Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Reading snippet

One of the hardest things for me, an avid reader from early childhood, about Dominic's disability is that he is functionally illiterate.  Reading is SO important and we work on it constantly.  The tutoring that Dominic is getting from Kishami Academy, tho, has shifted something.  His processing speed is speeding up (i know it seems like it takes a long time for him to identify the words he does know in this video, but i promise this is improvement) and he is actually showing signs of thinking about and retaining information. 

I had asked Rachel (his tutor) specifically to recommend books for us to get him for his birthday because honestly he could care less about the ones he has.  She recommended non fiction, level 1 and level 2 readers.  So my family all sent him those.  He is reading 2 pages at a time for Mommy in the morning.  And then answering questions.  This particular book is about giraffes.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Making Breakfast

My job is to create an independent human being.  That's how I approach everything I do with Dominic.  Most days I wonder how independent I will actually get him to be, but we keep working anyway.   

We've been working on cooking for YEARS in therapy, out of therapy, at school... and today was the first day he cooked his whole meal with just verbal cues from me.   He decided what he wanted - Scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes.  He decided when he was ready for it, got everything out of the fridge and started preparing without me telling him to.    I looked up and decided to try to capture some of it on video...

He gets mad that I record these things, which is why they break in weird places.

For the record - this is the first time he's been the one to pour the eggs into the hot pan himself.  He is scared of the sizzle sound so we are working on  getting the pan not quite that hot...   I was also very pleased to see the troubleshooting with the spatula. 

I stopped recording because he was just mad, but he proceeded to cook potatoes and bacon, plated them up and is happiily eating. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Love hugs

We had the sweetest moment ever leaving tutoring today.   Dominic’s tutor is colocated in the same building as our chiropractor who he just adores.   That chiropractor is one of the very few people - parents included - that Dominic will allow to regularly snuggle with him and every time my heart just melts. 

So this afternoon he had finished tutoring and I was attempting to get him out the door.  He had his customary Dr Kelley hug and snuggle and then next thing I knew he was repeating “Love, hugs” or maybe it was without the comma - who knows.  And he promptly walked up to a semi random man in the waiting room  (the parent of the kiddo who gets tutoring after him on Fridays who we have laid eyes on maybe 5 times), announced “love hugs” and proceeded to give the man a hug.  I went to apologize but he waved it off with a “I love hugs too”.  

Today - hug someone you love  randomly for Dominic.  Because - LOVE HUGS.  


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Twister videos - 2 weeks apart

One of the major reasons that I video so many of Dominic’s therapy sessions is to see growth.  I have him playing twister here a few weeks apart.  Look at the growth.  

Here he is when we introduced it 2 weeks ago:

And here he is today. Amazing difference 

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Bits and Pieces Stables, LLC, Our adventure yesterday

One of the interesting things that comes along with being very visible as an advocate for Dominic is that all sorts of people like to try their stuff with us.  This is usually a good thing.  A few years ago I met a woman named Jessi at bachelorette party, and we ended up becoming facebook friends. I've watched her post about how she has shifted careers and manifested a life long dream recently and when she sent me a message asking me to bring Dominic to visit Bits and Pieces so she could show it to the population she intends to serve... well, I admit, I squealed.


Bits and Pieces Stables, LLC is the dream of a lifetime. Jessi plans to bring together her love of horses and her love of children (she was a teacher when I met her) to offer equestrian experiences to our special needs community specifically and summer camp experiences to the greater front range area.  HUGE dream.  And let me tell you folks - she's got this.  Its definitely going to be an evolution but as things stand, she is absolutely set up to have camps and work with kids right now.

Here's how our visit went:

We gathered our friends, had lunch, and headed south.  She is located just outside of Pueblo, CO - about an hour away.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a great dane named George.  George is hilarious.   We went out to the paddock to meet the therapy horses, and then we headed over to get the tack so they could be worked.


Jessi informed me that horses don't take selfies well. I think I proved that wrong....


Obligatory group picture with the chicken...


On their way from paddock to saddling.


He was so very proud of himself.  And if you listen to that video with sound, you'll here that apparently he's pretty good. Jessi told me after I stopped recording that he was trotting without stirrups and maintaining balance and that that was a THING for horse people.   He and his friend took turns riding and by the end, he was able to lead Night with Tyler riding.  It was a very cool moment.

So - Local and Local-ish folks, I've never seen prices for an hour of informal* Hippotherapy as low as Jessi has set them (and you find her on facebook under Bits and Pieces Stables LLC).  And she's done that intentionally because she wants to be of service to our community.

We left after a packed hour.  George the great dane attempted to come with us - he and Dominic had  a wonderful time chasing each other, until George decided it wasn't worth the effort.  We took Dominic and Tyler down to a cute little dessert place along the riverwalk called of all things Bite Me Cake Shop where we indulged in ridiculously decadent ice cream and pinball before we came home. 

*She's in process of becoming a formal occupational therapy place, but that will take time.  So for now... its an equestrian experience

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Jumping Jacks!

Are so very hard for Dominic. It has to do with coordinating his lower half and upper half at the same time. He struggles really hard.  I think we might have cracked his code today tho in OT,. with my "purple, clap; yellow, slap" method. 

Here's the before:

here's the after:

We will keep working this across environments. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Wait, What just happened?

When we came home from school today, Dominic put his lunchbox in the sink, his swim suit and towel in the dryer, and took the trash out before we left for OT.   That's important for this story....

I was upstairs finishing up my own footbath this evening while Dominic was downstairs being supervised by Daddy.  He Came upstairs and our interaction went like this:

D:  Mommy, swimsuit?
Me: Go get it out of the dryer
D, a bit panicked:  The dryer?
Me: yes

he disappeared downstairs.  For a pretty good bit.  When he came back up, he was holding a very neatly folded towel which he unceremoniously shoved in his swimbag.  Because i didn't see the red flash of the suit I knew was meant to be pulled out of the dryer, I asked which suit he had, Blue, or Rod.  he said Blue.  I assumed Daddy realized the towel from earlier was damp or something and they needed a dry set and came down stairs to settle in for the evening.  The dryer was on. 

I questioned Daddy about the dry suit and Daddy had no idea the entire thing occurred.

YOU GUYS!!!!!!!

The executive functioning there!  I mean WHAT JUST HAPPENED HERE?????

Also... as I type this, he's anxiously pacing in front of the dryer saying "hey Joy, Turn Off" because the tumbling sound bothers him.  We take what we can get..... 


In a non shock, Its been hard for me to get back into the swing of blogging.  So I'm terribly excited to share what was a fun weekend and a report from Occupational therapy.

Friday night, I had plans with girlfriends to go to a hockey game.  This meant that Dominic got a babysitter to cover until Daddy got home.  Here we are picking up the sitter and her 5 year old, who Dominic has known  and adored since he was born.  They are Buddies. 


Saturday was his turn for a hockey game and he and I went and had a mommy son date. It was fun. 


He particularly enjoys the cheering.

And he is noticeably taller than me now.


He started swim class this semester in school for PE.  He ADORES it.  Tells us every day that he "swims like a fish" and apparently he is doing well with the routine change.  Due to his genetic mutations tho, he doesn't detox out the chlorine, so footbaths are now happening in our house every day that he swims.   I kid ya'll not, the IonCleanse by AMD has been our hands down best overall intervention ever.  We've now been using it 5 years and there are weeks that he doesn't have one.  Then there are weeks like this (caution, if ya'll do this, please give lots of extra trace minerals.  Detox uses them up).  Theres a link to buy them and like 2 years of history of gains that Dominic got over on that ioncleanse tab.

We have now had 6 more sessions with Rachel at Kishami Academy.  Today when Jonny brought him out of OT, this was what he shared with me:

1.  Dominic is doing almost no echolalia / scripting / stimming walking into and during his session (this remarkable because all of those have been prominent for years)

2.  During Peer Play, Dominic said audibly without being prompted "Aiden, Its your turn".  And later on when Jonny was attempting to redirect him with a clickling sound, he looked at Jonny and said "Jonny, please stop"

3.  And the one that made me go "awwwwwww"....  Five minutes before the session was to end, he told Jonny he was "all done".  When Jonny queried him with how come, Dominic said "because family is nice"

So, our "little things" that I use to monitor progress are actually increasing in frequency (those examples were all in a 50 minute session), and seem to be a little bit bigger....

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Mid January Touch point

How is it possible that its already the 15th of January??? I put a few more blogs out last week giving some examples of things that Dominic has been doing (for baseliney stuff) and wanted to share a few more before updating you on the week.

Late last year, Dominic started going with Daddy and a colleague of his to a climbing gym, where they "rock climb" up the walls.  Its a great full body, motor planning, sensory, all around therapeutic activity for him that he can do while he plays.   Here are a few videos of him doing that climbing in late November.

This second one is really cool because you can see him troubleshooting and figuring out where to put his feet.

Also in the realm of getting to know his body, he does things like Jumping Jacks and walking like an elephant for OT. Both of these videos are from January 9.

I will post comparisons in a month or two to see how we're doing.

This week:

Tutoring update:  One of the lessons in the language program that Rachel is running with Dominic has him describing an item by telling us 4 things about it.  She did that with him in tutoring on Monday and then I let Speech Therapy know he could do 4 (they were only doing 2).  I've since gotten him to generalize that skill daily.  Last nights was particularly humorous, it went like this:
Dominic randomly Proclaimed "POOP"
So I asked him to tell me 4 things about Poop.  After getting mad at me, and with cues, he produced the following:
- Poop comes from dogs
- Its green (????)
- its Stinky
- Dogs poop on grass

When we saw our long term OT, Jonny, yesterday, Jonny had watched the full hour of brain bridge/tutoring and wants badly to observe sometime.  We will try to coordinate that soon. What Jonny is noticing is HUGE GROWTH in independence (Dominic played a whole game of uno with no cues, even telling Jonny when it was Jonny's turn), eye contact, and he's blown away.

Dominic has started doing swim class at school for PE.  This is new this week and he's SUPER excited about it.  Sadly the SPED department had to fight for him to have the opportunity to take the class (i was on standby in case they needed me to get involved) which frustrates me a lot.  I'm glad he's in there and I hope that deep pressure in the mornings from the water will help him stay pretty balanced during the day.  As a Result of being in Chlorine daily again, he's now getting an IonCleanse footbath every day too.  I wasn't going to do it yesterday because our day went School / home for half an hour of chores / Drive to OT / Go to Costco / home around 615 for dinner... but he inhaled his dinner and actually asked me for a a footbath.  Well to be honest he said "Mommy Feet?  Ipad?? - which is his way of asking for a footbath. 

Coming next week - a homeopathy followup and likely new prescription. 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Mmhmm. That’s new.

I am getting my hair done today, with the stylist who has done my hair for nearly 25 years.  The appointment was early enough I needed to bring Dominic along because daddy had to go to work before I would be done.   Not a big deal, we just bring the iPad along and he self amuses. We have done it many times. 

Except this time, he walked in, looked David straight in the eye and said “good morning”.  David was gobsmacked.  Dominic has never done that.  

Then he kept coming over and having me help him read things on the iPad.  

David was so very impressed.  Then Dominic self amused the rest of my appointment, with no anxiety or need to leave.  It was astonishing. 


Friday, January 10, 2020

Using Play therapeutically

Of our plethora of providers, we have several that come to us as a benefit of Dominic being on a medicaid waiver.  We have 2 speech therapists and 1 occupational therapist who together come a total of 4 times a week to our house, sit the floor and work with Dominic.  Frequently they use play to facilitate their specific therapies and I wanted to show you a couple of very recent examples.

The first is an occupational therapy session from last week, 1-2-2020.  This was their last activity and the point is to stack the little cups in the color order that is on the card, fastest, and then ring the bell. Its a processing speed thing, a patterning practice thing, etc. 

Then this week, on Wednesday, his speech therapists broke out the Don't Break the Ice game.  Her focus is working on his verbal ability to say the whole sentence "Its my turn" and "Its your turn", to actually turn take, and he thinks its just hilarious.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Bowling? Are you kidding me?

One of the things that i've struggled with my entire life is hand eye coordination. If an activity requires it, i'm not good at it. This has been particularly apparent for mandated fun at work like mini golf and bowling.  So when my friend invited Dominic and I to go bowling with her 9 year old over winter break I thought to myself "oh this is going to be amusing".....

And it was. He suprised me and hung tight for 2 full games.


So it turns out he is actually really good and I am going to end up learning to bowl.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

an early January 2020 Kishami Session

I actually had Rachel record the entire session on a video camera.  I think I'll have her do that at least every 8 weeks to monitor progress.  I've edited out the dead time and shrunk these down so they shouldn't lag too badly (there's lots of moving from table to floor to treaadmill to trampoline.  The camera was stationary.)

Part 1
This was the beginning of the session.  They started by sounding out words, doing sensory integration around sound, and then  sentence building.  This was followed with about 3 minutes of play break and then on the floor brain bridging, then more play.

Part 2 is using what Rachel calls connecting words.  How do they relate to each other. It was followed by a break to spin on  the chair (resetting vestibular), and he emphatically wants to make sure everything on her list gets checked off.

Part 3 is reading and matching what goes together. It was followed by more Brain bridging on the floor.

Part 4 is really cool if you can hang for the whole 8 1/2 minutes.  Its a reading comprehension review where they talked about 2 books they've done in earlier sessions and then they charted the life cycle (for lack of a better word) of rain.  So it was reading, science, directions, manipulatives.... i'm very impressed. 


Part 5 is back to working with his senses.  They are working on identifying smells - first they used both nostrils open and they are now to where he has to identify it thru one nostril only.  And then tactile, Rachel is tracing a number on his arm and seeing if he can identify it from feel.  This stuff is ridiculously cool to me. 

And part 6 wraps it up - its reading comprehension. She actually gets him to answer questions about the story she read to him.  Yeah, he struggles to focus, but he's doing it!!! he is totally doing it!!!

As i mentioned yesterday, we will be doing these sessions for an hour twice a week for the remainder of this school year then he will be attending 6 hours a day for 10 weeks this summer.  We will start next school year in a very different place.

I want to mention that I think all teachers working with our kids our saints and have endless patience.  It literally had not occurred to me that an adult with autism would have different insight and tricks for Dominic.  I don't know why it didn't occur to me, but now that it has, I'm excited about the potential.

PS - I do have the entire hour saved out on google drive.  Any of D's providers in any realm are invited to text me their email if they would like to have it shared with them for reference.