Saturday, February 27, 2010

From Baby Steps to Leaps and Bounds

Two months of the year have gone already, with evidence of this apparent in the change from cool, breezy weather a couple of weeks ago to cloudless skies and hot afternoons that signify the early start of an El Nino summer.

In our little world, much has happened as well. Little A has completed two months of occupational therapy, and in another month we visit his developmental pediatrician again to provide a progress report. Honestly, Big A and I are amazed and proud of how much our son has accomplished over the past two months.

During therapy sessions, Little A was initially uncooperative and had to be forced, with a lot of whining and outright tantrums, to do what was needed. Slowly though, he came around. He now enjoys the therapressure brush protocol, though he sometimes gets annoyed that it disturbs him from playing, and has gone from a hyperactive child who refused to sit still between tasks to one who sits quietly much of the time and plays with one toy while the next activity is being set up. He completes his tasks with minimal prompting and only complains towards the end, when he has tired of the repetition.

At preschool, he has gone from hating the classroom environment (and throwing a long tantrum every schoolday for most of the class period) to walking in happily and sitting down during circle time. He still does not give story time his full attention, but I am hoping that will happen in the next few months.

At home, he has decided that he will no longer spend all his nights in our bed. He makes up his own little bed on the floor with our help, and spends 50% of his nights there. He has stopped trying to climb into the swimming pool at every opportunity and eagerly watches any and all swimmers, pulling at the hands of children in swimwear to show them he wants them to get into the water.

We still have a way to go to get him to speak, but there is time in which to work on this, and thus far time has been telling that further improvements are on the horizon.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Reading 2010

Another reason I've been so remiss about posting lately is because I've been burying my nose in a book whenever possible. Some of the book bloggers I follow have been posting their reading challenges for the year, and while I thought I was Mistress of the List, apparently I've been falling short for years by not keeping a chronicle of all the books I read.

So for the sake of quantifying my reading this year, I hereby declare that I will complete the following reading challenges:

1. The Quantity Book Challenge - I put down 75 books, which is very doable since I estimate I read well over 150 per year, rereads and children's books included, but not counting picture books.

2. The Chunkster Challenge - 4 adult books of at least 450 pages each, not including short story or essay collections.

3. The A-Z Challenge - 26 new authors (ones I haven't read before) with last names starting with each letter of the alphabet.

4. Filipino Writers - 5 books by Filipino authors written in either English or Filipino

5. Classics - 20 books: 10 new reads and 10 rereads

6. Award Winners - 20 books, any combination of new and reread, that have won a literary award.

7. TBR Challenge - all books read for these challenges will come from my To Be Read pile, the stack or mountain of books most readers accumulate faster than they can read them all.

To help me achieve this goal is a nifty little notebook given by my sister as a Christmas present. A cloth-covered hardbound little book, it was printed specifically for the purpose of logging one's reading material. 2010 is underway, and so the challenges are being faced, one book at a time.

All's Well That Ends Well

I have been horribly remiss about posting this year. Only the fourth entry in two months, tut tut. The latest reason is that Little A and I have been down, then up and about, with a nasty cough and cold bug for a month now.

It started with a sore throat and phlegm that had me coughing and then took my voice away for nearly a week. Little A caught the cough first, then came down one morning with a fever that wasn't particularly high but persisted for nearly five days. Our pediatrician, who is also a pediatric pulmonologist, said it was nothing to worry about and would go away in its own time. The day after we visited her though, Little A felt so unwell that he just lay bed all day and slept on and off. He would drag himself to the table and try to eat (by the second day of the fever his appetite had gone from very good to practically nonexistent) and then go back to bed and just lie there.

Alarmed, we consulted, by phone, another pediatrician, who said more or less the same thing ours did. After two days of this lethargic lying about though, my mum decided to go the old school route and take Little A to our old pediatrician, who should be retired but is still practicing. This doctor thinks prescription drugs cure all, and promptly diagnosed bronchitis for us both and prescribed Little A two types of cough syrup, a course of antibiotics and a solution for the nebuliser that we had to administer five nights in a row. As my pediatrician three decades ago, he sent me off with a prescription for the same course of antibiotics and the grown-up version of the cough medicines.

Big A, who had this entire time been banished from the sickroom and was spending nights on the couch, insisted that I take my meds immediately. I did, and the antibiotic killed all the germs, good and evil, in my body so effectively that I came down with a cold and sinusitis the day after I finished the course, and only finished coughing a full week later and sniffling a few days ago.

We only gave Little A the nebuliser treatments, and his cough went away in another week or so, but then he came down with a cold a few days later. He still has a runny nose but thankfully has gained his appetite back.

Apparently, we weren't the only ones who suffered through this. My sister was coughing for weeks as well, though she never lost her voice. I am still recovering mine, weeks later. Still, I am thankful that neither Big A nor the au pair had to suffer through it. Let's hope it's another half year at least before the next bug hits.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Today is Day One

Metaphorically speaking, that is. I have not found the time to post recently, so the "real" Day One was actually 4 days ago. Day One was the new diet start date for Little A. No casein. No gluten will follow, but I'd rather do one thing at a time and see what works.

A fortnight has gone by since we took Little A to another developmental pediatrician for a second opinion. She was quick and frank in her assessment and diagnosis - Autism Spectrum Disorder. Our first dev ped had said "Communication Disorder," but this was just apparently another way of saying the same thing. And since we've already begun twice weekly occupational therapy, there is little else we can do now, except try the diets. The most common is the GFCF one, but other options are the Candida diet and SCD.

Thanks to the Internet and my photographic memory, I am now learning all I can about ASD in as little time as possible. Big A says he knew deep inside that this is what was different about Little A, and I suppose a part of me knew it too, as long before we even began to suspect anything, I had already stored literature on the vaccines and autism link, and showed them to my husband, who promptly refused to let Little A get his MMR jabs.

Both dev peds admit that Little A shows few stereotypies. Hyperactivity, yes. Hand flapping and other actions that fall under stimming, not noticeably. He likes to rock as much as the average child, and does not spin things obsessively. I have a friend who constantly pulls her hair out and others with their own little habits.

There were, however, red flags that we were never told about. Not pointing, pulling to show, these were things I thought were cute. In fact, I even thought that his not pointing would save me from later having me to teach him that pointing is rude, even if it is natural. The texture sensitivity and his intolerance of loud and crowded places that made going to children's parties impossible we just put down to natural quirkiness as there are many non-autistic children who don't like mud or sand or noise.

Still, it is official now. So, again metaphorically speaking, this is day one. All we can do is work with him, try what we can, and pray that the interventions work quickly and effectively. The rest is up to Little A.