Friday, 14 September 2012

A New Opportunity for Natey and Mommy

I got a handout in Nate's backpack today.  It's one I have received multiple times and chosen to ignore.  Why?  Because I didn't think that what they were offering was possible for us.  The county has made the investment of sending their infants and toddlers speech pathologists to be certified in the Hanen program.  And they offer it to the families of the children in their ABA program FOR FREE.  The program is called "More Than Words", and it was developed specifically for parents of children on the autism spectrum.  It involves 8 2 1/2 hour group sessions, a pre-program consultation, activities at home, and 3 videotaping sessions where the parent and child are taped while interacting, using the methods taught in the program.  The information in the program deals with improving communication skills.

The More Than Words Program was designed specifically for parents of children ages 5 and under on the autism spectrum. Addressing the unique needs of these children, the program provides parents with the tools, strategies and support they need to help their children reach their full communication potential.
More Than Words does this by empowering you to help your child reach the following three goals:
  1. Improved social skills
  2. The ability to engage in back-and-forth interactions
  3. Improved understanding of language
The More Than Words Program focuses on your natural, day-to-day life with your child. You’ll learn how to tweak the activities that you’re doing with your child already and turn them into productive and enjoyable learning opportunities.
You’ll discover how to take everyday activities like meal time, story time and bath time and use them to help your child improve his communication and social skills.

Here is a little more information (you know how much I love to provide links :-) )

Know what this sounds like to me?  It sounds like the portion of the study at Kennedy Krieger that I wanted to participate in, but was not lucky enough to be randomized to.  It sounds like a program that even a month ago, I would have doubted would be beneficial to Nathan.  Because he wasn't "there" enough to participate, to focus.  He is, without question, there now.  The changes in Nathan have been consistent these past few weeks- we have continued and been increasing the speak smooth.  I took Nate to get Jack at the bus like usual today- our neighbors were delighted to see him pointing to the things around him and saying "and that, and that, and that".  He asked for more bread while we were there, and then more cup.  He continues to look at books almost constantly, and he is pointing to more and more things while we read them at night.  Last night he was pointing to the duck throughout one book we were reading.  And he is doing more things like clapping hands when I ask him to.  The jist of it is that he is much more responsive.  His OT said something this week, his sitter, his mimi, and of course daddy and me.  I feel the need to grab onto this change and run with it as fast and hard as I can.  So the handout came at the perfect time.

The obstacles.  Ahhh, yes, those.  The reasons I have never entertained participating in this program in the past.  It takes place on Fridays, about 40 minutes from our house, from 1pm-3:30pm.  For 8 weeks.  This is Nate's naptime, and he is supposed to attend with me.  But I listened to him shout and talk to himself for his whole naptime today.  He can miss his nap.  Done.  Jack- school.  He gets home at 3:50pm and there is no way I will be back in time to meet the bus.  Grammy is going to come meet him on Fridays (love you more than words mom).  Done.  And the biggie- my job.  Take a half day every Friday for 8 weeks?  No way!  Yes way.  My work partner (and dear friend) is completely supportive, I spoke with my supervisor today- supportive but wanting to check with the higher ups.  They said yes.  So.....DONE!  I am ecstatic!  I am so grateful that my company is willing to work with me on this- taking 4 days of vacation time to help my kid is nothing, right?  But Friday afternoons are a precious commodity in the business world.  I am so lucky.  It's not just the attending the program thing, although that is the biggest part of course.  It's getting this one on one time with Nate.  And gaining tools that I can use in our everyday life.  I'm really excited!  Our evaluation is on September 28th.  Our insurance constraints have been such that I have not put Nate in speech therapy.  When I asked his instructors and therapists from school, they felt that he would benefit more from OT at this point, so that is what we have done.  Now I have a way to give him speech too- and I get to be involved.  So psyched!!!! 

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