Monday, March 30, 2009

Quinn's still sick. Cooper's still Cooper.

Not much else going on right now. I am just trying to figure out next year for the kids. Sounds like the Explorer classroom at Shafer Center might be really good for Cooper but we can't afford that and ABA. Decisions, decisions. It will probably be taught by Jaime who he loves so that would be great too!

The class runs four days a week, for three hours each day. The class is co-treated by a speech-language pathologist and special educator. The focus of the class is to promote basic language and preacademic skills such as:

1) expressive language skills such as requesting and commenting (with increasingly longer lengths of utterances as well as variety of utterances, e.g., "I want cookie" "May I have a cookie?", "Can I have the cookie?")
2) receptive language skills such as following 1 and 2 step-directions, identifying common items and vocabulary learned in the units (e.g., "firefighter" for the community helpers unit, "snow" for the winter unit), responding to his name, attending during group activities.
3) pragmatic Language skills such as greeting peers, referencing peers, joint attention, joint references, emerging symbolic play skills (e.g., pretending a block is a hat), and parallel play skills.
4) learning classroom routines such as independently transitioning between tasks, attending during group instruction, completing classroon tasks such as art projects, and responding in a group (rather than 1:1).
5) pre academic skills such as developing matching, imitation, color identification, number id, letter id, and sorting skills.

I was told today they would be putting him in the next class up if he would only talk. At least they know how darn smart he is there.

Also, Quinn is doing great with the PECS. He has pretty much mastered putting the PEC into my hand in just this one week. He repeatedly requested hot dogs tonight by placing the PEC into my open hand. Cooper did it too, but I need to get another hot dog card. It is way less annoying when he asks that way instead of banging on the table like he usually does!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quinn is sick again. He has been doing so well this year, but on Friday he started coughing and today he woke up covered with snot :( He won't be going to school tommorow. If this doesn't start getting better quick he will be going to the doctor. After all I have plans for next weekend!!!! Matt is getting sick too and Cooper has been snotty for a while. I better not get sick because I have a very important infusion on Tuesday and I really need it this time. They probably won't do it if I am sick. So Grandma Berta will be staying home with Quinn tommorow because I have parent training at KKI.

Uncle Ben was supposed to come over for dinner today, but he is sick too! Whatever will we do with all that cheescake? :)

Cooper figured something out today, how to unlock the water dispenser on the fridge. He had a grand time spraying himself with water until daddy caught him. Oh Cooper!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cooper had an amazing day! First at ABA therapy he said "open" for his therapist to open his cracker bag. He has said "Op" before but never the whole word. Then he came home and had speech therapy and really amazed us all. She brought him this set of little alphabet board books. Each book was a different letter and had a few pages of pictures that corresponded to the for A, pizza for P. She went through each book with Cooper and asked him to identify each picture by pointing. He did it and he got all of them right! There were even a lot of pictures that I didn't think he would recognize, and he pointed like a champ which is still an emerging skill for him. When she got through all the letters the closed books (which each had a letter on the front) were all spread out on the table. She asked him just for kicks, "where is the pizza?" Well, Cooper looked for a minute, picked up the P book, opened it to the pizza and pointed! I thought maybe that was a fluke since he loves pizza so much. Nope, she kept going and he got them all right! Well, all except W and M those two really confuse him. His teacher was shocked, she asked me "how is this possible?" I just shook my head and said "I think he is just really really smart". It is just crazy to me that a non-verbal 2 year old can do that but can't wave hello. He must either know what letter each word starts with or remember which book he saw the picture in. Either way it was awesome and I am just so proud of my baby.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Last night was one of those nights. Cooper fell and hit his head, which is usually no big deal. Cooper falls and hits his head at least once a day, he is a major clutz. But last night he hit his head bad and then threw up about 30 minutes later. Cooper never throws up, that was not a good thing. So given the recent news of Natasha Richardson's sudden death, and CNN's constant coverage about head injuries; I called the doctor and they said we had to take Cooper to the Emergency Room :( We left Quinn with Grandma Berta and took Cooper to the hospital. It was 3 hours of waiting and screaming but in the end it all turned out fine. They did a CT scan and told us that Cooper's brain looked completely normal (I almost asked them to look again ;). Cooper hated every minute of being at the hospital and so did his mommy and daddy, but I am glad we had him checked and everything was fine. We all took the morning off today.

Now for some less dramatic news.... Quinn did great at horseback riding today. He was in a great mood and was very interactive with his therapist. Cooper now says something that sounds more like "doggy" and less like "daddy" when he sees Portia. Today at therapy he found a toy wrench and proceeded to tighten each leg of the table with it! So he is either a natural handyman or did some really great pretend play. We can't figure out where he learned to use a wrench, but our best guess is that it must have been a Mouseketool on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse at some point.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cooper did something today that he has never done before! He let me feed him with a spoon!! Seriously, even when he was a baby he would never want me to spoon feed him anything. Today I gave him some yogurt and he decided to let me feed him, I was so excited. Of course, once he got used to it and I tried to give the spoon back to him he said no way. Yes Cooper, sometimes it is just easier to let people do things for you.

I also fed him pizza tonight. That was for a totally different reason. If you give Cooper a piece of pizza he picks all the cheese off and doesn't want the rest. If you hold the pizza and have him take bites he eats both the cheese and the crust. Tonight he ate 3 whole pieces!!! Wow, I have never seen him eat so much real food before, and this was shortly after the yogurt. I hope he isn't growing, he is plenty big enough for a 2 year old already.

Today I had a parent training session at Kennedy Krieger. They passed out the poem "Welcome to Holland". They were one copy short so I declined, I told the group "No thanks, I know all about Holland, I've already been living there for almost five years." No one got it, they hadn't had a chance to read the poem yet. I hate being the veteran special needs mom, but that has become who I am so I may as well accept it. God knows these newbies need help! :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I was finally able to make PECS books for the boys this morning. They are awesome and I am really excited about it! Cooper is already jumping right in on his. Today he requested swinging instead of trampoline at speech therapy. He chose Froot Loops over Goldfish for snack, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse over the Wiggles to watch on TV. All this by choosing a picture! Way to go Cooper!!! I think it will be just a matter of time until he flips through his book and tells me all kinds of things.

I made Quinn a book too but it is going to take a lot more work to teach him to use it. At Loyola they think that we should stop using signs and concentrate only on the PECS. They think once he gets that he will be able to use one of the more advanced communication devices. We aren't giving up on actual speech, but we need to help him communicate now. We will have to see what our other speech therapist says tommorow. I did make him a special strip to tie to his horse so he can choose "stop" and "go", I think he will really like that (not so sure how Snowy will feel about it though).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Today was a good day. I had a meeting with Cooper's head ABA therapist and he is doing great. She said his eye contact, which was such a problem just five short months ago is no longer an issue. They had to stop recording his appropriate use of eye contact because all of his therapists complained that they couldn't keep up! Lack of eye contact...cured. Next stop...talking! She also felt that Cooper would benefit from being in the least restricted class when he turns three so he will probably be in the same class Quinn is in now. She is going to come to our IEP (or the head of the center will come) and help us convince Baltimore County to pay for at least some of our ABA therapy. She also told me that since I have started taking Cooper to the playground for a short break between schools he has stopped crying and is much calmer and happier. That means more learning time so that is great. I just have to get him to stop crying when we have to leave the playground to go to school #2, that is both stressful and embarrasing.

Quinn had horseback riding therapy today and he did great. He couldn't wait to get on the horse and when they turned him backwards he pushed up instead of just laying his head down like he usually does. He was also putting out his hands for his therapist to sign "go" with him, which means he is starting to get that the sign is important and may start doing it on his own soon. She also did this new thing where they put him off balance on the horse and he has to correct himself. Well, he was fantastic at that, he is also doing well with standing up and riding in the stirrups. We saw a little boy with DS there that we used to know a long time ago. He is a year older than Quinn and his mom told him to "Say hi to Amy". He looked right at me and said "Hi, Maimy".... sigh....Oh how I wish Quinn could do things like that. On my long ride home I thought about it and I felt the same way when this little boy was walking and Quinn wasn't. I suppose there is still hope, we just can't give up yet. He is making some progress, he has actually started to listen to me when I tell him "no", never thought that would happen! ":)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The boys had good days today. This morning, after I picked Cooper up from school we had our first "in center training" at KKI. It was good, they gave me some information and watched me play with Cooper then gave me some tips on engaging him. I thought Cooper would be upset since he had to leave class a little early and right in the middle of snacktime, but he handled it really well. He liked all the new toys in the room we went to and didn't even touch any of his favorite toys from class that Ms. Kerri brought with her.

This afternoon both boys had speech at Loyola. Quinn always gets so excited when we go there, he loves it! Cooper did a good job especially in the motor room. He is very into swings lately and I was worried he would freak out when they had to leave and go back to the therapy room. He handled that great too, he is definatly getting better at transitions. Quinn continues to make very slow but steady progress there. They are working on making choices from two pictures and while he does great when it is a highly motivating picture (like the swing) he needs work on it in general.

Tonight I ordered a few "union suits" for Quinn. He needs to be in a one piece at night so he can't get into his diaper, but he has really grown out of his onesies and footed pajamas. They don't make things like that for big boys. But thanks to the internet I have discovered something called a union suit that is one piece long underwear. You know the old fashioned kind with the flap in the back? They come in his size so we will see how it goes. I may have to sew up the back but that is easier than trying to sew a onesie from scratch. In the meantime I had to cut the feet off one of his footy pajamas tonight. I swear he has shot up 2 inches in the last week!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A note to Grandma Donna from Cooper:

Dear Grandma,

You are the best! I love spending time with you and I love that you help my mommy with stuff around the house. I especially love that you help with the laundry so I can look cute and clean when I go to school everyday. That being said, if you ever take my blanky, put it in the washer, and forget to tell Mommy where it is again I will never forgive you. That was a really scary five minutes tonight when it was time for bed and nobody could find my blanky. When Mommy finally realized what happened (thankfully it was in the dryer and actually dry), I was so happy to have my blanky back that I stopped screaming,wrapped it around myself, and went right to sleep.



Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Today I attempted to make the ultimate sacrifice for my family. I went to Home Depot and interviewed for the position of "cashier". Why would I do that? Well, apparently the only two companies in the world that have insurance that pays for Cooper's ultra expensive ABA therapy are Home Depot and Microsoft. I am thinking it may be a little tricky for me to get a job at Microsoft, Home Depot is totally doable though. So I went and interviewed and they were about to hire me, but then they mentioned that they were only hiring "temporary employees" which is code for "no benefits". So I didn't take the job. Maybe I will try again later, the manager said that in a few months they may be hiring for actual permanent jobs. Oh well, it was a good idea. I am not sure how I was going to find the time to work at Home Depot and take care of my family and myself anyway. It sure would have been nice to have that therapy paid for though.

I hope that job goes to someone who needs it to put food on their table. There were a lot of people there interviewing that looked like they needed it. It sure says something about the economy when that many people show up to interview to be a cashier at a home improvement store.

This morning I watched Cooper's class. He did good as usual. He did imitate patting his head a few times during his one-on-one time with his teacher, which is big. He also waved once during the "Hello" song but then realized what he was doing and stopped mid-wave. What is up with that? He is soooo painfully shy. He was very cuddly with all his teachers today though, I could literally see their hearts melting through the two-way mirror :) They had an outside teacher observing today and after class she came up to tell me how adorable Cooper is. She didn't say that to any of the other parents ;) My boys are both adorable, that is one gift they have been given to help them on their journey through this oh so difficult life.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cooper amazes me. He is getting so good at saying his numbers, but tonight he was playing with this teething toy which used to be like a necklace but broke so now it is just a plastic string about 12 inches long. He arranged it on the sofa so that it looked like a "6" and said very clearly, "six"! Now that is crazy smart for any 2 year old, but absolutely ridiculous for a non-verbal two year old. And it isn't just numbers, yesterday he made it back into a circle and said "O" and tonight I think he was saying/making a "D".

Quinn apparently had a great day at school today. His teacher wrote that he seemed much more alert and interactive and he actually signed "more" for them today! That is big, he has never signed anything at school before.

I had my parent training at KKI this morning on PECS. It was very interesting and I think I am going to make books for both boys. The woman giving the training said that Cooper might especially respond well to having the words printed bigger on the each picture after I told her about his interest in letters. I always thought of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) as an alternative to speech, but today I realized that it can also be a gateway to speech as well as an aide for teaching reading. So the same system could do different things for Quinn and Cooper and seems like it is worth a try. At the very least the boys will like looking at all the little pictures and playing with the velcro :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Water Park Pictures!

Quinn taking a break from swimming.

Cooper having a great time in the pool.

He is such a fish!
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Playing with the number fish Grandma Jan bought him.

Quinn just loved the hotel beds!

And the hotel television.
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Cooper cuddling with Grandpa Don.

Some wrestling.

Where's Quinn??
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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cooper was not himself today. I watched his class this morning and he was visibly tired. He kept yawning and his teacher commented to me that his eyes just looked tired. I have no idea what is going on, he must be getting sick. He survived his afternoon therapy but when he got home he fell asleep on the sofa. Of course he kept getting woken up by his brother and dog, but he kept falling back asleep. That is very unusual. He went to bed a little before 7PM without eating anything and went right to sleep, also very unusual. I don't know if he will be going to school tommorow, we will see what he is like in the morning. Poor Baby.

Quinn on the other hand is feeling much better. He ate non-stop all afternoon and night, I guess he is making up for not eating at all this weekend. He also got into all kinds of trouble so that means he is feeling like himself again. He didn't have school today because of the 2-hour delay but tommorow should be fine, then after we have horseback riding. I think it will have to be inside this week though :(

Monday, March 2, 2009

This weekend we headed out to Lancaster, PA and spent the night at the HoJo's. Why would we do that you ask? Well, this particular HoJo's has an indoor waterpark and Grandma Jan and Grandpa Don insisted we take the kids there. It was nice, like a mini (and much less expensive) Great Wolfe Lodge. It was not however 84 degrees as the sign outside promised, it was much chillier than that. Cooper didn't care one bit though. He had the time of his life splashing around the pools and going down the water slide over and over. His poor knees and feet are all scratched up now from his hours of romping around in the scratchy pool. He also really enjoyed the fact that there were numbers printed along the sides of the pool, that kid just loves his numbers. Quinn had a great time too. He seemed to like spending some alone time with Mommy and Daddy (Cooper rode with the grandparents). He loved the hotel room, he always has loved hotel rooms it's kinda wierd. He did enjoy splashing around in the pool but seemed to prefer to hang out in the hot tub, just like his mother. Matt had a good time going down the super fast waterslides, no little kids allowed on those. I survived a lovely night of constant vomiting in the equally lovely HoJo's bathroom. Seriously, it brought back fond memories of an unfortunate White Castle experience when I was pregnant with Quinn in a hotel room in Ohio. Apparently I got some of Quinn's stomach virus just in time for vacation :( We are both feeling much better now though, hopefully Cooper will be spared. Thank goodness for well timed snowdays! Pictures from our trip are on their way, just waiting for Grandpa Don to send them.