just keep swimming

Jake has always loved the water and has never been afraid. We went to a new friend’s house to swim in June and he was so excited! He hadn’t been in the water but a few minutes when Jake went under water, unexpectedly, and couldn’t stand up. He panicked! He did this about three times. Each time I helped him stand back up and he smiled and began playing again. The bottom of the pool was vinyl, he slipped causing him to go under. I finally realized what was going on and put his shoes on him so he could play and not slip. Jake is a toe walker and grips with his toes and there was nothing for him to grip. He seemed unfazed by this at the time. I thought he might cry or something but he didn’t. He kept on playing. Later he talked about how much fun he had at his friend’s house. But the next time we went swimming he was scared to death. He screamed and cried and told me he didn’t want to be there. I immediately registered him for a few private lessons to help him get over his fear of the water. He clung to instructor for dear life and screamed much of the time. Jake didn’t like his swim lessons and every time before his lesson he would tell me he wasn’t going. I would just say “we are going.”  By the last lesson he was going under water and jumping into the pool, with the instructors help. The first time we went swimming after the lessons ended Jake didn’t want to go and begged me not to take him. I told him we were going and we would just sit on the steps. He repeated “we just go and sit on the steps for 1 minute and then we will go home, right?” I told him no, that we would sit on the steps for 15 minutes. When we got to the pool he said he needed to rest and wanted to sit in the chair. Again I told him that we would sit on the steps in the water. He sat on the steps and we ended up staying for about 30 minutes. The next time we went to the pool he walked around in the water and realized he was okay. He practiced what he learned in his swimming lessons and stayed a little longer. 

This past week we met some of Jake’s kindergarten friend’s for a swim party. It was the first time since the beginning of summer that he walked right into the water with no fear. Allie played with him and tried to help him swim. He watched his friends jumping in the water, going under and swimming around. He loved seeing Allie go under the water and she worked with him, helping him see he could go under the water too.  He finally gained enough courage to go under and came back up with a huge smile. He was so proud!! It took a lot for him to overcome this fear but he did it and I was proud of his determination. I was thankful for his patient big sister that was willing to get in the pool with a bunch of 6-year-old boys and play with her brother. I am sure there were other things she wanted to do but she jumped in and helped.

I have a video but because I don’t have the premium account I can’t really post it here. If you jump to my Facebook page Our Journey with Jake you can check out Jake going under water by himself 🙂

As parents sometimes we have to push our kids to do something they might not want to do; due to pure stubbornness or in our case, fear. It is SO hard for me to push Jake especially when I see there is true fear. Although Jake is pretty verbal we are still working on expressing our feelings. He cries and says he doesn’t want to do something. I can ask him why and sometimes he will just say no. Other times he will say he will talk about it later which usually translates to ‘I don’t understand what my answer should be’. Jake was afraid of the water, I could tell by the look on his face. Other times Jake is afraid to try something new just because it isn’t in his “normal” routine of things. There have been times he wants to try something but just can’t push himself to do it; like swimming. He needed us to sort of push him in so he would see he is safe and that he can do it. And he did!! 

I had expectations of Jake learning to swim this summer. I had envisioned that he would take swim lessons and would be swimming on his own by now. But that didn’t happen and it’s okay. At least we are back to where we were in May and he seems to enjoy the water again. Sometimes I get caught up in my own dreams for Jake that I forget to expect the unexpected. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I’m learning too. 

 

 

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“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” Hebrews 6:19

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Starlight Blogger Award

NickysdayWithAutism has nominated me for the Starlight Blogger Award. This award was created to help highlight and promote Inspirational Bloggers. Thank you so much for nominating me!

Here are the RULES:

  • Thank the person that nominated you and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 3 questions that are given to you.
  • Pass the award on to 6 or more other bloggers of your choice and let them know that they have been nominated.
  • Include the logo of the award on your blog, please never alter the logo and never change the rules.

Here are the questions she wanted me to answer:

What is your favorite vacation destination? Destin, Florida! I love the calmness of the ocean and feeling my feet in the sand…love this place!!

Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone (not text)? My older sister.

What is the name of the last book you read? I usually read a lot of fiction but I just read The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida (author), KA Yoshida (translator), David Mitchell (translator). This was an awesome book giving a lot of insight to how a child on the spectrum looks at life.

I nominate the following; 

life on the “j” train

autismthoughts

allencountyautism

Here are my 3 questions:

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

What if your favorite thing to cook/eat?

What is your favorite type of music?

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being social

Jake finished up his 2nd week of camp this past Thursday and had a great time! Each morning he couldn’t wait to get to camp. Once there he would run up to the door, wave good-bye and tell me he would see me later. Although some parts of camp were hard for him, he loved going. If you were to ask him his favorite part of camp he might say music and his least favorite was yoga. If you were to read his daily report that came home you might think he was having a difficult time because he was constantly being redirected. But for a social skills camp he was actually doing what he needed to do to learn. He loved music so he would sit, listen, sing along and do whatever the instructor asked of him. When it was time for yoga, he would run away and say “I can’t”. If something is uncomfortable for Jake he will do anything in his power to get out of that activity. This is his pattern of handling unsure situations. He will cry about the un-preferred activity, try to escape the situation and possibly meltdown. Once he has done these things he will usually come around and try the activity and most likely enjoy himself. He did this with yoga but by the end of his 2 weeks of camp, he learned he could do it and had fun. There have been times when Jake is prompted to engage with a peer and has followed the same pattern which is why I wanted him in this camp.

There are several reasons why I wanted Jake in this camp. The main reason was to help with his social skills. I want him to be engaged in what a group is doing. If you were to see Jake with his class at school you would notice that he loves being with other kids. His face lights up, he is happy and full of smiles. He enjoys watching other kids play or listening to them talk. But one area he struggles with is actually joining in a group, talking with the other kids and following the rules. Asking Jake to join a group and be involved can cause a great deal of anxiety. I’ve seen it first-hand. Others might not see it but his smile disappears and his body becomes still.

A lot was expected from Jake these past 2 weeks. The therapists wanted to see him engage with another peer; many times he would but many times Jake wanted to get away and do his own thing. Learning how to be social and part of a group is hard for Jake but it is something I want him to learn. Not because I have this big dream of him having a million friends but mainly so he knows how to talk and interact with other kids. Jake prefers being around adults, he can communicate with them and is at ease. But Jake is a kid and because he is in school he needs to have the basics of socialization with other kids.

One of the goals I have for Jake is that he will be a contributing member of our society. Without social skills that might not happen. I was thinking the other day why I wanted him to be social. And the answer I came up with is this…

I am not looking for Jake to blend in at school, to appear “normal”, to look like every other kid and not stand out. I want Jake to be who God created him to be but I need to give Jake the tools now so he knows how to accomplish whatever it is in the future. If Jake is going to be the “quirky” kid then so be it but I want him to be able to be the best “quirky” kid he can be. That’s all any of us want anyway. As parents, we want whatever the best is for our kids and if they need a little extra help getting there then we do whatever we can to help them.

Recently Jake’s sister took the ACT. She had a score she was okay with but she knew she could do better. We found a workshop where she received a lot of information on how to take the test and gave her come “tricks” that might help her score. In the end it helped raise her score to one she is super excited about. It’s the same with Jake.

First grade will be here in about 4 weeks; gulp! My hope is that everything he has learned over the summer will carry over to the new school year.

 

 

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Sunshine Blogger Award

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Thank you SO much NickysdaywithAutism for nominating me for this award. I am truly honored 🙂 Her son is a few years older than mine and I really enjoy reading her blog as she has a lot of great insight and gives me inspiration when I feel drained. Thank you!!!

Here are the questions she asked:

What is the most daring thing you have ever done? Repelling; when I was a teenager. Going over that ledge was by far the scariest and hardest for me but when I stepped over it was totally exhilarating! Once my feet hit the ground I couldn’t wait to do it again!!
Name one item still on your bucket list. I’ll be honest, I don’t really have a bucket list but if I did it would be to travel to some European countries.
What is your favorite dessert of all time? Triple Chocolate Torte — delicious!
What is your favorite movie of all time? I have a few but the one I could watch over and over again is Gone With The Wind
What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self? Relax and enjoy every second your given!
Name 2 people who you would want with you if you were stranded on an island. My husband and best friend — my husband could get the work done and my bf would make things fun 🙂
What is a favorite quote of yours? It is what it is…
Thanks again, Nicky!! Love your blog 🙂

successful week

Wow, this past week was tough for our boy. Between starting a new camp, his normal therapies and a cloudy week I really thought my boy was going to lose his stuffing. But he didn’t; he got through an intense week and learned a lot about all sorts of stuff.

Recently Jake has become super sensitive to sounds. He hasn’t had to regularly wear his noise reduction headphones in quite some time but over the past several weeks he has worn them more often. He even started sleeping in them; “just in case”. Each morning he looks out the window to see if it is sunny or cloudy and this past week we’ve had a lot of clouds. Each day that he saw clouds he told me that he needed to stay home. When we walked to the car he had his headphones on and walked either cautiously or super-fast to get away from the clouds. He is constantly looking for reassurance that it isn’t going to rain, that it is just a cloudy day etc. On Friday we had a pretty loud thunderstorm and the poor kid ran through the house screaming and crying. Allie and I were trying to catch him but he kept escaping our hold on him which made him cry louder. Finally I was able to get him under his weighted blanket squished in tight with me in the chair where he calmed down a bit. Fortunately, the thunder stopped, he calmed down and was able to eat lunch. Afterwards I put him in his tent with his headphones, weighted blanket and iPad to help him relax more. Well, I needed to relax a little too so I was happy he was compliant. When his noise sensitivity pops up, from out of nowhere, I really don’t understand. Sounds have never really bothered me and the question that comes to mind is what makes it worse today than other days? I ask Jake but I don’t think he knows and if he does he might not have the verbal skills to explain. 

On Monday Jake started a new camp called, Social Success Camp. There were about 6-8 boys and girls in his camp, which Jake loved. He really loves interacting with peers and I liked that it was a variety of kids with ages ranging from 5-8. One of the main things that I like about the curriculum used is that they go beyond drilling the kids over and over again to look you in the eye, say hello, etc. The therapists worked with the kids on understanding their own emotions as well as the emotions of others. It is a great curriculum called Social Thinking and Jake picked up on it the very first day! They start with recognizing their own feelings, behaviors and then moving forward to recognizing another person’s feelings, behaviors and emotions. It was a pretty intense week but Jake seemed to thrive and loved every minute of camp. Each night he was exhausted but checked his calendar to make sure he would be going back the next day. Good sign 🙂

I wasn’t sure how Jake would do going into a new environment but he walked right in the first day, which was a big relief for me, told me goodbye and that he would see me after camp. This was probably the first time he has ever walked in a new place with a smile. In the afternoon I went to pick up Jake and the main therapist (she is actually a child psychologist with her BCBA) walked him out to greet me. She handed me his daily sheet that had a lot of writing on it and proceeded to tell me that Jake cried when he was asked to do something he didn’t want to do, he hit other kids and ran and hid if a task seemed too hard. Normally I would have felt like I was being punched in the stomach but I was pretty happy. And when his therapist said “but Jake had a great day” I knew what she meant. To others it might not sound like such a great day but Jake showed his “true colors” so to speak and the therapists working with him knew from day one what areas needed the most attention. Many kids go into a camp or therapy and are on their best behavior so it might take several visits to get to their true self and to see the areas of concern. I was glad that they were able to see the real Jake the very first day. Obviously hitting it not acceptable under any circumstance; when I asked Jake about it he said he didn’t mean to hit. His therapist said he hit trying to engage with another child or to get another child out of his way. Generally Jake isn’t aggressive although he plays hard and doesn’t realize his size and at times doesn’t understand personal space. Teaching this to him can be challenging but by the end of the week his therapist saw him stopping before putting his hands on another child. He cried less and became more a part of the group. We also learned some great ways to help Jake stop, look and recognize what he is doing which makes things easier at home. Sometimes just choosing different verbiage makes it easier on Jake and me…far less words for me to say and less for him to decipher.

Jake goes back to camp next week and again right before school starts. My hope is that everything that he learns at camp will stick with him and when he returns to school and the staff that works with him will see a big change in his behaviors.

A while back I was cleaning out a bunch of paperwork and found a Build-A-Bear gift card. I had saved it for a while for a couple of reasons. The main reason being Jake had no desire to ever go into the store. Anytime we would walk by it he would say “no thank-you” if I asked him if he wanted to go inside. But I also wanted to use it as a “reward” for making good choices. On Thursday after Allie and I picked him up from camp we asked him if he wanted to go build a Minion for having such a great week at camp. He smiled and after some thought he said “I want to have a minion”. His first trip to Build-a-Bear was a huge success and he loved each step of making his minion. It felt great to do a typical activity with him and to see his smile the entire time.

I feel like I’ve sorta jumped around here with the storms, camp and build-a-bear. But for those of you that read my blog and have a child on the spectrum or maybe you know someone who has an autistic child; I want to tell you that no matter where you are in your journey it is all a success even when it doesn’t feel like it at that moment! I worry, I cry and at times I have difficulty accepting things the way they are but when the smallest victory happens; I look back and know it is all worth every moment to get to where we are right now. I will continue to worry, to cry and I know I will continue to have a hard time accepting certain things; it is a cycle for me. But knowing that there is always a light or the hope of a light at the end of a hard week is what keeps me moving forward.

Thanks for reading 🙂

 jakebuildabear

 

Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…”