Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Conversation with Gabe #1

It's breakfast time and Gabe enters room using the more sign.

"More". "More". "More?" he says.

"More what?" I answer trying to get him to ask for what he wants.

"More?" He replies.

"More cereal Gabe?" (Gotta get that two word request in.)

He pauses and looks like he is in deep thought.

Then replies, "More fen fie."

"French fry?" "No sweetie. No French Fries for breakfast."

"Fen Fie!" He looks amazed at himself for thinking of it.

(WOW! Did he just come up with an answer all on his own???? Now, I really wanted to give him some. He had come up with a new food to request for without prompting or labeling. I felt like doing 10 cartwheels, but I'm a little crickety. )

"How about cereal?" I say with a smile.

"Cereal!""Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!" He does a little dance and smiles back.

"What do we need?" I wait.

I wait some more.

"What do we put it in?" "Aaaaaaaaaaa.........?"

"Bowl!" Gabe points to cupboard.

We're getting there!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Graduation with Hope

Here are some of the wonderful people that we spent the last 12 weeks with. Gabe and I will really miss seeing them everyday.

Gabe with Jenni and Greta in the Trial Room

Here is my awesome teammate and her very smart and pretty daughter.

Gabe's friend at circle time. He had the cutest smile.

Snack Time

Gabe at Trials having a blast.
Who doesn't love reinforcers????

Here are two more good friends that we met.
This friend of Gabe's was so sweet. She was another "fan" of The Old Lady.
The support there was awesome, especially between the moms.

I spent an hour and a half driving home today after graduation.(Terrible weather and accidents all over the place) I wondered what we would all be doing in 5, 10, 15 years? There is so much invested in doing this program financially, time wise and, especially, emotionally.I not only learned about ABA through the Hope program, but I met some inspiring moms, that through it all still push forward. They amazed me. Truly inspiring. I amazed myself. I DID IT!!!!!
I wish everyone the best of luck and you are in our prayers and thoughts. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Me "What?" ...Gabe "What?"

So, this marks the last week for Gabe and I in our ABA therapy/education course. For the past 11 weeks Gabe and I have been going to a "school" for 5 days a week, 3 hours a day, learning how to use ABA through trials, motor, play, group, and generalization. It has been amazing! I have been also implementing at home 5 hours a week. He basically has been receiving 20 intensive hours of ABA a week for the past 3 months and my God has he grown leaps and bounds! I'm so glad that I found something that clicks with Gabe. There are so many wonderful and interesting programs out there. Where do you start? I'm glad we started with ABA for Gabe. I think I also would like to look into adding a floortime program. I met last March with a doctor that studied under Dr. Stanley Greenspan (developed Floortime model). Amazing. I just knew then that Gabe had so many basic skills that needed attending to first. I was thrilled when my ABA training included goals for Play. The whole program was incredible. I will post later more details about where we went.

Today was Gabe's day of testing using the Mullens Test (sp?) through the ABA program. It was great to see him succeed in areas of the test that I remembered him not doing well in 6 months ago. Some he still did not "get". One in particular was a 6x8 page that had a semi circle of 5 black and white line drawings of flowers. Another Flower picture was placed at the curve of the circle that "matched" with one of the flowers in the semi circle. Everything was laid out in close approximation. The question was something like..."Can you point to the flower that matches this?" Gabe gets lost in long sentences. He has a hard time with two words unless it is a familiar command. He could not figure out what she wanted and just started imitating her , first pointing to the flower that she presented, then as she pointed out the semi circle, he traced the path of flowers. He knew he didn't know and was just dragging his fingers over the flowers. Now, if she had said "point to same" or "match" he would've gotten it. He mastered point to picture through an ABA program. He loves to match and sort. I know that the test has to be given a certain way, generalization is so important, but where does compensation for language difficulties come in? He probably heard..."Blah,blah, blah........this." He was able to do all the imitations very well, because they have little if any instruction except "Do this". He tacted some familiar objects, but again he does know what an umbrella is, but can not verbally tact it. If you had a field of three common objects and one of them was an umbrella and you asked him to discriminate by pointing to it, he could. Oh well.

The hardest part of the ABBLS, I find, is the very clinical questions afterwards for me. Does he say 5, 10, or 20 words an hour? Does he count in a row or can he count objects? Can he do novel actions with objects that he can imitate with? How many objects? 5? 10? 20? How many things can he discriminate/tact...20?50?100? Would he know what to do if a child asked him over to play? Would he engage? Would he know what to do? Would he talk to them? What would he do if someone took something from him? Nothing? Want it back? I think I cried after answering the first ABBLS questions 6 months ago. I left the Center thinking I had no idea my son had Autism for almost 2 years and now I can't tell you if he runs smoothly, alternates feet on steps, or jumps? I thought "Where the hell have I been the last 2 years of Gabe's life?" I felt like a failure of a mother, especially to Gabe. It hurt so deeply. How could I have failed someone so bad that I loved so much? I went out the next day and started two of the many journals I now keep. One was about his eating (what he ate, how he ate it, symptoms, and strategies we are using to get him to try new foods and to feed himself), Social journal (Strengths and weaknesses, "Ahha! moments and "What was that about ?"moments) . I need to start a language journal, but between ABA data, this blog and the other journals, I'm a little journaled out.

As I mentioned earlier, Gabe loves to imitate now. Especially Boo, our 4 year old daughter, Maisey and spoken language. Here's something funny that happened recently. First, I have to tell you that Gabe is learning to say a two word request "Give______" or "Want_______". It is a labor of love....but we push on. We have to prompt him by saying the word "give" he responds with "Ga" then says what he wants. Sounds like this...
Gabe "Milk!"
Me "Give"
Gabe "Ga"
Me "Milk"
Gabe "Milk!"
Me "Say Give Milk"
Gabe "Milk!"
The other day it went like this...
Gabe "ZZIPS!" (chips)
Me "Give"
Gabe ?????
Me "What?"
Gabe "What?"
Me ..laugh"No"
Gabe "No"
We both laugh.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Barney is my new hero

This past weekend was our annual trip to the mall to get our family picture taken. After the haircuts, outfits and gas to get there, think we spent enough to remortgage our house again. Well, not exactly, but it sure feels like it! But, I just love the pictures. Not so much of me, I'm slouched over holding Gabe in the pictures so I look hunchback or I was put in back of the family like I was standing at the peak of the summit. I gotta laugh at myself. My hair looks good though. Anyway, they used Barney to get Gabe to laugh. He loves Barney (Bah-yee). He took the best pictures out of all of us. Boo is always a cutie, but I think she felt shafted when she did not sit on daddy's lap this year. She is getting so tall. She was trying out some new and creative ways to smile. Too funny she is.

Don't you just want to give Gabe a squeeze? We call it a squoosh and tickle. Helloooooo, Mr. Handsome. It looks like he his touching his "Beep Beep"(What we call his bellybutton sometimes) We had a good laugh when we noticed that.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Did I say that?

Ok....here goes......I called someone on the phone from the insurance company an asshole. I know...I know...I know. Should I get the noose for myself now? I'm sure that's a HUGE red mark on our file. It reads...Beware.... Irate and uneducated mother. Worse yet, it will be on my son's file. They can be so damn cold. I swear that they would claim no coverage if Santa got in a sleigh accident with one of his reindeer. Who the hell trains these people? Retired Nazi's?

Alright......Here's how it went in a nutshell. I have called numerous times with diagnosis codes, any code and all codes that I needed...I had codes for everything. (sounds like Dr. Suess) Blue codes, red codes, green codes, upside down codes, rightside up codes, nodes like codes. Anyhoo.... I do this, because many doctors that provide services for Autism in our area are highly qualified and degreed, however choose to be out of network. (Fun for us, but understandable) So I would give these codes and find out, yes it's only covered 50% of the ALLOWABLE amount. (Gotta love that) Most of the time, I was given the allowable amount, albeit miniscule.(Like $50 out of $175) It's very helpful in budgeting what we can plan for for Gabe. Today, I was given the 3rd degree about how I should not be receiving that information and who did I talk to. This is after 9 months of getting this info. Did they honestly believe I was going to rat out my source????? They probably figured it out now. So, on and on we go back and forth about this amount that they seem to determine after deciding if you deserve it. On top of that, they will not tell me how much I will be receiving through this mysterious "allowable amount", that's between the doctor and them. That says a lot right there. The conversation was mixed with tears and frustration, lying and deception on their part and an unbenounced asshole slipping out of my lips. It escaped when they wanted to put me on hold AGAIN and transfer me to the even colder auditor. Asshole I guess that was my way today of saying "No thank you".

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The beauty that is Fall

Gabe at Halloween. He LOVES Buzz Lightyear. He refused to wear a costume, so here he is in his cute PJs.

I swear he is getting more handsome as the days pass. Both Boo and Gabe have the most beautiful eyes. SD has long eyelashes, but those eyes! Where did they get those gorgeous eyes? Just incredible.

Anyway, there is cause for celebration, a pause to reflect and time to push forward. Gabe turned 2 1/2 years old on Saturday. We are amazed at how far he has come and saddened about how much further we have to go. SD (Super Daddy) and I promised ourselves that we would have Gabe off of baby food by the time he was 2 1/2. He has made progress since we made that promise, but it is yet another battle. I'm not sure we can do this one right now. It sometimes feels like the clock is ticking so loud in my ear that I feel dizzy and stressed to the max. I find myself clenching my teeth a lot. I didn't notice it until I was biting down so hard one day, that my teeth began to ach like I had been chewing gum for 15 hours. I can NOT go to a restaurant when he is 3 years old and start feeding him stage 3 from a spoon. I just can't. Believe it or not, I just can't do that. The grunting from excitement, still warms my heart, is it noticeable? You bet, but he's so squeezable, you overlook it. The temper tantrums, well, that can easily be tallied off on the "He's a boy" list. Thank God for that list! But, the eating is another whole dimension and it just outright sucks.

So, here's the deal. Gabe is capable of feeding himself from a spoon, fork and cup - Beautifully. We have started to have him pick what bowl and spoon he wants to eat his baby food with. He also gets to choose the baby food. ( Still Stage 3) Mind you, he has only chosen Banana strawberry( Nana- Ba...NANA!) But, it's a start. He is reinforced after EVERY bite with a reinforcer type food (Veggie Chips or cereal) along with loud praise and a little tickle. (We are huge supporters of ABA for OUR son- It may not work for everyone) Felt like I had to put a disclaimer there. Sometimes ABA supporters can be labeled as ABA militia, I am not one of those people. :o) Anyhooo...It seems to be going well, however, mealtimes are lasting FOREVER and he is not eating as much as he would if we were feeding him. I guess he will catch up when he is hungry enough. Right now we are only doing it during breakfast and dinner, because we are in transit during lunch. Gabe's ABA school is an hour away and BOO has to be picked up at preschool about an hour after he gets out of school. I can make a deal right now with him, that if the baby food is in a bowl and he feeds himself, we can all just take one deep breath for now.

On the flip side, Gabe's school is ending in 3 weeks and I must say I am quite comfortable with ABA and the way it was taught at the Center. The people were fabulous! I don't even want to think about what it is going to be like when Gabe and I do not go to "school" there anymore. Whelp.....Can't talk about that....I feel a lump in my throat and an ulcer in my stomach....Onward...

SD and I have hit some very rough patches through all this. I think Gabe's condition (?-that's sounds odd) really magnified all the crap that we had put on layaway, but never picked up. Kind've like that tote in the basement that has all your old bills and junk from college. You know you should go through it, throw it out, hell, your sick of moving it every time you need to get the Christmas stuff out. But, you just keep walking around it hoping it will go away. SD is my very best friend. I told myself that I would never marry unless I married my best friend. But, he sure can piss me off. I have moved the "tote" closer to the door and placed a pretty bow on it and with a note that reads.."For better or for worse...let's make it better."