THEE iPad…

…probably one of the greatest technological advances in the world of autism.  Seriously.  These devices are giving voice to people who have not had their actual thoughts/feelings/wants/needs/desires known before.  An honestly amazing item.

I started writing grants for an iPad for Christian last August.  iPads were really just gaining notoriety in the world of communication aids at the time.  When you think about it, iPads make so much more sense.  Traditional communication devices are bulky, “uncool”, and expensive ($8000+).  iPads are portable, chic, and much more cost-efficient.

Anyway, we were waiting to hear about our latest grant request when we were approached by a local group who had “heard” about Christian.  They wanted to give Christian a voice, yet remain anonymous.  So they donated the iPad, case, and the essential apps that we needed to get started. 

I am overwhelmed by their generosity. 

I wish I could give them the images from my mind of how his face lit up when he saw it.  How he immediately knew how to use it.  How he was able to get the endless list of credits out of his fingers and into the “notes” so that he could work on other things.  How he could use it to ask for things that he wants or needs.  How he could pull up his prayers that are part of his daily routine.  These pictures are beautiful.  I am forever grateful for being able to witness them. 

Thank you.

And to all of you, who prayed on Christian’s behalf, that he would be granted this technology, thank you.  Prayers are powerful.

As of yesterday, Christian is moving into a different classroom for a math class, a 1/2-hour each day.  It’s another special ed classroom, where some more challenging concepts are being learned and/or in a different format.

Christian LOVES this class.

They do a worksheet, play a group game, count – taking turns, and play math computer games.  He LOVES all of this, minus the group game thing.  He’s not a fan of those types of games. 

He did GREAT on his worksheet (again) today, actually shouting the answer out loud before the other kids in the class.  🙂  And in the middle of turn-taking counting, he stopped and shouted, “I LOVE COUNTING!” and then hopped right back into the next number.  🙂

I feel blessed that Christian has teachers at school who are willing to try him in different settings and nurture his abilities.  🙂  It makes my heart smile about Christian’s future.  (Whatever that may be)  🙂

To my mother-in-law,

I love you!  Thank you SO much for taking Olivia ALL day yesterday.  Doing so allowed me to shop in peace.  (Even though you ended up taking her shopping with you!)  🙂  It was relaxingly lovely.  [insert contented sigh here] 

I was allowed to rest, which I’m especially grateful for since my kidney stones seem to finally be on the move — ouch! 

Christian was able to have two uninterrupted therapy sessions without her trying to answer all of the questions and/or take over as the therapist.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.  The words don’t seem quite enough, but that’s all that I have at the moment.  🙂

I spent part of my morning hunting down a single lab report of Christian’s from four years ago.  We were living in Florida at the time.  We never again saw the doctor who ordered that lab test.  I had received a phone call that the lab was negative, and that was that.  Thankfully, I think that I was finally directed to the correct department that actually holds that particular file.  Now, I will just wait to receive that report.

“A-day.”  Today.  Four years ago.  Christian was 21 months old.  I was 7 months pregnant with Liv.  I sat through four hours of interviews and watching Christian’s interactions between the developmental evaluators.  At the end they handed me a few pieces of paper containing information about autism and PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified).  I was told that because of his age, they didn’t want to pin a specific “label” on him, but instead left it vague just saying that he had major developmental delays.  But the written reports that I received later said that Christian had significant signs of autism.  Yep, Christian had autism.

The doctor who was in this meeting told me to not even bother with a gluten & casein free diet.  It doesn’t work.  Everything good you hear about it is all in the parents’ heads…

…I’m glad that my gut didn’t fully believe her.  Christian has not been “cured” by diet, but it has certainly helped him be less aggressive, sleep better (yeah, it was worse before the diet change), and cut down on his need to constantly stim.  Diet can make a significant difference.

I left the developmental testing site without shedding a tear.  Actually, I wasn’t overly surprised to hear “autism” because I had been reading about it since September when the Christian we knew just slowly slipped away.

Brian was teaching at the time and wasn’t with us for the testing.  Christian and I stopped at his school on our way home.  (It was almost lunch.)  I walked into the secretary’s office and asked her if I could hang out for a couple minutes until lunch.  She agreed and then asked if I was OK…

…open the flood gates.  I could no longer keep the tears in.  Yes, the ugly cry was here.  I tried to explain through my sniffles what was going on, and she immediately told me that she’d go find Brian now.  She also convinced Brian’s principal that he needed to go home for the rest of the day, so that we could just deal with this new information.  I’m glad she did.  I think that we needed each other home that day as we started to contact family to let them know what was going on.

Therapies quickly followed — speech, behavioral, and finally occupational.

Thinking back, it doesn’t feel like “A-day” was four years ago.  But Christian is a fighter.  Oh, how far he’s come in four years!!!  🙂  He amazes me.

I’m also grateful to all the people who have helped Christian and/or our family over these last four years.  I appreciate, beyond words, all of your hard work, your determination, your friendship, your understanding, your love for Christian — without you, he/we would not be where we are today!!!

Brian and I received an extraordinarily super generous gift on Tuesday.  Money towards purchasing a snow thrower!  An answer to prayers!!!  A relief to me…

…I have been trying to shovel our driveway when I can.  I can’t shovel when I’m in charge of watching both kids as I cannot bring Christian out without having to chase him around.  Olivia gets a little bored after a 1/2-hour when no one is directly playing with her.  I’m not comfortable leaving them in the house unsupervised.  (I can hardly take a shower without coming out to find some sort of serious disagreement/pushing-shoving match.)  It’s been taking me well over an hour to shovel, closer to 1-1/2 hours, leaving me exhausted and hardly able to move for a couple of hours.  (I have the start of a slipped disk in my back and have had some carpal tunnel issues since both of my pregnancies.)  Still, it has to be done so that the bus and therapists can get in and out of our driveway.

The real kicker is that Brian is going in for hernia surgery at the end of the month.  That leaves me in charge of everything (and Christian is off of school yet, too).  I don’t mind being in charge of everything, but it scared me to have that responsibility and the snow removal, too. 

This gift of a snow thrower is just so awesome!  Really beyond words for me as “Thank You” seems so inadequate.  Brian and I went and picked one out last night and brought it home.  I’m ecstatic!  I have something new to learn now, too, as I have never operated a snow thrower before.  😉  I know I will still have to find the time to be able to move the snow, but hopefully it will make it much faster and allow me to come back into the house without all of the body pain.  🙂

Thank you for the gift!  Brian and I appreciate it SO incredibly much!!!

Surprisingly, Starbucks has yet to take me up on my offer of shamelessly promoting them in exchange for free coffee.  However, I had something VERY cool happen to me this morning involving a free Starbucks drink.  Here’s the story…

I had made a quick run into town this morning when Christian’s first therapist arrived.  (I was able to leave Olivia with her today, too.)  I needed to pick-up a small list of things from Wal-Mart and was in the “zone” — ready to just get what was on my list and come back home.  I was still “in the zone” when leaving the store when I was stopped by a lady who introduced herself as Jean.  I wasn’t really sure what she wanted, but since I didn’t have the kids I thought that I would hear her out today.  She asked if I liked Starbucks.  Silly question.  Umm, why, yes, I do.  (I was starting to jump to the conclusion that she may be a survey-taker.)  Then she just explained that she had $4 left on a Starbucks card and insisted that I take it ‘cuz she couldn’t use the rest.  Huh?  I had to ask her again what she had just said.  Seriously?  You want me to take this card and get a free drink for myself?  Really?  Am I dreaming?  Nope, not dreaming.  She was serious and stuck the card in my hand.  Wow!  I think I managed to thank her a half dozen times as she walked away.  Thank you, Jean!  I made a pit stop on the way home and had my favorite, which just REALLY made my day.  Thanks again!!!  🙂

So, it’s been awhile. Sleep, while still happening, seems to be an every two night deal. Two nights of good sleep, two nights of bad sleep. And Christian’s sleep is always better when I fervently pray for Christian’s good sleep before I turn in for the night. This just proves again that nothing is too small to bring to God in prayer!

I am grateful for the nice weather that we have had lately! It is funny to think about the fact that 60 degrees in Wisconsin seems SO much warmer than 60 degrees in Florida! All winter I was missing the winter of Florida. I missed being able to take my daily walks with the kids (and put on the weight with that, too). I missed the warm sunshine. So it’s been great to have the warmer temperatures and sunny weather over the last couple of weeks. The weather people are talking about possible snow this weekend. Oh, please, NO! I finally got Christian to wear a spring jacket. Hopefully the cooler weather won’t hang around too long!

Brian and I are getting a second opinion on our possible modular home building project tomorrow. We have been having a hard time getting answers from the builder we have been trying to work with, so he found another builder out of Neenah who also builds Wick homes. I hope they will be a better fit for us.

Olivia has been having repeat constipation issues, so she is being referred to a pediatric GI doctor. Hopefully he will be able to help her. I think that many of her tantrums stem from stomach/intestinal pain and there is not much that I can do to help her when she is screaming like that! We pray that her GI tract starts working better soon!