Our journey through autism

Archive for March, 2013

Progress to date

Alhamdullah Bilal continues to make progress with all his therapies and classes. I’ve heard it more than once from his therapists that he’s their little success story. Quick update list below.

Speech: His private speech therapist is considering depending on his annual re-evaluation in June to discharge him. His myofunctional therapist is almost done with articulation and will soon move on to improving chewing and swallowing. I’m looking forward to that as he’s a messy eater, looks like he’s a famished caveman devouring his food, he tends to over-stuff and gag. Strangers understand him now clearly and he’s able to ask and answer questions. He can read some words, and spell and he’s great with math and numbers and patterns.

OT: His private OT therapist is considering depending on his annual re-evaluation in September to discharge him.

PT: In January he had his annual evaluation where he met all his goals except those concerning throwing/catching a ball and upper body strength. It’s mainly for fine tuning and a lot of the time she works him like an athlete getting specified exercise. He’s doing so well that his therapist is considering using Bilal’s progress in their case studies and she’s asked me to write a summary to be placed on the center’s website for other parents to read about.

Piano lessons: He’s down to only 1 color sticker on the piano, he knows his finger placement and his notes to date and he’s just a little music genius when he’s in the mood and not acting all silly. His teacher is saying he’ll be ready for the spring recital in June. Cant wait, he’ll do 2 solos and 1 duet with her.

Swimming: Bilal’s taking typical swim lessons at the YMCA and he’s completed the first class (PIKE 1) and just started PIKE 2, this class has a total of 4 kids and so far he’s the weakest swimmer but he can repeat it again if needed, overall he’s doing well.

Horseback riding: He’s riding solo, steering the horse by the reigns, going through the obstacle course all the while trotting and posting, he looks like a little cowboy.

Socially: The other day we were at McDonald’s and at the table behind us a group of boys maybe 7 years old were playing with their wind-up toys and Bilal was watching them the whole time while he ate with a smile on his face, one of their toys fell below our table and Bilal gave it back saying “here you go” and when the boy took it and said “Thank you” Bilal got this huge smile on his face it was adorable, we urged him to go play with them, so he went up “Can I play with you?” thankfully they said yeah and he tagged around with them the whole time, not really with them as they were already friends and older but they still included him. He didn’t look weird only shy like any typical kid.  He’s playing really well with his younger brother, sharing, taking turns, asking and answering questions, fighting, again all typical. Another thing, we’re currently potty training his little brother and doing the whole sticker chart every time he goes in the potty so the first day we were of course making a big deal, cheering, stickers, high fives etc and Bilal was getting jealous as expected wanting a sticker when he went to the bathroom too. I sat him down and explained to him that he was feeling jealous but that he shouldn’t because he’s a big boy been using the potty for 3 years now and when he was learning he got stickers and toys, and a fancy potty chair and he learnt and did a good job but now it’s his brother’s turn. Just needed to say it once after that every time his brother used the potty he would cheer along with us and run and get the sticker chart for his brother looking truly and sincerely happy for him.

Other: due to his speech delays we concentrated only on English therapy and speaking it around the house. Now we’ve added more Arabic and he’s picking it up slowly a few words, not too badly pronounced and soon inshaAllah we want to include him in a Sunday program to learn more Arabic and Quran and have more Arab or Muslim peer interactions and maybe friends. They also do a little of Spanish at school which he enjoys and picking it up well.

I cant say it enough alhamdullah (Thank God) he’s doing amazing and I also cant help I get all teary when I think about it, so proud of him.

IEP Transitional Placement Meeting

Last week we had Bilal’s IEP transitional meeting for kindergarten placement. We also went over his goals and updated goals required for the remaining of the school year and the beginning of the next school year till his 6th birthday. It all went really smoothly and alhamdullah I’m glad by the attention and dedication his team have for Bilal’s continued progress. Ms. Norton the special ed instructor from Manning Oaks was invited to attend and she continued to take down a lot of notes and better explain the system at her school. It was agreed that he attend typical kindergarten with speech, OT and 2.5 periods a day of special instruction mainly for writing and any other instruction he would need. His OT has been reduced from an hour a week to half an hour a week. He’s got scissor cutting and pencil grip learnt but just needs to improve his arm alignment while holding the pencil to press harder and be able to actually write instead of draw his letters, smaller and neater writing. His only remaining special goals are the use of a “fidget toy” something to keep his fingers occupied so he can pay attention better, and a little one-on-one talk with a teacher to learn that he doesn’t need to be a perfectionist and speed his work. His speech goals are mainly to improve articulation and grammar structure and be able to use more adjectives.

We did it! 2 years of special education and therapy have prepared him to attend a typical kindergarten with typical peers, he’ll have a normal day at school with reading, writing, math, science, social studies, art, music and PE. He’ll ride the typical bus to and from school. He’ll move from a class of 9 students (7 boys, 2 girls) to a class of a maximum of 22 students with a more equal mix of boys and girls

Towards the end of the month local schools have Kindergarten Tours, where parents and little kids can tour the school, have a snack at the cafeteria and take a ride in a school bus, parents take home the registration package and have any questions answered. Then the week before school starts (August) they have orientation again to tour or ask questions and by then their homeroom classes and buses would have been assigned and we’d get our school supply lists. I’m super excited and optimistic that Bilal will do just fine and hopefully make a friend or two inshaAllah.

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