Friday, January 27, 2012

Language gains

Nikko has been making some expressive language gains at home.

When he has trouble building something in the living room, he'll come seek me out and say, "Do you need help?" I'll then tell him, "Say 'I need help.'" And then Nikko will repeat, "I need help" while ushering me toward the living room. When I get there, I have to figure out which train track is out of place or what is broken that needs fixing.

I have to keep an eagle eye on Nikko regarding bathroom visits. If I don't tell him to go pee pee potty, then he'll resort to doing it in his pull-up. I often say to Nikko, "Nikko! Let's go pee pee potty." and then I'll pair the statement with the sign language action of a closed fist with thumb between pointer and middle finger, waving it back and forth (potty). If he doesn't have to go, he'll say, "No pee pee potty." If he has to go, he'll say, "Yes pee pee potty." This is actually a huge step forward regarding potty awareness, so I am grateful that he has been able to express this within the last two weeks. The only caveat is that visits to the bathroom are 90% prompted. He rarely tells me of his own accord that he needs to go potty. I have to ask him. This makes me ask Ronin and Audrey if they need to go to the bathroom. And so I am chirping every thirty minutes, "Do you need to go to the bathroom? Nikko! Let's go pee pee potty!" throughout the entire day.

When we are getting ready to leave the house, Nikko puts on his winter coat, comes to me and says, "Zip, please" while holding the edges of his zipper.

I am grateful for all these gains!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Increasing requests/Chuck E. Cheese

I was sitting on a small ottoman  that was next to our couch but clearly not in its regular spot. Nikko came up behind me, started pushing on my back and said, "Stand up! Stand up!" He wanted me to move, so I did. Nikko doesn't usually command anything via action verb; instead, he requests via noun e.g. "Apple juice" or "Striped cookie."

We've also been watching the Your Baby Can Read DVD series with the kids, as I mentioned before, and now Nikko requests to watch the "Homework DVD." He is doing a good job of retaining what he sees.

Finally, today (Sunday) we took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese's for two separate birthday parties. Nikko's classmate Matthew invited him, and I had a chance to talk to the mom. She sometimes volunteers in their Kindergarten class so she knew about Nikko's speech delays, and Matthew supposedly talks about Nikko and said that he uses sign language. She was so kind that she invited Nikko to come over for a playdate anytime. I thought that was incredibly generous of this mom. I was happy to see a few of Nikko's Kindergarten classmates walk by Nikko and say hello, even if he didn't say hello back. In particular I noticed a friendly girl named Corinne, Matthew himself, a friendly kid named Jack, and a boy Nathan who didn't mind that Nikko sat next to him at the table. Nikko didn't really care for any of the video games. Instead, he enjoyed climbing up an indoor jungle gym and scurrying through some tunnels secured to the ceiling. It truly reminded me of a hamster run. I stood near the end of a slide to make sure he didn't get caught in the tunnels and freak out. Nikko actually fared really well and checked to make sure I was still standing at the same spot whenever he resurfaced.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A note to the aide

I'm copying a note I wrote to Nikko's aide regarding the progress of his discrete trials as of late:
(for those who don't know what discrete trials are, it's an ABA-based daily activity where Nikko sits 1:1 with his aide or another teacher and they do activities with him that are geared toward lessons. Each time he attempts an answer, it is recorded out of a series of 10 trials.)

COUNTING OBJECTS - you mentioned a regression in counting, that he rushes. What objects is he counting? Are they pictures of objects or are they actual physical objects? Could you try closing out the trial with him putting the completed picture or the last object in a container, signifying the end of the task? Is there a specific number of objects he'll count up to, and then lose focus? Could he be rewarded (verbally?) for completing a counting sequence before continuing to the next?

BODY PARTS - according to the reports, Nikko doesn't seem to be making progress here. Can we change up the trial with different visuals? I don't know how the trial is done on him, but perhaps he's not understanding what he can't see. Do you use a mirror with him? Are you able to touch him directly on the arm (or head or shoulder) when identifying the body part? Can you put it to a sing-song game or tune?

ID LOWER CASE W/SOUND - is it possible that Nikko doesn't understand that "N" and "n" are the same thing? When I ask him to write  word, for example FAN, he will write in all uppercases. Often if he really doesn't know an answer, instead of saying "I don't know," he will not answer at all. [This is something that Karen, his private speech therapist, pointed out to me.]

and finally, re: SWIM CLASS - Nikko was excited to see the Nikko Swim picture card on our Daily Schedule at home, because he loves the water. "We're going to swim class," is what I told him. It must have stuck with him the rest of the day [which is why today he kept saying "going to swim class" instead of doing some of the trials]. Nikko started another session of swim classes on Thursdays after school, for the next two months or so.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Unfocused today

Nikko had a good day back at school today, but the notes tell me that he was very unfocused during his discrete trials. We had Monday off from school due to Martin Luther King Day so I wonder if he was antsy due to that. According to today's sheet, he did 10/10 correctly with his sight words. That makes me wonder if he is getting better at processing the ones they expose him to at school, or if the Your Baby Can Read program that we're using at home with all the kids is rubbing off as well.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sight words

We have a book of sight words that we are using to teach Ronin and Audrey how to read. This evening, Denis was reading from the book before bedtime and I decided to usher Nikko away from the iPod Touch into the living room to join everyone. While Ronin was being antsy and Audrey was being bossy for her turn, I sat next to a tired Nikko and heard him quietly say the word on the page: Gorilla. I did a double-take and interrupted Denis so that we could listen to Nikko say it again. When I pointed to the next word, Nikko said, "Tiger." Denis and I looked at each other incredulously and gave out enthusiastic high-fives, to each other as well as to the kids. We were not expecting Nikko to READ sight words alongside his siblings! The last word I could get him to read was Dog(s), and then I could see he was tuckering out. I was brimming with pride, and very intent on working on more words in the near future.

Today a snowstorm hit the midwest and will continue throughout the evening. I took Ronin and Audrey out to shovel and play in the snow before Nikko came home. The kids were outside for a good hour before the bus came, and I wondered if they could sustain playing outside further. Of course, they were ecstatic about the snow and wanted Nikko to come home to play with them. After getting Nikko off the bus, we rushed inside to change into his boots and snowpants. He easily transitioned outdoors and loved to lay on his back to make snow angels. Nikko also liked packing the snow at the bottom of the backyard slide and laying on it. When it was time to go inside, he asked me, "Go swimming?" I think he wanted to continue swimming in the snow. I said time to go inside, and he didn't protest. Later on, while helping him go to the bathroom, he looked at me and asked again, "Go swimming?" This time he moved his arms in swimmers' strokes. I laughed, but told him all finished, tomorrow.

Monday, January 9, 2012


After every meal at the kids' table, I tell them to ask to be excused and to bring their plates to the kitchen counter. They're still short so I have to watch them walk over and not over-tilt their plates onto the counter. Ronin and Audrey often ask to be excused while they are in mid-flight toward the living room. Other times they forget entirely and I am shouting at them to ask for their release.

I never required this behavior of Nikko. At least not right away. I showed him how to bring his plate to the counter and many times he'd be distracted and race off. His version of wanting to leave the table was either to leave, or to say, "All finished."

On one of the Signing Time DVDs they teach you how to sign "May I be excused?" Nikko used to laugh when seeing/hearing that phrase. This morning he used it very appropriately, as I have seen glimpses of this use over the past month.

He looked up at me from his listening headphones (music therapy every morning) and said, "All finished." I came over to remove his headphones. He said, "May I be excused?" and took his plate to the counter. I said he could go and he happily trotted off. I was beaming. Looked like normal behavior to me. ;)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Two separate words

At dinnertime on Thursday, Nikko came up to me with an empty cup.

"What does Nikko want?" I asked.

He thrust his cup toward me with a sidelong glance. I repeated my question and he didn't retract his arm.

"What does Nikko want? What IS that?" I asked, pointing to his cup.

Nikko signed Apple with his fist to his cheek and said, "Apple."

He signed Juice with his hand in a C mimicking drinking and said, "Juice."

"Oh," I exclaimed, "You want apple juice! No problem."

He ran away and I gave him a refill. I was really proud that he was able to sign in conjunction with speaking, and put two words together. I thought he would glob them together as "applejuice" but clearly he understands that they are two separate words.

Again, it's the little things. Awesome.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mastered X

2nd day back at school for Nikko. He had a cough but no fever or drippy nose, so I wonder if this is going to develop into something. I really hope not!

OT - Did well writing name! Working on refining the "K". Gave Mrs. S sensory diet ideas in a.m. before break to do first thing as winter time lends itself to more sedentary activities. Also worked on IPAD - Doodle Buddy & Touch Sight Words.

According to his discrete trials sheet, he has mastered identifying lower case letters, identifying #s 11-20 and writing his name (with modifications- highlighted letters). I'll have to ask them what the next goals are, or if they are following a goal sheet, or if they are tailoring it to his IEP. I'm happy to see his progress. It also seems he does better when his trials are in the morning vs. the afternoon, when his attention starts to wane.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Yesterday, Nikko looked up at the daily schedule on the wall that I forgot to change from New Year's Day. We went to my sister's house for lunch and my in-law's house for dinner.

He looked up at me and said, "Tita Atz house, all done?" (That's my sister's house)

"Yes, Nikko, you're right."

"Lola's house, all done?"

"Yes, Nikko, you're right!"

Pretty cool.