As I sat in church yesterday, I recalled how I first stood in front of our former church (back in Japan) to ask for volunteers who could help us run our son-rise program.
Marie was one of the first to respond to our invitation. She even recruited another friend to help us.
She came to our home every week after school. Even on school holidays, Marie to use her holidays to be with Nathan. And she never missed a monthly team meeting.
When she first came to play with Nathan, there was no words (at least no intentional speech), there was no interaction and there was no eye-contact. Marie simply “joined” Nathan in his world of autism and learned his autism language first before inviting him to speak our language. Above all, Marie simply loved playing with Nathan and Nathan knew it! During their sessions, I would enjoy listening to their laughter.
With the rest of that first son-rise team, Nathan started asking us for things, his “voice” was finally heard, his eye-contact went from 5% to 90%. He started looking right at us and he started wanting to be around people more. All this happened in as little as one month of part-time son-rise.
We have moved to Singapore since but Marie, will always be a special to us.
For me, as a parent, Marie gave me the ability to believe that there are people out there who can love my child for who he is and who will to hold our hands as we journey through autism.
What an amazing world we live in and how blessed we are to be surrounded by such amazing people!
Last night, Nathan was about to give Tita Aldhel another tantrum. She heard the warning signs “huggy-hug” and “kissy-kiss” to the tune of Barney’s “I love you” song.
So she got up and SLOWLY cleaned the son-rise room (thanks Aldhel) not showing any reaction to Nathan’s form of communication. I guess Nathan figured out “Ok, this is not working.” He stopped immediately. So Aldhel righty and happily declared her session as a Zero-tantrum session!!! Woohoo 🙂
They should put the word son-rise in the dictionary already.
My daughter, Amor (GDD) says, “Look! I’m (name of volunteer) I’m son-rising Nathan.”
Or when I tell her not to waste water at the sink, she shouts, “Go son-rise Nathan!” (Like: leave me alone, I want to ism with the water!)
This month’s progress:
1. Nathan has been able to sustain 3 to 4-loop simple conversations with many volunteers. That is, if you ask him a question, he will answer spontaneously up to 4 times that you ask him question. Last month we could only say that he was consistent with 2-loops.
2. Nathan now says the names of his volunteers before requesting for something.
3. Nathan can better process language. He can now answer choice questions. Before, he simply used to echo the last choice.
4. Nathan now corrects his use of pronouns. He corrects to “I want…” Instead of “You want…” More practice needed but the fact that he is auto correcting is great!
5. Some volunteers observe that Nathan has less isms (exclusive, repetitive, autistic behaviors) and more interaction. Sometimes instead of isming, Nathan looks at his volunteers as if to say, “Ok, what game are we playing next?”
We just had our Son-Rise team meeting yesterday and it was great listening to Nathan’s volunteers discuss the improvements they have been seeing.
Tantrums/crying/giggle is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact it’s a good indication that you are taking Nathan to the next level.
If Nathan was always happy with you that could imply that yes, you are building a wonderful relationship (and that’s great!) but he could be remaining at status quo in the other areas of development.
When you build upon his game or initiate a brand new game for him to participate, you are challenging Nathan’s limits. That’s A LOT of effort for a child with autism. Many kids simply walk away indicating that that have had enough and want to take a break in “their world.” Since Nathan cannot walk away, his best adaptation is to cry, tantrum or giggle to let you know, “Stop please! give me a break.”
After seeing signs of a tantrum coming, many if not all of you, simply give Nathan space and time. That helps him.
Here’s a photo of Tito Buddie swaying with Nathan to settle his tantrum. As usual, Nathan is singing the “I love you song.”
Tito Buddie is magnificent when coming up with games for Nathan. The tantrum? Probably Nathan’s just saying, “I’ve been on this next level long enough (about 45mins into the session)…can I back down?”
As I write this, Nathan is now settled and in fact laughing as Tito Buddie tickles him and crocodile bites his feet 😀
OMG! As Nathan rode the school bus, he said, “Bye-bye, see you later.” I was still getting Amor onto the bus on so I kinda missed indulging in that lovely goodbye. So I said good-bye to him again hoping he would respond again. He did! Then after the door closed I blew him a kiss and he blew one right back at me! OMG!
This is one of the moments I have looooong been waiting for and it’s better than I expected! A year ago I used to get blank stares as I helped him onto the bus, made exaggerated faces while saying animated goodbyes to him. Few months back saying one goodbye had become an “acquired skill” but mostly still needed prompting. There are days when he just wouldn’t say it. This was all his initiative and he kept at it until the bus left!
Here’s a photo of my twins waiting for their school bus. Amor was watching YouTube 🙂
An interesting reflection of Nathan’s Volunteer, Ria:
Before Nathan used to asked for many things. But it was as if he would ask for his ism toys, once you’ve given it to him, your task was done and he can ism away. Then you’d have to join him until his next request. And that was pretty much the interaction.
Now, Nathan looks at you as if saying, “Ok, I’m ready, what’s our game today?” And you have to come up with a good interactive game 🙂
Tita Aldhel would ask Nathan what letter to print, where to print and who to print on to. Nathan was responding continuously to her series of questions. That’s several spontaneous conversation loops! He also helped her count while waiting for the letter to leave a mark on his or her body parts.
Fun, fun game!
Today, whenever I got tired, I would place my forehead on Nathan’s forehead and he would giggle. So I did that several times today to rejuvenate some energy…as if he transferred some by mere giggles 🙂
I’ve also noticed Nathan’s hugs are different now. Before he used to want to break away as soon as I hugged him. The only reasons why he would stay in hugs was because I was squeezing him or I was rocking him while hugging. Now, he stays and enjoys the hugs. He even came closer to me when I asked him if he wanted a “Mother Goose hug.”
Nathan took his “Book about Jesus,” turned to the Last Supper page and said, “Jesus is at church.”
Nobody ever told him that.