LIFE IS A SPECTRUM

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While I don’t have the time or energy to blog regularly any more (I’ve told you time and time again that I’m inherently super-lazy), I didn’t want to just leave our story hanging. I couldn’t have you all thinking that we never recovered from that July virus.

Far from it. We’ve been living it up.

School started. We faced that possibility with trepidation and considered all our options. While many parents opt to educate their children with special needs at home through online classes, many public schools -- like ours, thankfully -- are making great improvements to their special education programs.

Well, Billster’s in kindergarten now and totally rockin’ it! He spends 50 percent of his time in a mainstream classroom and 50 percent of his time in special ed where he gets his academic instruction (reading, writing, math). He just aced two reading tests in a row (if you’re shocked they have reading tests in kindergarten, join the club. Kids are just smarter now) and did LITERALLY ten times better on his kindergarten assessment test than he was expected to do.

Of course, he still can’t tell me what he did at school – or he’ll tell me SOMETHING, but it generally bears little resemblance to anything that happened during the day. But we’re working on it. In terms of therapy, he’s getting speech and occupational therapy twice a week at school. His incredible ABA therapist, Ms. Elyse, is with him at home & school for a total of three days a week (she spends one full day with him at school, a couple of half-days and then comes to our house a couple of afternoons).

His school has also just hired a social skills teacher who works with the kids on those complicated issues of “fitting in.” That’ll be helpful, because he’s taken to chasing kids to school like a dog chasing traffic, and it kind of freaks some of them out. The ones that literally “run with it” are my favorite people in the world.

Billy is awesome at soccer! Our local soccer league started an outreach to special needs kids and he goes every Friday to play with his team. As it turns out, the boy’s got skillz.

And speaking of skills, he’s still taking gymnastics each Saturday morning, to which we’ve added another class: dance. Dave, The World’s Best Dad, actually takes his son to this pre-ballet class with a room full of girls and their moms and …. It gets better … my two boys will be performing together in the end-of-semester recital! I promise to take video if you can’t actually attend Dave’s debut as ballerina. God, I love that guy.

The greatest thing that’s happened, though, is Billy and Willow have become best friends. Best friends who occasionally try to strangle each other, but they’re definitely interacting. They play together with their dollhouse, their scooters, their back yard toys, taking turns and talking a language only the two of them understand.

Willow is the best therapy money couldn’t buy for Billy – and for me, too, for that matter. She doesn’t let him disappear into his own world. She sits right down in the middle of it. Heck, she won’t even let him use the bathroom by himself. She’ll stick her head in repeatedly asking, “Beedah? You all done? You all done and play with Willow?” so many times that we finally hear a scream of “Leave me alone!” That’s what I call functional language.

I started this blog to let people know that there’s joy after autism diagnosis. Boy, is there. There’s so much joy that I rarely have time to write it down any more. We’re wallowing in it every day.

And I want you to feel that way too. Though I sure won’t judge you if you don’t. If you read enough of this blog, you know how frequently I’ve been down a dark hole. If you’re there, holler out to me, and I’ll crawl on down with some ice cream and several seasons of The Hills on my iPad so that we can spend several sugary, brainless, worry-less hours before returning to reality. I can’t solve any of your problems, but I can cry and scream with you and I have always got food.

I won’t be blogging very often for a while. I’ve got a “real job” (and by real job, I mean one that actually pays me to write – score!) but if you want to keep up with Billster and the rest of us ‘Feet on a more regular basis, please join us at Facebook.com/lifeisaspectrum.

Where I will share scenes like this one:

INT. BILLY’S BEDROOM – AFTER BED TIME

ME: Billy, get back in bed! It's late!

BILLY (pointing at me): What are you feeling?

ME: I'm feeling frustrated because you're not in bed. What are you feeling?

BILLY: I'm feeling happy because you're crazy.
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Yep, life is a spectrum … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Reader Comments

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Thanks!

Thanks so much for all the great feedback, guys! And Jill, thanks a lot for the ideas ... Billy is very echolalic and that is one of our biggest challenges at the moment. We're currently in the "taking data" stage in the hopes of trying some stuff to manage it soon. I'm going to try out your suggestions, because we can sure use some ideas!

I'm keeping up with everyone else's blogs -- even when I don't leave comments to let you guys know -- one of these days I'm going to get caught up with all my commenting! But in the meantime, keep writing, for my sake, ok?

Yay for mad skills!

Glad things are going so well!!! I am thinking the hybrid kindergarten will be what we try too. I can't remember- does Billy have echolalia? We had a hard time getting Kekito to tell me about school. It is still a work in progress, but I have a tip that worked wonders for us!

One of K's skills trainers told us to "teach him to talk like a parrot" to reduce the echolalia. I decided to apply it to the idea of teaching him to tell me about school. So in case you don't already use that method, you say to Billy whatever the Q&A is like this: Amanda- "Question Answer Question". Billy:"Answer" If you aren't already using this- it is RIDICULOUS how well it worked for Kekito.

So as far as telling me about his day, I started with asking, "What did you eat at school today? I ate a sandwich and grapes. What did you eat at school today?" then Bam! The light flickered and having answers modeled for about a week he began to answer me. His teacher also sends home little notes each day about what they did, so I ask, "What did you do at school today?" and I promt with those things.

Now about 8 months after I started trying this, I can ask what he did (and while I may not get ALL of it yet or what I would think is important...) and he tells me what they did or what certain people said. Last week he told me about Art class and that they made paint with balls (marbles) rolled in paint. =) (here is a related ? post I wrote this week. http://www.sublimedream.com/2011/09/things-kids-say-asd-style.html )

Hopefully that is something that could help you guys?

I've missed your entries! Keep 'em coming when you have the time, and best of luck with the new job!

Hugs

Big hugs to you, Amanda! I'm so happy that everything is going so well with Billy and with your new job. You're an inspiration!

Congrats on the REAL JOB! I have missed your regular posts, but try to keep up with you on your various other outlets. Keep posting here and there, I love your stories!!!!

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