Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Visit to Dr. Booger

It was a stressful week. David had a visit to the pediatrician and for some reason, I wanted him to be on his best behavior. By best behavior, I am not saying that I wanted him to wait patiently and be polite, as I would have expected of our older son during his five-year checkup. I guess I really wanted David to give the performance of his life and amaze the pediatrician with the incredible progress since his last visit. In my fantasy, David waits patiently, shakes the doctor's hand when he enters the room and makes unceasing eye-contact with him as he expresses his delight at seeing him in perfectly articulated, complete sentences. He would then grab the pen from my grasp and solve some differential equations on the developmental questionnaire that they gave me to complete. Think Einstein at his five-year checkup. Anyway, it did not quite go as I had envisioned.

I amused myself as we were waiting by making a game of the questionnaire. "Do you have any concerns for the development of your child's speech?" How many exclamation points should I include after my yes answer? "Has your child been seen by a dentist in the last six months?" Yes, he has twice been seen by a dentist, where he smiled sweetly and resolutely refused to unclench his jaw.

David did wait patiently, stepped on the scale willingly for the first time and generally cooperated with the nurse. When the doctor arrived, he did look at him and say "Hi, Doctuh Boohuh." He even signed the word doctor while he said it, but I wondered where the "Boohuh" part came from. I know it is David's approximation of the doctor's last name, but I laughed to myself as I realized that it was also David's word for booger and, incidentally, not really very close to doctor's last name. Maybe we were really witnessing David's sense of humor. His reaction when I first mentioned the doctor visit was "No, hoo hoo," which is his way of saying "No thank you." It was followed by, "No, hoo hoo. No, hoo hoo. No, hoo hoo." and in case I had not heard correctly the first four times, a final and very emphatic, "NO......HOO......HOO!"

All in all, it was a good visit. David was pretty tolerant, although he refused to do some of the things that were asked of him. He absolutely would not write his name, even though it is something that he does at school almost every day. He would not draw a picture, instead carefully crossing through all of the questions that I was supposed to complete with him. He did have his moment of brillance, however, when he held up the pen and announced very clearly, "P......E......N."

Well, until next time. Goodbye, Dr. Booger.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Aha Moment

In the world of autism, you quickly learn not to expect big breakthroughs. You hope for slow and steady progress and occasionally an "aha" moment where something just clicks. David has been working with the same therapists for many, many months and, of course, they prompt him to greet them when he arrives and to say "goodbye" when it is time to leave. When he works with Amber, he consistently uses a sign when he says her name. It is not surprising because, for a time, David primarily used sign language to communicate with us and still uses some signs in conjunction with saying his approximation of the word. What was unusual, however, was using a sign for someone's name. It wasn't like he was finger-spelling the name, but more like he had made something up, something that looked vaguely like the sign for "more."

Recently, David has been interested in watching his Signing Time videos again, videos that he has not watched for months. I sat down with him after dinner to watch for a moment and all of the sudden it hit me. David wasn't signing "more" he was signing "number" to say goodbye to "Amber." Aha.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Time to Myself

Just before David was diagnosed, I was in the best shape of my adult life. Well, I was in pretty good shape. Okay, so I could walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. I was walking regularly, watching my diet and even occasionally lifting weights. Obviously, any mother has a difficult time finding time for herself, but after the autism bomb, I was so consumed by David's needs and his schedule that I stopped making time for myself. Frankly I didn't have the energy. Like I really needed an excuse to stop exercising.

So, it is almost two and a half years later and it is time to get back on the wagon. I had already given up trying to walk on the treadmill while David was home. Although entertaining, I am sure, to any observer, I quickly grew tired of trying to dodge the balls that David would send up the tread behind me and then flap and flap as he watched them roll back down. Obviously, it was time for a new equipment purchase.

It sounds humorous to me now, but I was able to rationalize it at the time. I picked the AirClimber, a lightweight, portable, inexpensive version of a stair climber. I envisioned myself getting in a whole 30 minutes a day--ten minutes in the morning, ten minutes after picking the boys up from school and the last ten minutes after dinner. Well, I didn't consider the David factor. Not surprisingly, the AirClimber uses, you guessed it, air in bellows which offer the resistence while stepping. Consequently, it makes quite a hissing noise. I had not been exercising for a whole minute, listening loudly to music, when David came charging around the corner and tried pull me off of the machine. "No, Mom Mom, No," he kept saying while pulling on the back of my sweatshirt. Here I am, batting at him and trying to release his grip on my sweatshirt, the whole time trying to explain to him and maybe even convince myself that I am going to at least exercise long enough to hear the end of the song. All of the sudden, I hear a sudden release of air and I slowly sink, mid-step, as I realize that David has pressed the button that lets the air out of the bellows. He then looked up at me with his twinkling blue eyes, smiled and went back to the family room to continue playing SpongeBob.

So I guess for now I will have to get my exercise chasing David through the frozen food section, trying the close the freezer doors as quickly as he opens them. Does anybody want to buy a nearly new AirClimber?