Saturday, July 25, 2009

Seeing Changes

My parents came down for a visit last weekend. It was nice to see them, but it was really interesting to watch them because they haven't seen Rachel or Simon since first learning that they were autistic. They actually left before services began. So, even though we've been watching them progress over the last 3 months, they only had our word for it. Now we've gotten to see things through their eyes.

Speech is, I think, the most important thing as far as my parents are concerned. And in many ways they're right -- without language understanding the world around us isn't really possible. When we first began this process, I believed the same thing. However, "language" and "speech" are 2 different things. For the last 3 months, whenever I speak to my parents on the phone, they always ask me "Are the twins talking yet?" as if that's the only measure of success. This has been so frustrating to me because even though I know how far they have come, I've been reporting minimal success. Now that they've seen how far they have come (with still a long way to go), I think that they are starting to understand this a bit more.

The focus of the "More Than Words" class that I'm taking is to understand how these kids communicate, and to help them develop the skills they need in order to communicate effectively, as well as, for us as parents, to learn how to understand our children better until they have better mastered verbal communication. There are several techniques that we've already discussed and are trying to practice at home, with quite a bit more to come. My parents watched me do this for the first time (when I really don't quite know what I'm doing) and I think they started to realize how much they are expressing themselves, even though they aren't using their words, per se. I'm sure from their perspective, it's interesting watching me trying to engage them and keep their interest long enough to get them to reciprocate.

But things are working. For both of them, their "stage of communication" is still quite low, but they are starting to get it. They both will make eye contact with me. Simon will ask for more food at the dinner table (by saying "pease" [hasn't figured out how to make the "l" sound yet]) consistently. Rachel and Simon are both requesting songs by name (approximations). Simon and I actually played a game with the blocks this morning -- doing some stacking and knocking down -- and we were able to play together for about 2 minutes. Rachel loves to be imitated and has been expanding her game with me to where she will play for upwards of 5 minutes if I can keep her attention.

So, despite my complaints here lately, things are going in a positive direction. Simon and Rachel have another week of school before we leave to visit family out of town for a week and shortly after getting back, CSAAC's in-home ABA is scheduled to begin for Rachel. And then when September comes around, we'll deal with the insanity of 3 different schedules. And the strange thing is, that's no longer scaring me to death -- we're already living 2 schedules -- I know we can manage 3.

So, it's been a good week.

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