Friday, May 11, 2007

update on everything else

Also known as, "Where we're at now". Or maybe "So, what's left?"

(At left, Jacob checks on our baby Rhode Island Red chicks.)

I just posted about where we're at with the RDI program. Which is, to put it frankly, pretty far along. At least in my mind. Jacob is 6 1/2 years old and has all the social and developmental abilities of at least a typical 4 year old (with scattered skills to a much higher age, of course). Which is pretty darned good considering a typical 4 year old is a pretty socially savvy individual. And considering that at age 3, when he got his Autism diagnosis, he had social and developmental abilities ranging anywhere from a newborn (or less!) to an 18 month old (with scattered strengths well beyond that), and that didn't improve much in the 9 months that it took us to find out about and start using RDI. So, in a nutshell, he gained about 4 years worth of abilities in the past 2 1/2 years. Pretty cool! Rah rah for RDI! And Sensory Integration Therapy -- I don't want to underplay the role that SIT has played in getting us to the point where we are today.

So: what exactly does that all mean?

Well, very breifly, it means that in a group of typical 4 years old, the only way he'd be picked out as being any different is because he's much too large to be a 4 year old. Even in a group of 6 year olds he looks pretty good, but there are subtle difference in maturity and sophistication of skills that can be picked out if you look carefully enough. But you DO have look carefully to find them. And even so, nobody would ever for a minute suspect he has Autism. All, and I mean ALL of the core deficits of Autism are no longer discernable in Jacob. Poof! Gone! Just like that! Well, ok, not quite, more like, after 2 1/2 years of hard work, they've dissolved away like a pyramid of sugar cubes in the rain. But to me, in comparison to what I had come to expect/accept about Autism, it's been in the blink of an eye.

Is it a miracle? No, it's RDI. And determination. And commitment. And hard work. And a good dosage of luck -- we're lucky in that Jacob's Autism has always been pretty uncomplicated -- he apparently does not have food sensitivities or allergies, he does not have heavy metal poisonings, he did not have vaccine damage (having not been vaccinated until later in his childhood), he does not have speech or language issues beyond those directly caused by his Autism, he does not have physical disabilities. He did have some pretty severe Sensory Processing Disorder and motor planning problems, but not really beyond the scope of what you would "normally" expect with Autism. We were lucky to find a wonderful Occupational Therapist trained in Sensory Integration Therapy, so that took care of the Sensory problems, which in turn (along with RDI) has taken care of the motor planning problems. We were lucky to find RDI, and a wonderful RDI Certified Program Consultant, and an amazing internet support system where I developed some true, real-life friends. We were lucky to not have started any contrary therapies that had to be un-done when we finally started RDI. All in all, we were pretty much a textbook example of a family ready to embrace RDI fully, without reservation or second-guessing. If that's not luck, I don't know what is.

So, the real question on everyone's mind: where does that leave us now?

Well, for starters, we need to keep paying attention to those RDI objectives to make sure Jacob continues down a typical developmental path. He may or may not be able to do so on his own from this point forward -- that's yet to be determined. But I'll be diligently cheering from the sidelines and giving him a bump here and a check there to make sure he follows the right roads, ever ready to jump in and help him if he stalls out.

Next, I'll keep up with the Sensory Integration stuff too. He's very nearly to the point where he's processing the world at the same level as typical kids. VERY nearly. Not quite there. We'll keep on working to maintain the gains we've made, especially since his little brother, though by no means on the autism spectrum, is in need of SIT too. In fact, at this point, our focus is more on Zoo Boy with therapy than with Jacob.

We'll focus more and more on homeschooling goals and activities than on therapies in the coming months and years. Our RDI objectives will blend nicely into our Enki Education curriculum to support us on his educational path.

We'll keep on fighting the potty training battle. We're almost there. He's got the basic concepts and abilities, he's just got 6 1/2 years of habit to overcome. All in due time.

The "final frontier" for us to conquer is the food thing. We have a plan, and we're finally ready to deploy it. The plan is a program called the SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) program (described here), and I'll be blogging about it and our initial attempts to get Jacob over his food phobia soon.

All in all, the future is a bright place, and we're skipping towards it down the yellow brick road!


At 4:10 PM, Blogger momof3feistykids said...

Congratulations on Jacob's progress. :-)


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