11

Speech & Occupational Therapy.

Recently we attended Dylan’s appointment with his speech therapist and his occupational therapist! We learnt a lot of new things, got lots advice and some more referrals to get Dylan the help he needs!

First off I’ll tell you about the occupational therapist who was very positive. She said that he has good fine motor skills for his age, but to keep working on using his fingers etc for being able to do buttons, zips and little things! To do this, I am going to continue using his posting toys, his ring stack and other toys like those to encourage his fine motor skills to grow! We have also been told to encourage him to have some tummy time, which is going to be a lot harder than it sounds to implement! I am going to try to get him to colour while lying on the floor, and to do his pop up toy etc while on the floor too! This is to try and encourage him to accept pressure and weight on his tummy and this will also help to build up his neck muscles which are essential for life! While doing this I also need to encourage him to sit at the table when he is doing things as well! This will help to build up his concentration and get him used to sitting still for a period of time in preparation for school! While he is sitting playing with a toy at the table I need to ensure that he gets used to changing toys, and doesn’t get so fixated on the one that he enjoys.

The speech therapist was very pleased with his improvements on making eye contact and that he made a very big indication of communication with me when he came over to me and took my hand and walked me to the door to indicate he wanted to leave. She has  said that I need to try to find things that are very motivating for him so that he will start to learn that through communication he can get what he wants and it is a positive thing! I am going to start to put only a few mouthfuls of juice in his cup and encourage him to bring his cup to me when it is empty rather than going and sitting in the kitchen and screaming, and putting toys up that he really likes so he can see them but has to take me over to where they are so that I can pass them down rather than him just screaming. It will be hard, and take a long time for him to pick up on what he has to do to get what he desires but we will get there!
She said that when we are setting targets for him to achieve we need to set ones that are very small and are in reach, and that we are not to add speech to any of our targets for him. She was very positive, but said that it may be some time before he speaks as there are a lot more stepping-stones to go across before he gets to the speech. She said that he is making progress but it is all very slow and tiny, tiny baby steps! I am starting to get used to the baby steps, and celebrating the mile stones as we get there rather than being disheartened by the ones that we aren’t or haven’t met yet.

They are also referring him on to a dietician due to his very limited diet, though have said that the best way to encourage him to eat a few more things is through messy play. Once he accepts different feelings on his hands and arms then he is one step closer to accepting it in his mouth! I have lots of messy play plans, with very slow stepping-stones to getting them messier and messier.. first we are starting off with a box of pasta with only 2 or 3 cooked bits in, and then adding another 2 or 3 cooked bits in after a few weeks of accepting the first few bits of cooked pasta!
She has also refereed him to go on a DIS (Developmental Intervention Service). This will be a 5 week course where he goes for 1 hour a week for five weeks! He will be in a small group with several other children where they will try to encourage them to interact, and many other things! She started off and told me “unfortunately there is a waiting list.. its 12-13” When I heard that I sighed, thinking that she meant months.. another big wait, but then she finished it by saying “weeks” I nearly jumped out of my chair with excitement! That isn’t long at all!
The speech therapist and occupational therapist also want to see him on a regular basis, but not to regular, every 2-3 months. They said that there would be no point seeing him every week as it just wouldn’t be beneficial for him as it is all such baby steps, and if we are seeing them that much and he isn’t making great bounds of progress each week it is also harder on the parents. I really like Dylan’s speech therapist she is very caring, and seems to really understand how hard this is for the parents as well as the child.

We have his CDC review appointment the end of next month, where they will be referring him on if they think it is necessary and doing his education plan… I know that he is going to be refereed, but I know that it wont make this appointment any easier. I know that hearing it from a professional will be really tough. I am already worrying and stressing about it, when in reality; I can’t change the inevitable, nobody can.

-WeeOhana
x

10

Our First Speech Therapy

Last week we went to Dylan’s first speech therapy, though it was a different lady who had seen him at the CDC clinic so it was a review for her to decide what she thought was the best plan of action! She has decided that he would really benefit from some joint therapy with the occupational therapist as well as the speech therapist at the same time. She hopes that this will start before Easter but can’t be too sure, so I have my fingers crossed that we hear sooner rather than later about it starting so that we can get cracking! She was a lovely lady and gave me some tips and things to try with him along with lots of advice which I am going to share with you all! =]

When we first went in she asked a few questions then played with him, tried to encourage him to do certain tasks and to see how he got on with all the things she had prepared for the day. She did a game with him which was putting some bean bags in a post box type thing, which he really loved. When this task was over and she put it away Dylan couldn’t handle it and went into full meltdown mode.. luckily enough my hubby had came along too so took him back to the car while I chatted with her about the best actions to take to encourage speech.

The first thing she told me shocked me, she said that she isn’t going to work on his speech for now.. it is all about his concentration, engagement, interacting and eye contact. To me I was a little taken back by this, but they have to be able to do these things before speech will come or speech therapy will really work for them! So I have lots of ways of trying to do this and have a long list of toys that I will need to purchase to help!

She also said that his depth perception is very bad, so to try and do lots of things that encourage climbing, pulling out chairs to sit on, and grabbing items off the floor. Lots of that sort of thing to help him, I wasn’t aware but apparently it is very common in autistic children!

The toys which she has advised me to get are lots of simple, easy toys. She said that it is better if he can very easily do the toy and it to have lots of parts. For example today I got him a ring stack. So I then sit, or even better lay on the floor with him while he is doing this he is doing this, and give him one ring at a time to put on, he then has to engage with me to get the next ring. Even if it is just him coming over and me giving him the ring, he is starting to learn that to get the things he wants/needs he has to engage with people! Another thing to do with the ring stack is that I put the part they go onto on top of the sofa and then bring him to the other side of the room with me and give him the first ring, he then has to climb on the sofa which is working on his depth perception and then come back to me get the next one etc!

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I got told as well when I am playing with him to spend a lot of the time laying on the floor behind what he is playing with, she said then that they will catch a glimps of your eyes and make very short eye contact now and then and hopefully will build up to longer periods of times! Unfortunately we have just had laminate flooring put down so it isn’t the comfiest, but needs must!

We also have been advised to buy a lot of different cause and effect toys, so that he learns when he does something it will have a reaction, and that when he wants something he has to do something to get it! I have got him a pop up toy for this, the kind where you turn the handle and a cow pops up, turn the other handle and a dog pops up etc!

To encourage him to interact with us we have been advised to only put a little bit of juice in his juice cup and get him to learn that he has to bring it to us to get more, so that way he will be engaging with us and getting what he wants back. If we only put a little bit of juice in it is then encouraging him to have to do it more often and get him used to it! Another way to encourage this is to teach him that the remote controller turns on the tv, so that when he wants the tv on he can bring us the remote and other things like that!

There are many other toys and things that she has told me to get for him, but I think he will be able to make do with what i bought until next pay day! Dam toys are expensive! >.<
Her main thing was that we keep the toys all easy and simple so that he can do them himself, doesn’t get frustrated at them and really enjoys them! Dylan is like a lot of other autistic children and likes lots of repetitive play, so if its something he can do easily over and over again without getting frustrated it is great! Especially if its working on his depth perception and even more so if he is having to engage too! =]

Here is what I ended up with today for Dylan! =]
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What cause and effect toys do your little ones enjoy?
WeeOhana xx

2

Hearing & Doubts..

I am never going to take either of my children to a hearing test again… though lets start from the start of a very eventful day.

The night before I hardly slept, so many thoughts running through my head. Worries,wonders,what ifs, hows and all those lovely thoughts us parents are subjected too. His appointment also wasn’t until the afternoon, so I filled the morning the best I could to keep myself and him busy. Why though when you want time to go fast it goes slower than you ever thought possible!  We started off having a little look in shops and picking something up for dinner then we decided to head to a forest park for a little walk!
When we pulled up to the park, he decided it was the perfect time to fall asleep so I enjoyed the peace. Peace from the outside I suppose though as I was having a million thoughts a minutes that ended up with a really sore head.. typical. When he woke up we went for a little walk around the forest, he thoroughly enjoyed himself and so did I.

Then it was on-wards to his appointment. How downhill it went from there, the waiting room was full. Every seat was taken and lots of children running about and shouting. Not something I particularly enjoy and neither does he, as soon as we went in he couldn’t handle it. Bright light, lots of people, noise, banging, and pushing. I set him on my lap and talked to him gently in his ear to try and keep him settled the best I could, unfortunately it was all just too much. (He has started to hit himself in the mouth with his hand when he is distressed) On the outside and to onlookers he seemed calm at the start until he started doing this and I was trying to stop him. He kept going and going and more people started to look and one child asked there mum why he was doing it, then he did it so hard he ended up making his mouth bleed, and not even just a little bit. I scooped him up and went on the search for the bathroom to clean him and myself up, so that when we went into the hearing test he would be calm and ready to do whatever they needed. As soon as I had him cleaned up I heard his name being called so off we went down the hallway to see how his hearing was.

It was going lovely, they started with him sitting on my knee and then they rang bells behind him and lots of other things making strange noises and he turned to the majority of them and stilled to others, it was all going so well! The lady told me she was satisfied with his hearing and that he definitely didn’t have any severe hearing problems but she wanted to do another test just to make sure.. little did I know this was more a form of torture.. I had to hold him still while she poked this thing into his ear and did a test. He did not like this one bit, neither did I. He screamed, cried, kicked, bit.. it was horrific. I calmed him down when we left got into the car and he was laughing and smiling, but I had to have a cry. I felt horrible, thought he would hate me .. but he had forgotten about it. Little does he know that she wants me to take him back in three months as she couldn’t do that test properly as he was screaming so loud.. I am not looking forward to that.

Great news is that he isn’t deaf.. though I can’t quite decide if it is great news..
I keep thinking that if he was deaf there are so many things that they can do to solve this, and ahh.. I’m really finding this all so difficult to handle. I suppose that is natural though right? I’m trying to keep my head above water, with a happy face ..I don’t know how swell I’m doing at that part.. its hard to keep yourself a float and everyone else as well.. its tough, its really tough. I must keep going.. on a positive note, we got his appointment for the child developmental team and it is on the 9th of November! So a lot sooner than I expected. which is great news! Less time to over think.. though panic because its so soon!
Answers, or at least some guidance and support is what I need right now. I need to know what I am doing with him is right, that I’m not a terrible mother and it isn’t all my fault.. though I’m not sure those feelings will ever budge..

WeeOhana xxx