Thursday, December 31, 2009

Little R and Little S Reflections of 2009

Little S:

Hawo! HaWO! haWOoO!
This year I turned one year old
And every day I get more bold
I learned to fall, then I learned to walk
I learned to scream, then I learned to talk
I learned to eat with a fork and a spoon
I learned the shape and name of the moon
I learned to order Brother around like Dada
I learned to cry louder and louder for Mama
I learned to read some words
I learned to name some birds
I did this usually on the toilet seat
As I sat and played with my feet
I learned to clap and sing
I learned to dance and swing
I learned to cry loud at night
to get Mama to turn on the light
I visited the dentist to fix my sore gums
When I left, I cried and sucked my thumbs
I didn't want to leave because they all liked me
"Oh, she's such a brave little cutie!"
I met Barney at Ontario Place
But didn't get to see his real face
I'm learning to swim with Daddy
Every second Sunday, just him and me
Brother and me love Thomas the train
and looking out at the pouring rain
Next year I'll try to clean and sweep
and not to cry and pee when I sleep
I'll try to ask politely
Instead of pointing forcefully
Dada and Mama will be happier then
I'm ready to learn more in 2010!

Little R:

Hallo. Cookie. Fanfan (rice).
I still enjoy my babbling during the day coupled with my running patterns in the house, but lately I've been enjoying good nights of sleep thanks to Daddy who sits there to control my inner laugh. Things seem so funny sometimes.

I started a nursery school program in January, only to withdraw in May. I spent my summer working hard to learn to look at people, respond to my name, say hi and bye, mand for what I want... I'm still working hard. I can sit down now when you tell me to, but only when I want to acknowledge you ;) My hair has been cut short twice this year. Maybe they'll let me grow it next year longer.

School will start again next week. it's been nice to spend more time with Sister and Mama, but I am looking forward to going back to my new nursery school where there are lots of teachers who understand my special needs. I am learning to articulate and communicate there, and am encouraged by other students who are trying too.

In 2010, I look forward to eating more rice and possibly some organic eggs from free run hens after I get cured of my allergies. I hope to be able to communicate more effectively so that others understand rather than misunderstand my behaviours. I also look forward to music classes and how to play the piano.

Happy New Year, everyone. Live long and prosper! (I learned that from a character named Spock in a Star Trek movie)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Holidays from Little R and Little S

H A P P Y H O L I D A Y S !

"See my new masterpiece." -Little R

"Nice! Nice!" -Little S

"No, no! Thomas." Little S takes toy Thomas book from Little R.

"Look at it." -Little S

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Routine... again!

Little R had his 6 month follow-up visit with the developmental paediatrician last Tuesday, at which time she highly suggested that he go to a nursery school in the afternoons. That Friday of the same week, we visited a nursery school for special needs children (all of the children have communication difficulties).

In the first few minutes, I had it in my mind that I was NOT going to let my child attend because he was utterly upset and was frantically trying to escape the room, about the same size as my living room. Most of the children were crying, one head banging, and the room seemed to be filled with sadness and fear. Thankfully, things calmed down, and Little started to explore a bit.

So, this Monday was Little R's first day at his new nursery school. We were not sure how he would respond. The expectation was that he would cry and refuse to go initially, but I had a feeling that he would surprise. I was right: he did not cry at all! Today he completed his first speech therapy session (but with the same CDA) there, and he did very well. We're quite pleased that there is such a place for children who need the attention and special care. Although Little R hasn't eaten lunch for the third day in a row (his choice), he's been happy and cooperative at his new school.

Little S has been very cooperative too by playing by herself or be in the kitchen with Mommy for a lot of the time in the kitchen. I try to prepare lunch, snacks and supper in the morning (this includes cleaning) so that I can spend the rest of the day with the children. In the kitchen she learns about stirring, washing, turning, boiling, cutting, peeling and other food prepping actions. She talks up a storm these days. Usually the most intelligible words are in the beginning or the end of her "phrases." She is learning Mandarin and French through songs, and English from Dr. Seuss :) Her favourite book is "Hop on Pop."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Accommodating Little R's Diet

Little R, Little S and I went to visit my uncle's home. There, we met my uncle, my dad, my grandmother, my grandfather and my uncle's friend, Auntie H. It was their first time visiting that house, and although it was not their first time seeing all those strange faces, they were both somewhat frighten and apprehensive. But Little R got comfortable pretty soon after arriving.

My family shows care through making sure you eat something, but Little R was restricted to whatever Mommy had in her bag (very good-for-you and tasty food, but just not what other people ate). My family asked if it was okay to just give a "little bit" of bread to Little R or a "little bit" of cracker. My response was no, but I knew that they were just trying to make him happy.

Before leaving, Auntie H told me to take the children to see my parents more so that they would learn "more", and to take them out more often. The truth is, I take them out every day! I don't just sit in the house and be antisocial. When I go out with them walking on the streets, we say (and I encourage them to wave or say hi to neighbours - of course, when the time comes, we'll have to street proof the kids, but right we can say "hi") "hello" or "hi" to neighbours, cashiers, library workers, etc..

In any case, made me think about what could make visiting people easier. I mean how could I make it easier for the host. I just bring food for Little R usually, and just make sure he doesn't eat anything that he is not allowed. However, many hosts feel better if they are able to offer something to their guests.

Here are a few of lists that might help:

FORBIDDEN FOODS (even if they are just an ingredient)
-almonds (so, anything made from or that contains almond)
-coconut (non-hydrogenated coconut oil is okay)
-whole wheat
-most soy sauces
-all breads unless gluten-free, dairy-free soy-free, and egg-free
-dairy (any animal milk, not just cow)
-MSG (there is a link from a previous post that will list MSG's other names)
-artificial flavours, colours, preservatives

Semi-Forbidden Foods (he is allowed an item once every four days)
-rice (includes breads, pastas, quick breads - but rice syrup is okay on a non rice day)
-kidney bean
-Lima bean
-pinto bean
-string bean

ALLOWED FOODS/TREATS (that he likes)
-Vegan, gluten-free Gummi Bears
-Orgran animal cookies (on a rice day)
-Home-made fruit leathers
-Fruit (fresh, dried, fresh with a nut butter)
-strawberries (fresh)
-fresh raspberries
-dried apricots
-dried maple cranberries
-dragon eyes
-raw organic nuts and seeds (and their butters)
-macadamia nuts
-Brazil nuts
-pumpkin seeds (in a cracker, butter, bread or something that is in a bigger piece)
-sunflower seeds (in a cracker, butter, bread or something that is in a bigger piece)
-sesame seeds (")
-flax seeds (")
-chia seeds (")
Corn day
-nachos and Herdez salsa or salsa without garlic
-popcorn (plain or with hemp oil and pink salt)
Rice day
-white jasmine rice
-rice muffins or toast
-potatoes (not the sweet oranges ones, though)
-taro root
-maple syrup
-raw honey

Cleaning up and rotating Little R's diet has been quite a challenge. To further the difficulty, what I make him one day that he previously enjoyed, he may just walk away from. But, it has been getting less difficult with experience. I keep a record every day of what he eats, what he likes and how he behaves. Seeing things written down helps me plan for the days ahead.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Hi! Hi! Moimoi. I love shawbies (strawberries). I go and pick them when Mama is in the garden with her tomatoes. If Brother sees them, he will pick them too.

I am practising talking more and more every day. I read many many books, and I love Hop on Pop by Dr. Seus. When Brother is loud I tell him to "shh" with my finger on my lip. I am in control here. When Mama or Dadda tell me something I don't like, I cry loudly and lie on the floor. When I'm very upset, I go to my bed. Daddy took the sides of my crib apart, so now I have a big girl's bed that I can get on and off of without anybody's help.

I had a pretty good summer. Here's a few pictures of my doing things like riding a quad bike with Brother, sitting on rocks with Brother and Daniel, playing in the pool with Brother and sleeping like a movie star:

Sleeping after a day at the Farmers' Market

Sitting on the rocks with Daniel and Brother

Riding on a quad bike with Brother

Playing with Brother in the pool

I finally met Barney at Ontario Place

A rotation diet for Little R

I loved being challenged in the kitchen, but I have been exhausted with recent demands. I'm exhausted right now, but I am actually in front of the computer and not in the kitchen, so let me update on what's been going on chez-nous.

We received Little R's Food IgG test back a few weeks ago. Several foods turned up in the high, very high and extremely high reactive categories. To make a long and complicated explanation short, we have eliminated many foods such as: filberts (hazelnuts), almonds, citrus fruits, eggs (he loved this the most yet his body was extremely reactive to it), coconuts, garlic (this was a complete surprise!), oat, rye, spelt, whole wheat and peanuts - these are, of course, in addition to already eliminated foods: soy, gluten and dairy.

There were also foods that his body were moderately reactive to such as: white rice (he loves this!), green pea, kidney bean, lima bean, pecan, pinto bean, and string bean that we allow him to have only once every four days. This is what is called the rotation diet. For example, if he eats rice on DAY 1, he won't be able to have it again until DAY 5. And as a principal (that I'm not following right now), rice would be eaten only once during DAY 1 (either breakfast, lunch or dinner).

The challenge is not getting him what he CAN eat, it's rather creating food that he can and WILL eat. I also have to think about what other foods are left in the house that have to be finished off so that they won't be wasted. Little S and I are working on that.

I have been learning very much about nutrition, health, and our environment through the process of "recovering" my child. There is much more to be learned... I just need to find time to sleep and enjoy life.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Diet clean-up and finding hidden MSG

On Tuesday we had our monthly visit with Little R's DAN! doctor. During this visit Little R had his finger pricked for something called a Food IgG test. Poor Little R was scared, struggled and cried as his dad held him tight for the prick. But he saw the blood coming out, he was calm and interested. Little S was interested too as she looked on.

Once the taking of the blood was done, we talked about how this month was for Little R. Every time we go to see this doctor (especially since we pay a whole lot of money to see him) I always write a detailed summary of the past month. After skimming over my one page report, Dr. G commented that nothing positive was going on: Little was overall more hyperactive, regressed in speech (from string "I want" + item to not saying it), overnight incognitence and a lot of ABC behaviours. ABC (antecedent, behavior and consequence) behaviours. So for example, I would ask him to brush him teeth (antecedent), then Little R would flop (behaviour) and then he's supposed to face a consequence. Anyway, I had a lot of flopping, whining, jumping and babbling loudly on his duct-taped bed. And he would put up a lot of resistance taking his supplements (something he didn't really have a problem with the month before).

The doctor asked what additives I was giving to Little R. Since I mostly make everything myself I usually have a good idea of what ingredients Little R ingests (except for things other people give him that are prepackaged in a language I can't read and the gluten-free pizza from PizzaPizza). I responded that we had added back in soy (we did that so that the Food IgG test would accurately show if Little R had an intolerance or a sensitivity to it) for the month as well as used some nutritional yeast in some dishes. He pointed out to me that many ingredients that are MSG or that have MSG effects are hidden under different names. Wow. Here are some helpful links to understand what free glutamic acid is, and what other names it's hidden under:

Yesterday, despite warnings of thunder showers in Toronto, we decided to go to Centre Island for a family bike ride. The day was going well even though we did not get across to the islands (just found out today that the ferries weren't open because of some big civil strike in TO), then we got hungry. We stopped in Sobey's (an expensive grocery store) on the Habourfront. DH led us in the sushi section and picked up a package of vegetarian roll and cucumber roll. It wasn't until we finished our purchase, sat down at a bench before I decided I should read the ingredient list (which I normally do - but I wasn't suspicious of the sushi). Well, it turned out that the seasoning in the rice contained high corn fructose (bad sugar) and MSG among some other things that I think are not necessary in sushi.

After 4 pieces of vegetarian roll and 4 pieces of cucumber roll dressed with some green wasabi, pink ginger (hint hint: possible food colouring?) and soy sauce I actually felt a gush of migraine flush into the back of my head. At first I thought it could have just been the wasabi, but as the afternoon wore on, the headache worsened. I was in bed before 9PM, clothes left unfolded... and I was NOT going to take Tylenol or other synthetic drug (strong intention, anyway). Luckily this morning I was fine when I got up at 5:45 AM. So, what was it? Was it the MSG? I'm not sure because I've had MSG before and I don't remember headaches coming on that strongly.

Please do go on the links to find out more about free glutamic acid in our food. I really think it's quite important to know what we eat, and what we feed to our children.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Little S and Little R Report for Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Meow, meow! It's me, H-Cat. I'm hardly in the house during these beautiful warm days of summer. I like going outside and having fun. I do come in the house here and there to eat and be pet, though.

Little S has been talking up a storm with her "I want ..." and she's been petting us nicer, too. Little R was saying "I want" for about two weeks, then he stopped on Saturday afternoon. It seemed that it was too much for him. The world seems to expect so much from the little guy. So, the expectation is for him now is to ask with one word (the item that he wants) again. Then they're going to build with "want" + the item. I can understand him perfectly with my cat telepathy, but the rest of the world wants him to talk like them. Oh, well.

The front yard and backyard do look a lot more attractive than before. I still get to hide in the hedge in the front, but it's been trimmed a whole lot. The big shrubs in the front are now like huge bonsai trees. They've planted other things in the beds as well as surrounded them with big rocks. The kids seem to like this too. Little R was helping with all this home yard improvement. Little S kept trying to run (or walk very fast) away from everyone. I think she wants to be free like my brother and me.

Little S came downstairs while we were upstairs, and she ate from my bowl! That little girl is getting into everything. I think she liked our food, too. I hope she doesn't try eating our food again because there could be ants in it... that's another reason we stay mostly outdoors these days. I don't know how they got so many ants in the first place, but it looks like they've been here for years and years.

Little R has been hyperactive when going to bed in the last week. His poor mother has to stay with him in his room singing and reminding him to lie down and go to sleep until he does. Tonight was an improvement; he slept around 9:15 PM. At least Little S has been sleeping well, and still getting up at 5:45 AM or so. It's good when she wakes the adults up so that they can open the door for me to come in and eat my breakfast. Little S has been off of breast milk for over 60 hours now, and I clearly notice her withdrawal symptoms. Poor little girl, but she's growing more independent.

Meow. It's almost bedtime for the adults... I'd better bug them for food before they sleep. Meowhow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

"I want juice!" says Little S

"I want juice!" I've been saying this since last Saturday after Brother got his juice. I've been saying this phrase for cookies too. Sometimes I even say and sign "pease" (I can't pronounce the 'l' yet), and the adults think I'm really cute so they give me what I want. I think that using words may even be more effective than my loud cries and wet tears. But I still cry to get my way.

Today was a rainy day. Brother came upstairs for lunch with Liz at 12:30 PM as usual. But after lunch, and after Liz left we didn't go out for our usual afternoon wagon ride. I love walks. I get my shoes when I hear Daddy say walk. I can't put them on yet, but I try. I also know to wear my hat, and sometimes I get shoes and hat for brother, too. We watched some Barney instead of the wagon ride. We love Barney!

Finally, Mama took us out to the backyard to play. I went straight to the sand table to play while Brother swung on the swing with Mama. Then I saw the bucket of water for the plants, so I started shovelling water into some pots with plants. Brother saw me and started scooping more water out. We both got a little wet. Then Mama put the bucket on the other side of the gate. But Brother and I had other things to play with like the trampoline. Brother likes imitating what I do. When I lay down to look at the sky, he did this too right beside me! He made me laugh gleefully.

When I tried to dig in Mama's garden, Mama kept ushering me away, but I persisted. Then Brother brought a little basket over, and we filled it with pine cones, topped them with grass and presented it to Mama. She was delighted to see such a nice basket. But what was more delightful was watching Brother and me co-operate in collecting the pine cones so quietly and harmoniously.

Mama said it was time to go inside, but Brother wanted to fill the watering can with the hose. He somehow managed to open the gate (he is growing taller and taller day by day), so I managed to escape almost onto the street, but Mama caught me. However, that just gave the chance for Brother to bolt in the direction of the stumpy cedar hedge. Luckily, he did not go through the tree trunks. It was starting to pour rain, and Brother ran off into the direction of Mama's vegetable garden while she put me back into the house behind the sliding glass door. She ran and brought Brother back in.

After supper I got my juice from saying "I want juice", and Daddy took Brother and me for a walk too. And now I'm in bed sucking my thumb happily.

Friday, July 3, 2009

"I want..."

Little R has been learning how to use "I want" plus the item that he wants. Most parents with typical kids would probably want their kids to stop saying "I want," but for us, it's a milestone that takes consistent and persistent effort. Once he masters this string of words (subject -verb-object), we will start replacing these words. So, we could replace "want" with "have" or "give", etc.

Therapy is going well, but what is very important is for us to implement the things that Little R has learned or is learning during the time Elizabeth is with him. She works with Little R Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 1 PM. Little S also helps by providing him with some socialisation and a playmate. He imitates her when she plays, crawls up and down the stairs, walks and sits. It's delightful to see the two enjoying each other's company. Little R always gives Little S his cookies and strawberries. In fact, he will get things for her that she can't reach. Little S is like a little commander with a high pitched baby voice.

Here's a few recent little pictures. So much to do, very little time to get on Internet. Hope everyone is doing well!

Little S has started to use the toilet like her brother, and it's been going very well. She likes doing what her brother does. When I used to put her on the potty on the floor, she would get up and go away, but being on the high toilet prevents her from doing that.

Little S still loves being carried around. She is getting heavier and bigger, so we'll do it for as long as my back can handle it; however, my back has been tingling since November 2008.

"Eat," says Little S. She's pointing at herself at this photo as I'm typing. When I was bringing the things in from the car, Little S found a red bean bun and started eating it. It was quite cute! DH couldn't believe his little girl ate his big bun.

"Daddy!" says Little S right now pointing at his photo. "Walk!" This is her new word. Little S loves taking walks, and she likes walking off, too. She is very cognisant of what she does. This was taken in Guelph while taking a nice walk on Old Quebec St. with our friends Jon, Danielle and Maya.

I made it to the tail end of our annual mom and baby group this year at Cassells Park in Toronto. It was a great playground that Little R took to right away.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Hawo?" - Little S talks

Hawo? Howwayu?

I like talking on the phone. When the phone rings, I answer it. Sometimes Mommy doesn't know, but when the voice on the phone tells me to get Mommy, I do it! But when Mommy tries to talk the phone away from me, I get mad! I walk quick quick quick to get away! My feet carry me off faster and faster every day.

Brother likes to talk on the phone too. Sometimes he shares with me, and I share with him. I think it's what your supposed to do. We even let E Cat and H Cat talk on the phone, but they just meow and want to be pet.

Brother and me love the kitties, but Daddy and Mommy talked about finding them a new home because their fur made brother sick. I hope the kitties can stay. Maybe I can help keep the house clean so the kitties don't have to go away. Mommy and Daddy have to clean the house every night after Brother and I go to sleep so that everything is ready for us to mess up again in the morning.

I still wake Mommy up every night. But last night I got her up only one time! I am growing up so fast, and I am learning so many things every day. Today I showed Mommy a picture of Brother with Gong Gong and A-Bak, and I said to Mommy, "that's Gong Gong." Daddy says I'm pretty smart and cute.

Daddy is sick again today. Mommy has been sick too, but today she is feeling a little bit better. Brother was a the sickest for the longest time. He just stopped fevering and vomiting last Wednesday. But before that, he was sick for almost two weeks. Before that he was well enough to go to nursery school (where they think I'm cute too) for a week. Before that he was sick for a week. Poor Brother. I hope that he will be well now. I love playing with him. And lately he seems to have shown some interest in me too! A few days ago he tried putting my shoe on me so that we could go out.

Oh, I also love hats. I walk around talking and putting hats on. Then I go into the kitchen where Mommy is usually doing something, and I show her the hat that I put on.

Since last Monday, a nice energetic lady comes to our house from 9AM to 1PM. She comes and takes Brother downstairs to play. I hear her tell Brother to "blow a kiss" and "clap your hands" and many other things. When I hear her commands I do obey them! I know how to blow kisses and clap my hands. I'm learning new words every day too. Daddy just taught me "kaka" yesterday. I know I'm "dirty" and "gross", and I like eating "aca-does" (avocados).

I don't use a baby towel anymore. Mommy took a shower with me yesterday, and I peed three times on the floor before and after the shower. Mommy told Daddy she had no clue how I was able to pee so much. I like being naked and free to pee anywhere.

Hawo. Babai. (wave bye-bye)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Phone hog

Little S is a phone hog... some of you may have already experienced this. Maybe you've called and some little innocent high pitched voiced answered, "hawo?" That's Little S for you. She pretends the remote, a magnet, a block, anything is a phone. But what she loves most is the real phone. Apparently she's even called out with my cel phone. I hope I still have minutes to make emergency calls.

The little baby is growing up just as she should be. It's great to have her take some focus off of the not-so-great issues we have to deal with. She walks around a lot faster and with a lot more confidence. Often she will show up somewhere without you knowing because she would be so quiet and quick.

She is still using her pre-talk babble to communicate. She is practicing, and day by day I can start making out phrases like "how are you?", "what's that?" "what's going on" (in Chinese), "Huxley cat". She can listen to my questions and answer them. And, yesterday I asked her something that I had never asked before. She just looked at me for about 3 seconds and attempted a reply. I think I was asking her where her hand was. It's simply amazing how a child acquires language and communication! This time is absolutely priceless, and I'm so very glad that I won't be sending her to daycare. I'm just hoping she won't be a telephone chatterbox when she's older.

Sick, sick, sick and searching for therapy

First it started with Little R. He missed nursery school all last week. Then Little S caught onto his sickness, and missed her toddler time this week. Now I'm not well. Alas, it shall all pass.

The last couple of weeks have been more than busy. We have to shuffle through paper work, call and find therapy service, interview people, call places for applications for funding, take care of runny noses, get up in the middle of the night several times... a circle of exhaustion. But, we did find a therapist.

Today, I gave two weeks notice to Little R's nursery school, where the staff has just been wonderful with Little R, that we will be withdrawing him so that he can receive intensive therapy. Little R will be undergoing applied behavioural analysis (ABA) or intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) starting early May. Apparently the beginning will tough because compliance needs to be established. I am looking forward to seeing results. I am looking forward to him saying things, telling me what he thinks, perhaps even saying "I love you" one day. But first thing is first, we start him off one skill at a time. The little guy is bright, but like the paediatrician said, he's just being held back by autism.

Today when taking a walk, Little R said "guys" and seemed to be looking at squirrel. Upon a broader observation, he was actually pointing out that a kite (sounds like "guys") was stuck in the tree! He was sharing information with me. This may seem very insignificant to other parents, but these things are very exciting for me.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The language issue

Before I dive into my thoughts, I need to express that I am writing in the midst of deep anger. What I feel is what I feel; however, the reasons that make me feel this way may not be exactly as I perceive them right now. I just need to write about this, or else I will erupt and disintegrate whatever or whoever is close by (usually the innocent children).

My throat feels that it is a rupturing volcano of lava. I am forced in my everyday living to conform to the opinions of others for the "well-being" of my child. How dare anyone dictate how I should communicate with my flesh and blood! How dare anyone force me to kill a part of myself to my child, deny him of the family, the history, the culture that our language represents? To me right now, it feels like murder. Every time I open my mouth now to speak to my child, I am forced to change my natural rapport and communication to use English.

I've been communicating with Little R and S since the womb in "my" language. To change it now because of dogmatic views that only English should be used with Little R makes me want to roar in anguish and furry. How dare anyone want to extinguish the glimmer of communication that there is with Little in my language with him? When I want to naturally tell him to back away from the TV, I have to stop myself and switch to English. This is not because he would not respond if I told him in my language; it's because English is dominant here. My language is suppressed because it is viewed as inferior and an obstacle for "true" communication.

Someone suggested that I could teach "Chinese" to Little R once he's better. No one has explained to me in a way that I can understand how this could work. If he's "confused" now, how would he not be "confused" later?

Yes, I am bitter and acutely blunt in this post, but I need to diffuse the boiling fire within me. It's not good for the children; and it is difficult or impossible to focus objectively with such strong emotion.

This is what does not make sense to me about just stop using my language with Little R:

1) the removal of my language also implies the removal of my family who do not speak English, which implies the removal of a huge part of Little R's extended family, history and culture.

2) Little R does understand and use some words/expressions in my language to communicate, so why would one stop watering something that has rooted and shows life?

3) My intention before the children were born was to raise them with my language (and of course DH with his) so that they would have another language/culture other than English, as well give them an edge when they got older to learn other languages with more ease. Starting life with more than one language adds such a dimension to one's life.

4) I don't see that my language has to be terminated rather than compromised. Could we not just do the therapy (and also support the therapy) in English, but still use my language for things that are not yet touched in therapy, or with my family.

5) The more I don't use my language with Little R, the more likely he isn't going to respond to it later (when he's better) when I am "allowed" to use it again. Having said that I don't even know if I will be "allowed" to use it again with him.

6) My child might grow up to resent me for not continuing to use my language with him because of pressure from others. He might view me as a weak and irresponsible individual for not standing up enough for him in this area.

I hope that the people who want me to stop using my language with Little R don't think that I'm a push-over for conceding with their demands. However, I do not want to bicker over (and especially in front of) Little R's well-being. Everyone (who has spoken to me about this - except for another mom with an autistic child) thinks I'm wrong to use my language with him, that I'm confusing him and setting him aback for optimal learning. Unfortunately, it takes an exceptional person to withstand such social pressure to conform, even if the individual knows he/she is not wrong.

Again, I am writing in an emotional state (although, by this paragraph, I feel that the lava has settled somewhat), and what I perceive right now may not be as what others intend. At least I have my views written, and that is better than letting them explode into a million pieces that people would not be able to understand.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Official Diagnosis for Little R

Finally, we have on paper that Little R is in the ASD spectrum. This is a relief, at the same time also overwhelming. There was a lot of paper work done at the developmental paediatrician's office, and we'll be expecting to meet other social workers and therapists.

After a long discussion, answering the doctor's questions, she (the developmental paediatrician) said that she thought it was best to give him the diagnosis of autism today. She asked if we were okay with the diagnosis, and we did not disapprove it.

It's very disheartening to hear that while there are services available at no cost to families, that there are very long wait lists (three years). On one brochure from Autism Ontario, it states that on average a family with an autistic child will spend an additional $30,000 a year! Some people don't even get $30,000 a year as their income. Not only do we have to deal with the emotions of the disorder, we also have to deal with the financial strain.

We asked about biomedical treatments for autism. She said that they were not recommended and they were not proven to work. However, we have read so very many testimonies from parents who have "cured" or greatly improved the prognosis of their child through biomedical treatment. So, what do we believe? What is the best thing to do? Frankly, my faith in the government and the OHIP covered doctors is not very strong. I don't think that they intentionally want to bring harm to their citizens/patients, but I think that they are greatly influenced by wealthy pharmaceutical companies. (Okay, I won't get into politics.)

I am near exhaustion, a common state these days, and I need to go to bed. We're going to take things step by step.

Thank you for your moral support through this process. I do appreciate your emails and phone calls.

Little S is walking!

Our little girl is growing up. When Sister D started coming over to help with taking care of the kids two weeks ago, she said that she was going to make Little S walk by the time she was done.

Well, when we came back from the paediatrician's with Little R, Sister D showed us just that! DH quickly grabbed the video camera (luckily there was still 3 minutes left) to record her first real walking day. I walked in to the brightly lit kitchen to find everyone excited. Little S, with my open cel phone in hand, wiggled and she took stumbly baby steps toward me. Then she kept doing it in the living room, in the hallway, in her room, in my room, in Little R's room... and she kept talking on the cel phone (she loves pretend chat). Well, looks like this is the beginning of a whole new level of exploration for the curious kid. And alas, perhaps more toddler proofing ;)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Questions About Natural Treatments for Autism

I don't want to sound like skeptic, but before throwing my son into any treatment and throwing money into that treatment, I really would like some questions answered first.

From what I have read, it seems that many children who have an ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) are also plagued by other health issues such as digestion and bowel problems. There is a theory that vaccination shots are associated with the onset of autism, and it's the mercury in the vaccines that cause the neurological problem. As well, there is the environment factor: there are many toxins around and within us. For children with autism, it is theorised that these toxins must be purged from their system so that they can absorb the treatment (speech therapy, behavioural therapy) that they need.

I don't think that Little R has any digestion or immune system issues. I think that he is a healthy little preschooler who has difficulty using language and lives in his own little world. However, could be wrong.

First question: how do I find out (preferably without paying out a lot of money) if he has allergies, in tolerances, imbalances, toxin overload, etc.? If Little R indeed has a digestion problem, would it subtle enough for us not to notice?

Second question: for the children that were helped by biomedical treatment, were these children physically ill to begin with? Did they suffer from seizures? Did they all have obvious digestion problems?

Third question: out of the children who have tried biomedical treatment, what percentage saw significant improvement or even full recovery? How long does it take?

Fourth question: how much would a children need to see the biomedical professional before progress is seen? how much would a family need to pay to have a child recovered? This includes the fee for consultation, purchasing of vitamins/supplements, special food (like gluten and yeast free)?

Fifth question: do any of the testing or applications of the biomedical treatment have any risks or side-effects?

Sixth question: how does behavioural therapy fit into biomedical treatment?

So, I'm concerned with: which group of ASD children benefits from biomedical treatment? is it safe? How much am I looking to spend? How do I know my child will benefit from such a treatment?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The First Perfect "One"

The days of March have quickly passed right through the gaps of our fingers just like granules of sand. Much has happened in this month: a visit from the developmental specialist, an appointment date with a developmental paediatrician, an appointment with the audiologist, a visit from my friend TM for some speech and language help, a visit from Infant Development Services, the debut of this blog, the start of Little R's language redevelopment, a visit from a speech-language pathologist at Little R's school and our first parent-teacher interview. What a full month.

Here's the latest on Little R's progress. Little R now knows to say something before he gets what he wants. He says and demonstrates that he knows the following words: "gookie" (cookie or biscuit), "fafaun" (rice in his baby Chinese), "goo" ("juice"), "up", "popoe" (pick me up in his baby Chinese), "nienies" (milk in his baby Chinese), "naughk" (milk), "guyguys" (go out somewhere in Chinese), "hot", "natnat" (hot in Baby Chinese), "bubbles", "ball", "boon (balloon)", "igs" (eggs), "dadan" (eggs in baby Chinese) and "Dada". These are words that he used in the past without much effort, but we're glad that he's reconnected with them.

This evening after supper, DH was giving cookies to the kids for dessert, and Little R knew right away, and he didn't need us to model the word, to say "cookie". So, DH decided to switch it up a bit to add some more vocabulary: "biscuit". Too difficult. The final product sounded something like "mins" which I said that we should accept because it did have the bilabial position as well as the "i" and "s" sounds. Then DH decided to have Little R say "one." Now, Little had never said "one"... at least not that I recall. He used to say "uno", but the also dropped out of his lexicon. Anyway, Little R responded with: "two" :) and "please". However, DH kept modelling "one" -- and to our utmost surprise and delight Little R called out "ONE" perfectly! We cheered and clapped as Little R shoved the cookie (his reward) into his mouth as Little S watched the celebration from her highchair. It was a great "one"!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

First Nursery School Day Since Meeting with Speech-Language Pathologist

It was a beautifully mild day today. DH had to leave for work early, so I had to bring Little S along to drop off Little R at nursery school.

It was a nice walk to the YMCA, and getting Little R ready to go into the classroom was a breeze since I didn't have to bend down (while wearing the baby with a sling) to change his boots to his shoes. However, Little R thought that I was staying so Angela, his teacher, had to do a little prying him away from me. He was okay, though. There was no crying. He even kissed his sister bye-bye.

The walk home was very soothing. I had not heard the symphony of birds in our neighbour until now. Every chirp, squawk and whistle had its place in the band of birds. How lovely it was.

Again going to pick up Little R was very nice. The birds were signalling the beginning of Spring.

I was one of the last parents to pick up her child. When I peaked into the classroom, Little R saw me and ran out to the hallway. His teacher Karen ran after him, but was relieved to see that he was safe and sound with me. She turned and bent down to his level: "Little R, you have to wait until we call you." I hoped that this would be the only time Little R escapes from the classroom. Usually the gate is locked, but when people open it from the outside there is a short window of time for a child to take off.

After dressing Little R, I asked him where his bag was. Usually no one touches his bag because he does not need his pull up changed. Angela came out to talk to me. She said that Little R had taken a visiting mom by the hand and led her to the washroom. He had to use the toilet. Angela realised this and put him on the mini throne. Unfortunately, he peed all over his pull up and his socks because his penis wasn't pointed into the toilet bowl. Well, Angela said that she now knew for the future to point his penis downward.

During his toilet incident, Angela was able to get Little R to say three words: "socks", "on" and "pants". And he also said "hi" inside the classroom when greeted. This is pretty good seeing that he had not spoken a single word until last Tuesday since beginning nursery school in January. I know it might not seem like a lot for most three year olds, but he's unique, and we're very happy about his progress no matter how little it seems.

The Ideal Caregiver for Little S

As I've mentioned in a previous posting, we're looking for a child care provider for Little S so that Little R can have some needed one-on-one time with me.

We are looking for a person who:
-lives close by (preferably in walking distance to our home)
-speaks a language other than English (just so that Little S would have exposure to a second language like now)
-has green habits (for example, she would have no problems doing EC or using cloth diapers)
-has a smoke, drug, violence and pet free home
-is in good health
-is a positive, fun and cheerful person
-successful at multi-tasking
-is patient
-provides healthful food
-provides age appropriate stimulation for children to learn and grow
-handles stress well
-is reliable and honest
-is passionate about children

This is really difficult. I won't just hand over my child to someone I don't know. I would have to visit and interview the right person probably several times before leaving Little S with her.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Speech pathologist and first ever parent-teacher interview for Little R

Finally, March 24th was here. A speech language pathologist was going to see Little R at his nursery school today to assess his communication development. DH and I had been looking forward to this ever since the day this appointment was booked.

DH and I walked to the nursery school today. We left Little S in the care of Sister D at home. Was Little R ever surprised to see us both there waiting for him. The little guy didn't know what to do. He kept looking at us in bewilderment. We ushered him to go back into the classroom.

There, we met the Durham Preschool Outreach program co-ordinator and the speeh-language pathologist. They greeted us cheerfully and professionally before we sat down in the boardroom to discuss Little R's assessment. Little ran around and played in the classroom, and would run in periodically to check in on us.

The pathologist said that she observed Little for about 15 minutes before interacting with him and playing with him. She observed that he loved playing trains, but he didn't play with other children. She noticed that he made many vowel noises. We remarked that we also hearing him making mainly those sounds at home. His teacher, who was also in the meeting, also said that he did that in school. The pathologist went on to describe Little R's communication skills to be delayed in all areas including pre-language. This meant that he had poor eye contact and did not use gestures. She (the pathologist, Michelle) tried some formal testing with him where she would show him a picture of something and he would have to name it. But he was not able to do that.

Michelle tried prompting him to say words by using things of interest to little children like bubbles and a gear that he could turn. She said that in a half hour she was able to help him say ten words. The technique sounded very similar to the one that we're using right now where we should him the object that he wants, withold it from him until he says the word. She will have a full report for us in about a month's time. In summary, we are to use very simple verbal language with him. Little R is capable of using single words. Once he has at least 50 words (attached to the correct meanings) he will probably be reading to string together two words. Michelle reccommended that I speak uniquely "Chinese" while DH speak to him in English only. She said that consistency was vital to success. I believe this.

The parent-teacher interview was informative. Angela spoke about Little R's development. She said that he was developing skills in most areas; however, his pre-writing skills were already developed. She said that during snack time Little R would stuff his mouth full of food, so they will be keeping close eye on him so that he doesn't choke. It's a sensory issue, I think. We'll get it sort it out somehow. Angela also remarked that Little R always never wetted his pull-up diaper. We decided that the staff should put him on the toilet when they see that he's dry. (Little R has been very good with holding it in for the toilet -- but I'd better now jinx it by talking too much about it -- my grandmother would blame me!).

We left there with much comfort to know that the staff at the YMCA were so caring about our child. It's a very worthwhile place to invest in because everyone is included.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The first steps

Little S has become a wild ball of fire. She dazzles us with her blazing smiles, the funniest faces, her tiny finger pokes in the eyes, nostrils and mouth, and her unstopable intonated chatty voice. (Oh, she's crying loudly now in the middle of her sleep - ah, DH will get her.) She still wakes me up at least twice a night. She expects me to hold and feed her back to sleep, but no more! I must take back my slumber. Yes, she will cry, but she will still wake up happy in the morning with the sun peaking between her opaque royal blue curtains. She babbles in her crib, rolls around, plays with the hippo, elephant and cat until someone comes to greet her. Her excitement in seeing you is priceless. We cherish these days very much.

She's now fourteen months but still not walking around yet. However, on the weekend when my sister D was here, Little S took her first steps toward herself. Yes, that's right: Little S took three steps to her own reflection in her brother's toddler height mirror! She was thoroughly excited by her success. She has continued to take two or three steps here and there (but mostly in front of the mirror), but has also been standing for much longer periods. Her standard mode of transportation is crawling or the "mommy bus". She stands on the toddler picnic table while playing (and drooling) with playdough sometimes for fifteen minutes or so. She also enjoys watching the outside world through our low bay windows at the front of our house. More recently she has expressed great interest in cooking like her brother. In the photos, Little R was making a vanilla cake, and when he went to bed, Little S took over to make the chocolate cake. It was her first time standing on a kitchen chair at the table to prepare food. How fascinated she was.

As the children develop more skills, there are so many more things that we can do together. After watching an episode of Chef at Home with Michael Smith, I got Little R to play basketball. He actually played and was excited. I hope that he will be just as excited when I teach him how to clean and organise. When teaching him to pick his toys, Little S eagerly crawls over and starts putting the pieces away. But, they are still creating more mess than they're cleaning up... at least for now.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Good days, bad days

Today has been a good day. Yesterday was a bad day.

From the moment I grudgingly got up yesterday, I could feel my body and spirit very heavy. I had the sensation of unease and discomfort in the pit of my stomach and gut from the night before watching autism stories on Dr. Phil. It was difficult to breathe deeply. There seemed to be blockage of positive thought and energy.

Negative thoughts circulated around me throughout the very challenging day. I wanted to screamed, but bottled it tight in fear of frightening the children. But Little S did feel the unease of Mommy. Children are like sponges for emotion; they're also mirrors that reflect what emotion is around. So she cried and whined a lot of the day. Little R kept running around loudly babbling incoherently. Little S was always at my feet whining and crying.

Though laden with dark clouds, I continued with holding things that Little R wanted, waiting for him to say the word before I gave them to him. He did catch on very well to the game, but now it seemed like he was just shooting off words until the desired item was in his mouth. For example, I held up a piece of dark chocolate (something that I don't normally give him) and he started with "cookie" then "cake" then "hot" then "natnat" (hot in baby Chinese), "nut"... Although I did keep modelling "chocolate" every time he got it incorrectly. Finally, I tried "coco" a few times, and he finally got it. Another time I held up a raisin and he said and signed "more" right away. I did give it to him because it seemed to make a bit of sense, but the next time I tried to get him to say the corresponding word for the item.

It was a frustrating day for Little R, and he he showed it by biting my shoulder. It's quite nicely bruised and purple today. Yesterday the pain would not subside. He was frustrated because I couldn't understand what he wanted from me. He was on the toilet reading his French picture dictionary turned to the trains. He kept using my finger to point at a passenger car. I tried saying many things, but he kept pointing with my finger harder and harder, and he yelled loudly, cried, squeezed my hands and arms then bit me hard.

This behaviour is new. I don't like him expressing his frustration this way. I think I will get him a squeeze ball. Are there any good suggestions out there for redirecting a preschooler's frustration? I hope that he will learn enough language soon so that he can express with words, but until then he has to cope somehow.

I spent a day confined to my disruptive thoughts: you're incapable of taking care of your two children while others can; you're disorganised and you don't have meals prepared; the kitchen is a mess. I needed to hear from someone that I was competent, and that my situation would frazzle any mother. I wanted to hear that I was a good mother, and that I was doing what I could for the good of my children.

Finally, I spoke with my long time friend EM. She told me not to care about what others thought, though she admitted it was easier said than done. She told me that she also needed help with her two children who are only 15 months apart. It made me feel better to know that I wasn't inadequate but just overwhelmed. I just needed to breathe deeply to inflate my spirit again. I couldn't remember ever trying so hard to breathe deeply without success. The blockage was strong, but I did success in taking it down.

DH was actively looking for a home daycare giver for Little S. Because Little R needs all the intervention possible for every waking hour, I need to provide it for him. At the same time, Little S is at an age where she also needs much individual attention. Although I do not like the idea of having a stranger take care of my baby, I think that we will have to scout out someone and put our trust in her. Ideally, I would prefer someone from my family to take care of her, but if not, we'll have hire the right person.

Today was a good day. I woke up positive, and my good friend TM came over to give us some pointers on helping Little R to communicate. It was positive and hopeful. Little R did very well. TM told me to not think about the past, about how much Little R could do before when I told her that it was sad to think how much work we have to do in order to get him back to where he was over a year ago. Little R has an inventory of words in his brain that he kind of randomly calls upon because it seems that the connections that were once there were somehow all disconnected. TM was that autism was neurological; things that were once in order are now in disorder. This just means that we have to start from the basics and build up. We have to teach in a different way. In the beginning it's very challenging because there's less to work with. It will get better.

There will be good days and bad days... I hope there will be more good than bad. I believe there will be.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Up, up, up!

DH decided to start a jogging routine with Little R since reading that jogging for 20 minutes could help control about 67% of symptoms (we're hoping to reduce the babbling and licking of the windows). So they went out for a 20 minute jog this morning and again another 20 minutes before supper. I think that this routine will also help them sleep better; Little R seems to sleep very well at night, but sometimes it takes him about an hour of babbling in bed before he falls asleep, so let's hope that the jogging help him to sleep soon after he is tucked in.

Little R seems to be catching on well to our "game" of request-and-get. He seems to have mastered "up". He says it sometimes without me modelling it. However, it's a little tough having to pick him up, carry him (he is 45 pounds) while pushing Little S in the stroller. But what can I do? I want encourage him to speak. I've also noticed that he wants a cookie or something else, he says "up". I can kind of see how words are in him, but they're not called on accurately for the appropriate things yet. I also heard him reading with DH before going to bed. Most of the words were very mispronounced, but he was practising. DH mentioned that Little R seemed to have the sounds of the words memorised (in his speaking days his pronunciation and comprehension of the words in the picture books were much better than now) because in one instance, Little R read "King" and then "lamp" while the picture of lamp came before king.

While trying to find a book today on autism and diet (I think the title of the book is something like Special Diet for Special Kids 2, Little R kept running away, trying to go down the stairs, babbling, pushing the water fountain lever and opening the washroom doors. People, including the librarians at the desk, were beginning to look at me with less patience. Well, what could I do? Normally I would have left, but I was sure that I had seen the book before, and I really wanted to get started on the diet for Little R's sake. The unfriendly-looking librarian couldn't find the title on the computer and didn't offer to look on the shelves for me, so I thanked her and left. I hope to be able to find information now how to control Little R a bit more out in public.

Little S has been absorbing what we're doing with Little R like a sponge. Today I was going to give her some smoothie but before I gave it to her she said "goo" (this is what Little R says for "juice"). I gave her a sip. She swallowed. "Goo." I gave her another sip. Again, she said "goo" and drank. It was quite cute.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Denial from grandparents

Today we went to my parents' house to celebrate my sisters' birthdays. Along with the cakes I also had to bring along some literature about autism so to warn my parents about such a diagnosis for their grandson in a month or so.

My mother was too busy to read it; or perhaps she already knew what I would put in her face so she did not want to read it. I had already heard some worry in her voice when I told her that Little R was still twirling, laughing to himself out loud, etc. She told me that she truly believed he was 100% normal.

My dad, being the bookworm that he is, did take the Internet printout. Halfway reading it, it exclaimed in a calm voice that it (the literature) had nothing to do with Little R. Well, seeing that he said that without me mentioning Little R, I knew that he knew what I was inferring. He did continue to read it.

I asked my mother again to read the literature, but she said she didn't have to. She said that we just needed to teach Little R with a bit more care. Ah, she needed time to consider that there might be something else going on with him, and that he needs more than just "care." I tried to explain that we needed to learn as much as we could about the disorder so that we could help him. He does not learn the same way as others do naturally.

Later, my mom's cousin came by to visit. She tried talking to Little R in English thinking that he just didn't talk in her language, but Little R did not respond as usual. I had her read an article in Chinese about autism. She then understood what I was trying to tell her, why Little R did not act like the typical 3 year old. She told me that many cases of ASD were turning up in Hong Kong, and that there have been much about it on the news. That's good; awareness is spreading.

Since the developmental specialist's visit 9 days ago, we've started using a method to get Little R to speak. Before he gets what he wants, he has to say the word first. For example, if he wants juice, we hold the juice up high, model the word "juice" and wait for him to say it back before giving it to him. Now sometimes it's harder than other times. Sometimes he will scream, grab, hit (a table for example), cry for several minutes before saying something. In this example, when he says "goo" for juice, we accept his effort in speaking and quickly give him the juice as his reward. So far, we've been able to get him to say "up", "more" (sounds like 'ma'), "egg" (sounds like 'ig'), "juice" (sometimes 'jus' sometimes 'goo'), "apple" ('a-foe'), "milk" (it sounds like "naughk", but he's trying - he also says 'nainai' in Chinese), "cookie", "cake", and DH told me that he made an effort to say "bath" before he was awarded with a nice bath. Now, saying a sound after we make it is one thing, putting meaning to the sound is another. And then using it spontaneously is another. One step at a time.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Is Little R on the Spectrum?

Since around the time of Little S's birth, Little R has shown regression. There was regression in toilet training, but most alarming was a regression in language and verbal communication. The toilet training has been going well again for the last 5 months or so, but the language has worsened.

I googled "language regression" and "toddler" about a year ago and the only results all contained "autism" in the title. I looked into several of these results and my heart kept sinking. I talked to some people about this, but most people did not seem concerned. Somehow I thought, that it was like winning the lottery (Little R was always very healthy, and we have no confirmed history of autism in the family that we knew of) so I just let it sit in the back of my head, hoping that he would out grow his language regression.

So many people (friends, childcare workers, family) we (DH and I) spoke to about his language regression assured us that he was fine because he started to lose his language around the same time as his sister's birth. As well, we had just moved to a new house and new city a few months before that. We also switched him out of his crib for a big boy bed. In any case, I was concerned, and a worker at the YMCA Early Years Centre gave me a flyer to a Get Ready Set Grow day at the YWCA. There, I had Little R screened at the Speech and Language booth. He did not pass at all. He was referred to the Speech and Language Programme at Grandview Children's Centre... the waiting list was about a year! We just hoped that in a year's time he would have no need for the therapy.

Why has it taken this long for us to figure it out? Being our first child, I thought that his behaviours were normal. He met all his milestones, he spoke in two different languages and signed before he was two. He also did very well for toilet training starting at 17 months to 20 months. Now that I've read more about autism in children I can clearly see the signs: language regression, eye aversion, does not respond to his name, perfect hearing (we have this on paper from the audiogolist), spins (even to the point of falling down, and still continues), babbles, kicks (fidgety body), laughs to himself, cries out in sadness without apparent reason, takes people by the hand to get what he wants, and other things.

Although we do not have an official diagnosis (what a long time to wait!), we highly suspect that Little falls into the autistic spectrum of disorders (ASD). From what I have read, his symptoms seem to be that of classic autism. Please read more about what ASD is in links that I have posted as they can explain much better than I can.

We've already been upset, in denial, blamed ourselves, gotten angry... we're now in the mode to help Little R as much as we can. We no longer blame ourselves (we let him be vaccinated, let him watch some TV and gave him cow's milk to drink because of persistent GP recommendations) because it's futile and because we never intended for him to suffer from this disorder! However, we are very weary now of vaccines; Little S will not be getting her next set of shots (the MMR one; the one suspected to cause autism).

I'm setting up this blog to update you on what's going on, what interventions we're using, what progress we're making, and our struggles. If you have any information that may help Little R, please post it. I'm especially interested to find someone who was directly affected by autism and then "cured" it. I know that officially, it's said that autism has no cure, but that does not mean there isn't one. I'm grateful to all the wonderful people who still care about Little R, and who have offered their help.

We're fine. We know that there is hope, and we're hard workers so we'll make progress. Please do understand that I will not be able to chat on the phone as much as before simply because I must keep Little R engaged as much as possible. I also cannot neglect the baby. I do want to remain in touch; thus this blog. Feel free to email me as well. I may not be so quick, but it seems easier for me to do email at a convenient time than to rush to the phone when changing one baby and the other has gone off to lick the window. Thank you for understanding.