Tuesday, April 4, 2017

An Update on Jayden and our Journey Through Autism

It's been a long time since I've done an update on Jayden and Autism on this blog. Actually, it's been forever since I've posted at all here, but I thought it would be a good time to do so.

I think this was the last time I talked about Jayden and Autism here. A lot has changed since then. Jayden has been attending elementary school, and is currently in 4th grade.

Homeschooling my two oldest kids, I never really expected that I would have a kid end up in public school. From all of the stories that I had heard, I really was apprehensive about Jayden being in the school system. I'm happy to say that our journey at Sunnyside Elementary has been a great one. Jayden has been on an IEP since Kindergarten, and things have changed over the years with how much help he needed, but the support for his individual education needs have always been there, and I am grateful for those who care for him so much. He adores his teachers- especially his current one.

Here is how Jayden has changed and grown since the last post I wrote about him:

Speech delay: He still gets speech therapy. At school they are working on his Ls and THs. We have also been working with a 2nd speech therapist once a week. Yesterday we talked about how he has progressed a lot and is improving in vocabulary. We will be taking a break from speech over the summer and may reassess his needs in the fall.

Difficulty with social interaction: He just recently successfully completed a group project. His teachers have allowed him to work by himself when it came to group projects because it was too overwhelming for him, and he would even request his desk to be away from everyone else against a wall. This time he managed to sit in a group with selectively chosen peers and his teacher told me she was very pleased with what he accomplished. He still has problem with eye contact

Repetitive behaviors: He recently learned how to snap, and now he can't stop sometimes. He also has some phrases that he has picked up from school and YouTube videos that he will annoy his brother with by saying them over and over again.

Lines toys up: I haven't noticed this behavior for a long time.

Becomes very upset if his order is messed with: He does like routine, and doesn't like that messed with much, but has become more flexible over the years. His teachers used to make him a schedule that he could read off of, and that was helpful, but he doesn't really rely on that anymore. He does ask me if anything is going to be happening the next day that he should know about.

Echolalia: Since his vocabulary has improved, he doesn't do the echolalia thing- except for when he gets into repeating some phrases over and over, until his brother tells him to stop.

Difficulty with change: Although he likes to be informed of what's happening, he has improved greatly in being flexible.

Hyperlexia: As he has improved in vocabulary and speech over the years, his obsession with letters and numbers has become unnoticeable, but he does still have a problem completely understanding what he has read sometimes.  His teachers were impressed by his ability to read early on, and they even put him in 1st grade reading when he was in kindergarten. He's not really advanced in reading anymore because of comprehension issues, but his spelling skills are great(takes after his mom, who won 2nd place in the school Spelling Bee).

Sensitivity to some sounds: I still can't get him to go to the movie theater with us. He'll go to the smaller one on campus, though, since they don't turn up the volume too loud. Sometimes he does cover his ears when things are too loud. He hates when babies cry. Fireworks are a no-go for him.

Food aversions: Food is still a big struggle for us. At school most days he asks for a PB and J sandwich because he doesn't like what they are having. A certain brand of burritos used to be his staple food, but just recently he has decided that he can't eat them anymore. I think it was because he got sick once after eating one. He used to like spaghetti, but it took him too long to eat, so that became a "no" food. He won't eat pizza, but will eat your crust. Breads, cereal, Mac 'n'cheese, are pretty much his staple. The only fruit that he will eat is bananas and applesauce. He drinks V8 fusion for servings of fruit and vegetables. He does like Hamburger Helper and chicken nuggets, but that's pretty much the only meat that he will eat. 

Other things: I've noticed that he'll flap his hands when he's excited now. That wasn't something he did much of in his early years. 

Back when I wrote the first entry about Jayden and Autism, he was obsessed with the Pixar movie Cars. Well, actually, he liked Pixar in general, but Cars was the favorite. He moved on to Angry Birds, and currently is a big fan of MineCraft.
He has started laughing or crying inexplicably. If you ask him why he's laughing or crying, he says he's not sure. Sometimes his crying turns into laughing.

Most people who don't spend a lot of time with Jayden would not know that he has Autism. He is verbal, has friends, likes hugs, and is a pretty easy going kid most of the time. This is to say that if you have met one child with Autism, you have met one child with Autism. Do not assume that people on the spectrum are all the same. That is far from the truth. And that is my PSA for the month of Autism awareness.