Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sans ABA / The Dental Visit

We finished with private ABA last Tuesday. After another session where he wasn't focused and seemed to be consciously deciding NOT to do what Rebecca was asking of him, I told her that we were going to take a break from ABA due to the school year starting up again. With Nikko going full days, plus a double dose of OT and ST on Friday mornings, we need to see how he will be able to handle the added hours. The school should be providing discrete trials in some form as well, thus reducing ABA hours. We'll see how it goes, and then revisit the idea of ABA in the winter.

On Thursday I took the brood to see the Dentist for the first time. We found this pediatric dentistry practice through Jenna, whose mom is a receptionist there. Kids Plus Pediatric Dentistry is the place and it's really kid-friendly. The staff was excellent and familiar with special needs kiddos. I had to have Nikko in my lap facing me, then we bent him back so his head was resting in the lap of the hygienist/dentist. Jenna's mom was so terrific that she put on the movie UP, which played on all the TVs in the place. That movie helped calm Nikko a little bit, who was thrashing and crying and wailing all in his efforts to get away from me. Thank goodness I have a little more strength to restrain him! The dentist didn't come across any cavities, but she also gave us a disposable flosser so that I might try to floss Nikko's teeth and put some spacing between them. Many stickers later, all my kids came out as happy campers even though the trip was only for Nikko.

Nikko starts school officially on Thursday. On Wednesday is the Garden Walk "Open House" where I have a list of questions growing for the regular K teacher along with the SN teacher, whoever that may be. I am in denial, still!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Great Wolf Lodge (aka Wave Pool)

On Monday and Tuesday we took the kids to the Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells for an overnight trip. We planned to meet up with Denis' coworker's family and hang out for the day. The trip to the Dells was three hours and the kids did amazingly well in the car. Thank goodness for the DVD player! They also slept part of the way, ensuring that they would have a late night afterward. Nikko didn't fuss or whine, just sat quietly in his chair watching whatever his siblings subjected him to (Thomas the Tank engine or Ice Age or The Wiggles). We arrived around 6:30pm and went to dinner. There was a little bit of time left to try out the water park amenities until the 9pm closing time. The kids loved the splash pads, but Nikko's true love was the wave pool. He let out some terrible cries when it was time to vacate the park, but it couldn't be helped. As I mentioned before, the kids fell asleep by 10:30p and not without me having to lay down with each of them to quiet their restless souls. After breakfast the next day, we were pretty much glued to the wave pool. Denis took the kids to the other slides, but one of us was always near Nikko.

If ever there was an activity that was the ideal sensory stimulator for Nikko, I would now peg it as the wave pool. What better way for him to be completely immersed in water, plus have the added benefit of waves crashing into his body with lots of force? Nikko tried to doggy paddle through the waves and I swear he is getting better at teaching himself how to swim. Every five minutes or so, the waves would stop and then start up again. The alarm preceding the waves was a recorded wolf howl. Nikko learned that whenever he heard the howl, the waves would start. And so when the waves stopped, he would swim over to Denis or me, look at us expectantly and howl. We joked that we should record the wolf howl and play it back every time we wanted Nikko to do something for us! Nikko picked up on conquering the waves rather quickly, timing his jumps with each rise. He never looked tired. NEVER. Nikko was truly in his own element. We couldn't get him to take a break for food or juice. The only thing that worked was for me to pick him up and drag him to the table, immediately shoving pizza into his face so he would see it and start eating. That's really what it took. Taking a break just wasn't an option for him. Toward the end of the day Nikko managed to run to the table a few times, grab a bite of leftover pizza, and come running back to the wave pool with crust shoved into his mouth. I don't think Nikko really looked for either Denis or myself when he was in the wave pool, I don't think he cared if we were nearby, and I don't think he cared about anything at all except the waves and the next wolf howl.

Leaving time was challenging. We had to take each kid to the showers one by one, and Nikko was last of course. He protested angrily, crying and yelling and thrashing. I was able to give him lollipops to settle down, and when he was able to sit still in a chair I could see the fatigue start to drift over his face. Nikko had been in the wave pool for almost six hours and he sported red blisters under his big toes from bouncing in the waves. He also swallowed quite a bit of water because he started coughing intermittently. Today he was sniffly and mellow so I warned the camp staff that he may not be compliant. Thankfully, I got a good report that he had a great day.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Play To Talk

Karen, Nikko's speech therapist on Thursdays, recommended a book called Play To Talk; A Practical Guide to Help Your Late-Talking Child Join the Conversation by James MacDonald Ph.D. & Pam Stoika Ph.D. It's good reading but slow reading for me. It centers around the Communication Partners strategies (won't list them all here, kind of complex to describe) of playing/communicating/interacting more and talking less so that the child will learn to talk more. I'm almost halfway through the book and do intend to finish it. Examples of what the book reviews is matching Nikko's word output and giving him one more word to build on/build vocabulary; letting Nikko take the lead during play, sometimes take the lead myself, but always match the power; and entering his world of play instead of pushing him to meet MY agenda. Sounds easy, right?

Earlier today, before therapy, I saw Nikko siting on the couch, watching TV and playing with a plastic pterodactyl, making it say "Tweet tweet". Thinking I could easily join him in constructive play, I took a red, plush Angry Bird and sat next to Nikko. I put the Angry Bird next to the pterodactyl and said, "Caw caw!" I tilted my Angry Bird toward Nikko's bird and playfully pecked the bird's beaks. Without even looking at the birds, Nikko picked up my Angry Bird from my hand and tossed it over his shoulder. There I sat, without a bird, and my mind went blank. I think the word "DUH" was written on my forehead. Now what? I seriously didn't know what to do next. Ronin came by and was bugging me about the Angry Bird so I told him to go away so I could play with Nikko. But the moment had passed and Nikko had zero interest in playing with me, so I sheepishly walked away.

When I told Karen about this [lack of] interaction, she applauded me for trying a technique, then told me some ways I could try to engage him in the future. Since I no longer had a bird, I could have tried paying attention to HIS bird. I could have tried to pet the pterodactyl. Or I could have pretended to be a bird myself. She pointed out that the challenge is to react quickly and keep building on the situation even though he won't engage. IT WAS HARD, I won't lie. But the more I keep trying, hopefully the better I'll get at this. Gotta read more of the book!