Thursday, April 23, 2015

Alex: Strong, Determined, Happy

I want to make sure that Alex's post of accomplishments isn't all about what he has done in therapy this past year. Although it is always worth mentioning I want everyone to know how far Alex has come in school this year. It has really blown me away.

When Alex entered the Early on program when he was just under a year old at Brandon Schools, I wanted more than anything for him to be in a classroom with the General Education population and not to be in a Special Needs only class. The first program that we were in for a few months was special needs only and it was a great place to start to get Alex more comfortable with kids his own age etc. Within six months or so, he was moved into a preschool class that was mixed with both gen ed and special ed kids. His first full year of preschool was the same and now he is in Pre-K and although there are some children in the class with minimal needs such as speech, Alex is the only non-verbal, non-mobile child in the class. This year, has changed not only his life, but mine as well.

I was really worried when he started school that the kids wouldn't be accepting. Other than Evan, this was a whole new class of kids that he didn't know. Of course the kids were hesitant at first and had lots of questions but not long after that first week, they began warming up to him. Fast forward seven months and he one of the most popular kids not only in his class but the whole school.

All of the kids in the class are great, but there are a handful that really go out of their way to play with Alex, read to Alex and include him in activities in the class. These are 4 and 5 year olds that do this on their own with no encouragement from the adults in the class. These are friends. True friends.

In his class this year, the teachers created a communication book for Alex to use for choices. In the book are pictures of his favorite toys, areas of the room and other responses such as "more" and "all done". We also have a book at home that we use that has been quite handy in making Alex feel just a little independent. He is very aware of his surroundings, he remembers a lot of people he meets and interacts with on a daily and weekly basis. He also has a couple of basic communication devices he uses and is getting very good at using the iPad for certain activities.

He also follows simple commands very well and enjoys music. At school while doing "Happy and You Know it" with body parts Alex touched his head and ear in response to the song. He also got overly excited to another song they sing and dance to called "Rocketship Run" when the countdown began to the blast off, he was really happy to be lifted into the air while the other kids jumped. When he is asked to put magna tiles in a bin, he does so one by one. He has learned the colors blue and red just recently and will make marks in a journal with a crayon and finger paint without eating it! During work time, he played with pop tubes with a friend. He actually pulled on it while his friend held the other end. He moves around quite well in his gait trainer while he is in the gym with his friends and enjoys the swing and the spinner outside on the playground. Finally, he is learning to raise his arm/hand to say hi and bye. I am sure there is a lot more that I am missing, but this paragraph above just blows me away.

Being in a General Ed classroom with kids his own age who are there to be his friend and to help him has made a world of difference. I feel like being in their presence has helped him get to where he is today. (Along with the amazing teachers and staff that help him) That interaction has helped him grow so much.

As for his physical accomplishments, he has gotten stronger in his core area. He can sit for longer periods of time to play with toys, watch a show or listen to a story. He does an amazing job in his gait trainer at school with walking and is doing very well in therapy with tall kneeling, sitting and four point. He has been riding his adaptive bike on nice days here at home and we have even taken it to the park a couple of times. He can pedal on his own to some extent but still needs help steering. Finally, he is still horseback riding once a week at Banbury Cross and loving it! He still has side walkers, but holds on with two hands and supports himself for the most part now.

His muscles have gotten tighter in the last year and he just received another round of Botox in his legs. Although it has helped somewhat, his tightness is in more than one area, so we are now being told that medication may be our next step. We go to the Doctor in two weeks to discuss that.

Alex's strength and perseverance is undeniable.

Watching him work so hard these past 4 years hasn't been easy at times, but to see where he started to where he is now makes me so proud of him. It makes me want to keep pushing him, believing in him and never wanting to give up.

When I asked Evan about his favorite things, I then asked him to tell me what he thought Alex's answers would be. Here is what he said.

Favorite Color - Green
Favorite Food - Pizza
Favorite TV Show - Mickey Mouse
Favorite Movie - Despicable Me 1 & 2
Favorite Outdoor Activity - Swinging
Favorite Animal - Dog
Favorite Restaurant - McDonalds
Favorite Book - Wocket in my Pocket
What do you think Alex will be when he grows up? A Policeman
Best Buddies - Maddison, Samantha and Sapphire
Favorite thing to do with Evan - Ride Bikes
Favorite thing to do with Daddy - Read Books
Favorite thing to do with Mommy - Play Puzzles

10 Months

4 years, 8 months

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