Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Long update!

So I am finally going to sit down and update about Charlie! There is SO much to talk about, so it might take a while to read!

I have been struggling with ideas and ways to teach Charlie. I have been so concerned on what the best way for him to learn would be, that in honesty I wasn't teaching him much. I was still showing him new things, but not in a way that he should be shown. Then Brian and I went to the Conference. Eveything that Dr. Grandin said NOT to do, I was doing. I was focused on the label. I would think to myself "Well I can't do this because Charlie is Autistic" She said "Don't get caught up on Labels" And I was. I didn't realize at the time that I was.... But I was. I wanted to protect Charlie from the things he didn't like and would set him off, because I didn't want him to go through his childhood hating things. I wouldn't let Charlie help cook because I was afraid of "What if he didn't like the texture, and then he wouldn't eat anything at all!!"

I was oblivious to the fact that maybe Charlie WANTED to touch his food, play with it, feel it in different ways. So after the conference I threw everything I was doing out the window, and started anew.

Charlie has helped make cookies, and dinner, and to say He LOVED it would be a understatement! I did not realize how much he enjoyed it, until I looked at the pictures I took. He really did enjoy it. He loved Cracking the eggs, and mixing the flours. He loved filling the measuring cups and pouring them into the bowl. We were talking an laughing the whole time. I gave him different things to use to stir with. I gave him beaters, whisks, spoons, forks, etc., and he picked what he liked best. It was such a learning experience for the both of us.

Charlie's intolerance to Gluten and Dairy seem to be slowly going away. He has had over the past week a couple things with some gluten in them. He hasn't acted any different then normal. Which gives me hope that he will be able to eat some different foods here soon. I do not plan on taking Charlie off the GFCFYF diet at all, But this at least gives us a little room to breathe.

He is also really starting to eat. A LOT. He is using his fork and spoon fantastically and is trying his hardest to have manners at the table. We don't request a lot from him. But he knows when he should say "Thank you" and if he wants down, he knows he can get down. Meals are ALWAYS a work in progress, but by taking Dr. Grandin's Advice and letting him play with his food, and cooking it before hand, then require manners at the table makes a WORLD of difference.

Charlie has been talking a ton lately. He is gaining new words every day it seems like. He is up to 20 words right now. I am SO incredibly proud of him. He is just doing so well.

Charlie is currently OBSESSED with Thomas the Train movies. His favorites are Percy, James, and Toby. He knows their names, and what they look like. We recently have lost James (He says Kime) and he is know where to be found. He asks about him at least every 30 minutes or so. "Where's Kime?!" And then we search more. It's fantastic!

It's kind of funny how much I love the 2 year old in him. Some parents would give up and go buy a new train, or tell them it's lost forever. But I really do enjoy looking for the lost train. It's like we connect. We hold hands, go to a room, and while I'm looking in one spot I can say "Charlie look under your bed!" And he DOES IT! He listens and follows directions. It really is awesome.

He is starting to follow directions more and more these days. It really is a blessing. He is teaching Amelia how to get her shoes when we are getting ready to go. I can tell him "Charlie help meme get her shoes!" And he takes her by her hand and helps her get her shoes. I honestly thought that Charlie wouldn't be teaching Amelia things, but she would be his teacher. Just goes to show how wrong I was!

Amelia and Charlie are literally two peas in a pod. I thought that one would hate the other or be jealous of each other ( sometimes meme is when I'm trying to calm Charlie down) but really they are best of friends. I'm sure they would sleep in the same bed if we let them.

Charlie is experimenting with lots of different things lately. Generally he hates things on his head. Like he will freak out if you put anything on it such as like headphones, hats, the hood on his coat etc., Definitely not a fan, until recently. Brian and I where cleaning out our closet and found some old baseball hats that I had gotten at a concert WAY back when we were dating. I tossed the hat on the floor when Charlie grabbed it and put it on. He wore it all day. He though it was THE coolest thing. Since then he has tried on meme's sun hats, his construction hat, beanies, baseball hats etc., He is really into trying them on and walking around, looking at himself in the mirror and making faces. Of course he can not be prompted to do this, he has to be random and at his choosing. And honestly I'm okay with that, because this is progress. He is trying new things, different textures, and pressures. He is doing it at his pace.

We are still working on getting Charlie to dress himself. It definitely is going to take time, but he is progressing well. He can zip up his coat now, but still needs help with putting his arms in the right holes.

Charlie turns 3 in less than 4 months. I honestly can't believe it. He is growing in leaps and bounds, and I am the luckiest mom in the world to have him for my son. He truly is an inspiration.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Meeting my Hero

Today Brian and I went to an Autism Conference here in Oregon. It was put on by Future Horizons and the guest speaker was Temple Grandin. I have been looking forward to this for MONTHS.
It was such an amazing experience, that I must start at the beginning.

Back in January of this year I had a dear friend tell me I needed to google "Temple Grandin" She was an Autistic woman who became successful and that she thought I would really benefit from her. I kinda waved her off and told her that I was too "busy" to try and deal with researching one more thing that dealt with Autism. I was up to my eye brows in research from google and Charlie's therapist's that I honestly didn't need or want one more thing to read.

Ironically a couple days later one of Charlie's Therapist had mentioned this Temple character again. At that moment I thought to myself "I might as well have my whole head under water" and googled it.

I did not realize how much she would change my life. I read a little about her and then ordered almost all of her books. I still have 3 books of hers I still need to read, but life with an Autistic two year old you don't get much down time.

So when her books came in the mail, I read, and read and read. Temple showed me a side of Charlie that I never would have known. She taught me things that no other google search or therapist has yet taught me. Through her books, she taught me to connect to my little boy that I though I wouldn't ever be able to connect with.

So once I found out that she was going to be in town, I bought tickets. Fast forward to months of waiting. This morning I woke up at 5 AM, made the kids their breakfast muffins, and got ready to go. We had to leave the house by 6:30 to get there in time to check in, eat a little breakfast, and see what books and tools they where selling.

Fast forward- We are in the hotel, already checked in, I was feeling pretty nervous, and had high anxiety. I not only was going to meet my hero, but I was leaving m
y kids for one full day (YIKES!) So Brian and I where standing at the end of the book line, looking at some children's books that explain bullying, why Children on the spectrum are different when we heard an "Excuse me".

That's right folks, it was Temple Grandin herself!

All night I had been rehearsing my speech that I would say to her if I got to meet her, and it went a little something like this

"Dr. Grandin I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have helped me connect with my son that I thought would be lost forever, You have given me the courage and strength to take this journey with him, and you have give my family hope. Thank you so much"

Want to know what I did instead?

I cried.

Yep... like a baby. Talk about EMBARRASSING! I tried to regain composer, and when I turned around she was talking to other moms about their children, but just couldn't. Instead Brian and I went to our seats and ate our breakfast.

A short while later Dr. Grandin started her speech, she talked for about an hour and a half. It was so insightful. I took lots of notes, and hung on every word. Once it was break time I figured I had enough courage to speak to her, to say something, anything. So, I got in line. I was the last person in line to meet her, and again, nothing came out. I was so overwhelmed with emotions, that all I could say was "Thank You" as she signed my paper.

The next speaker was Paula Aquilla. Her speech was on Building Bridges through Sensory Integration. It was VERY interesting. A tid bit long, but so informative. Gave me more insights into why Charlie does this things he does. There was one more speaker after Mrs. Aquilla, Her name was Britt Collins. Ms. Collins talked about OT in school and the In's and outs.

The whole thing was just so completely overwhelming with information, that I am completely Exhausted. I now have new tools to use with Charlie and feel re-energized to get him on the right track again. Today was a total make over -sort to speak- for me. It gave me fresh ideas on how to teach Charlie, and set in stone the things we have been doing.

Here are some pics from the conference.

My lovely Breakfast

People waiting to see Dr. Grandin

Dr. Grandin Signing Books and Answering Questions

You can see the massive line. There was about 200 people attending.

Dr. Grandin