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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Looking up

So, now we're up to date on Brandon and his Vitality journey. I haven't bumped him up to four per day, and I don't know when I will yet. I have had lots of friends noticing the changes in Brandon and asking me about Vitality lately. I've decided to go ahead and journal his changes here tonight, even though I'm not changing his dose at the moment.

Dec.  5, 2012...

Brandon has made many changes in the last month. I am so happy that I decided to go back up to 3 pills per day, and see what could happen. Because the rewards have been great.

1. I gave him the Toys R Us and Target Christmas catalogs to make his wish list for Christmas. This is the first year he has not picked at least one toddler toy. He has chosen ALL age appropriate toys for his Christmas list. I cannot express the  excitement over this.

2. He is walking less on his toes, and his arms are swinging correctly when he walks.His body is moving more appropriately, and more agile. He has lost a total of seven pounds since starting Vitality...4 and a half months ago.

3. I can talk him out of a fit, if he is having one. If he is going into a full-on meltdown, I can help him get out of it most of the time. That is a first. He is gaining control of himself.

4. He is reminiscing. He is wanting to watch old DVDs and tapes of cartoons and movies he liked years ago. Or, he'll say something like "Mom, do you remember when we lived at the house with the playground and the big backyard, and I was crying. Dad carried me into the house and I was sad." We can then have a discussion about it, and he can give me insight on what he felt and why. It's amazing. He has been talking about his old friends from his pre-k days. We had weekly playgroups. These kids were always at my house, and he very rarely talked about them, unless we were planning a birthday. Now it's, "Mom, do you remember Adam? He was funny." I want to go to Houston and play with him one day." Wow.

5. He is playing differently, He's developing naturally, without my teaching. I don't know how to NOT teach something. He is my first born, that's the way I parent. I teach how to walk, climb, smile, recognize facial expressions, etc. I don't know how to process him learning on his own. It's new, and weird, and amazing. He's blossoming, and I'm being allowed to observe. It's beautiful.

6. On Thanksgiving, his cousin came to visit. They haven't seen each other since Easter. Way before B started Vitality. My brother asked him "Have you noticed anything different in Brandon?" His answer, "Yeah, he's much easier than he used to be." Ok, a twelve year old noticed, definitely not my imagination, lol!

The past 4 days have been one of the biggest regressive progressions yet. Fits. talking back, meltdowns, you name it. It was stressful, worrisome, and hard. At the same time that he was hard, I could see the improvements there. It was like he was two kids. One moving forward and one pulling up the rear. The one in the back was screwing with him, and dragging him down. I had to help him pull himself together, literally. LOL! I knew from past experience that he needed to push through. I couldn't back off the Vitality, he was on overload and could work through it. Tonight, he started coming out of it. I can see changes. The next entry will be even better. I just know it. :)

Take 2...

I had taken B down from 3 to 2 pills per day on Sept. 27th, due to fear and panic. He was regressing, and instead of seeing it as a developmental jump, I freaked out. I realized what happened, and decided to try again...

Nov. 8, 2012...

Things have evened out with Brandon, so I'm going to try 3 pills per day one more time. I'm hoping that it was just a regressive progression, and we can push through it. He's at a plateau, and I know he can advance more. I'm going to try.

A dip in the road

So, the Vitality train took off without a hitch, and was chugging along beautifully. My little man was making massive strides and beautiful progress. One week after bumping up from 2 to 3 pills per day, the train went off the rails...or so I thought. I freaked out, and here is my entry...

Sept. 27th, 2012...

B started on 3 Vitality per day a week ago. Things are not going so well. He is agitated, difficult, and moody. Everything is setting him off, and the girls can't even breathe without him blowing a gasket. I am ticking him off right and left. I was hoping it was a regression before the developmental jump. Today, he had a massive meltdown. He hasn't had one in so long, I couldn't even remember how to deal with it. Jason (my brother) was here, and he tried to help, but none of us could get him calmed down. I got him settled finally, and then decided that he wasn't ready for three yet. I'm taking back down to 2 tomorrow.

What I didn't know at the time, was that he was in a MAJOR regressive progression. If I had just waited, it probably would have evened out, but I panicked.

Brandon's Vitality Journal, entry #2

 Ok, I already added journal entry #1, now on to entry #2. Now, keep in mind that I don't write every day. I wrote in my journal the night before I went up one pill for him. By weight, he should be on 4 pills. Being the cautious mom that I am, I started him on one, waited, then moved to two. I have done that this whole time. This entry is the night before I started him on three pills, 6 weeks after putting him on two pills. I mentioned him eating more foods, some people don't know how incredibly picky he was. He ate bacon and bean tacos EVERY BREAKFAST, chili or peanut butter sandwich EVERY LUNCH, and chili or peanut butter sandwich EVERY SUPPER. Very monotonous, and worrisome as far as nutrients go.

Sept. 19. 2012...

B has been on Vitality for 2 months now, 6 weeks he has been on two pills a day. Tomorrow I'm starting him on three pills per day.

There have been a lot of changes this time. He had a few days of being difficult, as he always does before a big developmental jump. I decided not to go back to one pill, and let him get through and see what was on the other side. I'm glad I did, there was awesomeness on the other side!

1. He is trying more foods. He's eating apples, pancakes, french toast, hamburgers with pickles (never would eat either) , hot dogs, crunchy peanut butter, EGGS, lasagna, fish sticks, garlic bread, spaghetti, and LIKING it! He also tried, chicken nuggets, sun dried tomatoes, oranges, and broccoli. He didn't like those, but he tried. He is eating eggs every morning. It's awesome!

2. B is walking around the room aimlessly less and doing less self-talk. He is only walking with purpose now, and he still does the talking, but it's much less, and I can interrupt and he will give me his attention a lot of the time.

3. I'm having a much easier time getting him to do his schoolwork. He is getting much more work done, and understanding more. It's taking much less time to get him to understand a new concept than it did before. He's sitting for longer time periods.

4. He has been playing with Livvy and Tia. He has always played with them occasionally, but now it's daily, and multiple times a day. He is making up games, choreographing and putting on shows with them, and doing scavenger hunts with them.He is also playing upstairs in his room alone. He has never liked that. He will be up there for almost an hour sometimes, and I'll have to go check on him. He'll be up there putting a race track together, or playing something with his construction trucks.

5. He is more aware in general. He could be in the living room watching tv, and if I'm saying something in the kitchen, he will hear and chime in. He has never before cared about what I was saying to someone else! :)

6. He's more self-motivated. He gets up in the morning now and chooses his outfit for the day and puts it on, before even leaving his room. He is very aware of his hair, teeth, clothing, etc. Getting him ready to go somewhere is much, much easier.

7. He is losing weight. He is wearing shirts that he couldn't wear 6 months ago. Clothes that I was going to give away are fitting him.People are now noticing and asking me if he's lost weight. His fat to muscle ratio is changing. He is getting stronger, and has more endurance. His energy level has increased and he has much more stamina. His arms are swinging correctly when he walks.

New year, exciting changes

So, it's been roughly a year and a half since my last blog post, can we say flake? Really, there have been many changes, and to be honest, making a blog post didn't rank up in my list of priorities. :)

So, where to begin again? I'm going to start putting my journal entries in here about a new supplement that my son is taking. I have several friends asking about it, and this is easier than writing the same thing 50 times. Plus, more people can read it and more children can get it. It's called Vitality. I started taking it myself a little over 2 years ago. I have a few reviews on it from back then somewhere in here. I started B on Vitality on July 21, 2012.  I'll let the journal pick up from here...

Aug. 3rd, 2012...
B has been on Vitality for 2 weeks now, and there have been great changes. I will be taking him from 1 pill to 2 tomorrow, so this will be my record of changes with one pill. First, I noticed a change in eye contact. He is looking at me when I speak to him without me having to tell him to, or having to touch his chin. It's completely voluntary. Not 100 %, but sooo much more than before. One day, while talking with mama, he sat down with us and joined in. I was really surprised by that. A few minutes after he sat down, mama said "watch his eyes when we talk." I did. He was watching us when we spoke. His eyes were moving from one person to the other. He was actually paying attention and following the conversation. He also was jumping in and talking with us. I didn't realize that he had never done that before until then!
I asked Jason (my brother) for a list of what he has noticed, since he isn't with him all day every day. He said more eye contact, & more 2 way conversation voluntarily. He also noticed B following a conversation with his eyes.
This is very promising. I'm looking forward to starting him on 2 per day and see what happens.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

*Guest Blog* Finding friends for kids on the spectrum

I asked my friend Rana if she would write a guest post for me here, and she kindly accepted. I'm so glad she did, because I love reading anything she puts together, even if it's only a few sentences. She has great insight, and can see things and solutions that are not always apparent. Rana is a homeschooler, a homemaker, and a  proud military wife.  She is also an awesome mother to two very cool kids. I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did!

I was very flattered when my friend Natalie asked me to write a guest blog on her site.  Then I became a little scared.  What would I talk about?  I mean, I know it would relate to autism, but what would it be about?   So I thought about it for a moment, and then it hit me.  What is one of the things children crave aside from the love and affection of their parents?  FRIENDSHIP.
I’m sure many of you look out your windows most days and see kids playing with their friends.  I wish that for my child.  How do we help our children on the spectrum make a friend?  First, what IS a friend?  Someone you can talk to, has similar interests, is a shoulder to cry on, and someone you can laugh with.  Webster’s Dictionary defines a friend as:  one attached to another by affection or esteem OR a favored companion.
My son is 10.5 years old and has Asperger’s.  He’s a sweet boy, but is socially awkward.  He tends to take over a conversation with his interest at the time (currently it’s HALO the video game, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and cryptozoology).  While most kids his age are riding bikes, skateboards, and running around the neighborhood, he’s content to do research on his current interests.  He’ll act stories out with his toys, or replay certain episodes out loud, to himself.  Kids his age are not interested in these things.  OK, some enjoy the talk about the video game, but only for a fleeting moment.  He has great conversations with adults, and younger kids seem to be enthralled by his knowledge.  However, most moments he’s by himself.
When we lived in Texas, there weren’t very many children on our street.  The only time he had with other children was in school, or with his younger sister at home.  Those days in school weren’t always good because the children saw they could push his buttons and attempted to get him in trouble when he would act out in frustration.  By the end of his 3rd grade year we decided to homeschool him.  I found a great homeschool group that was just getting started in our area.  All the moms and kids were very welcoming and for the first time my son got to engage with other children who didn’t judge him or try to push his buttons.  When Natalie joined the group with her kids, what a blessing it was.  Her son is on the spectrum too.  The boys hit it off immediately.  They would talk about their interests together, walk around the park, and explore things. My kiddo had a real friend!
Because my husband is military, we ended up moving to Florida in May 2010.  I was sad to leave my homeschool family.  They were such a delight.  I was very sad to leave a friend that understood the days for families like ours, and for my son to leave his friend!  How would the kids take to him in the new place?  When we got to Florida, we found out our house was right next to the playground.  Kids were always there.  While some were initially friendly, they noticed he was different.  I don’t fault them, they are kids, and they don’t get it (even if he’s explaining what Asperger’s is).  There are days they play with him, and days they don’t.  I thought he was ok with it until one day he was upset and said “I want a friend.”  Cue momma’s heart shattering.
Before we moved to Florida we had to find out what places offered therapy.  I came across one called the Autism Education Center and was hooked.  The lady that started it (it’s a non-profit) is a military spouse like me, and has three children on the spectrum.  Her oldest has Asperger’s like mine.  We decided to try a playgroup for the kids.  It is here that my son has made a true friend, his “best friend in the world.”  While they have different interests, they engage in conversation with each other, play games together, watch movies, have sleepovers, etc.  He’s found friend who is even there to listen to him about his bad days, how they feel with their siblings, parents, etc.  You name it, they talk about it.  And it’s great!
So how does another child on the spectrum make a friend?  What if they aren’t verbal?  First, if they have siblings, that can be one of their dearest friends (they just might not know it yet).  It is with their siblings that they have day to day interaction and they can play together and teach each other things.  I encourage you to connect with local families that may have children on the spectrum as well.  Start a playgroup for them.  Help them in floor play, board games, art projects, computer games even.  Together they can work on communication skills, develop their social skills, and enjoy being a kid!

  Rana's son Anthony (left), and his new best friend. :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

"How can I help? What can I say?"

I've been dealing with the wonderful world of autism for a little over 8 years now. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know quite a bit about it. I can't think of a time during this experience that I haven't been reading, online, or asking questions. That said, there is still alot left for me to learn. People that do not have a child on the autism spectrum could not possibly be expected to know all the little ins and outs of this weird, unexpected little world.This post is for those people.

I had a friend tell me once "I just don't know what to say or do." I understand that. I've been there myself with other issues my friends have dealt with. Sometimes you just can't think of anything to say, either because you don't know what is appropriate, or you don't know anything about the issue. I've come up with a few things that as a friend or relative, you can say to a parent of a child on the autism spectrum. I know we can be a little sensitive, but hey, wouldn't you? We're always on alert, just in case someone says something mean, because believe me, those people are out there, and they say some pretty mean stuff. Unfortunately, we get gun shy. However, we do want and need support, especially from friends and relatives. Autism is isolating. Alot of times you feel alone, like nobody gets it. We need our friends and family to be there, even just in thought and email.
Now on to the list...
  1. Offer help. Something simple like offering to grab something while you're already at the grocery store is a huge help. When my kids were younger and my husband was working crazy hours, it would be a huge 2 hour ordeal just to grab a roast for supper. You could also offer to watch the kids for an hour so that mom can get a much needed nap. A girl's night out or an offer to watch the kids while mom and dad have a night out is also a wonderful gift.  We might not take you up on it, but the thought means so much.
  2. Call or email to check in. Like I said before, we tend to isolate ourselves. You get your head down and trudge through, and sometimes forget to look up every once and a while. Just a little note to say "Are you ok? What's going on lately?" is all that's needed to help us stop for a moment.
  3. Offer your shoulder. Hearing your friend say "I'm here anytime you want to talk, cry, scream, etc." means so much.
  4. Periodically ask for an update on the kids. It feels nice for anyone to know someone cares enough to ask about your kids or yourself. 
  5. Try to read a little about autism. Ask your friend for the name of a good book or blog you can check out. Having friends that "get it" is very special. 
  6. Help raise awareness just because you care. Last week I learned that two extremely irreplaceable friends did a 5k walk for autism, in honor of 2 kids, one being mine. I can't even begin to describe the emotions that ran through me. I felt love, pride, humbled, and probably feelings that don't even exist. They probably have no idea the impact that one action had on me, but knowing they thought of us in that way is amazing.
Dealing with autism is tiring, and it can really get you feeling pretty low. With any issue, it's good to have a friend to lean on, or talk to. I hope some of these ideas help those that are unsure of how to help. We don't need much, a hug is just fine. We just want to know you're there.