Friday, April 13, 2007

Tiny steps

Another breakthrough!! This one at the home front. When F1-2 (my second son) was 2 he could shake his head if he meant "no." At some point (we're not exactly sure when), he lost this skill.

Losing skills that children have already acquired is common in children with autism spectrum disorders, or as in F1-2's case, in children with seizures. A year or so ago, the neurologists finally figured out the cocktail of chemicals necessary to halt his visible seizures, although there are still numerous spikes on his EEG, and there will always be. A few months ago we started seeing a few seizures again, and in early March his meds were increased. The seizures prompty stopped, and we haven't seen any seizures since then.

I think it was in November or December 2006, when his speech and occupational therapists, frustrated at F1-2's lack of improvement despite the absence of seizures for 9 months or more, decided to radically change their treatment. Dr. Greenspan's Floortime approach was the method of choice, and the speech therapist actually took a couple of weeks off from F1-2 so that he could use the time to study Floortime. Floortime was developed as an integrated approach to treating children with autism spectrum disorders. Although, in F1-2's case we know there is a physical cause of his sensory integration issues, he is in many ways like children with autism.

At this point I don't know whether it's the lack of seizures, the Floortime approach, or a combination of both (most likely it's the latter), but something seems to be working. We're gradually seeing little steps, little improvements, where there were virtually none for 2 years.

Anyway, back to the main story. This morning, F1-2 was watching his favorite show on tv (he really only watches one, and we have numerous episodes on tape), and a child on the show was shaking his head to indicate "no." And my beloved, wonderful little F1-2 shook his head "no." At first I thought it was a coincidence, but he clearly though it was hilarious and repeated it several times. He also continued to shake his head when he'd had enough of breakfast.

This is significant, because:
1. F1-2 is rarely acknowledges the existence of other human beings, let alone the ones on the tv screen.
2. He does not normally mimic other people.
3. He shook his head within the right context when he did not want to eat any more. This means he understands the true meaning of shaking "no."
4. He was obviously proud at his accomplishments.

For most people shaking "no" is taken for granted, even by parents of young kids. For children with special needs and their parents this is a huge step. I'm bubbling over with pride and hope for my son's future.


knobody said...

woo hoo! a word! sign language, but still a word :).

makita said...

Absolutely! And he used it again this morning. Of course, I'm a mean mommy, and I offer him his last bite a number of times, knowing full well he never eats his last bite. But I only stopped offering it to him, when he shook "no."