I'm finding that Wednesdays are one of my favorite weekdays. I know this sounds crazy, but it's because it is the only day of the week that we have NO morning therapy! It's nice to have at least one day that we can be a bit leisurely with getting the three of us fed and dressed in the morning. It's probably one of my least productive days since I'm having to keep a close eye on Fidget, but that's a small price to pay!
I can't complain, though; we're blessed to have all of Fidget's therapy set up in home, we're fortunate that our insurance policy is written through a state which has mandated autism coverage, and we're thankful that he's making such excellent progress. Every other week we have a meeting with his therapists, case manager, and once a month his clinical supervisor to go over all of their data tracking, see what skills he is mastering, what he's having trouble with, what new goals we can set, etc. This was a meeting week, and as always it's so helpful to have their experience for me to bounce questions off of, hear their opinions of what they're seeing, etc. In most areas he still has a long way to go to catch up to his same-age peers, but to know that they're seeing such great results really affirms that we did the right thing by pushing for early evaluation.
Getting the ear tubes in and improving his hearing was big part of the equation, but what has surprised me has been the effect of dietary changes. On the advice of Dr. C, we started by eliminating casein (a protein found in dairy products) based on some of his physical symptoms - constant runny nose, frequent loose poop, keratosis bumps on his arms and thighs, and Dr. C said she even noticed slight dark circles under his eyes. In the process of removing the casein we found that most products that were casein free were also gluten free, and since we knew that was also a possible recommendation we decided to go ahead and make his diet gluten free as well. We've played around with it for a couple of months now, and I can now say with a fair amount of certainty what each of those food types does to him. The casein ramps up his aggression, tantruming, and self injurious behaviors; I wouldn't be surprised if some of that is an emotional manifestation of the digestive distress the dairy causes him. The gluten, on the other hand, is practically his toddler crack: it makes him quite hyper and overactive to the point that he can't stop himself even if he wants to. And when he's in these gluten highs, he is so overwhelmed with the need to bounce off of everything in sight that it is harder to break into his head and communicate with him. I'm sure he hears us, but it's like he can't make himself respond because he has to move, has to touch, has to mouth things. Now without the gluten he's certainly still a 2yo boy with lots of energy, but he is at least able to control himself and interacts & communicates with us much more easily.
One thing we are struggling with is his insistence on sameness with regards to meal time. If he has a different type of plate, or different food to eat, etc. it causes him to melt down to the point of flinging dishes and food if he is able. It happens at home, but is especially bad when we are in a restaurant. One recent restaurant attempt resulted in us having to box up his and Papa Bear's meals; P.B. had to take Fidget out to the car while Sunshine and I ate because Fidget was trying to throw pieces of bean burrito. Thankfully though they've said we can arrange for therapy outings where a therapist will come out with us, because right now it's to the point that we're avoiding eating out. We've got a trip to Disney World planned for the spring, though, so we really need to work through this by then.
Most other things are going well, though; even some early potty training! They've said it's a potential that in maybe 6-12 months he might be ready to spend some time in a regular preschool class with a therapist shadowing him, so I'm going to start putting out feelers this fall as to who might be open to such an arrangement. Part of me is hopeful that eventually we'll be able to bring him into our homeschool, but I've seen how much he learns by imitation, so I'll support his need to be around other "neurotypical" children as long as it seems beneficial. As I've said before, we love homeschooling Sunshine but we're not firmly tied to any one educational setting; for us it's all about what is best for each child at that particular time.
Papa Bear's vacation got cancelled due to a project starting, so over the weekend he got the kids' bunk beds built! I was wanting them done before our school year started anyway, but as Fidget kept ripping the mesh panels on more than one bed tent, the need for them became rather critical. Everyone who has seen the pictures has been raving over it; it still needs to have a finish put on but otherwise I am so pleased with the finished product. They're so cool they really deserve their own post, so more about them soon!
Otherwise we're just winding up our last few days of summer. I'm working to get our office prepared as a guest room for a friend & family who are staying from out of state at the end of the month, as well as getting all of our ducks in a row for starting our new homeschool year. All we need to do is replenish our school supplies and order a few supplemental materials, so hopefully I'll have things physically straight enough that we can start on Monday!