Saturday, June 6, 2009

Blog and Personal Introduction

I'm new to blogging, so I hope whoever reads this will put up with my poor blogging skills. Hopefully, over time, these will improve. But, for now, this is me.

My name is Ilene and I'm a stay-at-home mother to 3 children. We live in Germantown, MD with my husband (and the kids' Dad), Kevin, and we have been married for nearly 11 years. Daniel was 4 in April and I have girl/boy twins (Rachel and Simon) born on January 12, 2007.

When the twins were approximately 26 months old, we were told that they were both on the autism spectrum. This was not too surprising to me regarding Simon, but when I learned Rachel was "on the spectrum" as well, I felt all the air leave my lungs and I had to take a few minutes to gather myself. Looking back, I'm not exactly sure WHY this information was so surprising -- she has a lot of the same stereotypical behaviors of autism, but, as parents, we are often blinded to problems our children may have, especially if they fall outside the expected. In this case, since autism is considerably more common in boys than girls, I didn't even think about the possibility that my DAUGHTER could be directly affected. One of the many signs that sometimes, getting an outsider's perspective can help in all things.

3 months have passed since learning of our entry to "the autism world" (as our pediatrician calls it) and we have been working with both of them to maximize their potential in hopes of preparing them to be fully mainstreamed by the time they begin kindergarten. They were diagnosed early, which is a VERY good thing -- early interventions are always best. Right now they are enrolled in our local county school's Infant and Toddler program, and are currently in a preschool which, when they are fully integrated, will be 3 days a week for nearly 2 hours each session. This preschool includes OT, Speech Therapy, and ABA specifically, and is the first real introduction of "structure" for them.

Simon is responding remarkably well to the classroom. I'm not saying that he's "fine" now, but he is becoming more willing to try new things (drank from a cup this week for the first time) and, despite still being "nonverbal", is parrotting what people say to him. Rachel is also making good progress, but in very different ways. She is becoming more verbal -- new words appear every day, in context, usually related to animals or nature (for some reason).

We are also in the process of trying to get more intense 1-on-1 ABA for Rachel. She is what the school refers to as "behavioral" and is having far more issues complying to the requirements in the classroom. We are fortunate that we live near CSAAC (Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children []) and the county system has a relationship with them to provide in-home ABA for children in addition to the classroom, assuming the child is deemed eligible and is felt to be a good candidate. She was evaluated by them this week and we have now submitted the paperwork asking that she receive up to 10 hours of in-home ABA. Time will tell if she will be "accepted". I am hopeful that the combination of the classroom and the additional in-home work will help her.

So, this blog will, over time, follow our experiences related to the autism spectrum. What works for them and what doesn't and how we, as a family of 5, cope with it all.

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