Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sensory Bin

We had a great day at therapy yesterday.  Ava spent about half her time playing in a rice and bean sensory bin.  So I made one for us!

You can't see them in this photo, but the girls added small toys to play hide and seek with.  This little bin has kept them busy all day!

Granted, we have rice everywhere.  But we also have 3 happy girls!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Don't worry, she'll be fine.

Don't worry, she'll be fine.  That's what everyone told me.  So here's what fine looks like in autism world:

Let's start with bedtime...that's part of getting up.
6:30pm - Ava should have been doing her kitchen chore, to be able to take a bath & start the bedtime routine.
7pm - the kitchen chore was started
7:30 - bath time
8 - meltdown over what to wear the next day.  She was wanting to wear a halter dress (not just against school dress code, but against the Mom & Dad school code too)
8:30 - read a story to baby sister as Ava listened in
8:45 - Ava has another meltdown, insisting I read her the same story I'd just read
9pm - Ava comes downstairs asking for playtime
9:30 - once she laid down, she fell right to sleep
Slept all night
6:30am - started trying wake her up, she moans at me
Continue the process every 5 minutes until she bounces out of bed at 7am screaming "Where is my dress??!!  I TOLD you not to wash my dress.  I don't want my dress washed."  And melts in to a screaming puddle of tears.
The dress fight continues until 7:40 when she finally agreed to let me iron her dress.  (She insisted it was wrinkled)  Just before, she must have eaten her toast...I can't remember now.  The bow never got fully pressed - how do you press a bow that's been stitched down?  I did my best!
8:08 - Ava starts brushing her hair in a frantic rush to get out the door so she can walk.
8:25 - Some how the dress & shoes are on - we're too late to walk.  We take Ava's picture & she gets into the car willingly, forgetting about walking.
8:32 - we walk into the classroom & everything is normal

Then it starts all over again....
11:25 - I peek into the classroom, but can't see Ava.
11:30 - Ava is released to go home, the teacher says she had a great time.

11:31 - We exit the school and enter the first afternoon meltdown.  Ava is whining about a lost money.  I keep telling her I don't see it, you can't take money to school because this is what happens.

11:40 - we're still in the lawn trying to coax Ava into the car.  Big sister heads back in to use the bathroom.
11:50 - I'm tired of this game & try to pick Ava up to carry her to the car.  This, of course, brings on a full meltdown.  Every parent is staring at us (there weren't many).  Ava is forced into her seat & we used the safety cover on her buckle.  She immediately starts trying to get out of her seat.  Half a block later, she's out.  I pull into another one of the school's lots.  By the time I'm out of the car, she has BOLTED!

Imagine this on a sidewalk, without the smiles.

  There is my beautiful girl, running away from me.  Down a busy street.  I ran faster than I've ever run before (I'm NOT a runner), praying all the way.  It took about 50 feet, but I caught her & took her back to the car.  I hit the child safety lock on the door & struggle to get her back into her seat.  We continue home.  No more than 2 blocks later, she's out again.  This time, she's out for blood.  She is hitting me with her fist, with all her strength, while I am driving.  I just keep going.  She's a danger to everyone at this point, but we live 4 blocks from school and I just want to be home.
12:02 - we pull into the driveway.  I go inside to get her a water bottle (she threw her's at me & screamed) and an ice pack.  I go back outside to find she's locked all the car doors.  Windows are down, so I reach in and unlock.  She is then calmly (between sobs) tell me more about the money.  I still don't get it.  I still didn't see the money she'd dropped.  But I apologize, and we head inside as if nothing had happened.

Its now 2pm.  We've had 3 more meltdowns since then, over minor issues like a sister stealing a favorite blanket, or someone looking at her.  We'll have nap time in just a few minutes, but first I needed to vent.

Don't worry about us though.  Things are fine, remember?


Meltdown Schedule Explained

Tomorrow (technically today as I'm writing at midnight) is Ava's first day of school!  She's in for 1/2 days this week, two days off, and then full time on next Wed.  I'm scared.  Nervous.  Excited!  And I can tell she is too.

I've been tracking our schedule, and with it Ava's meltdowns.  She has a lot of them.  The good news is, Daddy & I have gotten better at helping prevent them.  This doesn't mean she's spoiled and always gets her way.  She has Autism.  Sometimes she just doesn't get it.  Sometimes we do change our minds & it looks like we're giving in.  All the time, with every kid, you have to pick your battles.  We fought a BIG one today.

Ava had a meltdown that lasted an hour.  I'm not exaggerating.  Sixty +/- minutes!  Over walking the dog.  You see, we were headed for a walk in the mountains.  Both of the big girls wanted to hold the dog's leash.  So we played rock-paper-scissors to decide who would walk the dog up the hill, and who would walk her back down the hill.  Ava lost.  We're working hard with her therapist on making a plan & sticking to it.  This was one I wanted to change, but I held firm.  Poor Daddy & Omp (our special name for Grandpa) were left behind.  It was heartbreaking - pounding on the window, screaming so loud we could hear her 3 cabins away, drooling because she was so upset.  I can't imagine how exhausted she was from it.  A meltdown takes a lot of energy - both emotional & physical.

Here's our chart of the last week.  Sunday was the meltdown.  All meltdowns are in black, but you can see how short most of them are.  Last year, when we first started therapy, they could easily be 2 hours long.  And they were 30 minutes at a minimum!  THAT is improvement.  Even if our outside world doesn't see it - we do.

Its all color coded.  Purple is sleeping; Green is active play, household chores, being outside, running around;   Blue is quiet play, reading books, quiet imaginary games; Red is anything tv, computer, ipod related (not counting using the ipod for music).  And of course Black is the meltdown.

See the two days where I can't remember what happened?  They were either really good.  Or really bad.  I honestly couldn't remember.  I now fill my chart out several times a day.  We used to always see meltdowns during transitions - sometimes they occur because of a transition.  Other times we need a transition to get Ava OUT of a meltdown.

Wish us luck & say a prayer.  We're going to need it!  It will be interesting to see how our chart changes with school starting up.


Monday, August 13, 2012

More Schedules

Tonight was day 2 of "get ready to go back to school"  It was a rough one.  It was a rough day.  Its been a rough month.  But we're hanging in there.

Here's what I made for Ava to remember what to do at bed time.

Night time Routine

Its cute - its worth clicking on the link.  This is the same routine we had last year, but now its written down with pictures so she can remember.  I asked if she wanted velcro cards to remove what she'd done, but she said no.  So this is what we have.

Then I ordered a Medicine timer from Amazon.  I'll be able to record 6 sayings and add a timer - starting with "you have 5 minutes before bed."  Its supposed to go off every 5 minutes until you hit the alarm button.  We'll see if this works!

We've been using our seat belt cover quite a bit.  Its a great thing to have, but its distressing to see Ava meltdown when we're driving.  She knows how to unbuckle, so I have to be extra careful to remove anything in her reach that she can use as a tool.  Today, I didn't lock the belt tight enough around her & she wiggled out.  Luckily, I was stopped in a quiet neighborhood at a stop sign.  Unluckily, it was 102 degrees outside and we didn't want to hang out there all afternoon waiting for her to calm down.

Which brings me to this...our Calm Down Box.  I saw the idea on Pinterest (come follow me!) and Emma helped me make it right away.  Ava even got into making it, since its to be her box that's even better!  We used an old pencil box and added a straw, wedding bubbles, Halloween/birthday party PlayDough, a few crayons & a tiny note pad, a small squishy stuffed animal, a whistle, gum, life savers, BandAids, and a lip balm.  (The photo isn't ours, but its similar)

Hope these ideas help us!  The Calm Down Box didn't help today, but you have to use it BEFORE the meltdown starts.  We were too late.  Maybe next time I can catch it before it goes too far.

Oh, one last thing.  I'm going to start tracking meltdowns again.  We know they happen when there's a transition, but there may be more patterns happening that I'm not noticing.  Here's the file we use: Scheldule  I color in the boxes with a crayon/marker/colored pencil, and I keep it color coded by major activities (active play, calm play, school, sleep, electronics).  I color meltdowns in with a thick black sharpie.   She'll see her Neuro Dr in about a month, so this will be good info for the dr.