Sunday, June 26, 2011

Poor Puppy by Nick Bruel

Poor Puppy read by Nick Bruel from mrsantunez on Vimeo.

This is JT's favorite book right now. This is "Poor Puppy" read by the author Nick Bruel.

It is SO cute!

Favorite Color...

Who knew?!?!

JT is having conversations with me (real, back and forth conversations), and I find out his favorite color isn't yellow (I figured because of Spongebob), or red (which I just guessed at).

It's blue!

At 5 years, 6 months, 4 days, JT told me his first 'favorite' - his favorite color.

Now to find everything in blue ;)


Last name!

JT brought me these this morning, saying, "Look, it's for JTmy

Yay!!! Last name - check!

Now we're working on the address. Funny that when we say we live on
_____ Green, he responds by saying _____ Blue/purple/pink/yellow. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011


So thankful...

My little man is doing awesome things. Just astounding things. Some of this is because of the meds helping him to calm down, and he's finally enjoying the world around him. Some of it is because he loves being out of school (weird, I know, he digs not having a structured school day) and he's learning so much from Audrey.

I've already posted about his huge gains lately on his blog, so I won't re-do the entire list here. What I will say is that this progress is making us, as a family, so happy.

We can do things now. We were trapped here by autism last summer. JT couldn't handle going anywhere. He would run off in stores, scream, hit - you get the picture. This summer he *asks* to go places. He wants to see people. He is SO good - staying with me, doing what I ask - it is unbelievable that we really don't stick out at the grocery store. In fact, the only way we DO stick out is he listens to me and does exactly what I say - and the typical kids are usually the wild ones! Kinda funny :)

We can play games - JT is a really big fan of Candyland now. He gets it, he loves playing it, and other than the annoyance of waiting his turn, he is enamored with playing games with all of us.

Our house isn't a complete wreck. Sounds funny, but this year he wants to play with US. He's not digging out every toy and tossing them around. He plays with a toy, then comes and gets us to play with him.

The best part is his mood. No meltdowns. None since starting the risperdal. He's so happy. The happy that comes with the adorable humming that signals bliss. He giggles all the time.

He tells us stuff. Feelings. Needs. Best part is just random stuff. I'm discovering he has an astounding memory - I'll ask (myself, out loud) where something is... he'll respond (he listens to EVERYTHING) with exactly where it is.

I cannot describe how many ways this has helped us all. Knowing he's happy. Knowing everything about him. Being able to relax - both at home and out. Being able to go out period without worrying about any behavioral issues or something else.

He is freaking hilarious. He has always been so funny and had the best sense of humor - but the more he talks the more hysterical it gets. We are almost always laughing at his practical jokes or funny something... He is so proud to make us laugh, too.

He's sweet. Snuggly, up close sweet. NEVER seen this at this level before. It makes my heart jump up in my throat when he climbs on me to snuggle or grabs his sister's hand just to hold it when we're out. Precious.

We still have stuff to work on. But it is SO much easier to be able to pick what you work on than to have a billion things on the 'crisis' list.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mega Steps

In the past week and a half, we have seen some HUGE progress in JT.

-Sat through an entire meal, in his seat, sitting nicely at Chili's. In his seat. Even waited for me to get done before we went outside to wander around. In the past, he would have been on the floor, and we would have had to go outside several times to release some energy.

-Went shopping - several places - and behaved perfectly. No running off. No screaming. Walking around, staying with me, putting things back when asked with no tantrums or meltdowns...

-No meltdowns period since starting the risperidone. None. We have had a few 5-minute 'I'm mad' fits, but I would classify these as maybe a little more than a normal kid, in some cases completely normal.

-SO MUCH TALKING!!! He actually got in trouble last night because he would not stop talking during Audrey's tv show. It felt really weird for him to get in trouble for talking too much :)

-Answering 'yes/no' rather than giving a choice every time. I am still working on this... Instead of "Do you want Doritos or not want Doritos?" I ask "Do you want Doritos" and then if he hasn't answered in 30 seconds ask again with a "Yes or no" at the end. When I actually remember to follow through, and ask the question correctly, he responds appropriately. It's really cool.

-No more sippy cups. Just cups and cups with straws. Not even a sippy cup at bedtime!

-Peed in the potty at Target! First time he's peed somewhere besides our house or the two times at school. VERY AWESOME!!!

-Putting on clothes on his own. Yesterday he was playing a (more work for mommy) game where he got another shirt from his drawer and take the old one off and put the new one on. He did it on his own, just needing help with the tightest of the 3 that he did.

-Fun library visit. Stayed with us, elicited a few giggles when he jumped out from behind a shelf and said loudly "I FOUND YOU DADDY!!!" (it was super funny, The Hubs jumped a little).

-Taking medicine with no issues. He will tell us no medicine and yuck, but then takes it with no running away or screaming. Very cool. (Same thing with teeth brushing :) ).

-Sat through a game of Candyland. Figured out how to play. Is playing appropriately (although doesn't really enjoy waiting, we're working on that).

-Letting us watch other shows besides Spongebob. This is a biggie. Before he would FLIP OUT if we tried to watch anything else. Now he sits through with the promise that it's his turn next.

-To follow that, he's also understanding 'Five more minutes' or other concepts. Makes it much easier when he settles down knowing we're leaving soon, rather than him freaking out about leaving right now.

There's more, but those are the biggies. Way cool stuff going on here!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

For JT...

I realize this song probably was written for something other than autism (or other disability), but WOW. When I saw this, I immediately thought of JT.

Everything I'd want to say to my baby in a song.

It's like a storm
That cuts a path
It breaks your will
It feels like that
You think you're lost
But you're not lost on your own,
You're not alone

I will stand by you,
I will help you through
When you've done all you can do
and you can't cope
I will dry your eyes,
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
and I won't let go

It hurts my heart to see you cry
I know its dark this part of life
Oh it find us all and we're to small
to stop the rain
Oh but when it rains

I will stand by you,
I will help you through
When you've done all you can do
and you can't cope
I will dry your eyes,
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
and I won't let you fall

Don't be afraid to fall
I'm right here to catch you
I won't let you down
It won't get you down
You're gonna make it
I know you can make it

Cause I will stand by you,
I will help you through
When you've done all you can do
and you can't cope
I will dry your eyes,
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
and I won't let go

Oh I'm gonna hold you
and I won't let go
Won't let you go
No I won't

from CowboyLyrics

Rascal Flatts, "I Won't Let Go"

"My Terrific Brother"

This is the book Audrey wrote about JT. It is SO sweet, and shows how much they love each other.

Friday, June 10, 2011

New beginnings.

It all started on September 5, 2009, when we got JT's school assignment - Cary Elementary. I was so nervous about taking my 3 year old to another school, hoping that they would love him and I could trust them with my baby.

For the last almost 2 years, they have cared for, loved and helped my son more than I could have ever dreamed of that day.

His list of 'can't' dropped to almost nothing. He achieved things that no one would have ever guessed (and some flat-out told us he would never do). He has grown into a sweet, hilarious, very smart little boy. Big boy, he prefers to say.

He loves his teachers. So do we.

But as of 2pm today, JT is no longer in preschool. He is a kindergartener.

Letting go of something as wonderful as what we've had is so difficult...

Today, JT and our family have to say farewell to some of the most important people we've had in our lives. And we will miss them so much.

I can only hope that the next phase of our journey will be so full of blessings and wonderful people.

Congratulations on your graduation from preschool, JT! We are so proud of you and all you've done. Next up: Kindergarten!

For JT

Someone shared this video, and all I could think of was JT.

I will stand by you, buddy.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reunited :)

JT's kitty disappeared for 5 days. We were sure she was gone for
good, but she showed up yesterday morning at the door!

After school JT picked her up and brought her to me. "look, mommy.
It's my best friend!"

Indeed it is :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011


About three weeks ago, JT started spiraling.

By spiraling, I mean aggressive, angry, sad, and just plain mean. Screaming at us, even reverting to biting and hitting when he didn't get his way (which was completely unpredictable, by the way).

Our insurance was kicking back in June 1, and I knew we were reaching crisis point. I called who I always call: a psychiatrist. For him this time :)

I found an amazing place. I was a little nervous when looking at their webpage... it made it sound like the old 'refrigerator mother' way of thinking. But, with other psychiatrists only taking pre-pay - oooh, and offering to print you the paperwork to get reimbursed for the $300-odd up front you have to pay (hello, I'm already paying 'up front' for insurance at $267 a week - yes, a week - I can't afford to pay you, too), I had little choice but to go with them. Plus, the guy was SUPER helpful, spending tons of time with my insurance company to ensure they would cover it, that I felt good about the decision.

About a week before the appointment, it reached the breaking point. He was screaming at himself mid-meltdown to "JUST CALM DOWN!!! CALM. DOWN. NOW!!!" Then a few days later, he got in trouble and was sent to his room. He screamed at me, then two minutes later, like a light switch, started sobbing uncontrollably in the fetal position on his floor. "Please help me mommy. Help me PLEASE. Mommy, help." over and over. I knew then that this was the right choice.

Thursday was our appointment. We met Jamie Rogers, our PMHFNP-BC, Ph.D. She is AMAZING. I was so nervous. JT was not behaving (obviously, he hadn't been for two weeks). But she was fantastic. Sweet, knowledgeable (20 years experience with ASD kids!), interested in my baby and just all-around great at what she does. She gave us phone numbers, email addresses and everything in case we need help before our next appointment. Just fantastic.

We (The Hubs and I and Jamie) felt JT would benefit from risperdal or abilify. Both are used to treat the aggression and irritability associated with ASD. We chose risperdal based on JT's age, the generic availability and it has fewer side effects.

Jamie told us we would see a difference in 30 minutes, but it may take 2 days to build up.

Boy was that right.

I can't even fully describe the difference in JT. Most importantly, HE IS HAPPY. He has had some small angry moments, but they're so within the 'normal' range it's crazy. Absolutely zero meltdowns. No aggression. No scratching. No screaming at us.

His teacher described it as "JT without the anxiety". I 100% agree.

His sister is thrilled. They have been playing together - real games - not just chase and running around - all day long. He's being nice to her, really loving on her and interested in her. He's even following all her 'rules' in made-up games, and I could just see her beaming.

I was terrified that I was screwing with my kid. I felt like somehow giving him meds was a failure on my part. Like I should have been able to do it myself. But he's not messed up. He's just happy. Still hoppy, flappy, ornery and loud. But happy. And it's obvious it wasn't what we were doing, it's just he needed something to help him along.

We haven't seen that in a while. It's so great to see his beautiful smile again.

"My Terrific Brother"

This is the book Audrey wrote about JT. It is SO sweet, and shows how much they love each other.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


JT gets OT :)

He found a paper and a crayon, and drew several lines down the length
of the paper.

Then he grabbed a pair of scissors and cut down each line.

He's definitely done this before ;)