No Small Changes » Blog

Masthead header

emerging personalities

Today I was reading and came across this quote:

It is up to the parents to help shape and mold their child’s intentions, goals, and dreams, but it takes a balanced brain to pursue and attain them. A brain that is out of rhythm…will not develop the emotional structure to carry them out.                                                                                  –Dr. Melillo

 

Balanced brains are the focus for our children these days, and honestly it has been a couple years since I dared to dream about what the future would hold for them.  I would always smile politely, but with a slight cringe at those who told me that my children are very special and sent to me for a reason…or that we are meant to be their parents.
I was insecure.
I didn’t feel any more special than any other parent. There were way too many expectations and it was all I could do to get out of bed everyday and make it until bedtime. I was stuck. We were all stuck.

But now,things are changing. Not just in my kids, but in me. I understand now why we were meant to be their parents…because we needed them to help change us.

Now that an environment has been created for them to progress, and we have removed those things that we know were inhibiting their development, we can see their little spirits shining through brighter than ever.

My little Maximus is as sweet as honey.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s still 3.  He has his defiant moments, but 80% of the time he is tolerant and so patient with us and his sister.  He is becoming very obedient.  Now that he is able to understand more words he is so willing to help.  He loves music, singing, and dancing to a good beat.  He is developing quite the sense of humor and likes to fake laugh and say “what’s so funny”.  He loves to tease and play with us.  He is constantly searching my face for different expressions, which you have no idea how much joy that gives me to have that interaction with him.

Speaking recently with a friend about it, she described it like seeing your newborn infant start to smile, laugh, and interact with you for the first time…it’s that same excitement and joy, only Max is almost 4 years old.  Max brings happiness to everyone he spends any time with.  I have received emails, notes, phone calls, and had conversations with teachers, family, and friends who just fall in love with Max.  He’s just a very easy boy to love.  I have so much hope for him and see so much potential for the future.  I cannot wait to see him grow and develop.

My little Dempsey girl…I always know where I stand with her. She may only know a handful of words, but don’t let that fool you, she will let know know what’s up. Everyday she is mimicking more and more words.  She LOVES to jump on the bed and play in my bathroom.  She is definitely a girly-girl, because I catch her putting bows in her hair and modeling in front of my mirrors. She loves carrying around little knick-knacks in her hands, or stuffed animals, or dolls…it’s a different collection everyday and they must go everywhere she goes, even to bath & bed. She’s fiery, fiesty, strong-willed and I hope that as we work on balancing her, that we can temper these traits to work in her favor, so that she can be a force for good among her peers.  She also has moments when she is incredibly sweet and wants to be swaddled up in her blankie on our laps.  She is as tall as Max(37″ very tall for her age) and sometimes I forget that she is only 2, my baby.

making good on may

Well, it’s been around a month that we have been doing sensory-motor exercises with Max and about 2 months that both of them have been gluten/dairy-casein/soy free and I wanted to kind of give a run down of what typical day looks like right now, because I know our schedule will be changing once Max actually starts going to the Center.

I won’t lie. It is so much work, but we know the we are trying to grow little brain cells here, so consistency and frequency are the keys when it comes to making changes. Plus, we are seeing results and that makes so much easier to push forward everyday!

I made this schedule for my sister when we left on vacation for a week.

7:30-8:00am                         WAKE UP!

8:30-9:00am                         Breakfast

9:00am                       Exercise with Max

9:30am                       Get dressed

Activity time until lunch:

  • Go to park
  • Playdough
  • Go shopping
  • Go for a walk at temple
  • Play out in the yard with bubbles/sprinkler
  • Color/water paint outside on picnic table
  • Splash park
  • Make my bed and jump on it

Snack around 10:30am

12:00noon                 Lunch

1:00 or 2:00pm         Dempsey goes down for a nap and then exercise with Max again

She will sleep for a couple hours.

Another snack around 4:00pm

More activities until dinner or eat dinner first and then go out and play until dark.

  • Jumpin jacks
  • Carousel

6:00 -7:00pm         Dinner

8:00-9:00pm             Bath every other night and bedtime

Put Dempsey in bed first and do exercises with Max again.

I also wanted to document some new changes.  They just keep coming so fast and furious that I have to make notes in my phone whenever I see something new, so that I don’t forget!

We have noticed that since we have taken Dempsey off of gluten/dairy that her eczema/dry, scaly skin that covered her abdomen and legs is completely gone. Max’s didn’t have as bad of skin, but we can also tell his skin is just much softer and we are not having to apply lotions to either of them at all.

Another new development with Max is that he has become very interested in wanting to try out bikes, trikes, and scooters…I remember buying a Little Tikes push-car for his second birthday and he has never played with it, but recently, I’m sure since we have been working on his weaker right brain which controls gross motor skills, he is wanting to pedal things. Sooo exciting!

I have also notice Max and Dempsey being more willing to engage with other adults.  They are willing and curious to go up and see what other people are doing.  Max is more careful about not intruding and just observing. Dempsey still lacks a sense of boundaries/awareness, however, she now responds to me when I tell her no/stop or call her name which is 100% better than a couple months ago.

 

 

 

 

the getaway

The more I have been learning about my children’s developing brains, the more I realize there are infinite combinations of neurons & synapses making connections which ultimately determines how an individual experiences the world. There are many pop psychology tests you can take to determine for example what “personality color” you are or what your “love language” may be.  If only informational, these concepts can help us to understand what our strengths and weaknesses are so that we may learn to communicate with each other better.  After all, isn’t lack of understanding, compassion/empathy and communication at the root of every human problem?

Enough of me waxing philosophical.

Adam and I took a trip.
Alone.
Meaning, without children.
I would like to say it was spontaneous, but the spontaneous part of my brain is sorely underdeveloped.  And since having Max and Dempsey, the control-freak part of my brain has gone into overdrive.

We haven’t spent more than one night away from them since they were born, so this was quite the undertaking.  I remember watching a Autism conference video and one of the speakers mentioning that as a parent of special needs children you should have a “bus book”. Which means, if you got hit by a bus tomorrow, you should have everything written down so that someone else could step into your shoes if necessary.  I thought the name “bus book” was pretty morbid, however, even just leaving on vacation for 5 days I knew it was important to leave detailed instructions of how a typical day went from start to finish.  Sounds crazy, but when you are dealing with special diets, unpredictable behavior, and two toddlers who can’t talk…it’s gets overwhelming very quickly.  Luckily, my sister who has been living our basement for last couple years going to college was up for the job, and my parents came down for the weekend, so it couldn’t have gone any more smoothly!  It was a great for us to get away and for Max & Dempsey to learn to depend on adults other than their parents.

Here’s a recap of our trip just for future reference: (WARNING: iphonography overload):

We flew into Sacramento, but I forgot to get any photos of my awesome mission comp who let us crash at her place. Love you Porter!  On our way into ‘the city'(San Francisco) we stopped and had dinner with our buddy Kara.  She recommended Ethiopian cuisine and it was great to catch up, have intelligent, uninterrupted conversation and eat all of that deliciousness. addisethiopian.com

 

The next day we forgot how incredibly miserable it is driving around the city for very long, so we stopped to walk along the Presidio….We also spent a little time walking around Golden Gate park…I miss the Giant Redwoods so much. I know the desert has it’s own beauty, but really, this part of the world is very special.After somewhat of a wild goose chase following the GPS all over, and then driving in circles around the mission district waiting for a parking spot to open up, we finally made it to Dynamo Donuts.  I had been dying to go there since I saw them on the food network months earlier describing their hand-made-from-scratch confections.  I blame my mom, for placing on the path to becoming a donut connoisseur.There were some weird and wacky flavor combinations.  I am fan of the yeast donuts all the way. The cake ones, just don’t do it for me.  Out of all of the flavors I tried my top three in order were: vanilla bean, lemon pistachio, & maple apple bacon.Just chillin’ at the hotel…Can you ever have too many shots of the Golden Gate Bridge through your window? I mean, it’s just a precaution, since they destroy it in every post-apocalyptic movie.There is the bottom floor apartment where we lived just 3 minutes north of the GG bridge….so surreal coming back to visit.If anyone was to take a recommendation of where to eat while visiting the bay I would shout this place from the rooftops! Sol Food: Authentic Puerto Rican .  The limonada is to die for…15 minutes in our backyard was the beach…we HAD to go there to take an afternoon nap.:)Although it is SUPER touristy…who cares? We wanted some seafood, it was Saturday night, and without a reservation in the city it can be tough, so Fisherman’s wharf it was!Back to Marin on a foggy morning to go to church and see so many good friends.  Memorial day, Adam helped me test out my wide angle lens before I photographed a reception for a friend.On our way back to Sacramento we passed “Madison Avenue”
Porter loaded me up with European sweets for trip back.We made it a few miles from home when Adam’s little Geo Metro overheated….when I text my dad about it, he told Adam to just spit on it. We coasted into a gas station and filled up with water.  Good times…good times.

I can’t believe we waited 4 years to get away.  It was so nice to recharge and remember the people we forgot we were before 2 little ones redefined our life.  It’s so easy to get lost in parenthood and although we may not fly off to exotic places every year, we will definitely make it a priority to getaway again soon.  Our kiddos benefited as well.  Their routines were switched up, they were forced to communicate with people who didn’t know how to translate all their cues and gibberish, and they got to bond with family that doesn’t see them often which is all very good for strengthening their right brains. WIN WIN!

 

 

storytime

I have a huge list on my phone of things I need to and want to blog about! These kids are just changing so fast and furious lately that I can’t keep up with them.  Adam and I have conversations every night about the changes we are seeing and it is just incredible. The whole dynamic in our household has changed…the way they eat, structured motor-sensory activities, no screen-time, more core exercises and playing outside. We are gaining this momentum and optimism and it is amazing how when you change your expectations and start looking for the miracles, they appear.

One of  the things I have noticed with Max is that he seems more and more like that boy we knew before Autism took him from us.  I have noticed when I get upset with him now, he doesn’t just sit there with either no response or yell back in confusion/tantrum, but he actually get his FEELINGS hurt.  He is actually accessing that part of his brain again.  He gets the saddest look on his face and he cries real tears.  He looks to me to my face and watches my facial expressions to see if I am mad at him.  When he has to sit in a timeout he actually gets mad at me and hold a little grudge for a minute.  I know it sound weird, but it seriously brings me so much joy to have these types of interactions with him.  I am having to learn how to interact with him differently because he is now sensitive and able to react and express how he is feeling.

I am brought to tears just writing about it now.  It’s like my boy is slowly coming back to me.  Don’t get me wrong, he has a lot of catching up to do in his development, but just to be able to have him look at me and want to play peek-a-boo, get shy, scared, giggle and laugh is something you can just never know how much you need in a human relationship until it’s gone.

The other day we were laying on my bed and he let me read an entire book to him. He took it all in and I could tell he was really concentrating on the words and what I was saying. 

 

The last time I remember doing this was in these photos below when he was around 10 months old.

Feeling so blessed today.

just keep swimming

I don’t want this blog to become a place where I only express how challenging my situation is…I have gained some perspective over the past year.  I am not naive enough to think that I am the only one with life-changing trials.  We all have something.  Something that forces us out of what is comfortable and we have to either give up  or step up to the challenge.

In many ways my life is really great and you could say I have a lot of “first world problems” like many moms out there, I wish my house were cleaner, I wish I exercised and ate better myself, sometimes I get mad because the wireless internet it cutting out during my favorite shows on hulu…it can be rough.

How grateful I am that I have always had the deep-seeded desire, no matter how hard things have gotten, to improve my situation. I feel it is definitely been a gift of the spirit.  No matter how many times I fall down in failure, I have this desire to learn from my mistakes and do better. Such a blessing, for which I can take no credit.

I have a strong bond with my husband. Special needs children can take their toll on marriage, but we have made a concerted effort to always take timeouts from the children when we start taking our frustrations out on each other.  I could not have made it without the loyal support of Adam who was willing to make all the lifestyle changes necessary and to work hard to make it possible for me to stay at home.

We are in our own world.  When it is just the 4 of us at home, we sometimes don’t even think about the fact that our children are so different from other children their age. They have their own quirky personalities and they know how to entertain us and make us laugh. They love listening to Adele and Michael Buble music and having their own little dance party.  When I think about it, it is almost like we have our own inside little language with them. We take cues from them, we mimic each other back and forth, we tickle and laugh and play…that’s all any other regular family does, right?

How thankful I am that both of my children have healthy, strong bodies. They are able to walk, run, dance, see, hear, throw, hug, kiss, and their potential for growth is immense.  We took them for their very first official swim lessons the other day.  I, of course, was a little anxious of how it would go. I had questions running through my mind of how they would react around the new teacher? would they understand instructions, let alone follow them? would the cacophony of noise and other kids be overstimulating? would they be afraid of the deep water? what would I do in case of a tantrum?

Max met the teacher first and Adam went in the pool with them.  She eased all of my fears the moment I met her.  She works with special needs children often and reassured me she would just push Max as far as  he would let her.  She got him used to the pool(they both had only been in a pool one other time last summer) and she was able to help him do a lot of different activities and he was calm and seemed to be having a good time.  He especially loved the big slide!

Dempsey, whom I was most worried about, had to wait her turn on my lap.  Waiting patiently is difficult for any 2.5-year-old, but especially for Dempsey. She has a fiery, strong will(which I always attribute to her redheaded father) and since she has no words to express herself, screaming is usually her medium of choice.:)  Surprisingly, she sat on my lap and just kind of took everything in until it was her turn to get into the water.  I’m sure it won’t be so pleasant next time, because now she knows what to expect.

I’m so excited to see what changes the summer has in store for them!