Sunday, June 13, 2010

How Jack is doing

It's been a while since I posted anything about my Jack-man.

Where to start, where to start....
Well, first of all, we've got speech and occupational therapy underway. He goes to each for two hours a week. He loves going to therapy, and his therapists seem quite taken with him. They are always amazed with what he can well he can read, what he knows about all of his "pet" subjects, etc. His speech has already improved quite a bit. I don't think this has anything to do with speech therapy, because the improvements started before the therapy did...I think it's just a maturity leap...but all of a sudden he can answer questions more easily and express his wants more clearly. He does still use a lot of scripted speech. His occupational therapist has been working with him on life skills like hand washing, and fine motor skills like writing and using scissors.

He's still just as quirky as ever. This, combined with the speech issues, can make for some funny moments. Much of the time he sounds overly he'll say, "It is good to see you Mommy," in this really formal voice. His occupational therapist always wore her hair in a pony tail. Well, she got a haircut or something I think, and so one morning she came out to the waiting room with her hair down. Jack looked at her and said, "Your hair needs a wash-down," a bit of script he picked up from Thomas the Tank Engine. For two or three sessions she came out with her hair down, and Jack would kind of stare and make some comment about it. Then, last week, she came out with her hair in a pony tail again. Jack just smiled at her, and she said, "How's my hair today, Jack? Is it good or bad?" "It's good!" he said, and trotted back with her.

We're holding off on the gluten/casein free diet. We started. We got him casein free and we were experimenting with gluten free foods. It was really, really overwhelming. To be honest, this is probably not the best time for me to be trying such a drastic change around here. But I also just have my doubts that it will be worth the effort. Jack doesn't fit the profile of many kids I've met who have been helped by the diet. He doesn't appear to have bowel problems of any kind, or any allergy/intolerance issues in general. He's very healthy. He is also *extraordinarily* picky, and other than a few fruits, everything he eats has gluten and casein in it. It would be very, very difficult to make a full switch for the several months it would take to try the diet. He wouldn't understand what was going on and why we weren't letting him eat his favorite foods anymore, and I don't know what I'd feed him. His growth has already slowed way down...he's dropped from the 90th percentile to the 50th percentile in height, and he's quite thin. He eats no meat to speak of, no beans, no eggs, no nuts except peanut butter, nothing like that. All of his protein comes from dairy and whole grains. It'd be awfully difficult to get enough protein in him, and I'm just not feeling up to taking that on just to see if it helps at this point. We are having lots of gains from therapy, and that's enough right now. Maybe later. In the meantime, I'm working on the picky eating thing.

We've decided to homeschool him for kindergarten. It wasn't an easy decision. But we just weren't convinced there would be anything for him at school that we couldn't provide at least as well on our own. Our curriculum is accredited, and they have special ed consultants we can take advantage of as well. The kindergarten curriculum is quite gentle. Since he already has a good grasp of counting and number recognition and such, and since he's already reading very well, most of our concentration this year will go towards the kinds of things he's working on in therapy...motor skills, social skills, activities of daily living...we can truly shape the curriculum to suite his needs, my odd duck of a child who can read on a third grade level but is still struggling to write his own name. We also wonder about how he would handle being in school all day. For a child with sensory issues, it would be pretty overwhelming. This is a child who is frazzled after a trip to the library. Stressful events tend to really push him over the edge. After we had that trip to Little Rock in February, his autistic behaviors worsened quite a bit for a good two or three weeks. I guess if he had to go he would get used to it. But I think it could set his progress back quite a bit. Anyway, homeschooling is our default. It's what we do. I would only send kids out to school if we weren't able to meet their needs here. So far I don't feel that way about Jack. One person told me that she thinks I need to send him to school because parents of autistic kids need a break. I don't feel that way about Jack. Not yet. :) Jack, when he's not strung out over some stressor and we are following our routines, is very easy for me to handle. That part is not an issue for us. Not for him, anyway. :)

I get a lot of questions about his social skills will he develop social skills if he's not in school? I'm working on that. That is tricky. Finding socialization for homeschoolers is definitely not usually an issue. But for a special needs child, it's trickier. He can't just be signed up to the city soccer team or sent off to an art class for "normal" kids...not at this point anyway. Park days and such don't work very well either. Jack doesn't really give a rip about socializing you see, so he is content to go off and do his own thing. Frankly, he will probably always be that way, homeschooled or not. But he does need to learn some basic social skills. We are working on these at home, rehearsing how to make eye contact and have conversations, and modeling play and such, and his therapists do this too. Mostly I'm looking for activities to put him in that will allow one of us to kind of shadow him and coach him along for a while...we plan on doing this for PSR this fall, and possibly our homeschool co-op as well.

I've heard him singing lately. I noticed it first in the van. I was bringing him back home from therapy, and we were alone, so the van was uncharacteristically quiet, and I heard his quiet little voice singing a song from a Thomas dvd. I'd hardly ever heard him sing before, but now he sings all the time. It's very sweet to hear.


scmom (Barbara) said...

Don't worry so much about socialization. You have a large family, he has contact with others through therapy. It will come.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, he sounds so much like Logan that I could have written this entire post practically word-for-word a couple of years ago. ;) I think the therapies for Logan were immensely helpful. Does Jack have an opportunity for any group therapies? We did both individual and group therapy for both speech and OT, so they were able to incorporate some social behavioral learning and practice into his therapies.

mel said...

Erin, he hasn't had any group therapies, but one of his therapists recommended looking into putting him in speech at the public school in the fall in addition to his private speech just for this reason...he would be able to be in a group setting. We will check into that.

Angela M. said...

No advice - just continued prayers. I know they are being answered. Even when you post about difficult days you are always so full of LOVE. I love this blog and your family is beautiful.

mel said...

Aw, thank you Angela. :)

Home School Mom: Denise said...

I know this is an older post, and I'm just now reading it lol!..but very good progress, don't you think? When you look at summer 2011 now, (do you have an update)? does this compare? I couldn't get the links to work at your sidebar for your specific Autism journey blogs...not sure if it was me, or the links. It just took me to a page without them.
Keep up the good mommy work! See on the loops :)
blessings, Denise