Friday, September 25, 2009

Daddy's Guilt Trip

On Monday, Dave had the day off and we had a good day with the boys. Alex did very well at kindergarten and had a fantastic speech therapy session. We were playing outside on the playstructure and the boys were having a good time when we got a call from Dave's boss, who was locked out of their office. Dave being the closest to the actual building, was the first called.

Dave asks the boys if either of them would like to go with him. Both of them just kept playing, so he went ahead inside. At that point, Alex decided he wanted to go and Dave took him into the car.

When the garage door opened, Nathan decided he wanted to go, too. He ran around the house just in time to see Dave pulling out of the driveway. I ran after him, shouting and waving and hoping to get Dave's attention. But no luck.

Nathan ran after the car for almost 300 metres, until the first major intersection, where I stopped him. He was perfectly happy, shouting "Daddy! Daddy!" like he thought Dave was playing some game of tag or hide and seek. I'm waving and jumping, still hoping to catch Dave's attention, but he disappeared around the corner.

Luckily I was able to distract Nathan so he didn't get upset. We played around at the bottom of the street for awhile before heading back to our own backyard. There was no real distress on his part, just excitement.

When Dave got back, I told him what happened and as expected, he felt bad about having ditched his little boy. But on the other hand, it's a good lesson for both boys that when someone asks if you want to go, you have to speak up quickly. Since Nathan wasn't upset at all, I'm inclined to think the whole thing was funny. :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Alex's First All Nighter

Or at least, the first deliberate one. We had to keep him up all night in order to do a sleep-deprived EEG at the hospital to test to see if his little 'tuning out' episodes were actually seizures.

Keeping a five year old up all night. Piece of cake. Right?

Actually, we did all right. We sent Nathan over to his grandparents' for the night so that he would get a decent night's sleep at least. Then we took Alex out on the town, taking a long tour of Wal-mart, then a visit to his grandmother's and finishing off by getting ice cream at McDonald's at 11:30 at night. Alex was just thrilled. He kept looking at us with a little furrowed brow, as if he was wondering why we weren't telling him to go to bed but he wasn't going to remind us.

From midnight until about 6 am, we played Wii. We borrowed the console and Wii Resort so that we would have something new and active to engage him with. His favourite games are the island flyover, where he likes to make the plane crash and see the little Mii shoot up with a parachute, and the Frisbee dog catch. We are now experts at Wii Frisbee. He also insisted that we could only use Daddy's Mii.

We had a lull around 2:30 until about 4 am where we had to keep shaking him awake. But we gave him a couple of lollipops which got him over the hump. He also got a lot of water and ricemeal to help keep him going.

At 6 am, he decided he wasn't having fun anymore. But at that point we knew that if he napped, he would get enough energy to make the whole exercise a waste of time. So despite how awful it felt to keep on waking him up and having him cry, we kept going (thank the gods for caffeine). He even asked us "Alex sleep?" and it was so hard to tell him that he had to stay awake.

I am pleased that despite being exhausted ourselves, there was no point where either of us came close to losing our tempers. And this despite the fact that we each have a few bruises from where he tried to stop us from holding him up.

We got him to the hospital for a 10:30 appointment without letting him sleep in the car. He tried to fight the electrodes again but didn't have the strength to really push it. About halfway through the test, he fell asleep.

We haven't gotten the official results from the test yet but the preliminary readings suggest that there is no evidence of seizures or epilepsy. The suggestion is that he's just daydreaming and, being autistic, it's harder to pull him out of it than one might expect. That is very good news and a definite relief. One less thing to worry about.

You Might Be A Redneck If . . .

You've spent the day assembling a playstructure for your children.

I got a little sunburned behind the ears. We got it from another family whose children had outgrown it. It's always nice when people are willing to pass on things that are still in good condition.

The instructions say that it should take 1 hour to put together. It took me and my Dad over 5 hours, including a two hour trip to Home Depot to get new screws. (Don't ask, there was much debate.) But we finally got it all together.

The boys absolutely love it. And that makes it all worthwhile.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Day of Preschool

Nathan had his first day of preschool today and it went wonderfully. There were two things I was worried about. Would he be okay with having shoes on instead of crocs? And was he going to be anxious about being left alone? He did protest about his shoes but eventually accepted them on his feet and left them on in the car and wore them all day without a problem. And he had no problem with being left alone. He just walked into the classroom and sat down and started playing. Even when I said goodbye, there was hardly a blink on his part.

I've heard from the teachers that he had a fantastic time. He sat on his own for snack and poured his own juice and enjoyed his crackers and grapes. He sat for the entire circle and listened to the songs and stories. He took turns on his own initiative with another child when playing with a toy. There was a brief temper tantrum when Nathan wanted to leave the class and wasn't allowed to. Another little boy noticed and asked the teacher "Is Nathan sad?" to which the teacher replied "No, he's mad that he can't leave." The little boy then went over to Nathan and began building a block tower nearby. Nathan got interested and joined in the play, tantrum forgotten. The little boy then told the teacher: "See, he's happy now that he can play."

I forsee great things for that little boy. Such compassion is rare enough in adults and I hope that he stays as sweet and insightful as he is now.

Nathan also had a great time outside at the park and didn't want to come home. But when he saw me, he was all smiles and happiness. I got a big hug and he said "Bye-bye" to all the other waiting parents. We're even recognizing some familiar faces from other playgroups and from when Alex was at the preschool. It's like a little mini-reunion.

I am so proud of Nathan and how he's done. And I am very happy with the preschool. They've been accepting and wonderful and you can tell that they're genuinely pleased to have him in the class. He's going to do great there.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

First Day of School - the Results

The results are in and, as anyone could have expected, they are mixed.

Alex did very well. Having a visual schedule helped him a lot in moving between activities. The main issue was in some last minute changes to his schedule. We'd spent a lot of time preparing him for what was going to happen but they changed some key points, like which door he was supposed to go in. He did very well on the tour of the school, not participating too much but not complaining and sticking with the group, which is a big deal for him.

I think there may be some challenges with integrating him into the classroom. Some of the other kids are distracted by the fact that he gets to hold a toy and can move around. However, personally, I think that's something that just needs to be handled honestly and frankly with them. Kids can accept a lot if it's presented in a matter of fact kind of way. With a little understanding and flexibility, I think he'll end up doing very well.

He's not that difficult a kid to deal with (although I'll admit that I'm biased). He has certain needs for how information should be presented to him, but once those needs are met, he's very flexible in dealing with his surroundings.

We'll see how things progress over the year. I'm still not entirely over my anxiety but it's good to have that first day over with.

First Day of School

Today is Alex's first day in an integrated school program. He's starting senior kindergarten today. If all goes according to plan, he'll be in SK one morning a week and then in his behaviour therapy program four days a week.

When I first had children, I expected that the first day of school would be emotional. A sense of loss that my little boy was growing up. A sense of pride that he was doing well. And perhaps a little guilty sense of relief at having some time to myself.

I didn't expect to have to feel anxiety. To be wondering if he's going to be able to make it in kindergarten. I find myself wondering if his teacher and peers will like him or if he'll be so disruptive that he'll be politely asked to leave. There are dozens of horror stories about children with autism having trouble in an integrated program. The mildest versions are the ones where they're ignored and left to do their own thing. The worst are the ones of children who are locked up in "autism rooms" all day and kept isolated.

However, I should be clear. The school so far has been very eager on the subject of integration and his teacher has a great deal of experience. But in our experience, that hasn't always translated into a positive experience for Alex.

I think that's the hardest part. Knowing that I have done everything I can at this point and it is now out of my hands. He's got to succeed or fail on his own and it would be counterproductive for me to try and stand between him and any obstacles. The point of this whole exercise is to see if he can integrate into a regular classroom. If I'm right there, that's not going to help us find that out.

But I still think that this is going to be a very long three hours until he's home and I know how it went.