Please do not interpret my silence to mean that things are not going well with Zach. Indeed there are a lot of joys in our house at this time. Depression is sucking the life out of the author right now, and her husband is trying to pick up the slack as best he can with the enormous pressures he already has on him. This has been our routine for several years now, I most likely suffer from SAD. At this point, I am at least somewhat functional, able to meet the minimum obligations of the day. I have tried many therapies/Rx and they help, but having a bit more stress than usual, it still undermines the best interventions. But there is no time to concentrate on my woes right now. With the pressures we have, I know my limitations, and I do get some energy and motivation from knowing how much my kids count on me. I look forward to those days when the sun will peak out a little more regularly, and my energy level will be regained, and maybe a few more brain cells will function too.
First in good news: Zach has begun to ride a bike with training wheels which is awesome to watch. All the hard work and $ of our basement was worth every penny when we got to see him accomplish learning to ride the bike and within a few days, showing great pleasure in doing so. He will even tolerate the helmet because the desire to ride his bike is so high.
As said before, the basement is nearing completion - there is mostly trim work (casements/mouldings) to be completed. I will take some pictures at some point for everyone to see. On top of the riding the bike, Zach and Sophie have procured some nifty roller skates and are attempting to learn. Sophie struggles with this - and of course I am of little help trying to teach her how to do it. Right now, we have made a commitment to 5 laps around the basement a day, hoping that it eventually clicks within her own mind. As for Zach - his training roller skates are fun and he does really well with them.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a presentation on ABA and it was most useful. The presenter was animated and reviewed a lot of information I knew - however, he allowed for questions and this is where it paid off. During one presentation, I asked a few questions with Zach in mind, and lo and behold realized that Steve and I had been inadvertently sabotaging part of Zach's program.
The old me would have dwelt on this forever, saying how stupid I was to not have realized, but the most recent version of me (Leanne v4.11) took the information and immediately acted upon it. I changed the way we respond to Zach and it worked. He is being a lot more independent in using language now - at least for what they call "manding" which is verbal behavior's way of saying "requesting".
There has been even a little more flow to his utterances - what appears to be a little more back and forth sequencing in language. Again - he is still so far behind that it is hard to tell. However, Zach has his own way of learning, and rather than be frightened of his looming delay, I have more confidence that one day it will be there, with persistence we can help that brain of his to formalize and mature these skills. To see Zach and work with him without any knowledge of what he is like, you would think that he is likely incapable, and a slow learner. For certain, when you first approach Zach with trying to learn a new skill, sometimes it can be nothing short of painful. And then comes that magical day, and voila, it clicks, and his slow progression turns to near mastery. It's crazy how this happens. It's like once he does something correctly once, no matter how long it takes him to get there, he just gets it from there on in. Of course, he needs to understand its place - why he is doing it and what it will do for him. Motivation is tricky for kids with ASD.
That brings us to big new #2. Dear little Zach is definitely reading. He has around 12 sight words down right now. (At least this is what we have tested so far.) This he did mostly on his own of course. The odd thing is, he doesn't necessarily know what he is reading. So - Zach can sort and match his colors. But if I ask him to touch blue an present him with a blue swatch and a red swatch - he will guess. Zach is having difficulty associating the word with the color. Yet, if put the words "red", "green", and "blue" down in front of him, and ask him to touch blue, he will touch blue. I believe he also knows one, two, three. We are in the process of targeting how to get him to match the color blue to the word blue. Totally reverse of an NT kid of course, and from what the other moms tell me, not so different than other kids on the spectrum. This stuff blows my mind.
There is so much work to this program. I cannot even begin to tell you how overwhelmed with trying to keep up with all this I am. There is so much to do, and I feel like I am walking through mud trying to accomplish it. Stinking Syracuse winter.