Tuesday, June 21, 2011

School Year is Over - Recap!

School ended today.  Jonathan finished 3rd grade with an excellent report card.  It was a great year overall for Jonathan.  Here is a recap:

  • School Year 2010-2011 (great): School started very bumpy last September 2010. He had a new teacher and new friends.  There were 8 kids in his class with 2 teachers, but they were all too hyper and got on each other's nerves. So the school principal decided to break their class into 2 classes of 4 kids each. And that made a huge improvement. The kids did not have time to interact and fight with each other as they were always busy with school activities.  During the recess and open gym activities, they were teamed up with kids from other classrooms so they would exercise their social skills.  He had behavioral problems in December.  The school principal brought it to our attention in January.  He was not socializing, always grumpy and eating lunch alone either in a corner or in the Principal's office. This behavior was not letting him socialize and even learn.  He also had issues with his new carpool ride.  Always arrived at school very grumpy and unable to focus on his duties.  So we changed the morning carpool and he went to school by himself and a few minutes earlier to give him an opportunity to warm up.  That made a huge improvement and he did much better in all classes. I also decided to put him back on supplements.  This truly showed that he needs supplements to maintain his high functioning behavior.
  • New Nutritionist (not good): Last year, in an attempt to find the next missing link, I turned into "food and nutrition" as being the missing link and reached out to a new nutritionist.  She checked his hair and told me that he had very elevated copper and that is why he was walking in circles.  Gave me a new set of supplements and foods to give Jonathan and told me to take him off chelation and Yasko supplements.  She told me that Yasko had the right idea but she uses too many synthetic supplements which is not good for the body in the long run.  I removed everything in October, but in December we noticed negative behaviors/regressions.  He was always in a bad mood.  Always fighting with us and Vanessa.  I did not know how he was behaving at school until January.  When the Principal told me, we added his Yasko and DAN! supplements back and within 2 weeks, he was back to "normal" (whatever normal means to us - he was happy, engaging and participating).  I did notice a change in his behaviour.  He was not walking crazy in circles that much. So this Dr. must have been right about the copper. So I kept all the apple sauces and juices out even thought I reintroduced the supplements.
This has been a great year for Jonathan.  I sometimes even forget that he has a disability. I talk to him like I speak to his sister. I argue or have a profound conversations with him.  In a way it is incredible how far along we have come.  I still remember the day I wished he could just say the words "I love you mommy" and meant them.  I remember when his DAN! Dr. told me that the major milestone was when he asked the "how" questions. We now discuss how the universe was created and play chess.  Amazing!

Improvements this year:
  • Self-hygine: Jonathan now showers by himself.  SUCH AN ACHIEVEMENT!.  It started about 2 months ago - right around his birthday. I was joking with him about him being 9 years old. One day, he told me, "I am 9, so I am going to take a shower by myself and don't need your help". I was shocked. He told me 2 days later that he wanted a shampoo and body soap all in one because he was too confused with too many bottles.  However, this is outstanding.  He has been brushing his teeth by himself for a while already.  Also, since his 9th birthday in March, I have not had to clean his behind when he want to the bathroom (number 2). Again, using the 9-year old concept made this breakthrough.
  • Language: his language and tone have really improved this year.  I don't even make an effort anymore to speak to him. He hears me even if I am far away.  I mix both Spanish and English and I add complex content to the conversation and he is able to follow me. He needs more vocabulary, but overall, his ability to both understand and respond has improved tremendously this past 8 months.

Areas were we still need to work on:
  • Social Behavior: he still has to improve greatly in this area. He has very narrow interests making socialization very difficult for him.  The older he gets, the harder it is.  He is a geek and needs to be with geeks. I get that now.  But in life, he needs to be able to adapt. This is a trouble area for us.
  • Expressive Language: he has improved 200% in this area since last year.  But he still needs to improve more.  As of 2009, his verbal IQ was 89. I have not tested him but my goal is to make his verbal IQ reach 105 by the time he enters college.  He is scheduled to be re-evaluated by Children's Hospital in September. When he speaks, he stutters and he sometimes sounds strange (tone not appropriate, some words he does not pronounce correctly, and sometimes he uses facial expressions that are strange - he turns his head one side and his eyes another)
  • Humming: he still does this and we keep reminding him.  I know it is a way for him to self-regulate. I just wished I knew what else he needs help that requires him to self-regulate.
  • Hypotonia (low muscle tone): he still has trouble (1) tying his shoes; (2) buttoning his pants; (3) balancing when he puts his underwear or shorts or pants on; (4) does not run
  • Eating with his mouth open: this drives us CRAZY. He is just not able to remember to chew with his mouth shut.  We tell him at least 10 time a day (and we are not with him during the weekdays).  He know, but somehow his brain is not able to register long term.  He is able do to it when we tell him, but 2 minutes later, he forgot. Very annoying.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Team Wins! Jonathan Influenced

Jonathan's baseball team won the regional championship this season.  What an achievement!.  When Jonathan started, all Javier and I could think of was "Will he fit in?  Will the coach tell us that he cannot play?  Will he learn?"  We did not tell the coach that Jonathan was autism.  We were scared every time we went to see him practice.  He sometimes was absentminded.  He ran without energy most of the time and played with the clay instead of paying attention.  It drove me crazy.  Until the day the coach started screaming at other kids for being absentminded and not paying attention and sent an email to all the parents telling us to feed the kids before practice and games.  Then I realized that it wasn't just Jonathan. He was behaving just like the other kids.  Only 4 out of the 12 kids really were into the game.  However, the coach they had this year was outstanding and was able to keep the kids in check.  Out of 12 games, they lost 1 and tied 1.  They were the best in every level!

Jonathan earned 3 game balls this season.  The coach told us that he was the kid that improved the most (he had never played so we were and still are very proud).

The last baseball game of the season

We were so stressed.  Jonathan's team was losing 5 to 2.  We all thought that it was the end.  Jonathan had a fight with one of the kids in the bullpen because he told the kid that they were losing and the kid screamed at him that they were not.  That he had to be positive and the game is not over until it is over.  Jonathan was shocked by that reaction and cried. But composed himself.

They were in the bottom of the 5th and last inning.  Jonathan was the first to bat.  We all thought that Jonathan was going to get punched out.  The pitcher kid made 2 strikes and for sure the next one was going to punch him out.  But something happened and Jonathan hit the ball that the kid pitched at him.  It was good enough to let him run to first base. He ran as fast as he could and celebrated and jumped up and down feeling extremely proud of what he had just done.  He set the tone for the rest of the team.  He was the last one in the batting line, so the next ones were all the best players.  Jonathan stole the second base and when the next kid batted, he ran to third.  He ran to home when the following kid hit the next ball.  He scored and the smile on his face was priceless!!  His team won 6 to 5 in the bottom of the 5th inning.  THE GAME IS NOT OVER UNTIL IT IS OVER!!!