I'm going to TRY to make this quick. I got a call back from Dr. M today, E's awesome neuropsychologist. He took 45+ minutes to chat on the phone, which I appreciate immensely. He didn't understand why the school social worker had 1) been so negative about getting Elijah labeled with ASD through the school system and 2) why she had expressed her opinion on the matter to me at all. According to him, it is typically much easier to get an ASD label through school than it is in the medical world. Basically all of the testing on Elijah has been completed, so minimal work on their end would need to be done to get things going. He suggested that I just make sure a date is set to do the ASD testing, whether that be this year (not likely) or right away in the fall. In reality, the label doesn't matter. As long as he has an IEP and his specific needs are spelled out, that should cover him. We need to educate next year's teachers about NLD and provide him with the best classroom experience possible. Stated simply: We need for his caregivers to understand Elijah!
I asked Dr. M for some advice on interacting with Elijah at home. I gave him a few examples of issues that happen repeatedly (multiple times/day) and that have been issues for years....with no real learning occurring. He explained again to me that Elijah can't always make connections. Even if he can repeat a connection back to us, that doesn't mean he truly understands it. So it's not a matter of teaching him a lesson repeatedly in hopes that he will eventually "get" it. Instead, we need to teach him skill development. Example: when he becomes frustrated with Sammy (when Sammy steals a toy or interrupts his play), he gets very frustrated and either hits him or head butts him or screams at him (or all of the above). Dr. M suggested teaching him other ways to deal with frustration and repeating that until it becomes a habit. Tonight I did role-playing with him. I pretended to be Sammy, stealing a toy. I told him that if he felt upset or frustrated that he needs to take a step back, stomp his feet, call for Mommy and get help. THEN....if he did all of that appropriately, he'd be rewarded with computer time or a treat of some sort. We did this a handful of times and he was loving it. Then before bed, Sammy came up and swiped a toy right out of E's hands. Thankfully I was right there and prompted E. "Elijah! This is frustrating! What do you need to do?" He did exactly what we had rehearsed downstairs. He took a step back, stomped his feet and asked me to help. We will need to re-enact these sorts of scenarios repeatedly until he learns them.
I asked Dr. M about Elijah having such incredible visual recall when I asked him about our trailer at the dropzone. He said that made total sense, as long as the trailer is a positive thing for him. As long as E is interested in something and truly enjoys it, he is going to be able to have good visual recall. He told me that if I asked him to recall the trailer in a different way, such as, "If you are standing by the bunk beds, what is behind you?" he would have a much more difficult time. It is so interesting and challenging learning to think the way he does. This is going to be such a process, but we're up for it! Anything for our boys!
Over the past few weeks we have stressed even more than usual the importance of WRITING things out. We bought a THIRD white board for our home. If we had a money tree and I could buy anything I wanted, I'd buy an entire white board wall for our home because Elijah loves them so much. He will sit and do endless hours of math problems, spelling tests and even writing poetry on white boards. We bought an extra large one today for this reason and he immediately sat down and wrote a poem, accompanied by a drawing. He read the entire thing to me (twice) and was so proud of his work. This is something that he could not express in any other way at this point.
The next three days are filled with crazy work for me. A day in Cannon Falls and two weddings, whew. Sunday will be a day of rest together and then Dan leaves for a 6-day DC trip. Life is crazy! Thank you so much for taking the time to check in! Wishing you all a great rest of your week.