Monday, December 27, 2010

Worksheets

Since Rayyan can match similar pictures by drawing lines, his teacher at AAS, Ms Fadilah, suggested that I create simple worksheets for him to do at home.

So yes, I have started to do just that. I have bought pre-school workbooks for him but found that there's too much information on each page so I break it down into simpler format so that it is easier for Rayyan to complete the worksheet.

I also ensure that the instruction is simple. And after he has done each worksheet, I mark the worksheet in front of him and gave him a star stamp and let him stamp his own worksheet. He was so happy he got a star for his work! :)

Excellent job, Rayyan!!

Below are two examples...


I guided him with this one...

This he did all by himself! :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Picnic

Been wanting to go for a picnic but the weather has not been good so far. This morning the weather was simply perfect and we headed to East Coast for our little picnic.

Rayyan enjoyed himself. He scooped and filled the pail with sand and enjoyed touching the water and feeling the gentle waves at his feet. It was such a beautiful day :)


Scooping the sand with his little tractor

We did not bring his little watering can because we knew that he will be obsessed with it the whole day. So he found a little container to scoop the water instead. That is pretty resourceful :))

Daddy and Sonny ;)

We went berserk! lol

US :))

Thank you God for this beautiful day :))

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Faith

When it comes to choosing a school, parents here in Singapore are spoilt for choice. There are so many childcare centres and centres that offer a variety of pre-school programmes that the parents don't know which to choose...

Unfortunately, parents of special needs children like us don't have that luxury. It is truly a blessing if we can just find a school that will accept our children and a double blessing if the school suits our budget. Dr Lim Sok Bee, the doctor in charge of Rayyan's case at KKH, wanted us to place Rayyan into an ICCP Programme where he gets to go to school regularly. She told us that the ICE Programme (which is 2 hours per week) is insufficient for Rayyan and he needs to interact more with peers his age.

The thing is, we would love for him to be enrolled in an ICCP Programme, we would love for him to interact more with peers his age.... BUT... it is not easy to get into an ICCP Programme!! There are limited places in each centre and the demand is of course so much more than supply. We have applied for Rayyan to be placed in an ICCP Programme since January this year but the reply was a disappointing 'Sorry, no vacancy'.

We know of several private centres with an ICCP Programme in place but the fees are exorbitant and they are usually located in the town area. Living far in the East and having no transport of our own, well, it is inconvenient for us to enrol Rayyan there. So what do we do??

We were getting pretty desperate actually, especially so since Rayyan will be 5 next year. I was thinking of enrolling him in any of the pre-school centres around Pasir Ris/Tampines area and wrote to several centres, telling them of Rayyan's condition and practically begging them to accept him. The replies were just as disappointing... they informed me that even though some of the teachers have attended special needs courses, they are not trained to handle a special needs child... And that got me thinking.... Why then go for the course????? Is it just to fulfill some kind of requirement??

I was totally frustrated!! I mean, I know it is not easy to handle these special needs children, I do empathise with the teachers... but I would be grateful if they just give him a chance to attend the classes. We even guarantee the centres full parental support and are willing to help the teachers in any way we can.....

They don't know Rayyan and they don't know what he's capable of... If they at least try and in the end, if they really can't handle him, then well, I would totally understand if they tell me that we need to withdraw him from the centre. But the least these centres can do is give children like Rayyan a chance.

Here we are... talking about a society that empathise with people with special needs, people who are less fortunate but yet, we are unwilling to give people like these a chance, a chance to prove themselves and show what they are capable of.....

Anyway, I was so desperate that I was even thinking of enrolling him without informing the school of his condition. Let them find out for themselves! I mean, I have tried being honest so that these centres know what they are dealing with and we can work things out together but if that doesn't work, then I should just keep quiet about it and let them handle it themselves. Yes, I was THAT desperate!!!

But in the end, I thought that it will not benefit Rayyan. I want a centre that is sincere in helping children like Rayyan. I want a centre that will help Rayyan grow.... So we persevered and continued to scout around for a suitable centre for Rayyan...

And you know what, like they say, good things come to those who are patient and persevere... Last week, while picking Rayyan up from his ICE Programme, the teacher, Ms Susila, told us that they want to offer Rayyan the ICCP Programme for 2011. And only God knows how happy we were when we heard the news!!! Thank you God!!!

So we would like to say a big THANK YOU to...

Mrs L H Lau, the Principal of PCS (Tampines)... Thank you for your willingness to give Rayyan a chance and take him in...

Ms Susila Stephenson.. Thank you for guiding Rayyan throughout his whole ICE Programme, for having faith in him and recommending him for the ICCP Programme...

Ms Lina (gosh, I am so sorry but I don't know your full name)... Thank you for your willingness to have Rayyan in your class next year... You know that it's not easy but thank you for your enthusiasm and willingness to take on the challenge...

Children like Rayyan need us to have a little FAITH in them so from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your FAITH in him.. May God bless you :))

PS: In conjunction with the festive season, I would like to wish my Christian friends a joyous and blessed Christmas :) Merry, merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Memories of Road Trip



Rayyan enjoying his cartoons.. thanks to the portable DVD player!!

All set to swim!!

He is HAPPIEST in the water! :)



Enjoying the beautiful and peaceful scenery of Lake Kenyir..

With all his cousins... Wish that he would look at the camera though...

Road Trip

Hallooo!! We just came back from our Road Trip! Why I call it Road Trip is simply because we were on the road most of the time!!!

We left for Kuantan, Malaysia at about 6.30am on Saturday morning and we were in the car for about 10 hours before we reached Kuantan!!! Yes, 10 long hours!! We spent the night at a nice resort in Kuantan and then left for Terengganu the next day and that took us another 4 long hours on the road!! Spent the second night at a beautiful, peaceful resort at Lake Kenyir and then we left for KL the next morning!! Yes, another 6 hours on the road!! Spent one night in KL and then left for Singapore the next day!! We only reached Singapore at about 9 yesterday night! It was a really crazy, back-breaking trip and I am just so glad we survived!!! Didn't want to go initially because of the weather and the long journey but my sis had gone through all the trouble with the bookings and we wanted to spend time with my family so we went ahead with the trip. Great family-bonding trip :))

And the best part of it all, Rayyan enjoyed every minute of it!! He didn't even cry during the long car rides, he was totally fuss-free and woke up every morning with a huge smile!! That boy simply loved hotel rooms I tell you :) Everybody was amazed that he didn't throw any tantrums during the journey and he was really well-behaved throughout the whole trip. My sis even commented that he has shown a lot of improvements. No tantrums and was really co-operative during the trip... Kudos to Rayyan!!!!

And here's something I want to share with all of you... During those boring car rides, Rayyan and I managed to come up with a really cute rap song... Enjoy!! :)


Monday, December 13, 2010

My Life

We spent last weekend at a resort in Sentosa with some of my friends and as I looked at the photos taken during the trip, I just felt grateful and thankful to God for the two boys in my life... my Hubby and my boy. We looked so happy in the photos that the photos set me thinking.... about autism....

Autism is a part of our life now and am I finally embracing it?? I really don't know but I guess we are finally accepting its presence. We don't have a choice do we?? Hehe...

Anyway, here are my two favourite photos ;)

Goofing around with my boy. Mummy will always love you darling :)

I love my boys. They complete me :)

Speech Therapy

Today is Rayyan's 4th session with his new speech therapist, Ms Komathi, and I must say that I am happy with the progress that he's making. His sessions are more focused on strengthening the muscles required for speech and we have to massage his mouth (inside and outside) and the area around his mouth daily, 3x a day in fact. We also have to get him to blow different instruments and suck on different straws to strengthen those muscles. As Ms Komathi informed us, since he is already 4 and is non-verbal, the muscles required for speech are weak and we have to work on those muscles to strengthen them and make him more aware of those important parts.

Apart from the exercises, we are also focusing on getting him to make different sounds and for now, we are focusing on 'aaaa', 'mmmm' and 'oooo'. Under Ms Komathi's guidance, we learnt how to help him make those sounds. His 'aaaa' and 'mmmm' are not too bad but still have to work hard on the 'oooo'. Apart from that, I also had to bring my picture this morning and he had to say 'ma'. He can say 'mmm' and 'aaa' separately but difficult for him to join the two sounds together so we really have to work on it.

I must say that I am very proud of Rayyan because he is pretty cooperative during the sessions. He will really look at us and try his best to imitate us. He really, really tries but I can see that it is just so difficult for him to make those sounds sometimes. Then he will get really frustrated and start to cry. And my heart aches every time he tries hard to get the sound out but just couldn't....

Apart from that, Rayyan also goes for full body massages at the ST centre to improve on his overall muscles. These massages are done by Ms Komathi's husband, Mr Sekar, and the first session was really traumatising not just for Rayyan but for me and Hubby as well!! At first, Rayyan was enjoying his back and leg massages, then he had to lie on his back and he started to get uncomfortable. He started to cry a bit but when Mr Sekar started to massage his neck and face, that was when he started wailing, flailing his arms and kicking his legs!!! I think it was really painful for him because Mr Sekar did inform us that the muscles in his neck and face are stiff and it will be painful when he first massage those areas. When he started wailing in pain, I just felt like crying too!!!! I kept asking myself... Why does he have to go through all this?????

But looking at the bright side, my husband and I believe that he will improve from here. We keep telling ourselves that we have to be strong and that Rayyan has to go through this because it is for his own good. Apart from that, we are also spending quite a sum every month on his ST sessions and massages (about $1400+ per month) but if he shows improvement then we think it's money well-spent, a great investment indeed.

I really, really hope he will soon say his first word. It doesn't matter what the word is as long as he starts talking...

You can do it Rayyan!!!! Jia you!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Visual Support (First-Then)

I have done quite a number of visual supports for Rayyan recently. One of them is 'first-then' which I use to motivate him to do difficult tasks, like going for a haircut or cooperating during speech therapy.



What I will do is first, I will show him the card before he goes through the activity and explain about 'first-then' and once he has gone through the activity, I will give him the 'finished' card for him to stick so that he is aware that he has gone through it. Then I will show the 'then' card and bring him to a place he likes or desired item.

He is getting the hang of it. The last time I used this was when he went for his speech therapy session and I felt that he was calmer (compared to the previous session where he kept crying). Will review from time to time and evaluate its effectiveness :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bubble Boy

Now that he can blow, Rayyan enjoys playing the bubble more and more. I think he likes the feeling of being independent and not having to rely on somebody to blow for him :))

Excellent job, Rayyan!!


The Marching Band

This is also part of the floor activities. Rayyan enjoys watching the marching band video so I got him to march and blow some musical instruments. In the video below you will see that he couldn't blow the harmonica at first but he managed to adjust the harmonica on his own... that's my clever boy!

Btw, after I took the video, I went out and bought for him toy trumpet and saxophone and he loved them!! When the Daddy got home, the three of us had a blast marching around the house with our musical instruments!!! Luckily the neighbours did not complain! lol


PS: Please pardon the Mummy's mistake in counting, 7 and 7 again! Haha...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Play

Now that I have more time to spend with Rayyan, I do more playtime or floor activities with him. I try to follow the floortime concept where I let him take the lead and I will imitate him and then try to get him to follow instructions. Sometimes I will sing to get his attention and do actions (Rayyan loves songs) or I will tell him more about the things that he is looking at that point of time.

I noticed that his play skills have improved. He can pretend to fly an airplane, roll the cars on the bed or the floor, make his animal figurines walk around the house and recently, I taught him how to move the human figurines around a castle and he can play independently with the castle now.

Mind you, this was the boy who had zero play skills. He used to take an animal and just run around the house with the animal. Same with other toys too, he will simply take a toy and run around the house, go back to the play room, get another toy and run again!!!

So, what can I say, I am simply overjoyed with this improvement! Go Rayyan!!!!

Here's Rayyan moving the elephant up and down the window grille. I just taught him prepositions/adverbs (up & down, in & out) so this was the perfect opportunity to practice!


And here's Rayyan flying an airplane... Wheeeeee!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Share

If you read the New Paper today, you will see an article about a mother who compiled a collection of true autism stories in Singapore and got them published. The book costs $18 and we have bought the book last month. I have read a few stories and I must say that it is inspiring to read these stories. You can't deny the fact that you feel better knowing that you are not alone. You will read about the dedication of the parents and caregivers of these children, you will read about how these parents accept the child's differences and how these children make them better people.

It is good to share our experiences, to let others know they are not alone, to share tips and ideas... We can indeed learn from each other.... which is why I started this blog...to share... I've had a couple of parents who wrote to me to ask questions or tell me they are inspired after reading my blog... thank you parents for taking time to write to me. I am glad that this blog is somewhat useful to some of you... And I know that there are many silent readers of my blog too.

I understand that some of us are just not keen to talk about our own children but I really wish that more parents will open up. It is really hard to find a blog that is written by a Singaporean parent, sharing about the journey of their autistic children. So far, I have found only two, one stopped writing in 2009 and the other writes only once in a while but I still managed to gain so many useful tips from her blog. I have joined a support group but I realised that most share about products or medical aspects of autism, seldom share their personal experiences.

Many parents prefer to be silent, to hide behind this invisible shield. I am not saying that this is bad. It is just that I know that there are many dedicated parents out there, parents who work tirelessly to improve their child's condition, parents who have a wealth of knowledge and ideas. I just wish that we would take a bit of time and effort to.... share, especially in terms of teaching and learning.

It will be really great if we can read about the progress made by the children, to give support to each other simply by commenting, to share ideas and tips and better still, meet regularly to bond and again, share. That is the wish that I have for all autistic families here in Singapore. To bond and help each other, all in the name of helping our children and making our voices heard....

So thank you Brenda Tan for making the effort to compile the stories and have them published. I am sure many parents will find the book useful and inspiring... I did... :)

2011

Now that the hols are here, things are not so hectic and I am able to concentrate on Rayyan. Have been doing a lot of reading and preparing visual supports. Also, every night, my Hubby and I will bring Rayyan for a walk around the neighbourhood in his stroller. We just want him to unwind before he goes to sleep and at the same time, it gives both of us the opportunity to have a good talk.

There have been changes to our plans for 2011. Initially, the plan was for me to take part-time teaching for half a year and then continue for another half a year or Hubby will quit his job and take care of him. But recently, we see a pressing need for either one of us to be with him 24/7 so that we can do all the necessary follow-ups. Especially since he has started his speech therapy sessions with a new therapist and we have to diligently do the 'homework' given by the therapist.

So after much discussion, we have decided that Hubby will be the one to take care of him. It is not easy for us to come to this decision but this is the best option we have so far. My job is more stable than his and we can't afford for him to get retrenched if I stop working. I am also still serving my bond with the government. Apart from that, Hubby can also drive so this makes it easier for him to bring Rayyan for his therapy sessions at Orchard (we don't have a car but my sis' car is readily available...thank u Sis :)) And the most important factor is, my husband is very, very patient and can manage his emotions much better than I do. I get agitated and worried easily and when things don't go my way, I can get pretty emotional :( No doubt I am much better at teaching and all but in the long run, we decided it is best that my Hubby resigns and takes care of him full time.

So yes, my Hubby has tendered his resignation and I have cancelled my part-time teaching position. Hubby will be a SAHD soon and I hope he is ready to take on this challenging position. If you are reading this Hubby, thank you so, so much. This is a really, really huge sacrifice and you are taking it on with so much positivity and enthusiasm. Don't you worry, I will always be around to help and support you. I am sure that Rayyan is very proud to have a Daddy like you. I know that I am proud to have a Hubby like you :)

So I am working hard to put the structures in place this hols so that it is easier for Hubby next year. And financially, things are definitely not going to be easy for us. We really have to tighten our belts.... No expensive holidays, no more branded bags for me (I do indulge in 2 or 3 each year to reward myself but that will have to go also), we have to cut down on eating out, especially in restaurants, etc, etc.... But now that I think of it, these are really small sacrifices..... And if things get really bad, I might even have to take on tuition assignments. I have to work really hard next year... apart from my own job, I also have to teach and guide Hubby and teach Rayyan when I get back from work.

2011 is definitely not going to be easy but if Rayyan shows improvements from all these sacrifices that we are making, then our hard work is not wasted. That is the best reward that we can hope for...

A colleague whom I really respect told me this..

Unpredictable challenges enrich and spice up our lives towards a meaningful existence. Each one of us has a mission to fulfill in this life. Yours and mine may be different but at the end of the day, it is our accountability to the mission that counts. If you can say at the end of each day, "I have done the best I can", that is enough. The rest leave it to God's will....

So yes, my Hubby and I want to be able to tell ourselves each day that.. "We have done our best."

Please guide us in this journey God.... Amin....

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What's Missing??

Rayyan figuring out the missing item in a picture =)


GFCF Diet... The Review

Recently, Rayyan's speech therapist asked us if Rayyan has food allergies as there are dark rings under his eyes. I said I don't know and seriously, I don't. As far as I know, most ASD kids are somewhat 'allergic' to gluten and casein which is why the GFCF diet is recommended. Rayyan is on GFCF diet but there are not many visible changes after the diet which is why I decided to review the diet and why it is not really working...

1) He has his gluten and casein moments... When he was really sick last month, he wasn't eating at all. He refused to eat his usual food and in the end, worried sick of his health, we offered bread and he took that readily. So yes, times like these, we give in and he got his gluten/casein dose. So yes, we are not strict.

2) Still on the subject of not being strict, I have read that apart from avoiding gluten-laden and casein-laden food, we also have to avoid eggs, corn, soy and nuts (I can't remember others). We don't give Rayyan corn and soy but I do give him eggs and nuts. These are good for his health and if there are so many food to avoid, what do we give him???

3) Eating out is really difficult. We usually avoid eating out and when we do, I try to get GFCF food. I sometimes ask about the ingredients if I am not too sure. But then, they might not tell me everything that is added and outside food is usually laden with MSG and flavourings, which is also not good for him.

4) Talking about flavourings.. Rayyan loves McDonald fries and I give him that about once a week because fries is a really strong motivator/reinforcement. I can get him to do almost anything with fries. I have read a book about a mother who gives her son McDonald's fries as it is fried using vegetable oil and GFCF free. Dumb me, I didn't really try to find out what's in McDonald's fries and decided to give it to him. I just googled about McDonald's fries and found out that they actually use natural beef flavouring which contains milk and wheat!!! The very things that we are trying to avoid! No wonder there is no improvement in him.

So that means no more fries for him??? Oh noooooooooooooo!! How to motivate him to do difficult stuffs???

So is this diet good for him after all? I have been weighing this since he first started on the diet. The diet has been proven to work but we have to sacrifice so many things. For instance, I don't usually bring him to parties or gatherings because I know that the food served will be laden with gluten and casein and he will throw a tantrum if I refuse to give him the food. But we want him to be around people, to interact and socialise. But how is he going to do that if we are avoiding functions like these in the first place??

Then in school, we tell the teachers not to let him have what the other children are having as he's on a special diet. We were told by the teachers that he will check out the food that his friends are having and shows interest in the food. We don't want him to feel different, we want him to mix around yet, we are 'ostracizing' him by not letting him have what the others are having.

Also, we were told by his ST to let him try different textures and chew different kinds of food. This will be good for his facial muscles and jaws. But how to let him try different types of food when he is on this diet? He can't suck on sweets as they contain flavourings and will make him hyper anyway. He can't eat chocolates as chocolates contain milk. He hates the GFCF biscuits that we give him, etc, etc...

And then we have to wash his utensils differently for fear of contaminating the utensils with gluten or casein. And I have read that gluten can also go into the body via the skin. So Play-Doh is actually not good for him as it contains gluten. But we can teach so many skills with Play-Doh alone!! I have tried using homemade dough but he hates them! Argggghhhhh!!

Apart from all these, I have also read that gluten takes about 6 months to clear and a slight contamination will affect his system again!

So I am questioning myself again, is it worth it?? Should we continue?? I don't mind the money spent (yes, GFCF diet is expensive!!) and the hard work we have to put in but more importantly, is it really, really beneficial for him in the long run?

I really, really don't know.......

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mr Potato

Teaching Rayyan to fix parts of a face by using Mr Potato :)


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Rayyan!!!!!

Yes, Rayyan turned 4 last Wednesday!! Although we are still worried about his development, especially his speech, I want to take this opportunity to celebrate his achievements this past year, no matter how small...

* He is now toilet-trained - Although he still wears diapers outside, he can request to go to the toilet when he is at home!!

* He is now more independent - Can take off and wear his shoes independently, eats and drinks on his own, can even pour water into his own cup!!

* He can nod and shake his head - He can tell us what he wants and doesn't want and this equates to lesser tantrums!!

* His areas of interest has widened - He not only like animals now but also vehicles and lately, toolbox!!

* He is venturing into 'pretend play' - Yesterday, I saw him took a pizza (toy) and pretended to eat. When I asked him to 'feed' me, he pretended to feed me too! :))

* He can imitate some sounds - He can now imitate sounds like 'oooh' and 'aaah'!

* He can blow - I didn't realise that blowing is so important!! And I am glad that he can finally blow out his candles!!!

So darling, happy, happy birthday!! May you be blessed with good health and continue to show improvements. We love you so, so much!!!!!

And here's a video of Rayyan blowing out his candle! Actually, we had to sing and let him blow his candle for a second time because I was so excited that I forgot to take a video the first round!!!! Which is why he was kind of puzzled and wondering why we were singing again! hahahaha.. And mind you, my whole family was there and there were more than 20 people so it was really great that he didn't get overwhelmed and cry!!!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Picture Matching

I seldom let Rayyan practice his writing skills as I always thought that he is not ready so I was pleasantly surprised when his teacher at AAS told me that he can match pictures by drawing lines. I was bursting with pride when I saw him do this! Thank you Teacher Fadilah for teaching him this skill!!


Attributes

Rayyan is now very good at labelling (as in pointing at the items asked) and his vocabulary is not bad for his age. Sometimes I am surprised that he knows a certain item which I have never taught him before! I guess it must be from the flash cards in his iPod which he goes through on his own.

Anyway, I am now teaching him more about the characteristics of an object. When I show him a flashcard, I usually add the attributes of the object. When I give him an animal, I will do that too. It is quite difficult for him to grasp but he is learning... Go Rayyan!!!!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Let's Go Cycling!

The sky was pretty clear yesterday morning so we decided to bring Rayyan to East Coast. Brought along his bicycle to let him practice cycling at a more open space. Rayyan was so excited to be outdoors that he couldn't focus. Kept coming down his bike and jumping around!! He also kept pushing the pedals backwards!!

How to teach him to cycle properly??? Any tips or useful strategies???

Daddy helping Rayyan

He was cycling on his own for less than a minute!!

My boys ;)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

PECS

I am currently building up resources for PECS. I have been informed that I need to do it consistently and persistently for it to be effective so I have decided to start in Dec when I don't have to report to school.

These are the stuffs that I have..

The really thick manual. I didn't buy this... it belongs to my sister who is an early childhood educator....

The PECS file. A relative went to USA recently and I asked him to get this for me. This is sold at Pathlight Mall also but it is always out of stock. You can place an order though.

These cards are sold at Pathlight Mall too. But the cards are not sufficient. Now I need to take pictures of those stuffs that are not available..


Btw, if you are interested in attending any training sessions at ARC, just check out the workshops available at the following website..


Ms Russell from ARC has mentioned that there'll be many more interesting workshops next year and I can't wait to sign up for them. For your info, if your child has been diagnosed or seen by a doctor and you have been referred to Centre of Enabled Living (CEL), you are actually entitled to Caregiver Training Grant of $200 yearly and this grant can be used for different types of trainings. I didn't have to fork out any money for the recent workshop I attended :))

Teaching Basic Communication Skills using Visual Strategies

I attended a full day workshop at ARC yesterday and it was such an interesting and immensely useful workshop that I can't wait to try out the strategies I've learnt! It was a workshop about the use of visual supports in helping autistic children learn basic communication and there were so many things I've learnt that I don't know which one to start first! And, I must add that the trainer, Ms Anita Russell, was superbly good. She's the Senior Consultant at ARC and she managed to deliver the workshop and guided us really well. She provided many concrete examples too.

Well, like many other parents, I was sceptical too at first about using visual supports because I was afraid that the use of visual supports will replace speech and stop my boy from talking. But I realised that many professionals are using them. When Rayyan was at SPD, the teachers encouraged me to use them. Now, at AAS, the teachers are using them too. And if these centres are using them, it must have been proven that visual supports are useful right? That was why I wanted to know more and signed up for this workshop. At the workshop, Ms Russell reiterated again that the use of visual supports help autistic children understand the world better and they learn best with visual supports. Visual supports AID speech, NOT REPLACE speech.

I learnt that I must help Rayyan achieve 7 basic communication skills (these are the difficulties that autistic children face)
1) able to follow instructions
2) understand the choices available
3) understand expectations
4) able to ask for help
5) able to react to changes and difficult situations in an appropriate manner
6) able to assert themselves (request/protest/ask for a break)
7) able to manage emotions

Examples of the visual supports that I can use to help him
1) PECS (Picture Exchange Card System)
2) Physical Gestures
3) Location Cards
4) Picture Schedules
5) Communication Bridge
6) Speech Bubble
7) Communication Board
8) Rules
9) Social Stories
10) Flip Work System

I also learnt the importance of planning before embarking on the use of visual supports to ensure that I use the appropriate visual supports in accordance with Rayyan's abilities and skills. And another important takeaway from the workshop... Something that I must admit that made me feel guilty. Ms Russell reminded us again and again the importance of parents' role in helping their child..... Our job as parents is to help our child have a successful life. We are responsible in helping our child achieve basic communication skills, not teachers, not therapists, not maids. Period.

Last but not least, visual supports can make a HUGE IMPACT when used consistently and appropriately. We cannot be complacent. It is not easy because it is counter-intuitive (harder than simply giving verbal instructions/prompts) but we must not give up.

Commit. Persist. Patience.

With that in mind, I am starting off with PECS for Rayyan. Wish me luck!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

If only......

I had a long conversation with Hubby yesterday. We were thinking.... if only we are well-off..we would do so much more for Rayyan. I just read a blog about a mum who sent her boy for various therapies.. The boy has ABA therapy, 5x a week occupational therapy, speech therapy and social classes. I have checked out these private centres before and I know they cost a bomb! I think the boy's therapies alone could easily cost thousands per month. On top of that, the mum could afford to stop working so that she could focus entirely on the boy. And of course, the boy has made so much improvement with all these interventions.

If only we are well-off too..... We definitely can't afford all these therapies and I often feel that Rayyan is being tragically short-changed. He has so much potential but we don't have the means to make him reach his true potential. I remember that when he was 2+ and we sent him to SPD, the teachers there were so impressed with him. They said that he was really smart, he could do so many stuffs and he was superb with the table activities. They even told me that he was 'high functioning' and I shouldn't worry because he will definitely talk!

I also remember the time when he was first assessed by a senior ABA therapist. The therapist also said that he has 'very high potential' and will show vast improvements with ABA therapy. Sadly, I had to stop his ABA therapy because it really took a toll on our finances. I also can't stop working to take care of him full-time. We just can't afford it. And because of this Rayyan is not really making any progress... or rather, his progress is slow and he is not reaching his true potential.

A few weeks ago, his centre supervisor called me to inform me of the centre's changes for 2011. They will have 3-day sessions (shorter hours) and 2-day sessions and the supervisor suggested that we go for the 3-day sessions because of his age and also because he is 'moderately functioning'. I totally agree with her that 3-day sessions would be better for Rayyan but I was somehow sad when I heard the term 'moderately functioning'. Of course I am not blaming the supervisor for saying that. I was sad because it was a reflection of what we had done for him so far.... which is definitely not enough. Rayyan is getting older but he is not making much progress.

So we really have a lot of bucking up to do. Especially so since we don't have the means to send him to various therapy sessions. We must do as much as we can, within our means, in whatever way we can....

Please help me God
Show me the way....

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Jumpin' Boy is Back!!

Yes, my jumpin' boy is back!! Still suffering from cough but other than that, he is his normal self! Yay!

And since he has been kept indoors for almost a week, we decided to bring him out. Went to Airport Terminal 3 for breakfast and we let him run around the huge terminal. He was so happy, kept flashing that sweet smile of his :D

Thank you, God!!!

Oh, how I miss that beautiful smile! :)

Doing his bit for society :)

Having fun at the mini playground which looks too small for him now!

His fav arcade game... Animal Kaiser!!

He's riding a motorcycle! Looks like a pro, huh?? ;)

Riding with Daddy

Rayyan can drive too.. hehe

Rayyan jamming away!! Woohoo!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

KKH....again


Yesterday was one of the worst days of my life....Rayyan's fever was exceptionally high... In the morning, it was around 38C+.. I left work early to take care of him and I felt totally heartbroken when I saw him. He was so weak and didn't respond to my call... he was just sleeping and lying there looking totally helpless. It was really difficult for him to just open his eyes. Mind you, he has never been like this before. Yes, he has been sick but never weak. Usually, when he's sick, he is as active as ever.

We tried sponging him, we gave him Bifen and Paracetamol alternately but still the fever refused to budge... In fact, it got worse... His temperature went up to 39C to 40.4C.. I broke down in my husband's arms because I felt totally helpless and I couldn't bear to see him like that. Ironically, I just wanted to see him jump again! I usually get worried when he start jumping around non-stop but yesterday, I only wanted my jumping boy back!!

We then decided that we had no choice but to bring him to KKH again. We took some time before deciding to bring him there because we were afraid that he will be warded. We know that he will throw a huge fit if he gets warded. Anyway, when we reached KKH, he was immediately sent for a blood test and x-ray. We had to wait for about an hour for the test results and were told to sponge him to bring down the temperature. He was sent to an observation corner because they were afraid that he will get into fits.

After two hours, the fever still persisted. They wouldn't let us go until his fever goes down. His Bifen was due so he was given Bifen again and we were told to wait again. Rayyan was as lifeless as ever, he just wanted to sleep in our arms. Another hour went by and we were called by the doctor. Fortunately, his blood test and x-ray result was good... blood was normal and his lungs were clear... Phew! But due to his persistent high fever, the doctor wanted to get him warded to observe him.

I understood the doctor's good intentions but knowing Rayyan, he will be more distressed if he stays at the hospital. We told the doctor of his condition and asked for other alternatives. We persuaded him not to get Rayyan warded. The doctor then consulted the senior doctor who later came by and told us, alright, since his blood test and x-ray showed that everything is alright, he wouldn't get Rayyan warded but we were told to keep a close watch on him and make sure we give him his medication regularly. If his condition doesn't improve in two days, we have to bring him down again and get him warded. We were so relieved when we heard that. Rayyan must be relieved too coz his temperature came down shortly after.. Phew!

Today, Rayyan's temperature is back to normal but he is still very weak. He just wants to lie down and sleep and he has been sleeping since morning. I am still very worried about him. Oh God, please help my boy... please lessen his suffering... Please let him get better... I want my old Rayyan back....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

KKH

Rayyan is still down with fever :(

On Saturday, his fever was consistently high (above 38C).. We gave him Paracetamol regularly but the fever persisted..

This morning we decided to pay his paediatrician at Tampines a visit but doc was on holiday! We decided to wait a while more and see how it goes. By 5, Mr Fever still refused to budge so we decided to bring him to KKH just to make sure that everything is alright.

When we were at KKH, I told the nurse of Rayyan's condition (as in he's autistic) so that she knew better how to handle him. I was pretty surprised when the nurse nodded her head and she looked like she already knew. Then I realised that they must have the records since he went for his assessment here...

Anyway, after registering, we went to the waiting area and was dismayed when we found it was packed with parents and their sick kids. We were prepared for the long wait, it might even take hours. I was glad I packed a bag of toys and books to keep Rayyan occupied. But we were pleasantly surprised when Rayyan's name was called less than ten minutes later. There were still many ahead of us who had been waiting for quite a while.

Then it occurred to me that maybe, we were called in earlier because of Rayyan's condition. I didn't ask the doctor about this but I think my prediction is correct. Why else would they let us go see the doctor first? Well, maybe they are afraid that Rayyan might go berserk in the waiting area or start throwing tantrums........ But hey, I am not complaining! Never mind what they think will happen. I am just glad we were out of there in a jiffy!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sick

AAS has organised an excursion to Jacob Ballas, Singapore Botanical Gardens today and we were pretty excited about the trip. I was looking forward to see Rayyan play with his other classmates .....but poor Rayyan fell sick. He fell sick Thursday night... down with fever and cough.

Thought he would get better and we can still go ahead with the trip but the fever came back this morning. Our dear Rayyan has been awake since 3am... Yesterday he was up at around 3 am also...

So we had to give Jacob Ballas a miss... Another time perhaps. Hope the other kids have fun there.

And to you my boy, please get well soon. Mummy will have panda eyes if you wake up at 3 am again....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oooos and Aaaaas

These days, I focus on getting Rayyan to say 'aaaaa'... Whenever he wants something, we get him to say 'aaaaa' first before giving it to him. Initially, I wanted him to say 'ma', 'pa' or other bilabial sounds but since it is really difficult for him to do so, I just get him to say 'aaaa' , which is much easier for him to do and he complies most of the time.

Recently, since he can blow, I make him say 'ooooo' and it is so cute everytime he does it! lol.. Anyway, I decided to make these sounds more meaningful by associating the two sounds to animal sounds.

I associate the sound 'aaaa' to the tiger's roar and 'oooo' to the sound of the cow. He will now make these sounds when we ask him to :D

Excellent job, Rayyan!!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Moooooo

Today is a good day, which is why I have so many posts...lol

Anyway, Rayyan is on a blowing spree today! We made him blow whistles, horns and harmonicas! He could do it! Gosh, I have never heard such beautiful sounds before!!

And then while he was still on a blowing spree, we asked him to make the sound 'mooo' and boy, did he try! It wasn't a perfect 'mooo' but it was 'mooo' alright!! Well done, Rayyan!! *big round of applause*!!!


Huff and Puff

and blow the candle out!!!

Rayyan can blow out a candle now!! Yippeee!! I'm so going to get him a big cake with four big candles for his birthday!!


Yes, whatever little success that we have with Rayyan just makes me so happy and proud. It makes me learn to appreciate the little things in life. Thank you Rayyan for opening Mummy's eyes. I love you....

Resources

I was just reading my earlier post regarding the horn when I thought it would be great to share this local website that sells stuffs for special needs children. It is not easy to get these teaching aids here in Singapore so I am glad I came across this website. You can check out the website here..


Here are some of the things I bought..

Horns and whistle to help with oral motor skills

Echo Mike which is pretty cool too... but Rayyan doesn't want to use it till now..

Social Story book... Rayyan loves this!

Pencil Grip to help Rayyan with writing.. It is very good but we do not use it much as we are concentrating more on Rayyan's oral skills now..

Hope the website helps! :D

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bloooowwww!!!

This morning Hubby told me that Rayyan can finally blow a horn!! Yup, till now we can't get Rayyan to blow. It is just something that is so difficult for him to do. I have burnt countless candles and demonstrated to him many times but he just couldn't blow!

But Hubby told me that when he was playing with Rayyan yesterday night, Rayyan managed to blow the horn!!! Wooohooo! I was so happy that first thing when he woke up at 6.30am this morning, I passed him the horn and asked him to blow! Hahaha... Our dear boy was feeling groggy and all but he managed to show me his newly acquired skill! Thank you for making Mummy's day darling!

Btw, I just gave Hubby a new task. He must teach Rayyan to blow the candles so that he can finally blow out the candles on his birthday cake next month. Good luck Hubby! ;)



Swinging Good Time!

Rayyan's Occupational Therapist has advised us to let him do more swinging. We were told to bring him to a park and let him sit on the swing but sadly, there are not many swings available these days at the playground. Where have all these swings gone to??

Anyway, I am thinking of fixing a swing in his playroom or the balcony. In the meantime, Daddy will have to do it. The Mummy will have a serious backache for days if she does it! lol


Monday, October 18, 2010

Fun Activities

This week is a super busy week, with piles and piles of marking!!! Nevertheless, I still manage to pry myself away from those piles of scripts and do some activities with Rayyan.

Yesterday morning, I let him do some painting. Rayyan loves painting! He loves to see the different colours dancing on a piece of paper and I can see that he gets so much satisfaction every time he splashes some colours on the paper!

Next Picasso? Well, you never know ;)


Rayyan's beautiful art piece ;)


Then in the afternoon, we brought Rayyan to East Coast to make sandcastles and let him run his fingers through the sand. Rayyan was actually more interested in the tiny watering can that we brought along. Kept filling it up and pouring the water out. And he did that again and again till we hid the watering can!!


Great family bonding activities... Hopefully we'll have better luck with the sandcastles the next round ;)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Emotions

As a parent of an ASD child, I go through a myriad of emotions. Sometimes I feel confident and strong, ready to face anything that comes my way and sometimes I just get so worried and I break down.

This morning was one of those not-so-good instances... I got so worried, paranoid and I was feeling really, really down. I've read that 4 in 10 autistic children don't ever talk and that statistic just got to me. I was so worried at the fact that Rayyan would be one of the 4. I have accepted the fact that he is ASD, I have accepted his different traits but if 6 out of 10 autistic children can talk, I really, really wish that Rayyan would be one of them. It would make life so much easier for him. He is going through so much as it is so I really hope that God would just lighten his burden.

Btw, my VP approached me this morning and asked if everything is alright at home. Maybe I was looking really down which was why she approached me in the first place. I said, yes, everything is fine but inside I was just screaming, Noooo!! Things are not fine!!

I made my way to my workstation and really felt like crying but told myself to be strong, I have invigilation in 15 mins! I told myself that maybe I will have a good cry later at night, on the comfort of my bed, with a big box of tissue next to me... Yes, I would feel so much better then.. So what I am trying to say is that it is alright to feel sad and worried, we are entitled to feel that way. It is more worrying if we try to be strong all the time!

At the end of the day, I know that after a good cry, I would pick up where I left off and continue the journey with my boy....

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Louder Than Words


It's a book about faith. It's the story of a mother who believed anything was possible and never stopped looking for answers. There's still many questions out there that need answering but I want moms out there to have a little bit of comfort knowing I will be searching for these answers so we could someday watch out children lead the lives we dreamed they would have....."

Just finished reading this inspiring book. I love the open, candid way she wrote her experiences and feelings. I admire the things she did for her son, Evan. She's a real go-getter and will never let anything get in the way of improving her son's condition. There're very useful tips in the book too but what I love most about it is that it just inspires me to do more for Rayyan and never to lose hope. Thanks Jenny!

An extract from the book..
I started to feel a shift in me. I was accepting what was and not hating the world for what should have been. I came to my own conclusion - that acceptance does not mean giving up. Nothing was going to stop me from pulling Evan out of this window. I just simply loved him and was proud of who he was no matter what. I found myself loving his flapping, his tiptoe walking, his love of fans, door hinges, and escalators. I thought, "So what, if he grows out of it someday, great; if not, he comes here after the prom with his girlfriend and they ride escalators till the sun comes up. Evan is perfect."

Bibik


She has been such a great help to me. She helps me to fulfill Rayyan's physical and emotional needs and I don't know what I would have done without her!! She is very efficient and is receptive to learning new things. What I like most about her is that she follows instructions very well and can get pretty strict. When sometimes I get soft or lax with Rayyan, she is the one who gives me reminders! lol

But most importantly, she treats Rayyan like her own son and showers him with so much love. Thank you once again Mita Sumanti! We are so lucky to have you! Happy 28th Birthday!! Errr.. don't go back to Indonesia can???? hehe

And ain't she lucky? We usually have only one cake and she had two!! lol

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dr Seuss

Rayyan loves Dr Seuss' books!!! I have a couple of them in my iphone and some of his favourites are 'Dr Seuss's ABC' and 'The Cat In The Hat'. I don't think he understands them but isn't the way everything rhymes just so cool??!!

Today I downloaded 'Oh, the places you'll go' and after I read the book together with Rayyan, I must say that I am totally in love with the book! Not only does it rhyme, there're great advices embedded in it too!! I really hope I can discuss with Rayyan about the book one day :)

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
by the incomparable Dr. Seuss

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!