Monday, June 25, 2012

Bennett: 7 Weeks

With your neck getting stronger, we thought we would try out the bumbo for the first time this week! So far, you aren't super impressed...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Family Reunion 2012: Grapevine, TX

Our family holds a reunion on Father's Day weekend every other year. At our last reunion in Austin, I volunteered to be the next reunion's president and we voted on having it in Grapevine, TX. I found an awesome deal at Hyatt Place for $99/night plus a free conference room all weekend. The rooms were huge, the staff was fantastic, and the free breakfast was yummy!

The kids had lots of fun in the swimming pool.

My Aunt Linda didn't get to see her grandkids for Easter, so brought the egg hunt to the reunion. She brought a trash bag full of 600 plastic eggs containing quarters and candy.
The kids had fun and made out like bandits!! (Notice the boys new haircuts...Carson brought home a present from his summer camp: LICE, forcing us to shave their adorable heads!)

To raise money for the following reunions our family brings items for an auction. Tickets are sold for $1 each and are placed into cups, where winners are drawn.
I was too busy selling tickets to notice which items Carson was trying to win and was surprised when his number was called for this:
Carson thought we could serve dinner on it...

Speaking of food, our hotel was across the street from an outlet mall and the boys favorite place, Rainforest Cafe!
They even had someone going around making balloon animals.
Saturday evening we drove over to Great Wolf Lodge for a magical evening! The hotel sells magic wands that you use for a scavenger hunt. You wave the wand in front of objects throughout the hotel that send you on a mission.

The hotel was pretty packed and was on multiple floors. Deacon and I rode the elevator up and down with everyone a few times, but decided it was easier to stay on one of the less crowded levels.
After everyone was worn out we headed back to the hotel to relax. The next morning it was time to go home. I wish we would have had more time in Grapevine; the town was really nice with so much stuff to do. We definitely plan to go back sometime in the future to do more exploring!

Next reunion: San Marcos, TX. Guess who volunteered to be president again!?!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bennett: 6 Weeks

This week you learned how to smile!!! Dada was the first to see it, even though we have been spending time every day didn't take long before you showed me too, but I'm thinking this means you should say "Mama" first to make it fair. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Autism Report: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I met with Deacon's autism doctors, who recently tested and diagnosed him, to go over their report. They were very nice and wanted to make sure I didn't have any more questions. They skirted around the issue when I asked what end of the spectrum he was on, saying that they didn't like to put a label on it because children with mild autism needed intervention the same way those with severe autism did and didn't want to send a mixed message to parents.

They handed me the 15 page report. I asked if I could stay in the room to read it, since my wonderful neighbor was watching the boys and I wouldn't have any interruptions. I obviously am not going to type all fifteen pages on here, but at least want to sum it up.

The Good:
Social Interactions- Deacon has improved eye contact, will play in the vicinity of other children, will initiate physical play with family, and displays appropriate range of facial expressions.
"When the examiner entered the room, Deacon didn't acknowledge her, but eventually approached her to touch her id badge and play with her hair. He transitioned to the examination room with minimal prompting."

"Deacon remained seated during the entire test without problem. He seemed to enjoy watching the toy car roll across the table and occasionally pushed it back towards the examiner."

"Deacon enjoyed participating in activities such as peek-a-boo, free play, and being lifted and tickled by his mother."

Communication- Deacon appears to understand some simple and/or gestured commands, like clapping and waving.
"Deacon reacted to loud noises, but his response was somewhat delayed. He also turned and coordinated listening with sound."

Repetitive and Stereotyped Behaviors- Deacon does not show a need for routines or upset with transitions.

The Bad:
Social Interactions- Deacon does not engage in parallel or initiate play with other children, doesn't initiate spontaneous joint attention (which means looking at an object that someone else is looking at or pointing to), doesn't respond to his name and is hard to get his attention, and doesn't engage in pretend play.
"Deacon appeared to be less engaged during tasks that required interacting with the examiner or engaging in pretend play."

"It was difficult to catch Deacon's gaze during the assessment and he rarely directed his gaze towards the examiners face."

"Deacon did not respond to his mother's attempts to make him smile until she physically touched him."

Communication- Deacon shows delays with receptive language, does not show, point, give, or bring items to others.
"Deacon did not appear to recognize his name, familiar words, or inhibitory words. His expressive communication consisted primarily of vocalizations. He made few vocalizations that were mainly vowel sounds, without any consonant reduplications. He did not point or gesture to indicate preference and it was difficult to catch and maintain his gaze."

Repetitive and Stereotyped Behaviors- Deacon shows an intense interest in musical toys, engages in repetitive behavior of dropping items on the ground, tapping surfaces with his hands, flaps hands when excited, mouthing objects, eating non-food items (dirt and paper), and visual inspection of toys.
"Deacon was observed to engage in self-stimulatory behavior with a water bottle (eg. mouthed, bit, and rubbed on his face and feet). Deacon approached his mother, showing sensory interest in her feet and sandals. He was also observed to repeatedly jump while flapping his hands coordinated with high pitched vocalizations."

"Deacon dropped the majority of items on the floor in a repetitive manner. He was not able to grip a pencil or crayon and attempted to eat the paper. Deacon licked multiple test kit materials throughout the evaluation."

The Ugly:
Because it was so hard to administer tests on him due to his deficit in communication and vision and difficulty engaging, his scores came back horrible.

Visual Reception- 6 months. He was able to coordinate problem-solving and fine motor skills to look for a hidden object and retrieve a distal object by pulling a string to bring it closer. He did not show interest in a book or attend to pictures. Also, he was not observed to look for an object hidden and then displaced.

Fine Motor- 10 months. Deacon used appropriate pincer grasp and two hands together to manipulate objects. He was also able to take blocks out of and place them into a container. He did not bang objects together, place pennies into a slot, or imitate simple lines drawn.

Receptive Language- 3 months. He showed the ability to attend to his environment, including listening and turning, responding to faces and voices through vocalization, and coordinated listening with looking. He was not observed to enjoy a reflection of himself in a mirror, recognize familiar words or names, or attend to words and movement.

Expressive Language- 5 months. Deacon laughed, made vocalizations, and played with sounds. He was not observed to babble, or produce three consonant sounds.

Autism Spectrum- The ADOS test results indicate patterns of:
1)Moderate to Severe Concern
2)Mild to Moderate Concern
3)Little to No Concern

Deacon's score was consistent with a classification range of Moderate to Severe Concern. :(

The report also gave suggestions of things to work on at home, and goals for teachers, therapists, and even IEP goals for when he enters school. It also again suggested ABA therapy, but more, 25-40 hours each week. We have worked out the insurance information, and will have to pay a $30/day co-pay. What's hard is that Deacon still needs naps each day, so it's not like he can have an 8 hour day of therapy. I think we will start with 3 days a week of like 6 hours a day, but we meet with the clinic on the 25th and will decide then.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bennett: 5 Weeks

This week it felt like you doubled in size! Your legs, belly and face have filled out making you look less like a newborn and more like a baby.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Summer Camp

Carson went to his first overnight camp, at age 6! Our church takes 1st-4th graders to Carolina Creek Christian Camp for four nights to have fun and learn about God. He has always been Mr. Independent so we weren't too worried about him getting homesick, especially because he will go stay with my parents for a week at a time.
He left on Monday, and this was also the first time for me to take all three boys out by myself. Deacon and Bennett were on their best behavior.
We even got to wait with the other parents to wave Carson off on the bus.

The church had boxes set up to put mail in, which ensured he was able to get a letter each day without having to worry about postage.
They told us in advance that they would have the boxes set up, so I was able to create his mail beforehand. Because he is only going into 1st grade, reading a long letter wouldn't have meant as much to him, so instead I sent photos with short messages on them. He told me afterwards that the pictures are what kept him from being homesick:

The best part of camp (well, at least in my opinion) is that the church created a facebook page and updated it constantly with pictures from each day, so we were able to see him having fun before he returned. And I was able to have more pictures to add to the blog!

Another great feature were their amazing cabins:

Carson's group stayed in the zebra cabin. They even had a chant:

"Zebra, zebra, black and white, we think Jesus is dynamite!"
They had theme nights, one of them being Western Night.
With hayrides
pony rides
and a petting zoo.
There was a HUGE playground, named The Jungle.
Putt-putt golf
They played sports in the gym.
He also spent his time shooting bb-guns and archery, and rode a boat.
They had worship each night where they sang and danced.
He loved his counselors, Garrett and Big C, and even won an award for Most Enthusiastic!

Carson's favorite part was the waterpark!

Carson says he definitely wants to go back next year and said he wishes he could go to church every day! Success!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bennett: 1 Month

Bennett- You are one month old!!

You weigh about 11 lbs., wear 0-3 month clothes and size 1 diapers.

This month's first: bath, trip to the zoo and Grapeland

You love to eat! You would be happy if the bottle was attached to your lips at all times, but are happy to drink about 6 oz. at a feeding every 3-4 hours.

I don't know how it is possible, but you look even more like your dad than your brothers!

You are still waking up about 3 times a night to eat, and then a few other times when your pacifier falls out. Because you spit up when we lay you down flat, you are sleeping in your car seat in our room at night. During the day you sleep mostly in your swing.

You love snuggling, your pacifier, taking baths, and sleeping.

Your coordination is improving; you can hold your head up and maintain eye contact for longer periods of time.

You have been such a fun addition to our family! I had already forgotten how nice it is to hold a baby and how sweet you smell. You are easy-going and have made the transition from two to three kids much smoother than I imagined.