Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tough Day

So we took the guys to the Aquarium in Baltimore. I love the aquarium- and its gotten so huge! I used to love to just wander through the exihibits about the beaches, or the coral reef, it was so beautiful and soothing. Of course, that was when it was six bucks to get in and we were often the only people we saw. Now its $24 to get in and the place is packed at 9 am.

Andy had a grand time. We started off with Joey being with Dad and Andy being with Mom. That lasted about ten minutes. Andy loved each and every exhibit- he could have spent hours staring at manta rays, or at a live crab, or at a clown fish in an anemone. Joey had a bit more of a problem.

Imagine you are someone who is used to light, bright places with very few people, and get nervous if you can't see Mom and Dad. Now, imagine you are shoved into a very small, dark room full of strange people and watery, bubbly noises. Sound scary? Place autism on top of that. You can imagine how my day went.

It could have been worse. He loved the escalators. At each level, he would freak out at the beginning, and end up a screaming heap on the floor; I would sit with him a few minutes, maybe get him to look at a fish. Then we'd have to move. Start the process over. Repeat at least twice, when we could finally reach the escalator. Boy instantly transforms into angel. Get off escalator, and enter a cramped, dark room. Repeat for four levels. Now we're at the top of the coral reef. I probably should have taken him into the Rain Forest, where it was lighter; but my brain calculated open spaces with lives things and wild noises, crammed with people, next to a fairly quiet, mostly abandoned coral reef exihibit, and I made my choice. At each level, we had renewed meltdown. Repeat four times.

Fortunately, he liked sitting in the cafe, and he liked the frogs a little better- but he was really tired by then, and in his "no-no-no" mode. We did better with teh dolphin show, but it was the worst, most boring dolphin show I had ever seen. We finally got out in one peice.

Andy was sad to go. He had melted down when we first stepped into teh street from the parking garage. He had never been in a city like that before, and the tall buildings were just overwhelming. We let him sit for a minute with some assurances, and he got over it. Joey doesn't get over it.

Just when we think he's doing so so well, we have a day like this- a reminder that he may never be like other kids, running from tank to tank, poking fingers at fish and squealing with glee, then dragging Mom and Dad to the next tank. I don't even want to discuss the dirty looks I got. Outing like this remind me why other people with autistic kids don't go on outings like this. I still don't see how he's supposed to learn to deal with crowds if he's never in one.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Conversation

So last night, I was talking with Grandma on the phone, and Joey wanted to talk to her ("Grandma!") so we handed him the phone- and he actually had a conversation with her! Then at dinner, he did it again! ("What are you doing" "Dinner." "What are you having for dinner?" "Green beans." ) How cool is THAT? Over the phone, even!


So Vonda came form the Matthew's Center. She asked the same questions everyone asks- what's the problem, what shape is he in, what does he like (for reinforcers) and dislike (in case of sensory issues), what behaviors do we see that are unusual.

I have a hard time with this questionaire. I'm fine with likes, and stressing the problem is communication, not intelligence or sensory issues; but trying to explain the exact problem with Joey is a little difficult, and dislikes is nearly impossible. I mean, I can name foods; but then, that;s his main sensory issue, and most of the dislikes I think are just normal dislikes, like not liking tomatoes. Lots of kids don't like tomatoes. Yes, he tracks. Not much to be done for that, especially since he can be very sneaky about it. OK, he's echolalic. At least he's putting the echoed words into an appropriate context much of the time. He's doing better, but he's clearly not talking at the level of a normal four-year-old. When kids ask him questions, he just stares at them blankly. Is that a social issue, or a communication issue?

Deneice (our speech therapist) is also testing him this week. They need the eval to get teh insurance to kick in. I'm really nervous about that, too- he's been testing well, even though in teh real world he's not up to par. Andy speaks more words, and more appropriately, than Joey. If he tests at 36 months or better, I could lose services! On the other hand, how great would it be if he were 36 months or better? If this therapy is working?

Monday, August 14, 2006

A New Provider

So tomorrow the Matthew's Center is coming to evaluate Joey. In most ways, this is a good thing- they provide in-home therapies for about $40/hour, plan goals for $60/hour, and do things like respite and classroom paraprofessionals. These would be real, trained people working with Joey, not just some college kids I trained myself.

On the other hand, it means I need to scrub my house, organize the toys, and make sure everything is presentable. I'm not in the mood for some stranger to come into the house and tell me what a pigsty it is, and remind me that Joey needs order. Who doesn't?