It’s been a few months since my last update on Stone so I thought it would be a good time to provide a synopsis of his progress. And the good news is we continue to see progress with him.
In my last update, I talked about how Stone and Ty were both enrolled in a summer program at Baby Power Forever in Everett – working with autism specialist Becky Blake. In a very short period of time Becky helped Stone with some key developmental steps, including potty training and the beginning of short sentences. Stone has continued to make great strides in both of these areas. Whereas initially “potty trained” meant he could sit on a toilet and simply go potty or poop, he needed quite of bit of assistance with toilet paper, pulling up his pants, etc. But he is now very independent now in this area – just tonight I happily discovered that on his own he went poop in the toilet, used an appropriate amount of toilet paper (when we first taught him how to wipe himself he occasionally got over zealous and clogged a few of our toilets with almost-full rolls of toilet paper) and put his underwear back on – all without asking for help or letting us know.
Stone is also making slow but steady progress with his speech. He has moved from single syllable words (or sounds) only and now uses two syllable words and will try multi-syllable words as well. He’s also incorporating new sounds and pronunciation into his speech. Within the last few weeks he has started using “S” in his speech – Renee and I both think he sounds super cute when he asks for cheese. (“I want cheessse” he’ll say, with a heavy emphasis on the S). Unfortunately, cheese is one of the food items we don’t let him eat because of the dairy and casein in it – and he hasn’t taken a liking to any of the almond or soy based cheeses we’ve tried to use as an alternative.
As was the case last school year, Stone is in extended care preschool so he receives an extra 2.5 hours of specialized education through Alderwood Early Education Center on Mondays and Tuesday. After lunch, he then has another 2.5 hours of preschool in the afternoons Monday through Thursday. On Wednesdays and Thursdays Stone and Ty visit Becky and Baby Power Forever for specialized classes for 2 hours. While they both enjoy school in general, they LOVE the days they get to see Becky. Fridays are then reserved for continued ABA/Occupational Therapy (one hour a week) as well as speech therapy (which began for Stone last Spring). So as you can see, both Stone and Ty have very full schedules during the week.
The beginning of the new school year was a bit of a challenge for Stone as the new schedule/routine threw him off his game for awhile. We saw a lot more tantrums during the first few weeks (Stone has actually never been much of a tantrum thrower but they suddenly sprouted during this time). Even more frustrating and challenging for us was the return of his middle-of-the-night wake-ups. Since early September there have been many (usually 1-2 per week) nights when Stone has woken up between 1:30-3 am and then been unable to fall back asleep. This of course means that one of us has to be awake with him during this time and it has proven to be very disruptive in our sleep patterns. It seems to be tapering off though these past two weeks so hopefully the worst is over. He does seem to be getting more comfortable with his routine and the tantrums have definitely subsided – so that’s good.
Another encouraging sign with Stone has been his growing interest in playing with toys and blocks again. He is also doing more imitation play – which is a great step in development. He has a few Little Einstein dolls we bought for him last Summer in Oregon and like to have them pretend to board a toy school bus. He is also playing with a toy Rocket (also associated with Little Einsteins). And today Hany told us that when she brought the twins to an indoor playground that included an inflatable bouncing room, Stone was very active in it and also engaged with other children – hugging and tackling them while bouncing around. He is clearly becoming more and more comfortable with other children and the fact that he’s beginning to interact and engage with them more is a very positive sign.
Probably the biggest challenge with Stone (besides the obvious ongoing areas of communication, etc) is his diet. He continues to be a very picky eater and it is hard to create meals that are consistent with our goal of keeping his food gluten, dairy, wheat and casein free. He is usually very unwilling to try new foods so it’s been hard introducing new food to him. And as I’ve mentioned in the past, we also have a number of supplements to help him with his vitamin deficiencies as well as internal digestive/intestinal issues. In the past we have had mixed success using juice, cream cheese, jam or anything else we could think of as delivery vehicles for the various vitamins, amino acids, probiotics, etc. But as Stone has gotten older he of course is getting wiser so he typically smells or checks out any food/drink we offer because he is (rightfully) suspicious if the food is really just food – or if it contains something else that may change the taste/texture. But we know it is very important for him to continue to receive these supplements so we will continue to be creative and find new ways to get them to him consistently.
So overall we continue to remain very positive about Stone and his progress and are confident that in time he will continue his development to the point where speech communication will not be an issue. We’re seeing so much progress in all other areas of development that it makes us both extremely proud and happy for Stone – because we can tell when he is less frustrated and when he also sees and feels the progress.
Again, we greatly appreciate the ongoing love and support provided by so many in our lives. The interest in Stone and his progress is so helpful and it really helps – especially when we do run into the occasional bad day(s) or night(s). So thank you – and I will continue to provide updates on his progress in the months ahead.