Dylan has made great progress this week. For those of you who don't know about Dylan, I'll give a little background before filling you in on what he's up to now. Dylan was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Delay/Not Otherwise Specified in December 2009. This puts him on the Autistic Spectrum, and basically means that he has some Spectrum symptons, but they can't categorize him in any of the other categories (such as full-blown Autism, Aspberger's and some of the lesser known categories). Dylan's main issues are social and language usage (he has lots of language, but doesn't use it properly...for instance, instead of saying "I want to draw", he'll say "do you want to draw"). Socially, he tends to do his own thing when in groups of kids and doesn't make any effort to interact with the other kids (unless he's with one other kid, then he'll attempt interaction). He also isn't very talkative when it comes to things he's been doing at school. He does talk, a lot, but usually its scripting (reciting) things from his favorite TV show Max and Ruby, or from a book, or from a computer game. This doesn't mean he can't communicate his wants and needs, because he can do that too. He just likes to live in his own little world whenever he gets the chance.He is also a very sweet, lovey little guy. He loves hugs and tickles and cuddling with us. Which is fantastic :)
Since his diagnosis, he's been receiving ABA therapy (Applied Behavioral Analysis) in the mornings. We missed the summer because of our move up to Alaska. We thought there would be no ABA up here, but luckily, another military family moved up in July and she is a licensed BCBA (the person who oversees the ABA therapy). We started back up in August and we have tutors that come every morning to work with Dylan. They work with him on his language, his comprehension, and following directions among other things. He also started preschool at the end of August and goes every afternoon for 2 hours.
This year, it didn't take nearly as long for him to acclimate as it did last year. He started out by just watching the other kids as they sang the songs during circle time. And within a month or two he was participating with them–singing along and doing the hand motions. Last year it took several months for him to get that far. One of his "problem" areas at school is the free play time. Dylan is a very literal child and doesn't do well with pretend play or free play. He'd rather be drawing or writing. But, this week at school during free play, he went over to where the other kids were playing with cars (on his own) and started playing with them. And then later the kids were playing with something at a table and Dylan told the teacher "I want to play" and she told him to go ahead and he went over to play again. This was awesome awesome news this week. I'm so happy that he's gotten used to the other kids and is attempting to play with them. This goes hand in hand with him telling me several kids names when I ask him who he played with at school.
The other thing that you probably already know about Dylan is that he is such a smart little guy. He reads and writes and is fascinated with letters and numbers (he can count up to 100 and beyond....and a few weeks ago he counted from 11 to 99 by 11s). He likes to draw pictures (especially of snowmen these days) and will happily be entertained wherever we go as long as I have paper and a pen or marker with us. This presents a unique challenge for his education. He's been in preschool for 2 years now. And he won't be of age for kindergarten next year (he misses the cutoff by a month and a half and they have no exceptions to the rule...even though kindergarten isn't mandatory in Alaska). So, our free option is to continue him in the public special needs preschool ( the only public preschool they have). I feel like he needs a step up between preschool and kindergarten, but don't think we can afford the private options up here. Although, now that he's making such breakthroughs in his current class, maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing for him to continue there. His teacher has really been trying to play to his strengths when she can and I like that she's willing to let his ABA tutors visit class and make suggestions to her about Dylan. She sent this photo to me yesterday of Dylan using a keyboard she borrowed for him so he could type. Which, btw, he loves to do. And to flip subjects to computers, he also likes to use my old wacom table to draw on his computer at home.
Dylan on the computer at school.
My plugged in little guy. Note the iPod Touch in one hand, the computer mouse in the other, and the wacom tablet under his elbows. I got a new one, so he got my old one (cause he really wanted to use mine on my computer). Such a funny, talented little guy.
His other wonderful thing this week has to do with sleep (and I'm going to knock on wood now that this trend continues). His bedtime is 7pm, mainly because he's always been such an early riser (and by early, I mean 5 or 5:30am). This week, he started talking a lot more after bedtime, until around 8. The first night he did this I was concerned and kept going up to try and get him to sleep. And he did go to sleep finally, around 8:15. And slept til 7am the next morning! So, the next night when he was chatty chatty chatty again, I didn't bother going up til close to 8 and again the next morning he slept til almost 7. And for the third night, he chatted and put himself to sleep around 8 and slept again til almost 7. I have my fingers and toes crossed that this will continue on and on (although, I'm not holding my breath, cause, you never know with this kid and sleep).
Anyway, I think that's it for my long ramble today. I'm so excited he's playing with a group of kids and hope he continues to keep it up.