Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wants to Be Tech Support - 66 DMSA/ALA Rounds

Jonathan finished his school 2 1/2 weeks ago.  He already started summer camp and has had 2 sessions.  Vanessa just finished kindergarten and is old enough to start going to the same summer camp as Jonathan and they are very excited to be together.  They fight ALL THE TIME, but they love being together.

Summer Camp

The first week, Jonathan and Vanessa went to a Farm camp.  They both loved it.  However, I got concerned when on day 4 I asked Jonathan how he was doing and he told me that there was a kid in camp that was hitting him all the time.  I told him that he had to report it.  His dad told him to hit him back next time.  On the last day I asked him how the kid behaved and he told me that the kid did not bother him so he didn't have the opportunity to report him.  However, both dad and I are concerned that Jonathan is too nice and does not know how to defend himself.  It is hard to teach that.

The second week, summer camp was at their tae kwon do place.  They loved it and got along with everyone.  Today, during their TKD class, his teacher told me that she was shocked about his interaction with the team. He normally is very quiet during class, but during camp he was extroverted and funny and was great during a pretend drama game.  She told me that they had spoken among the teachers about how smart Jonathan is and that I should look into putting him in drama school because he was great.  I started talking about his strength and physical weakness and told her that I was very proud of Jonathan for making it to bo-black belt but I didn't think he was ready for black belt yet due to his poor coordination and low muscle tone.  Although she agreed with my assessment, she looked at me like there was something she didn't know.  Noticing her reaction asked if the previous Master (who had left 7 months ago due to a broken foot) had told her about Jonathan's condition. She said no.  When I told her that he has autism, she was on denial.  She kept telling me "no way, impossible".  She said that the previous master had told her about 3 other kids, but never mentioned Jonathan and she is glad that he didn't because she treated him as any other kid, pushed him like she pushed the other kids and didn't make any exceptions with him.  So he is where he is because he deserves it, not because he has a disability.  She told me that she agreed on the black belt, just didn't want to tell me yet and told me she will work with him so he can take and pass his test next May.  I will work with him also on physical strength and coordination.

He wants to be Technical Support when he grows up

Jonathan is turning into a techy guru.  He learned how to configure all his toys (i.e., DSi and iTouch) to connect to a wifi network whenever he can.  We went to a restaurant 2 weeks ago that had free wifi, but his DSi did not see the broadcasted name. He took his grandpa iPhone, looked inside the settings, and figured out what IP address the iPhone was connected to, typed in that IP address into his DSi network settings and got Internet access.  My jaw was down on the floor.  I told his dad that we need to be careful because right now it is cute, but when he is 15 years old, if he does something illegal, we are going to have the FEDs knocking on our doors.  3 weeks ago a friend of mine asked me during a birthday pary if I could help her with her iPhone problems and I told her that I had no idea but if she asked  Jonathan, he could help her.  And not only did he fix her iPhone issues, but gave her an explaination of what happened and told her to call him any time she needed help.  Added him in her contact's (including a picture of him) and then came to me and told me that he wanted to be in the Apple technical support group when he grow up.  The kid is so smart it is crazy.

4 days ago, his iTouch's speakers stopped working.  He told his dad to schedule an appointment with Apple tech support.  We went yesterday and he told me that he wanted to be the one to explain the problem and talk to the technician.  And he did.  The lady technician was very pleasant and worked with Jonathan.  I was so proud.  It was wonderful to see him so "independent".  He got his iTouch replaced and was very happy.

He decided over a month ago that when he grows up, he is going to be an Apple Technical Support technician.  I told him that that was fine, but before that, he needs to finish college.  He agreed.  I am planting my tiny seeds right now before he starts thinking too much about grown-up careers.


I met with his school teacher a week before the school finished.  They had great things to say about him.  Academically he is very strong and passed to 3rd grade with no issues.  But they also had some concerns which I want to log so I can reference down the road.  In addition, I have been analyzing him lately and comparing him to how he was 6 months, 1 and 2 years ago, and a couple of improvements are actually quite dramatic.  I take it for granted, but he has had a great year.

  • Expressive language: Jonathan is pretty conversational when he knows the topic or is interested in learning something.  Since I first met his DAN! Dr. in November 2004, my number one concern was Jonathan's expressive language.  We have worked very hard during the passed 6 years in this area.  Now, I can have a normal conversation with my son about stuff I want to communicate with him or if he wants to communicate with me.  His comprehension and vocabulary have improved dramatically.  A friend of ours with a child on the spectrum told me last week that she also noticed it right away.  She had not seen him in over 2 month, and even since then he has improved.  For me, what I see as a major improvement is how much he now understands, rather than how much he speaks.  We are not done here because his vocabulary and topics are still very narrow (i.e., technology), but he can now talk my ear off and at times I have found myself asking him to be quite.  Something that I never thought before I would ever do.  I am trying to expose him to many experiences so he can learn from them and relate them to other things in the future.  His brain is like a sponge now, and I am taking advantage of it.  Also, his intonation is has improved dramatically.  He still has a bit of a flow issue when he speaks.  Twice already he has been told that he speaks funny (although I don't know if it is because of his flow/intonation or his narrow topics of interests).
Issues to continue to address:
  • Offensive behavior when frustrated: Jonathan tends to get frustrated easily.  At school, he is verbally mean to his classmates when he gets frustrated.  He is even hurtful without knowing.  When his teachers tell him, he get very sensitive and sad that he did such thing. However, while he is reacting, he cannot seem to be able to control it.  His school director mentioned that she was going to record him and play it back to him so we could see.  They didn't have enough time before school ended, so I am going to try to do that myself during the summer.  He needs to learn how to channel his emotions so he can express his frustration in a more civilized way.
  • Low coordination / muscle tone: Jonathan still has trouble controlling his body correctly.  His dad and I noticed yesterday that he is clumsy completing all personal hygiene chores such as brushing teeth, cleaning when going to the bathroom, bathing (shampoo, soap, etc.), or other tasks such as cutting his food, riding a bike, sparring at tae kwon do, chewing with his mouth close, etc.  I am perplexed and do not know what therapy would be best.  We stopped OT due to insurance issues and have been on a waiting list for 2 years.  Time to call them back.
  • Language: although he has improved dramatically, this still is a huge reason why he is still on the spectrum.  Both expressive and receptive.
  • Tone: he still screams when he speaks.  He has trouble controlling this.
  • Limited interests: I already documented this in another blog back in January.  Although he is more social, his limited interests for only technology stuff is causing a problem when he is with other kids his age.  He copes, but it is hard.