Monday, October 20, 2014

Preschool Ups & Downs... and a little something extra too

October 2014
So, I knew it was coming. And yet, it still registers as a shock. Levi now officially has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism. It was pretty clear when he had his testing for intellectual disability a few months ago that something else was going on. This confirms it.

The doctor's recommendation is to begin receiving ABA (applied behavioral analysis) therapy as soon as possible at the quantity of 30 hours per week. It's intensive - but it is considered the gold standard of therapy for people with autism. And based upon my reading, kids who successfully obtain this intervention generally have high levels of improvement and learning.

My goal for Levi has always been to be in an inclusive education environment, but with his current level of development at 3 1/4 years, it seems unlikely that he would be able to participate and benefit from that learning without having a 1:1 aide with him at all times, possibly not even then.

working on his couch-potato skills 
I am hopeful that with the ABA therapy, we can improve his skills and reduce his delays to the point where that goal is again within reach.

On a more positive note, we also discussed the problem with Levi's ADHD-like symptoms. At his age, he is technically too young to receive an ADHD diagnosis, but his doctor assured me that it is safe to treat his symptoms to see if we can improve his behavior and his opportunities for learning. So finally got started on the same medication his older siblings had been using successfully and immediately, everyone began seeing a drastic difference. His eye contact became more consistent. He looks at you (most of the time), when you say his name to get his attention. He is more willing to sit still to participate in therapy activities instead of trying to get up every 30 seconds. Most notably, his willingness to imitate sounds easily tripled immediately. He is just so present and attentive now! Also, I haven't seen the usual house-ransacking that used to occur at least 4 to 5 times every day. It's amazing. His therapists and preschool teachers are as blown-away as I am! I sincerely hope the improvement continues and that it helps Levi to make significantly greater gains in skills than he has in recent months.

working on fine motor and spelling - Endless ABC's

Preschool didn't start off so well - Levi spent several tear-filled weeks crying through all of his preschool time. We made adjustments to his thyroid medication and some other nutrients that his physician felt might be contributing to anxiety about the new environment. Within a couple of days, he would only cry for the first half of class and then just "suddenly" decide that he was going to enjoy himself and - voila! - no more tears for the rest of the day. After a few of those days, he just stopped crying altogether. It is such a nice feeling to know my pumpkin is finally enjoying himself away from Mom.

In other news, Levi is doing really well physically. He is growing tall (37 1/2 inches) and is up to 33 pounds. He is starting to become interested in participating in activities with his siblings and loves to get snuggles from Mom and Dad. My little guy is getting so big so fast!!

enjoying his preschool field trip to a local orchard for apple and pumpkin picking, with his brother, Evan

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