Saturday, October 27, 2012

Date Night!

The Zombie Queen

Steve and I went on our first real date night last night. We've gone to the movies a few times while one of the sets of grandparents watch Gus, and we've even left him with his cousins in the care of my parents while we double dated with my twin brother and his fiance, but we've never left Gus alone with a non-family member for any period of time. EVER.

A few weeks ago, Steve sent me an email with a Living Social deal for "Terror on the Trail" at Sims Lake. He asked if I was interested and if I thought we could find a sitter for Gus so we could go and enjoy a night to ourselves. I checked it out and thought it looked fun, so I told him to go ahead and order the deal. For $15, we got two tickets for last night.

He contacted our neighbor to see if their daughter would be available to watch Gus, but since it was Hooch's Homecoming, she was not available. I asked Lesley if she'd be willing and to my utter surprise and delight, she said yes! Gus knows her (and Logan and Jason) and I thought it'd be a 50/50 chance that he'd be okay. 

We headed to their place at 7 and I took his iPad and some popcorn for her to have as a last-ditch effort should he be very distraught. He was interested in all their toys and went into the livingroom with Jason and started playing with the shape sorter. We took it as a perfect time to leave, and said our goodbyes to Lesley. She promised to call me if there was a problem.

We headed to Suwanee and we had no idea where we'd eat dinner, but figured that we could find something close to Sims Lake. I have to say, there's not a lot to choose from in that area. We ended up at Red Brick Oven (a Mediterranean-style place) and thought we had plenty of time to enjoy our dinner (it was 7:40ish when we arrived). Our food didn't come out until 8:30 and we had to be at our assigned tour time at 8:40. 

We managed to eat a bite and then grabbed boxes for our food and headed around the corner to the park. We had just enough time to get to the gate, use the bathroom, and get checked in just in time. 

Our group had three obnoxious teenagers... maybe they were in college, but I'm thinking they were probably not in college because their mom was waiting in the car to pick them up when we were finished. They were awful. 

The premise was to walk around the lake on a guided tour and we made several stops and heard various tales of terror from actors from the Aurora Theater. We were amazed at how awesome the actors were. We honestly were expecting teenagers to be dressed up and jump out at you along the trail, but it was definitely classier. At the beginning of the tour, the Zombie Queen told us that she had trapped seven souls and they would be sharing their story with us. All the stories were to align and all make sense at the end (since I'm a visual learner, I didn't follow the story at all- it was all oral). Thankfully, Steve got it and was able to explain it all to me.

The Zombie Queen posing for pictures

The first trapped soul was that of Lucy Sims

A zombie prom queen led us from Lucy to the next soul

Each of the story tellers had their own way of telling a story. This one was really good... all were good except for one guy, he just wasn't great.

This guy was awesome. 

Not all the trapped souls allowed us the opportunity to take pictures, but a few did. This guy was just creeeeeepy. His story was that he killed a family and then assumed their name and went on to live as them. His story had a lot of gore and at the end he "cut" his hand and blood ran down his arm.

Another zombie teenager leading our group

The tour was about an hour and a half and we were entertained. It wasn't "scary" but we had fun. I like that no one jumped out at us or chased us with chainsaws. :-)

While we were out, Lesley sent me two texts:

1) at 7:22
"Look mama! No tears! He's looked for you once or twice, but he's not upset at all! Have fun!"

Totally made me relax (we were just down the road when she sent it). I felt at ease and so glad that he wasn't flipping out.

2) at 7:47
"Still okay!"

It made me so happy to know that Gus was good. I trust Lesley and Jason or we wouldn't have asked them to watch Gus for us. I'm just glad that he had a good night and wasn't a problem for them. She said that Logan went to bed at 7:45. LOL.

We got to her house at 10:15 and Gus was excited to see us. She never had to break out the iPad or the popcorn and he didn't eat any of the snacks that I packed. She said he sat for a bit and watched tv and looked like he could fall asleep, but then he perked right up.

I think date night is overrated, but it's nice that if there's something that kids cannot come to (like a haunted walk), it's nice to know that we have someone that we can count on to watch Gus for us. We owe them a night of sitting for Logan. We also saved $$ because she watched Gus for free and we'll watch Logan for free. :-)  Perfection!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's Like A Puzzle, Right?

I adore these two!

A good friend of mine that I met when we lived in NC, messaged me on FB about my blog post about Gus being diagnosed with SPD. She's an OT and said that if I had any questions, she'd love to talk to me and help in any way. I decided to take her up on her offer.

So after our morning playdate, and shopping at the Goodwill (I had no idea how quickly they turn over merchandise!), we came home and played for a bit and then once I put Gus down for the nap that he never took (LOL), I gave her a call.

She was super helpful and helped explain a lot of things that I have been wondering, but have no one to ask yet. We have to wait until our BCW case worker calls us to set up anything with a speech pathologist. I think after talking to Melanie, I'm going to definitely ask about doing speech for like a month and then OT for a month and then we'll see what we should do from there. I have a nagging feeling that if we do the speech for a long period of time, it'll just delay the help needed with the sensory issues. At least by doing OT, we can still get some help with speech, since most OTs also have some speech things that they can do.

It's all a very fascinating world and one that I never thought I'd be in. He's not autistic (I don't think anyway), and Melanie said if he was, they probably would have mentioned it. So, I guess that's a good sign. He doesn't have all the quirks that come with all parts of sensory processing disorder.

Melanie told me about some things that we can do with Gus while we're waiting to see an OT. She also sent me some info tonight and I went onto a therapy website and ordered some things that I think he'll really benefit from having. I'm hoping that Steve can submit the receipt to our flex-spending account. We'll see.

I feel like the puzzle pieces to represent autism are so appropriate. While Gus doesn't have autism (at least I don't think he does), SPD is something that many children with ASDs have. It's a complex disorder and something that many don't understand or see as real. I guess the more I'm reading and researching about it, the more real it's feeling, and the sadder I get knowing that there are people who don't think it's real. I guess until you've got a child who is suffering from something that you can't see or understand, you can't say if something is legit or not.

I feel like it's a big puzzle and I'm slowly getting various pieces and I'm left trying to put it together and find out what it all means. My hopes are that once we have contact from BCW, we'll get some answers (clues to our puzzle) and have a better idea of the whole picture and what's next to come.

For now, I'm eagerly awaiting my books to arrive that I ordered from Amazon. I'll read them and try to start creating a healthy "sensory diet" for Gus. Those are two words I never knew about before Monday, and here I am using them like it's been something we've been doing for months. A sensory diet includes things that we (mainly I) can do with him during the day to keep him busy, active, happy, and balanced. Having a good OT would be awesome because they can help create the sensory diet for him and I'd just have to follow it for him.

We shall see what comes. Melanie said it might be worth it to just find out the name of a good OT, meet with them and pay whatever is needed (we have a $1,000 deductible), let them get us started with what we need, and then not worry about the OT until we've done the speech for a while. I don't know... not sure what we'll do. I do know that our insurance doesn't cover a lot once we actually do meet the deductible (25 total visits a year from all therapy). 

Don't get me started on why I think we should have universal health care... but honestly, the fact that I have to pick a therapy for my child, because we can't afford more than one... it's ridiculous. But anywho...
The trampoline has been amazing for Gus. He jumps on it for several hours a day. Sometimes while watching MMCH, others while listening to music and dancing.

Gus and Steve at dinner on Tuesday

He loves bead mazes!

So as the picture becomes clearer, I'll be sure to keep y'all updated. Please keep us in your prayers as we head down this unfamiliar path. I pray that God equips us with all that we need to make sure that Gus is happy, balanced, and having all his needs met.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Home Study for Adoption #2!!

I don't know why I let myself get so worked up about things, but today was no exception. I've been through the home study process before (BTW- inside my head, I just said the word process the way the Canadians do... "pro-cess"). I remember getting so wound up for our very first one and then walking away almost feeling disappointed. 

Why do I do this to myself? Must be my personality. Our guy came at 1:00 and from the time I got up, until 12:50 I was cleaning, organizing, double, triple, and quadruple baby-proof checking everything. I guess this time was different because we only have one visit and then that's it. My thoughts were that should he find something wrong, there's not a second time to fix it.

I should have just relaxed and known that it was going to be fine, because it totally was. In fact, it was less invasive and intrusive than when we adopted the first time. We weren't asked any personal questions this time, and no questions about our parenting. Maybe they actually read our biographies and took our written word as being good enough (what a concept!!).

I think John (I think that was his name) was here for maybe thirty minutes. He took a tour of the house, and then we sat down and he took some notes and then he was done. Steve said he was here to check and make sure we have a house. :-)

So that's it. He will write up the official home study report and then get it to us and then we'll contact our attorney and get a copy to him. Then we wait!

It's exciting and fun and I'm glad that this part is over. I said it before (with Gus's adoption) and I'll say it again, the home study is really the most difficult step when adopting domestically. We did all the required documentation, and now the home visit is done. Now all we need is a baby and we're set!!

I was so stressed from yesterday and today that I told Steve he was taking me to dinner tonight. He agreed, and so we went to Outback for dinner. It was delicious and satisfying. There's a Goodwill store in the same plaza, so after dinner, Gus and Steve walked down and I drove my car over and we went inside to see what they had.

I love the Goodwill store. I found some AWESOME deals!!! We got Gus a picnic table for $19!!! We also got him a sit-n-spin for $3, some cones for soccer practice for $2 (8 cones), some tanagrams for $6, a watering can for $1 (his favorite), some beach/sand toys for $2 (brand new), a chair that's exactly like the one at my parents for $3 (it was $45 at a consignment sale that we recently visited) and a few other fun things. 
I'm pretty excited with my finds!!!

Tomorrow, Lesley and I are taking the kids to Imagine It Children's Museum in Atlanta. I'm going to get a membership provided that Gus likes it (I assume he will). I'm eager to see how it is and hope that we have a fun trip!! I'll post pictures tomorrow! Nite!!

10-22-12 He Qualified!

We took Gus to the North Fulton Training Center in Sandy Springs today to be evaluated for Babies Can't Wait. I had hoped they would observe and evaluate him and then report back to us that he did indeed qualify. Hang on, let me back up a minute.

In my deep heart of hearts, I've felt like something has been "off" for a while. Gus still speaks a lot of gibberish and while it's somewhat normal, it's not progressing. He doesn't use pronouns (doesn't say, "Gus go" or "Me do" or "Mine") ever. He doesn't even refer to himself if you ask him what his name is. If you say, "Where's Gus?" he will point to himself and say, "Gus" but he doesn't just tell you that his name is Gus.

So anyway, while I have known that something isn't right, I had a part of me that was hoping that it was just in my head and they'd tell me that he's absolutely fine. After all, when I told his pediatrician at his two-year appointment, that I was concerned, she didn't hesitate to write a referral and said if a parent is concerned, she let's them have a referral. But she herself, wasn't concerned and didn't bring up taking him for a referral.

I wasn't sure what to expect today. We walked in and there were three individuals. One was LaTasha, and she's the person that I talked to on the phone to set up the evaluation. Then there was the evaluator named Rebecca, and then a guy named Phillip who would also be doing some of the evaluation.

Right away, Rebecca had Gus join her on the floor and Steve went down too. She asked Gus to point to a few pictures for her (and he did) but then he saw the train and wanted that. While they were on the floor doing that, I was asked questions by Phillip. The whole time, LaTasha was at a computer just observing and taking notes.

We were there for an hour and a half. When we started, Gus was somewhat hesitant and nervous/anxious, but after an hour or so, he was himself and started into his happy gibberish chatter. I'm glad they got to hear it. He did really well with the tasks that they asked him to complete, and after about 90 minutes, they started to compare their scores/notes.

I don't remember the exact numbers for the five areas, but 85-100 is considered normal range for the five areas. For gross-motor, he scored 100. We weren't surprised by this at all. His cognitive score was in the 90s, but then the auditory processing (how well he listens and follows directions) was like 84/85 (not enough to be a moderate delay). I kinda knew his speech and language would be delayed, but in order to qualify for BCW, you have to either be significantly delayed in one area, or moderately delayed in two areas. 

His speech and language was like 79 (moderately delayed) but then his sensory processing was also 79/80. I was shocked. So he was moderately delayed in two areas, and hence, he qualifies for services through BCW.

So what does this mean? I was completely shocked by the sensory processing delay. However, when Rebecca explained it, he's basically sensory-seeking. The medical term is sensory modulation disorder. He's hypo-sensitive. Several of the things that I just thought were either normal for a toddler, or just because of teething, are aligned with being hypo-sensitive. For example, he sucks on his shirt (he'll get as much of the neck area into his mouth and wad it into a ball and suck on it. We have to tell him to stop chewing on his shirt. Sometimes, he sucks on his arms (giving himself a hickey). He puts things into his mouth all the time (we assumed it was teething). He'll bang his head on the floor occasionally, sometimes walks on his toes (when nervous, and though it was just a quirk- but it's what hypo-sensitive kids do). He also loves messy play and loves play-dough. He likes spicy food, he loves swings and slides and anything with a lot of movement.

Other things like the tamborine at Rigg's birthday party and it freaked him out... and loud noises and the vaccum... all go with this. Being scared of elevators and physically clinging when in one (which he does), and being a thrill-seeker, all go with this. Loving being tossed in the air, wrestling, jumping on furniture, trampolines, his pillow racer... running and hopping and galloping instead of walking. 

So anyway, the list is long of things that we thought were just normal but turn out to be sensory seeking traits. The good news is that we will receive services to help. We can only pick one area for our focus, and for now it's the language. He was evaluated at one year and nine months. Just under a year behind. So they want to get that under control, but they said that often times, once you get the senses organized, language will bloom. We're hoping that's the case.

We'll get a call within three weeks from our coordinator and then we'll set up our therapy. We can go a few months with S&L and then move into Sensory Processing if we want. The good news is that he's qualified and isn't three yet. We'll be able to transition him to Fulton County Schools at age three and they'll continue his services at our local elementary. He has been diagnosed and will continue with services until he no longer needs them.

Rebecca said that her son was SPD- Sensory Seeking and got it in check before school started. My hopes are that we can do the same. I fear that Gus will be labeled a bad kid because he's not the kind of kid who will sit still and focus. It's been my fear all along. Fortunately, we'll have plenty of time to work on it (and his language) and can make some progress before he's school-aged. It makes me even happier that I've got an elementary background and plan on keeping him home for preschool.

I think right now, if he were in preschool, we'd be having a lot of problems. I don't want him to dislike school or feel like he's not liked because a teacher can't tolerate his personality. It's why I don't like his gymnastics teacher-- but that's a different blog post.

I'm going to head to bed. It's been a long day. I've got a lot of reading to do on SPD and OT and I want to familiarize myself with how I can best help Gus. 

We have our home study tomorrow (I guess technically it's today since we're past midnight)... wish us luck!!!