Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Brother Sam and Autism

My youngest brother has Autism. He's 14 now, very "high-functioning", and wanting his driver's permit, heaven help us all! Since he's 14 years younger than me, I remember well the stages he went through as we realized something was wrong and the journey we went on to figure out how to help him.

Sam seemed like a normal baby. He was quiet and a good baby. He was cuddly and very cute! As he turned one, he started babbling and even said a few words. But as he neared 18 months and still had very few words, my parents started asking his pediatrician questions. Sam did not make eye contact. He "held onto" toys but didn't really play with them, and his favorite objects were electronics-he had his own personal fan and hair dryer. As he turned two, he stopped saying the words he used to. He pulled inside himself and we became objects there to serve him. If he needed us, he'd grab our hands and pull us to whatever he wanted, but he didn't communicate with us. My Mom says as she looked back, she realized key components, like joint attention, that were always missing.

There are many theories to Autism. I believe most of them! My parents feel that Sam was probably Autistic from birth. I feel very strongly that it's in my gene pool and that it's not a coincidence that it was the child that was born when they were both in their forties that is the one with Autism. We have friends that firmly believe their child was normal before his serious illness. Other friends believe their child was normal until their two year immunizations. Ultimately, I believe as a sibling and a speech therapist that the sensory systems in Autistic children overload more easily than other people's. Sights, sounds, sensations, pressure, temperature, smell, touch, tastes can affect them in a more potent way. They overload with that stimuli and withdraw.

Sam withdrew when he was two and we didn't hear another intelligible word out of him until he was four. In the meantime, he was first diagnosed with PDD-NOS, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not otherwise Specified. It's under the umbrella of Autism and sort of a "lesser" diagnosis. The children who are diagnosed with this fit some of the qualifications but not all. Autism is diagnosed by watching patterns in specific areas of development. Specifically, speech and social language development and behavior are affected.

Around this time, a job opened up in Utah, and my family left Arkansas to go to Orem. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Sam. In Utah and Salt Lake Valleys, we found a wealth of resources for Autism. Sam's diagnosis was reclassified as Autistic Disorder. He went to a special inclusive preschool run by the state. He continued on to an inclusive Autistic kindergarten. During these years, Sam's language continually progressed. He received intensive home therapy in addition to school. We began by communicating through dots. Dots covered the house. If he wanted a movie, he touched the dot on the case. If he wanted milk, he touched the dot on the jug of milk. He progressed to using pictures to show what he wanted to and for us to help him understand what was expected of him. In addition, his teachers and my Mother worked with him in sign language. There was a classic time as words started to emerge after the pictures and signs where Sam had ice cream for breakfast for a week. My Mom couldn't deny him when he used verbal language! He learned to read through his old friends, electronics and his first reading words were play, stop and record! :)

Sam has continued to progress through the immense patience of my parents, the talents of his teachers and therapists and the blessings of our Heavenly Father. He has been fully mainstreamed except for additional resource classes since the second grade and now he receives no resource classes and is in honors classes! He was baptized when he was eight, holds the priesthood, and I believe he has a testimony. There are things he struggles with daily that I'm not sure we'll ever understand.

He went through a very difficult phase two years ago where he couldn't stand hearing music in the house. It was very overstimulating to him. Music is my mother's life so this was equally difficult for her to stop humming, turn off her music, and try to help him. Luckily, this has passed for the most part. When all of us kids and our families are at home, he often has to retreat to pacing outside to escape the noise. He has some irrational fears and pragmatic and figurative language will probably always be difficult for him to understand. However, he has taught our family so much and it is amazing the resources available to help treat and live with Autism.

I am no expert on Autism, but Sam has taught me most of what I know about it and I use that knowledge almost every day that I work.

Other Resources:
Autism Society of America
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - It has some language, but if you can handle it, it was like opening a door into my brother's mind!
The Out of Sync Child is another good book on sensory difficulties

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Dateline with J.K. Rowling

Did anyone get to see Sunday's Dateline with J.K. Rowling? I already felt totally satisified with the book, but seeing the show made me feel even more of a sense of finality. I'll write more in a comment so as not to spoil anything for anyone still reading.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ask the expert

I was thinking the other day about some posts we've had in the past in which people have shared something that they have knowledge about that we've been able to learn from. For example, Katie's post on Cystic Fibrosis or my sister-in-law's post on Digital Scrapbooking. If there is a topic that you are an expert on or even somewhat of an expert, I hope that in the future you will think about sharing a post about it so we can learn and even ask questions. The same thing would be cool if you know someone who could give a guest post that you could post for them. (For example when I posted info. that my sister-in-law created about Digital Scrapbooking). Please don't be shy and please don't think that by sharing your expertise that it is boastful or something crazy like that. Your contributions would add some more "spice" to S&S. And by the way, it doesn't necessarily need to be a topic that would be applicable to our daily lives, it could be just something cool to read about. Think about it!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Shine ya' shoes gov'na

HP readers:

Did you read HP7 with a British accent?

Random, I know.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wednesday Weekly

What hobby have you always wanted to pick up?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Burn out

How do you guys deal with being burned out? I have found myself recently in a slump and am having trouble finding a way to get out of it. Sadly I have a time limit to figure it out; only one month left until my hubby enters busy season and won’t be around as much. Have any of you ever felt burnt out? How did you replenish your reserves?

What should my 8 mo. old be eating

I'm wondering what kinds of foods you've given your kids at 8 months old. I have a book of baby recipes and it says that I can give him bread or bites of mild cheeses, even yogurt. Can I give him yogurt already? He only has two teeth, bottom center. Won't he choke on bread or things like that? Will he automatically know how to chew or at least gum the food?

Monday, July 23, 2007

I'm such a dork!

Today is one of those days where I am dilligently working my way through my to-do list. However, it seems like I'm not getting very many things crossed off, for how much work I've done! I keep getting busy doing other (also important) things, that aren't on the list! So what do I do? I write them down anyway, just so I can cross them off! I know, I know, I'm a dork. It's not even like I'm married to the kind of guy I feel like I have to report to at the end of the day. It's totally for myself. Somehow, it just makes me feel better to look at a long list of things I've accomplished at the end of the day. Anyone else do this, or am I alone here? :)

Egg Whites

I know egg whites are supposed to be one of those foods you have your baby avoid til they are a year old or so. But like the milk question, I've been wondering lately just how careful I need to be. I wasn't planning on cooking a whole egg for my almost ten month old. However, do I need to avoid feeding her things like pancakes too, because they have egg in them? On the one hand, I'm not too worried because food allergies don't really fun in our families. However, I don't want to push her with foods either. If it's a big deal, I don't mind waiting. Just wondering how careful other moms are with this kind of thing!

Meet back here...

...when you've finished Book 7!!!!!

I don't know about you, but my husband's next in line to read it so I have to keep mum about the amazing journey I just went on with Harry Potter and I want to talk about it!!!! So don't read the comments if you don't want spoilers, but share if you do!!!!

Baby Registry

I'd like to get your thoughts on what to register for when you are a first-time mom. In your opinion, what are "must-haves" on a registry? What could you have done without on your registry? I want to help a friend out with her registry and I don't want to put just my opinions on her because I'm still a relatively inexperienced mom and I'm interested in what works for other people.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Harry Mania!

Okay, it's currently 10:42 pm. I just finished the talk I have to give on Sunday, so that I can totally focus on Harry Potter all day tomorrow guilt-free. I have two choices: I can go to bed like a sane person and buy the book at a decent hour (ie: during daylight), or I can go to Walmart, buy the book at midnight, and get a good six hours of uninterrupted reading in before my kids wake up and I have to start bargaining with my husband to watch them, even though he has real work that he has to get done before Monday. Considering I'm writing this post instead of going to bed, I think it can safely be assumed which way I'm currently leaning. It's official! I've lost my mind! :)

a Rock and a Hard Place!

I have a dilemma that I would love to hear any advice on how to handle it! I'm going to try and be cryptic so I don't air dirty laundry though so bear with me!

Someone close to me used me as a reference for a job. However, they did not tell me until they had already applied. Now, I'm scared to death that the employer will call me since my name is at the top of the reference list. Here's the problem. I love this person, but I don't feel they're any way qualified for this job and in addition, they are currently making lifestyle choices that I feel are in direct conflict with doing a good job in this capacity. I'm not sure if I should confront the person and tell her my misgivings or just wait and see if the employer calls me. I won't lie for this person but I also worry about burning bridges if I either have to give a negative referral or confront this person.

If this is too vague, I'll add more details in the comments, but any suggestions???

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vacuum cleaners

Anyone have a vacuum cleaner you love, that you would recommend? Ours died the other day. It was never great to begin with, but now it is definitely out of commission. It stinks because you can't really go without a vacuum for more than a couple days, so I need to buy one now without having a chance to save or anything. So, we don't have the money to get a really nice one, but at the same time I don't want to get a cheap one that doesn't work good again! I helped a lady from our ward clean her house last week. She had a vacuum cleaner that practically propelled itself, had great suction, AND had a retractable cord (which I fell in love with.) But I don't think they make that one anymore. Anyway, sorry for the boring post, but it'll really help me to hear your input!

Wednesday Weekly

If you could be a member of any TV-sitcom family, which would it be?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Restraint when shopping continued...

I felt very inspired by the last post on being careful not to overspend at the store. I especially liked the "use it up.." quote. However, I need further inspiration/advice. How do you resist great bargains? My downfall has always been, "It was a great deal!" But as my husband so gently points out, it doesn't matter if it's a great deal when you find them every day! I really do pride myself on finding good bargains though, and I get thrills from it! Just today, I went shopping at the outlet mall and stocked up on a summer wardrobe for next year for my little one. I got lots of ADORABLE clothes for $2.99, 3.99, etc. from stores like Baby GAP and Children's Place. I consider it smart, since I am paying way less than I would if I waited until next year. But at the same time, we really don't have a lot of extra money right now. So I don't know if clothes for NEXT year count as a necessity! What do you think? Any of you have the same problem with getting an adrenaline rush from bargain shopping???!!!

Scented candles

I just bought some fresh ripe nectarines. They are delicious. I love the smell of them!! If I could I would love to have a nectarine scented candle. I would probably use it all the time, except for Christmas. I have a cinnamon and something scented candle that, to me, fits the season perfectly. Do any of you use scented candles much, what are your favorite scents?

Monday, July 16, 2007

I need some inspiration...

When I tally my expenses each month, I'm always disappointed at the combined amount of money that I spend at the grocery store, Target, and Wal-mart. I don't like how much I'm spending yet when I'm shopping, everything I buy seems essential. I try to make good choices, write a list, etc. yet I still seem to be spending too much. I need help! What strategies do you use to control your spending when you shop at these types of places??

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cup or sippy cup?

I'm just full of questions today.

So I was reading in "What to Expect the first year" about weaning your child from a bottle at 12 months (or so) and that the next step is the cup. Does that mean sippy cup or regular cup or is it just personal preference? Do you use regular cups when you are in the comforts of your own home and sippy cups when you're on the go?

I'm such a newbie mom.

Upholstery cleaner

What a boring blog post title.

Can anyone recommend an upholstery cleaner and a place to get it? My hubby and I looked at Lowe's and Target tonight with no success. I have a spot on my couch that needs some extra help to get it out.


I'm just curious, does anyone know why it's okay for my 10-month-old dairy princess to chow on yogurt and cheese but not drink whole milk until 12 months? I'm confused by that (but it hasn't stopped me from giving her yog and cheese).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Nutrition on Demand

My visiting teacher has a website about nutrition that I wanted to share with you. It's NutritionOnDemand.com

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wednesday Weekly

What kind of radio station do you usually listen to?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Moving Craziness

Okay, so after two weeks of waffling, my husband and I finally decided to move closer to the university, where he'll be taking pre-reqs for dental school at night while working full-time all day. Now the fun of packing begins...ugh. What are your favorite tips/hints, or what is your best (or worst) moving story? The more horrendous the better--misery loves company! :)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Separation Anxiety?

Okay, so I know she's almost 18 months and that age screams separation anxiety! But has anyone dealt with "anti- Daddy" anxiety???? When I'm working, she's fine with him. But if I'm home, I'm the ONLY one who can feed, change, hold, talk to, or help her. It gets old really quickly. I've heard of the opposite, where Daddy is a novelty when he's around because he's usually at work, but she SCREAMS if he tries to help out lately. Any suggestions???????

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Crawling and Baby Proofing

My 5-month-old just shot himself backwards across the room. I'm pretty sure he'll be crawling by the end of the month. My baby sitter told me that she had to pull his legs out from under the couch three times today.

What do I need to do now to baby-proof??? I know I should probably get some outlet covers, and I should probably vacuum more often...any advice? Do I need to start keeping bathroom doors shut? Should I worry about the growing rug burns on his face because he keeps biffing it? Should I make him wear pants so his knees don't get all roughed up?

Security objects

My daughter is nine months old, and is starting to show more interest in stuffed animals and other cuddly objects. She'll get excited when she sees one, squeeze it, lay on it, etc. Then, the other day I went to lay her down for her nap and she grabbed a burp cloth out of my hands and held onto it for dear life. She fell asleep cuddling it! I know I've read and heard that they often grow attached to a certain blankie or stuffed animal, and it becomes their "security item." Do I encourage her to get attached to a certain item, or just let it happen naturally? It sounds like a stupid question that I could probably answer myself-if it happens, then just let it happen, right? It just seems like I could find something cuter for her to cuddle with than a burp cloth! But on the flip side, I've seen the disaster that occurs when a child can't find "Bobo the Bear," and refuses to sleep without him! Anyway, I just wondered what you have seen with your kids. Have they grown attached to certain items, and if so, how old were they?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Wednesday Weekly

Write a Haiku poem about America.

(5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables)

Monday, July 2, 2007

"I am a Mother"

Just wanted to give a shout out for a great book I am almost done reading. It's called "I am a Mother," by Jane Clayson Johnson. She is LDS, and used to be a co-host on the Early Show. Once I read that, I vaguely remembered her. Anyway, it's full of good quotes and just makes you feel special general about being a Mom. Jane ended up giving up her high profile career when she had her first baby. I was worried that it was going to make me feel guilty, because I still have to work a couple nights a week, in our current situation. I HATE hearing/reading things in the church that make me feel guilty or like I'm choosing a career over my baby. Anyway, this book isn't like that. Her purpose in writing it is a plea for women to not say, "I'm JUST a mom," when asked what they do. One of the arguments I really liked talked about how people get praise and respect for growing up to be doctors, lawyers, CEO's etc, but what about the women who raised them and shaped them to be these great things? Anyway, the book is full of great quotes, and just makes you feel good in general. I am borrowing my mother in law's copy, but I like it enough that I think I am going to order one for myself. Just thought I would share!

Organizing baby clothes

My son has grown out of many of his clothes. Right now I just have them folded and stuffed into card board boxes. My plan is to get plastic tubs to keep everything in. I'm just not sure how to go about organizing all of the clothes. Should I have one box for newborn then 0-3, 3-6, 6-9 and so on? If I do that will I end up with 3 mo., 6 mo., etc, clothing in two boxes because if I have a 0-3 and 3-6 where do I put the exact 3 month clothing? I'm probably making this harder than it needs to be. How have you all stored baby clothes?