Posted in family, Uncategorized

Another long break

Another long break for me. We packed up our house and moved across the country to the blistering cold and snow. We spent Christmas with my family and Eli and I are saying goodbye to his dad in two days as he sets off for a military adventure. During his time away we will be staying in Michigan. It’s nice to be home with family but it is SO MUCH WORK to transfer all of Eli’s therapies over. He is going to have a long gap before he will start any type of therapy and preschool. I was worried that he would regress in this time but so far that is the complete opposite.

Since I last posted Eli has jumped up to at least 200 words. He spells his name in sign language and loves to spell it for anyone who asks him. He started writing letters independently (some, not all yet). After 3 years of trying to get him into books he finally loves them. He has to get at least three stories before bed time, once those three are read he will ask for “three more story?” and god forbid if you tell him no he will cry and tell you his “heart is broken.”

This was the first holiday that Eli actually understood. Until now he didn’t see holidays, birthdays, or parties as any different type of occasion. This year he understood that Christmas was coming up, what Christmas was, and he actually opened presents. Before he never had any interest in opening past birthday or Christmas presents. However, this year he tore through them all.

When we come back to Michigan Eli has a lot more friends. His best friend is his cousin McKenzie. When they saw each other for the first time they couldn’t be more excited. They hadn’t skipped a beat and played together like they were never apart. We have a lot of opportunity for playdates here so I’m not that worried about his social skills regressing.

One we jump through all the hoops and get his new therapies set up we will fall back into a full schedule. Until then, however, we will be enjoying our lazy life. I, for one, am enjoying the break. Its nice to not always be on the move. I don’t even have to get out of pajamas most days. For now, this is the life.

Posted in family, Uncategorized

Finding Time for Me

I took a bit of a holiday hiatus with my blog. Our family has been very busy lately and I wanted to enjoy what little alone time I had by doing absolutely nothing. Eli took a small vacation from school and therapies as well, but I will point out that the break did not affect his progress at all. He is talking more than ever now. He is saying probably between 100-150 words. He tries to repeat everything everyone says and can read some numbers and letters on his own. Getting Eli to this point has been anything but easy; it has been a lot of hours of school and therapies and constant modeling outside of therapy. In the midst of all this I somehow found the time to complete a certification course online for medical billing and coding.

I made a blog in the past about living my life for Eli. Since we started speech therapy at 18 months my life has been completely focused on Eli; I have never made time to do something just for me. I don’t necessarily regret doing that, I think that when you become a parent your life should be focused on raising that child and giving them everything they need, and for Eli that was therapy, structure, learning sign language, etc. The mistake that I made was thinking that because Eli needed so much of my time, I didn’t have time to do anything for myself. Yes, I had very little time to myself, but it is definitely doable.

So I took the plunge and started an online program for medical billing and coding. Trying to split my time between schoolwork, taking care of the house and laundry, taking Eli to all of his therapies, going back and forth to preschool, and cooking and cleaning up dinner was very difficult. Eli still came first, there’s no way around that; after that, whenever I could fit in schoolwork, I did. I mostly did my work when Eli was at school, taking naps, and after everyone else went to sleep. From August into December all of my free time was going into my school work (and blog). Now that I finished my classes I took my couple week hiatus and I’m ready to spend time back on my blog. It was very challenging to try and get this school finished and there were many times I wanted to just stop and throw in the towel, but I’m very glad I keep pushing through. With our upcoming move I’m sure I won’t be finding a job in this field anytime soon but just knowing what I have and can accomplish is enough for me right now. It’s not easy trying to find your own life when you’re a stay at home parent, single parent, or honesty- any type of parent at all. But speaking from experience, it’s possible and it is very much worth it.

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Mama Go!

Raising a nonverbal child can be very frustrating; not just for the child struggling to communicate, but also for the parents trying to understand their needs. For the past year we have been working on mastering sign language, which helped us out so so so much. However, it did nothing for my need to hear my son call me mommy. Eli has been signing mommy and daddy and saying daddy (verbally) for a while now. In recent weeks I urged him, while he was signing “mommy go”, to say the words out loud. With Eli’s speech delay he is able to say sounds and syllables, but when it comes to saying complete words they come out jumbled. So, he was physically able to say mama, but using it in the appropriate way, was not happening. Until about a week ago! Now, when Eli is signing “mommy, go!” he will also say the words. Of course since he’s still working these things out it comes out more like “Ma-Ma OOH!” I’ll take it. I have been waiting three years to hear my son call me mama and it was the most beautiful experience with him yet!

I have tried to use this tactic for other signs he uses. For instance, he can sign “open”. We try and break it down to “oh” “puh” “en”. He can say all those syllables, and when we go to say it all together and faster, it comes out in baby babble. Same goes for the word “more” We have been working on “mmm” “oh” “rrrr”. Yet again though, when said all together, it comes out jumbled.

It is very frustrating at times because I know the potential he has to speak; he just can’t quite get it out. It is very entertaining to listen to him tell stories though. Yesterday he told me a gripping tale of how the sippy cup fell from the top of his loft bed and fell onto the floor spilling water everywhere. He is very animated. But I can tell just how thrilling the story is by his facial expressions and hand motions, even if all he is saying out loud is baby babble.

I don’t have a doubt in my mind that Eli will get there. Only a year ago he wasn’t using any forms of communication and saying no words verbally. Now, he signs over 20 words/phrases and verbally says about 7 or so words. It takes a long of dedication and persistence to get a delayed child up to speed. At times it may be a lot and very overwhelming but I am the bridge to get my son to where he needs to be. I will keep going full speed ahead! Mama Go!!!

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ASL- my life saver

Raising a non-verbal child is difficult to say the least. Sure, when you’re with a kid all day you learn to understand their wants and needs through their baby babble but a lot of times I’m just sitting there staring at my son thinking, “I have no idea what the F you just said…”

When Eli was a year and a half, his speech therapist suggested I try sign language and she gave me a beginning sign language notebook and some sign language DVDs. We watched the DVDs but the only thing that interested Eli was this weird sock monkey guy that popped up and did silly things; as soon as he was off screen he instantly lost interest. I tried a couple of signs but Eli didn’t really take it from me. Then he went into daycare and they taught him and all the other kids the signs for “Please” and “All done” and from there his sign language took off. As soon as he got those first two signs down I went back to my sign language folder and found more basics. Our therapist wanted to shoot for at least two new signs a month. Now at three years old my son can only verbally say about 4 words, but he can sign over 20. He picks up signs almost instantly now. He does have some fine motor delays so we have to steer away from signs that use a lot of finger motions, but so far he’s doing amazing.

Sign language not only helps me from trying to guess what he needs as if he were still an infant, but it also helps Eli with his tantrums and frustrations. When he’s crying he can tell me that he hit his head and just wants a kiss. When he yelling because he can’t get his toy open he brings it to me and signs “open”. If any of you haven’t already, teach your kids sign language, you don’t need to sign up for a class, just google certain signs and try it yourself!

I would love nothing more to hear my son speak the words “mommy” or “I love you” out loud to me, but having him sign them is just enough for now.

Signs Eli knows: Yes, No, More, Please, All Done, Help, Food, Hungry, Drink, Mama, Daddy, Go, Come, Thank you, Car, Video game, iPad, Sleep, Open, Close, Jump, I love you.