~ originally written August 2011
It’s been a long time since I wrote an update on our journey with Johnny.
Special Pre-school: Johnny really enjoyed his time at the preschool we sent him to. They had volunteers working with him one on one everyday in a happy, encouraging environment and we saw a change in him in just a few weeks. The teachers were amazed at his transition to their school and they said his exuberant personality changed the dynamic of their class for the better. I can’t tell you without tears how many times I had university students, grandmothers, mothers, retirees who had gotten a chance to work with Johnny tell me that they just had to meet the mother of Johnny to tell me how special my little boy is. As a parent its a given that you feel that way about your children but when a stranger tells you that when Johnny looks them in the eye and smiles at them that he makes them feel very special it means so much more.
IBI Therapy: Johnny had his assessment to see if he was a candidate for provincially government funded IBI therapy for autism but they only take very severe cases due to a funding issue. We were told after they came to visit him at his preschool that the doctors were on the fence on his placement and decided to put their decision on hold for one year and then re-assess him. We suspect its because he is non-verbal which puts him on the moderate/severe side of the spectrum but otherwise he is trying to socialize, smile, interacts with people so they are not taking him off the wait list for therapy for now. IBI shows great results for some children but Johnny learns in many other ways as well which isn’t always the case for children with ASD so in one way this is positive news.
Summer Camp: Johnny was in summer camp for 6 weeks where he spent the mornings with typical children his age and then 3 afternoons with children that have developmental challenges such as speech. He was paired with a university student who worked with him and she was amazed at how fast and eager he was to learn new things and how happy he was all the time. His smile made her day 🙂 When I’d pick him up everyday all the university students would stop cleaning up and run over to make sure they said good bye to Johnny. What am I going to do when he’s a teenager? 🙂
Speech Therapy: Johnny is trying to say alot of words now. His favourite words are ELBOW and Momma Duck. One of the quirks of Autism is repetition so I have to remind myself that after hearing ELBOW 10x every 3 minutes that a year ago he couldn’t say that word or any word at all. Most of his words he says are what they call “word approximations”. Autism tends to affect gross moter skills which is near the same part of the brain that controlls speech. The best way to think of it is to think of someone who has suffered a stroke and has to rebab back. Johnny is now able to peddle a bike, but jumping or hopping is still a challenge. Interestingly he had fine motor skills by 3 days old that don’t ususally appear until 6-9 months. He could pinch me like crazy as a newborn and twirl toys!
In September he will go to junior kindergarten. Where did the time go? In another post I’ll share our learning curve of navigating 2 publicly funded school boards when you have a special needs child and don’t have any idea what to do.