Tuesday, January 11, 2011

going to school with Claire and experimenting with yoga

Last semester Claire had her tutor Joseph going to school with her 3 days a week. This semester, her tutors' class schedules have not been as accomadating. Jessie is able to go with her Tuesday and Thursday, and since our consultant (Steve) says Claire isn't ready to have less help at school, I go with her on Mondays while Anne goes to our neighbor's house to play.
Yesterday was my first day. Wow, was I depressed after the first half-hour. Claire acted like she was partially deaf or maybe on drugs. Apparently her classmates and teachers were used to it: her friend Cecily took her by the hand and took her where she was supposed to go (Claire almost never responded to instructions on her own) and the music teacher said, "Thanks, Cecily, for helping Claire." !!!!! Claire is perfectly capable of doing what she's asked to do--she does it all the time at home. I've got to read some books by people with Asperger's so I can understand what it is about being in large groups that shuts them down. Or maybe it's just Claire. I don't know. Does anyone know?! Tell me! Gah!
On top of that, Claire's personality was totally absent. At home she laughs at jokes and silliness all the time. At school, I didn't see a single smile. The teacher read this poem to the class:
I made myself a snowball
Just as perfect as could be.
I thought I'd keep it as a pet
And let it sleep with me
I gave it some pajamas
And a pillow for its head.
Then, last night it ran away,
But first . . . .it wet the bed!

The other kids were cracking up and yelling out, "It didn't run away, it melted!" Claire stared straight ahead with a blank expression on her face. I was ready to cry.

After school we got in the van, picked up Anne, and went to the grocery store. And back came the Claire I know, laughing and talking...I read her that snowball poem at home, and she giggled. "Did the snowball really wet the bed?" I asked. "No, it melted," Claire said.
When we got home I remembered a suggestion Steve made at our workshop last week, and today Jessie put it in action: whenever Claire does what she's told to do at the same speed the other kids are doing it, she gets a sticker. If she earns 5 stickers in one day, she gets to go to the toy store after school and pick out a prize. Lo and behold, it worked! Here she is with her new toy, Squishy:
Now we increase the number of stickers she has to earn before she gets a prize until it gets to be a habit and she doesn't need rewards anymore. One thing that worries me is she doesn't have a tutor on Wednesdays and Fridays. We'll have to be even more blessed and lucky than we already are to get her to listen and obey on those days. What we need is a tutor with her every day at school...we'll see how things go, and if she's not progressing, we'll just have to find a tutor for those other two days.

I don't know how we'll get her to be the giggly, talkative girl she is at home at school, but one bridge at a time, folks.

Another area Claire is literally weak in is gross motor skills. She doesn't have much muscle tone or coordination. I think that's pretty common among kids with Asperger's. Every day during her therapy sessions at home, her tutors spend 10 minutes working on gross motor skills. Jessie introduced Claire to yoga, and Claire got a kick out of it. Maybe it was just the names of the exercises (downward dog, or something?). Anyway, I decided maybe I should look into yoga for the first time in my life. I always wrote it off as something for new age hippies and people from California (no offense, Jamie H--you know I love you and Bonnie). But we've all seen Madonna's arms, and Claire could use some of that muscle tone. So this morning I turned on Exercise TV and tried yoga. It's a good workout. If I can get Claire doing that regularly, she'll have Gollum arms in no time.

Friday, January 7, 2011

diet update

Anne, speaking to Claire about the gum they were chewing: "Mine has artificial colors in it, and so does yours. Mine isn't good for me."

Claire: "And neither is mine." But they chew it very happily.

Over the Christmas break we reintroduced gluten into Claire's diet. For the first few days, everything seemed fine, but toward the end of the week, Claire's stomach was pretty bloated. Her behavior seemed less stable, which might have been the gluten, but was probably just the less routine nature of the holidays.

So now Claire's back off gluten, her stomach looks better, and I'm just going to have to resign myself to a gluten-free lifestyle and fend off insanity as best I can. I don't know why gluten makes her bloated--her bowel movements were normal, and she never complained of a stomach ache...I wish we had a good DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!) doctor around here, but we don't, so we'll muddle through as best we can on our own.

We haven't reintroduced dairy, and probably never will, because we know it makes her constipated, regardless of how much fiber she eats. I am letting her have soy, and I'm letting her chew gum, hence the dialogue about artificial colors above. If you know of an all natural chewing gum that kids would like, let me know.

She's still on her supplement regimen: a HUGE thanks to Scott J. for the fish oil and probiotics he donates to the cause.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

Is there anything quite like hearing the angelic giggles of little girls "playing so well together!" downstairs?

Is there anything quite like finding the bathroom covered in water that didn't come from the sink and a Barbie in the toilet when you go down to see what's so funny? "But Mom," said Claire, "Rapunzel was only trying to get her shoes back," (which Anne flushed down a few months ago).

And that pink dress is sopping wet. Apparently swimming in the buff was an afterthought.