to see him! Lots of vocalizations during therapy. Doing body awareness & movement activities, then at table did a small block design activity.
Speech - Nikko was so happy to be back! Said Bus, Car, Truck, Ball, Bye & tried to say Open!

I knew it, that Nikko would be happy to be back in school where there's lots to see and do, and his peers are. Last week he was so uncharacteristically listless that it pained me to see him not be stimulated by anything. He is acting much like his healthier self lately. Nikko had downed two pancakes for breakfast this morning and when he came back from school he ate two pieces of pizza. There was down time in the afternoon. He only wanted to watch the Mighty Machines DVDs, which are very boring to me. The Real Trains for Kids DVDs were more entertaining. I had Ronin down for a nap when Jenna arrived just a little after 4:30p. We headed downstairs and Nikko was curious about her but still stood very close to my side. Jenna has a lot of experience in special education because she teaches pre-K and K special ed up in Gurnee (district 50?) and she's worked with Maria and her family for 7 years. Jenna also had a very friendly demeanor and she quickly warmed up to Nikko. She even picked him up to bounce on the foof chairs. He scrambled away from her at first, but rounded the chair with a smile. I gave them a few minutes to get to know each other, then I scooped up Audrey and headed upstairs. Nikko immediately started crying and protesting, but Jenna took the exercise ball and started to engage him with it. I listened for his crying, and it took maybe 10-15 minutes for the protesting to subside. I could hear Jenna talking and praising Nikko, and later she told me that he would cry and protest, but still engage in the activity through his whining. Jenna recorded some of their activities, saying that he was very good at some of them and not as great as others, but did well overall. When they came upstairs after playing with clay I took Nikko to the sink to wash his hands and he was in a good mood. Jenna seemed to enjoy Nikko very much. I am glad that the session went well. We get tomorrow off, and then Nikko will have therapy with Maria on Thursday. I really hope that she works well with Nikko.

Since Nikko didn't take a nap all day, he was understandably very tired after dinner. Denis helped to keep him awake while I gave Audrey a bath. I think with Nikko being exhausted by day's end, he has a better chance of sleeping through the night. For the past few days I haven't had to go in and sleep on the floor. KNOCK ON WOOD! It's been Ronin who has early jailbreaks, but he goes back to his bed generally after the first reprimand.

Monday, January 25, 2010

1st real ABA session

Today was Nikko's first real day of ABA. Melissa showed up and we all headed downstairs. We got the ABA bin of materials out and I let her get materials figured out while the kids played with the Cars tent and wandered around. I put out the baby gate and when Melissa was ready to handle Nikko, I put Audrey and Ronin on the other side of the gate and stepped over to bring them upstairs. Nikko was extremely upset. I tried to give him a reassuring and positive Go Play voice, but had Melissa redirect him and ushered the others up the stairs. Ronin wanted to go downstairs to play and didn't want to nap right away, but I managed to talk him into reading some stories. Audrey and I sat in the living room and I heard Nikko continue to cry, yell and scream downstairs. I think he fought the good fight for about 30 minutes and I could hear Melissa talking to him and praising him for doing some things. It got really quiet after awhile, and they surfaced 1.5 hours later. Nikko came up the stairs really happy and excited. Melissa said that even while he was crying and protesting, she was asking him to do stuff and he would point out things even in the midst of his crying. Nikko fell asleep for a nap around 5:15p and I woke him up an hour later so he wouldn't have a hard time falling asleep tonight. I think he's tired enough, but it's only 9:52p, still time for jailbreaks. He has school tomorrow, FINALLY, so I'll be waking him up by 7:10a. I wonder how tomorrow will go. He met Jenna, the other therapist, only once. And our session is at 4:30p, much later in the day. Crossing my fingers that it will go well.

Stopped Up

On Saturday, I took Nikko with me to the grocery while Ronin was napping and Audrey was running around with Denis in the house. Nikko had just woken up from his nap and I didn't want the hassles of him crying and whining, and since he had been cooped up in the house all week since he's been sick, I figured a little grocery trip would do him good. And it did. I made him walk and he seemed very happy to do so. Things took longer because Nikko was walking slowly, or rather, shuffling along. I had to lead him by pushing the back of his head in some aisles. During checkout I put him in the cart and that's when Denis called to find out when I'd be home because Ronin had woken up crying and threw up all over his bed. Not fun. Poor guy. I also decided that I would take both boys to St. Lambert with me. There was the Santo Nino mass going on, but the boys would never sit still and be quiet so my other motivation for going was to see our cousin from the Philippines making a stop-over. I parked a block away and made both boys walk to the church. Nikko was a slow walker and Ronin had short legs so I looked like I was inching us along at a snail's pace. We went to the basement where the post-mass reception would be, and ended up at a table with Pat and Anna, and Atz's family. Ronin was happy to be there, but Nikko was grunting and squealing because he was constipated. In fact, he has been this way since Friday, in a state of discomfort. Things were getting worse, too, because he was starting to make high-pitched squeals when he tried to push. Anna told me about a laxative powder she gives Jovy and I figured I could get some the next day.

Today, the next day, Nikko's constipation was worse. He was so uncomfortable and he was in obvious pain while pushing. I didn't know what to do because we had to meet up with the rest of my family for a late lunch with our Philippine cousin, and I wanted to stop by Target afterward. Nikko didn't do well at Pat's house in the afternoon. His grunts and squeals were turning into screams. We tried putting him on their toilet but he couldn't push anything out. ***TMI ALERT!! If you're squeamish, skip to the next paragraph because I'm going to be graphic. I have to record all this down because I need to remember this experience for Nikko. *** Mom pretty much told me that my only option left for Nikko was to shove a suppository up his rectum. It sounds awful, but I knew I could do it if I had to. I likened it to when I watched the nurses suction Ronin's nose when he was in the hospital. It was painful, but a very necessary procedure so that Ronin could breathe. Same here, it would hurt Nikko momentarily but he needs relief somehow and fast. I was dreading the trip to Target because I knew that the kids would fall asleep in the car and I'd have to wake them all up before going inside. Denis was at work and I didn't know how late he'd be, so if I wanted to help Nikko sooner rather than later, I'd have to go to Target by myself. I figured that I would put the kids in the double stroller and have Ronin sit on the handle with me holding him, and make him walk inside. So after I fueled up the Pilot, I did exactly what I just explained. I got the suppositories plus some of the laxative powder. I took everyone home and put on a mask of grim determination for the suppository event. I took a big jar of vaseline and put it nearby to coat my index finger. Then I got Nikko and set him before me for a diaper change. I unwrapped the suppository and snapped it in half because ages 2-12 needed only a 1/2 dose. Then I put it on the tip of my finger and pushed it in. Nikko didn't expect it and shifted uncomfortably, and I actually felt the blockage way up there. Then I wiped up, fixed his diaper, and ran to the bathroom to wash my hands. When I came back, Nikko was laying still uncomfortable and starting to whine. Mom had told me that I had to keep him upright and with his legs straddled to keep the suppository in for about 15 minutes, and so I picked him up in a hug and tried to hold him standing up as well as me sitting on the couch. Nikko was whining loudly, crying hard and screaming. He wriggled to get out of my grip but I held on tight. I realized that 15 minutes was a LONG time to try to hold him like that because he was flailing wildly and angrily. But after maybe 2-3 minutes, he pooped out the blockage. I cleaned him up again and tried to describe the poop. It was the size of a baked potato cut in half, or the size of two small red potatoes. I'm sure it hurt very much for that to be blocking his pipes. Nikko expelled a little more later, but all the activity exhausted him and he was sleepy before bathtime. I wouldn't let him sleep, however, because I wanted him to fall asleep at bedtime. Which is exactly what he did.

So Nikko is going to be fine, until the next blockage. I'm relieved that he should be able to go to preschool on Tuesday. I'm leery because he will have ABA tomorrow with Melissa and I won't be able to stay with them downstairs because I'll have Ronin and Audrey, no Denis to help watch the kids. I hope she will be able to handle a wilder, angrier, more physical Nikko than the one from last week. I am also dreading the Tuesday and Thursday sessions he'll have, but we need to start establishing a routine incorporating ABA. Oh, and Audrey was put down to sleep this evening, waking up an hour later with a fever. I REALLY HOPE she is not going to be sick the rest of this week. I am tired and exhausted from caring for Nikko 24/7, from Ronin being defiant and selfish, causing me to yell and tear up my throat AGAIN.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Nikko was fever-free today. Yea! But he wasn't acting like his usual self. Boo. Nikko seemed to need more affection from me, just sitting and not playing with toys as vigorously, and the appetite was pretty shot. He didn't nap all day, which made him super tired before bathtime, but also ensured that he would fall asleep quickly once his head hit the pillow. I didn't try to deny him a nap, and his body must have suffered from it because he had been getting more sleep over the past two days.

I was anxious this morning because I had to take the kids with me to run some errands. I had to go to the local For Eyes (Eyeglasses & Contacts store) in Schaumburg to pick up contacts I ordered online, and then needed to go to Costco for provisions. We would have to go before lunchtime because the nap schedule in the afternoon wouldn't guarantee that I could get the kids out the door in a timely manner. When we arrived at the For Eyes, I got Ronin out of the car first and made him stand next to me while I got Nikko out. Then I ordered both boys to stand next to the car door and not move while I got Audrey out. Thank goodness they listened to me for once! I shuffled them into the store, set Audrey down on her feet and was helped at the counter. It wasn't a long wait, thank goodness, but I'm going to have to send a reimbursement claim to our insurance because I ordered online and they didn't have insurance info to submit online. Fine. The kids were good in the store and got smiles as Ronin exited, proclaiming that "I had fun, Mommy!" I jumped on the expressway back toward the Mount Prospect Costco because I'm more familiar with that layout and could expedite our trip faster without guesswork. The kids were good again during the shopping trip. Nikko got antsy but I gave him his grape juice and he was content. Audrey got antsy at the end, but we were going outside by then. My cart was full of heavy things so my arms got a workout: #4 Huggies diapers, 2 Mott's apple juices, Swiffer wet cloth refills, 36pk of Coke (one leaked, didn't know it at the time. Grrr.), cans of kidney beans, cans of diced tomatoes, 3 jars of spaghetti sauce, 4 jars of peaches, and rice milk, which was the heaviest box for some reason. After unloading all that, then hauling the kids inside, it was lunchtime. Ronin threw up all his rice adobo and I had a fit which was over the top, admittedly. Nikko ate a little leftover pizza and also ate some freshly made mac cheese, which made me very happy. The caveat is that he ate practically nothing at dinner except some crackers, plus juice. He was not animated this afternoon, and at nighttime he just wanted to sit in my lap or lay on my leg and swat at anyone who wanted to share me. I hope that his mood improves tomorrow! I apologized to Nikko for having to keep him home from school for a week, and that he didn't get any OT from me (because he was sick). I said this as his eyes started looking sideways and up toward the ceiling. It made me sad to see him start to stim, but it couldn't be helped because he wasn't physically ready for any boisterous input. I'll try to give him more to work on tomorrow. I might opt to take him and Ronin with me to my mom's church in the evening for the Santo Nino mass, and he'd have to walk on his own accord. I hope! I don't really want to be carrying his 39-pound body everywhere, but I could also see that happening.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

On the mend

Last night I heard Nikko cry out at 2:30a. I was about to go over there but then his cries abruptly stopped. I also stopped, went back to bed and was relieved that I got to sleep in my bed for the first time in four days. I woke up at 6a and went to their room, to check on Nikko and wait out the morning. He was REALLY hot and mumbling and twitching. The morning progressed and it was apparent that he wouldn't go to school again. Later, he ended up on our bed while Denis was getting dressed for work and fell fitfully asleep. I decided that 3 days of fever should warrant a trip to the doctor so I got a 10:30 appointment and packed up everyone into the Pilot. Dr. Santiago saw his red, swollen tonsils and ordered a strep culture and ear wash because his right ear wax was totally blocking the drum. I had to hold him down for the strep swab, which came back negative but will get final results by tomorrow. Two nurses came in to help hold Nikko still to flush his ears with water for the ear flush. That was a difficult but necessary procedure, and Nikko was exhausted from wriggling and kicking and screaming his lungs out. He fell asleep on the way home and has been out for almost two hours. I've got some french fries waiting for him when he wakes, but don't know if he'll be able to swallow them. Chocolate milk, however, is still ok for him to drink, says Dr. Santiago.

11:34p Nikko regained his appetite after dinner, when Denis brought home some takeout from Olympus Gyros. I had a skirt steak sandwich with fries, and Nikko kept creeping up toward me for a fry. No problem, I handed him one and he ran off to eat it. Nikko wasn't as perky as he was yesterday afternoon, barely playing with any toys and opting to sit on the couch watching TV looking forlorn. Ronin wanted to play downstairs so I took them for a short time, and Nikko preferred to sit in my lap while Ronin ran wind sprints across the basement carrying three little stuffed animals and crash-diving onto the mat next to me. So much energy and still he didn't fall asleep right away. He was babbling to himself for at least ten minutes befoe he fell asleep. I love it on the nights that Nikko is so tired that he falls asleep before I leave the room. That way, I don't have to close the door and wonder if he's going to pop out of bed and try a jailbreak. It may happen sooner than later tonight, but at least I was able to do the dishes and fold laundry this evening. And munch on a Ghiardelli brownie, the last batch I have at home, and I will NOT buy another box from Costco because they are too rich and fattening. Gotta finish this batch first, of course. Nikko's forehead was not warm as it has been the past three nights, but I can't send him to school tomorrow because he has to be fever-free for 24 hours, school rules. His temp didn't start going down until past 10a this morning. I wish I could send him to school tomorrow, but he shouldn't go.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

4 Chicken Nuggets

Nikko didn't go to school yesterday (Tuesday). He was hot all night. In the morning he threw up whatever drink and little food he took in. He was in and out of sleep until 11a when he took a longer nap. He got better as the afternoon progressed, but later at night his temperature crept up again, and he had a fever again by bedtime. Unfortunately, Audrey caught his fever and was sluggish around dinnertime as well. She woke up hot, and is now extremely cranky.

Nikko didn't go to school again this morning, with a 101.7-102 temp. Again, he's not drinking much, only drinking chocolate milk, and his appetite at lunch is nonexistent. Audrey is waking up from a short nap, screaming, so this day is really exhausting.

11:00p Nikko was slow to start, but he perked up as the day progressed. For dinner, he ate 4 chicken nuggets, which was more than he had eaten in two days. A good sign he'll go to school tomorrow, but I worry slightly because his head was still warm at bedtime. There was only one jailbreak thus far, but I expect another one later. Audrey was also sick today, and I had given her some concentrated acetaminophen drops that I had marked specifically as her bottle. But she was breaking out in hive patches, plus she was SUPER cranky today, so I concluded that the bottle was probably old (I know it was, and am stupid for not starting her on a fresh bottle) and needed to be thrown out. I gave her Benadryl to ease the hives, which did subside by bedtime. Poor thing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

1st day w/ABA trainer

Melissa (not me) arrived at 2p. Denis was home for Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, and he held onto Audrey upstairs while I led the 2 boys and Melissa downstairs. It was a getting comfortable session for Nikko, so he could get used to seeing Melissa. Ronin was excited and curious about her and whatever activities were going on in the corner, of course, so I had to send him back upstairs while I stayed with Nikko. It was a good thing I had Denis bring back into the house one of the baby gates, which I put in front of the doorway leading to the staircase to help corrale Nikko from going up the stairs. It will also keep Audrey and Ronin away from the areea. We stayed on the carpeted area near a kid table and chairs. Nikko tried to walk away many times, but I was there to swing him back to us. He did follow some requests to sit down, stand up and give high fives. It was very reminiscent of a developmental therapy session. Melissa started out with a matching exercise. When Nikko held a picture of a dog and was prompted to put the dog over the dog square on the table, Nikko didn't do it right away. He said, "Dog. Dog." And then I was amazed to see him sign Dog by patting his leg, just like in the Signing Time DVD. He hadn't seen that sign in ages, so I was very impressed. And then with help he was able to finish the matching game. Melissa wanted Nikko to get comfortable with her presence and get used to her face so she didn't record any activity down or do drills. We just touched on activities listed in the binder, like giving simple commands such as Come here, Sit down, Walk, Touch your head, Touch your nose, Touch your toes. Then he colored a picture of a bear, and then clay play followed. Melissa also gave me some background on herself, how she's going to school for social work and how she really wants to work with kids and loves what she does. That's great to hear, since I am always sitting in the camp of people who wonder what kind of person would want to do what Melissa is doing, that the person would need to have bucketfuls of patience. She said there's lots of people out there who might enjoy the job, but don't know it's out there. Melissa stayed only an hour and then left. Ronin had refused to take a nap and Audrey was really mad that she couldn't be downstairs. I got the kids into the bedroom and read stories to Ronin, putting him down for a late nap. And here I am now, trying to get it all down so I don't forget. Melissa was really lucky today that Denis was home and I was able to sit with her and Nikko during therapy. For tomorrow and Wednesday, Jenna and Maria will have to deal with a crying, kicking, thrashing, wrangling Nikko, unfortunately.

8:04p Nikko got tired in the afternoon, but he wouldn't fall asleep. I tried to keep him up, but around dinnertime he didn't show interest in it. As my efforts to keep him awake were failing, I noticed that he felt a little hot. Sure enough, he has a temperature. So, I relented and let Nikko try to sleep on the couch, but he didn't go without a struggle. It's been 30 minutes or so, and I have to try and wake him so that he will be able to sleep later tonight. I may have to throw the door-locking drill sergeant methodology out the window tonight if he indeed continues to be sick. I'll have to be more nurturing and will probably let him sleep; if he wakes up, I'll stay by his bedside until he falls asleep again. Poor little guy.

10:47p I tried to wake up Nikko to eat something, and even to go to bed, but he was groggy and couldn't keep his eyes open. Perhaps his resistance last night for over an hour caught up with him, plus he was "working" in therapy today. I'll check in on him before I go to bed, but am also prepared for later (3:30) if I hear him cry for a prolonged period of time. The likelihood that he'll remain asleep until 6 or 7a tomorrow seems slim to me. He fell asleep around 7:30p, he's a 9 or 10 hour sleeper, so he should permanently be awake at 5:30a. (shudder)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sleep woes

Early this morning Nikko came into our room at 3:50a. I hauled him into bed between us, but he seemed to keep thrashing and not resettle into sleep. At 4:40a he sat up and started wailing. I brought him down again and decided that perhaps he couldn't fall back asleep in our bed. I walked him back to his room and put him in bed. Then I put a pillow on the floor, took a short blanket and lay there, reassuring Nikko that I was there. He peeked over the side of his bed two or three times to see if I was still there. Mercifully, I fell asleep and woke up at 6a. Nikko had finally fallen back asleep as well, so I trudged back to my bed until Ronin walked in at 7:30a. If this happens again tonight, I will probably bring extra blankets for me to lay on so I don't kill my back. Nikko had fallen asleep in the later part of the day, and that may have killed our chances for an intruder-free sleep. I think I'll keep him up as much as possible tomorrow so he will be tired by bedtime and hopefully sleep all the way through til 7a. Hopefully.

Today we went to a 3-year old's birthday party. The kids did pretty well, but they were the only other kids besides the birthday girl and her sister. Ronin got into the toys, Audrey showed lots of curiosity, and Nikko entertained himself with a hungry hippo game. He had looked up at a shelf that had a lot of board games and started trying to pull me over to it. I picked him up and he reached out for hungry hippo. I wondered if they had that at preschool, and we were allowed to open it. I didn't let the kids use the balls since they were really small, but it wasn't a big deal for them at all. When the birthday girl opened presents, Nikko got attached to a Go Fish game in a purple box with handle. I also wondered if this game was at school, so eventually we had to swap it from him so he wouldn't bash our heads in disapproval for not opening it for him. After the party we did a quick grocery run. Ronin and Audrey were sleeping in the car with Denis while I took Nikko inside the store with me. He enjoyed looking around and didn't clamor to get out of the cart until the very end. He later fell asleep on the short ride home, then continued his nap on the couch. I am now leery of letting Nikko sleep during the day, especially later in the day, because he won't fall asleep quickly at bedtime. If he does sleep, I try to limit his nap to only an hour. Two hours means he's not going to bed easily. One hour can be dicey, too. At bedtime Nikko tried to escape once along with Ronin, and that made me upset. There was a long silence, and then Nikko was crying. I gave him a minute, then went in to put him back into bed. Ronin had given up on jailbreak attempts and was sleeping. I tucked Nikko in and thought that perhaps he just wanted some reassurance that I was nearby. I sang the Goodnight Song to him a few times, excluding words at the end of stanzas so that he could fill in the gap. I think this participation might have helped soothe him, because I was able to leave the room and he didn't try to get out again. It feels like we're Ferberizing (sleep training) Nikko again. I don't know what happened to cause him to want to keep coming out of his room during a middle of the night waking, and go into our bed. It makes it harder for us to fall back asleep, especially if he's kickng us in the head. But I also think he might be needing more TLC or attention right now. I wonder if he senses that things are about to change for him starting Monday.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I packed Nikko's snowsuit and boots in his backpack since it was Friday and the likelihood that they would play outside was very good. Sure enough, he was still dressed in snowpants and boots when I picked him up from the bus. He sat there smiling at me when I saw his outfit. I wonder if he remembered the fun he had playing outside at school. I was amazed that his boots were still on and that he didn't try to kick them off. His progress report said that he was very vocal today in speech. Later in the day I sang some Wiggles songs and left a word out at the end to see if he would complete it, and he did, using either the word (GO, ROUND) or a sound similar to it. I've also been signing Mommy (tap chin with thumb, hand open) and Daddy (tap forehead with thumb, hand open). He'd do it by tapping his pinky to chin, and that's his way of saying Mommy. What I'd really like is for him to say these words, of course.

We went to the in-laws for dinner. Nikko didn't have much of an appetite and chewed (and spit out) a chicken nugget I brought. Finally I took out a piece of pizza I brought from home and he nibbled on it, but didn't finish it. This pickiness is really bothering me because it's limiting what I can feed the boy. Why is it that these kids gravitate toward eating things that aren't the healthiest, and refuses to eat the ones that are? A time-old question, I'm sure.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

ABA Group meeting

It was a lot of work for me to get the house in some kind of order before the 4:30pm meeting with MGB Services and Linda Hoeck. Vacuuming took up time before Nikko came home from school, and getting to the bathroom was tricky with Audrey poking her head in at all times. I had started purging the kitchen the night before so you could actually see the countertop in parts that were always covered by something. The living room was a rotating door of a nightmare. I'd start picking up plastic food, cars, balls, blocks and dinosaurs, just to turn around and see someone else dumped more little things. It was nearly impossible to keep that room clean the entire day. I should have just left it in chaos, then start picking up around 3:30p, but I wasn't sure I could accomplish straightening up in a small timeframe.

They all actually arrived before 4:30p: Linda Hoeck, Maria Bellantuono the presidente of MGB Services, one senior line person named Jenna and a line person named Melissa. Linda led the meeting at first, going over supplies we'd need and the protocol that would be followed in the binder. They have goals set up concurrent with goals at school, because Linda coordinated this with Kathy Winters. Maria kept assuring me, and I wholeheartedly agree, that we are SO INCREDIBLY LUCKY to have Linda Hoeck working with us for FREE because she works through District 57 and the school. Otherwise, she costs around $160 PER HOUR. She is the NSSEO Autism Coordinator and has a ton of knowledge about autism, as well as being a direct consultant to District 57. Plus we get to work with Kathy for free. And now we'll be getting services through MGB Services. I don't have the binder with me upstairs, but I'm going to bring it up over the weekend so I can look it over and maybe write down what kind of trials and activities they'll be doing. Denis and I are both scared that Nikko won't take kindly to ABA, but his reactions today while everyone was here were very positive. He was doing the Nikko dance in the middle of the carpet, and was giving good eye contact to everyone right before he'd spin by them. He wasn't too terribly clingy to me either. I need for Nikko to get over the hump of the first few sessions where we'll be leaving him alone in the basement with a stranger, and I expect there to be lots of crying, shrieking and protesting. I did ask Linda how her people would handle Nikko's initial reluctance, and she said that rewarding for good behavior would be important. There will also be some wrangling Nikko to his feet, as demonstrated by Linda when she attempted to go over a matching game and Nikko went all noodleman on her. We'll be strong for Nikko; he really needs something like ABA in his life. So, it looks like we will be starting ABA on Monday of next week. Our tentative schedule of sessions is as follows:

Monday - 2:00p, Melissa (Maria's line person)
Tuesday - 4:30p, Jenna
Thursday - 1:00p, Maria

I am already disappointed that I won't be able to sit in on any of Nikko's sessions. During our EI days I was able to sit in on sessions and I was able to learn a lot from the therapists. One thing that concerns me is that I've been told many, many parents see this akin to babysitting. That's not nice. It's to benefit Nikko so that he can learn the skills he'll need to get into kindergarten and beyond.

Jargon and crabbiness

When I got Nikko off the bus today he was babbling happily. A girl said "Good bye, Nikko," and he turned to wave and say Bye. Mrs. Beyer the bus driver said, "Good bye, Nikko," and he faced her, waved and said a pronounced BYE. It made her day, and mine, too. On his progress report it said:
Lots of jargon all day today! We worked on 1 step directions, using words (get ball, bye, bus and body parts).

I wonder what sparked his jargoning. Like I said, I noticed it on the bus, too. I wonder if the vitamins I gave him before bed helped. I'll keep on doing it, giving the multivitamin and the calcium supplement and see what happens.

It was one of our last slow days before Nikko's tentative ABA schedule would start. It might even start next week, I don't know. But today after lunch, Ronin went down for a nap (not willingly) and Nikko had time to watch the Other Cars. I took Audrey and Nikko into the kitchen with me to do some coloring in coloring books. Audrey loved it, but Nikko showed no interest and repeatedly swatted the crayons away. He was getting tired throughout the day and it manifested itself into crabbiness and taking toys right out of Ronin's hands. If Nikko napped earlier in the day I'd be fine, but as dinnertime rolled around I wouldn't let him sleep. He needed to be tired enough to not want to try to escape from his room at bedtime. Unfortunately, he practically bounded from the bed the very second I closed the door at bedtime. I didn't even move when I heard his feet hit the floor. I forgot how many times I put him back, and got upset when Ronin got up to try to come out as well. I rigged the door with multiple bungee cords attached to a black folding chair, but found it challenging because I didn't want the chair to fly back at the kids if they succeeded in prying the door open. I succeeded in rigging the door, but I think Nikko gave up because there was no movement after that final, exasperating effort. Last night he came barreling into our bed at 3:30a. I wonder what time he'll come into our room tonight.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Weighted work

Nikko had a good progress report from Mrs. I in OT today. She noted that he did better with heavy work activities. I didn't point out [yet] that Nikko has a habit of dragging a weighted ottoman to the wall light switches in the living room and continues to try to illuminate us whether I like it or not. The day was ok for Nikko, but at nighttime he had already figured out how to defeat the simple door lock, and proceeded to try to walk to the kitchen again. :P

Monday, January 11, 2010

Field trip for H1N1 shots

Today was going to be a tight schedule around lunchtime. Nikko had a 1:00 H1N1 2nd Vax in Arlington Heights, and Ronin had a 3:00 H1N1 1st Vax at the allergist in Hoffman Estates. From the getgo this morning I tried to pace our schedule, pack the food bag and diapers and DVDs ahead of time, get the kids some grub early, and change them before leaving. Audrey was so grouchy because she wanted a nap at the time I least needed her to, but I figured she could get at least 40 minutes and then I could grab her last, throw on her coat and put her in the carseat. We headed out, on time, and even with ten minutes to spare, I must say. I started dreading things when I saw the nurse, an older lady than the last one we had for the flu shots, who was holding an electronic thermometer. I had hoped we wouldn't need to take Nikko's temperature because the last time I had to hold him down at his torso and grab a leg as well, and it took all my energy to do it. But this nurse told me to hold Nikko close to my chest, like a hug. So I did, picking him up, and that's how she took his temp in the behind. Nikko felt uncomfortable and whined, but he didn't struggle nearly as much as he did before. I was amazed, and wished we did this the last time we were there. But when I had to turn him around to face her for the actual shot, and pretzel his arms in front, he started crying and struggling. We succeeded, but it wasn't fun for poor Nikko.

To erase the bad feelings, and because this entire procedure took five minutes, I decided to take the kids to a McDonald's Playplace in Schaumburg that wasn't too far off Higgins road so that we could skate to the allergist in time. I pseudo-lunched the kids again, and then gave them some time to play on the equipment. It was clean and a very nice atmosphere, much better than the one in Des Plaines. Enough said. Niko didn't go crazy climbing the tree house, but instead opted to hold a DVD case and run around the ground level where there was a "soft" tiger and hippo to crawl over. He also showed some interest in a video game station. I wonder if Nikko would be interested in video games, or even using the laptop anytime soon. It would be a matter of whether or not he could manipulate the mouse or keyboard to make things work.

We made it to the allergist for Ronin's shot and I discovered that instead of a quick 20 minute wait, we would end up there for an hour. They had to observe his skin for 15 minutes using the vax (because it was grown in egg), and then a 30 minute observation after they stuck the shot in him. I corraled the kids in front of Blues Clues, but had to referee between the boys and the cars. Luckily, neither boy got too attached to the fire truck, car carrier and other vehicles that weren't ours. Ronin even said good bye to all the cars, but was lingering with one in his hand. I wonder what thought process he had to go through to come to terms that he couldn't take it, because instead of throwing a tantrum like I expected, after a few minutes he bade the car good bye and put it back. Astonishing.

Audrey and Nikko fell asleep on the way home, and I had to wake them up when we arrived. I have decided that Nikko can only get an hour nap, if he even tries to nap during the day, because any longer than that will cause him not to fall asleep right away at bedtime. Even tonight he got out of bed twice (so far) to try and open the door, which we have tied shut with a bungee cord to a chair, because the wood has warped with the cold weather to disable the doorknob latch. It won't close completely. I unlatch the door when I go to bed so that they can get out in the morning. Unfortunately, this morning Nikko came running to our bed at 5:30a. I don't know why. I couldn't sleep for a while, but Nikko fell asleep comfortably of course.

Being in the parking lot was a stress for me today because I would get Ronin and Nikko out, and had to tell them to stand still (YEAH, LIKE THEY WOULD!) while I fetched Audrey quickly from her seat. At the allergist, when we were leaving it, I went ahead of the boys to hurry them along to the car, but realized that I should have them walk right next to me, even if I'm impatient, because a car could easily come careening around the parked cars, and they wouldn't see Ronin or Nikko walking aimlessly across the parking lot. When we went into the McDonald's I opted to put Nikko and Audrey into the double stroller and put Ronin on the handlebars, and stood him up inside, because I couldn't carry everything including new food on my own. I still worry that the boys will run away, or get into trouble, while I'm holding Audrey. Nikko hasn't shown any signs of bolting, like in the past, but I'm not 100% sure that he wouldn't so I'm still wary of him around me. I think Nikko would prefer to be near me than run away from me, but I still have to be cautious. Taking the kids out all by myself makes me nervous if there isn't a 2nd adult around to help me, simply because it's difficult to hold Audrey in one arm while trying to catch the other boys or keep them from stomping in deep puddles or snowbanks.

T-minus two days until the ABA meeting on Thursday. Got lots to do regarding cleanup. Wanted to accomplish a lot today, but being at doctor offices for the afternoon really threw me for a loop. I'll try to be productive tomorrow. One last thing: Ronin had been protesting bathtime for a solid week, so I decided to haul out the can of foam soap on him. He loves using it on the walls and tries to wash it off. Nikko also enjoys the foam soap, but I can't observe him because I'm usually dressing Ronin up while Denis finishes giving Nikko a bath.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thank you, Wiggles

I've really got to hand it to The Wiggles for getting Nikko to do some serious imitating. I've written about how he can "Do the Monkey, Do the Elephant, Do the Tiger", but this evening I started doing the "Can You Point Your Fingers and Shake Your Hands" dance, and Nikko was following along very closely, watching my face and movements. He knew when to put his arms up, then folded himself down really fast, and then he was poised ready to spin around fast! When I stopped, he continued to do some of the movements on his own, so I had to repeat the song a few times.

Lastly, this wasn't the best behavior day for Nikko. I was gone in the morning, seeing a doctor, but later on he wasn't behaving nicely with Ronin. I took away a fire truck, and Denis took away the racetrack, because both boys fought over them terribly. I saw Nikko forcibly push Ronin down for getting on Nikko's bad side. Finally, I caught Nikko putting toy plates and plastic utensils into the VCR. HELLO! That thing could melt the plastic and we'd all be toast!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Positive school statements

From an email from Ms. Winters:
Just a few random thoughts - I have really noticed that Nikko is responded better to his name either by looking or stopping what he is doing.

Also, he loved glue sticks!! If you set us a little area for him- give him paper, glue sticks - he will go to town! Yesterday he loved gluing cotton balls to the snow picture mural we were working on and today he loved gluing on the sequencing snowmen pictures and then coloring them.

Also thought that we would have sign class video taped for you guys if you want? Then you could watch at your leisure - and maybe he would like to watch too? It would not be a big deal.

What a great message to get, huh? I think Nikko has been responding to his name as well, but it might be harder at home since my louder voice, which tends to get a metal din to it when I get stern [at Ronin], can be abrasive and thusly not desirable to respond to. And glue sticks... That's very interesting. I would love to set up a craft area for him to work on stuff, maybe at the dining room table while Ronin is in his high chair, because Audre is a complete terror on the ground and would rip up everything in sight. She might draw, too, but would probably destroy the boys' artwork.

I also mentioned to Mrs. I regarding Nikko's stimming and she replied:
I'll look for the visual stimming but the times I have been with Nikko - I haven't seen it. Maybe the classroom has too many things to look at. As to the auditory - he also is inconsistent at school - sometimes covering his ears and other times not. However its been much less than the beginning of the year. I'll talk to Kathy about maybe making a picture of a bell so you could prep him for when it is going to ring. Sometimes the unexpectedness is what really throws the kids. Sensory defensiveness is usually inconsistent as our brains are not always at the same alertness level from day to day. Gradual exposure, reassurance, and prepping are the best approaches I know to tell parents. As Nikko gets more language we can then reassure him more. Hang in there!

We are very lucky that Nikko's teachers are very observant with his behaviors. I had heard that Mrs. I was the head of her department at some point, and that to get her on a daily basis at Westbrook was a really good thing.

Nikko's been having power struggles with me again today regarding the living room lights. Finally I was so fed up with him turning off the lights that I turned off the TV and let us sit in semi-darkness so that he could see we couldn't do anything in the dark. I went to the boys' room to put away laundry, muttering to myself, and when I looked up I saw that Nikko turned on the living room lights and left them on. Was that a learned lesson? But today, same as yesterday, I was just having the hardest times with Ronin. When he gets into a tantrummy rut, things are so ugly. He's only two, but my frustration levels shot up so high that I broke down and cried at the table because his whining (Make me happy, mommy, I want to be happy mommy, make me happy mommy) was relentless and nothing I was doing was making him happy. I'll try AGAIN tomorrow, not to yell or show my frustration. Somehow. :/ It might be a snow day tomorrow because the accumulation is supposed to be 3-5 inches, so I'll check the Westbrook District 57 site tomorrow morning.

Oh yeah, one last thing... before his bath, Nikko sat on the toilet and it was the first time that he ever went pee while sitting on the toilet. Ever! I was so proud of him. Guess his bladder was full enough that he figured it was a safe place to go, instead of on the floor like yesterday morning...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ding Dong / A potpourri of things

During our reading of Chicken Little last night, and for a few nights, Nikko has been enthusiastic when he hears the line, "He rang the town bell." "DING DONG!" Nikko would proclaim! And we discovered that whenever we say this line, anywhere, he will say Ding Dong to it.

When I took Nikko off the bus, a little girl in a seat said, "Bye Nikko!" I turned him toward her and he waved a backward bye. Then Mrs. Beyer the bus driver said, "Bye Nikko!" I turned him toward her, he put up a wave, and he said, "Bye." NEATO!

In Art he played with shaving cream and Mrs. I said that he really enjoyed that. Sure, I'll bet, all the way back from working with Shelley! And in speech, Mrs. Winters wrote:
Good job "hi" and "bye" to office staff! He said Ball several times today in speech. Also worked on face parts, 1 step directions.

I went to the school around 8:45a to fill out paperwork for Ronin's registration. It's going to be by lottery, so I really hope they pull his name for next year. The office manager told me I just missed Nikko making his rounds in the office saying hi. I was temped to peek my head in his classroom, but didn't want to disrupt things.

When he got off the bus, I noticed a small bruise on his right cheek. And when the twin's mom looked at Nikko for a split second she asked me what happened to Nikko's face. I didn't know but was going to contact the school later to find out. When I looked at him closer inside, the bruise was definitely there, his ear was a little redder than the other ear, and I thought the veins in his right temple were slightly greener, so instead of emailing I called the school classroom directly. Margie (who had neck surgery!) was there visiting, but asked Mrs. Napoleon what happened. She said Nikko fell in the classroom, cried a little and held his arm mostly, but then recovered. I wonder if he hit his head on the way down on something, ro the floor, but he is acting fine right now. Still, I took a picture of his face just in case. It's not horrible, but it wasn't there yesterday and he didn't bump his face this morning before class. Oh well, if his arm is fine, which it seems to be, then I'm ok with it. Glad I called the school directly.

Since this morning, Nikko seemed really stimmy to me. As I was dressing him for school, Nikko kept looking up sideways at the ceiling, or even the crease where ceiling meets wall, and was shaking his head quickly back and forth. I had to put my hands on either side of his face to keep it still and he just laughed and ignored me. Sitting here during lunch, Nikko continued to do this. He's also not being consistent with eating his chicken nuggets. He'll put a half one in his mouth, chew it up, then spit it out. I just cut them in fourths, and he seems to have eaten them. For now. It's really going to suck if he starts being averse to nuggets. I need another go-to food, and he's anti-green.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back to school

Says it all:
OT - Nikko did well remembering most of his sensory diet activities and arrival routine! Still reluctant to do activities (body in space) with feet off the ground. Seemed very happy to be back.

Also, wanted to paste a message I wrote to Nikko's teachers:
Hi everyone, sorry I didn't email an update yesterday regarding how Nikko did over break. He basically did well, but started getting really stimmy toward the end of the last week. I hadn't seen him eyeball things sideways in a while, or the spinning and body tics, but they emerged when he got bored at home. He seemed perfectly happy when going to and from school today. We've still been working on making speech sounds, but some pronunciations seem to come out high-pitched as he tries to find the words. Nikko has also been watching The Wiggles and imitates some of the dancing moves he sees, especially the ones where arms are spread out wide. Finally, the best news is that Nikko was receptive to putting on snow pants, hat, boots and mittens to go play in the snow, especially after seeing his brother Ronin don his snowsuit and start bouncing around in the snow. I feel better about packing his snow clothes at the end of the week for Friday play. :)

We are having a meeting next week with Linda Hoeck and people from MGB Services to formally begin ABA therapy for Nikko. Just wanted to keep you all in the loop.

One last thing, I plan to sign up Ronin for preschool in the office on Wednesday morning, but saw on the website that Tuesday I was supposed to notify the office about Nikko continuing for next year. I DIDN'T call the school because I didn't see the date on the website until today. I figure I'll be at the school on Wednesday, but have I ruined Nikko's chances of being at Westbrook next year already? I really hope not.

I hope you all had a nice winter break. Thanks for your time!

Light battle again / Bean

The one big issue I have with Nikko right now concerns the lights in the living room and the kitchen. I mentioned before that he switches them on and off very often. He seems to make a protesting whine whenever I command, "Lights ON!" He used to follow whenever I'd request for the lights to be turned on, and I'd reward him with praise. But nowadays my request is hardly followed. I took down all the Christmas lights and stockings today so our ceiling area looks pretty bare. When I flipped all the lights on, he kept running to turn them off. He's balk when I said, "Lights ON!" I got so mad that I turned off the TV and made everyone sit until he would realize that life was more fun if the lights were on. Grrr.

We had a playdate at the Owsley's again, at their house. All the kids behaved pretty well. Audrey was very determined to climb the basement stairs, and again straight for the upstaircase. Nikko seemes to float around the new toys and sometimes had Aiden at his feet confronting him over trains. But overall, Nikko did really well over there. :)

One word I had Nikko almost saying tonight was "Bean". I was eating chili and he kept coming over for red kidney beans. I didn't deny him any.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Visual and vocal imitating

There's a Wiggles song called The Monkey Dance and it features three animals that move their arms and make animal sounds. You gotta "Do the monkey (ooo oooo oooo, aaa aa aaaa), Do the elephant (whrrreeeeh), Do the tiger (rowl rowl)." At first, Nikko would do the tiger to mimic me, and I'd end it in some tiger claw tickling. But today I tried to see if he'd imitate the other animals. He was able to do the monkey and move his arms up and down; he was able to mimic the sounds and trunk sway of an elephant, and the tiger was easy. I was very impressed that he was able to copy the movements of this song!

Something else he's able to do is in regards to the Chicken Little story in Ronin's hardcover book. Nikko would sit alongside of me to read, and Ronin was in my lap. When I was reading the part of the story where Chicken Little was ringing the town bell for nothing, he was saying, "Ding dong" during the appropriate part in the story. It surprised Denis this evening while reading nighttime stories.

The kids received hooded towels for Christmas from a relative; two sharks and a duck. The duck was meant for Audrey, but Nikko took a liking to the duck and put it on. He enjoyed the hood. And when I was quacking for him, to show him the sound a duck makes, he started quacking along as well. Very cool stuff!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mixed bag

It's been a mixed bag of emotions for Nikko today. He started the morning wailing as if he had a bad dream, and was pissed when I had to take Ronin to the bathroom first thing while he trailed behind us. Then he had a wild tantrum when Denis took him to his bedroom to change his diaper and calm him down. I got back to them and was able to calm him down after changing him, and Nikko looked like himself but teary-eyed. I really wonder what had happened to him to set him off. He didn't have any other meltdowns during the day EXCEPT when the timer for preheating the oven went off. He was watching Hi-5 and when it buzzed I was in the kitchen and bolted to the living room. Too late - Nikko had his head buried in the couch and started crying and sobbing into his burp cloth. I tried to comfort him, and wondered what frequency the timer was on. Later in the day we made a trip to the basement just for fun, for about a half hour. Nikko still didn't nap all day, so was extremely tired at bedtime. Tomorrow we are going to the in-law's house for New Year's Day lunch.

New Year's Day

Sorry, missed a few days due to New Year's. On New Year's Eve we went to Atz's house for dinner with her sister-in-law. The kids did pretty well, eating nuggets and running up and down stairs. They were getting a little restless because I didn't bring toys for them and they were scrounging around Atz's basement for a few cars. After dinner, in the living room, Ronin was getting agitated with Nikko at the coffee table and then threw a little metal car at him. Unfortunately, Nikko was less than a foot away from Ronin when he threw it. Luckily, there wasn't a lump on Nikko's head, but it sure brought on some major crying and an apology from Ronin to follow. We got home around 8:30, put the kids to bed and then Denis and I fell exhausted on the bed. Next time I woke up was 12:10a so I wished him a Happy New Year and got up to load the dishwasher and clean up. We were both up until 4a doing random things.

New Year's Day, this morning, the kids were up by 7:30a so it was business as usual. By lunchtime we prepared to go to Tita Marina's house in Elgin for the family get-together. She has a big house that had ample space to run around. And luckily for us, someone had found a bunch of Disney Cars that probably belonged to her grandchild Anthony, so the boys were preoccupied with Doc Hudson, Ramon, Chick Hicks and Sally for a long time. Ronin eventually took Sally home because he refused to part with her, so we've acquired yet another Car from someone's house to add to our growing collection. The one big visual in my mind today was when Rory pulled out the laser pointer that Denis got Lego (the dog) for Christmas. She shined it on the living room floor and my boys started running and scuttling after it. They had fun, but it eerily reminded me of how Lego used to pounce after the laser point. Nikko looked like a dog to me, scampering after the laser point, and I felt kind of disturbed by that, but didn't tell him to stop since he was having fun. We stayed a good four hours and it was nice to have everyone around, but since Audrey was still lurking around pulling at ornaments and climbing stairs it was hard to fully socialize because we had to keep an eye on the kids. After the gift opening, Nikko and Ronin were fighting over a V-Tech helicopter and that was my signal to get the family going. We got home to have a late dinner, but still managed to put the kids to bed by 9:30. After loading some laundry I flopped on the bed next to Denis, set an alarm for 11p, and zonked out. Snooze-barred the alarm, and didn't get up until 12:05a. I don't really want to stay up until 4a, so I'll get started on the dishes soon. The Orquiolas have a cat that was in the basement, and I didn't think I'd get affected by it, but my throat was getting scratchy and I was feeling itchy on my face. When I got home I just didn't feel as well as I should have, slightly queasy tummy and overall irritability. I feel a little better after the nap.

With the holidays over, I am looking forward to getting Nikko back to school, not to get him out of the house away from me but for the predictability of routine and for some learning again. I tried to keep Nikko from getting bored, and I think he really enjoyed the times that Denis took him outside to play in the snow, but I also think he didn't improve while at home and without doing anything extraordinary. He got some socialization with the family celebrations, so I'm thankful for that. But as I mentioned before, he stimmed a lot and has been a little bit "lost" lately. Maybe we can make the weekend better for him. The ABA people will be meeting with us in two weeks, so our routines will change again soon, and hopefully for the better!