If ever there was an award for most negligent blog owner, I'd be sure to win. On another note, where does the time go? It's been about six months since I've updated here and to bring everyone to speed I'll summarize everything in about 80 million words. Not really. But probably close.
The last six months have been big in Sophie's and my life. She graduated from preschool (sob), completed junior kindergarten, and learned many things. And I had my first job in about oh, 12 years!
First the preschool. Given the global and anonymous nature of this here blog, I won't name it. Suffice it to say, it's a special place. And I had the unique experience of seeing through a parent's and an employee's eyes. The staff is truly one of a kind, the children are treated with love and respect, their unique strengths recognized and goals worked on in a gentle manner. It has a family-like atmosphere and it's no wonder parents have a (probably harder than the kids) time leaving it. If only the rest of the educational system worked like this.
The kindergarten. Different scenario but all together good I'd say. The public school doesn't have the resources that the preschool has, but they did their best with what they had. The teacher was gentle and dedicated to her class. She had a very good EA too. Sophie seemed to mostly enjoy her year, save for a couple weeks of strange crying which we have deducted must have stemmed from seeing me in the mornings at the preschool (even though I did my best to stay hidden from her).
Me- a volunteer position turned into a contract turned into a classroom support position until the end of the school year- wow. I'll be forever grateful for those opportunities, which I'm sure contributed to my acceptance to the Communicative Disorders Assistant program I will be starting in September! (The terms "eek!" and "gulp" pretty much sum up my feelings about that at this moment).
On progress. This can be subtitled "in which Sophie does one thing while mommy is relentlessly pursuing something else". It's no secret that my main focus is communication. I believe it to be critical for her autonomy, her learning, her ability to self-advocate. Most of my learning, my research and advice-seeking relates to expanding her communication. Now, Sophie could always express her wants, which I know is amazing. When she was verbal, and shortly after her regression she could ask for what she wanted (now that I think about it, it's interesting she never lost that ability).
Funny story (which I might have told you before). Few months after her diagnosis we had a city-appointed OT come in to assess her. Sophie of course barely looked up from the tv. But when the lady pulled out bubbles, Soaps couldn't resist and jumped up excitedly. At that moment I shyly mentioned that I've been reading about PECS and did she know anything about it? She couldn't hide her doubt fast enough. She started with "oh I don't know if she's there yet..." But I guess seeing our earnest, freshly-diagnosed faces stopped her. She showed Sophie a PEC of bubbles, said "bubbles" in her best Therapist Voice and blew bubbles to Sophie's flappy delight. After few seconds she stopped, showed the PEC, enunciated "bubbles!" again and blew some more. Then stopped again. At that moment Soaps ripped the PEC from her hand, waved it at her and dropped it into her lap while looking at the bottle expectantly. Not ready, my foot...
But I digress. Sophie could always request things, using multiple modes but at this point we have not yet been able to move past requesting. Sophie's approach to her talker is very utalitarian, she gets what she wants and moves on, even throwing it to leave no doubt that as far as she's concerned we are finished talking.
But it seems her interest lies in expanding her physical skills. Observing her especially outside it's as if she makes her own physical therapy goals- first I work on some stairs, then I jump and run on the trampoline, then i walk on this ramp, then back to the stairs. None of these things are easy for her! She loves to swim too. Her body is fitter and stronger and while she still has gross motor delays and low muscle tone she's steadily progressing ahead.
I wonder if she would be so well-regulated if we didn't give her so much free time and freedom to self-direct. I'm sure if an OT had devised a similar plan for her she'd scoff and ignore it. She is learning and progressing at her own initiative. She also has the power of "no". She is able to communicate the message of "no", or "All done" (that's new!) and have it be respected. Her reluctance, pushing away what she doesn't want and her requests to be left alone are heeded and I hope that it also is giving her the seeds of self-advocacy.
And a final thought. While we are working on her talker use and doing all the communication things, in my quest to leave no stone unturned I am also researching this -Rapid Prompt Method. It's popular with many autistic advocates and I've been reading this book and following some blogs and thinking how I can try it. If you are interested, I'd recommend you look up some videos on YouTube, especially of Soma Mukhopadhyay (the creator of this system).
I have many more thoughts but I'll end it here for now (not writing a novel, after all). Now that it's summer I will try to write more often.