Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Where to Begin....

If someone had told me when I was younger that I'd have four kids and be married 11 years by
the time I turned 30, I would have said they were crazy. But here I am, almost 30, four kids and a hubby.
If anyone had told me that autism would be involved in my everyday life, and that developmental delays, IEP's and all that go with them would be normal for me, I'd also have said they were nuts. But again, here I am, two of my boys have autism, one also has mental retardation and other issues. Three of the four have IEP's , all are in mainstream classes, some with support, some without.

It's been a long road, and it stretches far ahead. My oldest, James, was born seven months after we married(no thats not why we married*grin*). He weighed in at 8lbs 10.5 oz, and he developed right on schedule, and the only concern we had was that his lead was elevated at a year old. We had the Dr. see him right away and within 6 months his lead was back to normal. When he was 19 months, we had the twins.

Caleb weighed in at 5lbs 15oz, and Caitlin weighed in at 5lbs 1oz. They were healthy and good size, and Caitlin only had to be under the warming lights and have a little extra oxygen for the first few hours. Caleb had torticollis, so we were showed how to position him, and given gentle stretching exercises to help with the tightness in his neck.

The twins both had developmental delays, which everyone kept telling me was normal for twins. They started therapy with the Birth-to-3 program at 7 months, and had physical, occupational and speech therapy. It was slow going with the therapy. Caitlin first sat unassisted at 12 months, and finally walked at 22 months. Caleb was a little quicker, sitting at 10 months and walking at 19 months.

About the time that Caitlin was taking her first steps, baby #4 was here. Gabriel weighed in at 7lbs 5oz. Caitlin took her first steps three days before her baby brother was born. He was a different kind of baby, always wanting to nurse, and be held, and he NEVER seemed to sleep more than a half hour at a time. Little did I know, this would be important later.

Caleb was always different, and was diagnosed as autistic in March 2002, and diagnosed with ADHD in July of 2004. He finally potty trained at about 6 years old, though even now, he still has at least 1 accident a week. We'd had concerns about Gabriel as well, as he showed many of the same signs as Caleb, and October 26, 2006 he was diagnosed as autistic as well. Then another blow, he was diagnosed as mildly mentally retarded, with an IQ of about 53. He still isn't potty trained as of this point, but does try now, and wears underwear most of the day. It's a big thing for him, going from pull-ups full time, to one or two accidents a day!
Caitlin has been a puzzle for the most part, she grows very slowly, and the Dr's don't know why. She's had test after test, all come back normal. She's a year and a half delayed in bone growth, and at 9 years old is about the size of the average 6-7 year old. She is a little slow, academically wise, and is going into 2nd grade instead of 3rd or 4th like her age-mates. For the longest time, she wouldn't eat, and even now has textures that she can't tolerate. She's been diagnosed as failure to thrive, small for gestational age, constitutional growth delay, and bone growth delay.
Caleb is also going into the 2nd grade, but with the problems he has, he needs a lot more support than she, and is farther behind socially as well. Caitlin is reading at a mid- to late first grade level, where Caleb is reading at a mid- to late kindergarten level. Quite a difference!
James is going into 3rd grade, he should be going into 5th, but he is also behind in reading skills, and reads at grade-level rather than at age-level.

Gabe is a whole other ball of wax. He spent a year in a regular Early Childhood class, and then a year in Early Childhood-Kinder class. His current level of performance puts him at about an early Preschool (3-4yo, depending on the area) level. But, that is up from his initial evaluation, which had him at an 18-30 month level, depending on the area. He will be in a split reg-ed and spec-ed class, with the instruction tailored to his level.

Both the boys still have speech, and Gabe also has PT and OT.

I guess that's the beginning, next post to follow when I have a few free minutes when the kids are sleeping.

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