I thought I had mentioned this before, but looking back through previous posts, I can’t find that I did, so here we go….
A couple of months ago, Simon went through a really, really tough spell. His sensory needs were out-of-control and he, quite literally, started chewing on the walls. He became more aggressive. His tantrums and meltdowns increased. His sleep habits went to shit. Adam and I were walking on eggshells and not sure what the problem was or how to fix it. None of his therapists really had any insight, either. I finally formulated the hypothesis that Simon might have been gearing up for a developmental leap. You can see that in infant development, where they will become very clingy and eat more and fuss more and just generally be little shits right before they make a leap in development. I did some reading and asked some other ASD moms and the general consensus was that, yeah, sometimes you see a major regression before a big step forward is made. All we could do was wait it out and hope for the best.
It all started with Simon verbally identifying certain letters, ‘S’, ‘M’, and ‘N’. Then he started saying ‘up’ and ‘ah-ma’ (mama). He plateaued there for a while and that’s when his behavior really took a nose-dive.
However, in the past month or so, things have really changed. His sensory seeking behavior has decreased significantly. (Helpful tip: For children who chew on walls and/or furniture, get the No-Bite fingernail polish and paint the areas they’re chewing on.) His sleep is better. His aggression has lessened. And he’s only had one or two really bad meltdowns that I can think of.
Now, a couple of reasons for this may (or may not) be:
1. We unplugged the TV 3 weeks ago. Simon has not watched TV at all, except for one afternoon when he got to watch 2 movies while the babysitter was here, in the past 3-1/2 weeks. He gets to look at pictures on Daddy’s phone and we have discovered that he loves YouTube videos of guinea pigs, which are very helpful in getting him to brush his teeth or take his medicine, but other than that, he gets no screen time. I really credit the lack of screen time with his behavior improvements.
2. I started him on a very, very low dose of magnesium citrate, which has been known to help ASD kids with OCD and anxiety.
Whatever the reason, he is doing great. And, as you can probably guess by the title of this post, his speech as exploded. Really, it’s amazing.
Story #1: He was very tired one night, so we put him to bed early and were going to let Eleanor stay up a bit later (they share a room, remember). I did the stories and song and everything just like normal. Less than a minute later, though, he came crying out of his room. Not pissed off, but genuinely upset. I took his hand and put him back to bed. He’s sobbing and just kept saying “a-sis. a-sis. a-sis.” Over and over again. So I was like, “Honey, do you want Eleanor? Do you need Sissy?” (Eleanor is hard to say, so we’re giving him the option of Sissy.) He starts crying harder and louder. “A-sis! A-sis! A-SIS!!” Okay, then. I texted Adam (ain’t technology great?) to have Eleanor go potty and brush her teeth and get to bed pronto. She came in, all proud that we needed her help to take care of Simon. She got into bed and I started to doing the usual song. Simon climbed up into bed with her and gave me a big old grin. We didn’t hear a peep out of him the rest of the night. He just needed his A-sis.
Story #2: We were in the car one day and he started trying to sing along with the music that was playing. He wasn’t forming the words, obviously, but he was really trying to vocalize along with it. Now, granted, it was a Debbie Gibson song, but he was still trying to sing, damn it.
Story #3: He said his first real sentence a couple of weeks ago. He took my hand, led me over to the swing, and said, “A-ma, aw wah nay”. ‘A-ma’ is ‘mama’. ‘Aw wah’ is ‘I want’. ‘Nay’ (or sometimes just ‘na’) means ‘this’. So, “A-ma, aw wah nay’ means “oh, mother dear, I should like to swing if it would not be too great of an inconvenience”. Apraxia is fun.
Story #4: He finally learned how to climb up the ladder for the slide all by himself. Before he’ll slide down, however, you have to count for him “1-2-3 Slide!”. He thinks it’s funny and he’ll sit there forever waiting for you to do it. When he and Eleanor are taking turns on the slide, he’s trying to count for her, too. He’ll stand behind her going, ‘Un. Un. Un’, until she slides.
Story #5: In addition to ‘S’, ‘M’, and ‘N’, he is now consistently verbally identifying, ‘F’, ‘I’, ‘L’, ‘O’ (sometimes), ‘R’, ‘U, and ‘Z’. A special note about ‘Z’… He actually says it ‘ah-zee’. Why? Because when you say the alphabet, you end it with “and Z”. Duh.
Story #6: The other night, during story time, Adam was reading ‘The Book With No Pictures’. That has been the nightly choice for almost a year now. Seriously, it’s getting old. Anyway, Simon follows along beautifully and there’s certain rituals that go along with certain parts. Tonight, however, was a bit different. There’s a line that goes ‘Glug, glug, glug. My face is a bug. I eat ants for breakfast right off the rug! What?!’ And damned if he didn’t say ‘what’! Granted, it came out as ‘ut’, but the intent was there. It was awesome.
Story #7: While chasing bubbles outside, he’ll pop them and yell ‘up!’ He means ‘pop’, he just can’t do the initial ‘p’.
I’m sure there’s more stories; these are just the ones I can think of right now. He’s trying to say George’s name, that’s something. And we’re fairly certain that he is, in fact, reading, based on how he looks at books and will point to words as you are reading them. He’s back to having us label everything for him and his favorite activity is having me write out the letters on the magna-doodle so he can say them, and today he started trying to help me write them (he puts his hand over mine and moves it). He’s pretty good at ‘z’, actually. And he’ll sit and look at the alphabet in one of his books and say the letters to himself. The speech therapist at the developmental preschool that he started at today is very eager to get her hands on him. He wants to talk so badly, he just can’t. We think the apraxia is actually a bigger hinderance than the autism. He just can’t form the words.
He has made amazing progress in the last month, though. Simply amazing.