need advice

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by lady, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. lady

    lady New Member

    Hi -new here. This is an interesting site. I have a question nobody has ever been able to answer -except to tell me to try medications on this child. (I will call him Bob since this question is rather revealing). Bob is only 7 years old, nonverbal & has a severe form of autism. I never went for any other diagnosis -es...but if i did they would probably say he has oppositional defiant disorder & attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He can be rather aggressive nearly all the time. I do not want to put him on medications (for as long as i don't have to). i removed him from public school & began home schooling him for many reasons, one being that eventually i feared they would want me to put him on medications. He lashes out at any one who is effective when teaching him anything, whenever something is required of him as well as many other times for many other reasons. (he becomes physical -hits, kicks, bites, pinches, scratces, scream & goes limp to fall to the floor or get away or out of whatever he is supposed to be doing -like walking for example, or sitting in a chair).
    More specifically this is what is happening; He is in a chair & i am right in front of him -i tell him to "take blue" (learning to identify colors -preschool academics) while i hold out 2 solid colored markers to choose from. Instead he screams to drown out my voice, i pause & slowly, calmly repeat. He lunges at me and bites me & won't stop physically attacking me. Then once/if i can get him back into his chair - i repeat & since he is unresponsive i do it hand over hand (like i am him -answering correctly) an example situation. This is how nearly all our sessions go, no matter how fun or whether he loves or hates the activity, & no matter how perfectly loving & kind i am or what i do to deal with it -seems like i've tried everything. Eventually there is an attack because eventually something is required of him.
    So my question is, what do i do?
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator


    Sorry for all the questions, but your answers will help us point you in the right direction.

    I realize you are homeschooling, but are you getting any help with Bob, as in physical therapy, speech therapy or the like? If so, what have the therapists suggested?
    If he is nonverbal, is he able to communicate in any other way (sign language, using pictures, for example)?
    What is your reasoning behind not wanting to try medications?

    Again, welcome.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Welcome to the board.

    I had to say first off, lady I admire your patience!! I doubt I could handle the homeschooling under those circumstances. No, I know I wound't be able to stay calm for long. lol

    Is he getting any sort of therapy at all?? Many Occupational Therapist (OT)'s and such will come and work with him in your home, if they aren't already. And it might help to get their input.

    I can understand not being overly anxious to try medications, I'm not exactly a major cheerleader for it myself, expecially at his age. But I think I might consider it with his aggression. Travis has never been medicated for anything other than his epilepsy, but he is very rarely aggressive too.

    Is his agression mainly just when you require him to interact and do something?

    With him being non verbal do you think like smallworld mentioned that pictures or sign language would help? I'm wondering if some of it might be frustration.

  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    What do your instincts tell you? And where did you get the program you're using? Did you develop it yourself, or is it one you were told to use?

    Some strong recommendations - get your hands on two books especially. "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene, and "Son Rise" (not sure of the author; Google it and you will find it).

    The first book is one which has been a big help for a lot of us on this site. The second one may help you with Bob, where you both are now. The gist of it is, with an autistic child you begin by working with him where he is now. Find what he wants to do, sit with him and do it yourself while you are beside him. Meet him where he is, and as he begins to interact positively, work from there.

    We were lucky with difficult child 3 - his 'fetish' was letters, number, music and words - anything written down. We used this to reach him and help him understand the concept of communication.

    A lot of positive reinforcement, a lot of support, avoid punishment or any negative consequences. If he hurts you or attacks you, walk away and leave him on his own. If he quiets down, come back into the room and do what he is doing. If that involves lining up cars, then get your own cars and line THEM up. Don't use his, don't encroach into his space, simply make your space a parallel one beside him.

    Also important - recognise that somewhere in there is a child who is probably highly intelligent but VERY frustrated and angry. You're asking him to do something which is making him angry - why is that? Is he getting angry because what you're asking is too incomprehensible for him at the moment? Or is he getting angry because you're asking stuff he feels is totally irrelevant?

    Autistic kids do not suffer fools gladly, and especially in their earlier development will only see the world as THEY want to see it. Incredibly egocentric. Socially - like babies; the world and its inhabitants only exist to meet their needs, which we must be able to mind-read. But in time, babies grow. Autistic kids will also, once you can reach them and show them the way through.

    Something else we found with difficult child 3 - and this could vary from other autistic kids - despite his limitations with communication (in the beginning), he HAD to learn EVERYTHING at once. You couldn't break it down into component parts, as they are always telling us to do, because this confused him. For example, he learned to communicate by seeing the word written down, a picture of that word, hearing the word spoken, being in contact with what the word was, and eventually using it. ALL AT ONCE. If we just tried to say the word he didn't understand. If we wrote it down he eventually worked out to read the word as a meaning for the object, but had no idea how the word sounded. For example, the word "stop". He saw it on stop signs in traffic signs. The signs were red and he knew that red light meant stop (even before he knew 'red' or 'stop'). So I wrote the word in red, shaped like a stop sign, read the word to him aloud, and as I said the word (as we were walking along) I stopped walking. I then said, "go" and set off again. We made a game of it and within minutes, he could say the word and knew its meaning. He also could read it in any location. And I am not kidding about "within minutes".
    I made little books for him - disposable, our of a sheet of paper folded in half, half again and again, then stapled down one side (tape over the staples for safety) ands pages cut free. I would draw a picture and label it carefully. I drew his picture on the front, with his name. If he tore the book to pieces or lost it, I could easily make another one. As he 'evolved' I made new books to enlarge his vocabulary.

    At the time difficult child 3 was minded on some days by a lady with no training, just instinct. She adopted my book and did her own thing with it, putting in words she chose (which I wouldn't have; but that was still OK) and also deciding it was time to teach him his colours. Because the book had been working for us, it was easy to slide from nouns into colours. She used coloured pencils to colour a patch, then wrote the name of the colour in black (because some colours are just too pale). She supplemented the book with showing him the pencils themselves and letting him scribble on plain paper with them, each time saying the name of the colour.
    By the time I collected him, three hours later, difficult child 3 had gone from not even understanding the concept of colour, to knowing the names of about seven or eight colours - reading them as well as identifying them.
    At that time we had no idea he had autism - he didn't even have a diagnosis of language delay, he was only two years old. But I had been concerned for some time and was trying to sort something out myself, in the absence of any official help.

    Anyway, I just wanted to show you that different kids learn in some surprisingly different ways and until you work out how YOUR kid needs to learn, you will both be frustrated.

    Try to not get too upset with him when he gets angry and frustrated - how else can he communicate how he feels? Of course it's not right, but he doesn't yet know any different, he's too young an inexperienced to be able to get his message across more appropriately.

    And also - don't try to change everything about him, all at once. Just as ANY kid who is learning one skill often backslides elsewhere, if you push too hard in too many areas you may see deterioration elsewhere. Don't panic.

    difficult child 3, once he gets the idea of a topic, can learn it FAST. Or it can be mind-numbingly slow. It depends on whether he's ready, frankly. And how it's presented to him.

    If you could meet difficult child 3, you would have hope. If you read "Thinking in Pictures" by Temple Grandin you will know what I mean - difficult child 3 was non-verbal, had no idea of language (which meant he didn't know his own name or even that names existed; I could be calling him and calling, thinking he'd got lost, been run over, and find he was sitting under the table, playing). He was a physical handful as we had to push and pull to get him to do what we wanted. He was fussy about certain textures, avoiding some and hooked on others. He HAD to have a towel with him, especially when he was tired. He couldn't talk but could mimic any sounds he heard including the words of film and TV, as well as songs on the radio. He had little or no understanding of what he was repeating. When caught up in something he was obsessed with, we had to leave him and wait until we could persuade him to move on.
    He would chase birds when he saw them, regardless of consequences. He was obsessed with water, falling objects, round objects and trees. He would lose himself in music, so we taught him to play the piano, connecting sheet music to his knowledge of the alphabet by labelling the piano keys with letters and then writing the letters in sequence so he could learn his favourite tunes. That rapidly progressed to him reading sheet music.

    What we were doing - we were meeting him where he was. As I said, we were lucky that he happened to be obsessed with something useful like letters and numbers, it opened up doors rapidly.

    difficult child 3 has a good buddy who is also autistic. Sheer fluke - he's a neighbour. And a few years younger. Not as severe, he's coping in mainstream. And now medicated, doing brilliantly. It was as if he was asleep before this. difficult child 3 has been medicated since he was 3 (I know it sounds horrible) and it was the best thing we could have done. His mate - he's 9, just started on Concerta.
    And about 'waking up' - difficult child 3 loves game shows. He likes "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" but because he had poor language skills for the first few years of school, he has gaps in his knowledge. He can answer the more senior questions, but often misses the 1st Grade ones. Today he's been working on Biology (flowering plants) and we were discussing experimental theory, the definition of uncontrolled variables compared to controlled variables. But he still struggles with more basic knowledge. In English he's brilliant at spelling and grammar but has great trouble with inferred meaning and questions such as "What do you think the girl was thinking at this point?" because it requires theory of mind, which he is still developing.

    But he is getting there. I took him to the bank on Friday, to bank a cheque that had come in. He worked out what to do, he waited his turn, he explained to the bank teller what he needed and followed her instructions. He managed very well. In fact, he managed better than difficult child 1 does, in similar circumstances.

    So cheer up, there is plenty of reason to hope and to be glad in this child. He will have an innate honesty, as well as deep feelings and loyalty. You will see this more as he gets older. And somewhere in there is a boy who wants to learn, but is very frustrated at how confusing and annoying everything is. As they learn to meet us, they become eager to please us and to blend in.

    Keep us posted on how you get on.

  5. lady

    lady New Member

    Thanks for the response. I studied many therapies as well as did a lot of work with independant doctors before removing him from school. I do all of his therapies right now. He has speech therapy, large motor occupational therapy, small motor occupational therapy, O.T. grapho motor, physical therapy, oral motor therapy, physical therapy, relationship based play therapy, functional play therapy, we also do sensory input techniques to help with sensory issues as well as to help with proprioceptive issues (this helps to eliminate some aggression which is just him seeking sensory input. We practice public conduct, we also practice socialising. All of these therapies on top of school academics. When he was in these therapies -they never suggested anything. I was made to feel shamed for asking in most scenarios -so i did not ask most, but the one i did ask (his teacher) pretended like it did not happen. But it happened all the time to the teachers assistant who was working with him 1:1 90% of the time, as well as to all the others who were actually effective positively in thier work with him, (who were actually doing something with him -requiring something of him). I tried to ask the behaviorist we were working with but my mother & law interfered ...i finally was able to ask about a year later & she said to give him sensory input he needs -but not as a reward for bad behavior of course. She also said to help him label (identify) his emotions & what he wants. That helps to a certain degree. The teacher assistant did not know what to do & was completely unwilling to take any behavioral approaches.
    He communicates via very few words, also through objects & pictures & by taking me to things or bringing something to me. He always has communication tools available to him (pictures & objects which have magnets & hang on our door).
    The brain changes quite a bit as it grows....the brain really is the final frontier of medicine. Bob is only 7 years old. Many of my friends have resorted to medicine for thier kids i understand that need & have nothing bad to say about it -i realize we will probably have to do that as well. However, i would like a little more time to see if we don't. Those are pretty much my reasons for not wanting medication, don't want to do that right now. Not yet. I would like to know if anyone out there has changed any of these types of behaviors by other means (& i don't mean the special gluten free, casien free diets....studied that, been there). I mean by behavioral or just parental approaches or any other means. Thanks for yourquestions & interest. I would appreciate any responses. Thanks again.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    While medications worked for my kids, we were lucky. Sometimes medications don't work for autistic kids. And even with our kids - it's not a cure, nor does it completely make them 'normal'. It just makes it easier for them to cope and to adapt. I think it helped us because they also have ADHD. Getting that under control made it easier for them to deal with what was left.

    Sometimes diet can help. Sometimes other therapies can help. Often they don't. You don't know until you try. I do know that stimulants were magic for difficult child 3, he went from single words to whole sentences in under a week. His big sister was away at camp for the week he began medications, and she commented on the amazing change when she returned.

    It's just the way it is sometimes. If you try it and there is no dramatic change, then give it up. But if it DOES work like magic, then you have made a quantum leap forward for him. And EVERY improvement is a bonus and an advantage for him.

  7. lady

    lady New Member

    Thanks for your responses....yes a lot of it is frustration due to communication deficits, which we are working on. Thanks for taking the time to post ....i will check out those books. i will check back for any more responses.
    where the academics go -i'm going from this list of what he should learn for each grade level. we're only on pre-k...& i fear that somethings he just won't get, like colors. its a little bizzarre to explain. but all of a sudden he is really interested in the computer. but once i try to help or push his knowledge just a little (& i have to otherwise he remains unable to do anything, so excited that he just smacks the mouse & computer continuously...then becomes disinterested in it.) -then the aggression starts. i am starting to think we will just have to skip some things to gain other things -academically...there is not enough time & communication is the most important. But the aggression is always there when ever anything is required of him.
  8. lady

    lady New Member

    Marguerite -what do you mean by stimulants? -is this medication? You think it helped? If so what kind is it? -if i end up going for the medication, i wonder if i could google some names & learn more about them before going to the phsychiatrist.
  9. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Stimulants are the medications used to treat ADHD. I think some of the names are Ritalin, Adderall, Focalin...there are probably many more.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You're right, Heather. Of course, what is available in Australia is generally behind what is available in the US.

    With curriculum, it's highly likely that he will be brilliant in some areas, miles behind in others. If he's being uncooperative or if it's early days trying to get him to work, then let him work on what he feels he can handle, to begin with.

    We found the computer to be a great help. And with autistic kids, you often do better when you think outside the square.

    For example - difficult child 3 simply didn't take any Geography on board. He was in the classroom when it was taught, but when I had him at home he couldn't even find where we lived on the globe. Or anywhere else. Simply sitting with the globe and explaining it didn't help. We have travelled a bit in Australia, so I showed him where we have been and he STILL didn't get it.
    So clearly, a standard Geography curriculum was never going to workj for him, where he was at.

    SO I went out and bought the latest version of "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"
    I had to do it with him, because he didn't have the language skills at first to solve the more complex puzzles (the clues were a bit too subtle for him) but he quickly got the idea. He also got his wholistic world view which helped him get a better connection to the countries of the world, where they are and what they are like. From there he has been able to pick up information from other sources on various countries and other facets. He can now listen to the news and hear of an earthquake in Chile, for example, and know what it is and where it is.

    We had to get him started in a very different way.

    We use the computer for Maths, for typing practice, for problem solving skills - look for the educational software.

    And don't worry too much about following the curriculum the normal way - it's probably what is upsetting him. You can teach the same things in a different way and have it work better for him, it's just a matter of working out:

    1) what he can manage for now;

    2) what his special skills are (if any);

    3) how he learns best;

    4) what he needs to learn NOW to give him the basic survival skills.

    I wouldn't worry about colours just yet. The only reason difficult child 3 learnt them when he did, is because someone else taught him. I had tried, and not got it. But for her, it worked. I hadn't tried hard, because I was focussing on what I saw as more important - basic survival stuff.
    For example - he needed to know his own name. He needed to know "Mummy" and "Daddy". The names of his siblings.
    After that, he had to learn safety stuff. "Stop". "Go". "Exit".
    Then the objects in his life. Car. Bus. Train. Door. House. Truck. Cup. Spoon. Drink.
    Animals - cat, dog (he had a hard time with those). People - boy, girl, man, woman (he still has trouble there).
    And the computer terms - Quit. Copy. Paste. Save. Print.

    Colours were a low priority!

    We've found all along, difficult child 3 needed to have different work made available. He needed extension in his skill areas (maths, computing) and modified work in other areas such as Geography, History. You can still ensure that certain subjects are presented, even when modified. And when YOU know your child, you have the best idea on how to modify it to his needs.

    And a thought on colours - in "Carmen Sandiego" and other computer games, colour is used as a recognition point. The colour may or may not be named, but it could be a key to him working colours out FOR HIMSELF. Fo example, a children's book read on the computer could say, "Grandma was wearing a red dress". If you don't labour the point, he will eventually absorb it by osmosis, which is often the best way.

    Seriously, while you're struggling, let him learn what HE wants to, just to get him into a learning routine. Don't push him too hard but let him set his pace. As he can handle it, give him something more challenging (such as colours) but ease back to what he can handle if he begins to get upset. We've found with difficult child 3 that Maths is what we get difficult child 3 to do, when he is not having a good day. It actually soothes him to do it. Conversely, when he is feeling emotionally stronger and less anxious, I sit down with him and he does his English or his Drama.

    You need to find what HE can handle, and work from there. Be prepared to break the rules. be prepared to throw out everything you've ever learnt. These kids are all different and seem to know best what they can handle. Sit back and watch him, forget the curriculum for now. If he had severe brain damage you couldn't expect him to handle a normal curriculum. So drop your expectations, at least for now. You will find that as he adapts, his learning curve will pick up at HIS pace and despite a very slow start, can often later on outstrip others.

    And if he never learns anything else other than how to look after his own needs and maybe read & write, then you are still ahead.

  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    How old is the little guy and why are you homeschooling? I homeschooled my now fourteen year old son when he was in kindergarten and first grade and it really turned out that with all the interventions he needed he did much better in public school (and I had always been against public My son is doing great now, but he needed to get the constant interventions at school. THAT was what really changed his ability to function both at home and in the world. I could not have done it alone, and, no, I don't believe diets or vitamins cure autism and didn't use them. My son, now fourteen, is about the sweetest child on earth. Quite a difference from the raging toddler who, yes, BIT me and threw his time out chair. We had to take different approaches with him--the more he could communicate, the better he behaved. He'd been a very frustrated little guy. (We got him at age two and a bit). Lucas does better off medications and has not taken any for four years. But he has improved in every way. I know you won't want to hear this, and it's not at all about medications, but I think he should go to school and you should push for all the supports you can get. That's pretty much what we did, and it really worked out well. However, he needed Special Education and an aide at first. Now he is basically mainstreamed and holding his own on every level. But it didn't come easy--for him or us. PS--The school can't force you to put your child on medications. I never allow the educators to play doctor. They know their role with my child--teaching him. I take him to those who can help him with the rest and they know I'm not going to bend on that.

  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Just to clarify, MWM - I also do not believe that ANYTHING cures autism; not diets, vitamins, medication, therapy - nothing.

    But in some cases (the lucky few) there can be issues connecting to food sensitivity, a need for certain vitamins, problems which can be reduced with some therapies - which can make autism WORSE. Treat the problem (if possible) and maybe make it easier for an autistic child to "pretend to be normal" as difficult child 3 calls it.

    Once you fix everything fixable, you will still have an autistic child, but if anything WAS able to be improved, maybe that child will be coping a little better. In which case, you will be too.

    Didn't work for us, though. We have just worked things out for ourselves. And THAT doesn't work for everybody, either. Not always possible.

    We just do what we can. So don't beat yourself up over things you can't fix. Just worry about what you CAN work with!

  13. lady

    lady New Member

    Midwest Mom -thanks for the reply. Public private -whatever school is not an option -I am disgusted with them & doing quite well on my own. But i would not have wanted to say all of that originally. Bob reacted to them in the same way, & i would watch & pop in on his personal assistant several times as she became very frustrated with my son. It was a little scary. Also they did not give him the opportunties to develop communication like they did the other kids. They would have a picture schedule for the other kids, but not my son. I could accept that since he could not yet do as well with pictures. But when i told them how well the objects worked -they lied & said they were using them to facilitate communication when they were not. I walked in on them changing my boy's diaper with him being held down once -when i was trying to potty train him & strictly forbad that....It took me a LOOONG time to undo the multiple damages they did, & i will not send him back to that. When he was ready to go to the next clas he was being demoted instead of promoted -basically (to a more cognitively severe class). They told me they thought he was severely retarded, on multiple occasions i left that school weeping -although i would not admit that to them. They gave up on my son because they thought he was retarded. Every time i took him out of school for a summer to do my own work & therapy with him he went back with vast improvements -to the point that the staff praised me. But during the school year (winter) he would regress again. Although its good to know i have more rights than i thought. But i can not expect a teacher or a teacher's assistant to deal with the aggression & actually be productive -thats not realistic nor fair. Although i would like to shirk my resposibility sometimes. Like i said in my original post, no one has ever had an answer to this problem.
  14. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I think this has been mentioned, but I would definitely make your first book Temple Grandin's book, Thinking in Pictures. It is the most revelational, eye opening book I have ever read about living inside the mind of an autistic person. She then goes on to give example after example of ideas that helped her when she was exactly as you are describing your son.

    Unfortunately that is all I can think of at this point - but others have given you some great ideas. Welcome to our board - keep posting and probing for the solutions - and I believe eventually you will find the answers.
  15. lady

    lady New Member

    Weeping Willow, thank you. I had no idea she addressed any of those issues in her book. Its one of few that i did not read entirely -never could find it. But i will look more dilligently now.
    I was thinking of some aba type of approaches. I have definately run out of money for expensive doctors. If any one has any like ideas i would appreciate it.

    Yes,thank all of you for responding, i appreciate it.
  16. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi Lady! When you get a chance, click on the "MY STUFF" thingy up top and set up a profile. This way people will know you, your son and the rest of the family and won't "re-ask" questions (like diagnosis or medications, pets, etc.).

    I would recommend that you post some of your schooling issues that you've had with Bob. Sheila and Martie (the moderators) know the school system inside out and backward and it seems that you should have a lot more options than the local public school.

    According to IDEA, you should be able to do some of the following:

    1. help you with home schooling (teachers, physical therapists, occupational, speech, etc.) at the Board of Eds expense if they don't have a viable alternative.

    2. possibly set you up with a local spec. ed school (also provide bussing) whether private or not

    3. set up services in your local school

    There are many alternatives out there. Thankfully, you've found this site so you don't have to "reinvent the wheel" everytime you have a question. You can check here first.

    The bottom line is that Bob deserves some form of education and it shouldn't be falling on you exclusively. When we first started, we went nuts. But eventually, I learned a lot of the system is broken, but there are parts that are not.

    Keep us posted!

  17. lady

    lady New Member

    Well -Hi to any one still reading this thread. I finally found an answer that is actually working. Although i have really appreciated all of your answers and have found quite a few helpful hints. I especially appreciate the time and sensitivity some of you took to respond, I know everyone is very busy.
    Bob tears up pictures so I had originally limited the pictures I posted for him to communicate with. Now I have laminated and added strength to all the pictures with wood, cardboard or posterboard and continuously correct if he tries to use them as a comfort zone instead of communication -and posted all of them. Just a short while ago we had to use objects because he did not understand pictures -he has come so far so fast. Long story short, he is happier in general now (and I keep all the pictures on my computer so I can re-create them if he destroys them). thats a part of a general change in mood
    I googled "Behavior modification" and realized what the school should have done, what I should have done. But the answers weren't all there for me. Much of the answers just sort of came. The results of the google amongst some other searches have helped me to brainstorm. General rewards and special charts did not work before because he could not grasp it (it took me 3 years to teach him what the words "potty" & "bath" meant). But he has come so far so fast, I decided it was time to teach him even if he did not figure it out in a reasonable amount of time. Low and behold, he has so improved that he is getting it. He is even trying to say "Love you" I just have to say thank you Jesus, perhaps this is simply another era of time. Any way an extensive part of the behavior modification plans range in great difference from returning a kiss for a bite in a specific setting to using his phobias to change his behavior (I read what was standard in behavior modification and can not fathom some of it. I would rather use the bad to produce good and deal with the consequences. anything is better than him attacking people like a ravenous animal.) Any way one of his phobias is of plants, so i have started to whip out this fake bushy plant whenever he attacks me, the store products or others in public (I look bizarre -but it works, He stops destroying).
    Thats just a very short brief to my answer to intense long entreated prayer. But I actually have a lot of plans that for the first time ever are actually showing immediate results. It is wonderful, and because of the way the tide has turned I know it was an answer to my prayers. Just wanted to share the good news.
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I think I said to you before - you have a very good instinct for what your child is thinking and feeling. It sounds like you are honing that skill even more and appreciating the payoff.

    Well done, I am so pleased you are doing well, and so is your son.

    FYI concerning posts - this site is set out well. Whenever someone posts on a thread, it brings that thread back up to the top of the list because they are arranged in order of last post.

    Because YOU started the thread, YOU have the option of modifying the title of the thread to include "update" on the end, which tells those of us who think we've seen it all already, that you have posted new information (and hence, we're more inclined to read it!)

    You also have the option of beginning a new thread on the topic, to give us an update, ask a new question - anything you like.

    If we want to refresh our memories on the original thread (which could, in some cases, be years ago) we can track it in a number of ways. The easiest is to search for all posts you've made, that way we can get a very thorough picture if we want more info from you, in trying to help.

    You can do the same for us.

    One more thing I strongly recommend - keep a detailed diary on what you do, on the things you try, on the results and also on anything fun, interesting, surprising that happens. You think you will remember it all but you won't. You will be so deeply immersed in your son and how he is going day to day, that you can lose sight of the big picture. Being able to go back and browse your diary is a great way to show yourself how far he has come, how much progress he has made and how wonderful it all is. Very good especially when you're feeling downhearted.

    difficult child 3 has, in the last few days, been giving cheek - in a good way. He's been sassing his sister, his brother and sometimes me and husband, jokingly. He's been using these jokes appropriately (just barely sometimes) and his sense of comedic timing is wonderful. While it is the jokes and good-natured sassing he's grown up with hearing, this is the first time I've seen him get the timing and response right. He cracks us up.

    The amazing thing about all this, is when I look back to where he was when we started - very much where you are now. Just getting him to understand us was our big battle, as well as getting him to communicate with us. Now - wonderful. Not cured, he will always be autistic, but adapting so well. Last Thursday was his end of year school presentation day. His English teacher had published in the school's yearbook (with difficult child 3's permission) a poem difficult child 3 wrote for English this year - an example of personification. difficult child 3 wrote it unaided, did a brilliant job (brilliant for anybody; stupendous for an autistic kid) and his work was chosen to be published as something special to share with the school community. Although he does his schoolwork at home, this IS a mainstream curriculum, he has to be able to compete academically with mainstream standards.

    This is the boy who, when he was four years old, was expected to never be able to attend a 'normal' school and who would never be able to learn much at all.

    You sound as if you and your son are on the end of the springboard, about to launch into a world of excitement.