It's time for an update about Drew! He got his autism diagnosis on March 14th, and according to the Autism Speaks website, the first 100 days afterwards is a key period of time for gathering information, arranging resources, and developing an action plan. Here we are in mid June, pretty much at the 100 day mark, and I can't even tell you what a different place we're in now. A better place. A place of hope and optimism!
One thing that is really amazing, is that no matter how much you don't want your child to be labeled "Autism," it truly does open up a lot of doors and windows of opportunities and resources that would otherwise not be there. It was like they sent the calvary. Suddenly our lives are filled with even more teachers, therapists, doctors, and other professionals, and it's a wonderful thing.
Most notably is the addition of Drew's new private speech therapist, Cass! We are so thrilled and thankful to have her working with us. Our previous speech therapist, Annie, who worked with Drew from age 2-3 is now in private practice with Cass, and together their practice is called New England Pediatric Services. Cass is all. about. working with kids with autism, and we've been amazed in the 6 weeks or so that she's been working with Drew, all the insights she has given us about how he is, and why he is the way he is. We're learning so many things weekly about how the autistic brain is hardwired differently than a typical kid's is, and every week when she leaves Dave and I are like, "A-HA!!!! That makes total sense now." There are so many things, I can't even tell you, that now we're realizing have all been because of autism, that make him do the things he does, or in other cases, NOT do the things that we expect him to do. It's wonderful to have someone come every week to talk to us who is knowledgable about ASD and we can ask questions of. Priceless, really.
Another great outcome of the whole thing is even more services for Drew at his preschool. Even before the diagnosis they obviously knew a lot about him, and what his needs were, and probably everybody suspected ASD for him anyway. ;) But now he's got a new IEP in place for the coming year, with speech therapy, sessions with the special educator, 1:1 time with a classroom aide, and new.... for this year: occupational therapy and the development of a sensory diet! We're really excited about this part of it and can't wait to see what she comes up with for Drew.
We even had a pediatric dietician come out to our house in April to evaluate Drew and his diet. Apparently selective eating is a common thing for kids like Drew and the concern is that the rigidity with routines can get worse over time if not dealt with early on. LUCKILY she said Drew has a lot of strong points and his diet isn't as restricted as we think it is, and he's getting most of his nutrients, despite not eating many fruits, vegetables, and not too much meat. This kid would happily live on milk and pretzels if we let him. But anyway, we switched him to Flintstones complete vitamins because they have iron in them, rather than the gummy vites he was taking. And found ways to get more calories into him..... and as a result he's gained about 2 pounds since April!
Next up is Drew's 4 year well visit with his pediatrician..... hopefully she'll tell us we're doing a great job with getting him as many services as we can. I even called ahead and made sure they scheduled us for plenty of time for talking during his appointment. Those well visits are SO quick, and it's hard to have time to voice any concerns you have in that brief amount of time. I know we have a lot to talk about, so it's best to call ahead and make sure they block out the time for you. They love it when you do that! A little tip from me to you....
And at his fourth birthday..... he's really blossoming. We're so excited at how many things he's understanding, and communicating. His speech therapy is really paying off. It's not so much actual "speech" because his articulation and vocabulary are just fine, but it's more his communication that is being developed. He has had so many delays with language and communication development, and it's exciting to see all of that come forward in leaps and bounds. We're starting to see negative phrases, and questions, and appropriate responses to questions now..... and there's that great satisfaction of KNOWING that he knows what I'm talking about when I talk to him. There's not so much blind repetition of TV shows now, it's actually HIM talking and thinking and forming sentences and wanting to know information. He's really amazing.
He's so sweet. There's really something inside him that has driven him probably his whole life, and it's that desire to please and be kind and do things for people. He's very much a kind and gentle soul, and he loves to obey the rules and do things the "right way." He's affectionate and caring, and looks out for Parker and wants to help Mom & Dad however he can. It's often surprising how he'll drag Parker's high chair over to the table for suppertime, and get out a juicebox for him, and take the straw wrapper off and put the straw in for Parker, totally on his own idea.
It's not all perfect and probably never will be.... we still have times every day when he shuts down, gets stuck in a repetitive rut, pulls out the dishwasher racks and does that weird scanning thing with his eyes repeatedly, can be difficult to redirect out of a fit, asks for milk 100 times in 5 minutes, can't settle down for more than 2 minutes at a time, constantly asking for things back and forth between the family room and the kitchen, being strangely tired and lethargic at random times of day.... and always always always asking for things. Oy. That gets old. I remember that question in the evaluation for autism--something about Does your child only ever ask for needs/wants and never just makes friendly conversation. YES. That was true for a very long time, and is pretty much mostly true even now. It gets old so fast... first thing in the morning, no Hi Mom. Just want juice, want tv, want cheerios, want this and that and all kinds of things. All day long. Every 2-3 minutes.
But our good progress is coming regularly now! We have hope and optimism. He's doing great and we have lots of fun things planned for this summer. He's going to have a blast.