I originally started this blog a few years ago to chronicle Noah's daily struggles with autism. It was a dark time in my life - a time when I felt that things would never get better. It was a time when I felt that all my hopes and dreams for my son and for our family had died. In my efforts to help Noah recover from autism, I began a journey that inadvertently led me to rediscover myself. I learned how to laugh again. How to dream again. How to live again. How to love again.

Autism Schmaustism. He's still our son.

This is a blog celebrating our family. Our kids. Our life.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

What do you do when two of your kids want to go trick-or-treating, but you know without a doubt that your third child will refuse to wear a costume? And doesn't like to walk in public?

Well.... ya gotta get a little creative!

Sim turned an old washing machine box into The Mystery Machine Van and we all went as the Scooby-Doo Gang.

Nandi (aka "Little Diva") insisted on being Daphne because "Mommmmmy! You look just like Velma!"

I refused to spend $24.99 on a red "Daphne" wig... but I think she looks really beautiful with her dark hair.

The green scarf around her neck was fashioned out a pair of old green tights. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle!

Shaggy... meet your father.

Eli met up with a friend from school (aka Darth Vader) and I had to take a pic because "Hooray! Eli has friends!!". That's actually a big deal if you've been following our blog for awhile.

And do you like the soul patch? Kudos to you, Mr. Sharpie Marker.

The wig is one of those cheap Donald Trump wigs from Walmart. We hacked it off with a pair of scissors and turned it sideways and voila! Hello, Shaggy.

I always knew Fred had a thing for Velma. I just knew it.

Sim decided that we should rename The Mystery Machine "The Chick Magnet" or "Chick Mobile" because, let me tell ya, little Noah was gathering up quite a crowd of the...uh... female persuasion.

He was one popular little dude last night.

Trick or Treat. Smell my feet. Give me something good to eat!

Waiting in the long, long line for Halloween goodies.

This gives you a good view of how Noah's stroller fits inside the box.

The whole gang... Fred, Velma, Daphne, Velma, Scooby, and The Mystery Machine Van.

Hope you all have a great Halloween that's full of wonderful memories, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and ghost and ghoul free!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Noah's Autism Therapy Part 3 - Equipment

I finally got around to charging my camera so you could all see the different equipment we use with Noah. Some of it we use everyday, and others we just use here and there (i.e. when we remember!)

Where possible, I've written where you can get each piece and how much it cost.

I hope these posts aren't coming across all showy or anything. I generally put the cost of each therapy so that others can see how much it might cost them should they decide to try the therapy with their child. Plus, I hate reading about a therapy and getting all excited only to find out that it's completely unattainable for us because it costs, like, $400 an hour or something. Been there done that. And even though we still spend a couple of hundred dollars a month, it's gone way way down from where it was when I felt like "I" had to cure Noah in 3 months time or else.

First up, which you'll find in the picture above, are stability balls. I love these! They're my favorite. We use them for everything.. not just Noah's therapy. And, let me tell ya, I'm all about buying Noah equipment that I can use too... especially equipment that promises to firm up my flabby tummy by sitting on it.

Mainly, I sit on one of the balls while I work with Noah on his massage table (you'll hear more about that later). And I also like to sit on one and put Noah on another, hold him by his feet, and roll him back and forth. It really works his trunk muscles... and that kid's got some rocking core strength! We also play "bucking bronco" where he sits on a ball and I grab his legs and start jerking him back and forth and side to side. Warning.. your child MUST have good trunk control for this - otherwise - he'll fall backwards and hit his head on your wood floor.

Don't ask me which kid I tried it with to discover that little gem.

Anyway, we see if Noah can stay on the "bucking bronco" for a count of 8 - and he'll grab my arms before then if he's wanting off. I also like to put him on his tummy and roll him back and forth or bounce him up and down. And another favorite is sandwiching the ball in the corner of a room (you have to stand tight against the ball to keep it from moving) and then I hold Noah's hands while he jumps up and down on the ball. We usually sing songs and such while doing this.

The good thing is that the balls are available everywhere (Target, Walmart, Ross) and are pretty cheap... about $10 - $20 depending on the size. We have the largest size (60cm??) and the one just down from that.

The chair above is Noah's favorite. My mom scored this for about 5 bucks at a garage sale last Christmas. I think it's a video game chair?? Not really sure. It's more of a "Oh my gosh, this chair is perfect for Noah!" chair.

He's constantly in, rocking back and forth. It'll tip all the way back and then he has to use his stomach muscles to pull himself up. And sometimes, he'll drag us to it and we'll sit in it and he'll climb in our lap and we'll go back and forth together - singing songs or trying to read a book.

I don't know exactly how therapeutic it is, but I'm pretty sure it works on one of his sensory issues. Vestibular, maybe? (Man, I should know this stuff!)

Next up is the purple hammock swing that Santa brought him last year. But I also hear that you can get it at First Monday in Canton for about $99. You have to bargain them down to this price. You can also go to their website EZ Hang and buy from there. It's more expensive, though. About $130 and I'm sure you'll have to pay shipping.

Let me say, though, that we've had several swings and I love this one. It holds up to 350lbs and I can get in it with Noah and swing. Swinging is definitely one of his favorite things and this normally calms him down if he's having a massive fit. And Nandi and Eli love it, too. My gosh, we have to force Eli out of it sometimes!

Santa brought this mini-trampoline 2 Christmases ago. I sure do love it when Santa brings therapy gifts! But you can also buy it anywhere. I'm sure Santa picked this one up at Academy for about $99. It did have a nice little mat to cover the springs, but our puppy chewed it up.

Eli actually likes to get on here and jump after school. I honestly think school recesses are too short... he's got soooo much energy to burn when he gets home. Maybe each class needs a mini-tramp in the back of the room and each kid can take turns letting off some steam or something.

Mini-tramp in the way of a mini-trampoline... not a 1st grade mini-tramp. No. We don't need that. Just clarifying.

Noah likes the little trampoline, but doesn't get on it everyday. But when he does, oh man, he goes to town!

This is the infamous IKEA egg chair! Thank you Mr. or Mrs. or Miss Swedish person who invented this. You must have a child with autism.

I swear it's the PERFECT toy for a child with sensory issues or one who loves spinning things and loves to be spun. You can sit in it, pull down the cover (great for kids who like to feel enclosed) and have someone spin you around and around. Noah actually prefers the cover to stay up and sometimes he likes to stand in it while I spin him. (Although I'm sure that's totally what NOT to do...so be careful on that one.) And, oftentimes, he likes to pull his toys in there and give them a spin.

It's $80 and you can find it at IKEA here. If you don't live near an IKEA, be sure to check out IKEA swivel chair (or egg chair) on Craigslist. We've even seen them at garage sales. If you order it straight from IKEA just know that the shipping cost is outrageous.

This is an awesome balance board that Sim's friend Jason made Noah for Christmas last year. In his spare time. And he works with Sim, so you know he has practically zero free time. And he has a family. And still managed to do this for Noah.

Yeah, he's pretty much a saint.

Sim put the textured rubber gripper thingies on it (a couple of bucks from Lowe's) so that Noah's feet wouldn't slip off. Noah likes to stand on it while we hold his hands and balance back and forth. We also sit him cross-legged on it - though it's hard to keep him in that position - and try to get him to balance his weight on side and then the other. Plus, it's good for moms, too! Really works your balance and core muscles.

Noah's balance is improving so much!

We hit the jackpot with Santa one year when he decided to bring tons of toys that could double up as therapy equipment. But I believe you might also be able to find these at Academy - on sale even - after Thanksgiving. We don't get on this as much as used to... mainly because Nandi & Eli don't care for it as much now and they won't get on it with Noah. But he still likes it and sometimes I'll stand on one end and push up and down on it. It's hard work, I tell ya! I try to convince myself that I'm actually getting some cardio in while doing it. Don't know if it's true or not, but I'm all about psychological effects.

My parents bought this at First Monday one year for Noah. I think it was around $55?? I'm not really sure. I've also seen this set up around Christmastime outside of gas stations. Is that just a Texas thing? Or does every state have people setting up and selling things on the grass next to a gas station?

Anyway, Noah loves it. He's a swinging machine. He really has to work hard on to stay on it, so it's helping his trunk muscles. I mean, honestly, for a child with CP, he has great trunk control!

Noah pretty much gets on this every day.

Without fail, we can always find Noah on his little yellow swing. And he doesn't care that the whole thing only cost us $25 at a garage sale or that everythings broken on it except the three swings in the middle. He loves that thing. One day, I'd love to get him one of those big wooden ones they sale at Costco and cost the equivalent of a month's salary, but, really, he loves this swing. Doesn't bother him a bit.

He still doesn't know how to swing himself, so I spend a lot of time outside pushing him. But now that he's taller, he can push off a little with his feet. It's not proper swinging, but he still gets the swinging motion from it and he likes that.

Our beloved trampoline. We used to practically live on this thing 4 years ago. I believe we got it at Walmart for about $250 + $100 for the net? I can't really remember. It was definitely worth the money.

Noah doesn't initiate going on it as much as he used to, but when I take him on it, he's all smiles and giggles.

This is the piece d' resistance. Our massage table that my parents snagged at a garage sale for about 15 bucks. They're all over Craigslist, though, so it shouldn't be hard to find one if you need one.

You can tell from the pic that it's in the living room. Basically, it's been everywhere. Our room, Noah's room, Noah's closet. But, I'm pretty much 100% an outta sight - outta mind girl. And if it's not right there in front of me then I won't use it. Which means our living room looks like an Occupational Therapist's dream. Everything is right smack dab in the living room. But, hey, I'm a lot more consistent now with doing Noah's therapies each day than before.

The last piece of equipment... which I forgot to take a picture of because the kids were fighting over it and Sim hid it... is a Bosu Ball.

You can get them at Walmart or Target for about $100, but they're a little cheaper on Amazon. Of course, you have to consider shipping. We got our ball for free from a friend. (Thank you! You know who you are!!)

You can use either side of it. Either side, though, works on your balance and balance activities are some of Noah's favorites.

I hope this gives you an idea of the things we think are essential for Noah's in home "program", so to speak. It took several years to get everything... we've had the trampoline for about 5 years now... and I'm a firm believer in giving gifts that can be used for therapy purposes. (The good thing is that my kids are so used to this that they don't know any different!)

There are a few things that I'd still like to get....an Ipad being the most important. Oh my gosh, have you read about all the apps out there for children with autism? There are some AMAZING reports about nonverbal children using Ipads for communication. I tell you, I have become obsessed with Noah getting one. I'm hoping for Christmas, but it will involve me getting off my rear and cleaning out the garage for a massive garage sale and putting some stuff on Ebay. The wheels are definitely spinning in my head. If you have one and use it for a child with autism, please let me know!

Next time, I'll do a post on some of Noah's favorite things... and things we can't live without. I do plan on doing a post about the exercises we do with Noah, but it'll involve my husband taking pictures... hopefully, he'll have this weekend off.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Noah's Autism Therapy Part 2 - Miss MG (One of the Key Players)

Photo by liveandlearn.net.au

Brain gym is something that I'd heard about off and on during the years we were doing biomedical treatment with Noah. It seemed interesting, but wasn't really our cup of tea at the time. Noah stopped talking and started having infantile spasms the day after he received his DpT shot... and all his urine and fecal tests were showing that he had heavy metals in his body... and since I couldn't understand how doing a few exercises would help him recover from autism and get all the metals out, I just filed all the Brain Gym info into the part of my mind that was reserved for all the stuff that seemed like a neat idea but would never work for Noah.

Basically, it went into the same pile that included homeopathy, chiropractors, natural medicine, RPM, and cranial sacral therapy.

Oh, hindsight. You certainly are 20/20!

Actually, I didn't even consider Brain Gym for Noah until about 4 or 5 months ago. We initially started going to a Brain Gym therapist about a year ago for Eli. You see, I can't really tell you - in proper technical terms what exactly Brain Gym is... I'll link you to the official site instead... but our former Occupational Therapist had mentioned that Eli was having trouble crossing midline. And at the time, he was writing all his letters backwards (still does some of that) and was writing complete words in mirror image. In fact, he could write his name E-L-I with his left hand (and he's right handed) but then he'd switch to his right hand and write I-L-E. Except it was backwards and I don't know how to do that on my keyboard.

Also, if he wrote with his left hand, he'd start writing words on the left-hand side of the page - like you're supposed to. But if he wrote with his right hand, he'd start at the right-hand side of the page and write backwards until he got to the middle of the page and then he'd switch to his left hand and start at the left hand side of the page. His writing basically looked like this...

I love dinosaurs zuc l00c era yeht.

Translated as.... I love dinosaurs cuz they are cool.

See what I mean?

Anyway, one of the reasons Eli did this is because he never crawled. Ever. He went straight from sitting up to bear crawling and he would walk with his legs straight and his butt up in the air. He did this for a little while and then took off walking. Now, he couldn't even sit up on his own when we adopted him at 9 months. He had zero trunk control, but picked up things quickly. But he never crawled.

There's a school of thought out there that crawling is a major developmental milestone and helps link both sides of the brain together and that kids who skip crawling can develop learning disabilities - especially with reading.

Now, this isn't true across the board. Lots of kids skip crawling and are developmentally fine. Geniuses, in fact. And, like any therapy out there, there's going to be critics. No therapy can single-handedly satisfy everyone. But we couldn't ignore that Eli seemed to fit all the signs of a child who could benefit from Brain Gym.

Like a lot of therapies that are good for kids with ADD or Autism, etc, Brain Gym isn't covered by insurance. If you can find an Occupational Therapist who does it, then you're in luck b/c most insurances will cover it. But Brain Gym on its own... nah.

And don't even get me started on my soapbox about that. I mean, insurance companies won't let you try it out, say, 15 times to see if it works... but exactly what is this country going to be like in 15 years time when there are thousands and thousands of adults with autism who are going to be without insurance and relying on Medicare? How much is THAT going to cost?? You would think the govt and these insurance companies would do whatever treatments are necessary to get our kids healthy... because our "unhealthy" kids are going to become adults someday and who's going to pay for their medical needs? And the kids who actually end up being institutionalized? Who's going to pay for that? Yep...... but I digress

Okay, so, anyway, this time last year we were pulling our hair out over Eli. He was terrified of everything. Throwing awful fits nonstop. Everything was a battle and we were worn out. So, we said, "Okay, we're going to try Brain Gym. What can it hurt?" Except our wallet, of course.

Like most therapies that insurance doesn't cover, Brain Gym can run up to $100 a session - with a session being anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Well, we didn't know what to do. We thought, okay, maybe we'll find a therapist, go a couple of times, learn all we can, and do it at home.

That's when we met Miss MG. She has an actual name, but she's so swamped that she's asked me not to mention her name on here. BUT... if you are able to take your child to Tyler for therapy then leave a comment with your email and I'll get back with you.

Look, I'm a Dallas girl. All our therapists are in Dallas. It's a big city. I have faith in it. It's a snobby attitude, I know, but I never, ever, ever go east.

East TX, to a North Texas girl, is kinda backwards. But we live here now and my kids are growing up to be East Texans... so I need to change my attitude, right? Well, I did find a Brain Gym therapist in Tyler, but I was kinda like, ehh. I mean, there's nothing in East Texas for kids with autism. Slim pickins, folks. But we called and, oh my word, I take back everything I ever said. This lady is a Godsend!

I am floored by her. First of all, and this has nothing do with anything, but she used to be in the Peace Corps and so I totally love her. She's got a great heart! Second of all, she loves my kids - even when Eli takes his shoes off and stinks the whole place out, she just grabs his feet and goes to work. Third, she thinks nothing of me taking notes and doing the exercises at home. In fact, she encourages it. Fourth, she goes to these expensive trainings that I could never ever afford and she tells me all the stuff she learned. And, finally, she only charges $25 an hour.

That's right. $25 an hour! Ya'll, I'd be paying 4 or 5 times that much in Dallas. Yay for East Texas!

And the cool thing is that not only does she do Brain Gym, but she also does the Masgutova Method .

I don't know of anyone who does that except for Miss MG.

Let's shout it out load. Yay for East Texas!

Svletana Masgutova does neuro-sensory programs and works with kids who've retained their primitive reflexes. You see, and here's where I really start talking in layman's terms and probably getting everything wrong, infants are born with several reflexes that usually go away by the time they're 1. But some kids still retain them. In fact, as of last year, Eli still retained 9 out of 11 primitive reflexes. And if kids retain these, then issues can occur.

Think about the child who gets in trouble at school because he always does his work with his head on his desk? Or the child who slumps in his seat. Or the child who fidgets. Now, what if you realized that maybe it's physically painful for that child to sit up straight? What if the only way he can work is with his head slumped on the table? What if that 5 year old physically can't sit cross-legged in a circle during story time? What if it's so uncomfortable that the child is concentrating only on being able to sit cross-legged and, therefore, unable to hear what the teacher is saying?

That's what kids with retained primitive reflexes go through. Every single day. And the goal of Brain Gym and the Masgutova Method (which also works really well for kids with cerebral palsy) is to help repattern the brain and lose those primitive reflexes so they can catch up to their peers.

There's so much I can say, but I think I will leave you with two things.....

1. Here are some links that you can look at for more information...and that will really tell you all you need to know.

Reflexes, Learning, and Behavior by Sally Goddard. Actually, all her books are pretty good.

2. And finally, I'm going to tell you how Brain Gym is helping Noah.

I think Brain Gym, plus seeing Dr Rosenthal (look a few posts back for info on him) have really helped Noah's brain/body connections. I know I keep harping on this, but Noah's brain works. His cognitive abilities are in tact. He just can't get his body to cooperate.

Noah's seen Miss MG about 5 times now and last week was the FIRST time she was truly able to spend a good hour on him without him protesting. He came home that night and started throwing up and having diarrhea. The next day, he was fine and we started seeing some great changes. Noah is babbling more. He is starting to play games with us by taking turns playing with his spinning top. Yesterday at Walmart he imitated me putting the groceries on the conveyor belt by taking off his shoe and putting it on the belt to be scanned (lol). For the first time in his life he is actually bringing us things.... like a toy that ran out of batteries. A dish cloth to dry up a spill. He is choosing which spinning top he wants us to spin and picking it up and handing it to us. If he drops a fork, he picks it up and puts in back on the table. For the last year, all he's done is drag us to things. He'd drag us to the toy that needed batteries and throw our hand on it. He's drag us to the spill and throw our hand on it. He'd drag us to the fork for us to pick up. But now he's actually bringing us things and that's a huge accomplishment!

1. RPM

2. Chiropracter work and Cranial Sacral Therapy

3. Homepathy

4. Brain Gym

Next time, once I remember to plug in my camera battery (!!), I'll take pictures of all the equipment we use with Noah and then I'll talk about the exercises we do and how we use the equipment that we have.

And, hopefully, it won't take another two weeks for me to get around to it! =)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Noah's Autism Therapy Part 2 - T.I. BISHOP (One of the Key Players)

Okay, this is the blog post that is officially going to label me as a quack. I just know it. (Oh and have you noticed that this is my second blog posts in 24 hours? I know. I know!)

This is probably going to be one of the hardest posts to write. Actually, I think letting you all know what we're doing with Noah is hard in general. Because I don't want to look like a fool. I have this fear of people saying, "Oh my gosh, you're investing in hogwash. You are so wasting your money!"

But this is what's working for Noah. It is. And it's hard because I'm a facts person. I'm one of those nerdy types who loves research and facts and figures. Five, six, seven years ago you could've asked me anything about autism and various treatments and I would've been able to rattle off tons of statistics off the tops of my heads. I could've told you who was who in the autism world. Where each doctor went to school. All the clinical trials that had been done. I could have rattled on about DNA and genes and the human body so much that you would've thought I'd gone to medical school.

And now... I can tell ya nothin'. Because I don't need to know how this stuff works anymore. I just have faith that it does.

But it's one thing to keep it all to myself. To let everyone know that this is what we're doing and this is what we're claiming is helping Noah... now that's a different story. Because people like facts. And people like concrete evidence. I totally get that. I'm a questioner through and through. I wear people out with my questions. I've been called out on it. But it's just how my brain works. And trust God to lead us down the path where there are no answers... .where I just have to rely on faith. It's totally like God to do that to me.... He knew that I needed to be rattled.

Anyway, if you've been reading this blog for awhile (you know, back when I used to blog interesting things and had a sense of humor) then you may have seen the blog post I did about homeopathy and Noah's skin - complete with pictures that STILL make me grimace. That post will give you a good idea about what led us to try homeopathy in the first place - and the pictures speak for themself.

A couple of years ago, a friend that I'd met while living in Franklin, TN told us that she was using a homeopath named T.I. Bishop who owns a company called Breath of Life. My friend is very religious and she said that she felt like God was telling her to let me know about T.I.

See, this is where I either gain your attention or lose you, right? Where you start to judge if I'm sane or not.

Well, my friend urged me to contact T.I. (who had no idea about us) and T.I. agreed to work with us. Here's where it gets tricky. She only works with local people -and she was based in Franklin and we were in TX. But she agreed to give it a try and told us that she couldn't make any promises and that she wasn't even sure if it would work, but she'd pray about it and see what happens.

It didn't phase us a bit because we'd already dabbled into alternative medicine quite a bit... so things like "energy medicine" didn't strike us as odd. If you've never heard of it, then you're going to think it's nonsense. But if you're reading this and you've already done energy clearings or energy medicine before (like if you have allergies and such) then you know that there is some merit to it. And the best thing for us is that it didn't involve poking Noah with needles... and it wasn't all that expensive.

Now, T.I. does electra dermal screening. I can't really tell you what it is, but you can find more info HERE. Of course, the problem was how was she going to work with Noah if we weren't in TN? So, we sent her a picture of Noah and she put it on the machine, prayed over it,... and it printed out a response.

Okay, I know that sounds crazy. But here's the even crazier part....

Each month T.I. does that. And each month it prints off things that fit Noah to a T. And before I give you some examples, let me tell you that T.I. doesn't know much about Noah. Even though we've done this for 2 years now, it still floors me and there's still a bit of skeptic in me, so I make sure never to say what's going on with Noah until after the tests are run. And every month, I am blown away by how accurate the results are.

See.... God is really working on me in the area of faith.

Here are some of the things that the test has shown before...

1. It showed that Noah had a little-known bacteria (and named it by name). The thing is that T.I. didn't know that we'd already had a fecal test run (for much $$$) and it showed that Noah had that same bacteria in his stool. Her test - the one that is completely wild, and even she'll admit it - showed the same thing.

2. One time T.I. emailed me and said that maybe the test wasn't working properly because it showed Noah was having a problem with coffee (and obviously a 7 year old shouldn't have a problem with coffee, right?). But what she didn't know is that Noah had been sneaking my coffee every morning and drinking it. We would find my coffee mugs all over the house. We couldn't keep him out of it. But T. I. didn't know that.... and it still showed up on the test result.

3. Once, the test results showed that Noah was having a problem with water.... and the day before he had actually drank a bunch of stagnant water that had collected at the bottom of the slid on our swingswet.

4. It once showed a bacteria found in moldy leaves (or something like that) and what she didn't know is that Noah was having diarrhea from eating leaves in the backyard.

5. The test has detected when Noah is about to get a cold or when he does have a cold - and we never tell her these things beforehand.

6. Once, the test showed that he was having severe emotional issues and feeling despair..... and a few hours before he'd had one of the biggest meltdowns we'd ever seen.

Ya'll, I KNOW if sounds crazy... and even though we've done this for two years now, it still blows us (and T.I.) away. But these tests are accurate... and I can only attribute it to God. I think this is what we're meant to be doing. I think He wants me to humble myself and go out here and admit that we do this crazy sounding thing that can only be attributed to believing in the unseen... and having a bit - or a lot - of faith.

So, anyway, after the tests are run, T.I. formulates a remedy for Noah. A lot of time it involves homeopathic remedies or Bach flower remedies or cell food. In the beginning, it involved a lot of essential oils that we had to rub on Noah (and that made him smell like a delicious bottle of incense). And she gives us instructions on how many drops to give how many times a day.

It's easy-peasy.

He's never been harmed by any of these remedies... whereas all the biomed treatments we did nearly killed him. The oils smell soooo good, and you can google all the beneficial effects and see that these oils have been used for centuries and centuries.

I truly believe that God gave us everything we need on this earth to heal ourselves... we just have to find what it is.....

Anyway, so here's the lowdown...

T.I. is very honest. I really like her and trust her. We'd had some bad experiences with homeopaths in the past, so I was really skeptical in the beginning, but month after month these tests are turning out to be accurate and true, so this skeptic has turned into a believer.

She is very cost-effective. The tests + remedies + shipping are usually always between $100 - $145 a month, depending on the remedy. This is really NOTHING compared to what most therapies cost. In the beginning, it was more expensive because some of the oils are a bit pricey, but she never takes advantage of you. As soon as the tests stopped showing that Noah needed them, she stopped suggesting them. Like I said, I really trust her.

She's also very willing to work with you. There was a time when we couldn't afford to do the testing once a month, so she let us call the shots and for a while there we tested only every 2 - 3 months.

She's also very open. She's not out there to take your money. She really and truly wants to help. And that's the difference between a good practitioner and one who's just trying to sell you snake oil.

As far as how this is helping Noah... it's hard to say. It's like trying to tell someone how a flower grows. You know it's happening right before your eyes, but it's so slow and gradual that you can't really discuss it in great detail. All I know is that since we've started seeing a chiropractor, seeing Soma, and working with T.I., Noah has calmed down a lot. No, he's not one of those kids who recovers overnight. In fact, most people would look at him and ask if anything we've been doing has been working at all....

But here's what I'll tell you. Last night, I went into Nandi's room and Noah was laying there next to Nandi and he was holding her hand and had his head rested on her shoulder and she was talking to him and he had the sweetest smile on his face and the sweetest look in his eyes.

He loves his sister. He.loves.her. And he was able to show it.

Ya'll, not to promote a stereotype, but a lot of children with severe autism can't show affection. Withdrawing from society is one of the symptoms that makes autism autism. And there was a time when I could sit right on Noah's bed and look right into his eyes... and there was no light. He was gone. He had no idea who I was. He was a shell. And now, he crawls into our lap. He reaches out for kisses. He hugs his brother and sister. Not all the time. Not even half of the time. But it's getting more and more each day.

He's always been "there". He's always been inside his body... but he couldn't get it out. He was trapped. And slowly - soooo slowly - he's starting to emerge.

And that's what homeopathy has done for my son.

If you live in TN and you have any type of health problem, I'd really encourage you to look up T.I. Her website is HERE. I honestly don't know if she'll work with any other long distance clients... I mean, I think even she is blown away by what's happening with Noah. I mean, I think it amazes her, too. But it's worth contacting her and asking. She'll be really honest with you as to whether or not she thinks it'll work.

And it's slow going. It's not overnight. But we feel confident enough in it to do this long-term. Our goal now is not for the miracle pill or for the instant cure. Our goal is for Noah to have a happy and healthy life. Our goal is for the future.

Next time, I'll talk about Brain Gym and how we struck gold with Noah's Brain Gym instructor.

P.S. I think I'm supposed to mention that I didn't take the picture off the top. I got it off her website. So, now you know.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Noah's Autism Therapy Part 2 - Soma (One of the Key Players)

This is Soma. She has a last name, but I can't pronounce it. But if I google it, I can tell you that her full name is Soma Mukhopadhyay. But we just call her Miss Soma... otherwise known in our house as "The Autism Whisperer".

RPM stands for Rapid Prompting Method and it's Soma's baby. She developed it as a way to help her severely autistic son, Tito, and realized that it could be used with other children who have autism. To make a long story short, she now lives in Austin and RPM is done at her clinic - called HALO.

You can go to HALO's website to find out all the info you need about RPM - what it is, what it does, how it can help your child. You can even see videos of children in RPM sessions. It'll blow you away!

But here's what RPM has done for us and for Noah. It gave us hope and it gave Noah a voice.

You can find my very first blog post about RPM (written three years ago) HERE. The second post I wrote about RPM was written a few months later and you can read it HERE.

Basically, though, until we started doing RPM, we thought Noah had MR (cognitively disabled). And it wasn't so bad. We just assumed because he couldn't do much that he didn't know what was going on. In fact, he had the same IEP goals for three years of school because he was never able to master them.

Simply put, he never did manage to master the goal of touching his nose and stacking one block on top of another.

Guess what? He still can't do it.

But he's brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

RPM gave Noah a voice. It lets us know that he's "in there". That is he totally 100% cognitively normal. He hears everything we say. He knows what's going on. He just.can't.get.it.out.

Can you imagine how hard that is???
To be trapped in your body and not be able to communicate?

RPM is giving him a way to communicate. It's painfully slow b/c Noah has CP, too, and he's not that great at reaching out and spelling with the letterboard. But he's learning. He's slowly learning and one day he'll be able to do it.

Okay, so I know this is terribly disjointed. It's really hard to get it all out in a blog. And I've probably picked a terrible time to try and type all this out... especially as I'm meant to be getting the kids ready for bed. And I'm frustrated because RPM is so important to us and I want to do it justice... but I've been terrible at blogging lately and am afraid if I don't do it now then I won't, you know?

Basically, RPM doesn't tout itself as a full on communication program. It's an academic program. It teaches us how to teach our kids. And some people may say... why teach them academics? Noah can't talk. He's still in diapers. He spins in circles. How are academics going to help him in his life?

And I get that. I really do. But he's a 9 year old boy inside the body of a 1 year old. And that 9 year old boy's brain will atrophy if it's not worked with. He deserves to learn. He deserves it. And I respect him enough and love him enough to try and teach him.

Just think how as a mom sometimes you just yearn for adult conversation. You think that if you're around babies for one more day that you're going to go crazy. Now imagine if your whole life people thought you were literally dumb - so they never taught you anything. They let you watch your Elmo videos and listen to your nursery rhyme songs and did Patty Cake with you for your entire life.

How frustrated would you be? They say that puberty is the age that many nonverbal boys with autism start to become violent. Can you imagine going through puberty and no one telling you what was happening? To be trapped in your body and the only way you can communicate is by shrieking and hitting your head or hitting someone else?

I tell you... the moment we realized that Noah knows what's going on is the moment that everything changed. You could visibly see that Noah was so relieved that we found out. He loves having us read to him. He loves learning. He loves math and geography and he loves that we respect his intelligence. And I love him enough to keep doing it. Even though I know that all these hours spent reading classics to him or teaching him math or telling him about the timeline of history... even though I know he might not ever be able to use it.... I do it because it's important to him.

I know deep down that Noah might not ever have a job, but maybe he'll be a writer someday. Soma's son, Tito, has authored several books. There's also a teenager who does RPM who loves playing the stock market. He does RPM with his mom and tells her what to invest in and he actually earns his pocket money that way. Isn't that amazing??

But even if none of that happens, it's fine. Because RPM has - in a way - given me my son back. From RPM, I know that he loves math because it never changes. I know that he wanted an airplane for his 6th birthday. I learned that he wants to play the piano and that he can spell "Mesopotamia" and "Cuneiform". I also know that he hates Fairy Tales and that I can bribe him to do his RPM work by threatening to read "The Princess and the Pea" to him. This is incredible stuff when you have a child who is nonverbal. We still have a loooong way to go for Noah to be able to fully communicate on a message board, but I can't wait for the day when he's able to convery his feelings and thoughts by spelling them out.

It breaks my heart when I hear someone say that their autistic child doesn't know anything.

That's not true! I honestly believe that all children with autism KNOW exactly what's going on. I've seen it! I saw a group sesson of severely autistic, nonverbal teenagers doing RPM. One was on the floor rolling around. Another stimmed the entire session - and they were discussing the earthquake in Haiti and asking if there was a God. It's true! I can't even begin to tell you how amazing it is to see people who the world has given up on... and to see inside their souls. It is unlike anything I've ever experienced.

So I really urge you... if you have a nonverbal child with autism... PLEASE consider taking them to HALO. It IS expensive. Texas clients can only be seen once or twice a semester (due to demand) and it's $175 for two sessions - a 40 minute session and a 25 minute session. Out of state clients and international clients can come for a 4 day camp - which is basically two sessions a day for 4 days. It's around $785 (I think). So, like I said, it is pretty pricey.

HOWEVER..... it is one of the best thing you can do for yourself and your child.

In my opinion, here's what you need to do....
1. Read my blog posts above. They tell you a bit more about RPM.

2. Go to the Halo website and read up on RPM and watch the videos on the HALO website.

3. Look up "RPM Autism" videos on Youtube.

4. Pre-Order "A Mother's Courage" - this is a documentary about a mom who travels from Iceland to Austin to find hope for her son. I actually know this family and have seen her son in sessions. He's amazing!

5. Become a member of HALO. It's around $25, but will grant you access to the Msg Boards which can also give you information about RPM.

6. Travel to Austin and spend a day observing sessions. I think this is a MUST! Soma has a huge waiting list and it can take a while to get in to see her. If you are thinking of starting RPM, you really need to see it in action. Bring a box of Kleenex, though, because you will be driven to tears when you realize the potential that our children have.

7. Order Soma's RPM Training Manual (on the HALO website).

8. Order Tito's books.

9. Book a session with Soma.

A word of warning, though. Soma is very cut and dry. She's very professional and she's very busy. There's not a lot of time for chit chat after your session. That's why you need to learn as much about RPM before you do a session and take DETAILED notes during your child's session. And order a DVD copy of the session. YOU THE PARENT will be responsible for maintaining RPM at home, so you need to become an expert in it.

I'm not an expert in it by the way. Do as I say... not as I do, right?

But, seriously, I truly believe that God has given Soma a gift. She can truly reach our children in ways I've never seen possible. I still can't get Noah to do stuff that Soma can get him to do. She has a unique, special gift and it is miraculous what she can get our children to do.

Okay, that's all I can type right now. It is officially past the bedtime for the kids and Sim's giving me the stink eye. Before I go, though, PLEASE watch this video about a girl with autism who has learned to communicate through typing. If you haven't seen this, it'll blow your mind. It is incredible. It's not RPM, but it does give you an excellent idea of what our children are going through.... and how they know exactly what's going on.

KLEENEX ALERT! Wash off the mascara before you watch it...

Next time.... and I'll try to post sooner (promise!), I'll talk about the 3rd Key Player in Noah's life... his homeopath.