Lots of new things going on! We've had the speech device for 3 weeks now - the afternoon it arrived, boy did I get a lot of hugs from Kaiden!! Yeah, I teared up a lot! Now, he runs to the device when he wants to talk. Or he'll occasionally bring it to me to talk, which is the eventual goal.
I didn't get much of a chance to play around with programming the two loaner units we used, since they were kept at the school. The one we were able to purchase (thanks to all the generous people that donated to our fundraiser!) is the Accent 1000; I didn't know it came defaulted to the Unity program rather than the LAMP program we'd worked with previously until just a couple days ago. We had a meeting with a manufacturer (PRC) rep on Thursday, and she was able to show us side by side differences between the two programs. They are very, very similar with Unity being the original, and LAMP being the evolution of that program. She then set up our device with the LAMP program, and as we talked about Kaiden and how far he's come, she suggested we skip the first and second stages and go right to the full blown, 3000 word program - which means a bit of re-learning for him. The (touch screen) buttons are all still in the same place but now he needs to touch the first screen, and depending on what he selects, that brings up a related secondary screen (which can then bring up more screens, etc.) I know he "gets" the two-screen approach; when he picks out what music he wants to listen to (on my PC), he touches the artist first (I click on the artist, it brings up their albums), then touches which album he wants. This device is just so cool! We can customize lists for whatever we want to work on, like a vocabulary builder, or simple things like a customized snack list with his favorites.
I think we originally misunderstood how to teach him to use the device. It starts with one-word access, and we did that to teach him the meaning of words, assuming he didn't know them (well, I thought he knew them but this was the recommended starting point), and also to get the motions associated with the word - both where the word is on the device and actions like "go", "in", "out" etc. Here I and his SLP thought we'd just keep slowing adding more one-touch words - but with the rep telling us Kaiden is ready for full access based on the progress he's already made, we took the leap and went for it. I'd also previously been told to not let him play with it; that too many words would overwhelm him. The rep said, no, no, no! Let him play with it and get familiar with it! He'll touch a bunch of stuff a bunch of times but he'll be learning as he does it. It will still be months and months of training, and we have to learn how to use this program, too!
Next up - growth! So far this year with the supplement changes (GABA + Cellular Energy, and managing his sleep cycle to calm his adrenals), Kaiden has grown a whopping 4.75"! Considering he didn't grow much at all the last couple of years - this is great!! As his doctor said, he might still be below the charts, but now he's following the growth lines which is fantastic! As of last night he's up to 31.5lbs. He is now tall enough he can put his snack plate in the sink when done and he feels confident getting in and out of the bathtub on his own. He no longer uses a booster chair at the table, and can climb up into the chair by himself! With motor apraxia, climbing has been an issue (well, using his hands to assist climbing), and I'm looking forward to him being able to get into the carseat by himself. His head is still very small (hey, so is mine!) so we have begun cranial osteopathy to encourage head growth, reshape his flat spot (from how he slept as a baby) and to widen his palate. The goal is to widen it enough so he won't need a palate expander! Completely possible!! I am really excited about this because palate expanders are expensive, and with Kaiden's oral sensitivities, he'd HATE having it in his mouth for months. He already has one adult tooth in the spot where he was missing baby teeth, and this one adult tooth is pushing his baby teeth around.
Balance - one of the reasons I love being on the Review Team for New Age Mama blog is getting to try out products free in exchange for an honest review. The latest item I was able to acquire for Kaiden is a Strider Balance Bike, the 12" Sport. It's recommended for ages 18 months to age 5. Kaiden is 5 1/2, but the size of a 3 year old so this works out nicely. Balance has been a major issue for Kaiden all his life - made considerably better with one of our earlier Dr. Christopher tinctures (the Ear & Nerve Tonic), but not yet where it should be. It took a few tries, but Kaiden has now mastered the first stage with the bike, Standing/Walking (and running!) - next up is Seated Walking - and I think he would have done that today, too, but we set the seat just a wee bit too high, so will be fixing that.
Eating - it's been a long three-year battle, but Kaiden is now 95% fully self feeding. FINALLY. He still does not hold the bowl to stabilize it with one hand while eating with the other. He does need help rounding up the last couple of bites (thanks to not holding the bowl!) but we'll get there. Eating meals is SO much less stressful now. I actually get to eat hot food. And use both my hands if I need to! Or, if I'm not eating at the same time, I can get things done while he eats!
And, thanks to applying some of the principles from the SonRise program, I think Kaiden is mostly "recovered" from autism, with the exception of imaginative play. I think he'd relate to other kids better if he could relate to how other kids play.
With all the changes this year, Kaiden has really blossomed. I can't wait to see what next year brings!