Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Action Words

Nowadays, we focus a lot on 'action words' with Rayyan, getting him to do the actions or pointing to the pictures depicting the different actions.

These are some of the 'action words' that he's familiar with :
1) run
2) jump
3) dance
4) kick
5) eat
6) drink
7) bathe
8) nod
9) shake head
11) arms up
12) read book
13) open
14) close
15) keep
16) wave
17) kiss :)

We are still adding to this repertoire of words and although we know that he is way behind kids his age, we are still very proud of him.

Hopefully his word bank will multiply faster now :)

Monday, September 20, 2010


Last few weeks, I couldn't accompany Rayyan for his Speech Therapy sessions as I was tied down with work. Due to that, I had to depend on my helper to give me feedback on what happened during the sessions. Recently, she told me that Lydea, the therapist, asked her if Rayyan knows colours. I was pretty surprised by that comment as Rayyan knows colours since he was 2+. He even recognises words related to colours.

So I guess he wasn't cooperating when Lydea asked him about the colours or Rayyan was probably distracted by something else. This is one of the difficulties I encounter.. When we do different learning activities with Rayyan, we find that he can do so many things but when he's with a different person (apart from family members), he usually ignores the person or refuses to cooperate. What can we do to solve this problem? Maybe I should get him exposed to many more different people.....

Anyway, here are two videos related to colours that we took months ago...

The video below shows Rayyan matching words with colours. We borrowed the teaching tool from AAS.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Yesterday we made another visit to Back2Basics at Telok Blangah to get Rayyan's favourite pancakes premix and cakes. As mentioned in my earlier post, we try our best to control Rayyan's diet. When I first found out about Rayyan's condition and started reading on autism, I realised that almost every autism book that I read advocates GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) diet. It is not medically proven that GFCF diet improves autism but many parents have vouched that after they switched their child's diet to GFCF, they see instant improvements! Improvements such as the child being more responsive, less hyper, some even started talking and many more! Some are not immediate improvements but these parents believed that GFCF diet played a huge role in the differences they see in their children.

So we decided to give GFCF a shot. It was really hard at first. Gluten-free means the child has to forgo any food that is made of wheat and grains, that means no food made of flour such as biscuits, breads, cakes, etc. Pasta has to be avoided too. Casein-free means the child has to forgo food that contains milk... yes, no milk! It was difficult because before we started on GFCF diet, Rayyan loved eating bread and biscuits and Rayyan loved drinking milk!! Another concern was that, we were afraid that this diet would affect Rayyan's health. As a toddler, he needs proper nutrition and we don't want him to grow up feeble and sickly.

So, before we embarked on GFCF, we searched for calcium supplement to ensure he has enough calcium after we remove milk from his diet. Apart from that, we also give him multi-vitamins. We had to ensure that these supplements are GFCF too. Btw, we can actually substitute his milk (he was drinking Gain IQ that point in time) with soy milk or other casein-free milk. Well, we tried but Rayyan hated other forms of milk! Refused to take more than a sip! I tried these other milk too and understand totally why Rayyan hated them, they tasted... blearghhh!! In the end, we had to rely on the supplement and other calcium-rich food.

And well, it was really, really difficult at first. We removed milk gradually and it was heart-wrenching to see him going to the kitchen time and again, searching for his milk. We had to divert his attention and provided other forms of food that are GFCF. Removing gluten was equally hard. He was always looking for his favourite bread, favourite biscuits, favourite curry puffs.. We hated the fact that we had to torture him like this... Other toddlers are all enjoying different kinds of food, eating all kinds of sweets, ice-cream... but Rayyan's diet was totally controlled. It was really, really difficult for us but we kept telling ourselves that it is for his own good.

Anyway, after a while, it got better and more manageable. Especially after we found shops that provide GFCF food such as Back 2 Basics at Telok Blangah and Brown Rice Paradise at Tanglin Mall and Siglap Centre. There are many GFCF food at these shops... GFCF biscuits, GFCF breads, rice pasta, etc. But of course everything comes with a price! These GFCF food definitely cost more, sometimes twice or three times more!

So, is it worth all the effort and money? Well, we must say that we don't see much or any drastic changes in Rayyan. We do realise that he is more responsive and less hyper (although he is still very hyper now) after the diet so I guess slight changes is better than no changes! Apart from that, we must also admit that we can get pretty lax at times. This is especially so when we are outside, at a friend's or relative's house. It is so difficult to hide his vision from all these gluten-laden food and to avoid him from throwing any tantrums, we let him take a bite here and there and realise that we need to clear his system all over again. And yes, I have read that it usually takes six months to clear gluten out of our system!

Nevertheless, we shall continue with this diet and continue to persevere and continue to hope that it brings on greater changes and improvements in our boy...

'Back 2 Basics Alternative Diet' shop all the way at Telok Blangah...

Rayyan holding on to his favourite GFCF cake bought at the shop.

$12.50 for a box of 6 cakes. Before Rayyan was on GFCF diet, we bought him Polar Puffs cakes which cost about $1 each...

Another favourite... pancakes! No more McDonald's pancakes for him but we are glad that these are really nice too!

Rayyan helping me with the pancake mix :)

If you want to know more about the shops I mentioned, you can check out these websites..

I am definitely not helping them to promote their shops but just want to help those who are looking for shops that sell GFCF food :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Act Silly!

One of the tactics that we learnt to get Rayyan's attention is to act silly! For example, the other day, Hubby juggled the balls in a silly manner and Rayyan totally loved it, jumping and laughing away! Hubby then tried to get him to do some tasks before acceding to Rayyan's request to juggle the balls and Rayyan did all that he was asked to do!

Then few hours later, while we were sitting at the sofa, Rayyan went to his room, took all three balls used by Daddy earlier and passed the balls to Daddy because he wanted his Daddy to play silly again =)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


OK, I know YOG is over but the YOG 'Oh yeah' cheer suddenly crops up in my head and keeps playing over and over again! Oh nooo!!!

Btw, I should have posted this earlier but oh well, better late than never! I still want to capture this here. Anyway, Rayyan loved the YOG cheer! Every time it played on TV, he would run to the TV and would be all smiles. We taught him how to do the moves and he was a really fast learner!

I think that Rayyan will excel in sports... Soon enough, he'll be too fast for us to catch him! He can jump really, really high too! Who knows, he might even represent Singapore in YOG one day :)

Wishful thinking? Well, I believe that nothing is impossible!

Oh yeah baby!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Hari Raya is a joyous occasion, a period where we consciously make the effort to visit relatives and friends. But for us, it can be pretty challenging and trying...

1) Houses. Rayyan hates going to unfamiliar houses, especially those that are dark and cramped and contain no toys or stuffs to distract him. He will whine, pull us towards the door or worse, starts crying and throw tantrums! While other kids are playing with one another, he totally shies away from them. Sometimes I wonder if he notices them in the first place. I go to houses armed with his favourite CD. In a desperate attempt to quieten him down, we play his favourite CD. He will then be all smiles and get sucked into his own world. He will be laughing and smiling away, sometimes jumping up and down, oblivious to his surroundings. So which is worse? For him to be aware of his unfamiliar surroundings and then start throwing tantrums or for him to get sucked into his own happy world? I really don't know :(

2) Food. Each house is laden with gluten-rich food! Cookies, cakes, pastries, you name it! Rayyan has been on GFCF diet for quite a while though I must admit that we are not that strict. We still let him take corn and eggs. We try our best to control his diet and allow some leeway once in a while. But it is so difficult to control his diet when he is not at our house. When we go to other houses, he will actually check out the food and once he sees something he fancies, usually cakes or little fried popiahs, he starts pointing and insists that we give him the food! If we don't, well, he will usually end up crying. So what do we do? We can't ask each relative to keep their food. We can't allow him to cry at the top of his lungs. So we sometimes give in and let him take a bite here and there :(

3) Relatives and friends. Those who know of Rayyan's condition will try their best to cheer Rayyan up or try to play or engage him. He will usually turn away from them or pretend they are not there. When Rayyan starts crying, they will usually leave us alone to handle him but I do notice them stealing glances, sometimes with a look of pity. Maybe they sympathise with us or maybe they are thankful that they are not in our position? Am I being paranoid here? Maybe I am but I just can't help it. And for those who are not aware of his condition, well, they must have thought that we pamper him too much or that he's a difficult child to handle :(

So what should we do? Should we avoid going to friends and relatives' houses? But we do want Rayyan to be more sociable and be more aware of his surroundings. But it's truly, truly challenging for us. And because of that, I can't wait for Syawal to be over :(

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Eid Mubarak!

We decided to go for purple this year! It's not easy to get Rayyan to don the baju kurung and we understand totally coz it can get really hot and sticky! Furthermore, he hates wearing long sleeves. But after much coaxing, we finally succeeded! And he looks super cute!

Kudos to Rayyan for withstanding the discomfort and giving in to our pleas! We love you darling!

Anyway, to all our muslim friends, Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Maaf Zahir dan Batin. Have a blessed and meaningful Syawal :D

The purple family ;)

Rayyan after his hair was styled by his cousin :D

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Head & Shoulders - not the shampoo :P

Managed to spend some quality time with Rayyan this Sept hols. On Wednesday, I brought him out shopping, just the two of us. Usually, I have somebody else to accompany me when I do my shopping as Rayyan can't be still, always running around. He loves shopping malls and gets so excited when he steps into one!

It was definitely no mean feat but we did it!!! I held his hand tightly and reprimanded him when he misbehaved. He tried slipping away from my grasp all the time and succeeded a few times but I managed to get him back. Phew!! The most difficult part was waiting at the cashier's. The queues were pretty long but I managed to make him wait with me. When I was busy at the counter, I grasp him with my legs! Phew! Phew!

It was pretty tough indeed but I think that I should do it more often. He is usually on the loose when I have somebody else with me. I think it's time I make him learn how to wait and be still instead of jumping and running around!

And yesterday, we spent the whole day together. My helper was at my mum's helping with Hari Raya food preparations so I was at home with him. We played together, read together, watched a video together and sang and danced together. Rayyan has always loved doing actions to songs. Since he was about 1+, he already knew the actions to many different nursery rhymes. He is less enthusiastic now but still enjoys it. But the sad part is, he refuses to do these actions in school. Maybe he's shy, maybe he just wants to observe others. I hope he will show how good he is one day.

Here's a video of him doing the moves. Usually he's more focused but he was pretty hyper yesterday. In between, you will catch him dancing! I remember how I caught him dancing about a month ago. He was in his playroom and was standing in front of his mirror. Suddenly, he started dancing on his own in front of the mirror!!! I was so happy!! Praised him and since that day, everybody in the family kept asking him to dance! He obliged most of the time and everybody will be clapping and laughing away!

He is really the sunshine in our lives :D


To date, Rayyan still has no speech. He is approaching 4 soon and yes, we are indeed very worried. Rayyan's speech therapist informed us that Rayyan has difficulty making the bilabial sounds (p,b,m) and most of the sounds that he makes come from his throat (which is why he is making a lot of 'aaaaaah' sounds).

And yes, I do agree with her. When he cries, he will call out 'mamamama'... Maybe he is calling out for me, or maybe that is his distress call, I'm not too sure. But if he doesn't cry, you will rarely hear him making the bilabial sounds. And it is very important that he makes the bilabial sounds as these are sounds that babies first produce, like pa, ba, ma...

So the therapist suggested that we try exercises to make him more aware of his lips. What we did was we encouraged him to make the syllable 'ma' by placing a spoon to his lips. His teacher at AAS also suggested immersing the spoon in a cup of cold water to increase the sensation.

Although Rayyan is now more aware of his lips, he is still not making the bilabial sounds. Nevertheless, I must give him credit for trying. He really tries very hard. Sometimes, I just feel like crying when I see him try so hard. Thank you for trying so hard baby! Mummy is very, very proud of you!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


One of Rayyan's favourite haunts is ExplorerKid! He loves to jump into the pool of balls, he loves jumping up and down the cushioned floor, he loves running around the huge space and recently, he tried rock climbing! Cool!! The place is a great OT getaway!

My hyperactive boy having fun!

For a first timer... he's gooood! Gooo Rayyan!

He loves to go through this but Daddy still needs to accompany him. Hopefully he will be brave enough to go on his own one day :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Busy, Busy!!

Yup, we went missing again. Have been super busy past few weeks.. With school, Ramadan (fasting month) and now, preparations for Raya..things have been pretty crazy. I wish there's more than 24 hours a day!!

Sadly, Rayyan has been pretty much neglected too. Each night, after a hectic day, I am consumed with guilt because I can't do more for him... I am so glad that I have a reliable helper, one who can help me to teach and play with him. And I can't wait for the year to end! I am doing part-time teaching next year! Yay!! I planned to take no-pay leave but my principal persuaded me to try part-time teaching and yes, I must agree with her that the money will come in handy and apart from that, I will still be in touch with teaching. So I will do part-time for half a year and if it works for me and my boy, I will continue or I might take no-pay leave then. We shall see but I am so happy at the prospect of spending four full days with my boy each week! I so can't wait!