Thursday, June 21, 2012

One step forward and two steps back

Just when it seems Morgan makes some serious progress, we seem to get hit with a stumbling block. Morgan really has made some strides with her communication lately, but one specific issue keeps arising.

The last few months we've had trouble with Morgan tearing her books. This just boggles our minds because Morgan has always loved books. She loves to be read to and she likes to look at them on her own. With this tearing, she will pinch the bottom of a page with her fingers and tear We've continually told her this is not OK. A few books have not been salvageable. Some we've taped, but tonight took the cake.

We went to do story time and each girl chose a book. Piper chose Madeline, one of my favorites. As soon as I opened it, I knew we had a problem. At first I thought, oh, maybe it's just the title page, but no. Every page was torn. I got upset...not in a yelling way, but a desperate why-do-you-do-this-I-want-to-cry kind of way. Piper got very upset because I was upset. I then told Morgan it was time to get in bed, I turned out the light and left her room. As soon as I was done putting Piper to bed, I went back to Morgan's room.

I then pulled all the books from her shelf and started to go through them. Even books I had repaired were torn again. Then, she started handing me the books she had torn, even ones that I thought, at first, were OK. Even her storybook Bible. Ugh. There are probably ten of them.

When I ask her why, she really cannot answer me. I'm not sure she is understanding any of this at all. I ask her if she likes the sound it makes or how it feels when she tears it, she says yes. Then I asked her if she does it to make me angry...she says yes. I asked her if she does it to make Daddy angry, she said "No, he's not here." He's on a business trip tonight. It's sort of like talking to a wall.

I don't know what to do about this. The worse part is I worry that she has some cognitive issues that have not been addressed. Her teachers, therapists and RDI consultant seem to think she's at least of average intelligence and have not brought up any cognitive concerns. Still, something tells me there is something we are missing.

We are going to contact a few people to see if we can get some insight on this. I really hope we can get some good direction on it so she will stop this behavior.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

RDI and Star Box

Last week we took a, somewhat impromptu, trip to the Tri-Cities to see our RDI Consultant, Christine. We had been on a bit of a "break" from our program when Christine had unexpected surgery. We kept our activities status quo for a bit and then got back in contact as she was feeling better.

Christine had planned on making a visit to our neck of the woods this time, but with some scheduling conflicts we decided a few days ahead of time to head down her way. Both Morgan and Piper LOVE visiting "the hotel" and sleeping in their peapods (mini tents). They were so excited to make the trip!

We have been in a phase of our program where Morgan, David and I were all assessed on our skills and current status of many things such as, our mental health, obstacles that may be in the way of making progress, as well as Morgan's areas of "deficit". I know that terms sounds odd, but this is something you hear a lot when kids with autism are evaluated. Common areas of deficit are social skills (can be a wide range), referencing, joint attention, etc. It is different for every kid. A bit of great news is that Christine didn't see any "outside" areas that needed to be addressed with additional therapies. Some kids need help from an Occupational Therapist or Speech Therapist for specific issues that can be obstacles to progress in RDI. Sometimes these things can show up along the way, but for new we are grateful to not have to consider this.

I also fully appreciate how this program really takes into consideration of the whole family, not just the child with autism. Since it is to be parent led, we need to be in a place where we are able to guide Morgan in the optimum way to help her make progress.

When we met with Christine she gave us a report that included her assessments in all these areas. We reviewed videos that had been previously recorded and discussed the positives and negatives. In the end we received our first three goals. We scheduled meetings through the end of July and are taking new steps forward. David and I have quite a bit of homework to do on our own in addition to working with Morgan. It's going to be busy summer in so many ways!

The picture above is on our scheduled stop at Starbucks on the way home from the Tri-Cities. Morgan refers to this lovely place as "Star Box." Usually the girls get a treat of pink donuts...but that day they didn't have them, so they chose to share a chocolate chunk cookie (see Piper's right hand). Happy girls, make happy car trips!

Monday, June 18, 2012


Morgan has had a promotion, of sorts, for her preschool class next year! At the end of each school year the teachers get together to evaluate the progress and status of each student. It was previously thought that Morgan would stay with the same teachers for her integrated class as well as for her intervention class. Upon further discussion it has been decided that Morgan will have new teachers for both!

The teacher she had in her integrated class this year did not give a lot of time to the six students with IEPs, including Morgan. The lead teacher and aides from her intervention class were also involved in this class to keep the students on track and prompt them if needed in transitions and social situations. The teachers have decided that Morgan is ready for more independence and will do well in a class that will have less aide support. The new teacher for this class is more invested in the IEP students and can give her assistance as needed. There will also be aides in this class, but the lead AIM program teacher will not be available to be in this classroom as her teacher from this year.

They also made this decision based on the kids they have who are at a higher-functioning level socially. Morgan's intervention class currently will consist of herself and another little boy who joined her class recently. Oddly enough, this boy was in her first preschool class in Liberty Lake so she knows him already! He recently received an Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis, which is on the high end of the autism spectrum. It's so nice to hear that Morgan can be placed in a class with greater independence and they acknowledge that she is making progress with her social skills. Last year there were only two kids in her intervention class as well, but by Thanksgiving the class was full.

Her new classes will also be during the "afternoon" session which is from 11:15 am - 3:15 pm. This will require adjusting to a whole new schedule for our family. Previously with Piper in preschool next year for three mornings a week...I thought that I would get a little break while they were BOTH in school, but it is not to be. Instead I will be dropping Piper off at school, bringing Morgan home to meet the bus...then back to Piper's school to pick her up and then later in the afternoon, meeting Morgan's bus again. The positive side of it is that with Piper at school early I will get some good one on one time with Morgan to concentrate on our RDI goals...that did not exist previously as we always have Piper to contend with.

Overall we are so proud of what Morgan has accomplished this year in school and we loved the teachers and therapists we were able to work with! It is an amazing program and we are looking forward to getting to know our new team next year. Morgan does have five weeks of summer school with her current teachers...starting next week. It is a great bridge for the summer and retaining skills along the way.