Using My Blog for Good

I have another blog post that I started, but I wanted to put this out there for everyone.  Using all of my bloggy power including the almighty myspace I am posting this like crazy, because its important.

Obviously if you read this blog regularly you know that J has Autism.  If you are new, welcome.  We are a military family and so we have pretty good insurance which has not turned us down for any therapy that we have requested, yet.  Because J has recently been diagnosed and is high functioning and progressing rapidly with school, their therepists, and medications we have only just recently asked and been approved for occupational therapy.  But this is not the case for most families in AZ.  Since this is not my platform to speak on, although I can support it just the same as you, I want to share with you a letter from my friend.

From M:

Okay I am really asking for all of your help on this one… you don’t have to be anywhere and it will take 5 min of your time. There is a bill being proposed as we speak that will force insurance companies in AZ to cover therapies for Autism. Therapies such as Speech, Occupational, Physical and ABA (behavioral). Without insurance companies covering these therapies most parents including myself will not be able to provide our children with even one of these therapies. (We need them all!) The state will only cover them until age 3 and only 4 hrs a week at that. INSURANCE that we pay for should do so. What I need from you:

Go to this site to find your region:

http://azredistrictin…

Go to this site to find who your representatives are:

http://www.azleg.gov/…

Send them an email asking them to PLEASE support the Autism insurance legislation. Here I will even give you an email to copy and paste if you need:

Hello,

I am one of your constituents. I am contacting you to ask for your support on the upcoming Autism insurance legislation. My friend/loved one is being discriminated against because they have Autism. Please tell me I have your vote!

Thank you,

(Name)

Feel free to call and put them on the spot as well.

I would appreciate it if you could send this to all your friends and Fam in AZ as well…. I am seriously at my wits end and about to move to a State where insurance DOES cover Autism if this bill doesn’t pass!

THANK YOU!!

If you live in Arizona, please take a few minutes to write your legislator.  You CAN make a difference.  If you know someone in AZ, send this on.  We all Thank You.

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Trading one obsession for another.

We all know how it goes, break one bad habit and you have to replace it with something else.  I’ve moaned and whined before about the amount of TV and movies J enjoys watching.  They keep him calm, so I don’t complain too much.  I’m just really picky about what he is allowed to watch.

For Christmas he received a Leap Frog Click Start computer.  He really has enjoyed playing this and earns about an hour of computer time either when he gets home from school or after a nap after school (IF I can get him to take one.)  the only downside to this is, we have it connected to the main TV and it is in the living-room.  So we usually let him play before any of our show are on.  J comes by his TV addiction honestly or possibly genetically.  the only difference is, we prefer NEW shows, not the same thing over and over.

Okay, so over the past year or so, we have introduced him to a few simple games on the internet.  fisherprice.com  was our first site, they start as easy as press any key and something will say peekaboo, surprise or a silly noise.  then we moved on to their alphabet games and animal sounds.  Most recently he has been playing the imaginext dinosaur puzzle.  I’m pretty proud of that one.  He does a better jigsaw with a mouse than with his hands.  Then we moved on to sesameworkshop.org  Again we started simple with Elmo’s keyboard-a-rama (press any letter or number and Elmo rewards you.)  He quickly moved up to Snuffy’s safari which takes gentle mouse manipulation.  Last night he decided to explore more of the games.  I was so proud of him as he normally sticks to the favorites.  I think he played 90% of the games on the sesame website.  the games have a nifty feature where you can click “replay” or “next game.”  He did keep going back to a couple of new favorites but also trying new and variations as well.  He did all of this with me sitting across the room from him. 

All of this is made possible by the fact that we cleared off the extra desk and set up the computer we thought was dead (so we bought a new one) and then later revived it, so now it is the kids.  I don’t feel guilty about my 2 and 4 year old having for all intents and purposes, their own laptop.  when I was a very small kid, my parents gave me computers as well.  I had a “portable” commodore.  Well it was my dad’s but I spent a lot of time on it as he used the desktop.

Okay so, one website that is ideal but we have stayed away from in the past because it was just one step above his skills and he needed a lot of parental help is nickjr.com.  especially the Go, Diego, Go! games.  Well tonight after he had spent a bit of time on sesame street (side note: your kids do not have to still be watching the show to enjoy the games, mine don’t.) he asked for nickjr.  Diego Safari rescue.  I cringed, but decided to give him a chance.  Once it loaded, if it doesn’t do it right away, go back and then click on the game again (sometimes it stalls) I sat down to help him.  Part of the game is to copy a drum sequence (like the old Simon Game).  It took a few times for me to remind him to say the pattern out loud.  Then I left the room to encourage some independence.  I kept hearing “I did it, I won!”  *Warms my heart*  Next thing I know he is touring the games section and playing all kinds of new games WITHOUT MY HELP.  I think he played a little over 2.5 hours tonight.  At least I know he was engaged for that amount of time and not zoned out on a movie.  Or worse, ignoring the movie and fighting with his brother.  When J is at the computer, Little J either “helps” over the shoulder, or just goes about his business with something else.  Little J does get computer time while J is at school, he doesn’t play for very long anyway though because he is still on the beginner, no mouse needed, games.

During the school week I limit the computer time to an hour, but on a lazy weekend when he just might be learning something, I think I’ll let it go.  Especially if it means I won’t be hearing monologues repeated from the movie du jour. Or incessant screaming and crying from the toddler/preschool wars of ’08.

Some sites we frequent, but not this weekend, so not mentioned in the blog: http://www.mostlymommies.com/games.html this is a compilation of many other games site, and even a easy peasy game for learning mouse control.  Mostly Mommies introduced us to another of our favorite games/reading site Story Place.  Each theme includes a story, game, printable, and additional reading suggestions.  Try our favorite theme Crocodiles for fun game of 5 Hungry Crocodiles.  Unfortunately the game isn’t random, but J loves it.

*This was not a paid post, just sharing some favorites with my peeps.

7 Things

I’ve been tagged by Marla Baltes to list 7 true, interesting, or weird things about me.  I’m suspecting that I wasn’t her first choice, but since I didn’t see her original post I will just have to believed that I am loved and will complete this.

that leads me to #1 I have an obsession with numbers and this causes me to check my blog stats multiple times a day.  I love the graph that wordpress provides, it makes me immensely happy to see the peaks.  Now I’d be happier if there were as many comments as visits, but I can’t fault ya’ll, cause I don’t comment on every blog I visit.  But if you were waiting for permission to comment on a stranger’s blog, I hereby grant it.

#2 I love theater.  REALLY love it.  In highschool I participated in over a dozen plays.  I only acted in one of those.  the rest I did some kind of production crew, which is what I prefer.  I also wrote and directed a children’s play for the community theater.

#3 I began college as a Biology/ pre-vet major.  In light of #2, I’m not really sure why I did this.  Not only did I choose the major I had been dreaming of since 4th grade, because it was safer than theater, but I also went very far out of state and paid way too much.

#4 If I hadn’t gone out of state to go to college, I would have known plenty of people and never posted an internet ad looking for friends.  this ad is how I met my husband.  We met online, met in person 2 weeks later, were engaged a week after that and married 2 days short of knowing each other 3 months (from the 1st online chat, which lasted 5 hours.)

#5 We’ve been married 8.5 years and have lived in Idaho, Guam, Massachusetts, Nevada, Mississippi, and Arizona. 2 different houses in 2 of those states = 8 houses in 8.5 years.  Lots O’ Moving.

#6 I only went a year for the biology major.  then I got married.  In Massachusetts I went to UMASS – Amherst as a theater major, for a year.  (side note: this is Bill Cosby’s Alma matter) Then we decided to have kids.  Now my whole life is one big play to direct.  Well J does a lot of the directing, we have a lot of “scripts” to follow.

#7 I love animals.  ALOT.  Right now we only have one dog, one rabbit, and a 30-gallon fish tank with fish.  I tease my hubby all the time that I’d like to have a small farm.  I’d settle for an alpaca farm.  Well, maybe.  But I would like to live in a country esque place with lots of assorted animals.  Nothing smaller than a rabbit or larger than a horse.  However, this farm has to be with in a short distance of a major city, with theaters!

Okay I do not have 7 bloggy friends, I just stalk people.  And of the majority of the ones I do have, I’ve already seen this on their page.  So you are all off the hook.

Alternate sleeping arrangements

J has gone through this before, but not in the exact place.  Every few months he can’t bear to sleep in his bed and finds another place to sleep.  Sometimes it is on the living room couch, other times it is on the sleeper sofa in the playroom, and most recently during the stomach bug it was on the futon in his bedroom.  (okay yeah we have a lot of couches, but the futon and sleeper sofa are for company.)  Tonight he decided after 45 minutes of not falling asleep to come into the hallway and announce that he was going to sleep on the floor.  There isn’t much floor space in their bedroom, what with the twin over full bunk, futon, dresser, plush tiger chair, and airplane chair.  I thought the logical place to sleep was the space between the bed and futon.  Nope.  His head is in the doorway at the end of the bed.  When he was still awake 20 minutes later I went in to ask if he’d rather sleep on the futon.  Nope, on the floor.  But Little J was still partially awake and he mumbled that he wanted to sleep on the futon.  So I got him tucked in, each of them not in their beds and they drifted off.  Usually something strange happens when J doesn’t want to sleep in his bed, so I guess we will see what happens tomorrow.  (He already said tonight that he didn’t want to go to school anymore, that it makes him sleepy and grumpy, I hope he doesn’t remember that when its time to get on the bus.)  I also hope Little J doesn’t walk all over him when he wakes up.

P.S.  I don’t believe him that school makes him grumpy.  Even on the days when he hesitates getting on the bus, his teachers say he gets off happy and does well in school.

J Sees the Moon

Usually he points it out to me, but recently we have taken his car seat out and he is sitting in a regular seat-belt.  So he’s not seeing as much out the windows.  Here’s the conversation in the car tonight.

Me: J do you see the moon?  Its over there.

DH: (looking in rear-view) Out the other window.

J: Oh I see it.

Me: What shape is it tonight?  (He loves to tell me when it is a crescent, but tonight it is full.)

J: A jellyfish.

Me: A jelly fish?  Is a jellyfish shaped like a circle?

J: Yeah.

Me: So is the moon shaped like a circle?

J: Ummmm its shaped kinda like a jellyfish.

Uhhhhh okay.

moon.jpg

jelly-fish.jpg

OOOOOOOooooooo NOW I see it.

Mr. Bossy Pants

J gets imense pleasure from “reading” to his little brother.  Usually he recites the books that he has memorized like “Five Little Monkeys” and “Brown Bear Brown Bear”

Today he is reading him a Go Diego Go picture find book.  It is a story, but he’s not reading.  He’s just pointing to the picture guide and demanding, “Find the ______!”  Here is what J has learned from me reading/guiding the book with him.  When I used to ask him to “find the ______” he would point to the picture guide instead of finding the “hidden picture.”  Really this book is not difficult, there is nothing hidden, it is just regular pictures of a Diego Scene and then asks the kids to find about 8 things on the page.  So when he would point to the picture guide I would say “no, find it in the big picture.”  He is now having the same conversation with Little J.  but in a VERY bossy tone.

Little J just got fed up with it and walked away.  The whole time J was yelling, “Find the _____.  you need to find the ______ in the big picture.  Little J come back and find the ______”  Little J finally just turned around and said, “not right now, I’m eating.”  so J says, “well when you’re done eating you can come find it”  Little J’s response, “Maybe!”

While I was typing this J has asked him, “Are you done eating yet?”  Little J is now ignoring him.

Notes home

When J started school mid November I took him to and from school.  2 weeks later he started riding the bus.  I miss those pick up times because the teachers were very generous with letting me know what was happening and how he is doing.  Since that time, I have gone to pick him up about 3 times partly so I can get the report.  One of the teachers even told me that she missed teaching in the private school she was at previously because she saw every parent every day.  I like getting reports.  When I leave the kids with sitters I want to know when they woke up/went to sleep, what they ate, what they watched, what they played, everything.  So its been killing me not knowing what is going on with J at school everyday.  I would pick him up if I could, but Little J is usually going down for a nap at that time and besides J LOVES riding the bus and since it is a short ride it is good for him to work on his separation anxiety.  All that is background.

I’ve seen a lot of positive changes in J since he started school, as evidenced by the previous blog entries.  Last week we got a report sent home from the school speech therapist.  She comes to the class and integrates her work into the classroom setting so as not to disrupt the day.  He receives speech therapy based not on his actual language, but how he uses it in relationship to others (eye contact, reciprocal conversations, relevant speech when playing, etc)  So the report had several of the goals from his IEP and then a quantitative and qualitative observation.  He has not yet met any goals, BUT they all had a summary that either said “progressing and on track to meet goal by annual review” or “making progress but will not meet goal by annual review.”  I’m choosing to focus on the positive that he IS progressing.  The major difference we have seen at home is in the relevant speech area.  He very rarely answers us with a movie/tv line when asked a question anymore.  He doesn’t spend days on end concentrating on and repeating (echolalia) a section of dialogue from which ever movie is the object of obsession.  And there isn’t any one movie or TV show that he begs/melts-down to watch on endless repeat every day.  There have been one or two that he has asked to watch once or twice a day, but it has only lasted a week at most.

Tuesday he came home with a sticker on his shirt in the shape of a star and it said something like “super star” and had ribbons attached.  I tried to get him to tell me what it was for since there wasn’t a note in his take home folder but he didn’t know.  Today his folder had a star paper that said “Jonathan knows all of his upper and lower case letters.”  I am going to assume that the 2 stars are related.

Also in his folder today was a paper with a header that said “Notes Home from Mrs. S”  The note was handwritten from the lead teacher and gave me the peace that picking him up from school does.  I wish they would send these home every day or at-least once a week. 

Mr & Mrs B.

J has adjusted to our classroom very(underlined twice) well.  He is such a happy & very intelligent young boy.

He knows & follows without any prompting or visual cues the daily schedule, and most days only needs one verbal reminder when transitioning from play time to circle time.

He is beginning to join the others in play.  It is amazing the change from his first day with us.  Mrs. S

It truly is amazing.  In the beginning they had to use a visual flip-chart schedule to engage him in the classroom routine.  He often would tantrum over having to leave playtime behind.  I thank God that he was put in a class where the teachers were interested in what would work for J and not making him fit a mold.  Mrs. S told me the 1st day we met that she approaches all her students as puzzles and they work together to find what will motivate them to learn and be great students.  She also has a number one rule that what is fair for one student is not always fair for another.  Most of the kids do not get time-outs because they don’t respond.  Some get stickers or stamps for completing centers, others get a favorite toy to hold.  We have an education planning meeting next week.  I just hope that he gets a teacher as kind and caring for next year.

2 Majors and A Minor

We’ve had 3 more victories this week. 

First the minor.  Yesterday I got some time to go shopping by myself which included Borders Bookstore and Wal-Mart.  At Wal-Mart I needed diapers which is next to the boys clothing.  I had previously seen some cute dinosaur pajamas but hadn’t bought them because when I showed them to J, he turned his nose up, literally.  Well they had these same PJs on sale so I bought them and figured if he really didn’t like them I could save them for Little J.  Its rare that he gets new clothes.  So when I got home I showed them to him and again he turned his nose up.  Bu I know deep down he liked them.  This kid has been a dinosaur expert for 2 years now and the PJs had T-rexs and pterodactyls and they were orange and green, his favorite colors.  So I pulled out the big guns that I normally save for when we are leaving a place that he doesn’t want to leave.  Reverse psychology.  Manipulation.  the “I don’t care if you don’t like it” attitude mixed with “I’d rather it be that way anyway.”  I said, “Oh goody, I’m glad you don’t like them because now I get to wear them.  I’ve always wanted dinosaur pajamas.”  That got him, he said, “No mommy, those are mine. I’m going to wear them!”  And he did.  If you are keeping count that makes 4 pairs of pajamas he will wear, 3 more than he would wear from August – mid December.

Last night Hubby and I went on a date.  A REALLY long one.  The kids stayed home with a new babysitter.  She’s 15 and has lots of experience with kids, her siblings and other people’s.  She even has a family that she has worked with and the 4 year old girl has autism.  She came highly recommended from a friend.  The kids had met her only one other time when she came over to meet us and stayed to play for about an hour that day, but I was right there with them.  We left yesterday to Little J taking a nap and J explaining his Backyardigans Click Start Game to Miss M.  He didn’t say goodbye, he never once asked to go with me, even when I told him ahead of time that Miss M was coming over he didn’t ask if I was staying home.  Those are all things that were completely unexpected.  She only called twice.  The first time was because J wanted to play with the Play-dough but was insisting that they couldn’t unless they had the “mat.”  She didn’t want to break any rules so she called to ask about the mat.  The mat is really just a fun glossy large notepad that has scenes for adding play-dough to.  It is not required, just a convenience.  The second time was a little after 8pm (we’d been gone 4 hours) and she wanted to know if she was suppose to put them to bed.  How considerate, but the kids don’t go to bed until after 10pm.  We came home to the kids yelling happily, “We made cake for you!” and “Happy Birthday!”  HUH??? turns out that not only is Miss M concerned about rules and schedules (all things I stressed as important to J) but she is completely engaged with them and creative to boot.  The cakes were made of play-dough and she had saved them in plastic wrap to show us.  They were amazing and the kids were so proud of them, we are talking a dinosaur head and a 3 tier cake with icing both complete with tiny candles.  Now I am suppose to live up to the cake making standard.  Before they were content with snakes!  They can’t wait for Miss M to come back.  And either she was lying or they liked her so much that they behaved impeccably.  So a big shout out to Friend S for giving me Miss M’s phone number.

Last victory was the dentist visit today.  I’ll keep it short.  They gave him his drink and he was loopy in the waiting room for an hour.  the dentist came out to get him personally and picked him up and started talking to him like they were old buddies.  45 minutes later he came back for me and said that J did great and that he could go home.  When I went into the the treatment room the nurses were with him and said he did well and he looked at me and said, “they made me cry.”  It was so sweet the way he said it though.  He was asleep in the car in seconds.  He woke up at home long enough to eat the pudding I had promised before we went to the dentist and then fell back asleep for a few hours.  He only cried once when the numbness wore off, I gave him IB prophine and he’s been fine since.  He even begged to go to bible class when I gave him the choice to stay home.  What a trooper.

Is it bad that I am waiting for the other shoe to drop?  Like all these good changes could equal a major regression coming?  I hope not because we were turned down by the Department of Developmental Disabilities for extra help outside of school.  But if he does regress we can go through the whole process again. UGH.

A Brand New Day

For those of you following the pajamas/clothing/shoe/pull-up obsessions in our life here is an update.  I’m almost afraid to post it though…you never know what will happen, but just send some positive vibes our way after I tell you this.

Last night both the dinosaur PJs and Red cowboy shirt were in the dirty clothes hamper thanks to hubby who cleaned the house while the kids and I were out for the evening.  I was not in the mood to go hamper diving.  I have found that using dirty laundry as an excuse to try new clothes or clothes he doesn’t normally wear has about a 45% positive outcome.  so I gave it a shot.  J has a dresser drawer full of PJs that he won’t wear.  I pulled out a pair of blue plaid that my mom had a friend make for him.  I stretched the truth and told him he should try the Pajamas that Grandma made.  He was resistant but not grumpy.  So I got them out and showed them to him, all the while talking up the fact that Grandma made them.  The person who did make them put a cute yellow smiley face on the waist band to show the back and one on the chest.  So I was throwing in statements about how happy the Pajamas were to see him.  and then genius struck.  His Grandma made him a lap blanket a few years ago and it is also blue plaid (slightly different shade) so I told him his pajamas matched his blanket.  I wrestled him in to the PJs and got his blanket off his bed and he asked for me to tie it like a cape.  Of course I did.  I promised I would take his picture and send it to his Grandma. 

007.jpg

Okay so that was last night, new PJs.  The night before his dad was home with him for bedtime while I was out at mommy game night.  J doesn’t argue with his dad too much about clothing, so the wearing of the pull-ups wasn’t an issue.  All it took was one night of no issue and last night was good too.  New pullups AND new PJs, I thought we were on a pretty good roll for the week.

Being the sucker that I am, I decided to see how far I could push the desire for change.  This morning I used the full hamper as an excuse to say he had to wear black or blue batman and not red (all dirty, yes today is laundry day).  He put up a little fuss but I told him he couldn’t come out of the bathroom until he had underwear on.  This was extremely important because he wanted to watch Go Diego Go before school, and he can’t see the TV from the bathroom.  He missed half the show throwing his underwear out of the bathroom but eventually gave in and wore the black ones (always 2nd choice to the red).  He also asked for a shirt that is lost and wore one he hadn’t in a couple months. And here is the kicker…

new-shoes.jpgNEW shoes.  Brand new shoes!  We have had these shoes in our possession for over a month.  He has refused to wear them or even take them out of the box.  the night we bought them it was because he was refusing to wear the canvas low-tops saying they were too tight.  Really they aren’t but he doesn’t like his feet confined and only wants to wear sandals.   At this time of year it is hard to find sandals for sale, but I managed to find some hybrid shoes that are closed toe, but have sandal like qualities.  He has refused them over and over again.  when I show him the places that his current sandals are falling apart, he shows me where they are fine.  I opened the box again today and he still said no.  I showed him how cool the bungee cord tightening feature was, he said no.  I walked away and told him to just get some shoes on, any shoes.  A few minutes later he brought me the new shoes.  He was messing around with the bungee cord, but the shoes were still connected with the elastic cord and had the price tag on them.  I asked if he wanted to help cut them off and let him pick the color scissors to use and hold them, which he did correctly with out my help (thanks school!)  He helped cut them and then let me help put them on.  Then he got great pleasure out of pulling on the bungee cord to form a loop.  He was thinking about taking them off, but I was saved by the bus arrival. 

Clothes and shoes was not the only new occurrence in the past 24 hours.  We have several families that we see on a regular basis either for playgroup or for church.  In each group there are some 4 year old girls who are J’s arch Nemesis.  I mean I really think he has some kind of chemical reaction when it comes to 4 year old girls.  They just antagonize each-other.  And as I’ve written previously, they will start a game and he doesn’t know when to end it.  So both last night, and today, two different moms told me that their 4 year old daughters were looking forward to seeing J.  The one who asked today was told that only Little J would be at playgroup and she said “Well how am I suppose to play with J?”  AWWWW.  He has had fairly positive interactions with them in the past few weeks so they are starting to forget all the negative ones from before he was on medication and in school.  Just warms my heart that there are kids out there who consider him a friend now.

Its been an unusual 24 hours, but good.  I’d even venture to say it was great.

Was that really necessary?

White Cloud, why do you torture me so? 

A hidden obsession in our house is the type of pull-ups worn by J.  We rarely think of it because we started buying them due to price and never stopped.  Except once a few months ago, DH bought the Huggies pull-ups (with Pixar Cars graphics) at the BX since Wal-Mart and White cloud were out of the way.  That is when we found out that J was obsessed with the Bugs Bunny graphic found on the White Cloud brand.  He had a meltdown for about 3 days over having to wear the Cars ones.  He only wears them to bed so a package lasts a long time and it wasn’t in the budget to go out and buy another one.  He settled down after a few days and was only mildly grumpy over having to wear them.  Well that taught us a lesson and we make a trip to Wal-Mart every month for the right ones. 

 Earlier today I was sticking things under the sink where we keep the pull-ups and noticed that the new bag I bought earlier in the week had a different picture.  They were trucks, not rabbits.  But the old bag was still under the sink so I figured we would cross that bridge when we got to it.  Tonight we get home from a friends house and I send J in to change.  Next thing I know he is yelling, “I want the ones with the rabbits!”  When I go to check on him it turns out that the old bag is empty (he doesn’t know to throw it away when he uses the last one.)  I tried to show him that the words were the same but the picture was different.  No go.  I tried to show him that he had a choice of monster trucks or construction trucks and that they were both really cool.  No go.  I tried to show him that he still had one Cars pull-up left.  Nope, no go.  He is very angry about the situation.  BUT I let him have the one that he wore at nap time and didn’t wet, so technically still clean.  I told him that he could wear the rabbit one tonight but tomorrow he will have to wear a truck one.  He agreed.  However, I’m leaning towards believing that he was only agreeing to the first part. 

I am expecting another bedtime battle tomorrow.  So why couldn’t they just leave well enough alone?  Did WB take back the rights to Bugs Bunny? Was it really necessary to update the pull-ups?  Who buys them for the pictures on the front anyway?  Well I mean, besides us.  GRRRRRRRR.