I started this blog to write about what goes on in my 3 z’s life; to blog about their funny moments, their sad moments, and the overall roller coaster of living with children on the spectrum (autism).
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to blog on a daily or weekly basis as I have desired- welcome to the life of a busy mom! However, I am going to post often to keep (even) myself updated with what has been going on in the last few months. As mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, Ziah was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3. At the time they (school) had considered Zion to be on the spectrum but wanted keep him under observation before making that decision. Around that same time, we made a move to Lansing (originally from Jackson). We continued with the IEP(s) set in place for both boys and they continued their education through the Early Childhood Development Program with Waverly School District. They were able to transition into mainstream Kindergarten with OT and Speech Services.
I’ve always thought Zion seemed to show more characteristics of being on the spectrum, than his brother. But as the saying goes, “You see a child with Autism, you see one child”- meaning it is a true spectrum with children ranging from low to high functioning.
Characteristics that I noticed frequently in Zion were and still are:
- very rigid and consistent schedules
- sensitive to loud noises
- hard time transitioning from one thing to another
- picky about certain foods and textures
- had to always knew what was next… pestered and bugged me until I would tell him
- always trying to figure things out- ex. wants to know how a clock works
- obsessed with video games- which is now being narrowed down to anything to do w/ Sonic, Mario and Luigi
- very aggressive, will flip out over small and minor incidents
- wants to follow every single rule
- worries and obsesses over death and dark things
- anxiety, anxiety, anxiety
- obsessed with youtube and the overall computer
- socially awkward
- self-esteem issues
- wired differently, processes things differently
- doesn’t understand most jokes
- thinks that multiple choice questions are out to get him
- getting angry, throwing mini-tantrums when things are not going the way he planned it go or changing the schedule at the last minute
- retains information and able to recite it back
Both boys have been developmentally delayed since 15 months. They both needed a lot of help in areas of speech and occupational therapy. I remember when they couldn’t talk and how Zion would lay on the floor kicking and screaming. I was besides myself! I cried, panicked, and felt lost. I didn’t know what he wanted. The way that his face would turn and his body would get stiff when he was having a tantrum scared the crap out of me! I thought in a way that my child was possessed.
Yes, I thought that… I knew something wasn’t right and we sought the help of Early On. Zion (although he is the youngest twin) did everything first. He walked at 7 months. And even during the process of not being able to speak, he was the first one that started making words. I strongly recommend for anyone that has a child that is nonverbal to start out with sign language. That was our lifesaver! The twins and I were taught signs to communicate simple stuff: eat, all done, more, drink, cup, ball, potty, etc until they were able to take those words and add sound to them. Once the sign language started and I was able to communicate with them the tantrums decreased.
Over time their language picked up and so did their motor skills. I am thankful for all the prevention services that we received, and forever grateful to the ISD team in Jackson for their dedication and support to my boys. They were the best! When we transitioned up to a new school in Lansing, they Jackson team came up to the IEP meeting to help me through the transition process and to let the Waverly team know all about the boys. Even to this day, they keep in contact and ask about the boys!
The twins are currently in the 2nd grade at Waverly. They are in separate classes, but have lost their IEP(s). (More on that story later) Zion is doing great in school and we have yet to notice a lot of issues with him in school. But school is also a consistent and structured environment which he thrives in. Zion was also lucky in landing the same teacher from First Grade (which he loves!). His teacher already knows him and is aware of his quirks and things that would raise his anxiety level. I was working outside of his classroom last week and someone in his class had a birthday. The children were going to sing happy birthday to the student and add the cha-cha-cha part. Zion and another boy didn’t want to sing the cha-cha-cha part because they both stated it was too loud. So the teacher asked the rest of the class could the promise to sing the cha-cha-cha part very quietly so it wouldn’t bother Zion. The class agreed. The teacher then asked Zion and the other boy would that be okay? They both agreed. The class sang it and stayed true to their word. And everyone was happy. It’s things like that I notice that she does to accommodate him, but still mainstreaming it to the rest of the class. Isn’t that great?!!