Monday, August 27, 2007

Scooter shorts

Taking a day off from house-hunting, remembering that there is still one house we can see ourselves living in, focusing on other things.

I believe I've said before that time at Grandma and Grandpa's seems to be a magic tonic for Scooter. It brings out so many things that have been percolating under the surface. We've only been here a few days, but little things are already evident.


Scooter's favorite toys here are his Lego Thomas trains. My mother-in-law asked me the other day how much longer he's likely to be interested in them, as Lego has come out with a few more trains now (of course, the old ones just aren't enough). I looked over at where Scooter's trains are set up and said, "I can see him playing with them for a long time to come."

But the play has changed. It used to be that I would set up the tracks, just so. And then put together the stations and other accessories, just so. Scooter would then run the trains around, reenacting Thomas stories.

His play has become less constricted. He still wanted the trains set up immediately upon our arrival, but didn't seem to mind that we didn't have all of the pieces right at hand. As I put together some of the characters, he started laying track and didn't seem to mind that it was a mish-mash instead of neat loops. And he's changed up the layout numerous times, occasionally asking me to create a loop here and there, but insisting on doing most of the building.

He has also become imaginative with the trains themselves. He had started this the last couple times we were here, mixing up the pieces of the various characters, but he has expanded his experimentation. Mutant trains currently sit on the track. Cranky's winch is attached to Percy's base and is towing part of James' tender behind him. Harold's head faces one way on Thomas' base, with Gordon facing the other direction. On the one hand, it's a little creepy and reminds me of the mutant toys that Sid made in Toy Story; yet I cannot deny that we are delighted with this new twist on creativity.


Scooter likes to help around the house. One of his 'responsibilities' is to help water the plants. He immediately figured out how to use the spigots on the rain barrels and is careful to turn them off completely when he has filled his bucket. He has also taken to sweeping and will come ask for the broom when he spills a few snack crackers.

While "I do it" has been part of his speech for some time, it has become a much more frequent utterance. It's obvious that he's feeling much more confident in his abilities and now realizes just how much he can do. When Grandma was a little slow to get him the water he requested, he jumped down, grabbed her glass, went into the bathroom, filled the glass, and walked back out. Sure, he spilled some of it down his front, but he did it all by himself.


Just because it's cute: Grandma made a very yummy dessert yesterday that involved a white cake. She offered to let Scooter lick the bowl. He looked at it and announced, "I want one where I put my finger in and it's chocolate."


And another little bit of progress: We've been trying to get Scooter an appointment at a local pediatric clinic that was recommended to us because they treat a lot of children with autism. We had not had our call returned when using our Canadian phone number and so Trillian called again this morning--and got voice mail. But when we went to Trillian's afternoon appointment with her local doctor (in a new location), we noticed that the pediatric clinic was practically next door. So while Trillian went to her appointment, I went to get one for Scooter. At first, the receptionist told me they wouldn't have anything before October. I asked if she could recommend another pediatric clinic, in Capital City or Springfield, and mentioned that we had come to them because our son my be mildly autistic. She asked me to wait as she headed into the back. After a couple minutes, she came back and asked if we could come in early tomorrow--one of the founding pediatricians of the clinic would be able to fit us in then. So maybe, just maybe, we have our new pediatrician--at the very least, we should be able to get the official referral we need to make sure the developmental pediatrician is covered by insurance next month. Another little step, but it's encouraging.


bubandpie said...

Am I the only one who thrives on those subtle milestones, those signs of an expanding repertoire of imagination and emotion ... while at the same time wondering confusedly if that means we WON'T get a diagnosis, and is that good or bad, and did I just imagine all the issues we've been dealing with for the last two years, and and and...

Yeah. I don't deal with uncertainty all that well either.

Mouse said...

I'm having a lot of those particular moments right now. Scooter has improved so much in the last 4-6 months. The pediatrician today told me that he doesn't see Scooter being more than VERY mildly autistic, if he is at all--and part of me suspects that a lot of what he's seeing are the improvements. On the other hand, the pediatrician did not dismiss my concerns, wanted to make sure we'd be continuing OT, and was totally on-board about the sensory issues. So at least I'm not dealing with the feeling that I must be imagining the problems.

Lisa b said...

Oh wow. All of this sounds so great it gave me goosebumps. Things really seem to be coming together.
I'm dealing with similar thougths re the improvment in my daughter. Will it mean she won't get the help she needs or should I be happy she is improving?
Everyone talks about therapy helping so much but it seems that old cliche about kids all developing at their own pace holds true. I'll still be doing the therapy but it makes you wonder. well it makes me wonder anyway how much it can help and how much is innate to the child.

Mouse said...

Right now I'm a firm believer in the therapy, especially occupational therapy. On the one hand, I think a lot of this would come together for Scooter eventually, but the OT has helped jump-start the process. The amount of progress he made in his first 4 blocks is absolutely amazing--not a cure-all, but the differences have touched every part of his development. He'll always be different from his peers in some respects, but if he can have confidence in himself, something we've seen improve recently, I worry so much less about how he'll bear that.

Lisa b said...

hello hijacking your comments here...obviously this is mashing around in my head. I've always been interested in your stories about scooter. Austistic kids I have taught have just been fascinating to me. I was doing some reading this week and realised that many of the things we are told about Julia - social skills, delayed language etc are similar to autism.
The weird thing about having such a diagnosis in a small baby is that we have no sense of what her potential is. In an older child you have seen things develop over time and then see them improve with therapy. I am inspired by what you, B& P and others report but at the same time wonder can I expect the same of Julia. Is is fair for me, is it fair for her for me to hope to see the same progress?
and now I return to my own blog.....

Aliki2006 said...

How wonderful to see these leaps and bounds in Scooter!

We see our son's issues getting worse ever since he started kindergarten, and it's been hard to see the backwards steps and not the leaps forward. Maybe we'll plateau at some point and go up from there, who knows.

Mouse said...

Lisa B--hijack away. I think that this is a topic where it helps a lot to think out loud and bounce ideas off of other parents--it's made a huge difference for me. Even with my enthusiasm for therapy, there's a little voice in my head that wonders if Scooter wouldn't have made many of these improvements on his own, just due to maturation and his own development. And the conclusion I've come to on this is that I'll never know, but that I'd rather have taken some action, especially when it's something that I don't see as potentially harmful.

Obviously I can't speak to your situation, but I think that for me, starting out right at the beginning with all of this, it would become my normal. And I would view her development, even with therapy from the very beginning, as her normal. So maybe you would not see the same leaps and bounds (which, to be fair, have now slowed back down for us after the initial rush).

A perverse part, the highly scientific part, of me wishes there were a way to have a control, to run this like a proper experiment and, therefore, KNOW the right answer in the end. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way, so I'm having to navigate a lot of this by intuition--so unscientific, so uncertain.

Not sure if I'm making the sense I want to. It's late, and I suspect this idea would be better served as a longer post that has had a chance to percolate. But in the meantime, it's what I've got.

Lisa b said...

Thanks mouse! You always know what to say.
One of the best things about having this be my second child is that I have given up on the "control".
I've noticed already with Julia that time makes a difference. Honestly for someone who has been sedated for half her life she is doing amazingly well.
I think you are right that starting early with therapy she may be closer to expected milestones. I just don't want to expect her to meet the milestones if she is not able to but at the same time I don't want to sell her short either.
Ug so conflicting.
The only downside of an early diagnosis is that you have time to look at the worst case scenarios and worry. While the parent support group I have joined is great I have learned that most of the people on it have kids with more problems than are typical.