Wednesday, August 11, 2010


My Hubby and I are definitely not JB fans. Can't stand the massive jam at the Causeway! But Hubby had to settle some family matters there during the National Day Holidays so we decided to head over and since we were heading there, might as well make full use of our stay. We booked a room at one of the hotels in JB and was there for a night.

Our worry was that Rayyan couldn't keep still during the anticipated jam so we had to do something to keep him occupied. We borrowed my sister's portable DVD player and voila, he was glued to his seat! Luckily, we had the DVD player coz we were stuck at the Causeway for 2 whole hours! Grrrrrr...

Our dear boy so full of concentration!! Btw, I was pretty agitated actually because he wanted to play the same DVD over and over again!

Our chic and cosy room. Rayyan loves hotel rooms, he loves the carpeted floors and loves jumping on the bed!

The beautiful view from our room. Rayyan was at the window most of the time enjoying the scenery. He couldn't wait to get into the pool!

The surfer boy!!

Goofing around with Daddy!

At night, we went to the fun fair at Danga Bay. He was too overwhelmed by the bright lights and loud music! He didn't cry but asked to be carried most of the time.

And there's a petting zoo too at Danga Bay. I think this place actually amounts to animal cruelty! The animals are chained and placed in tiny cages!! But I am glad that there's a rabbit corner where we are allowed to feed rabbits. Rayyan was afraid at first but later he went over and stroked the rabbits.

A while later, he was feeding the rabbits!! I was overwhelmed with joy when I saw this!

Let's jump with Mummy!

The happy boy jumping and marching away!

Overall, it was a pretty interesting trip :D

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Play/Study Room

Initially, Rayyan's play room was full of toys. We bought for him toys after toys, hoping that he will actually play with them. Sadly, he only plays with a selected few and doesn't give others even a second look.

Here's a photo of his old play room...

So, we decided to clear his room. We gave away so many of his toys and there're still three big boxes in his bedroom. As advised by Rayyan's teacher, Fadilah, it is best to put out a few toys that he can play with and bring out the rest after we have taught him how to play with them. If you see the photo below, his toys are actually confined to the stepped rack. The others contain teaching tools used to teach him.

And with Teacher Fadilah's help and guidance, we decided to structure it in such a way it is almost similar to the room in his school.

There's a play corner (where the foam mat is), a work corner (next to the play corner) where he does a few activities on his own and a teach corner (opposite the play corner) where we teach him.

There is a 'keep box' next to each table so that he can 'keep' the things that he has completed.

And we will give him a card for each activity so that he knows where to go.

And this new room is so much more conducive and more spacious than the old one. Actually, it is better to divide the play corner and the work corner. For example, a rack can be placed in between the two corners. We have tried that actually but it looked too cramped and we decided to place the rack at the edge of the room. We hope Rayyan will get used to this new setting.

Also, after I have painted his room, I actually read somewhere that it is better to keep the colour mundane so that the child won't get distracted too easily. For better focus, it is best that the room be kept simple. But by that time, I have painted his room YELLOW!!! Yes, he did get distracted at first but now he's used to it already.

We really hope that the room is more conducive for his learning and development. A big thank you to Fadilah for her help! ;)

Rayyan's Toilet Training

When we first started on his toilet training, it was pretty messy. This was because I took the trainer's advice and put him on briefs immediately. He only wears his diaper pants when he wants to take his afternoon nap and at night before he goes to bed.

So just imagine a boy who was used to peeing and 'pooing' anytime and anywhere, he didn't have a clue why he was put on briefs! Luckily he didn't object to wearing briefs even though he was used to diapers.

To ensure a more successful toilet training, I followed the tips given during the toilet training workshop.
1) Determine your child's current pattern of toileting
2) Establish scheduled fluid, food intake and toileting times during the day

Well, to determine his toileting pattern, we needed to keep a record. We used this record sheet given during the workshop.

And like I said, he was peeing and 'pooing' everywhere at first. We did bring him to the toilet every half an hour but he will not pee and he will usually get angry at us for forcing him to go to the toilet. He will cry or whine everytime we show him the 'toilet' card. And seriously, he didn't have a clue what we wanted him to do!! I remember laughing when I saw his 'What exactly do you want me to do?' look when I brought him to the toilet initially!

So I made Hubby show him exactly what he is supposed to do in the toilet. I also made him watch his cousin pee. And yes, after a few days, he finally urinated in the toilet! I was soooo happy! But let me tell you, it was really messy the first few days. He even enjoyed urinating on the floor and when we didn't realise that he has urinated, he will start playing with his urine by spreading the urine with his legs or hands!!!

After about a week, we managed to have a good record and knew roughly when he will pee. So we will bring him over to the toilet during the estimated time and as time went by, we had more successes! By the way, before we bring him over to the toilet, we will make him pull out the 'toilet card' and pass the card to us.

3) Organise toileting environment
4) Prepare rewards that are meaningful for your child

In the toilet, we have a shelf where we keep his briefs, pants, towels for cleaning him and the floor, toilet seat, books and other rewards.

The books and rewards are placed there to motivate him to go to the toilet. Every time he pees in the toilet, we will give him a reward.

It is definitely not easy to make him sit on the toilet seat. He is afraid of sitting on the seat! To motivate him, we will give him his favourite comic book, Asterix! Don't know why but he is crazy over Asterix!

5) Approach toileting as an entire sequence of related behaviours for the child
6) Use visual supports

Yes, whenever we bring him to the toilet, we make him go through the entire sequence. Take card, go to the toilet, bring down pants, stand over the bowl, pee, flush, wash hands, wipe hands. Even when he didn't pee in the beginning, we made him follow the sequence to get him used to it.

And in terms of visual supports, we only make use of the 'toilet card' as communication tool. During the workshop, we were told that it will be best if we have the full sequence of pictures pasted in the toilet, including pictures of urinating and passing motion but we decided to do away with that because we felt that Rayyan was able to follow simple verbal instructions especially if repeated again and again.

So how did the whole thing go? Thank God it went pretty smoothly! After two weeks of going through the sequence, one Saturday, Rayyan pulled my helper's hand and brought her to the toilet! I was so happy and proud of him I almost cried! By then, we were bringing him to the toilet every one hour as we realised that he pees in one hour intervals.

In a month, he was able to pull our hands and bring us over to the toilet every time he wanted to pee! Now, he pees in the toilet regularly though at times accidents happen. This happens when he is too excited or engrossed in something. I will actually scold him for peeing on the floor now and he will cry a bit and he knows that I am not happy that he does that. I have also stopped giving him rewards but still praise him regularly.

The toilet training is not complete yet because he is still dependent on us to pull down his pants and guide him to wash his hands. He is also not really comfortable 'pooing' in the toilet. At first, he was so petrified when he saw faeces coming out of him!! But now, he is more comfortable though he still prefers to 'poo' in his diaper pants and sometimes will wait till we put on his diaper pants at night! We are hoping that he will get out of this soon. We will teach him all these in due time, step by step. Slowly but surely.

And yes, we think that this is such a big achievement and we are indeed so proud of our little boy!!!! You go Rayyan!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Workshop on Toilet Training

Earlier this year, I went for the toilet training workshop at ARC. I seriously wanted to toilet train Rayyan but was clueless on how to start because he was not able to communicate his needs yet. The workshop was very useful and I gained many information and tips on how to start on toilet training.

Basically, a child is ready to be toilet trained when he is 24-36mths. True, it is more difficult to toilet train children with autism than neuro-typical children but we shouldn't delay toilet training because after the child is 4 years old, there is already an urgent need for the child to be toilet trained. I found out through the workshop that if the child is unable to communicate his needs yet, it is still ok to start. The toilet training will become a routine or habit that the child will learn to develop.

The main problems of toilet training children with autism are;
1) Difficulty in understanding social concepts (eg doesn't understand that it is embarrassing to wear diapers after a certain age)
2) Difficulty in seeing and imitating relevant details
3) Difficulty in understanding language
4) Difficulty in organising and sequencing information (eg doesn't understand that he needs to pull down his pants first before peeing)
5) Difficulty in accepting changes in routines
6) Difficulty integrating sensations or hyper focus on particular sensations (eg fear of flushing)
7) Physical Problems (eg constipation, frequent urination, loose stools)

Therefore, to overcome all these problems, it is important to plan and think about the steps prior to toilet training. It is also important to do together with the child all the steps logically preceding and following peeing/'pooing' in the toilet.

During the workshop, one parent shared that it took 8 months for her child to be successfully toilet-trained! And the trainer also shared that a student in her class was taught to remove all clothings whenever he needs to 'poo' so till now, whenever he goes to the toilet to 'poo', he will actually remove all his clothings!!

With that in mind, I decided to plan carefully before I embark on Rayyan's toilet training. And I also plan to start only during school holidays so that I can be with him throughout the process and teach my helper carefully.

Yes, we finally started last June! I will give a more detailed report on how it went in my next post :)

Finger Painting

Rayyan loves finger painting... even if you ask him to use a brush, he will do so for only a while and then starts using his finger again!!

Let's check out the next Picasso! Btw, this is a great sensory activity. Never mind if he gets dirty, as long as he's happy!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Another One?

I am constantly asked when will I have another child. Everybody is encouraging me to have another one so that there is someone to keep Rayyan company. I totally understand that people mean well, but sometimes I just wish that they will stop asking me about this. Seriously, I myself don't know the answer. If Rayyan is normal, I think I would have another one by now, people don't even have to encourage me or ask me about this.

When I see my friends surrounded by their children, I do feel envious and wish that I can have more. And yes, I do want somebody to keep Rayyan company, somebody to play with him, just who knows, Rayyan might just get better if he has a sibling. At times, I will tell Hubby.. OK, let's try and have another one, we never know... But when times are difficult and I just had a bad day with Rayyan, I change my mind, I don't want another one...

Having an autistic child just changes the way you think and everything else. There is always this nagging fear that your next child will be the same too. I know that many others will tell me that well, you never know, the next child might be normal. But do we know for sure? We don't right? And others might also say that well, children are blessings from God, normal or otherwise. Indeed, I know that too.... but unless you have a special needs child, you wouldn't know what it's like to care for one. I am talking not just about the energy required to care for them but also, the money needed for various interventions. Not to mention, the constant headaches and heartaches too.

We love Rayyan with all our hearts and we are really blessed to have him, really we do. But like I said, caring for him requires a lot of energy and I am just afraid that with another ASD kid, we don't have much energy left and in the end, both of them will be neglected. Also, we are just afraid for them... Even with Rayyan now, we worry so much for the future. What more if I have two ASD kids?!

Children are indeed blessings from God. But at the same time, we must be able to shoulder the responsibilites that come with each child. And these responsibilities last a lifetime. So am I ready for another one? I really don't know! So please don't ask me when I will have another child. I will let God decide for me because God knows best...