Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pleasantly Surprised

First, Halloween.  It started out in the morning with Eli & I in tears as I was trying to get his costume on him to wear for kindergarten.  I got my hopes up--him being excited to go trick-or-treating & telling me he wanted to be a "green monster!"  So I couldn't help getting my hopes up.  To only get them dashed when he wouldn't wear it, trust me I tried any persuasion & threats, nobody was going to get him to wear his costume.

And in my anger I texted Eli's therapists: "I will be forever grateful if you guys come up with a way for him to wear his costume for trick or treating tonight!! I'm trying everything & he won't wear it for school but if tonight he wears it I will be in heaven :) thanks & good luck!!"

I called Chad on the way to school disappointed but soon after dropping him off for school, I started to relax & realize it's not a big deal if Eli doesn't wear his costume.  And started to prepare myself mentally that I'll be OK if he doesn't.

But his therapists came up with a plan!  Eli practiced trick-or-treating at our house! Eli put on his costume & him and the therapist went outside & would take a short walk come knock on the door & grab a treat!  So Eli would connect the trick-or-treating to wearing his costume. :) And it worked!  Eli put on the costume for the trunk-or-treat without any crying!  And he wore it while we ate chili, then went to about 15 cars to grab some candy.  He was satisfied with his bucket of candy, came to the car the rest of the time with me--tore off his costume and opened all his candy.  (Only ate the starbursts & nerds..)  But he wore it while he went trick-or-treating & I couldn't of been more pleased with the progress he made so quickly from our morning dilemma together to the 5:30 trunk-or-treat.  His therapists are amazing, once again I LOVE ABA therapy.

Mike Wazowski
Second, school program.  I told my friend that I am not expecting Eli to participate in the school program.  And she said, "but you will be pleasantly surprised if he does." And I was.  I was "pleasantly surprised."  He graduated in May this year from preschool & he stood with the rest of the kids up at the front of everyone but didn't help sing any of the songs.  He just stood there & looked cute.  It's now November, 6 months later & I didn't expect anything to change.  Mostly from experience getting your hopes up only makes you crash hard when it doesn't happen.  But he participated in the songs.  It was so darling & I was crying tears.  I was so proud of him.  He was shy about the last two songs but I was so pleased with him participating.  (I will post a video eventually..)

Now I want to clarify some things before you comment.  I am getting better, slowly but surely, at not expecting Eli to want or do what the typical kid his age does.  But it's hard to not want those things so badly for him. (I can't explain how badly in words, but I know any mother who has a child that is noticeably different understands me.)  And when you think it's just a Halloween costume, it wasn't for me.  When he understood what trick-or-treating was the week before & wanted to go so badly I thought that meant the costume part as well.  And I let myself get my hopes up.  When your kid is different you just want some common ground between him and the kid next door.  Because he can't talk as good, ride a bike as well, catch/throw a ball very well, share with others, understand as much, or share his thoughts as well as a typical 5 year old--and the list goes on--I let myself expect him to wear his costume & that's why I was in tears when he wouldn't.  Not because of the costume but because it hit me hard how different he is from kids his age.

These moments actually happen rarely these days.  For the most part I am SO HAPPY with the progress he is making.  I am not going to lose hope, but I will not expect him to be at certain points in his life & be disappointed when he doesn't reach certain criteria.  It's too heartbreaking and it isn't fair for Eli.  He puts his best effort into his therapy & tries so hard--that he needs my encouragement, support, positive attitude & love instead of disappointment.  If only I didn't cry Halloween, but I did & want you to know I am getting better.  Such as my theme for this blog, "live & learn."  I apply it and am only growing from my life experiences.

Our book club is reading a book this month called, Wonder.  I haven't started it yet but when I was reading about the book--this line stuck out to me:

.."you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out."

Maybe Eli isn't meant to blend in.  

Hope you enjoyed reading & if you have any thoughts on my words above please leave me a message!  I love to hear from my readers.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Updates in progress & a reminder for Eli someday.

Eli is doing so well at school--I wanted to finally document some of the progress he has made before it's old news!
Eli is TRACING!! This is EPIC :) & can now recognize most numbers 1-10.  He wasn't tracing this summer & numbers was beyond him until recently.  I am one happy mama.

Eli has never loved coloring but now he is at least trying to stay in the lines!  Where before he never even tried to just stay in the lines.  I am AMAZED at his effort.  He is trying hard & I love him so much for it!

YouTube Video of Eli :) Counting from 1 to 25!!  For the longest--longest time he was only counting to 10.  Now he can count to 25.  Enjoy!!  

Eli is doing so good & working hard at it.  Love his progress SO MUCH!! LOVE him even more!!

This is the first year Eli is excited for Halloween and I can tell that he knows what he is talking about!!  We have mentioned trick-or-treating & that night all we heard from him was, "I want to go trick-or-treating!!"  Then I asked him what he wants to be for Halloween & he has told me, "green monster!"  So I am DIY a Mike Wawoski (totally slaughtered his last name..), but I have showed him the costume & he says he is dressing up.  So cross your fingers all my time and effort isn't worth nothing or else Charlotte gets to be a green monster next year!  So I will keep you updated on how Halloween goes this year.  Hope you enjoy your Halloween!!

With love, Katie

This next part is a message for Eli!  When I have printed this blog into a book :) & it's his!  Thanks for cheering my boy on & me.  I appreciate it.

Eli, I was reading an article about autism & it gave great advice that I had to keep note of for you to read someday. It's called, What's Right With The Autistic Mind, By Temple Grandin & Richard Panek.
It is true that as a society we focus on the deficits of autism & I as your mother let these deficits worry me & tend to focus on them more than I should. I am going to do better & hope that when your old you will know I have loved you for who you are, for your strengths & weaknesses, & have done what I can to help your weaknesses become strengths.
And now I want to quote from this article, a message for you:
"I'm certainly not saying we shouldn't work on deficits. But the focus on deficits is so intense and so automatic that people lose sight of the strengths...... For me, autism is secondary. My primary identity is as an expert on livestock. Autism is part of who I am, but I won't allow it to define me. Some peoples difficulties are simply too severe for them to ever have the same opportunities I have. But for so many people on the spectrum, identifying their strengths can change their lives.  Instead of only accommodating their deficits, they can cultivate their dreams."

So Eli, let's focus on your strengths. Life can be tough--but don't focus on the negative. See the positive, see the potential in your strengths & go for your dream!  I love you buddy & will always be here cheering you on.

Love your mother.  XOXO.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I know

I read something just barely--that I needed to hear, that I will share in just a minute.  Lately, I've been thinking there is no way Eli will be ready for kindergarten next year.  Don't get me wrong, he is making a TON of improvements but he is starting from pretty much ground zero I feel like.  Every time we do his homework I just think, there is no way he will be doing this in a year because he doesn't understand most of it.  So I've been a little bummed when I would think about it.

Anyhow, before I continue..  Regarding my post about, "A Friend" the girl is still saving him a spot before class, during circle time & asking him to play during recess.  The other day we walked in & she gave him a big hug!  Her mom says she wants to do a play date & Eli is one of the reasons her daughter is excited about school!!  (Why do I worry?!)  FYI, Chad didn't agree with that last post.  Eli & friends is something Chad doesn't worry about with him.  And that last post was me just being a worrier, which most moms are good at--so I am sorry!

And another progress update: Eli is no good at sharing, anyone who has had their kid play with Eli knows this to be a FACT.  But today the therapist told me Eli did great playing with a few kids & a dollhouse.  A kid would ask for something Eli had & he would share it.  AMAZING.  I almost cried tears, my little boy is getting it.  Slowly but surely.

K back to what I read & needed to hear & wanted to share.

"..hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes."
                                                                                                        -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

I don't know what Eli's future is going to bring.  Maybe he will be ready for kindergarten next year, maybe not.  I think it's OK for me to hope that he will be ready & do all I can do to help make that happen.  But because I don't know, I need to remember the things I do know.

Random photo: 4th of July--Eli enjoying the fireworks.
And this is what I know:

1. Eli is a child of God.
2. Heavenly Father loves Eli more than I do.
3. Heavenly Father knows Eli better than I do.
4. Heavenly Father gave Eli this struggle for a purpose.  (And me this struggle for a purpose.)
5. I was given Eli to love, nurture, teach, & help him reach his potential--& am capable of this.
And last but not least.
6. Heavenly Father hears my prayers & answers them.  (Not always how I expect them to be answered---BUT because He loves me & Eli & has a plan for us, I know He knows best.)

I LOVE what I know.  It makes me not stress so much about the future, about things I can't do anything about right now.  We are getting Eli the help he needs & doing what we can for him.  Everything is going to be OK.  I LOVE IT.  Heavenly Father has our backs, if we just let Him.

Remind me of this post--if I get a little down. ;)


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Friend

It warmed my heart to hear just last week that Eli has a friend.  Something that right now he doesn't have a lot of--in the sense of your typical 5 year old friend(s).  The therapist mentioned this to me as we were leaving school.  He said, "Eli has a friend.  She asked him to sit by her today."  He told me her name as well & that she's very nice to him.  And just this morning when I dropped Eli off at school, the teacher said to him, "You like to sit by _____, come sit here."  The same girl the therapist told me about.
It made me SO happy!  A little scared--I have no idea how long he can keep a friend & hope he doesn't ruin it.  (As bad as that sounds, it's true.)  But this girl must be a sweetheart and can see that he needs someone.  Who knows though... I am just happy he has a friend, even if it's for a short period.

In another sense--Eli has a lot of friends!!  He turned 5 August 23rd & although it causes me so much stress to throw a party, I did.  And Eli had a blast, making all the effort put into it worth it.
Everyone came & I was so worried no one would.  So we had a house full of  handsome little boys with a beautiful girl cousin to celebrate Eli's birthday!  I was going to post a pic of all the kids & their fun, but I didn't get permission from parents & didn't want to worry about that.  So you will have to believe me..

We stayed up late the night after his party--playing with all his new, fun toys!

One of Eli's cake--luckily it tasted better than it looked!

Always, gotta have a grandparent party :)
One happy birthday boy!

Although, friends may not be the easiest for him to make right now, with the progress he is making I believe it will get better in the future.  The hardest part for me, is knowing he wants to make friends.  Seeing the joy it brings him to have friends to run around with & getting excited to see his cousins--I know he wants those relationships.
When both therapists went to school with Eli the other day, when they came home to do therapy with Eli they told me about something they witnessed.  Two girls were just chatting away while Eli was sitting across from them during snack time & he would look from one girl to the other as they were talking & would smile like he knew what they were talking about.  Which I believe he did know what they were talking about, just for right now he is unable to join in.  And it hurts at times but I am slowly getting tougher.
I believe I will always worry for my little boy, but it's OK.  He will be made strong early on in life, with the hand he has been dealt.
Love him & even though he may have some setbacks he is still a blessed boy.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fire Truck

Summer is over & now he is off to school!  He started at Bravo Arts Academy August 15th & it is going well.  I once mentioned how Eli during preschool, when I would ask him, "what did you do at school today?"He would ALWAYS reply, "bus!"  Well, Monday after picking him up from school, I asked, "What did you do at school today?" And he said, "Firetruck!"  I just held my breath & crossed my fingers that in his backpack was proof of something of a firetruck.  Opened his backpack to find this:

Eli is showing improvement, quicker than I can post!  I was so happy that he could tell me what happened at school, if he chooses to do so.  At least for the most part.  Someday, hopefully I will get to hear about friends/girls & teachers!
But I am thrilled to see progress!

This is a short post, but I had to at least post so you knew we were alive and well!!
Thanks for reading.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Eli & his ABC's

It's been over a month since my last post.  But no one has complained--I think it's because it's summer. (Well, & I probably don't have a ton of readers--which is fine.  This blog is more for me to look back on & Eli someday.) I hope everyone is enjoying their summer as much as I am.  This is the quickest summer of my life & I can't believe it's mid-July.  I had to stop and take time to post, because even though the summer is going by quick--Eli is making progress that I wanted to take note of.

I tried to share a video once & I don't think anyone was able to watch it.  So I finally got a youtube account and posted my video online--hoping you will be able to view his progress! (I don't know any other way to share a video..)

Eli's therapist has been working like crazy with Eli & his ABC's.  When Eli left preschool he could identify only a couple of his alphabet.  So that was end of May when he graduated.  Eli right now is going to summer school, besides his therapy sessions.  And just this week when I picked Eli up from his preschool, his teacher said, "Eli is doing so well with his alphabet.  Even in random order, and he knows the hard ones like, W."  I was so pleased to hear this!!  Sometimes I wonder if he does things only for his therapist, so it is nice to hear him use the knowledge he is learning somewhere else!!

Here is a video of Eli practicing his ABC's:

Eli's YouTube Video

Hopefully, you can click the above line & it will take you to Eli's movie!  Let me know if it doesn't work..

Eli is talking SO much more.  He is putting sentences together & he is copying things he hears Chad & I say.  He is also learning to be more independent.  He is finally dressing himself.  And just two days ago he went potty without having to tell Chad & I that he was going!  Which is nice, so that he doesn't have an accident if he can't reach us.

You can tell Eli is so happy with his own progress--being able to communicate better & proud when he says or does new things.  It's crazy to think he has a therapist come 5 days a week, from 1:15-3:45 each day.  Poor guy--& some days it isn't easy on him.  But because of this ABA therapy, he is making this progress & one day he will be grateful for us pushing him so hard.

I am so happy Eli is able to continue learning, each day I am learning to be ok that it's at a different speed than most kids.  I am just so grateful that he is able to learn & keep progressing.  I love this boy SO much!  He is teaching me A LOT & helping me to be a better person, (although it's a very slow process & hope he can forgive me for my mistakes & impatience a long the way.)

Here's some pics from our latest vacation in Lava.  LOVED this trip & so did this boy!

He calls swimming, "swims!" 

Eli had SO much fun with his cousins!  We have a great family.

I have more I want to post--but should get started on my Monday.  Enjoy your week!


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bravo Arts Academy

I said I would let you know my new plan for Eli--& I would do it pretty soon.  First off, I shouldn't tell people what I am going to do, because usually the opposite happens unfortunately.  I was hoping to post before our vacation--but it never happened & I am gonna quickly let you know what we decided for Eli next year, right now. :)

First we were going to meet the teacher at Freedom Elementary for his life skills class, if we felt like it was a good fit--we would then sign the papers & that is where Eli would be going to school.  So we met the teacher--seemed like an awesome lady & I was feeling excited for Eli.  Well shortly after meeting the teacher, the lady in charge took us to the meeting room--me thinking we would be signing the papers--but instead she tells us that Eli would no longer be going to Freedom Elementary & instead Roy Elementary.  Which was the first bummer--although I am sure Roy would of been fine.  The BIGGEST DECISION CHANGER was that they weren't going to let Eli's ABA therapist go to school with him.

As soon as she said this, my mind was made up.  Because I already had the impression to give Eli another year to try and catch up--and Chad & I had a back up plan.

He will be 5, August 23.  So I am guessing the deadline for school is Sept 1st (correct me if I'm wrong), so Eli misses the deadline by a week!  My first hope was that they would let Eli do another year of preschool--but that wasn't even an option.  And in the IEP meeting (a meeting you can have each year if your kid has special needs) when I talked about letting Eli do another year of kindergarten--they first let me know it would be hard to make that happen BUT they think parents should make that decision with an emphasis on it being HARD to do.  :)

Oh my goodness--I hope I am not writing too late and this all makes sense when I am through!

So IF Eli would of went to Freedom Elementary this year--he would go to school ALL DAY Monday through Friday in life skills--then have his 15 hours a week of one on one therapy with his ABA instructor.  And I just thought of this little boy, barely 5 who still falls asleep in the car when I drive anywhere at 4PM--going to school all day & therapy on top of that each night.  His little brain being exhausted, tired, & never having time as a family or to himself.  So when the school wouldn't allow the therapist & I knew it'd be hard to hold him back if I ever wanted to--it felt SO RIGHT to take him out of the system this coming year.

We decided on Bravo Arts Academy in Washington Terrace.  He will be going to kindergarten there.  It's nice because in his preschool he had a lot of peers as examples & at Bravo it will be the same.  I like that.  It will be a small class & his therapist gets to join him!  Which I like cause I can ask the therapist how Eli is doing with the kids!  And his therapist will know what the teacher expects & can work on those things with Eli.  And I am sure his therapist can help determine how to help Eli with social skills.

Anyhow, I feel at peace with my decision.  Eli is coming a far way--he just graduated preschool & is going to summer school.  His therapist is working on Eli's alphabet & it's so nice to see him start to recognize letters & learn the alphabet song.  Just yesterday his therapist asked him out of ten letters, "what is this letter?"  And Eli said, "Y."  Then the therapist said, "point to the letter R."  And Eli pointed to the right letter.  I am THRILLED.

So that's the plan: Bravo Arts Academy--kindergarten.  Then I am sure they will test him again next year in the public system & my goal for him is Alternative K.  It's a step up from life skills.  Then I hope for him to be able to start going to 1st grade 2015.  It's nice to have goals.  I am going to shoot for the stars & hopefully be emotionally prepared if life deals me differently.  No I will be ready.

That was a short post, right?  Ha ha.  Night.  If you have any questions let me know!  Also, they are opening the program for 35 more kids with autism.  The ABA program that I seriously LOVE!!  If you know anyone that has a kid with autism--(I think they have to be 5 & under unfortunately, but I can check)--that would LOVE to have a chance for these services please let me know!

(Also, I am not mad at the school system.  I understand that the people really do want what's best for the individual child--but there's rules that need to be followed which is just part of life.)