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Autism Voice

Email Pamster

August 2004

Jackie is now in second grade and doing really well. He is talking 'appropriately' using small sentences and it is so wonderful to see him blossoming in this way. We went through the ABA (Applied Behavorial Analysis) for close to a year, going on fridays for three hour sessions in which I was shown how to use their suggestions on encouraging language development by using picture cards that had words on them that he had to hand to me when he wanted something that was on a given card. The school applied this as well and along with some medication adjustments he has been doing fantastic!

One thing that has been a big concern for us has been his weight. I am not going to publically say how much he weighed, but he and our entire family have switched to a low carb way of eating and are having really good results. I have lost close to fifty pounds and he has lost almost twenty. He looks great and is really adjusting well to this change in our eating habits. It's hard to know if dropping sugar and processed foods with white flour and all has helped his behavior and development or if it was due to medication changes. The thing is that he is improving and is so much more cooperative and aware of what is going on around him.

He understands when we talk to him about things, for instance we went to a super walmart for school shopping and had seen a Seasame Street video a few months back about Big Bird getting lost so when I reminded him of the basics he'd seen in that video about not leaving the store, staying together, and who he could go to for help that worked in the store he really understood. He did not leave our side and was so sweet in how he helped push the cart around, my mother and I were delighted to see him doing so well in a store because we've had bad experiences in the past where he had a rough time and we were anxious as to how he'd react to going school shopping in such a big place. He really made us both proud.

From the school work that the teacher had sent home from last year and so far into this year it is obvious he is understanding the basics that they have been working on with him in math, reading and socialization. It is so wonderful to see how much he enjoys school and how happy he is to get on the bus in the morning. I know not all kids are able to do well in this type of setting, but it is really helping Jackie. We tried the 'inclusion' (meaning a ratio of students in a class are 'neurologically typical aka normal and some are challenged in some way either physically, mentally or emotionally) and it never seemed to do him much good. It is hard to be sure of if that was due to his age at the time and other factors or if it was just the setting was too chaotic for him to be comfortable in so he would 'act out' quite a bit in class.

It is really wonderful when you have people who understand and are committed to providing your child with the best education possible. We have an IEP meeting (Individual Education Plan) soon and will be evaulating his goals from last year and setting new ones for this school year. I don't know if other states have this type of plan for helping special children achieve a good education and experience the dedication of school staffers as we have had here in his new school. It is a difference of night and day between the regular school in an inclusion setting and how it's been for him in the new school set up for special needs children. If you think your child would benefit from such a setting I would encourage you to talk to the ESE Specialist in your school to see if such a school exists that you could try sending your child to.

I know change is never easy for our kids and it's not easy for us as parents to take that plunge into the unknown, but for us and our family I am so grateful we did. It's been the best thing for Jackie and a wonderful experience for us all. I will be adding a second Photo Gallery to the site soon to show some new photos we've taken so look for that in the near future. I might even take some digital photos of some of his drawings to put up on Jackie's Pages here so if you'd like to see something like that drop me a line and let me know if it is something you'd like to see added here or not. I am also going to try to get another update in before year's end-maybe two if I can. Jackie turns eight next month and we are so excited about all the things that are going on in our lives. We are very grateful that we have been so lucky with the people we've had to work with to get our son the help and support he needs.

Thank you all for your emails about Jackie and about these pages. It is because of you that I continue to update them and share some of our experiences.