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A Year (or so) Later after the Autism Diagnosis and Where we Are

It was a little over a year ago that we first had Holden diagnosed with ASD.  And I realize I haven’t really given an update on how everything went/is going and where he’s at. But I get asked about it all the time. So I thought I would just collect my thoughts and talk about it at length.

Speech and Language

Then: Holden used to be very echolalic with his language.  And would answer questions with either a movie quote or something we had told him to say. I wasn’t sure it would ever change. I posted about it here in great detail and gave examples of what talking and conversing with him was like.

Now: This is the most remarkable change in Holden. When you ask him questions, he’ll answer with “yes” or “no” as appropriate, he doesn’t repeat you and he actually answers with a sincere, thoughtful response to things like “what did you learn about today?” etc. He says really thoughtful prayers, engages in conversations, and even asks questions. We are still working with “why” and “when” questions but he’s picking up such abstract concepts really well.

We’ve recently hired an SLP who comes to our house and works with Holden on the give and take of conversation. (Holden is SO cute about asking how my day was. It’s so adorable.) She is working on correcting some of his idiosyncrasies. I’m sort of torn on this because I think they are darling. For example, if we are laughing together, he’ll say “Mom you’re so happy at me!” rather than you’re so funny or you’re laughing at me. He says things exactly as they appear to him. Which is just really cute. He also is working on prepositions. And he’s still getting the gender words mixed up (she/he him/her).

School Behavior and Involvement

Then: Every day I would pick him up his teacher would tell me things that he did or did not do that were normal/not normal. His ASD was a big part of him. The other children were more advanced and wondered why Holden didn’t talk very well or know how to communicate. Last Spring Program was so sad.

Now: His teachers adore him. Nobody even mentions anything that’s different about him unless I ask. And the only thing they say is that he sometimes has trouble focusing. But they say he’s always well behaved, and kind to others, and sweet. He was the first kid in his class to get his alphabet crown, he interacts well with other children. And his spring program was awesome. He sang, did all the actions, and was totally comfortable with performing. It was awesome!

We put him in public school as well as his private preschool for a few months. The school district had a lot of really great people and Holds liked taking the bus. But unfortunately it just was another day of school and he didn’t need more school. The special ed teachers felt that he didn’t need to be there if I didn’t want him there – he had won their hearts though. They were very sad to lose him but said he was fully capable of being integrated in regular preschool if I wanted him to come back to public school ever.

Sensory Integration Disorder

Then: Holden was always sensitive to loud noises and became more aggressive or tantrum-y when in a loud or noisy place. He covered his ears often when loud noises were present. He didn’t like being held or touched for long.

Now: Nothing has changed on the sensitivity to loud noises score. He is pretty much the same. We paid for months of Occupational Therapy, which I think helped – especially the music therapy with overall behavior, but not with sound sensitivity. But he is definitely more cuddly. And doesn’t seem to mind when others touch him nicely. He will come in my bed in the morning and let me hold him, which is awesome!

Socialization

Then: There’s a video I took once (that got destroyed when my phone when kaput) that perfectly portrayed Holden’s social skills. He was going down a little slide and there was a boy about his age already on it. Holden didn’t even notice he was there. After he pushed him down the slide in front of him, Holden didn’t notice the boy’s bewildered and hurt expression, nor did he pay any attention to his comments to him.

Now: Holden is much more aware of other kids around him. He looks at them, likes them, notices them. It’s totally the opposite of how it used to be. I set up play dates with one of his really good friends every week. And I usually just take them somewhere like the park or bounce house or museum. It USED to be the case that his friend would ask ME stuff about Holden. But now he just asks Holden because Holden will answer. He is able to converse with other kids, and plays much better with them. One thing I have noticed is that he’s kind of like my little “hall monitor.” He will come and tell on other kids who are doing something he thinks may be naughty. But I’m just thrilled he’s getting it. We can work on tattle telling :)

Food and Diet

Then: Holden would prefer to eat toast and butter and chocolate milk all day. So we did the GAPS diet, the  gluten-free diet,  and then just a wholesome whole foods diet.

Now: He eats regular, whole foods. And raw milk (either goat or cow) I let him have candy occasionally, but usually try to avoid over processed foods. I make waffles and pancakes from whole grains and use 100% maple syrup. For lunches, he’ll eat nitrate free hot dogs, or wholesome sandwiches. He loves veggies and dip and fruits. For dinner, he eats what we eat. I just don’t let him snack before dinner so he’s motivated :) He has to try it, even if he doesn’t want to, and then he usually ends up loving it. He’s a very good eater.

I think food is one of the most important things a parent can tackle when first getting this diagnosis. Even though we didn’t stick with either of the typical ASD diets, I’m very glad we tried them. I think some parents see a lot of changes by doing this. With us, it helped us get on the right track of eating a variety of whole foods.

Art and Coloring

Then: Holden never had any interest in crafts, coloring or painting. Every time I would try, he would graciously provide me with three marks on a paper and be done with it. I posted here about his art compared to other kids in class.

Now: This is a huge change for us, Holden LOVES to color and draw (table time), do crafts, etc. I bought him a school work book and he loves working in it – we’ll be doing that all summer. And his drawings are getting SO GOOD! I just love the way he colors. This is a drawing that his teacher loved so much that she put it on the school art wall.

Holden’s Caterpillar

Tantrums and Behavior

Then: He was hard to take anywhere because you never knew what you were going to get. His tantrums at home were at least 3-4 per day. And transitions were the worst. I did a picture schedule and things got better.

Now: Transitions are still hard, but since he has more words and can understand more of our words, we can reason better with him. When he’s good he is VERY good and when he is bad he is better than he used to be. He doesn’t need a picture schedule anymore, but still likes me to talk him through the fun day we’ll have and everything we’re going to do.

I think that about covers it. He is doing great and is pretty well “recovered” at least in our eyes. We are super proud of him and how far he’s come in only a year. I cannot imagine having a better version of him than he is right now. I just adore him.

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