Happy New Year, Everyone.
I had planned to post a bit more over the holidays but as it is I am enjoying the extra time with my boys and haven't gotten to the computer very much.
Christmas this year was just so wonderful in our little green house. It was quiet and relaxing and full of sweet little moments. Oliver, who in the past didn't really "get" the part about opening gifts, has started to realize what a wrapped package means. And Santa brought my little guy two special gifts. The first was a coveted Jack-in-the-box. Our neighbor owns one exactly like it and there have been many times when it has been difficult for Oliver to say good-bye to the toy at the end of a visit. The second toy was a top, the kind where you pump the top of it up and down and the bottom part spins. Inside the clear plastic top, a toy train then is propelled around the track, letting out a whistle each time it passes the gate. Having unwrapped these items there wasn't a happier little boy anywhere on this green planet, I'm sure. After so many occassions when I searched and searched for something that might interest him I was delighted to have succeeded. But I very nearly derailed my own delight as the day went on and I realized that playing with these two toys was ALL he was doing. But I took some deep breathes and decided not to worry about it until there was something to worry about. And so far it has all been OK. He has even, on occassion, allowed Sammy to play with each of them.
We have continued to implement the exercises in our HANDLE program and Oliver continues to sleep through the night. Let me just say that again: Oliver is sleeping through the night! May the Gods continue to smile on us!
We are also finding as many ways possible to re-orient our lives according to RDI principles. There is just so much "un-learning" to do! For instance, our ABA lead therapist encouraged us to say: "Take it!" whenever we had something that we wanted to give to Oliver. So now that is what we do. Instinctively. Even Sammy does it. But what is the point of that when nobody outside of our family and his therapists will ever actually say that to him? So now, we might say nothing at all when we offer him something. Or we might say: "Wow! This orange smells good." Or "Let's wear shoes!" or "Ta Da! Your pajamas!!"
I am also trying to find little ways throughout the days when Oliver and I can do something together and to structure the activities in such a way so that he has many, many small successes. And the result? Oliver's willingness to do things with me has blossomed. In the past, anytime I wanted Oliver to do something -- even if it was something I knew he would LOVE to do -- he would take off running in the opposite direction. I spent 90% of my time chasing him down. And I'm not exaggerating. Now, I simply hold my hand out and call his name and then wait. It might take him a minute (or two or three) to disengage but there is no more chasing. And I attribute this to two things: Oliver now trusts that 1) no matter what, we are going to have FUN together; and 2) he will walk away from our activities feeling good about himself. And the best part is that I DO TOO!
I am SO ready for the new year. I am ready to jump into 2007 with both feet. And this year, as opposed to last, I feel so confident that I will hit the ground running.