Today was a two therapist day. Actually, two therapists and one in-training. Jennifer, the newest member of Team Oliver, came to observe the first two hours of the morning session. Lindsey, the therapist on duty-- and the person who has been working with Oliver the longest -- gave her lots of helpful hints: what kind of things he likes, how to motivate him, things to watch for; etc. I took some mental notes myself.
Shortly after Oliver was diagnosed I was reminded to always remember that I am the expert on Oliver. That has been good advice sometimes but there is no doubt that I have learned a great deal about Oliver by listening, watching, and talking with his therapists. Last Friday when Oliver had an absolute melt-down brought on by unexpected visitors I looked to Lindsey for advice about how to help him cope. She was right on the money when she suggested that a video might help him focus and calm down. With visitors in the house and my aversion to TV it was probably the last thing I would have tried. But it worked like a charm and I was glad he could find some peace. It is times like this when I see how valuable the in-home program is for us as a family because the truth is, I don't always understand my boy and it helps to have fresh insights and creativity.
To break up a long day of therapy I try to have small, fun activites built into the day. Since Halloween is approaching I hauled the big pumpkin in from the porch and got Oliver to help me carve it and light the candle I had put inside. He was delighted but mostly interested in taking off the lid and putting it back on again like a giant puzzle piece. He also had trouble understanding that the candle, which was roughly muffin shaped, was not actually a cake. Prior to this the only time he had seen a candle was when it sat upon a birthday cake so he was a bit disappointed that this activity didn't involve any eating!
By the time the therapists had come and gone Oliver and I were both exhausted and in need of some fresh air. He has developed a new love for riding in the car -- I know this because he will often bring me my shoes and lead me to the door saying "car." So, to indulge his desire for a ride and need for fresh air Nik took him along to a soccer game with a tupperware dinner of cucumbers, raisins and roasted chicken. He came home with cheeks blushed red with the October air and with the good kind of tired that comes from playing outdoors.
Before bed Oliver was entertained by older brother and his friends who were gearing up to go to a corn maze. They had a scary mask that would have frightened Oliver a year ago but now gave him a thrill. After they tired of chasing him around the downstairs with the mask on Oliver kept retrieving it and handing it to his brother, not wanting the fun to end. He even jumped up one kid's lap (whom he had never met before!) and peered into they eyes of the mask giggling the whole time. It made me smile to see him interact with the big kids that way. Afterwards he fell into an easy sleep and I took the time to sit by his bed, admire him, and be thankful for another Friday at home with my boy.