Wednesday, March 31, 2010


OT report from school: Good session. Did trampoline, big ball activities & wheelbarrow walk. Then at table, played with putty, finding hidden objects, built towers with blocks & colored bus page.

I think Nikko was happy to be back in school. He didn't seem very emotional getting off the bus, but at home he wasn't prowling around looking anxious either. Jenna came a little after 1pm for an early therapy session. She didn't give him any snack at all, which was fine because if he didn't think about it, he was better able to focus on the tasks at hand. When he came out of his session, Nikko was singing and doing some weird jerky movements that I would attach to some song he was thinking about. He was eyeballing the tray of brownies I made while he was downstairs and Ronin was napping. It was from Cherrybrook Farms, a dairy/egg/nut free company (oh, and gluten-free, too) and I wanted to try it on Ronin to see if he'd like them. There were no complaints from the boys, but Audrey didn't seem too thrilled about the pieces I put in front of her. After snack time, I took the kids out into the backyard. I put up the baby gate and one ride-on bike, plus a yellow volleyball and a multi-colored mini beach ball. Between those objects and the swingset, the kids played for an hour. I kicked the ball around Nikko like a soccer ball, saying "One, two, three, kick!" and he would repeat Kick and do the action as well. Ronin was riding the big wheeler and I tried to help him peddle with his feet. He was resistant at first, but I watched him when I walked away and he no longer was pedalling the ground with his feet. Instead he was trying to pedal on the pedals, but I don't know if he has the leg strength for it. Practice, I say. Nikko watched us and soon was trying to bump Ronin off the wheeler so he could try it. Nikko tried to pedal with his feet, too, but seemed to tire of it and wanted to pedal the ground instead. We came inside in time for dinner, then I put on Veggie Tales per Nikko's request. I was about to give Audrey a bath at 7:20 when I noticed that Nikko was on the verge of nodding off. I didn't want him to nap before bedtime so I led him to the kitchen and put some Cheez-It crackers in front of him. Unfortunately, Ronin told me he ate some while I was giving Audrey a bath. I was freaking out because there is CHEESE in those crackers, and Ronin is allergic. I watched him while dressing Audrey up but there was no anaphylactic reaction. I thought his lips might be getting a little swollen so I gave him a chewable Benadryl generic tablet. Thankfully he didn't break out or swell up even more, but still I was very alarmed that it happened at all. I reprimanded Ronin for eating off Nikko's plate, because anything on there could have "itchy food" on it. Easily, Nikko fell asleep while Denis was saying prayers, which is the best way for him to sleep in my opinion. The boys woke up at 6:20a, by the way, which is only slightly better than yesterday.

We had more attempts at saying More today. I signed More before letting him have any more brownies, as well as vitamins. When I sign More and ask him to say it, if he does comply, it doesn't quite sound like More. It sounds like Mow or Tow or Doh. He is also able to sign it, without saying it, and skipping to the actual word he wants. Is it laziness or did he really forget how to say More??

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ronin my angel / Egg hunt recap / MORE again

6:15a On the early side for me, but that's when Ronin cried out. Nikko was already awake, and all the commotion woke Audrey up. Great. I wasn't happy with the hour and didn't want to open the kitchen before 7a. New rule for me. It was an easygoing morning with little demands. I found myself constantly changing Nikko's diaper, but one time when I was dozing in the living room I snapped out of it just in time to see Nikko standing in the hallway, pants on the ground, diaper just leaving his ankles. He had filled it up with pee and it was probably too heavy for his own comfort. Unfortunately, it also had a little present in there that smeared on the floor. I rushed him to the tub and went back to clean up the mess. While I cleaned Nikko up, Audrey was nosing by my elbow near the tub. I was getting frustrated because I didn't want her near us, and Ronin came over saying, "C'mon, Audrey, let's go play." Ronin was my little hero! Later on in the day, Ronin came running for me and told me that Nikko's nose was bleeding, so I came in the living room and saw that Nikko did indeed have blood smears on the couch. *sigh* But Ronin was great in being my eyes when I wasn't around. This could possibly turn into tattling but for now I'll take it as extra help.

Melissa came for therapy after lunch. Nikko was in a good mood, gave me a kiss before sitting down to work, and overall had a good session. I heard some whining, but I guess they worked through it. She told me that she snacked Nikko at the very end. Throughout the session he was saying "Snack" in anticipation for the fruit snacks, but as they went along he forgot about them and were able to complete tasks. He obviously gets hung up on the fruit snacks. I'm glad he got to interact and play with Melissa. Tomorrow Nikko is going to school. Spring break is over! Yea!

I didn't write yesterday, but around 11a we went to Pat & Anna's house for an egg hunt. We had lunch first, then went outside to watch the kids gather plastic eggs and put them into baskets. Atz brought over a wired soccer basket and a racing car basket for my kids since she didn't need them anymore. I was originally just going to bring the Halloween pumpkin baskets, but I gladly accepted Atz's baskets for the occasion. Anna had a sand table in her backyard and the kids congregated around it for some fun play. I didn't want Audrey in the sand because it gets all over her face and eventually into the eyes. I think I did the same thing with Ronin at her age, kept him out of the sand box. Now that he's older, he's better able to navigate the sand, but I still have to watch him for the eye-rubbing factor. Nikko was totally content to play with the sand table, pushing a boat along some levels. We went inside to color eggs, but my kids didn't have a real interest in them. Ronin wanted his egg to play with instead of color. When the tip of the hard-boiled egg cracked, I had to confiscate the egg because he is allergic to them. No telling what might happen if the egg shell came off and he ate it. I'm actually not sure if he will react with direct contact to eggs, whereas he's very allergic to any dairy that contacts his skin. My kids had fun just being in Pat & Anna's house and being around Jovy, Max, his cousin Alessandro, and Atz's girls.

To wrap up today, Nikko didn't nap all day and was falling asleep during bedtime stories. No melatonin for him tonight. I guess this past Spring Break wasn't as bad for him as Christmas break was. He did some stimming, some lining up, but I tried to be physical with him, take him downstairs and go shopping and go to Mom's house. The weather this week will be SO ideal, in the 70's for three days. We'll definitely find a way to go outside. Nikko has been very sing-songy the past two days, singing The Ball Song from Veggie Tales as well as saying some things from that Team Umizoomi show. The latest thing I've been working on with him today was saying the word MORE when asking for peaches. Sure, he wants more peaches, but he keeps skipping to the word Peaches, or saying Peaches then signing Please. I have been going hand over hand with him to sign More, and mostly he refuses to say it. So I refuse to give him peaches. He'll accept the HOH and them say something that sounds like More, then I'll praise him and finish by saying More Peaches Please!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A little break

7a - Ronin cried out for me, and as I passed Nikko's room he was also awake so I got him first. I could get used to that kind of waking arrangement. I had gone to bed late, 1:20-ish, and my eyes were just burning this morning as well as having a tad of a headache. Don't know why. But it set the course for a very crabby mommy, unfortunately. That and having taken care of the kiddos and bathing all three of them and putting them to bed for five straight days without much break. I think I was worn out. So Denis let me have some time in the afternoon to go out. It was 3:30p and I stared out the window really debating whether or not I should go out and disturb the status quo. When Audrey started squawking from her highchair about everything, and when I started yelling back at her, I decided that it would be better for my mental health to take a break. Nikko was not thrilled about it at all, and screamed and cried in protest. When I was backing out the car, I saw that Nikko opened the door and was peering out at me from the screen door. I didn't know if he knew how to open that latch so I stopped the car, came back in and told Denis to take Nikko into the living room. We will have to get some kind of a latch or deadbolt for the main door, especially if Nikko can let himself out now. Scary thought. I don't think he'd willingly want to go outside without me, but if he were in pursuit of me, it could be bad. I spent my time trying on jeans at Old Navy and getting depressed about that. I left the clothing realm and walked into The Container Store, my haven for clearer thinking and admiring the neatness of others. I left with two under-bed storage containers, two file boxes and an issue of Real Simple Magazine, the 10th Anniversary issue. They are offering a sweet deal to rejoin, so I may take them up on it. I really miss my Real Simple.

When I came back, Nikko had to be woken up from a nap so I feared he would be difficult to go to sleep. I put 1/2 a tablet in his juice at 7:20 but he still seemed wide awake at bedtime. I sang a few songs to him, and then said the Good Night Mantra. He leaned up so I could kiss him good night, and I thought he was going to protest and get up as I left. But surprisingly, he didn't. I was able to walk out of his room unscathed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

In-laws are back

4:00a Ronin wakes up and cries for me. I go to his door and he scurries back into bed. He was still sleepy and I toyed with the idea of going back to my bed, but I wondered if he'd wake up again and call out to me in 30 minutes or another hour. So I camped out at the end of his bed. Then Nikko woke up at 7a, so things seemed to fall back into alignment. I've been keeping track of the wake-up times on a calendar for the past two weeks. The first week was a smattering of early wake-ups (4a, 5a) between the two of them, but last week they were more consistently taking turns waking up at 6 or 7. Last night was a 4a fluke. This evening we went to the in-laws and thus came home way past bedtime, past 10p. Nikko had fallen asleep in the car on the way home and easily went to bed. Same with Audrey. Ronin stayed awake watching Veggie Tales on the ride home and when put to bed he got really sleepy and quietly entered la la land. But an hour and a half later he had a disruptive awakening and threw up a bit of dinner on his bed. We put him back to sleep but I really hope he doesn't have another fitful spell.

I had to "help" Nikko with his constipation today, unfortunately. I am baffled by the under-performance I am seeing from the miraLAX. Atz did suggest that maybe it's not the fiber (but not ruling it out, since he's realistically probably not getting enough fiber from chicken nuggets and peaches), but possibly stress that's causing the constipation. I balked at first, wondering what Nikko could possibly be so stressed out about, but considered that it's possible since many autistic kids can stress themselves out with just trying to be understood, trying to get through the day if they are suffering from a sensory processing issue, or can't communicate his needs because he doesn't have the language, etc. etc. So how in the world am I supposed to foster a calm Nikko day in and day out? Or is he reflecting my own stresses??

After lunch, I put the kids in the car and headed toward the McDonald's Playplace in Schaumburg. Nikko fell asleep on th way but it was not a long ride and he woke up when I put him in the stroller. This McDonald's had a "treehouse" with winding stairs in the tree trunk on one side and levels that were covered in netting on the other side, which also showcased a big circular slide. Below all this was an area with a climb-able tiger and hippo, as well as an area for younger kids to spin things on walls and look into mirrors. It was CRAZY busy in there. Lots of kids, ranging from toddler to NOT toddler. I fed the kids first to let the activity die down a bit, but Ronin was eager to get on the slide so I cautiously let him go. He tentatively explored the tree house, watching the kids run around him, some bumping him, and when he climbed up a few levels he was a bit scared and started crying. I went up to him to give him some comfort, but when given the choice to sit down at the table or go play, playing won. He overcame his fears and soon was eagerly climbing the staircases and going down the slide himself, so very proud! Nikko was content to linger at the table, Jollibee DVD case in hand, and watch the other kids while he swung his legs from his chair. He didn't venture onto the slide, instead opting to climb up a level or two and squeal excitedly when kids popped out of the slide. He was exploring the tiger and I found him sitting on top of it a few times, so I praised him for being adventurous. By 4:30p we had to leave and go to Costco for provisions. While heading toward the milk aisle, I bumped into the Owsley's with their three kids in tow. We stopped and chatted it up a bit, talked about a future playdate since Rhonda is back from army stuff for 6 weeks. My kids were being good because I had given the boys lollipops since Nikko was starting to melt down because I wouldn't give him my Costco card. Unfortunately he demanded it when I was scanning the items at checkout so I ended up giving it to him and keeping a sharp eye on it. After I had buckled all three kids into their seats it hit me that I forgot to get milk for both Nikko and Audrey, and I moaned in defeat because it was 5:30 and I had to get us home, change the kids' diapers, repack the food bag, and then head out to the in-laws to get there by 7p. I opted not to go back inside, and requested that Denis pick up the milk on his way home from dinner tonight.

It was nice to see my in-laws after not seeing them for the last five weeks. Denis was disappointed that they didn't bring back any polverone (powdered sugar candy from the Philippines), but I thanked them for the mango strips regardless. The kids liked the mango, which is kind of good because I could branch out and get more dehydrated fruit snacks, but also bad because the mango was coated in sugar. It was new and different. Nikko got really angry at me because he was touching a plastic flowered lei sitting on a corner table and I didn't want him to play with it, putting it out of reach. He started throwing a fit, jumping and crashing to the floor and whining loudly, but I was firm in not wanting him to play with it. I said No firmly, and gave him big squeezes so I could turn his body away from the corner and redirect him to something else. Something else finally caught his attention and it was forgotten. Nikko was also interested in drinking juice from a glass tonight, so I guess it's something I should really start trying with these kids. I am worried about the spills, but maybe I should get a small shammy to save on paper towels that I'm bound to use on this kid!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Summer plans?

6:15a was when I heard Ronin down the hall. As I walked past Nikko's room I heard him babbling to himself. I opened Ronin's door to let him out and quickly closed it even though Audrey had stirred; I had hopes she'd fall back asleep for a little longer, which she did. But Nikko started whining because I hadn't opened his door first so I came back for him, then ushered both boys through the dark living room to the mat, weaving between the truck ride-on and the ottomans. Still dark at 6:15, but darker still in the living room. It didn't entice either boy to fall back asleep since Nikko was already wide awake and babbling, and Ronin just wanted to go play. I gave up around 7:15a when Audrey woke up, and proceeded to change diapers and head to the kitchen for breakfast. Nikko got really whiny around lunchtime and asking him what he wanted wasn't garnering results. I felt bad that he couldn't tell me what he wanted, and I wasn't in the mood for a guessing game. I probably distracted him to meet a temporary need and then segued to lunch.

Maria came at 1pm for Nikko's therapy. I started by talking to her about how whiny Nikko was, and that he started a screaming phase. Then I segued into talking about the Extended School Year Program and we discussed Nikko's possible options. He should attend it, even though it's probably only a four week program. Maria suggested that Nikko remain busy throughout the summer because routine is so important for kids like him, and mentioned joining a camp through the park district. She said he could be in a regular camp and get an aide through the NWSRA. She dropped some names that I might ask her for again should I take that route. Another thing Maria mentioned was that her clients typically increase ABA hours during the summer so that there's constant interaction. She said we could go from 1.5 to 2 hours, and include a walk or outdoor activity at the end of a session. She also said that a line person like Melissa or another college student they recruit would be suitable for this, and not Maria because she'd be more expensive. This would be dependent on Melissa's schedule. Overall, I agree with Maria that Nikko should be involved with some kind of class or camp over the summer. But I have some mental roadblocks to work out regarding Ronin and Audrey, what to do with them, would they be involved in some socializing class during Nikko's school times, and how the heck would I transport everyone to where they'd need to be? I'll revisit this topic later. We left them to work and I put Ronin down for a nap. Audrey and I were in the kitchen and I could hear Nikko at one point, crying pretty loudly, but no real noise coming from Maria. It died down after a while. When they came up, Maria said they had a good session, but the crying I heard had to do with Nikko and the fruit snacks. She said he was perseverating over them, taking a long time to eat them and possibly doing it to avoid doing work. When they were gone, Nikko got angry because he knew she was holding on to more of them for later and he wanted them all now. Of course Maria didn't give in, and that's why there was crying. I had one more question for Maria before she left, and it was about summer classes. I asked what happens if I registered Nikko for a class, knowing that the class doesn't allow diapers? She said that's what the aide is for, the aide would be responsible for changing Nikko and they would know that. OH.

I debated after therapy whether or not to go make a grocery run. It was cold and windy outside, and I wanted the kids to have a change of scenery, but my mind was cluttered with thoughts of summer school and how to do a better job of planning activities for the kids. Instead, I decided that on Friday I will take the kids to lunch at the McDonald's Playplace in Schaumburg, since they've been there before, and then go to Costco afterwards. We'll come back home for a break, and then go to the in-laws for dinner. They are back from the Philippines, gone for five weeks, and are expecting everyone over for Friday dinner. That should be a full day. During snacktime I looked over at Nikko who was in the living room. He had taken the truck ride-on toy, the school bus ride-on toy, and the rocking horse ride-on toy and had lined them up in front of the bookcase. I felt a cold shiver, knowing that this was probably a result from understimulation, his resorting to stimming. It's just more evidence to me that letting him be too idle for too long will lead to regression. I felt guilty about not taking the kids anywhere after snacktime so I marvelled them with our new vacuum. The Dyson was on its last legs so the Hoover came from ABT yesterday. I had to move the mat off the rug to vacuum and when I put it back, I laid it over the edge of the couch forming a slide. The kids loved it, but it was hard to keep it from slipping off the couch. The mat took another incarnation, this time as the roof of a tent supported by two ottomans (ottomen?) piled up to support one end, the other end on the couch. Nikko seemed to like it because it was close quarters. Through all this excitement, I had forgotten to put Audrey down for a nap around 4:30 or 5. It was 5:15 and she didn't seem like stopping. I probably should have put her down to nap until 6p, but I decided to see how long she could go. Audrey kept up and didn't get super cranky, but when bathtime hit she wasn't quite as pleasant as an hour earlier. Ronin and Nikko watched Team Umizoomi while I got Audrey ready for bed. I noticed that Nikko was grunting and straining a few times today, and am wondering if he's trying to pass something big again. If he continues to strain tomorrow, then by Saturday latest I might have to help him out. I wonder if peaches are constipating him, because he's had a TON of peaches this week. I think the peaches had given him wetter diapers, but if he's backed up now then that's not the greatest sign. And we're supposed to be out and about tomorrow, while Nikko is constipated? I must be a glutton for punishment. Well, I already know that I am. But just my luck, he'll pass something big when we're out and about. Ugh!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Nikko woke up at 6:45a. I took him to the living room and he was in a babble-y mood. Ronin woke up at 6:55a. Audrey soon followed, so everyone got diaper changed, pajama changed, and then headed to the kitchen by 7:30a. My intention today was to take the kids to mom's house after lunchtime, around 1:30 or 2ish. The morning was not eventful. On the way to mom's house, Nikko fell asleep for about 15 minutes. When I got him out of the car I made him walk so he wouldn't fall back asleep. The kids snacked on crackers and grapes, which is better than the cereal stuff they usually munch on. Nikko showed some interest in an English/Tagalog DVD with the big Jollibee bee character that's the mascot of the famous Jollibee hamburger chain in the Philippines. Jollibee = McDonald's. For some reason, the DVD cover captivated his attention, and he watched the DVD with interest probably because the kids were engaging. He carried it to bed with him as well. There were no big behavioral challenges with Nikko today, but I did try to give him lots of squeezes and hugs to meet any sensory demands. He did some Nikko dancing today, but not as much as yesterday.

We got a notice in the mail today saying that Nikko's IEP team recommended him for the 2009-10 Extended School Year Program. It goes from June 15 - July 2, Monday-Friday, 9-12 at the Fairview School. We're supposed to send back the form with a yes or no to attend. Of course I think we should do it, but I have virtually no information on it other than what's above. I know I can ask his teachers on Monday, but I am full of questions: Who will be running the class? (I think they will determine this as soon as they find out how many kids will be in it, so that's a sit-tight thing for me) What's the curriculum for the duration of the program? What the heck will they do for three hours, five days a week? Any OT, ST or PT during that time? I'm glad to have received the notice, but hope they'll send me way more information on this program.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Good bye, Jenna!"

Ronin woke up at 6:15 and called out to me. I shuffled down the hall and opened his door, quickly herded him out since Audrey was still asleep, and had Ronin lay in the living room with me quietly. He drifted back to sleep, as did I, until Nikko started whining at 7a. This is not a bad pattern, but I sure wish Ronin would not wake up so early. Tonight he was antsy going to bed, reading in the dim light of his room, moving around so much that he kept messing up his blankets and calling to me to come fix them. I did, twice, then threatened that I wasn't coming back. I left his room and went to go run on the treadmill downstairs. I took the mp3 player this time, vs. yesterday, knowing that if Ronin fell out of bed or was screaming bloody murder enough to wake up Audrey, Denis was upstairs and could administer to Ronin. I got a longer run time than yesterday, which makes me feel better except for my sore knees. Other muscles are starting to protest so I have to keep this up somehow!

During breakfast I gave Nikko some yogurt. I asked him brightly how was his yogurt?
"YUM!" I think I heard him say that, even if he didn't look at me. That was probably the most interesting part of our morning. I felt like I had changed Nikko's diapers ten times more than Ronin. We had ABA scheduled for 4:30 but I still toyed with the idea of taking the kids outside. The window of time seemed small to me, factoring in the nap that Ronin was supposed to take at 2p. In the end I opted to stay on schedule and not take the kids outside, also because it was still a bit chilly outside. While Ronin napped, I took Nikko and Audrey downstairs for a change of scenery. I also needed to clean the mats because they were dusty. I got the kids to do a little climbing over the foof chairs, then headed back upstairs to give them some snack. Ronin joined us, too. Then it was Nikko's turn to go to ABA with Jenna. I didn't hear much, if any, whining from Nikko during his entire session. I was in the kitchen with Ronin playing Play-Doh on the floor, and I had put Audrey down for a nap. I had a chance to file Nikko's school progress reports as well as some EOBs from Blue Cross Blue Shield. It inspired me to look at our bedroom and start trying to move/purge things on my nightstand. When Nikko and Jenna came upstairs, I got a positive report from Jenna. Nikko only whined when she held back a toy from him. Otherwise, he was very compliant, and even said, "Good bye, Jenna," when she left. She looked thrilled and I was happy, too. I was modeling it minutes before, but he said it somewhat spontaneously. I think he likes Jenna a lot.

Tomorrow I plan on taking the kids to my mom's house for a visit. We could leave right after Audrey wakes up from her nap, maybe even have lunch there. If the weather is nice, maybe we could go outside at least for a walk. I can't take Audrey to any open parks where there are nice, big fields because she'll run away from me, Ronin will run in another direction, and Nikko will run in yet another direction. That's why I have to put up the baby gate across the driveway when we are in the backyard. And I still need some kind of fencing to put between our house and the neighbor's, even though it will look ghetto.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Nikko woke up at 7 today, right alongside his siblings. I'm surprised, because of last night's late sleep time and babblefest. We just came off the weekend of late bedtimes, so I was adamant about getting the kids to bed on time yesterday. I hope to stay on track throughout the week.

It was an interesting day for Nikko, behaviorally. He didn't have school so he got to watch the morning lineup of Curious George, Sid the Science Kid, Super WHY, Dinosaur Train (which I think the kids don't like as much anymore) and Sesame Street. They had breakfast during this time, too, by 8a. But for some reason Nikko and Audrey were lurking around when I tried to eat around 9:30 and they were demanding some of my breakfast sausage sandwich. I had to surrender it to them, of course, to satisfy their "second breakfast" appetites. Before Denis left for work, he was eating cereal in the living room so Audrey came over and wanted to eat from his bowl, constituting a "third breakfast" for that little munchkin. He seemed to play well on his own in the morning, pushing the Geotrax green train and other random cars along the edge of the couch. At lunchtime he barely nibbled on the pizza but finished the yogurt left over from breakfast. I guess he was still full from second breakfast. While I noticed that this particular behavior started last night, I have to jot down that Nikko is starting to make high-pitched screams for literally no reason. I think he's testing out his voice and enjoys these ear-piercing screams, but they are truly annoying.

Melissa came over at 2p for Nikko's therapy. He was glad to see her and was very energetic going downstairs. I warned Melissa that Nikko has been doing these bursts of screams lately, and that he is also in a whiny stage. She said, "Oh, poor Nikko! It must be very frustrating for him to communicate." When it was time to start working, Nikko kissed me good bye and I told him to have fun! After we left him, I told Ronin it was time to read stories (aka naptime) and he didn't want to sleep. Of course I ignored his crying and went to his room with a book in hand. He did go to sleep after I left him, so why even bother fighting it? I could hear Nikko downstairs and he was doing some big time whining. It went on for quite a while until it silenced. Melissa told me later on that he whined a lot in the beginning but she made him take a sensory break by playing with Play Doh and it calmed him down A LOT so that after the clay he was making high-pitched happy sounds instead. This was before snack time, when he got angry that all the fruit snacks were gone. She said he even knocked down a chair because he was angry. (!!!) But she and I both agreed that hey, when they're gone, they're gone. She even said she made him throw out the empty bag, which probably made it more final. Works for me. Even now, later at night, I thought back to what Melissa said about Nikko's whining, that it must be frustrating for him to communicate so he whines. It's true, even though it grates on my nerves, so I've got to find some compassion and apply it.

We didn't go anywhere in the afternoon because although it was sunny outside, it was deceptively chilly. Instead, Ronin was really into watching an episode of Team Umizoomi that I recorded on the DVR. It's a "new" cartoon on the NickJr. Channel, really colorful and bright and fast. It's Dora and Kai Lan on crack, in my opinion, but I haven't watched a full episode yet so I won't knock it completely. Audrey got a nap, and I played with the boys in the living room by giving piggy back rides. It didn't last long because I got dizzy. Nikko was saying, "Up!" as I modeled for him in order to get a ride. He got really upset when I took a time out from rides, and even more upset when I stopped completely. I redirected him to a gummy vitamin to stop him from pulling me everywhere and it worked, but I realized that using the vitamin will probably set a bad precedence so I better think of something else next time.

Something happened in this early evening before dinner. Ronin was playing in front of the TV with a bulldozer on top of some blocks, watching Umizoomi of course. I was in the kitchen and suddenly heard a commotion and a hard THUD. I ran to see what happened, saw Ronin on the ground crying and Nikko had already taken off running in the opposite direction toward the kitchen. I asked Ronin what happened and he said Nikko pushed Ronin to the ground. I spun around and caught Nikko's arm. Nikko was laughing at being caught, but I was stern and told him "We don't push!" I dragged Nikko to the Time Out spot and made him sit down. He did what I said, tried to get up twice but I made him sit down again. I set a timer for one minute and sat across from him. Nikko just flipped onto his tummy and was tracing a finger on the ground, then sat in the spot and looked around at nothing in particular. It occurred to me that a formal time out wasn't garnering any reaction of remorse or thoughtfulness at all from him. He didn't know why he was there, and probably didn't care except to attempt to escape if I'd let him. After a short minute, I dragged him back to Ronin and told him to say sorry, then hug Ronin. I guess if anything, it was for Ronin to see that I would punish Nikko sometimes, not just Ronin. I went back to the kitchen and Nikko followed me, whining. I knelt down and asked, "What does Nikko want?" He said, "Truck!" and he pulled me to the living room right to Ronin. There was a ride-along truck sitting next to Ronin, who was playing with the bulldozer, but Nikko didn't make a move for it. "What does Nikko want?" I asked again. He said, "Truck," then bent down looking at Ronin's bulldozer. I said that Ronin was playing with it and that we should ask Ronin if he could let Nikko play with it, while Ronin could maybe play with his green train instead? Ronin took the cue and ran to his green train, saying he'd let Nikko play with the bulldozer and Ronin would play with his train. I thanked Ronin so much for being such a good brother, then I pulled Nikko's head up, prompting him to say Thank You to Ronin. Nikko said, "Thank you," and Ronin said Thank You right back. So what did I learn from this episode? I learned that time outs have no effect on Nikko, YET, but he still needs to be disciplined if he does something wrong or hurtful. I've been reprimanding and getting him to apologize, I've swatted when the offense is very hurtful, and I redirect. Might have to try something else. I also thought about what Melissa said again, during Nikko's attempt to get the truck from Ronin. Nikko was communicating with me by physically pulling me to the bulldozer, but he was also able to answer my question directly with "Truck." That's something not to be taken for granted. Sure, he's answered to food questions like, "What does Nikko want?" when we're sitting at the dining room table. He'll say, "Peaches" (that's his food of choice lately, and will overdose on it very quickly) or he'll say Pizza or Chicken Nuggets if I model it for him. This was one of the first times he's told me that he wanted something that wasn't food-related (Truck) and with such clarity. He's asked for movies and such, but I've had to prompt him with DVD covers or give him choices. I guess I have to continue to build his vocabulary so he can ask for anything. Big task.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Babbling, babbling

6a Nikko is whining in his bed and it wakes me up so I go to him, click off his night light and doze next to him. He also dozes off, and then at 7a Ronin calls out for me. Nikko is still sleeping so I go get the other two and hang out in the living room. Nikko stirs 10 minutes later and joins us. It's not a bad start to the morning, especially since Ronin didn't wake up at 5. But for some reason I was a bit cranky and barking at them up until we got to breakfast. I think the night before, at Atz's house, the smoke from the fireplace had gotten to my eyes because when I took out my contacts, my eyes were burning and tired. It probably transpired into this morning. I think Denis sensed my irritation and mentioned that maybe I should take a break in the afternoon while Ronin was napping. Lucky for us, Nikko fell asleep right before Ronin's 2p nap so I was able to leave the house quietly. I went to T-Mobile to question the texting services I suddenly didn't have, then to Mitsuwa to get a replacement scrub towel, then to Costco and Jewel for whatever was on the grocery list. When I got back 2.5 hours later, all the kids were sitting in the kitchen finishing snack. I was amazed they weren't teary-eyed, but Denis told me that I had missed all the fireworks, especially from Nikko. I think Nikko had slept for 1.5 hours. Before dinner I took the boys downstairs to run around, while Audrey took a nap, and both Ronin and Nikko followed a simple obstacle course I made using the trampoline and the foof chairs. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough exercise to tire out Nikko. I put melatonin in his juice, which he drank, but at bedtime he wasn't entirely sleepy. I've become chicken again and sat with him, singing to him and stroking his forehead until he fell asleep. It was 8:35p when I left his room to finish tucking in Ronin. Ronin was still moving around and called out to me at 8:50, looking for his toy food in the bed. I retucked him in and told him to go to sleep. Then around 10:15p I could hear Nikko talking to himself. He was babbling quite loudly until he heard the floorboards creak in the hallway. At 10:27 he was wailing. I gave him four minutes and then went inside. He was still in his bed, awake, so I retucked him in and said my good night mantra, emphasizing the STAY IN BED. STAY IN BED part. I hope it worked because he didn't erupt into tears when I left. And I could still hear him talking to himself a half hour later. Poor Nikko. I wonder if the long nap offset his sleeping, meaning that he wasn't sleepy enough to sustain a deep sleep, despite the melatonin (which I know was just supposed to help him fall asleep, not stay asleep). I wonder if he'll still wake up early (probably) and will be cranky tomorrow (possibly). I'll have to warn Melissa about potential crankiness, since he has therapy at 2p.

I've given a little more thought to how I've been saying that Nikko has been acting different lately. Not just the physical stuff, mind you, because there's definitely something going on there and I don't know if that's sensory or whatnot. But I feel like Nikko's been different, in his mannerisms and his intentions. He's definitely comprehending more, understands when we're going somewhere or when given direction, even if he doesn't always follow it. He understands when I say No, even if he doesn't like it. This may not be different "wrong", but perhaps Nikko is just growing up, or growing out if you will. Reaching a different level, maybe? The fact that he has words and the ability to repeat words is so huge and is making a difference in requesting. There's still lots of work to do here, but there's no denying that his speech is going to be the cornerstone of his communication. The one area I am having some difficulty with (among others) is that his attention span is so short. We sat at the table and I held up a car, said Car, and he said Car. Next was Spoon. There was one more object which I forget. But after the third one, I lost his attention and he ceased to repeat anything I said or held in front of him. This short attention span makes it hard to read books and to teach him how something works. With Nikko on spring break this week, I'm going to have to find things to engage his mind, or he might go back to crashing and stimming.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A sad tangent

5a - Ronin waking. Met me at the door, then ran and bounded back into bed. I tucked him in and asked him WHY he asks for me just for this? I slept at the foot of his bed until I heard Nikko crying at 6a. So I switched rooms. I saw that Nikko had a bit of a bloody nose as evidenced from the smears on the bed sheet and a pillow. I got some tissues to blot, and Nikko was lying on his side waiting for me to turn out the nightlight and get in bed. While I was blotting the bed sheet, Nikko took his hand and tapped the pillow twice. I stopped and looked at him, wondering if he was really telling me to hurry up. He paused, then put his hand out and tapped the pillow twice again. I laughed because it seemed humorous. I turned the bloody pillow over so I wouldn't be laying in it, then chilled out with him until I heard Ronin wake up in another hour.

There was nothing spectacular going on during the day, until we got ready for the birthday get-together dinner at the Penepacker's for Atz's and Allie's birthdays. Nikko fell asleep on the way, and even after I carried him inside and put him on the couch he flipped over face down and kept napping. I knew that when he woke up, he'd be all about the crackers on the table instead of eating real food. Later, he'd be all about the cake. Of course, these two things came to pass. In the interim, I'd say the kids did pretty well over there. Ronin was very independent and played downstairs with Sabrina. Audrey was unusually clingy to me and hung out with the adults instead of exploring the basement. It wasn't until after Nikko's nap that he was interactive, and he wouldn't stay downstairs unless I or Denis was there. He got whiny over the crackers and I told him he'd get some cracker for every bite of nugget. It worked for a little while. After I released him, he was going crazy over a blue helium balloon and the others were cracking up as he jostled around with it. There was one instance, however, that evoked some thoughts later in my evening. I was coming to get Nikko to put on his shoes because we were going to leave soon, when I came across Sabrina at the stairwell. I could see Nikko laying on his tummy hanging around his cousins, who were playing with a new Playmobile Spinx toy that Allie got for her birthday.

Sabrina, who is the sweetest girl, said to me, "Tita Mich, can you come get Nikko...?"

"Sure, I was just coming to get him," I replied.

Then Sabrina continued in a smaller voice, "...because he's ruining...everything."

I called Nikko's name and he jumped up and bounded up to me, following me upstairs. He was probably playing with some of the figurines and pushing things around, not paying attention if someone told him no or to not touch something of theirs. Kids are generally honest and for Sabrina to tell me that Nikko was ruining everything felt like I got stabbed in the heart a little. (Sabrina is a wonderful niece and very bright, I have to add. She's very sensitive and loving, which made it all the more hard to hear.) It made me think about how other kids might see Nikko as a nuisance or hardheaded, and would not want to play with him because he doesn't get it yet. I know everyone prefers Ronin over Nikko because Ronin is verbal and articulate and a cute little boy, but my heart aches for Nikko because he is not aware of what he does yet. I worry that he will be ostracized in the future. It made me think about how his peers at the Westbrook School are probably taught to be compassionate because they are in an integrated class with other special needs kids, but what happens when Nikko is surrounded by those who are less compassionate? It made me think back to that kid in the airport that didn't like how Nikko was following him, so the kid announced that "That kid is weird!" I think I'm getting depressing thinking even more about this. So I'll stop for now.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The whistle / The Nikko dance

After I put Nikko on the bus this morning, I packed up Audrey and met up with Denis and Ronin, who had already left to drop off the Honda Civic at the Honda dealer to do some oil change stuff. They all came with me to an annual doctor appointment at Northwest Community Hospital. The saving grace for Denis was the portable DVD player, which captured the kids' attention. We got back in plenty of time before Nikko's bus came. He was in good spirits, and I wonder if he will miss going to school next week because he'll be on spring break. In his backpack was a small bag with a purple whistle-toy that unfurls, and a little yellow frisbee. It was the birthday of a girl down the block. Ronin immediately grabbed the whistle and blew into it, the purple tail curling and uncurling, spit flying from his lips when he didn't close them completely around the tube. Nikko wanted to try it and when I gave it to him, he started to chew on the tube. I tried to show him how to blow but Nikko wasn't understanding what I was doing. He just wanted to put his teeth on the tube. I saw him manually unfurl the purple tail, but he kept pushing me away when I tried to help him. I gave up, hoping that he didn't tear the whistle apart in frustration. He took off for a few minutes and I went back to my business in the kitchen. Then he came back in and was blowing the whistle correctly, unfurling the tail. I praised him with a loud HOORAY! and he was very pleased with his accomplishment. Ronin got envious and kept demanding the whistle back so I had lots of redirecting to do.

Nikko can eat a LOT of peach slices. I thought he was going to be on a mandarin orange kick, and sometimes he is, but peaches seem to be the big winner lately. I don't mind giving him peaches, but I do worry that he'll eat so many that he'll hurl. After his lunch of a few nuggets and lots of peaches, he was running around the kitchen furiously. For a few seconds I watched him and started thinking that he was doing the Nikko dance, something I hadn't seen in a few weeks. That means he was stimming. This was evidenced later in the afternoon during Ronin's nap, when I was sitting on the couch next to Audrey trying to get a nap since the boys had early wakings again (5a for Ronin, who fell back asleep, and then 5:45 for Nikko who probably dozed but ended up being awake next to me, by the way. PLEASE, NIKKO AND RONIN, SLEEP UNTIL ANY TIME AFTER 7A!!!). Nikko was really restless, jumping off ottomans and the couch, running in circles and taking dives onto blankets that were on the floor mats in front of the couch. He was also loud at times, shrieking and making unintelligible noises in short bursts. There were some moments when he seemed to be doing a Nikko dance to a familiar song, but the way he was crashing into the couch I thought to myself, "This kid needs a padded room." The OT sent home a sheet of activities for preschoolers to do during spring break so I may have to give them a try.

It was around 6p that we decided to take the kids out to dinner at Portillo's/Barnelli's and then go pick up the car from the dealer. We were running late against our bedtime schedule, but I guess we have to try to be flexible. We won't always be able to get the kids in bed by 8:30, but it felt kind of weird to run so late when in actuality we got the kids to bed in time for their OLD schedule, around 9:20. Back to dinner, we put the kids at the table in the same formation we did when we went to CiCi's pizza on Valentine's Day: Nikko next to Denis, then Ronin at the foot of the table, then Audrey next to me. I took Nikko up to the counter with me to order food. He was looking around at everything, being a bit antsy so I had a hand on his head quite a bit. I gave him a straw to hold and he started waving it around like an airplane. His body was doing lots of little jerky movements and I was surprised to observe all this because I think he's been in a state of calm for more than a few weeks, lately. Could it also be that I haven't taken him out other than Costco or school, so he hasn't been challenged by the outside environment of unpredictability as much? That doesn't explain the Nikko dance at home, however. Regardless, he was very well-behaved at dinner, as well as the other two. There were some older kids behind me putting some tables together and I noted that it was a big party of late teen/early 20 somethings? having dinner together. And they were surprisingly quiet. I caught from a sidelong glance that all the kids at the big table formation were using sign language. Audrey thought they were really funny, waving their hands every which way and she tried to mimic their waving hands. It made me more aware of Nikko, who was sitting facing them, when Denis was prompting Nikko to say, "Drink, please, Daddy!" Nikko said Drink, signed and said please, and eventually said and signed Daddy. The sign for Daddy is an open sideways hand putting the thumb on your forehead. Nikko's version is putting the pinky finger on his forehead instead, but we all know what it means. I don't think anyone at that kids' table was paying attention to Nikko, but I felt a little kinship toward them regardless. As I anticipated on the drive home, Nikko fell asleep because it was 8:15, his now-regular bedtime. We had to wake him up when we got home, unfortunately. Thankfully, Nikko was still very tired and by bedtime I sat with him a little longer until his eyelids got heavy and he fell asleep.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thoughts on Whine & Fruit Snacks

Nikko's whiny stage grates on my nerves. There are two times when he whines:

1) When he wants something and is told that he can't have it.
2) When he wants something.

I guess my part is to tell him to "Use your words!" or to model the correct way to say something, when he wants something. But when something is a no, I don't know what to replace his whining with. Reasoning and rationalizing don't mean anything to him except no. I try to redirect him, but it's got to be something much better than what he wants, not of equal or lesser value. I just wanted to jot this down before I forget, because if Nikko's not communicating with real words, he's whining. And it's driving me batty.

Ronin woke up at 4a and was calling me. I opened his door and he scurried back into bed. I told him to go back to sleep, tucked him in, and then lay down next to him. I think he was holding his white crane truck that he got from Meijer yesterday and was excited to have it, because at 5a I stirred, looked up and he looked down at me. I think he hadn't fallen back asleep for an hour or so! I told him to try sleeping and he did drift off at some point. Nikko woke up around 6:45 so it was business as usual. PLEASE, RONIN AND NIKKO, SLEEP UNTIL 7A!

Nikko's progress report for speech - Hi, we worked on requesting. Now I think he's just mad to leave playtime!

My goals today were ABA @1, nap Ronin and then play outside before dinner. Maria came and she and Nikko got to work. I could hear him protesting and whining about something but didn't hear much when I put my ear to the door. Later, they both came upstairs and Maria was prompting Nikko to ask for a drink. She said they were having snack, Nikko was upset because he wasn't getting all the fruit snacks at once, and then he seemed to be choking on one so Maria got concerned so they headed upstairs. I told her he never chokes on fruit snacks so I don't know what he's up to. Later on she said that Nikko is very smart and could tell that Maria showed concern/was scared that he was choking on the fruit snacks. Maria said his session was challenging, the most difficult one she's had since starting, but that didn't mean it wasn't a good session. Guess I should check the binder again, since she said that he's done really well with the family matching pictures. He's able to positively identify all of us, 80% was the figure. We still have to figure out what to do about his obsession with the fruit snacks. I told her that I stopped giving them to him a long time ago because he was clearly motivated by them and got really obsessed about them if he didn't get them. While they are a good motivator, she was suggesting that we look for motivators that were not food-based. Actually I said that to her and she agreed. Now that's something I'm going to have to think about, because food obviously works for Nikko, but concrete objects are so arbitrary for him. Sometimes a DVD cover will be the hit of the week, sometimes it's the little Nemo or Bruce figurine, sometimes it's a train or the Curious George fire truck. It changes constantly. I guess a trip to the $1 bins at Target might yield some original and unusual stuff.

I had put Ronin down for his nap during ABA. Ronin did NOT want to go to sleep. Ever since the session a few weeks back when Maria invited Ronin to play clay with them in the basement, Ronin's been determined to play with Maria. It wasn't going to happen today. Despite the protests, I lured him to his bed with some books. When we finished reading, he was laying there playing with the crane truck and didn't make any noise when I closed the door. When Nikko was finished with ABA, I wondered when Ronin would get up so that we could all go play outside. It was the most beautiful weather day of the week and I didn't want the kids to miss it. I saw that Nikko had the potential to drift off, and selfishly I denied him the opportunity by announcing that he, Audrey and I could go have a snack before playing outside. While it's good for Nikko to get a nap if he needs it, I didn't want to wait for him to nap for a half or whole hour, then Ronin wake up in the middle of it and we'd have to wait AGAIN for another kid's nap to finish before going outside. I guess I should have let Nikko sleep. He didn't languish the rest of the evening, but was really sleepy by bedtime. Finally, all three kids were awake at the same time so I changed their diapers, put on jeans and jackets or fleece, then shuffled everyone outside. They all had a good time in the driveway and on the swingset, but since we have only one Little Tykes car, they all fought over riding in it. I'm going to have to find another one somewhere. When it was time to go inside, I realized that I had overlooked Audrey's supposed-to-be-4pm nap. It was now 5:30 and she was incredibly crabby and whiny. I had no choice but to put her down for half an hour. Then there was Nikko who was asking for [Cheez-It] Crackers right NOW, but I had to say no because it wasn't dinner yet. He was angry and started yanking my hand, running back and forth to the kitchen whining like a fire engine. I decided to start dinner for the boys a little early, so I did end up giving him crackers but he also had to eat some chicken nuggets. He complied at first, but when there were just nuggets left on his plate, he didn't want to listen to me repeat: FIRST nuggets, THEN crackers. He whined about it, demanded crackers from me, but I stood my ground. I had called my brother Eric to wish him a happy (31st!) birthday and he heard all the whining coming from Nikko. Not easy to have a nice conversation that way! Nikko gave up and left the table, but later on came back when I was giving sliced pizza to Audrey. He had some too, and also had mandarin oranges. He was exhausted at bedtime.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


On the last post I pleaded that Ronin PLEASE stay asleep until 7a. Ok, but I forgot to plead that Nikko stay asleep until 7a as well! Nikko woke up at 3a and started crying out. I was cold and tired so I got up and did my usual middle-of-the-night routine: fumbled for a fleece pullover, grabbed my glasses and cell phone, shuffled out into the hall and closing the bedroom door behind me, went into Nikko's room, turned off the night light so it was pitch black, and climbed into Nikko's car bed next to him. At 3a in the morning, I didn't feel like having him cry it out. I think he stirred once (I didn't check my watch) but I put a hand on his arm and he calmed immediately. At 6:45a Ronin woke up and was calling for me, so that was everyone's wake-up time (except for Denis, who had left much earlier to go to work). So to get this out of the way early, PLEASE RONIN AND NIKKO, STAY ASLEEP UNTIL 7A!!

Nikko didn't have speech today because Kathy was out sick so there wasn't anything extraordinary on his progress report. He came home with an unusual amount of paint splattered on his clothes. When I checked the report I saw that the activity today was "Paint with cars." I'm sure he had fun with that! We're currently having a great few days of weather in the high 50's-low 60's, and tomorrow is supposed to be 70 degrees, so I've been forced to try to get the kids outdoors. Anyone who grew up an Alog kid knows that going outdoors was not really a priority to us growing up. I had my share of biking and playing in the park and digging through the neighborhood garbage in the alleys (who has a house that has an alley nowadays??), but outdoorsy activities weren't our forte. Now that I have kids, I realize I'd better get over my old ways and get them outside to enjoy nature, get wet (shudder) and get dirty (major shudder). Within reason. Yesterday I sacrificed the timing of Ronin's nap so that the kids could play in the backyard for 45 minutes. Audrey kept running down the driveway toward the street. It's difficult with her because she has zero sense of boundaries at one year old. I'll have to put up the baby gate when we're outside, I guess. Ronin and Nikko were on the swings and slides like champs, even exploring the big tree in the backyard.

Today I was lamenting because we really needed to make a Costco trip [to buy more potstickers. Ronin is eating a lot of them!] and possibly a Meijer trip for groceries, but I wanted to get them running around in this great weather. So before Costco, I let the kids run a bit in the backyard. Rachel was next door putting water into these plastic bumpers affixed to their swingset, so I talked to her over the fence and showed off Audrey and Ronin. They were squirmy but friendly. When I looked over at them after releasing them, Nikko and Audrey had found the plastic toboggan, filled with leftover ice water and leaves. Guess what they were doing? Splashing with their hands! I ran over and dragged them away, turning over the toboggan and declaring it time to go to Costco. I had to change Nikko's shirt because the sleeves were wet, but Audrey wasn't too wet. We survived Costco, but Ronin was sleepy so I decided we would take a trip to Meijer after all. This would give Ronin and Nikko a chance to take a nap in the car. When we got to Meijer, I allowed the boys to look at little Matchbox cars and, if on sale, take one home. I wanted to do some recon and check out the ride-on toys with possibly getting something for Audrey. But the boys were whining at my heels, wanting to open their cars, wanting the other cars on the shelves, and wanting, wanting, wanting! I gave them Oreos to tide them over and give them a snack, since going to Meijer had cut in on our scheduled snack time. I sped through the grocery and got us to self-checkout, where a cashier was so kind to help bag my stuff. I scanned the boys' cars, ripped them open and gave each car to its kid, and there was SILENCE. :) When we got home, I unloaded the car and let the kids run for a little bit since it was still sunny outside and almost dinnertime. We chatted with our neighbor Manolo, who hadn't seen Audrey since the fall.

After dinner and in the living room, Nikko was bounding around, watching TV and playing with cars. He came up to me and sat in my lap when I sat on the ground. He put his face right up to mine and was squishing his nose on mine, but then I realized he was kissing me, and ended with a big "Mwuah!" I laughed, and he giggled and tried it again and again. "Mwuah! Mwuah!" It was a sweet interaction. Then I saw him put his hand under his lips as if to blow a kiss, then put his hands under his cheek as if he were sleeping. I think he was mimicking something he saw on TV (from Hi-5 perhaps?). He's been doing a lot of mimicking from The Wiggles this week. I wonder if he might be ready for learning some letters? I just thought of it tonight and might try putting a few letters in front of him for some recognition. Or I could try to drill all three of the kids during a mealtime. Ideal, but no guarantee that their attention spans would be present!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nikko's sleep success Day 1

From Nikko's progress report:
OT - Was able to stay on swing longer today with less protests. Colored with more coverage and did a small peg design activity.
[from Kathy] - Nikko went up to Mrs. McCarthy, patted her and said "hi" spontaneously during playtime.

And then Kathy sent me an email later in the day:
Today Nikko was mad at me - I swear he knew it wasn't his day for me to pull him for speech but I had extra time and took him across the hall for a bit. We sat on the floor and I asked him to sort pictures into piles of animals or food on a big page for the category. He QUICKLY sorted 15 of them accurately and without any help. He did great even though he was mad and we had never even tried it before! He named them after me too.

We've been noticing that during ABA, Nikko gets pretty frustrated and mad about something, i.e. refusal to finish drawing something, but will still complete a task if he is focused. We're still trying to figure out how to handle his motivation regarding fruit snacks. He gets really mad knowing they are there and he can't have them right away. I know that's the point of discrete trials, to get him to do something with a motivator, but I think he's overly motivated to the point of frustration. Otherwise, Nikko was very sing-songy today, as much as yesterday, singing Veggie Tales and The Wiggles songs. He woke up at 7a, whereas Ronin woke up at 3:50, 4:50 and 5:50. AM!!! The last time, he said he wanted to go play. I told him it was 6am, nobody was awake, and to go back to sleep. I also laid at the foot of his bed since it was close to 6a and I didn't want to go walking back all the way to my room. He did fall back asleep, and slept until 8a. The bugger! I went into Nikko's room at 7a and basically waited for him to wake up, which he did. I wonder if he just needed that extra hour at night to sleep, because Ronin aside, this earlier bedtime looks like it might work out for Nikko. That was only the first night, however. Tonight, I watched him fall asleep because he wasn't completely out by prayer time. He didn't nap all day, so I didn't give him melatonin. But lucky for me he did fall asleep before me, so there were no tantrums. I hate those. Wonder what time he'll wake up tomorrow. PLEASE, Ronin, PLEASE sleep until 7a, and don't wake up in the early hours!! And my cold is on day 2.5. I can't breathe. Tonight I caught up on watching LOST, Celebrity Apprentice and Giulianna & Bill.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Revised schedule #2 / No means NO

Instead of 8p, I decided that 8:30p might be more realistic to shoot for as the ultimate bedtime. I revised my schedule:

7:00a - Breakfast
8:10 - Nikko off to school
10:00 - mid morning snack if needed
10:30 - Audrey's nap #1
11:20 - Nikko home from school
11:30 - lunch
1:00 - Ronin's nap
2:30 - Snack time
4:15 - Audrey's nap #2
6:00 - Dinner
7:20 - Audrey's bath time
7:40 - Audrey's bed time
7:45 - Nikko & Ronin's bath time
8:15 - Stories and prayers
8:30 - Nikko & Ronin's bed time

I tried really hard to stick to it. I also gave the kids cold medicine before bathtimes because they all have drippy noses and coughs. At story time, Nikko fell asleep while Denis was reading about Cars. I calculated that he had been awake for 13 hours straight (woke up at 7a) so he got tired without a nap. At his previous bedtime, Nikko was awake for 14.5+ hours, so maybe he really needs an earlier bedtime. This is only night #1, so we'll see. Things are dicey because the babies are sleeping with stuffed-up noses. I will be watching their wake-up times and if they are consistent, then this is the schedule we'll adopt. If they keep waking up at 4 or 5, however, I might push it forward again. Daylight savings time helped a lot, actually, because Nikko woke up at 7a, which in reality is 6a as of last week, so it didn't seem harsh to me at all.

Nikko was in good spirits today and had a good ABA session with Melissa. She said that he really liked the bubbles when she took them out. He had just finished jumping on the foof chairs when she pulled out bubbles and he stopped to calmly watch them. It's been awhile since he's seen bubbles. Melissa also mused about the fruit snacks. She used them with Nikko and he seemed unwilling to cooperate unless he had them all. Nikko watches very sharply when you have a coveted food. I know this because he's done it to me many, many times where he can see if I've hidden it behind a bag, or if there's more left at the bottom of a bag, or if it's truly gone. An hour before dinnertime I had just finished some garlic bread and was preparing dinner when Nikko said, "Cheese," referring to the Parmesan cheese I grated on the garlic bread. He wanted some. Now. I told him no, dinner was in an hour. Nikko got really angry and was running back and forth between rooms, whipping his burp cloth around like a propeller. He was whining and throwing himself on the kitchen floor, but I stood my ground because I really didn't want him to spoil his dinner appetite. Instead, I tried to redirect him with tickles and with watching Finding Nemo. Because I stayed out of the kitchen, he did loosen up and gave up his attempts to get me to change my mind. While I am happy that Nikko can say a concrete word and put it in the form of a "request," and that I should reward the positive behavior, sometimes no means NO. I had to try to make him understand that he wasn't going to get what he wanted this time. And when I reach the point of no return, that giving in to a demand would lose the lesson, I really have to keep being consistent or I'll feel steamrolled.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lots to say today / Revised bedtime schedule

It was daylight savings time and the clocks moved forward so I expected the kids to get up early. Both Ronin and Audrey were restless in their beds and I had to keep going in there to settle them. They both got the cold that Nikko got from me: coughing & runny noses. Today was day 2 for Nikko's cold and the skin below his nose is red from his constant sleeve-wiping. Ronin is much better at asking for a nose wipe, but since he doesn't always ask right away he uses his sleeves and his cheeks are bright red with irritation. Audrey's drippy nose started in the afternoon so tonight, both she and Ronin are having difficulty sleeping.

Nikko had such a verbal day today. During breakfast he found an empty paper towel roll in the recycling bin and started making roaring sounds through one end. I stood on the other end and put it to my ear, then roared back into it. We had a little exchange but it was short-lived (too many kings of the jungle!). Later in the morning I was drowsy on the couch sitting next to Audrey when Nikko came up to me and put his open hand and fingers over his face, saying "Sleep." Then he put his hand over my face. I think he was observing me, not saying that he himself was sleepy. This morning Nikko wanted to watch The Reef, but after a while I was getting annoyed that it wasn't engaging enough so I put in Finding Nemo and the kids were content with it. Denis told me that Nikko was saying, "Shark bait! Whoo ha ha!" just like in the movie, but I didn't hear it. After lunch, Denis was munching on some peanut butter cereal when Nikko showed interest. Denis told Nikko to say Shark Bait to earn some cereal, and Nikko repeated it clearly. Except for the Whoo ha ha. In the afternoon we were watching Racing to the Rainbow (The Wiggles) when I noticed that Nikko was saying something and then dropping to the floor, bounding back up, saying it again and dropping to the floor. He was imitating Captain Feathersword who says, "Well blow me down!" then a crew member blows at him and he falls down in a heap. Nikko was pointing at no one in particular, saying, "Well blow me down!" and then he'd drop to the floor. I thought it was hilarious! Ronin does this as well, but Ronin comes up to me and says, "Well blow me down!" then waits for me to blow at him before falling backwards in a heap. When we were taking the boys into the basement for a romp, Nikko was walking down the stairs singing, "La la, la la," from The Wiggles' Mermaid Song. Nikko really seems to be in a sing-song mood lately, and I have to listen really closely to find the melody. Finally, at bedtime, while I was dressing Ronin, Denis said from the bathroom that Nikko said, "Bathtime." Clear as a bell. But he couldn't get Nikko to repeat it for me, so I'll have to try it on Nikko tomorrow.

One last note. Tomorrow, pending wake-up times, I'm going to try to put the kids to bed earlier. I'm going to try it for two weeks to see if it affects their sleeping patterns, to see if sleep begets sleep, and to see if it helps eliminate the early morning wakings. I had to sit and think about what our schedule would be like and it's REALLY early for us. I don't know if I can keep this schedule but I'll try:

7:00a - Breakfast
8:10 - Nikko off to school
10:00 - mid morning snack if needed
10:30 - Audrey's nap #1
11:20 - Nikko home from school
11:30 - lunch
1:00 - Ronin's nap
2:30 - Snack time
3:00 - Audrey's nap #2
5:30 - Dinner
6:50 - Audrey's bath time
7:10 - Audrey's bed time
7:15 - Nikko & Ronin's bath time
7:45 - Stories and prayers
8:00 - Nikko & Ronin's bed time

Am I going to be able to do this?? Any gaps in between times are for playing time w/the kids. The available times for going to Costco or early morning errands are between 8:30 - 11:00, and from 12:30 - 4:00 if I forgo some nap times. Tuesdays would be late dinner days because Jenna comes between 4:30-6:00. There are tons of parents that put their kids down before 8p, so this should be a doable list. And somehow I guess I should cut myself some slack as long as the boys are in bed at either 8:15 or 8:30 LATEST. I hope I can do this for two weeks! Maybe it will be just what we need.

Guilt = action

I've been feeling guilty about giving Nikko the melatonin. It makes him sleepy around bathtime and I watch his face to see his eyelids get heavy. He has a look about him that wonders what is happening to him. I feel guilty that I've induced it. After chatting at length with Atz today about the effects of melatonin, I'm giving it some second thoughts because I don't know how it will affect him long-term. His blood levels should be tested, she recommended. And while there are lots of articles on melatonin, one of the drawbacks I've read about are that it could stimulate other hormones, and possibly in a bad way. One thing that I will try, starting Monday (or Sunday, if the timing is right, but probably not) is to put the kids down earlier. Significantly earlier. Maybe by 8p, 8:30p latest. I have my doubts, that putting them to bed earlier may mean they wake up exactly 8 hours later (4 or 5a), but maybe they really need MORE sleep. I'll give it a try for two weeks. I just have to figure out exactly what our revised schedule will be. Meaning, Audrey goes down at 7:15p, gets ready for bed at 7p, then dinner is at 5:30-6p?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Forcing #2

5:45a - Ronin wakes up and starts calling for me. I scramble over there before he totally wakes up Audrey. I lay at the edge of his bed hoping he'll go back to sleep but that doesn't happen. Audrey stirs soon and we have to head into the living room. Nikko wakes up at 6:30. We hit the kitchen at 7a. Man, what an early morning!! Audrey tuckered out on the living room floor next to me while watching Sesame Street at 10a, and later in the afternoon she conks out on the couch at 3:30p. Nikko kept trying to come up to her and put his face right on hers, or his face on her hand, and I heard her stir a few times so I had to sit and guard the sleeping beauty. Meanwhile, Nikko goes and comes home from school. I warned his teachers that he was constipated in case it affected his performance. Since he didn't pass anything, I decided before putting Ronin down for a nap that I'd have to help Nikko out. It took all of five minutes, no gory details here, but I had to hold Nikko in my lap facing me, to help him push, and he struggled fiercely. At bathtime I noticed his shoulders were a little bruised and had some broken capillaries, probably from the force I had to use to hold him down. It made me sad. But it had to be done, and I didn't drag everyone to Costco in the event that he'd have another movement, which didn't happen. After Audrey woke up and I snacked the kids (Nikko ate almost a whole can of mandarin oranges. He loved them!), we all went down to the basement. I broke out a Christmas toy: a multi-piece Black & Decker tool set. This amused everyone for half an hour as I tried to show them the different uses of the tools, tried the toolbelt and hard hat on everyone, and then cleaned it all up in a bag so it wasn't scattered. Ronin wanted to run around with the screwdriver but I could see a big accident happening on the trampoline so I nixed that idea. I was watching Nikko to see if he'd get tired, but he managed to stay awake. We came up to have dinner and then chilled out before bath time. Being awake for 14+ hours makes him super tired and sleepy by the end of the night so I didn't have to give him any melatonin. He's been taking Ronin's toys away from him and I've had to step in to intervene. I'm wondering if I'm going to have to start putting Nikko in time out for dragging Ronin around. I try to distract Nikko when there's a toy squabble, but I haven't put Nikko in a time out yet. It will probably take quite a few times before he gets time out.

I didn't have an entry on the 10th, so I wanted to reiterate the progress report from speech: He was singing scales today! Worked on naming objects, giving objects, family and 1-step - - getting "close the door!"

I forgot to mention that Maria emailed me a social story for Nikko regarding the hitting issue. Regarding Nikko hitting us, she told me she'd confer with Linda so that we're all on the same page, and: He will need an immediate consequence for him to understand. He may not understand what a "time out" is, but when a consequence immediately follows the negative behavior in a consistent way, he will understand. I would continue with telling him "no hitting" and putting his hands down. It may also help to turn away from him for a few moments and give him no attention. We do not want to reinforce the behavior. That sounds right about what I'm doing with Nikko right now, telling him "no hitting" and grabbing his hand. The social story she emailed me is titled "Keeping Hand and Feet To Myself" and that's exactly what the story is about. It is peppered with pictures of concrete things like hands, feet, an angry face, circle time at school, on the school bus, playground, and family faces for home. I'm supposed to read it to Nikko every day, probably so that he soaks up some of it.

1:45a CIO/ Mom's house

I went to bed last night at 1:15a. Nikko woke up within five minutes of me hitting the bed. I heard his whining and decided to calm him. He was crouched in bed and was sleepy. I patted him down and waited for his eyelids to get heavy. They did, but then they'd pop back open and his eyes would be darting back and forth around the corners of the ceiling. This became a cycle and I realized again that my presence was probably hindering him from totally falling asleep. I decided to leave, and that's when things fell apart. Nikko started crying loudly, getting up and trying to crawl into my lap. He'd jump from his bed to the middle of the room and try to keep me from leaving. I was getting mad at him for protesting so loudly and for not staying in his bed. I finally moved quickly enough and got to leave, taking a small lamp with me for fear that he'd pick it up and throw it, closing the door behind me. Nikko wailed and screamed loudly, falling to his knees with a loud BOOM and jumping from the bed to the rug. One thing I worried about was the night light, which was already on the fritz if you toggled it in any direction. He did take a few swipes at it, and it left him in pitch darkness until he swatted it back again. I sat in the hallway three feet away from the door, making sure I could see the night light still glowing under the door. I saw it flicker when he hit it, but the light remained bright. I wanted to make sure it didn't short circuit and cause a fire or that he burn himself on the bulb. I think I'll replace that night light with another LCD one that's got a better protective case. Anyway, I sat on the floor, feeling so bad that Nikko was thrashing around in his room. His screaming didn't rouse either Ronin or Audrey for some reason. I told myself that if he were still screaming and thrashing after five minutes, I'd go in and point him back to bed again. At three minutes his crying slowed down. At five minutes it stopped altogether. I breathed, relieved. It was 1:45a. I went back to bed. At 2a I heard his crying start up again, but I didn't go to him at all. They stopped, probably within another three minutes, but I wondered sadly when he would get it that he needed to just go back to sleep without me. I don't know when I fell asleep, but at 6:30a Ronin started calling out for me and I couldn't get him out of the room without Audrey already sitting up and refusing to go back to sleep. I brought us into the living room to chill out until Nikko woke up, which was at 7a. The way it's supposed to be.

The weather is warming up and today was predicted to be in the 60's, which it was. The morning is still cold, however, but I didn't put a hat on Nikko today. He was happy to go to school, and was awake on the bus ride home. We had lunch right away and I was cleaning up the place for an intended playdate with the Owsley's at 3pm. Dave texted me to say that he was still stuck at work and would have to cancel. I felt bad because I told Ronin about our "friends" coming to play in the basement and he was excited about it. But since they weren't coming I would have to break it to Ronin that we weren't having our friends over. Luckily I spoke to Atz, who was at Mom's house, and she casually suggested that we come over. Mom was off today, so I made sure it was ok, then proposed these alternative plans to Ronin. He accepted them happily as long as we were going somewhere. Meanwhile, Maria came over today at 1p instead of Thursday because she needed to switch days. According to her, Nikko had a REALLY good session because he properly reciprocated an activity where you sit across from each other, legs spread in a V, and roll a ball back and forth. I recall Maria telling Mrs. I about this exercise in our team meeting. She said that usually it's a hand-over-hand activity, but today he rolled the ball back to her on command about four times. Maria also noted that Nikko works differently when she uses fruit snacks as a motivator. She's trying to determine what would be the most productive use of the fruit snacks because while Nikko does a lot of great work when he knows the fruit snacks are coming, she'd like to do things without them. As I already knew, Nikko is highly food motivated and he goes especially berserk for fruit snacks.

After ABA, I put the kids in the car and shuffled off to Mom's house. Ronin and Nikko fell asleep in the car and I noted to myself that this would be a melatonin night. The kids played at Mom's house, had a snack of peaches and crackers, and fought over the oversized Ferrari and dump truck Mom keeps for the kids. Chinny and my dad were there as well. It warms me to see Audrey go freely to everybody. Ronin, on the other hand, was sullen at one point because I was encouraging him to sing the Veggie Tales theme song and he refused to do it in front of everyone. Nikko made Mom smile because he was chanting "Veggie Tales" and singing the song in his garbled language but was still discernible as a song if you listened to the intonation closely. We got there around 4 and left around 6. The kids' dinner seemed to have been spoiled because they were constantly eating something over there, but at dinnertime they were all still open to eating. I tried giving them hot dogs on buns, but it was a failed attempt. Nikko didn't care for it much at all; Ronin greedily ate the buns and only nibbled on the dog; Audrey only got hot dog slices. I put a 1/2 tablet of melatonin in Nikko's juice, but he wasn't very interested in drinking it because he was straining for a bowel movement again. If this continues until tomorrow after school, I'm going to have to resort to the suppository again. Anyway, I mixed up some chocolate milk and put another 1/2 tablet in there. Nikko drank most of it, and by 8:40 he was nodding off. It took about 45 minutes, but I'm not sure he got 1/2 or even 3/4 of the tablet because I had switched liquids halfway. He was just about asleep at tuck-in time. I truly hope he sleeps until 7a.

Tomorrow will probably have Costco in the afternoon because we are out of potstickers. The weather is going to get rainier but I hope I can figure out a place to take the kids anyway. One more note: On our way to Mom's house, Chinny called me and was offering to come over and help play with the kids because it was a nice day outside, the first all winter. I wish I could have taken her up on the offer but we were headed to Mom's house. Awwwwwww! That was so thoughtful of her!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Yogurt and melatonin

Nikko woke up at 5a and cried out. I got up, went into his room, turned out the night light so it was pitch black in there, then laid down next to him. I think we both fell back asleep eventually. Ronin woke us up at 6:30a with his cries.

Recently I found some yogurt from Meijer that said it had probiotics in it, and another generic kind that said Digestive Care Probiotic lowfat yogurt. Is that just a fancy way of saying it's yogurt, or is this kind of yogurt different from its counterparts? This was strawberry flavored and in perfect single-serving sizes for me to give to Nikko. He had one for breakfast and wanted more. He finished three of them the entire day. He was having some after lunch when Ronin saw Melissa out front, who arrived for ABA. I went to the door to open it, and Nikko immediately let out a howl and angry cries, thinking I was walking out the door unannounced. I looked at him and tried to reassure him I wasn't going anywhere when Melissa walked in and he calmed down. It made me wonder how, despite the ABA is without me in the room and he's getting better at me leaving, is Nikko supposed to become less attached to me? Is ABA supposed to help with this? Nikko must have left a microchip inside me before he left to be born because he is constantly attuned to where I'm at or am going. Denis was home today so he watched Audrey while I took Ronin downstairs with Nikko and Melissa. I showed her the visual prompts that Maria asked for, and when it was time to go Nikko came up to me, kissed me and said Bye. We headed upstairs but he did a little bit of whining and ran over to the staircase until Melissa herded him back toward the table. He turned and ran to sit down, ready to work, but still whining a little bit. Upstairs, I heard some protesting going on and figured he wasn't having the best session. When Melissa came upstairs she confirmed that he had a harder time than last time, lots of whining and fidgeting. I wonder if it's due to the weekend, 3 days between him and the last ABA session of the week. She also said that during one of the drills, he scattered crayons around and she told him he'd have to clean them up. He looked at her as if to say, "Are you kidding me?" but proceeded to do it, and then he hit her. He probably swatted her in frustration or protest, not because he wanted to hurt her, which is what Melissa assumed. I told her he's begun to swat at Denis and me as well, especially when he's frustrated about something. Melissa said she'd talk to Maria about the best way to handle it, and I asked if Maria would email me about it too because I'd like to be able to implement the correct behavior for him. I emailed Maria tonight just as a follow-up on this.

Nikko didn't nap the rest of the day. We went to the basement to run off steam before dinner. He really enjoys saying, "Ready, set, GO!" and then having a chase or being chased by Denis or myself. He is also open to doing this with Ronin if they are both in good moods. During dinnertime I toyed with the idea of the melatonin again, and this time put it in his juice at 7:45p instead of 8:11p yesterday. I wanted to see how long it would take to kick in. I think it kicked in at 8:45p because that's when I saw Nikko do some slow eye blinking. But he also could have just been tired from no nap all day. This is actually something I rationalized when I was typing a message to a good friend :), so to paste it verbatim: Nikko was never a consistent napper, which drove/drives me crazy. Even if we run him and ourselves ragged in the basement or outside, it's no guarantee that he'll be tired enough to nap. It's as if Nikko has to be tired on his own terms. I've discovered that (not including a 15 minute nap on the bus ride home from preschool) if Nikko falls asleep for a nap during the day, and for more than 30 minutes, then it's practically guaranteed that he will not be dead tired or sleepy at bedtime. I almost do what I can to keep Nikko awake all day, unless I see that he's desperate for a nap. And then I still don't let him sleep long, no longer than an hour, less is better. I guess on those nap days I could give Nikko the melatonin, and not give it on days he is awake all day. That's a long day for a 3.5 yr old, from 6:30a to 9p! 15 hours! So I think that will be my temporary solution to the melatonin issue.

One last thing. Early in the morning, Nikko was playing with the Little People castle and was singing the melody to Micky Mouse Clubhouse. As he sang, he picked up the castle about a foot off the floor and dropped it unceremoniously. I think he was simulating how the Clubhouse had floated away, just like on the DVD we watched for three days straight. Hmmmmm.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Caved in.

Just a quick entry, I hope, because again it's past 1a. :( Last night, Nikko had his mini-meltdown before bed, but slept until 6:30a. Ronin, on the other hand, woke up at 3a and was calling out for me. I tried to ignore his cries for a few minutes, and they were pretty loud, but then I heard him wail, "Mommy, where are you? Open the door, Mommy! Open the door!" And my heart just broke hearing that. I got up and walked in. He met me at the door and said, "I want to play." "No, it's 3am. Go back to bed." He jumped into bed and drifted off. I think I adjusted his blankets, turned and left. He didn't cry after me or follow, thank goodness. It totally broke my heart to hear his voice, can't explain it. How the heck am I supposed to ignore those cries??

Tonight, I put half a crushed tablet of melatonin in Nikko's juice and gave it to him at 8:11p. He finished it, and after I put Audrey down I was keeping an eye on Nikko to see if he'd get tired. I've heard one should give it 30 minutes before sleep time. But it was 9p, he was out of the bath and no signs of sleepiness. When it was tuck-in time, Nikko was drowsy but he also had an eye on me. When I got up to turn on his CD, he sat up in bed, alert. I sat with him until his eyes got heavy and he fell asleep, but I'm wondering if I should give him the melatonin earlier, like 8p instead.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Strong Wills

I should preface this by saying today was day 2 with a painful canker sore on the right side of my tongue. Don't know how it got there. Yesterday I was in pain but tried a numbing agent that really didn't work. This morning I felt absolutely miserable and in pain.

4a - Nikko wakes up crying. I go to his room and he's standing on the carpet, a little dazed. I point him back to bed and he looks at me with semi-wide eyes. I don't know if he'll fall back asleep right away, and my resolve to leave the room crumbles so I turn off his night light, making the room almost pitch black, and then I lay next to him. He seems to be awake for an eternity but them falls back asleep. Then, at 4:40a, I hear Ronin crying out. I leave Nikko and open Ronin's door. He's standing at it, tells me, "I want to play!" "Ronin, it's 4 in the morning, no one is playing, everyone is sleeping. Go back to bed." He scurries to bed and I tuck him in, but continue to sit on the edge of his bed because I don't know if I should stay or go. "Mommy, do you want to lie down next to me?" he asks. "I don't know," I say. And then he drifts off, but starts muttering, "I want juice and cookies." I decide to stay for a little while just in case he stirs again.
At 5a I walk back to my bed, and suddenly can't fall back asleep for another 20 minutes.
At 6a Nikko wakes up crying so I head to his room again. I lay down, we drift.
At 7a Ronin wakes up, so everyone else does, too. Coupled with the pain from my canker sore, I am in a foul mood and don't want to talk to anybody. I want to just go back to sleep! Luckily I didn't stay in a completely bad mood during breakfast, although I was tempted to snap back at Ronin for changing his mind so many times about what to eat. The weather was supposed to be awesome today, 40 degree temps and sunny! Denis said we should go to the nature center after breakfast, and then maybe to ABT to check out their vacuums and freezers, since there's a big sale next weekend. I didn't care what we did because my tongue hurt. It hurt to swallow, to chew, and to drink since there was a sensitive lump that kept brushing against my teeth. We managed to head out around 10a and went to ABT first. Audrey was in an umbrella stroller and the boys walked. While we talked with a floor salesperson, Ronin kept saying he wanted to go and "see the animals" at the nature center. Nikko kept flopping onto the floor and lay on his back. I really wonder why he was doing that because it looked really silly. I should have glanced at the ceiling to see if there was anything interesting up there. Audrey was very patient in her stroller. Our store visit was tolerable, but the boys were getting antsy at the end of it.

Off to the nature center we went! We love going there because it's got some real creatures like turtles, snakes, eagles, and a fox. There's an educational element to it, and the park district just did a great job building this resource. Nikko got attached to a felt sunflower, which I made him say good-bye to and put back. He wasn't interested in walking part of a trail. I think he was tired from the early morning waking as well as hungry, because he kept pulling me to the car and had a mini-meltdown. I had to resort to a Dum Dum lollipop to keep him at bay. When he finished it and signed for a cookie and said Candy, I refused him saying we would eat a real lunch at home. He was really unhappy about it, but I stood firm, no more candy! We all had lunch. Ronin was relentless about having some french fries that we got when we ordered some Buffalo Wild Wings to go, but when I called them about what kind of oil the fries were cooked in, the "beef estella shortening" didn't give me any peace of mind so I had to preheat the oven for some Ore-Ida french fries that are Ronin-safe. Earlier this morning, in the basement, Ronin had come across a free DVD cartoon from a Fisher Price GeoTrax train that I had forgotten about over the years. Nikko wanted it too, of course, and eventually he won the tug-of-war. I put this DVD on after lunch and it is now a favorite of the boys. Nikko fell asleep on the couch while watching it, and I let him sleep for an hour before having to wake him. Yes, it totally affected him at bedtime where he was awake and had a meltdown when I left the room. At tuck-in time, Nikko kept sitting up when I told him to stay in bed. He was protesting my leaving, bounding out of bed and falling to the floor. I had to pick him up and throw him back in bed. I finally turned around and left while he got up to protest. I heard him screaming and crashing to his knees while I went to tuck in Ronin and say good night. When I came back to Nikko's room, I opened the door and sternly pointed to his bed so he'd go back in. He threw himself back into the car bed and I noticed it had moved a foot off the wall for whatever reason. I tucked him in and said, while putting a finger sharply to his shoulder, "STAY IN BED. STAY IN BED. STAY IN BED." When I walked out, there were no more tears. Does this mean that he's always going to have one big protest session, requiring me to come back and put him in bed, and then he's good to go? That's been the pattern the last few times he's gone to bed awake. Something to ponder. Well, tonight (it's 1:17a right now) I am going to try to keep my resolve up and NOT go to either of the boys if/when they have a waking at 4a or 5a. I'll try to do this for a week. It will probably wake up Audrey, but these guys have to learn that they need to stay in their beds and put themselves back to sleep if they wake up early. I'll possibly get up at 6 or 6:30 for them, but not earlier. Don't know about 5:45 yet. This Cry It Out method seems harsh, but for these strong-willed boys who are steamrolling over me during the day as well as night, I think they need a more direct approach than just walking them back to their beds. I'll try it for a week and then reevaluate it. I don't have anything to lose, and maybe they'll catch on and just stay in their beds the rest of the night. I need to do SOMETHING, and putting Nikko alone in a room isn't enough. Now Ronin's started his pattern of morning wakings, and I've got to try to stop them both. If I can get out of the house tomorrow, I'll look for melatonin. As for my tongue, this evening while the kids were in the basement with Denis, I put some salt directly on the canker sore to clean it/seal it. Totally burns. Totally hurts. I took some ibuprofen for the pain. But honestly, it feels just a tad better than the entire day. I hope it will heal at night.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Speech report: Working on 1-step directions, naming, greeting. Great job giving plastic food object from field of 9 today!

The school sent home a bunch of 3.5 x 3.5 cards with pictures/words: GO, STOP, HELP, Please Wait, Bathroom, and I Need A Break. I hope to get a hole puncher and some big rings to make this visual support. I should have added directions such as Stand Up and Sit Down. I'll think of some extras and then request them later. Nikko had fallen asleep on the bus ride home, in his snowpants, and was really groggy to wake him up. It was the only nap he got all day. It wasn't a very exciting day for Nikko, whereas I was constantly getting up from my chair to peek into the living room and see if Nikko was doing anything fishy, or checking his diaper constantly. I call it Poop Paranoia. I had put all the colored rubber mats from the living room into Nikko's bedroom, turning on the ceiling fan and opening a window to dry them. I put them back today and now things are looking more like normal. Ronin had a nap and I tried to catch a wink while Signing Time was on, but Nikko kept bugging me to put in one of the Veggie Tales DVDs instead. He can say "Veggie Tales," and can even babble the theme song in fragments. Ronin had the opportunity to go to the pool at the Rec Plexx with Denis tonight. They were gone for a long time so I thought Ronin must be loving the swim time. When they came home I was getting Audrey ready for bed. I asked Ronin how was swimming and he didn't say anything, just ran out of the room. For someone who seemed excited to swim like Bruce the Shark in Finding Nemo, or to be like Troy the Shark in The Reef, Ronin was noncommittal. I asked Denis how things went and Denis told me that Ronin didn't like swimming. I was totally shocked because Ronin loved going to the pool over the summer. Denis thinks that at the beginning when Ronin was stepping into the pool he reached for a bar and slipped under, and that might have ruined it for him. Ronin mainly sat on the side and threw stuff into the water. I was so disappointed to hear this! I hope he gets over it quickly because I think Audrey is going to be a force to be reckoned with at the pool this summer.

When I was giving Audrey a bath, Nikko came in and was getting annoyed that it wasn't time for him to take a bath. He was whining and trying to get into the tub, but I had to keep telling him his bath time was later. Finally, when I used the shower head on Audrey, Nikko found it entertaining to touch the sharp blasts of water. At least that ended on a good note. But when it was actually Nikko's bath time, he turned up the heat on his crying and wailing. I think he was overtired, especially because his bath was happening after 9p when it usually happens before. Nikko was really crying loudly and probably made Denis deaf. Denis had a lot of patience with Nikko, given that he himself was tired from work and then from taking a resisting Ronin to the pool. Nikko fell fast asleep when it was tuck-in time.

One more thing I don't think I blogged about because I keep forgetting: a few days ago, when we were in the basement, I pulled out the toy xylophone and started hammering out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I sang along so that the kids could hear what I was banging out. They also recognized it from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Nikko came over and grabbed the stick from me. He started tapping out random notes at a steady beat, so I sang the Twinkle song loudly. For each of his taps I sang a word. At the end when I sang, "How I wonder what you are?", he would emphatically tap each note, and slowed down until I hit the last note. His stick also hit the last note with finality, ending the song. I sang it a few more times, and each time I noticed that at the last phrase, Nikko was starting to tap each note more lightly, a decrescendo if you will, and then the final tap would be soft, a pianoforte. I really wonder if he noticed what he was doing, and wondered if he was really controlling the force of the stick to emphasize the loudness and softness of the song. The next day, during his ABA session with Maria, I suddenly heard the pounding of the xylophone again. After the session, she remarked that when Nikko had his solo play time, he went right to the bin with the xylophone and started hammering away. This solo play time was an issue in our last team meeting because Maria stated that Nikko didn't know what to do when told to go play by himself. He'd literally stand there waiting for the therapist to tell him what to do, or what to play with. So hearing that Nikko chose the xylophone by himself really makes me feel good!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The worst kind of afternoon for me / Speech options / Good ABA session (A LONG POST, HERE!)

5:45a Nikko cries out because he's awake. I go to him to possibly lay down until 7. Then I hear Ronin start waking up. His cries get longer and I'm with Nikko, hesitating about how to go to Ronin. I hear Denis get up and go to the nursery to placate Ronin, but Ronin won't have it. I gather Nikko and go get Ronin before Audrey is fully awake. We go lie down in the living room, and a frustrated Denis goes back to bed because he has to work. While Ronin falls back asleep on the floor with me, Nikko does not, and continues to babble at varying volumes. At 7a I give up trying to get any zzz's and take Nikko into the kitchen for breakfast.

Nikko had a good speech report today: GREAT with "give me" today for foods & family pix!

This was also coupled with an emailed response to the school team regarding what ST/OT services Nikko was getting throughout the week, as well as the possibility of looking into private speech therapy for the future:
He really had a great speech session today. The giving pictures and objects on request was awesome! He was immediately able to pick up your picture, dads, Ronin's and Audrey's on request. ABA must really be helping with that one. He matched plastic food to the photographs and gave them when I asked (banana, apple, hot dog, hamburger). He is repeating anything we are asking him to say. Now I am asking the team to have him repeat the name of things he wants/needs/uses and then take the object away from him and wait for him to say the work by himself. Like I was doing with the Wiggles DVD at your house? I want to have him pull the word out on his own without the model and not be reliant/echoing others. any times during the day that you can do that too would be great. You can really see his wheels turning to pull the words out. I am finding it hard though to pull him back from his verbal jargoning at times. We will keep pulling him.

Jean sees Nikko for OT 1-1 from 8:30 - 9:00 on Tuesdays and also at centers on Wednesday. She works with him at arrival and dismissal routines, also in the sensory motor group on Tuesday from 10:20 - 10:50. She also oversees his sensory diet.

I see Nikko during group language everyday for 10 minutes, at centers twice a week and then I pull him for 20 minutes twice a week 1-1.

We talked about the idea of private speech. We can't really recommend private therapy to parents. He is at a prime language time now but will be getting a lot of communication work during ABA too. Many families do find private speech beneficial especially when there are breaks from school like over the summer. Have you checked with your insurance company to see if they would cover it?

Please don't ever be embarrassed to ask questions!!!! That's what we are here for!

Maria came for therapy at 1p. We all went downstairs and Ronin & Audrey were eager to play there as well as interact with Maria. But when it was time to go, Nikko turned to me to kiss me good bye and I said to him, "Have fun! See you later!" We went upstairs and I tried to finish giving Audrey her lunch. I could hear some of Nikko's whining in the background, and twice I actually stood in the hallway because Nikko sounded like he was protesting something. All I could hear was praise coming from Maria, as if she were engaging him in an activity that he didn't want to complete. I heard her tell Nikko to clap his hands. I couldn't tell if he actually did; I think she'd tell him and then sit back and wait until he did, or until he sat doing nothing and then she'd ask him one more time before she did hand over hand. That, in essence is how the "drill" portion of the therapy was supposed to work. But when the session was finished and they came upstairs, Maria said he had a really good session. He did very well with matching, saying our names (daddy, Audrey, mommy, Ronin) and picking the correct photo, which she said he did perfectly. She asked me if, when Nikko gets frustrated, does he scream or make noises? I said yes, he's begun to whine and the whining starts cranking up if he doesn't get what he wants. Maria suggested that the school make a visual prompt on a ring, using words such as : Wait, Stop, Go, Help, Break, Bathroom. The visual prompt is basically a picture to represent the action. The school team uses a big metal ring with a PEC picture of an action on it, so when a teacher tells Nikko to STAND UP for whatever reason, they will tell him and then flip to the picture of a person standing up. This reinforces the verbal action with a visual aid, or prompt. Ta-daaaa. Two other things Maria talked to me about today were note-taking, and respite. She said that if we wanted someone (her) to come take notes during Nikko's IEP meeting (June 4th) then we can ask her and she'll do it, to keep track of who said what during the meeting. Her fee would be less than the current hourly rate. It sounds like a good idea, since I may have a hard time trying to keep track of everything going on in the meeting, but I told her I'd talk about it with Denis. Maria also asked me if I ever use services via the school or support groups to take a break. Um, no... How about family members? Um, sometimes... She told me that especially over the summer MGB Services gets college students to help, or babysit, and that for a small fee (of course) I might want to try it. I told her that I would seriously consider that, because I really do need to break from these kids on occasion. Or I'll go mad.


Ah, what a pity that my day didn't end there. Ronin was in his room napping when ABA was finished. Nikko was in the living room, Audrey was floating between rooms, and I was at the laptop writing on the ASD forum about the possibility of using melatonin for Nikko and what others' experiences were with their kids. I think Audrey was complaining about something when I realized that Nikko had been pretty silent for a while. I got up to check on him in the living room and he appeared in front of me with his hands covered in poo. I grabbed his sleeved forearms and tried to quickly assess the situation. It was bad. I glanced at the couch armrest near the mirrored wall and saw streaks. I looked at the table near the window and saw streaks. I stifled a scream and tried to scan the floors and trace where he might have been camping out. I noticed one of the ottomans had some streaks. Later, I'd notice one of the Thomas chairs was a victim, as well as the chaise lounge end of the sofa and one of Ronin's sweatpants that became a victim by association. I started dragging Nikko toward the kitchen because he was starting to rub his hands together and I could see some not-so-dried flecks fall to the floor. Then I saw Audrey in the doorway and I stopped cold. No way could she be on the loose, so I had to briefly let Nikko go, scoop up Audrey and put her in her high chair. Thankfully her bottle of milk was half-full and already sitting there. Then I quickly seized Nikko's forearms again and ran to the tub. I put him in, stripped him down to his diaper, turned on the faucet and sprayed his hands full of foam soap to occupy him. I ran back to Audrey and dumped a bunch of animal cookies onto her tray. I gathered paper towels, Lysol wipes, plastic bags for garbage, and Carpet Resolve. I kept running back to check on Nikko while I raced around the living room, spraying Resolve on the couch and rubbing off the streaks, then reapplying and rubbing again. I scrubbed the table, put the Thomas chair up high so I could wash the cover later, put all the blankets on the floor in a laundry basket because I had no idea if any flecks fell on them, gathered a toy or two that got smeared, and kept scanning the floor for obvious things to step on. Ronin woke up and was calling to me from his room, but I kept him in there as long as I could before taking him out and plopped him into his high chair, along with some animal cookies. Nikko had already stepped out of the tub numerous times to see what I was doing, so now I could finally get to him and scrub him down. While in the bathroom, I heard a CRASH from the kitchen. I went in to see that Audrey had dragged a small plate on top of the dishwasher over to her high chair, then pushed it off her tray. It broke into big and little pieces, so I had to sweep up the porcelain plate and worry that the kids could step on shards. While I seemed in control with Nikko's poo situation, putting the broken plate on top of it made me lose my cool and I was mad about everything now. I finished bathing Nikko and dressed him up in the kitchen. Then I sat him down and threw Oreos at everyone so I could go back to the living room and pull up all the colored rubber mats on the floor. I couldn't take any chances with the mats, and they hadn't been washed in a long time anyway. I put them all in the tub and rinsed them off, later putting dishwashing soap on them too. The bathroom looked pretty trashed. Then I swiffered the floor and then mopped it. By now, Audrey was going ballistic because she had sat the longest of everyone. I let her go, finally. Nikko must have been tired from everything because he fell asleep for a 45 minute nap. I was really surprised by his bowel movement because it came out of nowhere. I've been putting half a cap of MiraLAX in his juice for two days on, a few off, to keep him regular. On a day where he's having a movement, difficult or not, there would be smears in his diaper and I'd be aware that he was working on something. This time, there were no warning smears, otherwise I'd have been watching him even more closely to prevent this very event. I don't think he particularly enjoyed the smearfest; it's not a sensory thing in my opinion, I just think he had a movement, hadn't' been changed right away, felt really uncomfortable, and so he started scratching. Downhill from there.

Just before I put Audrey down to bed, Denis and the boys were in the living room in front of the TV. The boys were fighting over the unsoiled Thomas chair, but Denis started doing turn-taking between them and the boys responded well. When Nikko sat down, we would say, "Nikko's turn!" then he'd bound up and be followed by Ronin for "Ronin's turn!" Nikko sat down again, waiting for someone to announce his turn. When neither Denis nor I said anything, Nikko turned to look at me and said, "Nikko's turn!" Then I'd repeat it and he bounded off. Denis had told me Nikko was saying Nikko's Turn, but I hadn't heard it until just then. That was a glimmer of spontaneous communication to me! :)