January 23, 2008 by Marj Hatzell
We just received Bugaboo’s ABLLS results. This test is done at least twice a year. It breaks down skills into 26 domains (lettered A to Z, coincidentally. Or not.) and then each domain is broken down into every little skill. Then there is a nifty bar graph at the end to give you a visual, each colored brick represents a different skill. Usually, we look at it and are all, “Yeah, yeah. He’s severely delayed. Tell us something we don’t know!” But this time is different. Not only has he NOT lost ANY skills (first time for that!) but he has gained more in the past six months than he has gained in the two years they have been doing this test with him. This time, it means something.
Two years ago:
Bugaboo couldn’t put on his clothes. He could not pick out which pair of shoes he preferred to wear.
Bugaboo could not communicate. He had no expressive or receptive language whatsoever (according to the test). He did not sustain eye contact for three seconds. He did not answer to his name.
Bugaboo could not peddle a tricycle. He did not have the strength to hold himself up on a swing and could not walk foot-over-foot up the steps, he’d hop instead.
Bugaboo ate nothing but white, crunchy food. He could not suck using a straw and would not chew meat. He ate the same thing, every meal, every day and once only ate apples for four days in a row.
Bugaboo could not point or indicate that he knew where his nose was, where his belly was, where his feet were. He could not distinguish between two pictures of the same thing (ie – two pictures of two different cats were as different as night and day to him). He could not tell colors apart and knew no letters or numbers. He barely knew two shapes.
Bugaboo would not interact with other children. Heck, he barely acknowledged adults. He certainly would not greet anyone coming to the door and would not go near most people, even those he was familiar with.
Bugaboo barely slept, was up every hour or two at night and would not go to bed alone. We drove him around almost every night praying he would fall asleep. If we went on vacation we knew we would be awake for about five days.
Bugaboo sits at circle time, sits at the dinner table and (sometimes) will sit in a restaurant and eat!
Bugaboo can sort colors, identify colors, identify some letters, do puzzles and play simple board games.
Bugaboo can follow directions. Yesterday I asked him to give me a key and he did it! He will also close doors, hand us things when asked, get into the car without running away and will point to a few body parts.
Bugaboo can put his clothes and shoes on but mostly prefers to remove them.
Bugaboo will sit on the potty!
Bugaboo goes to bed with no problem, in fact, he seems to WANT to go when it is time.
Bugaboo is eating a limited variety of food. Wait, that was an oxymoron. How about, he eats more than he used to and is not quite as limited?
Bugaboo hangs out with other kids and occasionally plays with them. He greets everyone that walks in the door and is now saying goodbye to some people.
Bugaboo is using signs and pictures to indicate his wants.
Bugaboo will follow routines at home and school. Bugaboo works independently sometimes.
Bugaboo is using eye contact, smiling and hugging and kissing.
Bugaboo is vocalizing and babbling.
Bugaboo can peddle his trike ALL THE WAY around the block!
Bugaboo can swing himself!
Bugaboo picks out his shoes and frequently will change his clothes when he does not like what I picked out.
Bugaboo loves to play with animals, something he detested in teh past.
Bugaboo is very happy.
Who knows? We are hopeful that Bugaboo will not only continue make progress but sustain the skills he has mastered. We are keeping him back another year rather than start kindergarten to give him one more year of the intense language-learning environment he is in. We are hopeful that he will learn to communicate more effectively, that his stimming will decrease and that he will continue to build his food repertoire. The one thing that has made a HUGE difference in all of this is the fact that we currently have all of his medical issues controlled. He has not had any more seizures, his reflux is currently not an issue and he has rarely had an infection of any kind in the past six months! The better he feels the more he progresses. Our hope for him is to someday live independently, be able to take care of himself, to have meaningful employment and to have lasting friendships and relationships. Seems simple, eh? But it is not. Every little thing we do, every therapy we try, is an attempt to gain more independence for Bugaboo when he is an adult. We aren’t raising a child, we are raising a man. Now, you might be thinking, “DG? Um. He’s five. There is plenty of time for that. Live for today!” But in this life, this autism life, that is not entirely possible. See, we have to plan for tomorrow and we have to guess, pray, think, hope and wonder so that when we get to the man years (I’m coining that term, don’t steal it) we still have a very happy Bugaboo. We just want to have a happy and self-sufficient Bugaboo.
Now, if only we knew what to do about the dog.