December 12, 2015

Maybe Next Year

Every year I say, "I can't believe it's December already."  Again, I can't believe it's December already.

This is Brandon's fifth Christmas.  Another year has gone by without him talking.  

It seems that every milestone of the year I get to thinking, "By this time next year, he'll be talking."  I remember sitting by the tree in my pajamas on Christmas morning two years ago, with Brandon zonked out on me and I thought, "You this time next year, he'll be talking.  It's going to be amazing."  Last year, when he was running around with all his adrenaline of Christmas morning excitement I remember thinking, "Next year for sure...he'll be talking."  

"Next year he'll ask me when the Easter bunny is coming."

"Next year he'll be able to tell us what he wants for his birthday."

"Next year he'll be able to say 'Trick or Treat by himself!"

"Next year he'll ask me to pass the turkey."  (Okay, just because he talks doesn't mean he'll magically want turkey for Thanksgiving instead of PB&J, but hey, this is my fantasy, remember?)

"Next year he'll sit on Santa's lap tell him what he wants for Christmas."

Well, next year was here yet again, and Brandon still isn't talking.

It's with a heavy heart that I write this post tonight.  I haven't lost faith that my boy will talk one day.  But I have to admit, as time continues to fly by I start to wonder if that's what God has planned for him.

I'll just keep waiting as patiently as I can.

Maybe this time next year I'll be writing a Christmas post about how Brandon sat on Santa's lap, and told him what he wanted for Christmas.

October 28, 2015

Autism at Dollywood: Our Dollywood Therapy Session

We went to Dollywood!  After we went to Special Needs Day at our local county fair, we decided we could handle Dollywood.  We stayed at Wilderness at the Smokies.  The indoor waterpark was fun and the room was nice, but it was an overwhelming place to stay for us, and our room was not even close ready when it was supposed to be.

Dollywood was amazing.  All of the staff was very friendly, and the park is very charming.  

We won some tickets in a silent auction, but we still had to buy three more tickets.  (By the way, Dollywood donated those silent auction tickets to our school fundraiser, so more brownie points for them!)  We went to guests services to get our silent auction tickets and to ask where to go for accommodations for people with special needs.  (Of course, we called ahead of time to find out what they offer...a must for an vacation with a child with autism.)  The woman behind the counter gave us 30% off of the rest of our tickets!  She said, "You have enough stress in your life!"  It was such a pleasant surprise, and we were very grateful.

They gave us a disability pass that acts as a fast pass for the whole family for the rides that have super long lines.  You do still have to wait a few minutes with the fast pass.  The lines in the kids area were very short - often times we didn't have to wait at all.  There were a couple bigger kid rides we went on with a monstrous line, and we got to hop right to the front with our disability pass.  Brandon did a great job waiting in the short lines for the kid rides, but a 45 minute wait is not feasible for him at this time.  He doesn't understand the concept of waiting.  Having small lines to work with helped us to teach him how to wait.  We were able to teach him that he is indeed going to get to ride, he just can't go the second we walk up there.  He started to understand that we were actually waiting for the ride, whereas before he thought he simply wasn't getting not the ride.  Not only that, any tantrum throwing he did before (at the fair) was probably perceived by him as how he got to ride the rides eventually - not because it was actually our turn.  He likely assumed we gave into his antics.

Switching to a 45 minute wait would negate all the work we had done so far.  He got to enjoy Dollywood without one single meltdown.

I was a little nervous about the disability pass.  Autism is an invisible disability.  When people saw us essentially cut the line, what would they think?  I don't care what they think about me - that's not what the nervousness was about.  I want people to understand that not all disability is physically apparent.  When I realized we were going to the fast pass line, it was evident that the people we cut in line would assume we had a fast pass...not that we had a family member with a disability.  Still, I felt the urge to say, "Our son has autism.  Cutting this line is going to prevent him from having a meltdown, and learn how to wait in lines."  It's not about what people think about us.  It's about what people know about autism.  We are everywhere.

Obviously, I did not give everyone at Dollywood a crash course lesson about autism.  Although, in the back of my mind I was coming up with comebacks if anyone did have some comment about us cutting the line.  I do that frequently...more than I'd like to admit.  I want to know the perfect thing to say to put people in their place so they think twice about running their mouths in the future, but to also educate, so that they don't even feel the need to open their mouths in the first place.  Maybe they will give a heartfelt smile instead.

Not only did he have a blast, but Brandon had a learning opportunity.  It was like Dollywood therapy session!  He made giant steps towards learning to wait.

This autism family will definitely be back at Dollywood!

October 18, 2015

Getting Older in Age But Delayed Developmentally

Tonight I was cooking dinner, and Brandon fell off the couch.  My husband, James, was in the living room and comforted him.  Brandon, being the mamas boy that he is, came in the kitchen to me for some love.  Since he is nonverbal and can't say, "Mommy, I'm hurt," he tugged on my arm.  This is not at all unusual.  I said, "I'll look at your foot in just a second baby."  (He doesn't understand something so abstract, but I always talk to him as though he does.)  I gave one last stir to the pasta and before I knew it he had tugged on me so hard that I hit the floor.  


He toppled down with me.  I knocked my knees so hard on the floor that started crying.  James came and help me up then scooped up Brandon.  Brandon was silent.  He laid his head on James shoulder and just looked so sad.

I think he knew he was responsible, but he didn't really understand what as happening.  My heart broke for him.

Brandon is four years old now, and is still nonverbal.  He will approximate anything you tell him to say, but it is often pretty unclear.  The only word he says on his own with meaning is "cheese," and that is only with about 50% accuracy.

He's getting older.  He's bigger and stronger, but developmentally in many ways he is still like a one-year-old.  As soon as the language comes, things will be drastically different.

I don't want anyone reading this story to think he's a bad kid. Brandon is just struggling to communicate with people who do not understand him...with people who he does not understand.

September 7, 2015

Adorable Autism Awareness T-Shirt!

I'm selling a t-shirt with by blog graphic design right on it!

I designed this autism awareness shirt and I'm selling it to raise money for the elementary school where I teach 4th grade, and for the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center (formerly Project Help.)

Please consider buying a t-shirt to help support both of these wonderful schools!  Get your autism awareness shirt now so you'll be ready to go on April 2nd for Autism Awareness Day!

The Ann Campbell Early Learning Center is an inclusive preschool for children ages 15 months through four years old. Its classes provide a developmentally appropriate learning environment where children who are typically developing and children with developmental delays or disabilities play together and learn from each other.

Click here to buy one!  They are $20, and the money goes towards some fabulous schools!

August 28, 2015

5 Tips for a Planning a Birthday Party for a Child with Autism

I am the mother of a 4-year old boy on the autism spectrum.  After some semi-successful parties, and one mother-of-all-birthday-party meltdowns, we finally had a truly successful birthday party for my son.  The guests had a fun, I was relaxed, and more importantly, Brandon had a meltdown-free, wonderful time.  This is what I have learned along the way about planning a birthday party for a child with autism.

1. Chose a familiar location

We are fortunate that Brandon's birthday is in mid-august, when the weather is perfect for a backyard party.  Two years ago, we purchased a child-size bounce house.  This year we purchase a child-size inflatable water slide (from Target) as his birthday present and we set both of them up in our backyard.  These investments have been well worth it; especially when you consider how much it costs to do a party at a typical facility.  Bottom line - pick a party location that your child loves and is already familiar with.  Or, if you do plan the party at an unfamiliar place, do a practice run first so your child knows what to expect.

2. Open presents later

Having lots of people in one place is a lot of excitement for anyone.  For someone on the autism spectrum it can be incredibly overwhelming   Opening all his presents while everyone is gathered around him is just too much.  By now our party guests already know that he's not opening presents at his party, so it's a non-issue.  However, in the past when someone handed me a present, I did explain that we would be opening presents later that night when things were calm.  That way people weren't hanging around waiting for us to open presents so they could leave!  After guests leave, we open a present here and there throughout the night.

3. Send out invitations a little late

By the time we invite all of Brandon's friends, our family friends, and our actual family, Brandon's birthday parties get rather large.  That many people in one place is far too overstimulating for Brandon.  This year I sent out invitations much later than I typically do.  Some people already had plans so they couldn't come.  This works out great because I didn't have to cut anyone from guest list (which I couldn't bear to do), and I can still keep  the attendee count relatively low.

4. No schedule!

I can't stress this enough.  Just go with the flow.  The party started at 11, and whatever happened at that point happened.  I just let Brandon and the other kids to their thing.  We didn't stop to do any structured games, move to any different rooms, or sit down to eat together.  I put a buffet of food out, and let people eat as they pleased.  It was very easy going.

5. Don't sweat not doing the "normal" stuff

This year we didn't sing happy birthday or even blow out candles.  If you don't have a child with special needs, this might seem sad to you.  It is a little to me, too.  It's not exactly what I envisioned.  But we special needs parents are hyper-in-tune to our children's temperaments.  It wasn't going to happen for Brandon this year.  He was keeping it together, but was a little tense.  He had a Yo Gabba Gabba Plex cake, so I just showed it to him and cut into it.  He didn't even want any cake until much later in the party.  He was just too overwhelmed.  I didn't try to get him to eat any cake or force him to come over where the party guests were.  it's his party!  I just let him do what he wanted to ensure he had a fun time.  That's what it's all about, anyway.  Besides, when he was ready, he grabbed a fork and dug into it himself!

August 20, 2015

Special Needs Day at the Fair

We had a Special Needs Day at the county fair.  It was free to families who have loved ones with special needs.  Although, for the pure joy on his face that I saw over and over, I would have paid anything.  Events like this mean the world to families like mine.  

Brandon did a great job.  He was upset the first couple times he had to get off a ride, but once he understood that we would get back in line for other rides, he was okay.  He whined a little bit after each ride, but nothing major...especially for a three-year-old.  He was three when we went to the fair, but TODAY he is four years old!

How in the world can my baby boy be four years old!?

Bumper cars are boring!

He could have ridden the roller coaster 100 times.  He is such a daredevil!

August 9, 2015

Interview: A Parent of a Child with Diverse Learning Needs

I recently did an interview with a student working on her master's' degree as a parent of a child with diverse learning needs.  I surprised myself at how much I had to say, considering my child is only three.  What a journey it's been so far...and it's just the beginning!

This isn't exactly riveting stuff...but this is our life!


1. What are your child's strengths/talents/gifts?

Brandon, almost four years old, has such a unite little personality.  He nonverbal at this time but we are hopeful that he will be able to communicate verbally soon.  I can't wait to see what doors open for him when he is able to express himself more clearly.  He is very adventurous.  He loves knee boarding (yes, he's only 3!), climbing, helping his dad mow the lawn, and indoor trampoline parks.

2. What are some of your child's challenges due to autism?

Brandon faces challenges with communication.  There are many ways we can communicate without words, but since his receptive language is also significantly delayed, communication proves to be extremely difficult.  Sometimes I don't know why he is upset, which escalates the situation because he gets frustrated over not being understood.  We can't always do things that typical families can do because of these limitations.

3. What are your experiences/beliefs/strengths/challenges regarding IEP meetings?

We currently have an IEP through our local public school system, however, it is for walk-in speech therapy services only.  Brandon attends a private preschool, although he does have the option to attend a public preschool with typically developing peer models.  I don't send him to a private school due to lack of confidence in our local elementary school.  The public school setting where I live only offers a three-hours-per-day program.  This is typical in the public school systems.  Since I work all day, I prefer for him to be in a school (rather than day care) setting for the whole day.  He needs all the help he can get as we work toward our goal of a general education setting.  I have been very fortunate in my IEP meetings.  The vice principal and speech therapist there have been very supportive.  I know there are horror stories about IEP meetings out there, but thankfully I haven't had any problems.  They have been incredibly receptive to every opinion I have.  I work to have wonderful relationships with all of Brandon's teachers and therapists. I tell them that I may be a little annoying, or come on a little strong, but it's only because I love Brandon so much and I want to give him his best chance.  This has always been appreciated an applauded.

4. What supports/resources have you found beneficial to you, your child, and family?

Before Brandon was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at two years old, he was diagnosed with developmental delays.  So, he entered the early intervention system right away.  While we were in Tennessee's Early Intervention System (TEIS), Brandon had developmental therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), all at no cost to us.  Now that Brandon has aged out of TEIS, he receives speech therapy through the public school system at no cost to us.  We no longer have an official occupational therapist, although these skills are heavily worked on at his private preschool.  We are incredibly fortunate in that ABA is covered by our insurance.  Tennessee is one of only a few states who has yet to pass legislation to require insurance companies to cover ABA.  It's so disheartening..  ABA, whether provided by his therapist during his session, or by myself using the techniques at home, has helped Brandon more than anything on this journey.

5. What has been your experience with educational support for your child in the academic setting?

My experience for this question is minimal at this point, but what I can say is you need a great relationship between the parent and teacher so they can work together to help the child.  

August 1, 2015

A Rant About Hot Cars, Cell Phones, and Perspective

Devastatingly, there have been several news stories about children who are being left in hot cars - accidents and negligence.  I'm not even going to get into my feelings on the subject.  Trust me...I have them...but this isn't an avenue in which I spew ugliness, so I will just leave it at that.

I heard a public service announcement urging people to...well, just remember their children are in the car.  They made some suggestions; one of which was to leave your cell phone in the backseat.

Wow.  Just. Wow.

You may forget your living breathing child is in the car, but you sure aren't going to forget your cell phone.

The sad part is it's true, people following this advice might actually save some children.

It really makes you put your priorities into perspective.

-end rant-

July 13, 2015

Let's Go to the Movies: An Imperfect Parenting Moment

There have been many times that Brandon has acted out in public, and I have had no problem dealing with it.  I make him finish what he's doing (if it's something like a hair cut) or take him away (if it's something fun).  I've carried him out of a room like a sack of potatoes while he kicked and screamed.  This doesn't bother me too deeply.  I don't get easily embarassed when displays bad behavior.  Don't get me's not like it doesn't bother me at all...but it doesn't keep me up at night with worry or embarrassment.

We went to see the Minions movie yesterday.  This is the second movie Brandon has gone to.  The first one was a year ago.  It was a summer movie event where each week they were playing movies that had been out for a while.  I thought it was a good way to introduce him to going to the movies because he would get to watch Despicable Me - a movie he had seen many times before and loved.  He didn't last the whole movie but he did just fine.

So, when the Minions movie came out I had to try and take him to it.  I had him by myself and I was worried we wouldn't get an aisle seat for the stroller, so I went to the movie on time.  I should have chanced it and gone about 30 minutes late, because I hate that he spent so much time sitting while the previews played.  He would have lasted a lot longer if we didn't have to set through the previews.

He didn't do anything wrong.

It's just hard for any three-year-old to sit that long, and he doesn't understand that he can't run around the theater and be obnoxiously loud, even if it is happy noises.  We had to leave, not so much because of the noise, but I could not get him to be still.

So, when he cried as we left the theater, my heart sunk.  It was a sad cry; not a tantrum.  He tried to pull me back into the theater.  He understands very few words and says basically none without prompting.  So, although I was telling him he was a good boy but we had to go, he didn't understand.  I wish I had gone back in and let him try again.  It did keep me up last night because I feel so sad that he had to leave something he enjoyed so much, and he just didn't understand why.  

Mostly, I felt like I didn't do a good job as his mom.  I made a mistake by not letting him go back in (before the crying).  I'm usually really good at reading a situation like that and making the right call.  You don't need to tell me I'm too hard on myself.  I am proud of the mother I am.  I am a good mom.  I know that I can't be a perfect mom, but that doesn't stop me from feeling sad when I mess up.

I wish I had let him try again.

When things like this happen, you have got to reflect and learn from it.  Do better the next time.  I learned a couple things from this situation.  One, I will go to the movie 30 minutes late next time so we can skip the previews, regardless of whether or not I have my husband there to save an aisle seat.  Two, when I take him again I will let him take a little break by walking out of the theater or at least to the door, then let him go back to his seat.

I plan to take him to see the movie again before it goes out of the theater.

If at first out don't succeed...try, try again, right?

We've got this next time.

June 30, 2015

Small Moments in June

Brandon got a hair cut.  This was pre-blogging days so you haven't heard the stories, but hair cuts used to be a nightmare.  We both worked so hard at it, and now it's easy peasy.  There was a clear moment last year when Brandon looked down at the hair on the floor and realized the lady wasn't just trying to torture him.  She had a purpose.  She was cutting his hair off!  It was a total light bulb moment.

We went to the beach!!  This is huge.  Brandon was perfect angel.  No, seriously.  At one point my sister looked at me with bewilderment and said, "Why is be being SO good?"  I said, "I know don't know, but don't jinx it!"  He also transitioned back to school quite nicely after being gone for 10 days.

We started potty training at the very end of June.  He peed  in the potty here at home, and at once at school!  Hopefully my Small Moments in July post I will be able to report we are on the road to being potty trained!

June 26, 2015

This Teacher Has Changed Our Lives

Brandon has autism.  When I first brought him to his new preschool class when he turned three, it was quite a transition.   He had no words, and his receptive language was incredibly low.  At that time he really only knew what the word “no” meant.  I knew he wouldn’t even sit down for circle time, let alone follow simple instructions.  It was going to be so hard for him.

I was so worried about Brandon starting his special needs preschool.  What if the teacher just lets him do whatever he wants?  What if he’s too much trouble and his teacher just can’t take it anymore?  What if the teacher is mean to him and he is miserable at school all day?  He is nonverbal and can’t tell me if something isn’t right.  There were so many “what ifs” going through my head.

“Go,” Ms. Tameka said on his first day.  “He will be just fine.”

Fast-forward just six months later, Brandon not only sits for circle time, but laughs and participates in and enjoys the activities.  He washes his hands independently, and he has at least 20 words that he will say when prompted.  I can give him simple commands like, “Throw that away” or “Brush your teeth.”  It is life changing.

We had about a month of pretty rough behavior issues at school.  It was after he had been there for about three months, so it was confusing as to why it was happing all of a sudden. 

I never…never got the feeling that Ms. Tameka loved Brandon any less.  If anything, it was evident how badly she wanted to see him succeed.  One day I broke down and cried right in front of her.  I felt so helpless.  What could I do to end this behavior?  It wasn’t happening at home.  I know that is such a cliché thing for a parent to say, but it was true.  Sobbing, I said, “I feel so helpless.  I don’t know what to do at home to help this situation.   I hope you believe me that I’m not reinforcing this behavior at home just because it’s too hard to deal with.”

Tameka emailed me later that evening, reiterating that everything was going to be okay.  “We are in this together,” she told me.

She would do anything for Brandon.  She is a true partner in this journey.  I find myself sending her pictures and videos of Brandon after school hours or on the weekends when he does something great.  I just can’t wait until the next day to share it with her.

As a mom, I get the feeling that my son is the teacher’s pet – that he’s the favorite.  The beauty of this is that I am sure that his teachers make all the parents feel this about their own children.  Tameka cares about every child in her class, and pushes them to succeed.  She is the perfect balance between firmness and kindness.

There is nothing I could say or do to fully express my appreciation for her.


This post was submitted for teacher appreciation contest at The Mighty...and Tameka won!  She is a Mighty Special Needs Teacher of the Year! Please click here to read more about her on The Mighty!

June 23, 2015

Autism and Envy

As I scroll through Facebook, I somtimes feel a pang of jealousy hit me when I least expect it.  I don't want to feel this way, and the truth is I usually don't.  But, sometimes...I do.

I see your family vacation to Disney.  Your daughter in Minnie Mouse ears beaming at the camera.

I see your adorable kids in baseball uniforms running the bases.

I see kids years younger than Brandon forming words and sentences that he can only say in my dreams.

We do our own things.  We can't go to Disney, but we do go to the lake and ride jet skis.  We have a blast in the sand and sun when we go to the beach.  Brandon can't be on a baseball team right now, but he is in dance class.  He just loves dance and music.  Brandon doesn't talk, but it's amazing how we can communicate with each other without words.

I love your families.  I love your children.  I would do anything for you.

I can't help but envy you sometimes.  There are things you do on a daily basis that are not in the realm of possibility for my family right now.  On the other hand, I do also feel sorry for you because you don't get to witness all of the incredible things my son does, and you don't get his super comfy snuggles. :)

I wouldn't trade my son for anything on this planet.  I write this as I watch him stare out the window trying to calm him self down post-meltdown.

I just want him to be happy and to have every opportunity that he wants.

June 11, 2015

The Best Kind of Support: Acceptance and Understanding

This summer were are headed to Florida for vacation.  We are going with some family friends that we haven't seen in about a year.  My dear friend, Angie, hasn't even seen Brandon in about two years.  He's only three and a half now, so he's a totally different kid from the last time she saw him.

Brandon has autism.  I already know the first couple days at the beach house are going to be difficult for Brandon.  He will have just spent a grotesque amount of time in the car, all to be thrusted into brand new surroundings.  Not to mention, the amount of people he will be around at all times is a sensory overload for him.

I tried to explain some of Brandon's quirks to Angie so she could help her own kids understand.  "He is a sweet boy," I told her.  "There's no need for your kids to be nervous or timid around him.  Just let them know that if they're trying to play with him, he may not seem like he's paying attention.  It may seem like he doesn't care about them.  He does.  He just doesn't always show it in the same way."

Completely on her own, she got the movie Temple Grandin and had a family movie night with her husband and kids.  I've never mentioned the name Temple Grandin to her.  She just figured it out, and took action.  Her family sat down and watched this movie so they could better understand how they might interact with this little boy who they love.  Angie wants Brandon to be comfortable, happy, and to have fun on this trip.  She wants to do everything she can to help him enjoy this vacation.  After all, this is his vacation too.

To say I'm touched is an understatement.

This is exactly the kind of support that is helpful to an autism family: acceptance and understanding.

That is love.

PS: Take a look at this clip from Temple Grandin.

June 8, 2015

Directionally Un-Challenged

Oh, the wonders of autism.

I've come to realize that Brandon understands how to get places.

Last week we started a kindergarten readiness playgroup.  We meet on Friday mornings.  Typically on a Friday morning, we get up, get ready for the day, put Brandon's backpack in the car, and drive off to school.  Since playgroup is on a week day, I just take him to school right after.  (Brandon goes to a private preschool which is in session during the summer.)

This story has a lot of details, so stay with me.

When we go to school, we take a right out of the subdivision, and then a right on the main road.  This particular Friday we took a left to get to the playgroup.  Brandon flipped out.  He was kicking, screaming, and just truly distraught.

I wondered, "Did he just flip out because he thinks I went the wrong way?"

Remember, Brandon can't talk, and his receptive language is very delayed.  He would have no way to say, "Mom, you went the wrong way, and it's devastating for me that you've interrupted my routine."  And even though I'm saying, "Brandon, we're going to Milo's house to play.  It's okay, Brandon.  We're going to Milo's," he comprehends none of it.

"Wow...does he really know how to get to his school?"

I mulled this over.  He doesn't know what the word "school" means, but he knows how to get there?

We do go left all the time to go to my parent's house, but that is not a consistent day and time - not part of a routine, like going to school.

I wondered...

Then, another thing happened that confirmed my suspicion.

Yesterday, I got Brandon all dressed up in him swimming gear, and loaded him and all of our pool stuff in the car.  He was perfectly content in the car.  That is, until we reached the fork in the road of our subdivision where we either turn left to leave it, or turn right to get to the community pool. 

I turned left.  

He melted down.  

I wasn't trying to set him off...we were going to my sister's pool instead of ours.  I told him this multiple times before we left, even though I knew he didn't understand.  When he was freaking out, I just kept saying, "Aunt Shelly's pool.  Aunt Shelly's pool."  Luckily, the meltdown was short lived.

Then, when I made a left to get to Shelly's pool, instead of straight to get to her house, Brandon hollered.  When he caught glimpse of the pool and realized what I was doing, instantly calmed down.

I know what many of you are thinking.  This seems like a huge pain for me - and of course, it's not pleasant when he is screaming bloody murder in the car.  But I'm actually excited and proud that Brandon has the cognition to remember and comprehend where we go.

If we drive away from the house and I realize I forgot something (this happens often), and I turn around, Brandon always melts down.  I had always chalked this up to him not wanting to go back home so quickly.  That he was upset that the drive only lasted about 30 seconds.  Now, I realize he probably gets so upset because thinks I don't know what I'm doing!

May 31, 2015

Small Moments in May

We went to a special needs bounce night at our local BounceU.  Brandon's physical agility never ceases to amaze me.  He can hang right there with the big kids.

I got a Master's degree in Elementary Education and accepted a position as a 4th grade teacher!

We started Gemiini (an accelerated reading and language therapy).  I have no idea if it will help, but we will see!  So far I like it.

We were playing in the backyard.  Brandon looked up at me and I saw this:

Because had been doing this...

We went to the lake.  The first weekend of the summer is always hard for him.  He does great on the boat, but back at the lake house he has a hard time in the new (but not really) surroundings and all the people around him.

Brandon loves it when I spike his hair.  He will find the hair gel bottle, bring it to me, and start patting his head.  Then he'll put his head all up in my face to make sure I know he wants me to do his hair.  I love it.

Brandon said some numbers at Speech Therapy and attempted to hold up his fingers!  Yay!

Brandon's new thing is to knock on doors and windows.  Eh...who cares, right?  Wrong!  When his class is outside, he knocks on the other classes' windows and disrupts them.  When he wakes up in the morning he starts knocking on his own door, waking me from a deep sleep...and scaring the crap out of me.  At the lake house, when he woke up at 6:30 a.m., he walked down the hallways and knocked on everyone's door before I could stop him.  (That one was actually a little funny.)

We started a summer playgroup for non-verbal and/or non-reliably verbal kids.  It was so fun.  I met some great ladies, and I was so proud of how well-behaved Brandon was (mostly) and how well he followed directions.

Brandon is still in dance class, and is doing a fantastic job.  It's a night and day different since that first month.

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