Raiyan's first visit to the dentist

I had a dentist appointment today so babah and I thought that it's high time that Raiyan starts getting his teeth checked too since he's very closely approaching the big boy age of six!

Obviously before the therapy we couldn't imagine bringing him near one- this coming from the fact that he was terrified of new situations, sensitive to be touched (he used to scream endlessly while getting his hair cut) and also sensitive to certain loud noises (just last weekend he spent half of of the time watching Night at the museum 2 covering his ears). Actually brushing his teeth was quite a challenge too as he would never open his mouth wide enough so we always ended up blindly brushing his teeth as we couldn't exactly see his teeth with his mouth closed shut over the toothbrush stick!

For this first time we thought we'd just make him sit on the chair to get a feel of it and to only get his teeth checked. Which lo and behold we are proud to inform that he was completely fine with! Well we did give out loads of information beforehand to prepare him of course.

Look at him happily sitting on the dentist chair ready for his check up!

Do I look cool in these sunglasses mama?

Waiting for the chair to recline back which at first he still got quite nervous about!

Open wide Raiyan! We were surprised to find out that he got 3 permanent molars already! The dentist said that it's quite early since he's not even 6 yet.

Seeing how he seemed fine with just getting his teeth checked out, the dentist thought that he could try going one step further to scale and polish his teeth! Though there was a bit of hesitation at first, but alhamdulillah soon after he was sitting quietly with his teeth scaled away! Look closely! His teeth is actually being scaled- yikers! He's braver than me!

He really didn't like the taste of the polish so of all things that he chose to refuse just now was to rinse his mouth with the mouthwash cause he was scared it would taste the same as the tooth polish. So we gave him water instead but the poor thing has no idea how to spit the water back out! He just did the spitting 'action' with nothing coming out as he's swallowed the water already! It was sad (that he still doesn't know how to spit) and funny at the same time!

So I guess some of you may be amazed at how brave Raiyan was. Altogether I'd have to say that he really did surpass my expectations with how brave he was. But at this juncture I have to confess to there being one catch- the dentist was none other than pweshes babah himself! Hehe! I'm sure that factor helped a lot! :-)

But overall Congratulations Raiyan!

-- Post From My iPhone

Raiyan the Explorer

This was Raiyan as a dinasour explorer during his school's annual storybook day when students dress up as their favourite book characters. ( Remember last year he came as Mucky Ducky?)

For this year we sort of found out about the day in the last minute so babah didn't really have the time to be laborious about it as he was with the duck costume. So at first we really hoped that Raiyan would just wear the readymade Buzz Lightyear costume his grandma got him all the way from EuroDisney. But unfortunately because of his issue in not wanting to look too different from what he's comfortable with (I guess his love for animals made the mucky ducky costume bearable), he absolutely refused to wear it. Naturally we were disappointed and slightly panicking of what else he could come as. At the same time, babah and I ourselves just felt it to be wrong anyway since he wasn't really into Toy Story and the Buzz character so we felt untrue to Raiyan to make him wear something he's not exactly a fan of..

Thankfully our creative juices started flowing when we realised the usefulness of the explorer set I just got for Raiyan from ELC! Coupled them with grandpa's safari hat from Australia and a dinosaur tshirt from NY's Natural History Museum and taaadaaaa!

Not only was it free (in the sense we didnt hv to buy anything new or particularly costumey which he would probably wear only once or twice at most), it is completely authentic to Raiyan's self and he LOVED wearing it!

And here is Raiyan happily sharing his stuff with his friends. When Anna asked if she can borrow his binoculars, Raiyan sweetly said 'of course you can!'

Sigh.. It's just so lovely to see him so happy like this!!

-- Post From My iPhone

Dinasour Board Game

This is Raiyan's board game that he made himself! I especially love the part where you move back spaces when you're near T-Rex and move forward when you're near the baby dinasour. When I asked him why Raiyan said 'because the baby dino is cute!'

Oh and of course I was just amazed with the instructions he prepared too! His imagination has really come a long way Alhamdulillah!

The actual board game with circles as spaces! I asked what to use as markers he said to just use a pen and jot through the spaces!

-- Post From My iPhone

Breaking an autism myth

When I first started learning about autism, one of the things I had read was that autistic persons are not able to profess their love to others in words. Surprisingly, I had accepted that “fact” because at that point I was just content to have Raiyan just talk anyway, so the need for him to tell me he loves me was hardly necessary! Also, I was already comforted with Raiyan’s constant hugs and needs to hold me when he’s about to sleep as signs that he indeed does love his mama.

So I never had any expectations for Raiyan to say on his own initiative the actual words “I love you mama”. All I expected was for him to just reciprocate when I was the one telling him that I love him. Even this was a challenge in itself as in the early days, he would almost always say back “I love you Raiyan” (because of the echolalia) and it took constant remindings for him to eventually respond correctively by saying “I love you mama.”

Now, as you can tell from my recent posts, Raiyan is at such a good place right now and he is constantly amazing all of us with what is going on in that special little head of his. It’s like as if all of the things that he has learnt in the last 17 months are slowly falling into the right places and he seems to have a much clearer understanding of using what has been taught, not only in how he himself uses it but also in how others are using it too.

And yet, I still never expected him to independently say “ I love you” simply because that was one of the “facts” that I have accepted from the start as being a trait of autism.

Until two weeks ago when he has started to say this to me, out of nowhere, just out of the blue, without me initiating it.. the special words “I love you mama” came out of his mouth completely independently. And I really feel and believe he’s saying it because he really means it. My instinct tells me that he probably said this because he’s missing me more lately because I’ve been spending more time at the gym after work but at the same time I also really think because of this “everything falling into place” phenomena that he is going through, Raiyan has finally understood what it means to say “I Love You.”

He’s only ever said it four times in the last 2 weeks which convinces me even more that it is a genuine statement rather than it being a favourite phrase of the week! And I notice that when he says it, along with holding on to a part of my body very tightly, it’s also in this really loving and heartwarming tone that I do not doubt the love that he feels for me. He even had Jo sent me a text message saying “I love you mama, B-) Raiyan” last week!

So for any parent who thinks it’s not possible for their child to say “I Love You” think again! That’s actually just another myth as opposed to a fact in this complex world of autism!

Autism, we need to talk…

Lately I’ve been feeling kinda guilty about not paying as much attention as I should to autism. I haven’t been as diligent with Raiyan’s programme, I clearly have not been as frequent with updating this blog, I’m so behind in reading other blogs on autism, I haven’t even touched a book on autism in months and my involvement with Learning Ladders Society in helping spread autism awareness has substantially reduced too. It almost seems like if I’m in a relationship with autism, it’s at a point where I’d need to have that “talk” with it and suggest that perhaps we need a “time out” or a “break”.

In all fairness, there are justifications for my neglect that I shall attempt to put forward here. For starters, Raiyan’s programme is not as specific as it was before as now we are meant to do more creative things using natural language, like creating stories together which I am the first to admit I completely lack creativitiy in! Hence, it is not as structured and because of that is trickier to follow through (though there is still no excuse to not do anything!). At the same time, with him progressing well in Year 1, we are spending more time catching up with his school work as every day, he has a new home reader book to go through (where he is now up to level 7!) and every week, there is always at least 2-3 pages of literacy and numeracy home work to complete.

In terms of reading up about autism, I simply haven’t had much time to do so because I’ve been busier with work and I also plead guilty to letting my mind focus more on losing weight at the moment (5.5kg so far!:-)). And lastly with regards to the society, I am less active now since for this year I am no longer a member of the Committee.

Having said all that, there may also be other deep-rooted reasons if I am going to be completely honest. My estrangement with Raiyan’s programme may be also due to my state of comfort or even to an extent, complacency that Raiyan is already doing so well on his own, without having me sit with him and go through his therapy materials with him. He is also constantly occupying himself with some activity and hardly goes beyond his 1.5 hour daily limit of TV that I don’t feel as worried about not engaging him because he’s already engaged himself. If it’s not playing with his blocks, he’s playing with his food basket and setting up his picnic with the teddy bears, or he would be resurrecting his own zoo or Jurassic park with all his animal/dinasour figurines, or he would be drawing and writing up stories in his drawing block or at the very least, he would be playing chase or some interaction game with his siblings and his nannies.

On the whole, it really just boils down to what Jeff and I have recently realized and that is how deeply immersed we actually were with autism last year that it really did seem like we were in a relationship with it! Of course we didn’t have much choice then as there was so much work in trying to get Raiyan to where he is now. But it wasn’t just about Raiyan and his progress. Subconsciously, our minds were filled up with nothing but autism. Our conversations were always to do with stories of autism, be it Raiyan’s, or any other stories we had heard of both from reading about it or seeing it ourselves. Our free time was always spent with some activity on spreading awareness, which to me is great but not when I realize now that the only people who would ever take notice are those that are directly affected by autism themselves and this means that us going that extra mile merely resulted in an overexertion on our parts without there being any fruits to our labour. Also, we realized we were treading on unpleasant grounds by starting to be a tad “oversensitive” with others who we felt didn’t “care” enough about autism and what we had to go through and would often waste time analyzing why people didn’t act a certain way or say a certain thing when we talked about autism. Only to realise, again, that it’s not because others do not care, but it’s because they have no reason to and that is completely normal.

I’ve also actually gotten more and more cynical from reading the endless amounts of articles and blogs about autism especially when the debate over vaccines and recovery come into play. I soon discovered that the more literature I read about autism the more confused I got! So much so that I think that is probably the real reason why I’ve strayed away from reading too many of them (except for teenautism which I’m completely addicted to!).

So during these times of what we feel to be us “cheating” on autism, Jeff and I have been spending more quality time together and not even thinking about autism. We’ve been paying more visits to the cinema, the spa, the gym and have even managed to bring the kids out for a family outing every weekend for the past few months, a luxury that looking back we certainly did not enjoy in 2008. We even managed to get away to Singapore for 5 days with just the two of us and it was absolutely wonderful. I’ve even found myself to once again be able to happily hang out with my girlfriends without any teeny weeny bit of expectation that they should ask me about Raiyan and his autism. In fact just the other day, one of them specifically asked me about autism and its traits and what were Raiyan’s obvious traits etc, and I didn’t even for a second get impatient over the fact that all of this she could have easily found in my blog and instead, rationally and very calmly told her what she needed to know without having that incessant need to go that much further to make sure she gets the WHOLE picture. I know now that is just an impossible feat AND if she does want to know more, she knows where to find me right?!

But the thing is, despite this so called “liberated” feeling I have, I still find that inner voice in me saying “don’t get too comfortable, autism is a lifelong condition and don’t think for a minute that you can free yourself from it blah blah blah” or “are you crazy to slow down your pace? Raiyan’s not completely recovered yet! You should still be hard at work and be in a non-stop action to improve him blah blah blah..”

In some ways I guess these voices are still good to have as they serve as a constant reminder that autism will probably forever play a big part in our lives and that I should never be naïve enough to think that we have overcome things and that we can get back to our normal lives.

But it’s not like I expect to go back to our old “normal” lives. It’s just adjusting to that “new normal” where I try and attain some semblance of our old lives but to also take on board all the life lessons and the challenges that we’ve accumulated this past year. Hopefully we can use them as tools in handling what the future holds for us whilst also preserving our own identities separate and distinct from the autism. That’s not too much to ask is it? :-D

Happy News!

After exactly 17 months of therapy under Kerri's supervision, I was just beyond ecstatic to be told and confirmed by Kerri that Raiyan's "basic language" is in place. This means that from a place where he was completely unable to converse and was only communicating his needs with hand leading, crying or at best, uttering 1-2 words at most, he now knows and understands the use of "basic language" that has been directly taught to him in the last 17 months, such as:
  • labeling vocabulary of body parts, rooms of the house, things found in the rooms, things found in places etc etc (nouns)
  • functions of people, places and things
  • prepositions (on, under, behind, next to)
  • what is bigger, smaller, more than, less than
  • all sorts of verbs like standing, eating, clapping hands etc
  • what, when, where, why, who questions
  • how questions
  • opposites
  • attributes
  • adjectives
  • past, present and future tense
  • pronouns-he, she, they
  • you and I
  • contractions (he's, she'll)

and many more!

Not only can Raiyan converse with anybody now (providing people speak slowly and wait patiently for his lagging response! This we are still working on constantly!), he can easily independently write sentence after sentence to make into a paragraph. Just this week alone, he spent much time drawing a dinasour board game, complete with instructions on how to play, an invitation card to his birthday party for his teacher and all his classmates (complete with when and where it's going to be and what's going to happen at the party) and a "comic" book story of his trip to the zoo with Adek and Fadhil (his BFFs!).

Jeff and I feel like we are constantly keeping up with him and his amazing progress lately that we realise now how much we have underestimated him all this time. Also, how much we have really forgotten what it was like with him before because it is just so easy to take for granted now how I am able to just talk to him about anything and not only would he be able to understand what I'm saying but he can actually contribute something back to the conversation.

With the language in place, Kerri tells me the next steps for us to drill in him is to use the language appropriately, especially in social settings. All of us can tell that Raiyan has been developing a conscience socially and it really seems like he wants to have friends to talk to and play with but realising that sometimes he does get ignored by them (especially during times when he goes on and on about dinasours and animals!). Nonetheless, on the whole I am very pleased with Raiyan's progress when it comes to mixing together with his classmates as I do see him interacting and having some level of a relationship with at least 3 other kids in his class, so that's very nice for me to see.

To help improve him more in this area, Kerri is planning to have more social skills groups during the summer break where Raiyan and the other children with autism can mix with typical children so as it can be "practice" time for them, and especially for Raiyan who will undoubtedly be facing more social challenges when he goes up to Year 2 next year. **Any parent who are reading this and would like to volunteer their typical child to be part of these social skills groups is MORE than welcome to contact me and we would really appreciate to have your child around. I should say however that it would be helpful if they can speak English as you know these kids are being mainly taught to speak in English.

Now with that happy reporting, I just have to find the pweshes time to upload the many pics I've taken of Raiyan's creativity and progress! Look out for the dinasour board game, the birthday invite and pics of Raiyan and his friends at school to be posted up very soon! Promise!

PURPOSE:Hoping for more understanding and less judgment from all.

 To show the importances of early intervention and an evidence based treatment to help reach the full potential of the child.

 Offering other parents hope to have faith in the positive progress of their child.

Copyright 2009 Our Peaceful Journey.... All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates created by Deluxe Templates
Wordpress Theme by EZwpthemes