Monday, May 29, 2006

Food Glorious Food

Well.. I said a while ago that I would talk some more about food, and last weekend we had a couple come to dinner who has an Autistic child themselves, and we ate as well as discussed food :)

For a lot of kids with Autism, diet is looked at with the recomendation of Gluten and Dairy free being good as theit bodies cannot cope with certain things in those foods, and the nutrients don't get digested as well and blocked from being sent to the brain, so brain function is more difficult.

For us... they make a BIG difference.

When he was 2 and 1/2 we went to a Hungry Jacks (aka Burger King) with some friends... we had just recently reduced his diet, except we still let him have cheese, coz he just loved it so. It was HARD, he couldn't sit in his own chair, tried to steal food off other tables, and wouldn't play in the playground.. I think we lasted 35 minutes before giving up and going home.

We decided then to take him off cheese and just see. Two weeks later we were at the same HJ's, and he sat in his chair, ate his food, and played happily. So... we gave him an icecream as a treat, we were so pleased. He spent the next 4 days under his bed... quite literally - he just could not be with us or be at our level.

Then we have gluten. At day care last year he had a bunch of specific 'free' foods just for him, which was wonderful. However, one of them thought we were wanting wheat free and preserrvative free.. so got a rye bread especially for him (GLUTEN!!!). We were not aware, and in the two weeks they gave it to him (only 1-2 pieces every other day) he regressed massively in multiple areas of his life. Socially he stinted, words dropped off, and he stopped going to the toilet in the toilet... we were back to him doing poo's in the back yard, as he could not cope with sitting on the toilet... it had been 6 months since he had done that! Once we found the culprit and stopped it.. it was about 2 months before he was back to the stage he was prevoiusly at.

Mind you - being completely GF and CF free these days is possible, there are so many foods available - soy products, tofu cheeses, goats, rice.. etc. But we find it hard still - with 3 kids, parties, friends... so we aim for 80% plus.. and then don't get stressed if he has something he shouldn't... coz if we were too focused on it, it would truly be a burden.

So... if any of you have heard of these things for your child... please try them.. just give it 2 weeks and measure for yourself, then make you own decisions about continue... coz habits are hard to break, and good habits can be a challenge to get into :)

(Says me who hasn't been to the gym in 5 days ... ooops!)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Pointing : Stage 2

Well, the pointing has given Jonathan such a new lease on life.

Wanting to take full advantage of this stage I ask him to direct us when we are going in the car to and from the Special Ed unit. He points and I ask "Which way?", and he now actually replies with "This way" rather than just echoing me.

Unfortunatly, we also had a meltdown about the car not going the direction he was pointing.

He Goes to Special Ed 2 afternoons a week atm, and on a day he wasn't meant to go, he really, really, wanted to. So as I turned the car towards home, he started crying out "this way, this way, this way!!" and pointed in the opposite direction. I said a few times " Home today" but it didn't get through... after all, he had the power of the finger!!

Being only 700 metres to school it wasn't a long trip, and once I got home he continued in his frantic requests. I unbuckled his seatbelt, and he didn't want to get out. I kept trying to coax him, but he just wanted to go... he even crawled up on top of the dash board pressed himself into the windshield and kept trying to point and say "this waaaay!!!!"

After quite a while he got out of the car, but was very distressed. He went to the side of the house and sat amongst the path with the pebbles and started putting them into a container and out again. He just needed soemthing tactile. He then had a few other things happen that also distressed him and it ended up being about an hour before he calmed down. :( poor boy.

The next day was a day for special school, so that seemed to make things a bit better.. the power had returned! I think he's just testing his boundaries again.

Today tho, his older brother (who is 7 1/2) asked me "when is Jonathan going to be unautistic?". That was a big conversation, with a few tears on both sides, mine mostly when Daniel cried saying " but I want to talk to him." Ahhhh we are all growing through this experience.

Monday, May 8, 2006

LOOK !!!!!

With a flourish of a finger, and a joyous phrase, we enter a new phase for Jonathan.

In the past few days, he has started pointing, with his finger at various things that excite him. Tonight it was the 'Wombles' (old BBC tv show) Dvd playing on the TV. He ran up to the TV, pointed at it and almost shouted in excitement.

"Erm... most children point at things" I hear you say. "True", I reply... "most children do, usually from as early as 15 months". [By 15 months most children: Walk without support, say a few words in addition to mama and dada, move arms and legs to assist in dressing, wave bye bye, communicate by gesturing and pointing, finger feed self, and begin using a spoon.]

We are at 5 and a half years and just now seeing some consistency with some of the basic developmental abilities for most children - of course, it delayed due to it's relation to the social aspect of life.. the constant 'boundary' for autistic people.

And just looking at that list I linked, he walked at around 14 mnths, had maybe one other word than mama and dada, rarely assisted with dressing (from fuzzy memory here.. never really took notice on when that changed.. perhaps at 3 yrs-ish), he was waving bye-bye occassionally, which inadverntandly stopped at around 18mnths for perhaps around 2 yrs, and he had no problems feeding himself :) .

Also... another delight, I have yet again to thank the makers of 'Toy Story'. I purchased a CD for the car, basically a script from the movie with a narrator over movie voices. A month later... I had tried a few times to change the CD, but he always refused... only that one would do.

This morning, as we arrived at school... he held his hand over the on/off swicth so I couldn't turn it off, I waited for him (while his sister also got her shoes on) and after around a minute the bit he wanted came on... he then proceeded to amaze me by repeating 'word-for-word' around 6 sentences from the script, in time with the recording. Not just a few words, but almost a full paragraph. (of course... it's echolalia, it's not him saying a paragraph himself... but that definately will be coming!)

Things like this just give me hope for him for the future.. I have no real gauge to measure him by. He is his own man and developing in his way, I don't know how much language he will aquire, how well he will read, how he goes with maths... I see high school being especially difficult for him - let alone the adult world, and besides, we have grade one yet to tackle. {Moderate sigh}

It's too far ahead to be looking in some ways, but it also helps us to be better parents to our other kids. Be YOUR best, do all YOU can, excel with the gifts YOU have... fair advice I should be taking for myself too ;)

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

"Mum, look at this"

About a week ago now, we were at the computers... The two boys on one computer, and me on another... when Jonathan says, clear as a bell "Mum, look at this".

He was holding up a piece of dirty paper.. and wanted to show it to me.

The amazing things about this were:
HE initiated... he chose that he wanted to tell someone something - and in this case it was me he wanted to tell.

He had an objective.. for me to look at the paper.. and HE chose the right words to achieve that.

He spoke a sentence... with no prompting, modelling, initiating, he just ... spoke.