Amor’s Progress 2014

The SRP has helped us deal with many of Amor’s sensory issues and manage her irritability. I personally observe her in school and, because of the SRP, know what conditions will help her flourish. I continue to work with her teachers and therapists, asking them to adapt some SRP techniques at school. Since then we have helped Amor, conduct better lunch manners, be more compliant, stop copying manners other kids with autism, use more words rather than tantrums to move teachers, etc. We have also started conducting a “weekend” SRP to augment Amor’s schooling. Amor has since learned and applied appropriate social reactions in public.

Nathan’s Progress 2014

Haven’t been updating much but here’s a summary of all the improvements I can recall:

– He calls us, and all his Son-Rise volunteers, by name before requesting for anything.
– He verbalizes all his wants and needs (food, water, blanket, toys, music, adjust volume of music, even if he wants us to go away, etc.).
– His persistence is amazing. If for some reason he cannot get what he wants from one parent, he will turn to the other parent and ask again. He will even turn to nanny and ask a 3rd time to get what he wants. This is an amazing development, since we all know that persistence is key to anyone’s success in life.
– He has a very good way of letting people, even new volunteers, understand his needs. If his voice is unheard, he makes extra effort to increase his volume. If new volunteers do not know what he is asking for, he will use other words/concepts to describe the object that he is asking for. He tries again and again, changing or adding to the description of what he wants until the new volunteer understands him.
– His attention span is much longer. We started with zero attention span. He now averages 5 – 9 minutes, but on some occasions has maintained up to 40 minutes of interactive attention.
– He is not as rigid. He is more compliant and will not tantrum if he does not get what he wants. Waiting (for school bus to arrive, in a public que, etc.) always led to major tantrums before. Today, he simply verbalizes, “I want to wait for the school bus.” or “I want to wait for Mr. Ng (the driver),” and he will wait patiently.
– He is a lot calmer. He no longer has the need to be aggressive towards others, or even bite other people, when he feels agitated or if he has hearing sensitivity.
– His happy and cheerful personality is shining through his smiles all the time.

This list of improvements continues to grow as we continue our SRP.

This was a boy who at age 4 got the autism diagnosis. His Developmental Neurologist assessed his cognitive age to be equivalent to a one year old. At age 5, his cognitive age was 1 year 2 months. He only gained 2 months despite 12 months of conventional therapy. At that time, he had no intentional speech, he could take a toy, put it in his mouth and sit in one corner of the house, oblivious to anybody around him. He could do that one thing, all day, if we let him and he would only cry to indicate that he was hungry or that he needed something. At the time my greatest fear was who would take care of him when my husband and I pass away. Following those projections, at age 20, my son’s cognitive skill would only be equivalent to that of a 4 year old.

Nathan is currently 8 years old. We started our home based SRP 3 years ago at age 5.

Next stop Osteopathy

Next stop in our healing journey is Osteopathy. I was amazed at how much information the Osteopath Doctor got from simply placing her hands on Nathan. She got that his gut was not moving (always constipated), his neck muscle was tight, his hips was misaligned, he wasn’t breathing with his diaphragm but his upper chest (all probably connected to his CP but aggravates his autism). She made some adjustments and send me home with few exercises. Nathan as seen her about 3 times one or two weeks apart.

I must say I am seeing good stuff like Nathan sweats more consistently. He has spoken in sentences before, but these days more consistent. Some games that were very repetitive before are now gaining variations and he’s paying more attention as I ask him questions for the game. After she released his neck muscle, Nathan finally allowed me to hold his nape area to do a JSJ relax hold. He never let me close before.

Amor on the other hand is not responding as “fast” as Nathan. In fact, she seems a little more irritable. Things getting worse before they get better, is also an expected result.

Excited as we go on this path of alternative healing!

Be a best friend

Over a month ago, Nathan had a volunteer, Trevors, who played with Nathan for only 8 sessions during their school term break under The Child One Skill Program.

Today, Trevors came over with his group mates for their school project regarding raising special needs children. See photo of Trevors and friends in action.

I was so amazed Nathan remembered Trevors perfectly! Without reintroducing them, Nathan called Trevors by name before asking to hand him some snacks :-).

When Trevors volunteered for Nathan, all I asked him was to be Nathan’s best friend. To be so exciting, convenient and easy to be a friend. That would make it easy for Nathan to step out of his world of autism and reach out to our world of social interaction. Sure enough, Nathan took the effort to get to know Trevors and remember his name!


Helping Amor use the right words

It’s been such a roller coaster ride at the playground!

Amor has a habit of grabbing scooters and other toys from anybody, complete with a loud “MINE!” Early on, 3 girls, about her age seemed like they were ganging up on her saying, “She (Amor) just grabs. I told her ‘no’ so many times and she keeps grabbing. Doesn’t she understand what ‘no’ means?” It could have broken my heart seeing kids unable to understand that Amor had delays and sensory issues.

For a while I stood watching, not knowing what to do. I put on my thinking cap, trying to recall Son-Rise Program® techniques and how on earth I was going to apply them at the playground with so many kids. Luckily a boy came over and offered his scooter. I went over and told him I appreciated his act of kindness. I explained further that Amor and her twin brother were born premature, as a result, their brains did not develop as well as typical kids. She is still learning to use the right words. I told him that when he did something so kind, it was a BIG help for Amor. When people are kind towards her, she will learn to be kind too. Kids learn easily but Amor needs more help. We have to keep trying. By the time I ended my explanation, the 3 girls were listening in and got the idea.

Next time Amor grabbed, I would tell the kids that that was an opportunity for them to help Amor use better words. So they waited and listened attentively for Amor to say, “Can I borrow your scooter.” And lent their scooters (or toys or balls) as soon as this magic words came out. All ended well and I was happy with the outcome of those first few playground trips. What could be more complicated than that?

The playground on a Sunday afternoon! Peak hours! This time there wasn’t just 3 girls, there were 3 sets of 3 girls, probably more. While some were ready to forge partnerships and help Amor use her words, some have never met her before. Some where too young and not ready to lend Amor anything. Some just turned away as soon as they saw Amor coming. There were just too many kids. And I was just too tired to keep trying. I was glad to get back home after that playground trip!

Today is one of those better days. Again those 3 little girls came running towards me, “She (Amor) took my scooter!” I asked if Amor used the right words. The youngest replied, “She said ‘Can I have please?’ ” LOL! I said, “Yey! She used the word ‘please’! Now we can teach her to include ‘borrow'”. Three bright lights lit on top of their heads. Next, I saw them running towards Amor then running back with Amor (can I just say, seeing my daughter actually being included in a game by neurotypical kids is so breathtaking). They led her to a surprise…a scooter! Amor said, “Can I BORROW please?” With 3 big smiles on their faces they handed it to her :-). I told them they were so fantastic, they did it! They helped Amor use her words! I’m sure that praise will inspire them to keep helping Amor.

Then comes little missy saying, “But she still doesn’t know how to return it properly. She just throws it on the ground.” I reply, “Hey, that could be your next mission! What do you think you can do to help Amor learn to give back toys nicely?” Sure enough one of them makes a plan based on how she deals with her younger brother, puts the plan in action and viola, Amor returns the scooter ever so nicely! Now that was a good day at the playground!

In the photo, Amor and a ball she grabbed from a kid at the playground 🙂


Regressive Autism

Soon after our twins were born, we were made aware of Nathan’s Cerebral Palsy (limited ability to control his limbs because of a brain trauma before/during/after their premature birth). Doctors said that CP was non-progressive. It should not get worse.

However, as Nathan regressed into Autism, so did his physical skills.

Nathan lost his ability to sing full nursery rhymes. He lost the ability to say anything meaningful. He lost the ability to look at people’s eyes.

As a toddler, Nathan would pick up a toy guitar, strum and sing ABC and and hand full of nursery rhymes. He lost that skill. When he got a bit older, he would only mouth the guitar, or practically any other toy. Thus, he never got to playing with toys appropriately.

As a toddler, Nathan would pick up a crayon and doodle all over and manage fill up a whole page. When he regressed into autism, he lost interest in doodling and started to eat crayons. We could not leave him unattended with a box of crayons, even at age 4 or 5.

As a toddler, there were moments when Nathan managed to scoop and eat his own food, especially when he really liked the food. I though we were so close to independent eating. As he regressed into autism, he would take only few bites and lose attention. His mind would drift off to “no where land”. We had to continue to feed him to ensure he ate all his food.

I remember reading how Bears and Samarhia Kaufman helped their once severely autistic son, Raun, eat by himself. Just like the Son-Rise® technique of building one thing at a time, they encouraged Raun to use one muscle movement at a time until he was able to do the whole complicated task of picking-up a spoon, scooping, then manipulating the spoon to mouth without spilling.

I remember few months ago, I was thinking that I couldn’t even get Nathan to get the filled-spoon from his bowl to his mouth without it twisting and dropping all his food. What a challenge to learn to eat independently. I was wrong though. All it really takes is practice, lots and lots of it.

I’m happy now a days, he can manage getting most of his food in his mouth with minimal spills. His attention span is much longer thanks to his Son-Rise Program®. During meal times, he is no longer in “no where land”. His mind is now on the table with his body 😀

Looking at Nathan’s toddler videos, before he regressed into autism, used to sadden me, until a good friend reminded me, “Well, think of it this way, that is Nathan’s Potential!” Very true!

Lord, help me find the right path to undo everything I have done that contributed to his autism. Give me the patience and courage I need to run Nathan’s Son-Rise Program® effectively….Give me the courage to change the things I can change. The serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference.


Good source of supplies for healthy living

One blessing of having twins with special needs is that they got us to understand the importance to healing mind and body primarily by ensuring we eat healthy meals.

Buying healthy and organic however, is often more expensive than the convention. So far, in Singapore, I find it useful to purchase items via iherb. I’m sure many autism families do so too.

Here’s an example of a product worth purchasing via iherb, Virgin Coconut! We used this for everything from treating wounds, drinking to heal gut issues, and as cooking oil. Unlike vegetable oils, Coconut oil does not turn into dangerous transfats when heated.

Health Benefits of Virgin Coconut Oil (cold pressed):

1. Thyroid-stimulating: Research shows that coconut oil contains a medium-chain fatty acids accelerate that stimulates metabolism, gives you more energy.

2. Get candida in check: Coconut oil has a good quantity of caprylic acid in it which is well known to kill off excess candida by targeting harmful bacteria.

3. Lowers cholesterol: It is rich in lauric acid which protects your heart by reducing total cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.

4. Helps with weight loss: Here is an interesting fact about coconut oil; even though it is a fat, it actually helps with weight loss! Read more here: Weight Loss With Coconut Oil. The healthy medium chain fatty acids do not circulate in the bloodstream like other fats; they are sent directly to the liver and are converted into energy. Thus the body does not store the fat in coconut oil as fat; it uses it to produce energy instead.

5. Helps keep diabetes in check: It does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. Instead it helps control blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin. Note: This is not a free pass to eat a lot of sugar and other dumb carbs.

6. Reduces heart disease: studies on people in the Pacific Islands found that their total caloric intake included thirty to sixty percent from fully saturated coconut oil. These Pacific Islanders have nearly non-existent rates of cardiovascular disease.

7. Gastrointestinal malabsorption diseases: Combining Vitamin E supplements with coconut oil through the skin proved to be a good alternative for those with gastrointestinal malabsorption diseases. Study in Canada 1999 University of Western Ontario

8. Supports the immune system. It is rich in lauric acid, a nutrient that supports the body’s immune system.

9. Good for the skin: When applied externally it forms a protective antibacterial layer protecting the infected body part. Also, coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by helping to repair damaged tissue.

10. Nourishing for the brain: Studies show that it improves cognitive function, and stalls, or even reverses, neurodegenerative diseases in their early stages.

11. Ancient medicine:
Coconut oil has been part of Ayurvedic medicine for 5,000 years in India.

12. Speeds Recovery:
People in Panama drink a glass of coconut oil to protect themselves from illness as it is also believed to speed recovery from sickness.

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