Saturday, December 24, 2011

it's gonna be a merry christmas

I apologize for the lack of posting. There was this whole thing on Monday night/morning where I called 911 because I thought I was dying. In the end they diagnosed me with "non-specific chest pain" probably related to my acid reflux. (Punkin didn't even wake up. Oma and Opa came over to help.) It hurt, you guys. I think it hurt worse than my gall bladder.

But things have been happier. I received an extremely kind note in the mail with a gift card for the grocery store and we've been lavished with early Christmas gifts. And best of all, Auntie is home. We made lots of cookies.

A

Some family friends came over to my parent's house last night for dinner and brought their puppy. Can you  believe this? What a big kid he's becoming!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

we did it!

Punkin's Sunday School Christmas Program was today. I really didn't know what was going to happen. I felt like I hadn't prepared him enough. But you know what? He rocked it. I stood on the risers next to him while he sang and then we sat together on a bench off to the side during the speaking parts. He made it about half of the way through before he tapped out with a simple, "I done now." And he kept his costume on!

(I guess I should add that every time I thought he might be getting anxious, I grabbed a Skittle out of my pocket.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

people are awesome

If you have ever given a dollar to Toys for Tots,  dropped a quarter in a Salvation Army kettle, or chosen a tag off of an Angel Tree, I would like to thank you. You rock, and so does the person who picked Punkin's name off of the Angel Tree and donated these perfect gifts to us. He's going to lose it when he sees all of those markers.

Friday, December 9, 2011

letting it go

I wrote this blog for PreK and K Sharing. It's an awesome collection of people who work in education. Check it out!
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Cooking with Punkin should be renamed, "Making something fun to eat while Punkin scurries in and out of the kitchen." It's just like with arts and crafts; you ask him to do it and he protests (loudly). You show him what the activity is and he glances in your direction. You sit down and begin the activity yourself and he dashes over, shoves you out of the way and declares, "I DO IT!"

I downloaded the Starfall Gingerbread man app for his iPad several months ago, and aside from YouTube, it's the most used feature on the device. It teaches shapes and colors by allowing the child to pick what kind of eyes, nose, mouth, and buttons the man should have. Surprise, surprise, when I looked at Punkin's cookie tray (where all of his men are saved), they all looked the exact same.

His interest in the app made me finally decide to use the oversized gingerbread man pan his paternal grandma sent last year. Not being so fond of gingerbread, I made a sugar cookie. Not being so good at remembering, I failed to purchase candy and frosting. So we gave him "CIRCLE EYES! CIRCLE EYES!" with Fruit Loops and buttons with marshmallows.

Punkin loved him, but refused to eat him. The irony of asking him to cook and then eat his beloved friend did not escape me, so I wasn't really surprised when after he saw me break off a hand, he started breaking the entire cookie and piling it up on the cooling rack.
This is the point when I have to decide whether I'm going to be angry about a cookie. Nope. Not worth it. We had fun making it, and my co-workers and I have enjoyed eating it after all of our preschoolers pass out at nap time.And I guarantee that when we make a second gingerbread man, he will remember the first time and be much more attentive.

Punkin is the perfect example of how a child with fragile x syndrome learns. He needs to see the entire process happen and then go back and complete the steps; he needs to know that his work has a purpose. He isn't going to stir some cookie dough just because I asked him to -- he needs to know there's a super cool gingerbread man in his immediate future. As he has developed cognitively, he's been better able to deal with situations like this one because he can attend for a longer period of time and he can process more of what I'm saying. In the past, though, it might have caused anxiety. The anxiety would have manifested itself in aggressive behavior, and I never would have gotten my cookie.

So what are you to do if you have a student similar to my son?

1. Stop worrying about eye contact. As parents and teachers we often  become preoccupied with eye contact. I've struggled with this one personally. Giving people eye contact increases my anxiety and quite honestly distracts me from what they're saying. I'm so focused on the sensory information that I'm receiving from looking at their face that I forget that we're having a conversation. Also, try sitting next to children instead of across from them. It's less intimidating and doesn't imply that you will be demanding the dreaded eye contact.

2. Work on the entire process, not just the pieces. Punkin's former preschool teacher, writer of How Long is this Hall, figured this one out when he was struggling with prewriting skills. He tore paper and generally threw a fit when asked to work on making lines down, lines across, and circles. So she introduced him to writing his entire name. From what I  understand, there was an immediate change in his willingness to work; he even began writing letters on his own, sometimes on the wall in our living room.

3. Use visual aids. This might be a picture schedule for the entire day or a specific activity. Sometimes something as simple as a first/then board eases anxiety because the student knows what is coming next. Just laminate any piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the first half, offer a picture of the first activity. On the second half, place a picture of the next activity or the child's reward for completing the task. I've found it especially helpful to always have a preferred item be that last picture in a schedule. So if I make a picture schedule for hand washing, my pictures would be turn on water, get soap, rub hands, turn water off, dry hands, go play. Here is an example from my own house of a toileting schedule. I even added a candy bar at the end; this was very motivating! A first-then board might just have the  toilet picture and the play picture.

4. Pair more challenging activities or new activities with ones that are familiar. If you're introducing a new activity, this approach can be especially helpful. Children want to please adults, they want to be successful, and they want their days to be routine. So if you give them something familiar before and after the new or challenging activity, it can provide all of those supports and still give you a chance to work on a new skill.

6. Pick your battles. So he broke the cookie. Eh. If that's the worst thing that happens all day, then it's an awesome day.

Monday, December 5, 2011

a few of our favorite toys

Buying presents for a child with a disability can be an overwhelming experience. For a child like mine, with limited verbal skills, lower than average cognitive abilities, challenging behaviors, and sensory aversions, it can feel impossible. This is my train of thought when I'm standing in the toy aisle: OH IT'S SOOO CUUUTE! Will he know what to do with it? How easy is it to break? Is this one of those toys where I'll have to buy two? Cause sometimes he only plays with a toy if it comes in a set. All he wants is a truck, anyway. And then I walk away with nothing. I thought I would share some of our favorites, both current and from years past, that are all under $25. In the end, always buy for your child's developmental age and not their chronological age -- both of you will be happier.
Playskool Busy Gears. Be sure to also check out Busy Poppin' Pals and Poundin' Bedbugs

Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Snap Beads.
My extended family may remember these beads from two years ago at Christmas. Some of the best toys are the simplest.
Crayola Color Bath Dropz

Crayola Glow Board

Crayola Bath Crayons
The bath crayons and board were so nice when Punkin was in his Tearing Paper stage. It encouraged him to work on prewriting skills without the stress of actual paper and pencil.
Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Nesting Pots and Pans
Nesting cups make noise, but not too much noise, and help develop critical thinking skills.
Melissa and Doug Jumbo Cardboard Blocks

Melissa and Doug Wooden Cutting Food Set
Melissa and Doug make colorful, easy to grasp wooden puzzles and innovative shape sorters as well. These blocks were a favorite because they are very durable (had them for 4 years now) and won't hurt if they accidentally hit you from across the room. All of the pieces in the food set are held together with velcro, which I think provides the right amount of resistance. I've seen my son transfer the skill of being able to cut this food over to real food. It's a great way to encourage sharing and independence, too, when you sit down to a pretend meal. And in case the thought of wooden food brings visions of black eyes, they make a felt pizza party set as well.

I'd love to hear your favorites! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

i cook

That thing on his head would be the cover for my parent's toaster. Punkin put it on, which really wasn't that odd for him, and then I realized that he thought it was a chef's hat when he asked for the oven mitts. This is the best shot I could get -- he just would not stand still. Imagine that.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

is that my kid?

I've written here briefly before that something magical happened this summer. My son matured, as much as a six year old who is developmentally four years old can mature, over a few months. He demanded independence, he played alongside or even with his peers, and the length of his sentences became longer. And then in the early fall the decision was made to add Abilify along with his Ritalin to help with aggression and ADHD.

It's been about two months since we started the medication and the only negative side effect so far is that I need to have a small meal ready for him at 3:00pm or he breaks down. The medication alone didn't make the difference. It's the combination of the medication, the summer program with typically developing children, the new teacher and other support staff at school who understand his needs, and encouraging the new surge of independence. Oh, and his mom isn't half bad either.  The iPad helps, too. This is the list of noteable accomplishments:

1. He wakes up in the morning and snuggles in bed with me for 30 minutes (with his iPad) every morning before demanding we get up and eat breakfast. No stomping. No running. No shouting. It's very peaceful.

2. He brings home papers every night that aren't shredded. He's written his name on the top, colored the picture, and kept it in one piece.

3. He walks down the hall at school or down the aisle at the grocery store all by himself. Sometimes at the store he still wanders off, but he listens when I yell, "Stay with mom or time out!"

4. He brings home papers in one piece.

5. When he goes to the integrated kindergarten room for Science and Social Studies, he offers answers to the teacher's questions. Like, she asks the class and he raises his hand to answer. And his answer makes sense.

6. Do you notice a lack of poop stories? That last one may have been the final hurrah. He goes all by himself, y'all.

7. He doesn't sit on his friends anymore, but he does still sometimes kiss them I think. And he hugs his best friend every morning. It's the cutest thing I've ever seen. Actually, in general, even though he's struggling with sharing his teachers with a new classmate, he's getting along very well with all of his classmates. He's just a little jealous right now.

8. At his last IEP, they said he no longer needs a behavior plan.

9. He plays pretend. He still won't use his Little People in the Little People Bus or House, he'd rather use cars or straws, but he uses them like they are people. It's less self-stim and more actual imaginative play.

10.  He is using his words more and more to express his frustrations, his wants, and his concern for others. I was fake crying the other day (it's a long story) and he came over and patted my arm, "No cry. Is okay. Give me a hug." And today when I came home after his respite time he said enthusiastically, "Hi, Mom! Is good a see you! How your day?" And if my heart wasn't already melting, he showed me his artwork from school that was still in ONE PIECE!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

i get more tape?

This is how we amuse ourselves during the final hour of Thanksgiving preparations, the hour where you're just waiting for the little timer on the turkey to pop and the sweet potatoes to bubble. Some people might watch football. Some people might read a book. Some people might share memories of the past year. We break out the masking tape.

In fairness, though, we did share what we were thankful for this year once we sat around the table, and I must say that my little Turkey tops my list.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

erika: mother, aide, rainbow-maker

(This is a post I wrote for the collective blog Pre-K and K Sharing. Check it out sometime -- there's some cool people writing there!)

When I admit, out loud, that I not only have a child with a significant disability but that I also choose to work with 3, 4 and 5 year old children in a special education classroom, it even gives me pause from time to time. I wonder if the person I am speaking to is thinking, "Does this woman enjoy pain? Does she milk rainbows out of her frustration? Who gives her those really good happy pills? How does that work for her, exactly?"

Sometimes it doesn't work very well at all. Sometimes I feel very overwhelmed by sensory needs, impulsive behaviors, unintelligible speech, and hearing my own voice repeat the same phrase twenty five times in two minutes. Mostly, though, it has been a blessing I never expected. I never meant to work as a ParaEducator for long; it was a job I applied for right out of college when I was pregnant with my son. But after seven years I have to admit I feel strongly that the education field is exactly where I belong.

My son has fragile x syndrome, an inherited condition that causes mental impairment, ADHD, autism, and sensory processing disorder. Having a child with a disability has given me the perspective I need to work with children who have challenges and communicate with their parents.

We've all had that child who frustrates us, who makes us think we cannot possibly make a positive difference in their behavior. Sometimes the child needs a picture schedule to help ease anxiety, sometimes the child responds well to a behavior chart or other tangible positive reinforcements, and other times just the structure and consistency of school is enough to extinguish negative behavior patterns. And sometimes none of that works and we find ourselves crouched in the corner pulling our hair out.

It's important to remember, though, that you aren't the only one who is having a bad day. That child is struggling, too, and their parents are probably having a lot of hair-pulling nights at home. As the parent of a child who often gave his preschool teachers a run for their money, I'd like to give some thoughts about communicating with parents of disruptive children.

Don't say, "Johnny had a bad day." This tells me nothing. Instead try, "Johnny struggled with controlling his body. He touched his friends without asking and often got up from his seat during carpet time. I had to ask him several times to complete the same task." Now I can talk to my son about keeping his hands to himself, tell his doctor about his difficulty remaining on task (if it continues to be an issue), and I never heard the words "bad," "problem," or "naughty." And please remember that there is always a reason for disruptive behavior, even if we don't see it.

Tell us something good. I don't care if the best part of my son's day was that he loved the chicken nuggets at lunch, I want to hear it. In our program, we call it "sandwiching." We talk about something we're learning in the classroom, talk about a problem we're having or a difficult part of the day, and then say something positive. Here's an example: "We're working on the letter Rr this week. We made tissue paper rainbows. Johnny enjoyed making his, although he was upset when we had to clean up and threw the materials. He loved the chicken nuggets for lunch and did a great job using his words to ask for more."

Sometimes parents are the experts. Especially when you're working with a child who has a syndrome, you may find that the parents have extensive knowledge of the condition. Take advantage of all the work they've done! Ask for copies of articles they've read and for notes from the conferences they've attended. We want to help. We really, really want to help.


Mostly importantly, though, remember to laugh in the funny moments, like when a boy is hiding a rind of ham in his pocket because he doesn't want you to make him eat it or when you have to say things like, "Get your head out of the toilet, honey." As parents, more than anything, we want you to see our kiddos the way we see them -- as loveable, silly, and full of potential.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

me, being crafty





I've been trying to figure out what to put above Punkin's bed since we moved in back in April. I had plenty of framed pictures, or pictures that could be framed, but there is potential for injury in that situation. I found these at Target last night, and they might be perfect -- as long as Punkin doesn't figure out that they are stickers that he can peel off.  They were $10 and they don't hurt when you throw them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

make sure you get my good side


She's a 2007 Accord LX. My friend Jennie said the 7-year warranty because she's Honda Certified makes her sexxay. I'm hoping that because she doesn't come with $250 a piece alloy wheels, just regular steel ones, I may get to keep them for myself this time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

a little bit mushy

I know, I know, it's weeks too early to put up a Christmas tree; but when you have a three-day weekend, a crabby child, and a need for cheer, the logical decision is to break out your pre-lit Northern Pine. Last year I spent $1.99 on an uber-glittered gold star because we didn't have a proper one and I really thought Punkin would burst out of his skin when I unwrapped it this year.

Not so much. He was more like, "meh," until he saw the blue star. The blue cloth star. The blue cloth star with the Christmas tree on it. "Dis one, Mommy. I foun it! I did it!"

And you know what? It broke my heart -- but in the good way. In the way where it instantly gets rebuilt with liquid love glue. See, I found that star in a bin the first year I went to pick up presents for Punkin at the Salvation Army's Christmas Assistance Program (which is monumentally awesome by the way). 
And I know it's just a kid who wants everything the same telling me, "Mom, this blue star is the star we used last year and it's the star I feel comfortable with using again." But it's also more. It's a reminder of how silly it is of me to think there would be something better to adorn the top of our tree than a simple, physical reminder of the love of God demonstrated through the kindness and generosity of strangers.

When we were finished hanging ornaments, Punkin stood back and said, "Is booful."

"Punkin, when you see the tree, you can remember that Jesus loves you and that Mommy loves you."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

i should have taken the trunk liner out before i left her

June 26, 2011
July 8, 2011
November 4, 2011
I can only hope her parts live happily on in other Accords across the nation.

Monday, November 7, 2011

my kid is awesome

I told him the letters and he wrote them. No lie. He spelled Oma, too.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

ice cream, i need ice cream

Once upon a time I owned a 1998 Toyota Camry. I crashed this Camry into another car on a perfectly beautiful day. The shop that repaired it had to fix the repair because the paint peeled off, and even so months later it peeled again. At that time I also discovered that the power-assist on my brakes was broken, which was likely the cause of my accident. By the time I sold the car several years later, for $300, it had mismatched wheels, one spare tire, a power steering fluid leak, a wobbly rear suspension, and a front end that rattled to the point that I feared it may fall off when I drove above 45mph.  And then there was the second accident, this time on a snowy day. The car wasn't in a good place.

So hooray, I got a new car -- a 2006 Honda Accord. Two weeks later, someone stole two of the alloy wheels and the brand-new tires. $500 deductible to replace $800 in wheels and repair $800 in body damage. Then, just a week ago, I noticed that the top of the door was bent as if someone had tried to break in. And Friday? Friday I crashed my car.

I am not meant to have nice things.

I was driving during my respite time at 9pm on a very busy street when I saw that an SUV was stopped at a green light. I hit the brakes, but not soon enough. My front bumper went under her back bumper, my hood crumpled, and all sorts of everything shattered. The airbags, however, did not go off. And I have a lot of airbags. The woman I hit called 911 and then told me that there was a car stopped in front of her, and of course that car had driven away. Lovely.

I cried. A lot. I've been through this before, but for some reason this time just sucked so bad, I think because there is the possibility they will total it and because my head hurts.

So, in an effort to make myself feel better, I will think not about how Punkin woke me up at 2am or about coming up with another $500 deductible (that's an entire paycheck); I will instead pray, know that God provides, be thankful that I am alive and in working order, and I will picture this:
Gracie, the church's comfort dog, with Punkin during worship today.

Monday, October 31, 2011

is my punkin? is mine?

 He never remembered to say "Trick or Treat" at the door, only as we walked on the sidewalk, but he never forgot "Tank You!" So sweet, that boy. So sweet.
I know this blog has been heavy on pictures and light on words, but this momma's been heavy on migraines and light on relief. So here's "PUNKIN HERO!" with his glo-sticks (thank you, Kendra).  He didn't like the mask that went all the way over his head, but he liked this one that we had bought earlier in the season with a cape. So we morphed the two costumes. He had the best time. I think he would have lasted all night. Now to find a way to hide the stash.....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

puppies and ponies


My son, on a pony during a trip to a pumpkin patch. He's not scared at all. Best $4 I've ever spent.
The obligatory picture of Punkin on a hayrack ride.

In case you didn't believe me the first time, it's Punkin, that's my son, on a pony. That's like a horse.

"Go walk?" This puppy belongs to Punkin's dear friend and soon-to-be respite worker.

One of Gracie's handlers brought her to church and had her sit with Punkin. Again, he insisted on showing her his iPad.

Monday, October 24, 2011

doobeedoobeedoowaa agent p

We went to see Phineas and Ferb Live! on Friday with some very good friends from our former preschool (long story). You'd think it would be difficult to attend an event like that with a child like mine, but in reality the biggest fight was over who got to wear the Perry the Platypus hat.
He totally won, per usual. AND I bought him a $12 plastic cup filled with a snow cone. Winner winner chicken dinner.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

gracie






This is Gracie, our church's comfort dog. She visits people in the hospital and plays with the kids in our school. Punkin met her the first time today during our contemporary, family-friendly church service. He stayed next to her the entire hour, touching her nose, petting her ears, and showing her his iPad. She's the calmest dog I have ever met, and I'm pretty sure she's a fan of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

this, from a cat person

When I was a little girl we lived in the middle of nowhere. I idealize this place in my mind, I know I do, and I feel that it's okay because it was my childhood home. The farmhouse, the acres of grass I never had to mow, the strawberry patch, the pig manure across the road that conveniently attracted all of the flies away from our property, and the night sky -- all of it has a smell and a sound and a feeling inside of me.

One of the realities of living outside of a town with a population of 100 (?) people, though, was that the roads were not paved. They were all gravel, which was quite frustrating to those of us who enjoyed rollerskating and bike riding. It be bumpy on gravel. Just sayin'.

So one day when I was in first grade, my sister and I are across the road at an honest -to -goodness farm and their dog, who we are already afraid of, comes charging out of the barn. So we take off on our bikes, which makes the dog run faster. My heart is pounding as I pedal as furiously as possible down the gravel road back to our house as the black and white mutt chases us, barking and baring his teeth, and BAM I hit a rock. I fly. I am the space shuttle being thrown from my boosters. I'm over the handlebars. I am hitting the gravel. Forehead. Chin. Palms. Elbows. Chest. Knees. Ankles. There was crying.

This event did not help me like dogs. So I get it. Dogs can be scary. It's only been recently that I could say, "Yes, I like dogs, " rather than just appreciating how they make other people really happy. I even think I might be able to live with one someday. Maybe. I like visiting them for sure.

Punkin is petrified of animals, and he hasn't even been thrown from an aqua 10-speed, but he simultaneously adores them. He is currently obsessed with two dogs, one of whom lives next door to my parents. He's learned to play fetch with her and just two days ago petted her all by himself for the first time. She's lived there his entire life. Anyway, I too may be falling for her -- and not just because she brings her frisbee to me over everyone else in my family. On Sunday I stayed with Punkin's Sunday School class. His teacher asked the kids to draw a picture of something they celebrate.
"Four legs, Mom. Is Annabelle. Go see Annabelle? I pet her?"



Sunday, October 9, 2011

don't worry, he's still calling guys at the grocery store, "daddy"

My son is amazing me lately. Since we've started the Abilify, we've only had one big meltdown, and that was at school. Turns out he hadn't taken his Ritalin (found it under the couch cushion), so that was the source of the problem. The Abilify increases his appetite, but the Ritalin stifles it. Since he hadn't had the Ritalin, he felt ravenous even though he'd eaten half a chicken breast, a scoop of vegetables. and a small bowl of grapes for breakfast. That wasn't a typo -- he had chicken and vegetables for breakfast. Anyway, when he's hungry, THE WORLD IS ENDING. This is why I try to carry snacks in my purse. Chairs were thrown, tears were cried, and he generally lost his mind.

Now that he's been on the medicine for a little over a month, though, I think the side effects are easing up and the good effects are more noticeable. It's like the Abilify helps bridge the gap between non-Ritalin and Ritalin time. Because even with each dose of Ritalin, you really only get four hours out of it. Two of those hours are prime hours. The other two are spent waiting for the medicine to kick in and waiting for the next dose. I am not noticing this anymore. I'm not going, "IS IT 3PM YET??? Is it now?? How about now?"

He is a bit whiney in the afternoons, but I'm hoping that's the result of a number of issues in conjunction with the Abilify and will taper off soon. Time will tell, I suppose. Maybe he's just turning into a drama queen like his mother. He insisted on going to the childrens' message by himself at church, and when it was over, he stood up and exclaimed, "I DID IT! CLAP FOR ME!!!" Before that he showed me his toenail was splintering off, so I clipped it. His response? "THANK YOU, MOM! YOU SAVE MY LIFE!"

Thursday, October 6, 2011

the art of convincing him





I don't know if other children operate this way, but many children with fragile x syndrome often learn the most when they aren't looking at or even anywhere near the person talking. And when Punkin is reluctant to try something new, I often talk it up and even model it myself while he's several feet away protesting/watching a movie/eating a snack/yelling about seeing a truck outside the window that still has no curtains. So this is where I found myself on Monday afternoon -- sitting at the table, talking about how awesome it was to paint the pumpkin we bought from the store, when Punkin darted over, jumped on my lap, stole my paintbrush, and prettied it up.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

buckle up!

                 From left to right: Grandma, Mommy, and Daddy. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

update

So Punkin's been taking Abilify for a week now and I really can't say I'm seeing any effects except for a bit of an increased appetite, which is scary to be honest. I cannot afford those kinds of grocery bills. I have noticed that when his Ritalin wears off or when it's time for another dose, it doesn't seem as drastic of a letdown as before. One of my biggest hopes, though, is that these little hands will heal. And if you have any suggestions for how to keep him from chewing them, that would be awesome. It's not just a sensory need, it's driven by anxiety. He's given a replacement item to chew on, but it just isn't working.


Monday, September 19, 2011

wasn't i supposed to get a manual with this thing?

On Friday we went to the Fragile X Clinic at the University of Iowa's Center for Development and Disabilities Clinic. To be completely honest, I was not very impressed. Not one person said the words "Fragile X" while speaking to us until 3:30pm, and our visit began at 8:00am. By 10am he had thrown his iPad twice, knocked over a desk, shoved several medical instruments off a table, and smacked me. 

We saw an audiologist, an education specialist, a psychologist, an occupational therapist, and a medical doctor. (I don't know why we didn't see a speech pathologist, as that's someone I thought I agreed to meet with, but oh well.) While they were all very nice and even helpful, I wish I could have felt like we were being handled by experts. At the very least the occupational therapist should have been well-versed in hyper-arousal. And perhaps she was, but she never mentioned it to me. When I asked her about the fact that Punkin had bit most of his fingernails off, she just shrugged. "He has chew tubes, but he doesn't always like to use them." She suggested a chewy bracelet that resembled a stretchy key chain. "Ok, great." Uh, no. He will eat that.

Apparently there's trouble brewing in his right ear, but he's otherwise healthy. He was also subjected to an IQ test. The psychologist let me give him Skittles every time he answered a question, though, and was one of the most positive people I have encountered in a long time. I don't know where she gets her happy pills, but they must be good stuff. We also talked about a picture schedule for home and she gave me some very simple advice that I feel embarrassed I haven't thought of myself. She suggested getting a binder and putting a picture schedule for each day on its own page in the binder. Then it's portable and he can see what's coming up in the week. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

The most dramatic event to come out of our visit was from the medical doctor, who is a fragile-x know-it-all. She suggested, like another FXS doctor did three years ago, that we try Abilify in addition to his Ritalin to manage aggression and anxiety. It scares the poop out of me to give his little body something so strong. At the same time, it scares me not to at least try. I mean, the kid put his head through a window. He hits and kicks me nearly every day. He throws chairs and tables. He's pulled my curtain rod out of the wall three times. He's chewed his fingernails off. He is sweet and he's funny and he's made amazing progress. And he has no "off" switch.

So after all of that, I decided that a trip to Auntie's was in order. We drove home, threw some clothes in a bag, and took off for the weekend. It was just what we needed to relax and reorganize. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the children's museum.

 That cup is just the right size to stop the fountain in the water room.
 A play space for younger kids.
 Super awesome car table.
 Making a pizza pie.
 This giant art room has a space for children to paint on the windows.
 We HAD to check out the bathrooms! It's a supersonic hand dryer.
 And my personal favorite, the Cadillac of elevators.

It was very nice going from the top picture (GET ME OUT OF THIS IQ TEST PLEASE AND THANK YOU) to the bottom picture (My red? My movie? I have a cookie?)

As for the Abilify, the doctor explained it like this: FMR-1, the protein that Punkin's body doesn't make, helps control this other really long word/chemical that I can't remember. The other chemical is like the gas pedal. Abilify is the brakes. It's been shown to be very effective in children with fragile x and children with autism. The side effects are plenty, though, so I'm putting everyone on high alert since he can't really communicate with me if there's something subtle wrong. We're going back in 6-8 weeks to check in with her and change things if needed. Here's praying for the best!