Sunday, October 14, 2012

First Pumpkin

Today is the first time that Jonathan ever picked his own pumpkin and carved it himself.  I helped him a bit, and he really hated getting the pulp out, but he did it.  Great milestone.  Every year I tried, but he never seemed interested.  We went to our friends' house yesterday and their kids were carving a pumpkin and Jonathan got excited about it. So I decided to explore that today and was happily surprised.  It was a fun afternoon.  Everything he did and I captured in pictures were completely spontaneous behaviors. 

 His sister hates it when he does the bunny ears :)  She didn't even know.

 Hated taking the pulp out, but eventually he did.

 He enjoyed carving the pumpkin

 He carved 2 ghosts.  Booooo

Great pumpkins

Monday, October 8, 2012

5th Grade is Hard

Jonathan started 5th grade this year.  Since he did so well in his SOLs last year, he was enrolled into an advanced part-time program. He is getting more homework than he did last year and he is also expected to do more complex projects.  He is doing well but anxiety is starting to build.

Last week, he had quarter tests and he came home very upset one day because he is having difficulties concentrating.  He actually started the conversation after I started asking him about 5th grade.  He was not very forthcoming at first, but as I asked, he volunteered more information.  He then told me that because someone told him that 5th grade is so important, he is taking his time to finish his tests and he doesn't finish on-time.  The teacher either gives him extra time at the end of the test time or the next morning.  The problem is that the extra time for him means free time for the rest of the class (28 kids) and the noise is frustrating him.  Together we discussed the different ways to help him: (1) put earplugs - big no no because everyone would make fun of him (his words).  (2) pull him out to a quite room.  He liked this idea and doesn't think the class will make fun of him.  (3) if number 2 doesn't work by December, think about going back to his previous private school.  He is heart broken about that because he misses that school tremendously, but he likes his current school.  So I told him no to worry about it yet, that I would talk to his teacher.  The next day I spoke to the teacher and she had no problems accommodating our request.

2 days after that conversation, Jonathan came back to me and told me he wanted to talk to me in private.  He asked me "why am I the only member of our family with Autism?"  Tough question.  I told him that I didn't know but we have other issues like 2 of his cousins have ADD and I have dyslexia.  Then he told me that he is reading a book about autism at school and he feels very sad because he believes that he does 2/3 of what the book said.  I told him to bring the book home so we could talk more about it, but I didn't believe that to be the case.  I went on to explain in detail that autism is a spectrum and when he was diagnosed he was on one end, and he now is on the other end.  I went back to my glasses analogy and he said "when I grow up, I want to be like contact lenses".  I looked at him puzzled and he said "I know I will need glasses but with contact lenses no one can tell that you have glasses".  That was an incredible analysis for a 10-year old.  I told him that that was my goal too.  He said, "I know there is no cure but I don't want to be different".  Then he started to cry and asked him why he was crying.  He said that he remembered the book again and that the book said that kids with autism are always thinking about the same stuff.  When I asked him what he was always thinking about besides video games, he said "math and the universe".  That gave me an idea and I asked him if he knew Albert Einstein.  He said "of course.  He invented the theory of relativity" and I said "well sweetheart, he had autism".  All of a sudden, that comparison gave him a smile.  He realized that the label does not mean that he cannot have a great life.  He then asked me to tell him about him when he was little and we spoke for about 1 hour. 

Reflecting on this, this is a dream come true.  Not telling him, but having such a profound and intellectual conversation with my son.  I forgot how he was.  But when I remember, I feel butterflies in my throat. 

He wants to know where he is in the spectrum, exactly.  I told him that he is considered "high functioning" but that was not enough for him.  I told him that he is going for a re-evaluation in November and the Dr's will be able to tell him in December where he is.  That made him relax.  He knows in November he can ask all kinds of questions to the therapists and hopefully get some answers beyond what Mommy told him.


He is now taking 5mg of 5-MTHF in the morning and 5mg in the evening.  His DAN! Dr. increased to 7mg twice a day and we will need to do blood work in December.  This is needed because his blood work showed that he has one of the folate antibodies.

Social Skills Therapy:

He started the next level 2 weeks ago.  So far I don't see much improvement, but he just started.  He knows he needs to work on social skills, social cues.  He is struggling because he realizes more frequently that during social interactions with other people he sometimes does not use proper social skills.  Some of the skills are just not in his DNA yet.  I know this is going to be a long-term therapy as it will teach him with exercises and language the appropriate social skills he will need to be part of society.

My fear still lies on long-term relationships.  Right now he does not express enough interest in how his sister is feeling unless it directly affects him.  He has a couple of friends at school, but the friendship is not strong enough to make him call them or have them over.  He has told me he wants play-dates with those kids, but then he doesn't follow through.  How will his friendships and relationships be when he grows up?  Will he be able to sustain a relationship with a girl and even marry?  That is my new goal.  I already achieved the expressive and receptive language.  Off to relationships now.