making some strides

Some good progress made in the autism realm and O.  Had a great social skills playdate with our buddy M on Friday with a fantastically enthusiastic teacher named Chelsea.  She’s amazing.  She’s also a teacher at the EEU and just really has such an understanding of where these guys are at.  Also, today we had another social skills playdate with another amazing teacher named Heather. Yes, we’re moving in the right direction.  O has been so amazingly engaged lately.  It’s been so great to see him interact so nicely with people.  He is a riot. Super duper funny. He doesn’t try to be.  He just is. The way that he utilizes the borrowed words from movies/shows/other people is so amazingly witty and his timing is pretty good, too.  He has us in stitches a great deal of the time. We also met with our fabulous pediatrician and had a great conversation about O. Where we are at and where we are going.  We reviewed his blood tests.  His IGE showed a sensitivity to egg whites and cashews and showed that he was low in magnesium and vitamin D. His IGG showed that he is sensitive to wheat, soy, cashews, peanuts, and pistachios. All in all, we came out of the meeting with the understanding that his gut needs to be stabilized. He also might have some left over sensitivities because of the e.coli. We’re going to do a stool culture to look for a measurement of the flora there (nice…).  Looking for different yeasts, and other things so we know better what is going on there. After we get that done, we’re going to move into the realm of a no gluten/no dairy diet. I know…it sounds drastic.  I have to try though.  I don’t want to ever think that we didn’t try that route.  What if it makes a huge difference? We have to give it a fair shot. I know the impact that it makes on me when I’m closely following a gluten free diet.  I was able to completely stop taking the rheumatoid arthritis medications that I was on last year.  I know that even after a single serving of wheat product that my joints hurt.  I know that this is going to be somewhat difficult on our family, but to be honest, we eat a lot of rice and I feel super lucky that the closest market to us is PCC and has so many fantastic options for a gluten-free family.  So, O is going to be on a cal/mg supplement, vitamin D supplement, omega-3s, and probiotics. Cross your fingers! We’re going to ease into this, not go cold turkey.

One thing that has changed a lot lately has been Oliver’s sensitive side. As everything that is Oliver, it is pure.  When emotions come out of him, they are completely unfiltered, untouched, and 100% undiluted. When sad emotions come out of him, I promise that you will cry, too. When happy emotions come out of him, you will laugh hysterically with him. When he is angry, you will get angry, too.  Ugg…  so lately he has become very empathetic.  I was happy to see this when it first emerged, but I have mixed emotions about it as it means another thing…that Oliver cares what others think about him.  I have always maintained that Oliver doesn’t care about what others think about him therefore he will be okay, he will be able to be 100% Oliver and be happy with that.  But now I’m worried.  I hope and pray that he won’t allow others opinions and criticisms (and later bullying) of him to affect him in a negative way.  Yes, I certainly want Oliver to communicate with others ‘normally’, but I also want him to be able to be himself and not be so affected as I know that one of the largest problems with higher functioning autistic and aspergers children/adolescents is that of depression. I dread that. I continue to hope and pray that he will be saved of that. When Oliver gets in trouble (ie…for hitting Emil over the head with a metal train) and is told that what he did is not okay, he gets very upset and says, ‘I’m a very bad boy’. He then grabs his stuffed doggies and tells them it’s going to be okay and scolds them. He gets stuck there though and I’ve learned that it is not wise to try and pull him out of this before he is good and ready. He seems to need time to stew. It’s as if this new emotional side of him overwhelms him. His sad sads and happy happies is the way he seems to roll these days.

I don’t think that I have enough perspective on raising boys. I don’t understand why they have to hit and kick each other to feel connected. I have read about it, sat through lectures about it, been counseled about it, but I still don’t understand the need for it. This is how I see it…Julian wants to connect with his brothers, so he teases them, tackles them, and they either love it or hate it. Regardless, they are all screaming and someone ends up crying on the floor. I secretly admit that it is kinda cute to see Mr. Super Spicy Attitude, Emil, get in there and try and hold his ground.  Mark my words, he is a force to be reckoned with. Since Oliver cannot interpret social cues, he has come to understand that any action that Julian has towards him is antagonistic and when Julian is being kind or affectionate towards him, he will hit him. Hard. It has become such a cycle. I just want to keep all of the kids separate lately. Emil and Oliver are constantly hitting each other. I don’t believe that they are behaving in a way that is indicative of who WE are. How much influence does a parent really have upon their kids? Some? None? A lot?

I was thinking back about where we were at with Oliver at this time last year. I remember being all consumed with my worry. There was no definition of what was going on with Oliver. He was far less verbal. He spoke in mini-phrases and demands. He spaced out A LOT. He cried and screamed a lot. It was so scary. When I was watching him participate in his social skills session yesterday it struck me how much his personality has emerged. It’s as if his personality was hiding last year. For sure his school at View Ridge has helped, and his continuing love and support from his other school has helped, too, but I think also we have been able to identify some triggers. Taking him off of all of those asthma medicines helped, too. The Autism Speaks logo is a puzzle piece. It makes so much sense. It really is about finding the right pieces and seeing how they fit together. Can’t fit a circle into a square. This is a true statement, however when trying to figure autism out, I am thinking about how the circle might fit into the square because in Oliver’s mind, it seems to fit like a glove. The way my brain is wired, the two pieces clearly don’t fit, but for some reason, they fit for him. In this process of learning and understanding, I realize that it must be even more frustrating for him to understand our reasoning because he has worked this puzzle differently than we have. When I watch him and the way that his eyes move when he’s doing something, the wheels are churning very fast and innately differently than others. I’m sure learning a great deal about the world through his eyes. He has beautiful, dark blue eyes. I love them.

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