Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Big Van

I was sad to see her go, but our family has just outgrown my little red Jeep. We now have a Dodge Caravan Minivan. I really like it and we went for our first family ride today. Jake keeps insisting on going down to the garage just to play in the van. I think he likes it, and he drew this today. I asked him what it was, although I had a clue. He said "Big Car!" I was especially amazed when I asked him what the various dots were inside. Those are Mommy, Daddy, Baby Brother and Jake.

This isn't much of an update, as I am still in limbo waiting for things to happen and getting in touch with various resources. Jake continues to improve his vocabulary and the different approaches we are using to help him along are really working. If I weren't so exhausted from the weekend, I'd go into more detail. More to come soon!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

And now for something a little different...

I realize that many of my blog posts tend to be negative and angry. I suppose I just write more when I'm having strong feelings about something. I did want to post on the many many positive things that are happening.

For one thing, we are blessed to have a very very sweet and caring young man as our son. Jake loves his dad, his mom, his Mamaw and Papaw, his Grandy, his dog, his baby brother, and other children. Sometimes his actions can be described as "aggressive" or "violent" however he doesn't have a mean bone in his body. He will pull or push on other children but never with the intention of hurting them. It just seems that he doesn't yet understand how to interact correctly, and thats just what he does instead. At home we find ourselves joking, "Love hurts, especially when it comes from Jake." Jake will just get overwhelmed with emotion and grab and pinch and jump (sometimes almost breaking my nose with his skull). But everything he does is done with the intention of being kind, even if it doesn't come across that way. He loves babies, and will run up to strollers carrying babies of first-time-moms.. peer in and say "BABY'S SLEEEEPIN!" at the top of his lungs. He'll exclaim "I'm so CUTE!" (Jakese for "you're so cute") and wiggle his fingers an inch above the baby's head just barely able to contain his desire to touch the baby. This always goes over well with new mothers. I just shrug.

For a very long time we've dealt with huge tantrums when it comes to transitions, leaving the park or any place fun. We've tried "We're leaving in 10 minutes" then "5 minutes" then so on, but to no avail. A friend who works with ASD kids (thanks Carrie.. you don't know how much you help me) suggested that I get a picture of the car, and show it to him several times before we leave.. giving him a visual cue. I vowed to try it.. then, a few days later, I found myself at the aquarium with no picture of the car. I had forgotten. Instead, I thought about how Jake always signs "Car" when he wants to "ride car" so I started signing and saying "car" several times before we left. No tantrum. Same thing the next day at the zoo. I ALMOST got to the car before I remembered to sign to him, so we walked the long way around and I stopped 3 or 4 times to tell him in words and sign. Again, no tantrum. I'm learning to use a combination of words and sign to transition him to different situations, and it is working wonders. I have to say that we LOVE "Signing Time" around here, and so far we own 6 of the tapes. I can't even watch the songs sometimes without getting all teary eyed.

There are still scary times and times when I am angry, but despite the tone of this blog, sadness and anger does not dominate our lives. This weekend, although we were unable to camp overnight, we had an amazing fishing trip and lots of outdoor play. Jake doesn't always do what you expect him to do or what other kids might do. For example while the rest of the family waded, he found it more fun to run up and down a hill near the creek and occasionally check out the bucket full of critters that we were netting in the shallows. He still had fun even if he didn't care to participate in our selected activity. He is a fun and funny little guy with a lot to offer, and we are blessed to have him here with us.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Vaccines, birth, autism, and my son

This is a post made to some of my local group message boards. I hope that it doesn't cause drama:

Jake was born in a hospital. When I was pregnant I read "What to expect when you're expecting" and the "American Academy of Pediatrics, Caring for your Baby and Young Child." I guess I didn't know any better. I wanted a natural birth because I was afraid of surgery, it was totally selfish. I was also interested in babywearing, so I started "hanging out" in the online circles that promoted natural childbirth and babywearing. I felt that the mamas who didn't vaccinate and who breastfed their babies past 6 months or so upheld a totally different level of crunchiness than I would never achieve.

I truly felt like I (and when I say "I" i mean "we" because my husband was totally there with me in making every decision) made educated decisions when I decided to birth in a hospital, circumcise my firstborn son, and vaccinate according to the schedule recommended by my pediatrician.

My son, Jake, developed poor muscle tone and a many other gross motor issues before the age of 18 months when he finally walked. He was evaluated by the local early intervention program at that age and found to have no significant delays. Now, at the age of 3 years, he has a severe speech delay accompanied by a host of other symptoms. I am on an amazingly long waiting list to have my son diagnosed. However, I'm not stupid, and I can navigate the internet. I know that my son falls within the autism spectrum.. and most of the time I feel that he will be "high fuctioning".. however, other days I wonder.

I can actually look back at my blog and find when Jake started exhibiting symptoms, and yes.. it does correspond to a particularly bad case of "fussiness" after a round of vaccinations. The fact that I wasn't the least bit suspicious of vaccinations at the time makes it even more heartbreaking to go back and read. It is a particularly dark place that I visit when I think of these things. I want to say that I don't 100% blame vaccinations, because there are neuro-typical kids out there who are vaccinated, I just wonder.. and I always will. My ideas on what has caused the "outbreak" of autism doesn't make for interesting reading for the purposes of this particular post.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this post, but I wanted to get a few things out.

The other day while I was visiting my food coop, I was discussing the evil icky things in foods these days. I mentioned that I had an autistic son (its simpler for me to use the term autistic, instead of PDD-NOS or whatever) and was afraid of all additives. The ladyI spoke to went on about the latest miracle cure diet that had "cured" her relative.. and as we discussed various issues finally asked "Is your son vaccinated." I said "yes.. he was fully vaccinated" and she said "that is probably what caused it" and walked away.

My second son, now 9 months old, was born at home, is not circumcised, is unvaccinated, and will probably be exposed to very few food additives. Will he be "like Jake"? I have no idea. Many will say "of course not". I watch his every move.

I am and will always be an advocate of homebirth and natural parenting, in fact.. since my husband and I are no longer planning on adding to our family, I find myself still VERY interested in childbirth and changing the business of birth in our socieity. I hope to get involved in birth on some level once my children are older, either as a doula, childbirth educator or midwife. But I ask you all please PLEASE be gentle with those who are ignorant of your particular practices. If I had the chance to meet myself, as a pregnant first-time mother.. as the mother that I am today.. gosh...what would I tell me?

Thanks for listening