Saturday, June 28, 2008

WALL*E Walking, a movie review

**warning, semi-spoilers ahead**

My husband and I took both our kids to the first matinee showing of WALL*E this morning. James did pretty well, considering our seats were waaaay up front and they'd cranked the sound (not that it was needed, the entire audience of all ages fixed rapt attention on the screen).

About 20 minutes in, James had reached his limits of maintaining through storms, explosions, and loud machinery, and we started a slow dance around the theatre. Up the stairs. Then down. On his tummy. Always checking to make sure mommy saw he'd oozed down another riser. Up to the front corner of the screen, getting ready to run and yell. Another 20 minutes, easy. So then we went walkies. I got a bathroom break and he got a noise break. We missed the big jail break scene, but what the hey.

James started showing wear and tear from hunger. He wasn't interested in his cereal snacks and had finished his water. His dad reports the last portion of the movie was spent in the lobby, screaming into the carpet, or superglued to the car video game.

So, hard to tell. Loud noises and explosions: bad. EVE is definitely scary for little ones at first -- WALL*E was really loney! If loud, roaring (or blasting) noises set your children off, avoid until you can control the sound!

Lack of food definitely had a negative impact.

But: James really liked the cockroach. And the singing & dancing. I think the machine noises (that were communication) intrigued him. The robots flying around inside the cruiser made him go "Woah!" in awe and respect.

My husband and I really liked the movie. The ending and end credits blew me away. We'll have to see it again sometime, to catch the parts we missed.

PS: James loved Presto, the animated short that came before the movie. Our daughter loved both films.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thank God I Had Cats

Cat ownership has somewhat prepared me for toddlers and preschoolers. Especially the "I know you really want me to do this so I won't/I'll do something completely different" training ... and all the times I had to wrap and pill sick cats.

Cats hate meds.

So do toddlers/preschoolers.

My daughter has learned to heed the "Are we doing this easy way or the hard way?" question.

James is learning.

He is rather good at letting the amoxicillin sit in his mouth a bit before just letting it dribble back out. His hand moves at warp speed unexpectedly to knock medication from my hands. If I try administering liquid meds with that weird pharmaceutical spoon, he blows and spits it all over before it gets inside of him. Yes, this is the same child who has not yet mastered blowing bubbles and still has trouble sometimes blowing a whistle.

He can also squirm and twist like an eel, showing considerable strength before going completely boneless and oozing out of most grips.

Thank goodness for all my training with wrapping, holding, and pilling cats. Especially the feral ones. Builds confidence. I get best results of we're both on the sofa or floor. I use my legs and upper arms to pin his thrashing appendages and get a hold on his head with my chin and shoulder.

It helps if I can administer the meds while his head is tilted slightly up. He will now usually let the meds sink in slowly through the side of his teeth. I give him plenty of time to absorb & swallow. In extreme situations, I get his mouth open and set the spoon/dropper on the back of his tongue and release. Hardly anything gets back out that way, but I think we both prefer the easier way.

James gets full points for vocalizing during the entire encounter, starting with "NO!" and trying his charm with "All done!" and "Tank you!" We are both happy when med time is truly All Done. Then he gets some milk or ice water. And a hug. And a kiss or ten.

Two days down and only five more to go. Wahoo!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Better! And Need to Know?

After three days of yamminess and really not feeling well, James is better!

He had his first day of preschool school and SHAPE this week. I am so happy to see him back to bouncy and sunny. It was a bit hard, trying to explain to the advice nurse and doctor why I couldn't ask James where it hurt. I never know what lights up in peoples' heads once I mention that he's on the autistic spectrum.

I had to ask the doctor to put his diagnosis in his medical records, as the advice nurse said it never showed up in what she had access to. That felt weird. I usually say that James has language delays and leave it at that. Is it really that necessary to have medical practitioners know that James is on the autistic spectrum? Has anyone else found it to actually be helpful?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bed Bug

Yammy kiddo. Nuff said.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Night Swimming

Not only do I like the song, I like to do it too. Which makes it a great posting title, but I digress ...

It's been unusually hot around here all week. Roast, roast, crisp, and schizzle! James does not do well in heat. He melts and gets cranky. The school buses and summer school do not have a/c. Thank goodness he's back home before 12:30pm!

So on Friday, I took he and his sister to the gym's pool after dinner, right about sundown. It was still like 90° and nice without the sun beating down on us. Big sister has been having swimming lessons, so she put on her inflatable ring/tube and hopped right in.

James was not so sure. He wanted his legs in the water and he wanted to keep his shirt on. After a bit, I coaxed him into going shirtless (this is tough for James). We went slowly down the steps, with James grabbing me as much as I was holding him. He got to watch the kids playing and his sister having fun. The gym is right by the airport, so he got to see a low-flying plane coming in for a landing -- he lit up as he waved to it and yelled "Hi, plane"

After a while, I started getting him a little more wet. James got nervous, and started to talk in babble-speak -- but he liked it too. Then I started singing and moving him. His sister's teacher from last year taught us to slowly tip them side to side, singing "Tick-tock, tick-tock, I'm a little cuckoo clock," so I did that too. He loved that. He even tried leaning over further to drink the water.

We went all around the pool. After about 45 minutes, I got James to float on his tummy, with me just holding him under his arms, and kick with his feet -- yay!!! He even let me float him on his back for a little bit. We all had to leave when they closed the pool.

We all really enjoyed doing this, especially at the end of a long, hot day! It was so hot getting back into the car (in the 80° range) that we stopped off for ice cream on the way home. We were going to get snow cones, but the gym's snack bar had closed.

I am so proud of how much more comfortable James is in the water. I never thought he'd let me float him and start kicking his legs on his own. This is partly because he's been uneasy even in the tub -- he has trouble balancing in the water and doesn't like it splashing on his face. The other part is that I know James has trouble "knowing" where his body is in space, and floating in water would seem to make that worse. Activities that involve the vestibular areas of his brain have been a real challenge for him.

I guess you can never underestimate the power of doing something for fun, and being surrounded by other kids doing the same thing and enjoying themselves.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Toys

What can perk up a hot, tired little boy after a night of "party of one" in his room and a hot morning at summer school?

A SHAPE assistant with new toys! Especially the foam football and Connect 4 checkers!

And now I am hoping for an afternoon nap.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Little Things & the Universe

We had a couple of days just full of little things -- my favourite! A sample platter:
  • James is responding well to prompts that get him to say phrases. Occasionally, he'll pop out with one on his own. Usually "Wanna 'atch Tho-mas" and "Issa ball!" He is digging Thomas the Tank engine (really the songs) and playing with practice golf balls (PGBs).

  • Playing in the sink! With salad tongs! And water! And many PGBs! And foam numbers! Literally: lather, rinse, repeat.

  • Working on scissor skills. I never knew how fascinating he'd find this -- thank you, thank you, SHAPE assistant!

  • Big thing: Oh, and we really might qualify for respite care and get some this summer? Where can I kiss your feet? Little thing that's really big: OMG, my husband and I can, like, go out and just look at each other and hear *nothing* -- yippee!

  • James picked out the green striped shirt, not the orange one. Not hesitation, no reconsideration.

  • Last, but not least: we hatched a tadpole into a frog and released him out back, under a full moon! Neil Armstrong would have liked this audience.

Biggest thing in my universe this morning: first time James said "Aihhhh yuv oo" to me when I went to get him up.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Push It Real Good

We just got back from a fantastic trip to the speech & language therapist. First -- we got there ON TIME!!!! We met James' first case worker on the stairs. This is a wonderful woman who walked my husband and I through all our assessments and evaluations and signed us up, fast and furious, for all kinds of services to help our little guy. With a minimal of prompting, he said "Hi, Mary." She was so delighted! Last time she'd visited, he was just starting to say sounds and words. "Call me!" she said, as she dashed out the door to her next appt. and we marched upstairs to ours. The great thing is, she really means this.

I brought my daughter in to the therapist's office because we had to come up with a new appt. date & time. Summertime does that, I've noticed. James was talking so much more while he played, and handled the toys with confidence. After we'd hammered out a new interim schedule, the therapist helped me figure out how to get him to practice saying three- and four-word phrases. Talk about your heady mommy excitement! I remember crying this time last year, because at times I thought he would *never* talk!

It comes down to this: James needs to be pushed. Oh yeah, big guy! We will push it, real good! Meanwhile, I will treasure today -- the day you said "blue fish clock," "I want sucker, please," and "wha' is 'it?" Yay, James!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Adventure is Good for the Soul

I like being able to take our kids to different places, because our children are inquisitive and can enjoy simple things as well as a big show. This summer, we have lots of visits planned to family and friends. We've been to birthday parties, parks, the River, and the beach. Two weekends ago, we attended a big family event about two hours away.

James enjoyed it all: playing around, watching other kids, occasionally joining in a chase, and playing with light switches. But there is a picture that I really like of James right now:

To me it not only shows the person he's always been, but also the sweet, mischievous, fun-loving boy he is becoming more and more each day, as he figures out how to engage more with the world and use his new words.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Take Three

James is now starting to use three-word phrases!

He is also running around and saying "Oooh, pretty!" a lot. Like he did with "Ohhhh, man!"

Curious George is now his favourite thing.

Plus growling like a bear.

I have discovered that if I really want him to get up in the morning, all I have to do is tie his door open. It drives him nuts. I am an evil mommy!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

More! Again!

James took it up a notch or two today. When I went in to get him up, he was reading a cloth book. He looked at me and said "book" and "bubble." Why this is big news: Usually he doesn't look at me when I come in, let alone talk to me about what he is doing. The book was turned to the page of a bubble bath. He and his sister took a bath last night, and he was very excited about that.

He started taking me by the hand or finger, talking to me to urge me somewhere and do something. He hasn't really done this before. Once was to change the TV channel, because he wanted Jack's Big Music Show. Once he grabbed my hand and said "up" and "poo-poo" because he wanted me to change his full diaper. He also wanted cookies from the pantry, but he hadn't eaten his dinner yet. He got a time out for throwing part of his dinner on the ground. Took two visits before he acknowledged the time out and said "okay" for agreeing to try again. We compromised -- he ate some alternative dinner and then he got some cookies.

I am thinking the temper storms are only beginning. He doesn't have a lot of ways to communicate. He will say "mad!" when prompted & he is MAD. But what to give him, as a replacement for screaming or hitting? It's the screaming that's the biggest problem. The hitting comes usually when he is tired, and he usually saves it for his family.

He picked out his shirt and socks. He and his sister played really well together on the playground after I voted this afternoon. They are holed up in her room right now, giggling and singing. Yay for siblings! Yay for siblings who play Tiger and tire each other out before bedtime!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Pep Talking

James started visits again to the speech & language center that he attended before going to preschool. He remembered the awkward turn at the Very Annoying Left Turn Light. He was very excited to see his therapist again, and remembered the way to her office.

Everyone exclaimed how tall he and his sister had grown in just five months. I had watched with pride how well James tackled the tall stairs on his own -- he'd either had to crawl up them on hands and knees or it took FOREVER, with me holding his hand. Right away, James started showing off his words, with naming the colours he saw, saying "ball" and "in" to describe his play activities, and saying "close" for "close-the-door-behindya-on-your-way-out-Mommy, why-don'tchya?" He sorted colours appropriately. He knew his favourite toys and their proper hiding places.

So now we have new homework: a "blackboard" with pictures on it and the simple, three-word sentences we will practice together and encourage his too say on his own. Because James is still a single-word kind of guy. (Not always -- yesterday I heard him croon "Oooh, pretty room!" for reasons unknown ... *shrug*)

Even though we had a very discombobulated bus driver this morning, summer school seems to have begun with a promising start!