Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The word YES

I realized yesterday how this is one word that Michael NEVER uses. My friend's son who is 18 months old used it yesterday after his mother asked him a question. When I first heard it, I couldn't quite put my finger on what sounded so odd. But then it dawned on me it was the response YES. Michael NEVER uses this word even when you ask him something he likes. I think I've heard him say yes once EVER. You can ask him if he wants a cookie and you'll either get "NO WAY MAMA!" and then him being pissed you put it away because he really wanted it, squeals of excitement, or you'll get him repeating the words you just said (want cookie!). How I long for a normal response to a question. I swear it takes 10x the energy to get this child to do anything.

Being around company

Being around company is hard. When Michael starts acting up or not conversing in the normal way, I find myself being very self conscious. With every "NO WAY!" you start to wonder what they think of your parenting skills. Like they are thinking why can't this mom get her child to just answer a question?!

Yesterday we were out with some friends for Memorial Day. Michael of course was having his normal issues and saying "no way" every 5 seconds. The parents were making jokes saying "Is that the only word you know Michael?" I know they weren't saying it to be mean but it hurt. It was stressing me out. I eventually told the mother later that day that we are having him tested for Autism. She said "Well that would explain a lot of his behaviors". I guess she had noticed his other odd behaviors in addition to his "no way"s. She had made note prior to me telling her this info that he wasn't interacting with her girls (3.5 and 5) until about 5 hours into the day with them. We went to a park to all play together and Michael just sat there rolling rocks down a slide while all the other kids were swinging and running around together. Michael would be either oblivious to them being around or if they were near him he was getting upset they were in his space.

It makes me sad. I hate feeling this way whenever we are around friends or strangers. I have a sitter over today and I basically had to tell her not to take it personal if my son yells at her all day. :(

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tracing the table

Here he is being his typical self tracing the lines of whatever he has with him.

Asking for Help!

This is pretty typical of how he talks now and he is even starting to ask for help pretty often now! We've been working on asking him what he needs help with instead of him just saying "I need help" We ask him "what do you need help with?" and make him answer. It's working pretty well!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hearing Test

Today we had to go in for a hearing test. This was part of the preschool screening that they weren't able to complete the other day. He had to go in a sound booth and do the test in there. He did this about 9 months ago through the place he gets speech therapy currently, and it was serious drama. I was fearing what would happen! But he completely enjoyed the test and sat in his chair all by himself like a big boy! When he'd correctly identify what side the sound was coming from, they'd make this bear in a box light up and dance. Every time that happened it would freak him out and he'd start shaking his head "no" (what I actually believe to be a stim because he does it whenever he is nervous - view the 'love you mama' video and you can see it in there). After a second of freaking out, he would let out an excited squeal! The ladies doing the test thought he was a riot! Well not surprisingly, he passed the test with normal levels as I suspected he would. In fact, he heard some sounds even I didn't hear! Maybe it's time I get my own hearing checked!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Imaginary Play

Michael got a train table for his birthday and he absolutely LOVES it! He has even started to exhibit some imaginary play! At one point in time he yells for the train to "STOOOOOP!" before it hit the mountain. He also was asking me some questions "How did it get there?" His eye contact is poor while he asks questions though. If you notice he will glance at me and then either look to the side or look up while asking a question.

Spontaneous Speech!

So lately Michael has had more spontaneous speech! This is huge! He still has a hard time keeping a conversation going unless it is with himself but we are working on it. He has started to come up to me and tell me things that he is doing or that he finds fun/interesting.

Notice about 4 mins in the video though he is saying that he sees the balloons but isn't even facing where they are. This is a form of echolalia. Generally when he is speaking he will repeat only what he hears us say. But during this video you hear him give a few comments/phrases of his own which is seriously AWESOME!

Also, notice his amazing skills with counting and math! The fact that he could look at the 4 balloons and say he had 4 balloons without counting them individually is seriously amazing. That kind of skill isn't expected for at least another 3 years! Some of the things he can do leave me in awe!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tracing Shapes

Last night Michael was playing with this stupid little McDonald's toy that he got with his happy meal. He started waving it around in circles. I asked him what shape he was drawing and he said a circle. Then all of a sudden he started drawing other shapes! He drew a square, a triangle, then a number 1, and a number 2!! He's never done that before. I was super impressed! This video is the result of me trying to get him to duplicate it. I wasn't super successful but that's OK. It was pretty funny though because he wouldn't draw the shapes unless he was holding the stupid toy.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Birthday Party!

Michael always enjoys being around other kids but he can easily get sensory overload. Today was no exception. We celebrated his 3rd birthday (which is actually on the 29th) with a party. There were a ton of kids and excitement. Just transitioning from one present to another was a lot for him to handle and he started to really get upset easily by the end of the day. But altogether he had a lot of fun and LOVES his new train table. :)

Happy 3rd Birthday my sweet boy!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Preschool screening

Michael had his screening today for the developmental preschool. I thought it was a full eval but I guess it was just a pre-screen. They had him go to several different station things they set up and perform whatever tasks for a few minutes. Needless to say, he didn't like transitioning every couple of minutes. Just as he would get settled in and OK with a new stranger, we would have to get up and go to another one. All in all though, he was pretty good for them. Well, in every area they tested they want him to come back for a full eval, which we have scheduled for in September. Now we hurry up and wait.

He AMAZES me!!

Last night I was playing around with the kiddos in the toy room. Michael was playing with his matchbox cars in his usual fashion by lining them all up perfectly. This time, however, he had the school bus on the toddler table and brought over his city bus. He started driving the city bus head on into the school bus and yelled "STOOOOOP!" Then he backed up the city bus and drove it around toward the back of the school bus and said "I'm sorry school bus, I didn't mean to scare you!" I was totally AMAZED!! I was hoping he'd do it again so I could get it on video but he didn't. After that he proceeded to line up his cars in perfect fashion like he normally does. He has never played with his cars like this EVER! He sure made a mama proud last night!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What does having Autism mean to you?

To me, having autism means that you view the world differently. Then the way you communicate your thoughts about the world is also different. It doesn't mean that anything is "wrong" with you or that you are broken. I do understand how it is hard to accept that your child is different but only because society has made it difficult to be different. I feel sadness for my son because I fear what he will have to overcome in this world that requires normalcy. But I'm not sad that he is different. He is an amazing, unique individual and he is exactly how he is supposed to be. I may have to work a little harder to help his world mesh with my world but that's OK. I'm prepared to do that.

I think denial and fear are led by not understanding what autism really is. James won't accept the fact that Michael is on the spectrum. He will only accept right now that he has sensory processing disorder (SPD). He knows something is different about Michael but fears the word autism. But why? My way of looking at it is to understand it and work with what you know! If you keep yourself in denial you are only doing a disservice to yourself and your child. I'm hoping after the evaluations he will be more open to the idea of a formal diagnosis.

We haven't told my father in law at all what is going on. He's severely against labels or any type of diagnosis. I don't believe in labeling children either but I do believe in diagnosis so that the individual can get treatment. A diagnosis doesn't define who you are but it's so hard for people to see it any other way sometimes.

Broken routine = meltdown

Oh boy the meltdowns! Every weekday when I take the kids to the in-laws while I work, Michael has a set routine. I get him out of the car and he runs to the door and waits for me to get Rory. Then we go in the house and he sneaks around the corner by the kitchen until he decides it's time to go in the room. He does this the exact same way every day. If something is different about this routine, his world collapses. This morning when I went to drop the kids off, my father-in-law decided it was a good idea to open the door when he saw Michael approach it. By the time I got to the door, Michael was in complete panic mode and crying. He was desperately trying to close the door and reset his routine. But by that time it was already broken. I closed the door hoping this would reset it for him but it didn't. He ran off and tried to run off the driveway. I had to go catch him with Rory in my arms. I had to drag him in the house, kicking and screaming. He kept going to the door, trying to open it saying "OPEN DOOR!!!" I had to finally sit down by the door with him and give him deep pressure hugs for a few minutes until he finally calmed down. At that point he decided it was okay to go on with the rest of the routine from there. He walked over toward the kitchen and hid around the corner in his normal fashion. Ah the joys of my daily life.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My sense of "normal"

I actually made a post about this on a forum I'm on a few days ago. My sense of normal is so skewed. One minute I'll be telling myself nothing is different about him but then the next minute he does something that is so obviously not what typically developing children do. Since he is my first child, I really had no prior experience to go off of, so I just assumed for the longest time that everything was fine. Even as a baby Michael has been different. When I'd get emails from babycenter telling me "this month your baby should be doing x" I was always like "Um no he's not. What are these people talking about?!" But everyone assured me that he was developing just fine. Even when I was concerned about his speech people told me it was all normal, he would catch up, they had a brother, kid, friend, etc that all talked late and they are just fine. But I went with my gut and had him evaluated and so he has been in speech since September. He has flourished with words, which is amazing, but it wasn't until we realized there was still a huge communication block that I began to worry some more. But even with all the red flags and seeing all his behaviors in black and white on video staring me in the face, it can be hard to distinguish what is "normal". To me this IS normal. This is how it's been since he was a baby. So I still go back and forth and think to myself "Is this REALLY autism? Am I making something out of nothing?" But then I'll see him around children his age or even younger than him doing all those things that the emails told me kids are supposed to be doing. And my son isn't and never has. Then it's clear again and I realize how my "normal" is not normal at all. Queue the roller coaster of emotions right there.

Tracing lines

Rory had pulled out our old paper towel dispenser and when Michael saw it he kept tracing the lines over and over. For some reason he didn't want me in the kitchen or looking at him tracing the lines. While he was trying to get me out of the kitchen, Rory would steal it every time which had me cracking up.

Car wheels

Here he is watching the wheels spin on his matchbox car. Just before this he had lined up all his cars on the back of the couch and then he went crazy and threw them all off.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I did it!

The important part of the video is about :44 when he speaks. Lately when he has been using words, he will do this with this voice. I'm not sure what the proper word is for what he is doing, but it is definitely not normal speech. I plan on talking to the ST about it tomorrow at therapy. It used to be a word here and there but lately he's doing more words like this and sometimes whole sentences (as he did here).

Autism Games

I was browsing the internet and came across this site called autismgames.org. There are several fun games that help children with autism learn social interaction by playing.



About 1:40 into the video he does the "what's wrong Rory?" thing I was talking about. You can see he doesn't directly look at her. So I'm not sure he quite understands what he is saying but he'll hopefully understand one day. :)

Mama feels happy!

They say children with autism don't have the capability to understand facial expressions and emotion the same way. But I'm pretty sure Michael has some understanding of this which makes me very happy. :) When he hears Rory crying he always says "What's wrong Rory?" It may be just a reaction for him to say that because we always say it, but at least he's aware of change in emotion. What I also do is if he does something mean, I will start to pretend cry and he goes "Oh no mama feels sad" then he will come hug or kiss me and look to make sure I start smiling again. Then he'll say "Mama feels better now! Mama feels happy!" Then as long as I smile, he will happily run away.

It's the little things like this that make me really hopeful for his future. ♥


This video has no significance other than being fun. :) I have to remind myself sometimes how amazing he is just by being himself.


This is a great article that my friend Sara sent to me. I thought it was important to pass it on!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Awesome resource

So while browsing an autism forum, someone mentioned this website because it has side by side videos of typically developing children next to children with ASD. After watching all the videos, I saw so much of Michael in them. That's when I really knew in my heart that he has autism. I don't need the full evaluation to tell me that. But I am still waiting for the eval so we can get some therapy.

Anyway, here is the website. It's an amazing resource for anyone who is suspecting autism in their child.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wake up daddy

Actually having a semi-decent conversation with Michael here. :) He also followed my instructions to wake up daddy.

Gotta Go!

Driving around on his sister's car. :) Notice how in the last few seconds when daddy comes in he shelters his face. This is becoming a daily thing when he is surprised or uneasy when being talked to.

Playing with Eggs

I was trying to get him to play a game with me with the eggs. I wasn't too successful.

Love you Mama!

This is one of a handful of times he has said "love you mama!" :)

But this video also shows the visual stimming I was talking about before bed. He does it a lot like this when he goes down to sleep.

Hitting himself

This is what he does every time he is upset. I don't normally keep talking so he hits himself but I wanted to capture it on video for documentation purposes.

Playing with Wonder Pets 2

He's enjoying lining things up on the couch like this lately. He did it with his cars the other day too!

Playing with Wonder Pets

Notice the lack of pretend play. Everything is very rhythmic and must be performed in the same way each time.

Licking windows

He likes to lick windows and draw with his spit. :P

At the restaurant

About 30 seconds in he does what I think is visual stimming. He will do this randomly when he is sitting on the couch or in his carseat. He also sometimes does it before going to sleep at night.

Pancake glasses

Notice the lack of eye contact or response when I ask him questions. He seems to almost be off in his own world.

Typical Michael

Trying to pretend play with him and he gets upset about it. Things have to be in the order he has in his head or he is upset.

Playing with cars 2

More playing with his cars in the same way he typically does. His whole world goes upside down if something is out of order.

Playing with cars

This is how he typically will play with his cars. He loves to line them up in perfect order either in a line or following a pattern. He will get upset if something is out of order or gets messed up.

Typical dinnertime

This is a typical dinnertime at our house. He originally asked me for a spoon but then was upset when I got him one. So I got him a fork and he was upset about that too. If I tried to look at him or talk to him, he would get really upset. This went on for an hour before he finally decided to pick up the fork and eat his dinner. We have to be extra careful not to "mess up his chi" or dinnertime in this house will be over.

American Idol

In my mother in law's words - Music soothes the savage beast! This couldn't be more true. He's always been calmed by music and loves to sing along to songs. :)

Michael Upset 2

When he gets upset he will not look in your direction or let you interact with him at all. This is a really mild version of his tantrums. He will generally try to push you out of the way or hit himself if you talk to him.

No hiccups!

This is Michael getting upset over the hiccups interrupting his counting.

Well here we are

I guess I'm now one of those moms who has a blog about their child with Autism. Well, we are not officially diagnosed yet but his speech therapist and pediatrician highly suspect it. We have a preschool evaluation set up on Friday and then in a few weeks we have a full eval with Mary Bridge hospital with an OT and developmental pedi. But really they will be confirming what I've already come to see is true. I decided to make this blog to chart our journey through all of this.