Update! (IEP Meetings, Niki Talk, AAC, Random Life Stuff)

Hello my friends! I know I have been kinda absent from the blog, but that is because the end of February/beginning of March tends to be a crazy busy time for our family. March is when we have Liam’s IEP meetings with his school and it’s his birthday month. This year in particular was a pretty big IEP meeting because Liam is going to be in Kindergarten next year, so there have been extra meetings and evaluations and we aren’t done with them yet!

Liam has been using a physical PECS system to communicate at school. PECS is a way for non-verbal/mostly non-verbal people to communicate using a PECS book and sentence strip. Here are some example photos:

31sL8wRU6mL i want pecs training -  purple copy

It is a great system, however we had moved past it in Liam’s private speech therapy and started to use an AAC (Alternative & Augmentative Communication) app on a tablet at home. The AAC app we chose is called Niki Talk. We chose it for several reasons mostly because it is set up like a PECS board so it looked familiar and the second major reason is that after a 30 day free trial, if you purchase the app you get unlimited downloads on Apple and Android devices! When Liam started using this app, he lit up like a Christmas tree and he loves the fact that it “speaks” for him. You can program a male or female voice and there are many languages available to choose. Liam and I have actually had arguments in the car using this app! He will tell me “I want french fries” or “I want McDonalds” using the app. I will reply back to him “Not today” and then he will verbally yell “NO!!” and use his app to repeat those sentences over and over! It is awesome! I would highly recommend this app to anyone wanting wanting to check out AAC apps but not the $200 and up apps. This app is 49 Euros (the dad who created it for his daughter lives in Italy), I used my PayPal to purchase the app and the total cost in US Dollars ended up being $59.26

niki talk niki talk 1

So this is all exciting and awesome right? The school system should be eager to get on board right??

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I had done my research on AAC apps vs a physical PECS system. I had already requested the school start testing him for AAC tablet in the classroom (which they had started but not finished) and the lady who was conducting the testing was coming to the IEP meeting. One of the first things the tester said was that she didn’t think a tablet would be a good fit because when she tried to get Liam to use her iPad he wanted nothing to do with it.

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This is the boy who has instinctually known how to use and loves using iPads and smart phones from the first time he could manage to hold them on his own! So I told her that was not at all like Liam and it was probably because he didn’t know her. The next big objection was that per the research they received in their PECS training it was best for students to master the physical PECS system before moving onto an app/tablet.

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Parents let me tell you something if this is thrown your way in an IEP meeting. There is no independent research that states that this is true. If it comes up in your IEP meetings ask them to show you independent research. They won’t be able to give you any. The only “research” they knew about was what the PECS trainers gave them. OF COURSE the PECS trainers will provide research that says that kids need to master their program before moving on to something else. I want to state that there is nothing wrong with PECS system, however, Liam has been rocking the Niki Talk app and we wanted him to use it at school!

So once I busted out with “that isn’t true and here’s why” the next thing that came up was that the school couldn’t let Liam bring in his tablet because there wasn’t any legal release for me to sign so the school wasn’t liable for damages.

tumblr_lzvuramUbD1qjemo2o1_400 anigif_enhanced-buzz-7617-1378778105-9 will not accept

My mom was in the meeting with me and she was like “Uh yeah, I work in a Jr High and every single one of those kids has a tablet and/or smart phone”. Then the county answer was “Well we are Special Ed not General Ed so it’s different and I will have to check with my boss”. At the end of the 2 HOUR IEP Meeting, I had it written in that he could bring his tablet to school and use his app because I wasn’t budging. The rest of the meeting went smoothly with his goals for the next school year. After the meeting mom and I went to breakfast and then I was all:

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Of course, we have to have a whole other round of meetings in May for Kindergarten placement and test results. Sigh.

If you are looking into AAC for yourself or a family member, my favorite website that gives great advice is PrAACtical AAC go check it out!

This weekend is Liam’s 5th Birthday Party and we rented a huge inflatable obstacle course, which Liam will love!

If you aren’t following me on Instagram, you should go check it out! Even when I am too busy to post here, I am almost always posting in Instagram! I am at One Lost Mama

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Thanks for reading!

Potty Training

Liam is officially on spring break so on Monday we are going to try potty training again.

We tried a few months ago and it took us three days to get him used to not having a diaper on and to even sit on the toilet.  We went from him screaming for the 1 minute I had him sit, to being able to sit calmly for 5 minutes like it was no big deal.  Which with his having autism any big life changes are really hard.  So I was really pleased with his progress!

We are going to start first thing on Monday with the three day method.  If we don’t get it this week, we will try again this summer.  I will probably scroll through my various blog feeds but may only have time to like your post and not comment.  I will update when I get a chance.

Here are some random gifs/pics that will be describing my situation come Monday:

Thanks for reading and if you remember think happy thoughts for me on Monday!

P.S.  Just as a general warning do not EVER go on tumblr and search for potty training gifs.  Seriously.  I saw things that can never be unseen and I feel like I need to bleach my brain.

IEP Meeting Stress

So Liam’s yearly IEP meeting for school is tomorrow.  I’m super stressed about it and apologize for being kind of absent over the past weekend.  I should hopefully be back Wednesday or Thursday with a new Haul Post and some other goodness.

For now have a pic/gif fest that describes my current state of mind:

Anyone trying to talk to me today about anything other than IEP related stuff:

After the meeting tomorrow:

Liam Update

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Just wanted to write an update to what has been happening with Liam since this time last year.

Just in case you are a new reader, my son, Liam has Moderate Autism.  He is not very verbal but is making progress.  When your child has autism a lot of things that parents of typically developing kids take for granted are causes for big celebration because communication is really hard for Autistic kiddos.  That is why if you have only ever been around neurotypical (NT) kids you may read the following and be like “Why is she so excited about that??”  The reason it is so exciting is because he works so hard all of the time just to start to be understood.

Liam has been in his autism preschool class for a year next month.  He has made huge progress.  Huge doesn’t actually begin to describe how hard he has worked.  I’m not even sure I can adequately describe how amazing school has been for him.  His vocabulary has exploded.  His communication is still not at age level (he is almost 4 but his language is around that of a 2 year old), but he has words he can use to get his point across and he has started POINTING HIS FINGER to indicate wants he doesn’t have words for yet.  That is a huge huge step.  That is him starting to realize that if he indicates a need/want/desire to someone else (communication!) he will get his need/want/desire met!

We have our annual IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting next month, which is always stress inducing, because some of his goals have been met, but some haven’t quite been achieved yet.  In IEP meetings are hard because you have to go in willing to throw down to get the services your child may need, but still be polite.  It is a hard line to walk sometimes.  Luckily, my county is pretty awesome.  This will be our second IEP meeting so I’m hoping it goes as smooth as last year.  I will be studying my Special Education rights books again as we get closer to the meeting, so please don’t judge me if my posts start to sound a little stressed out.

Liam putting "izza" in his mouth for the first time last week.  It is hard for him to try new food so this was an awesome step for him (even if he didn't take a bite)!

Liam putting “izza” in his mouth for the first time last week. It is hard for him to try new food so this was an awesome step for him (even if he didn’t take a bite)!

I may write up a post later with all of the words Liam uses on a regular basis, so I have it saved somewhere I can easily grab it for the IEP.

Thank you so much for reading this proud Mama’s brag post!

Where have I been?

I know I have been MIA from this blog for a long freaking time.  I think I was mostly just not sure what to say or how to say it?  I felt pressure that if this was going to be a blog about parenting a kid with autism I needed to be profound and wise….yeah that is not me.  I am a nerd and a dork absolutely NOT  profound.  So it kind of came to me recently that this blog doesn’t have to be just about autism and Liam it can be about ANYTHING I WANT…so it will be 🙂  (remember how I said I was not profound, well there ya go).  So a quick rundown of what has been going on:

I turned 35 (!) in November.  I never had a hard time with any other big birthday (ex 21, 25, 30) but for some reason 35 just seems so grown up and responsible and I freaked out a little.

Liam will be 4 in March.  I can not even deal with that!  He has been going to Pre-school Mon-Friday at our neighborhood Public School and is in the Autism Class there.  We also have him in private speech therapy 2x a week.  He has made so much progress that it will require it’s own special post (which should be coming soon).

Trent changed jobs to a way less stressful job with less insane work hours YAY!

Anyway that was the quick rundown, some of this stuff I will be going more in depth in future posts!

Thanks for reading!

It’s been awhile

It has been a few weeks since I posted.  Here is a quick rundown of Liam’s progress:

He has had a mini-word explosion!  He has started actually calling me Mama!  Also, he can count and identify his numbers 1-9.  He can also identify and say some shapes.  His favorite shape is the oval, but he can say square, rectangle, triangle and we are still working on saying circle (he can point it out just fine).  He loves Little Einsteins and will say and do their little “pat pat pat…blast off” .  Also, ducks say “quack quack”.  We have also been making sure he can say and identify all these new words in different presentations and HE CAN!!  We worked on shape names from a coloring book and not just his puzzle that he loves.  He can find and say numbers anywhere and not just with his fridge magnets at home.

He has also started saying “please”, “more”, and “all done” in context and not just signing them. I was trying to describe to some of my girlfriends what it is like when Liam just busts out with words and the closest thing I could find was an out-of-body experience.  I seriously feel like I am floating outside of my head.

In other news I am up to date with Doctor Who and have tried to rope Trent into watching it.  I am re-watching it with him & he made it through all of Season One and some of Season 2 but he isn’t sure he likes it.  I just said “Oh okay” and then I got up in the middle of the night last weekend and he had watched another episode on Netflix.  HAHA RESISTANCE IS FUTILE! You can not resist the mad man and his box for long!  He said some of the episodes are too goofy and I just again said “okay” but I know he will cave! 🙂

Well, that is the quick and dirty run down of the last few weeks.  I’m back in the (blogging) saddle.  Liam is going to be three next month.  Holy crap.  So I am busy planning his party AND psyching myself up for his IEP meeting for his transition from Early Steps to the school system….YIKES!