Wednesday marks the first day of school for the twins and its hard to believe they’re heading into 2nd grade already and the summer of 2013 has officially drawn to a close. It was a great summer for all of us – we were again blessed by amazing weather that allowed for lots of swimming and outdoor time. We also had successful trips to North Dakota (which I still need to recap) for the 4th of July as well as our annual family vacation in Coos Bay – from which we returned with a truly unforgettable souvenir…a new car! (again, more on this later).
Heading into the summer one of our biggest concerns was finding a program or camp for Stone that would allow him to continue the progress we witnessed last year in school. We were fortunate in locating a program through Lakeside Center for Autism in Issaquah that was created specifically to help kids continue to work on their IEP (Individualized Education Programs). The program was called TAG – or Together Achieving Goals – and ran Monday through Thursday from 8:30 am through 12:30 pm. This posed a bit of a logistics challenge for us as Ty was enrolled in Edmonds summer camp (which ran from 9:30-3:30 daily).
We actually had to get the boys up earlier than during the school year (at 7 am) to make sure they had time to eat breakfast and get dressed and be out the door by 7:45 am. Our Au Pair logged a lot of mileage during the summer (and we paid quite the hefty gas bill) as she had to drive to Issaquah to drop of Stone, back to Edmonds to drop of Ty and then back to Issaquah to pick up Stone and then back to Edmonds to pick up Ty. Other than the cost, it all worked out fine as Ty loved his summer camp and Stone did well in his program too. One element I really liked was each Thursday was a special field trip day. A couple of times they took the kids to a local restaurant and had them order and pay for their food on their own (we provided the money). Another field trip involved a visit to a local dog kennel – where they got to see dogs perform tricks.
We added one new supplement to Stone’s protocol this summer – and we’re fairly convince it has had a very positive impact on him. In July I attended a TACA (Talk About Curing Autism) meeting that featured a presentation from a local Naturopath who spoke about ASEA. In many ways it was the typical case of something sounding too good to be true. Like most parents of kids on the spectrum, I’ve grown to be somewhat skeptical of hearing stories about certain supplements or treatments and their impact on kids with Autism. But the science behind ASEA sounded very solid so I was intrigued. But it wasn’t until I heard a testimonial from another parent (the local TACA leader) who talked about changes she saw with her son after using ASEA that I was convinced this was something we needed to try with Stone.
Within two weeks of starting to give Stone ASEA, we (Renee, our Au Pair and I) started noticing Stone’s vocabulary changing. We were hearing him saying words we hadn’t heard him say before – and trying many others. More importantly, before he seemed to be somewhat stuck on only single words or syllables at the end of the school year. He was now saying 2 words/syllables – and was surprising us with 3 words/syllable occasionally. We deliberately didn’t say anything to his therapists at Lakeside because we wanted to see if they would say/notice anything. Sure enough, the reports from his speech and OT therapists were consistently positive “our best session yet” was a common report we received.
What’s interesting about ASEA is that it can have many potential uses and applications for different people. It was suggested it might also help with sore backs or muscles – or really any part of the body that could use assistance in healing faster. In mid-July I aggravated my achilles during a run – and it bothered me to the point that I was limping noticeably at times. I sprayed some ASEA on my achilles and it immediately started feeling better. I didn’t continue to spray it and the pain returned. So I again applied it after a run and the next day I was out for a run and the pain was literally gone. I honestly couldn’t figure out why/how the achilles could feel so good when it hurt so bad the previous day and wondered if time in a swimming pool helped. But then I remembered I had sprayed ASEA on it (and continued that week). I have no idea what – or how – it might have helped. And it could have been a coincidence. But there was a profound difference (and my achilles continues to feel good today).
But back to Stone and his progress. His speech has continued to develop throughout August and we have also seen his confidence (and excitement) increase. Most recently he has been reciting lines from his favorite Little Einstein episodes. He likes to recite the lines and have us repeat (or sing) them back to him. His current favorite is “Lets ride the ice cream train…and chug, chug, chug with Mr. Penguin!” He will say each word and then beams with the biggest smile when we sing it back to him. There have been other phrases he’s been practicing a lot too – I think he is focusing on phrases or songs that he is most comfortable and familiar with to use as a base when he practices his talking.
On Thursday we brought the boys to school for Open House and the opportunity to meet the new teacher for 2nd grade. Ty and Stone are actually assigned to the same classroom for the first time ever. We were all driving to Ty’s hockey camp when we shared that news with them and Ty let out a huge “yay” and leaned over to hug Stone. “We’re in the same class!!” It was truly a precious moment. Of course, Stone won’t be spending a lot of time in that mainstream class as he’ll be in the supported classroom and the same awesome teacher he had last year. But our hope is he will continue to make progress so he can spend more time in Ty’s class – whether its this year or next.
Stone is continuing to take ASEA daily and we’ve continued to see and notice improvements in his speech and communication. Again, do we definitely know its been ASEA behind this recent spurt of development? No – not at all. It could be any combination of factors at work (he also began music therapy in July and this is designed to improve his communication skills). But we are encouraged enough that we will continue to use it and I’ll continue to report on his progress.