Thursday, February 21, 2013

Little Improvements

During the Chinese New Year, relatives observed that Calder has improved. If you compare how he behaved the previous years, you would realise it's true. This time round, he could actually stay seated for quite a while. He even went up to relatives on his own to wave and say "hi". Previously he was the very restless boy who went up and down the stairs, who kept visiting the toilets and wanting to close their doors.

Recently, I also noticed that he is able to hold on to the "open" button in the lift to let people in. And he no longer fumbles with the tongue in his shoes. This morning, when he took the folded clothes, I thought he was going to throw them into the laundry basket like he usually does with the used ones.  But he headed for the clothes cabinet instead and actually put the two shirts into the right drawers. And before leaving for school, he felt his bag and exclaimed "handbook!" (I had forgotten to put it in.) I was very impressed with the alertness of mind and ease of communication despite his limited vocabulary.

Little improvements like these remind me to stay hopeful. Though Calder learns much slower than other children, he does learn. After 7 years, he finally calls me "Mommy". After 4 years of training, he finally figured out how to gurgle. Yes, there are a lot more that he doesn't know, but I must believe with patient expectation that he will get there some day.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stress Triggers

If you are to ask me what is the main challenge of bringing up a boy like Calder, it is his emotional instability. Any little thing can upset him. And he spirals out of control readily. My hubby and I tried to identify the triggers to his recent meltdowns and we came up with a few possible causes:


We brought the kids cycling. Hubby wasn’t very keen because he was afraid that Calder would bang into people. Fact is: Calder loves to cycle. He loves speed and would cycle very fast. I am not afraid to bring Calder cycling because though not necessarily careful, he is skillful with his steering. Also because compared to Hubby, I am much more of a risk-taker. On this particular day, the family went out on four bicycles and smoothly completed one round of the jogging track before proceeding as usual to the nearby park. Hubby and I would sit on a bench while the two kids cycle around the park. Because of the wet weather, the ground was slightly wet. Very soon, Calder skidded and fell.  But he got up again and continued cycling around. Hubby was quick to point out how dangerous it was. I decided to give in and end the activity. I told Calder, “Let’s count to 5, then we go home.” I counted to 5 and Calder headed home on his bike. But he became edgy and threw a tantrum back home. This was not really an abrupt stop but to him, unanticipated enough to cause mounting unrest. 


In church, Calder asked for another pao (he loves pao)  so I gave him the third one. He ate it very slowly. My mom observed, “I think he is full already.” So I asked Calder, “Mommy keep this pao, ok? When you are hungry, then we continue eating?” And I kept the half-eaten red-bean-paste pao. But then my mom waved her box of cookies and asked if he wanted some. I ventured, “I thought you said he was full? How could he eat more if he was full?” And she kept the box of cookies. Calder was probably wondering: So do I eat the food or not? And he started getting agitated. Hubby quickly brought him home. 


We went to a birthday party yesterday. Calder was happy and kept mentioning “birthday party”. But then he had a meltdown and started yelling and had to be brought home. Hubby and I went over the events and realized that he became upset because we threw away his plate of food when he went to the toilet. He had taken very long to eat those dishes because they were not his favourite. But his recent rule was to finish all his food. We thought we were doing him a favour by removing what he didn’t want to eat. Apparently, to him, keeping to the rule is more important than enjoying his food.

Calder is Autistic


Autism is characterised by three main traits:  
1. Problem in communication
2. Problem in social interaction 
3. Craving for sameness (repetition, routine)

Calder was diagnosed with moderate autism at the age of 3.
At 3 years of age,

1. Calder didn't talk; didn't even respond to his name. 
2. He was often by himself and didn't seem to care for friends.
3. If you give him a toy car, he would turn it over to spin the wheels. He loved to open and close doors, and insisted on taking the same routes.

Calder is now 8 years old.

1. The other day, I asked him: "What is Calder doing?" He said "doing".
2. He doesn't realise it's not normal to go around smelling people's hair.
3. When he eats bread, it must be kaya bread followed by chocolate bread.