Thursday, January 21, 2010

Math Roadblock

Math. If I listened to most of my family and most of my friends I could guess that it is one of the most confusing and hated subjects out there.

Fortunately for me, I'm a freak of nature and have always enjoyed math and found it kind of easy. I was a big time "mathlete" in high school, winning many state and regional awards and even getting one national award. Both of my boys have lucked out in acquiring my math genes.

Corbin continues to struggle with phonics yet in math he works in workbooks that are made for kids two years older than him. He is always coming home saying, "We learned something new in math today but it wasn't new to me." He has a poster with multiplication facts on it hanging next to his bed- he asked for it and he loves it.

Brian is non-verbal and struggles with almost everything academic. Yet he's always known his numbers. They weren't taught to him, he just knew them. He could put them in order, identify them, and count objects. One day he even started counting backwards out of no where.

I think math can be very concrete (well at least at the elementary level) and that obviously is a plus for learners like my boys.

Yet, we hit our first roadblock with math this week with Brian.

Tally marks have been introduced. Like with all kids learning can't just happen at school, it always needs to be reinforced at home. Yet, with Brian, I feel that I try to do that even more. Honestly, I'm not sure how much he is listening, participating, or retaining at school. I'm not sure how much one-on-one instruction he is given with each lesson every day.

So I gave him a bowl with different objects to sort. He sorted them, I asked them how many of each of them there were, and he told me. I asked him to write the numbers and he did. We put them back and took them out one by one so we could write a tally mark with each object. He did not like this.

Each tally mark to him was a number 1. He doesn't want to write 1,1,1. If he's going to be writing more than one "number" in a row it NEEDS to be in order, 1,2,3. And he just looks at me like, "What in the world do you mean '1,1,1' is the same thing as '3'"?

I wrote to his teacher about my concerns and she wrote back that all kindegarten kids struggle with tally marks and they are just starting them so I shouldn't be concerned. Yet, I can't shake it. I can't shake the feeling that this is the beginning of me really needing to pay attention to what curriculums they are using with Brian and to really find the right fit for him. Maybe she's right and he'll catch on after a lot of drilling, I hope she is.

I research the crap out of things when I have questions, as you all know. Found some interesting websites and thought I'd share.

Autism Classroom
Autism For Teachers
Positively Autism
Education World

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ice Fishing

I was born and raised in Maine and should be use to cold weather and love winter sporting but sad to say, so not true. I'm not a fan of the cold at all though I try to make sure I join my father in one day of ice-fishing every year because I know he loves it. Up until this year the boys weren't very big fans either but all of a sudden this winter I've seen a change in them- especially in Brian. In years past he would go outside in the winter and stay in one spot for about two minutes and be done with it. This year he can't get enough of the snow and the cold!

We went this past weekend to a small pond with my parents and one of my neices and one of my nephews to go ice fishing. Corbin was the oldest of the kids and the youngest was my neice Alyssa at three years old. My stepmom and I were joking about being out of there in 30 minutes because the kids would get cold or bored.

Much to our amazement, we were there for almost three hours and all four kids were completely enamored with Grandpa and his fishing skills. They all had chances to pull some fish in and to release them after. Brian, being the bravest, and picking most of the fish up and releasing them- even with bare hands one time!

The kids had a blast and I love seeing my boys being able to enjoy some time with their Grandpa- makes me look forward to the days, when they are older, and are asking to go spend a day fishing with Grampy!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Little or Big?

Yesterday, after Corbin had made his bed, put away clothes, and brought all his dirty clothes to the laundry room I told him what a big boy he is. He was cuddling in my lap and he looked up and said, "I'm your big boy, Mom, and Brian is your little boy."

Corbin and Brian are only 18 months apart, yet this is how Corbin feels and he has said this to me on many occasions. I usually correct him and say, "No, Brian is a big boy too." This time I thought about it a bit more before answering.

I want Brian to be seen by the world as a five-year-old, as a "big boy". That's my protector-mama-bear mentality. Yet, he gives the world a very different image in the way that he still has that baby giggle, how he sucks his thumb and twirls my hair, when he wants to be carried everywhere, and of course, by his very limited language. Most adults don't look at him and think "big boy", how am I to expect my 7-year-old to?

So instead of answering Corbin with my usual response I said, "I think parts of Brian are a big boy and parts of him are a little boy still."

Corbin seemed to like that response. "Yeah, like when he always remembers to close doors and turn off lights," he said, unaware that those are really parts of his little brother's OCD routines, "That's a big boy because I can't even remember to do that!"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Funny Glasses

Not sure how I didn't get around to sharing these pictures earlier :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Amazing Little Glimpses

I was walking past my bedroom, where Brian was playing, when he looked up at me, stood up, and ran to me. He then grabbed my hand and pulled me into the playroom, pointed to the lamp, and said, "Mama on!".

I wonder when moments like these, these little glimpses of proper language use, little glimpses of functional abilities, won't make my heart swell in my chest, won't make me smile, and won't make me reflect on our path of treatment towards recovery.

Sometimes people wonder why I do everything I do, when it's been three years of hard work, and I only get these tiny occasional breakthroughs. I guess one can't truly appreciate those two little words like I can. Until one knows the completely pure hapiness those words give me you wouldn't understand why I push so hard.

Of course, I hope someday these glimpses become so common-place that I won't stop and be in amazement every single time.

Other simple, amazing moments in the past couple of weeks-

*In reply to "Let's go Brian" he yelled down the stairs "Coming!"
*He accidently hit his brother in the lip with his foot in the tub- he echoed my words, "I'm sorry.", "That hurts Corbin.", "Be careful." but added in his own hug to his big brother at the end without any prompts.
*At the movie theater he immediately started yelling, "Popcorn! Popcorn!"
*Brought me a Thomas video and said, "Tommy? Yes I do."
*Catching him singing along to "Under The Sea" while watching The Little Mermaid.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

11 Year-Old Autistic Boy Charged with Felonies

This story is so sad and also just sickening. It turns my stomach to think about this scared little boy in an institution. Listen to his grandmother's story and continue on to The Zakh Appeal to help with their lawyer fees, if you can.

I am so tired of continuously hearing stories about our most vulnerable citizens not getting the care, compassion, or protection that they so desperatley need.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Alternative Treatment for Colds

I haven't used traditional over-the-counter medications for the boys in quite a while now and last winter was actually the first winter that I didn't say, "Yeah, he has a perpetual runny nose from November until April".

As this season has approached us I have done more research to share with other individuals in my life about why I choose to do the things I do, no matter how strange they think I am.

I thought I'd share some of the things I have learned.

* Though many people start using OTC medications for their infants, in 2008 the FDA actually changed their guidelines and decided no child under the age of 4 should recieve OTC meds, and most experts push that age to 6 and urge for it to be used with great caution all the way up to age 12.

* Most of the inactive ingredients, such as preservatives and dyes, can cause allergic reactions, such as rash, exacerbation of asthma symptoms, hyperactivity, upset stomach, & diarrhea.

* When using OTC medications you are most likely treating symptoms your child doesn't even have.

* Also remember colds are not viral and therefore they shouldn't be treated with antibiotics. When antibiotics are not used correctly, or overused, they can cause yeast overgrowth, resistant organisms, and immune suppresion.

* At the first sign of symptoms, start taking Vitamin C and zinc, which are known to boost immunity.

* Visit your local health store and you can find pain relievers and such without any added STUFF- just natural ingredients known to help with different symptoms.

For more information visit Autism One or Dr. Mercola's website, just type in the search "OTC Children's Medicine"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Conquering A Fear

The boys share a bedroom, by choice, as they often like to snuggle together. There are some problems to this plan but overall it seems to work.

One of the problems we've been dealing with is that Corbin has a fear of the dark. He needs to have the hallway light on to fall asleep. Brian has a problem producing melatonin, as far as I can tell, and keeping a light on does not help that production. He sleeps best in a completely dark room.

For Christmas I bought the boys each a toy truck flashlight. I was hoping this might persuade Corbin to let me turn off the light. It didn't for the first 12 nights, but tonight, as I started to come downstairs, Corbin yelled to me, "Mom, you can turn off the hallway light. I have this flash light if I get scared."

I turned it off, went in and gave him a kiss, and told him how proud I was of him. He then asked, "Do I get a treat for this tomorrow?"

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gastrointestinal Disorders and Autism

According to the TACA e-newsletter I recieved today, the American Academy of Pediatrics medical journal, Pediatrics, released two separate studies regarding gastrointestinal disorders and autism.

The first, Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals With ASDs: A Consensus Report, states that gastrointestinal disorders are very common in individuals with ASD. It points out that though individuals with ASD may be nonverbal and unable to communicate how they feel and that they may have behaviors that make them hard to treat, necessary steps need to be taken to have their underlying issues treated just the same as a non-ASD individual. Also in the report it says that the affect of diet restrictions on symptoms of ASD have not been studied enough to be supported or refuted, but they are in no way saying that there is not a possibility that a group of individuals with ASD wouldn't respond to such treatment.

The second, Recommendations for Evaluation and Treatment of Common Gastrointestinal Problems in Children With ASDs, provides healthcare providers with the steps to treating gastrointestinal problems and it also concludes that some unusual behaviors could be results of different gastrointestinal disorders.

It's exciting to see information like this go "mainstream" when for so long when us parents have spouted similar information we get looked at as if we are conspiracy theorists. I think these reports are definitely a step in the right direction.

I don't know about you, but I'm excited to print out both to bring into my pediatrician's office!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy 2010!

My boys spent their New Years with their father but it didn't mean that we didn't take a chance to celebrate it!
So we rang in our own New Year on January 2nd around 6 pm as we ate our nachos. We had all the accessories- wine glasses, hats, tiaras, noisemakers, and necklaces. We did a count down, made resolutions, and celebrated. Even the cat got into it.