Tuesday, March 27, 2012

April is Autism Awareness month

Here is the text from their page:  

Join Autism Speaks in celebrating World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and Light It Up Blue to help shine a light on autism. Whether it's your front porch or your local city hall, an office party or a banquet, the whole world is going blue to increase awareness about autism. 

  • Light It Up Blue, in its third year, is a unique global initiative to help raise awareness about the growing public health concern that is autism. Iconic landmarks around the world will Light It Up Blue to show their support. 

    Join us now and help shine a light on autism.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Play therapy

Ava & I now spend 4 days a week at Children's Village.  I'm so glad its here in town!  What would we do if  we had to drive to Seattle?  Yikes!

I've joined the "Holland" group - its support for moms of Special Needs children.  I never thought I'd be one of these moms.  http://childrensvillage.memfound.org/holland  Its still a bit hard to get used to sometimes.  Ava looks so typical.  You'd never know she might have Autism.

Here are a few pictures of what goes on in Occupational Therapy.

This is a great little board on a lazy susan.  It just spins round & round.

The sensory bin was filled with scented cotton puffs.

The only bad part about OT is leaving.  Transitions are hard for Ava, but this is super fun...I don't want to leave either.  I can't blame her.  Tomorrow, we'll practice leaving - before we even get started.  Wish us luck...and PRAY!  We'll need all the help we can get.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tomorrow's girl is the same as today's

Tomorrow my child will be the same as she is today, and the same as she was yesterday.  I don't mean that she won't grow & change.  I just mean that whatever label she is given is just a label.  She's the same wonderful Ava that I adore.  No matter what.

Right now, I'm worried more that we won't get a label.  That it will still be "not otherwise specified."  I just recently learned that phrase.

We will meet with the neurodevelopmental doctor in a few hours.  Its 1am, and I can't sleep.  Even though I should.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Sensory Processing

Years ago my mom told me about something called Sensory Processing.  I was so intrigued.  The thought of kids needing bear hugs to calm down sounded soothing to me.  I knew they had special clothes without tags, and vests that were heavy - like the apron the dentist gives to to protect you from the x-rays.  I never knew it would consume me to this point.  

Fast forward to 2007.  Our beautiful baby girl was very vocal about being over stimulated.  I thought I was just a better mom.  I'd been though this before.  I knew more about parenting.  I'd read all the books, and put them into practice with the older daughter.  Ava needed to be put down fairly often.  She was happy to lay in bed awake, then fall asleep.  When she was two, she'd put herself down for a nap.  When she was three, we knew something was off.  It just wasn't typical.  When she turned four, we finally got in to get help.

We don't have all the answers for her yet - there's still more to learn.  But so far, we do know without a doubt, she has Sensory Processing Disorder.  Online I see it called SPD.  I haven't gotten comfortable enough to call it that yet.  You see, I'm still explaining it to those friends & family around us who don't know what it is.  Think of it like the "Princess & the Pea."  The tiniest grain of sand in her shoe feels like a boulder.  That little brush against her skin is a major scratch.  That itty-bitty bump, it was a hit.  It goes the opposite way too ~ she can hit you, and barely notice she's touched you.

Along this voyage of the past year, I'm also more confidant that Sensory Processing is part of my being as well.  You'll never catch me without sunglasses ~ and if you do, we either turn around to go back & get them, I buy new ones, or I'll whine until you give me yours.  I spent 3 extra minutes this morning getting some odd seed out of my sock.  I could feel it...but I never did see it fall away.  As a child, I remember spending hours swinging in circles.  Or tipping my whole body so that my head was upside down as I swung.

Which leads us to our newest house project.  An indoor therapy swing.  During our intake meeting with the occupational therapists, Ava was introduced to a swing that had a platform, but could go round and round like a tire swing.  She swung in a circle for almost 45-minutes, with just a 15 minute break somewhere in the middle.  I knew we needed one for the house.  And secretly, I've always wanted a swing in my house.

Ava at therapy.  Now that I have the hardware, I may need a swing like this one too!  Its just a piece of double knit fabric.

 We ordered a tire swing kit from Ace Hardware for the parts.  It can support 350 lbs of weight.  I found some great fabric on sale - nice & sturdy, upholstery stuff to hold up to kids.  I also bought 2 large pieces of batting for the cushion.  The seat is 36 x 36 square plywood with rounded corners - just for a bit of safety.  I stapled the batting on to the board, one piece at a time.  And then finished with the upholstery fabric.

We know this will crash into the walls and the sisters! It will hold all three girls at once.  Or just one.  They can swing round in circles, go back & forth, or swing side to side.  If you sit on it, it sways just a bit and is very soothing.  I'm still learning all the fancy words and what play works with what sensory system.  But its my understanding that this is hitting both the proprioceptive and vestibular systems.  The board bounces just a bit, and of course - it swings!  This will help to organize thoughts, calm & soothe the rider.

I have just a bit more work to finish this completely.  You can see a small bit of fabric that wasn't stapled in properly.  But for now, its good enough.  And we have four very happy girls at our house...even if one of them is 36 yrs old!