Playgroup

I hosted playgroup today.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term, a playgroup is a comprised of moms and kids of similar ages (the kids, not the moms) who get together once a week at someone’s house or at a park (in good weather), socialize, eat, drink, and watch the kids play together.  My playgroup meets Friday mornings, and the host provides breakfast, and sometimes a fun activity for the kids (if it lands close to a special day). 

Breakfast this morning was: Coffee, Kiwi-Strawberry juice, cinnamon rolls, chocolate croissants, chocolate-chip muffins, bagels (poppy seed, plain, and jalepeno) and cream cheese, cheese & broccoli quiche, grapes, oranges, and strawberries.  Juice boxes for the kids, and popcorn, because there is always one kids who won’t eat anything, but popcorn is always a favorite.  As I wrote that, I noticed how carb-heavy the breakfast was!

Toys that I had out: Downstairs, a large fisher-price garage and a box of cars, a huge rescue heroes aquatic rescue center and the action figures and animals, planes, bikes, cop cars.  I also set out Sally, Mater, and Lightening McQueen dress-up costumes (the official disney ones, so they really hold up to all the children tugging at them).  Upstairs, the train set with extra tracks for the kids to add on as they liked, doll houses and the people/animals/furniture, and then all the usual playroom stuff.

But to get to my point of this post, Nik was great!  He played well with the others, got into power struggles and squabbles, stood up for himself, was able to tell the other children what he wanted/didn’t want, and overall was just a typical little boy!!!

An example:
My friend, A and her little boy R had come over first.  R, Nik and Anju were playing with the costumes.  At one point, R wanted the McQueen one, and tried to grab it out of Nik’s hands.  Nik said. “No!  This one is Nikky’s!”  As R looked over at his mother, she said, “Why don’t you take another one, and you can get McQueen when Nik’s done.”  So Nik picked up Sally, completely un-prompted, and took it over to R, and said, “Here.  You’ve got Sally.”  And then went back to his costume.  Of course, R wasn’t happy with that, but the point is, Nik articulated what he wanted, and then gave the other child an option when he heard his mother telling him what to do. 

A and I just looked at each other in shock.  She said that while its been a while since she’s seen Nik, he is like a completely different child. 

I just hugged myself with joy.  I know this may not seem like a lot to most of you, but it is huge in my son’s development. 

I am seriously considering reworking his schedule so that I can take him to playgroup every Friday.  [Currently, he only sees the group when I host, because he has ABA therapy on Friday mornings (and we all know how well that’s going!)  I usually get a sitter for him, and take Anju to the playgroups.]

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Time off = good behavior

Nik has been doing so well lately, now that one of his ABA tutors quit, and we have had a couple stress-free mornings.  He is doing better in his social skills class, his regular preschool, and his OT.  All the teachers have mentioned it to me.  This cannot be a coincidence. 

So now my dilemma is this: do I cancel ABA altogether?  If I do, I lose a service that other families are waiting 6 to 12 months for, and what if it will help him in the long run?  But then, its not helping right now, and actually having a negative impact.  So, either I dump it altogether, or I ask them to do a drastically (for them) modified program that is heavy on play.  If they agree to that, it might be worth holding onto. 

Regardless, I told the consultant not to hurry in trying to find a replacement.  We are enjoying the time off.

My girl

Her favorite….

Disney characters: Nemo and Tee-buh-buh.

Food: bagels, “se-ul“, mango, apples, scrambled eggs (sometimes she eats all of this for breakfast!  At one sitting!) 

Drink: water

Tantrum: “NOOOO!” followed by a stomp of her foot, and a slap on the tabletop, a glare, a pursing of mouth, and then looking away.  Then slowly looking back without moving her head to see if I am still looking at her.  It is all I can do not to laugh.  Another favorite is running and throwing herself at the closest wall, crying loudly, with her hands on either side of her head.  If I ask her what’s wrong, she shakes her head vigorously, saying “No, Mama!” over and over again.  (She gets over these tantrums very quickly.  Usually looks at me, realizes that I am laughing at her, and then starts laughing in return.)

pastime:  twirling her hair and sucking her thumb.
(Nik’s favorite activity is pulling her thumb out of her mouth.  Then she switches both activities to the other hands.)

Night-time ritual: Runs from me when I tell her she has to get in the bath-tub, screams during her bath, suck her thumb during her lotion rub, gives Nik a goodnight kiss and says, “Nigh-Nigh”, gathers her favorite stuffed animals and assorted blankets, hands them to me to put in the crib, says “Up!”, throws herself down on her front, sucks her thumb and twirls her hair while I pull her blankets over her, give her a kiss, fill up her humidifier, turn off her light, wind up her music box (How much is that doggy in the window), say goodnight and close the door.

Other favorites…

Playing Trains with her brother.

Splashing in rain puddles in her boots.

The dogs: watching them eat, sleep, run around outside, giving them her bagels and then saying “Uh-oh!”

Her shoes.

But most of all…

Nik.  She absolutely loves him.  His name is the first word she says when she sees me in the morning.  As in, “Kiki?”  Then, if he isn’t already awake, we have to climb into bed with him and lie down next to him, and then she waits for him to wake up.  She misses him when he goes to his various classes/therapies, and all I have to say is “Let’s go get Nikky” for her to drop whatever she’s doing/holding and run to me. 

A blessing in disguise

One of Nik’s ABA tutors asked to be taken off his case.  She said that she couldn’t handle his behaviors and tantrums, and took his rejections personally.  I understood, and I called her to tell her so.  I think she was surprised that I called her, but hopefully that helps her feel better.

It is hard, watching a little boy beat up on you emotionally, run away from you when you walk in the door, wants nothing to do with you and your lessons.  He just doesn’t like her, and can’t be reasoned with, because he is so young.  It’s not like he can pretend or suck it up! 

We really miss his first tutor, B, who was just wonderful.  She and Nik had a great connection, and both Anju and Nik would run to the door when she came over.  She played with him and taught him through play.  She left to go back to college. 

So, now we have one tutor for 3 hours a week.  And that is okay.  I really think he needs a break from the lockstep work, and this is probably a blessing in disguise.

Empathy

I was crying about something earlier today.  I couldn’t stop when the kids came into the room.  Anjali was pretty oblivious, but Nik immediately ran up to me and asked, “Mom, why are you crying?”

“Why are you sad, Mommy?”

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?”

Then he patted me on the arm and gave me a big hug.  And told Anju that I was crying, and sad, and not happy. 

That little boy brings such joy to my days.

In passing

I was walking by the playroom and saw Nik sitting in his pillow-chair, reading books.  As I walked by, he looked up at me and said, “I reading book!”

Me: “I see that…what are you reading?”

Nik: “I read crocodiles!”

Me: “Wow, you are reading a book about crocodiles!”

Nik: “The crocodile eating the man’s shoes!”

That was pretty neat. 

According to autism experts, children on the spectrum rarely share their interests, don’t engage with others, aren’t social.  That social component aspect is incorrect, because I know a lot of ASD children who are extremely social.  The issue isn’t that they aren’t social, it is that they don’t know how to be appropriately social.  Their timing is off, they don’t read body cues well, and they give up easily. 

Nik is social, and appropriately so.  His lack of language and cognitive delays, however, inhibit the formation of deeper friendships (though how deep of a friendship do 3-yr-olds have anyway?!) 

The above incident showed how he saw me, was excited about what he was doing, wanted to share the excitement, and did so effectively.  What more can I ask for?

I can and do ask for a lot. 

But I am learning to be humble before my child.

Nursery Rhymes

Nik’s memory has been improving a lot lately.  Or atleast, the expressive component of it.  His memory may have always been good, but since he wasn’t talking, it was hard to know.

He just has to listen to a song/rhyme 3 or 4 times, and he’s got it.  Some of what he’s been singing lately:

In a cabin in the woods

jack and jill

I’ve been trying to find songs and rhymes that involve a lot of hand motions.  Since his fine and gross motor skills are behind as well, training finger and hand movements are important.  He is very resistant to the obvious “Here, do this!” instructions from his tutors, so I looked around for alternatives, where I could sneak the motions in during a fun activity.  Then I shared this with the tutors and they are slowly coming around to the realization that this is working!

In the windmills of my mind

Everytime I think I have things all figured out….

Nik has been having a lot of “behaviors” lately.  That is the ABA euphemism for tantrums/acting out/defiance/non-compliance.  Its hard to pinpoint the reasons for this, but my gut feeling is that this is his “terrible twos” coming into play.  Like I have said before, he is running about 1.5 yrs behind his peers, so this fits that timeline. 

But his preschool teacher is having a particularly hard time with this, expecially because she is so regimented, and likes to have everything just so, and all her kids are model children… and poor Nik just doesn’t fit in anymore, with his “behaviors”. 

So I am looking for another setting.  Does he need strict schedules? Structured activities?  Freedom to find himself? Flexible expectations with directed play?  Montessori? Waldorf?  Multi-disciplinary?

I am going nuts.  My own issue is that I can see pros and cons to everything.  I vacillate.  I vacillate very well. 

I have to make sure that he does not get overwhelmed by all the different programs.  As I was telling Pete, he’s only 3.5 yrs old.  I don’t want him to get burned out so young, and hate school/instruction/direction, etc.  So I have to find the right balance of school, therapies, and fun. 

And when it comes to making a decision for my son, I am a wreck, because I want to be sure that he gets the best place possible for him, but then we should also be able to afford it, and so on and so on.  And then add in the school district and special ed depts and their input, and you can see why I am slowly being driven to drink.

This is bringing me to my knees.

I have appointments with 4 different preschools over the next few days.  I’ve already looked at two. 

I just want him to be happy.

But also get what ever early intervention he needs/deserves.

And I have to keep my personal prejudices out of it.

Round, like the circles that you find, in the windmills of my mind.