Tellin’ time

orange watchA few weeks ago, Lily lost a tooth and got $5 from the tooth fairy.  She told me and Elaine (her speech therapist) exactly what she wanted to do with this money: buy an orange watch!  You see, she’s learning to tell time, something that she told us that she wanted to do, of her own volition.  A watch is the perfect accompaniment to this activity, no?  She’s so proud of this orange watch.

Earlier today, I got this text from Elaine and it made my heart burst with pride:

It was the most amazing thing watching [Lily] yesterday try and figure out on her own what the clock said… she kept looking at the analogue clock I brought, checking a cheat sheet I made for her and then making selections on the Tobii…  it was so exciting to see!

We are so lucky to have not only the Tobii, but also Elaine – the SLP/AT extraordinaire – to help us communicate with, and challenge this kiddo!

 

The to-do lists are endless

My soul is hurting this week. 

I’m still fighting for basic Medicaid services (like diapers, overnight respite, daytime respite) while trying to prepare (and not completely flip out) for Lily starting kindergarten next month. 

I’ve had to postpone our move to the Upper West Side which means she will be in for quite a bus ride to and from school. So I need to make sure it’s as comfortable, and as safe, as possible. I’ve already gotten a doctors note requesting what must happen but trying to find the right person within the DOE to make this a reality is proving impossible.

Good news is that I’ve averted the ‘adaptive stroller’ issue for the bus but that was a research project and fight in its own right. And the fight is only half over. 

There’s always so much to do. The lists I have written down, and in my head, are endless.  So the idea of moving while all this is going on (and I’m not even adding the to-do’s from my job) makes my head reel. 

At the top of these lists (other than bussing and Medicaid) is to get her new school up to speed with her abilities, and needs (they’ve never had a Rett sweetie nor do they have experience with the Tobii), get Lily acclimated to a new school with new kids and new teachers, find a few new home-based therapists to replace those that fall off after pre-k (hint: this is not easy), and remind myself that it is all going to work out. Deep breaths. 

I wish I could say that Lily’s sleep has stabilized but that would be a lie. And the panic attacks, though less frequent for now, are still happening. 

The upside? Lily is keeping me laughing with her silly antics. Yesterday she kept pulling down her Peppa Pig artwork from the wall. Shamekia the nanny initially thought it was an accident so kept pinning it back up. But after the third time she found it on the floor, she asked Lily ‘you don’t like Peppa Pig today?’ And Lily scrunched up her face in a recognizable look of disgust, which means ‘no.’  And then she giggled about it.

Why my child doesn’t like Peppa Pig all of a sudden is still unknown to us. But I love that she is always finding new ways to let us know what she likes, and doesn’t like. 

If we (meaning me, Shamekia and/or her therapists) figure out why Peppa has turned into persona non grata, I will let you know. But for now, I will leave you with a visual of my kid admiring her art wall sans Peppa from earlier today. 

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A visit from the tooth fairy

Was anyone else aware that on top of all the more well-known symptoms of Rett Syndrome (like loss of language, physical disabilities, breathing problems, severe anxiety, sleep disorders), there are so many lesser known ones, like excessive tartar buildup?  Yup, my kid has that too.  So what does it mean?  We go to the dentist every 6 weeks for a cleaning.

Thankfully we’ve found a wonderful dentist who puts Lily completely at ease.  For example, the last time we were there for a cleaning, we had to get her two bottom front teeth pulled (her baby teeth had popped up behind them and were there for a while).  This kid didn’t cry once – not when they gave her the novocaine.  Not even when they pulled her teeth.  I cried.  But not her.

Earlier that morning, I explained to her what was going to happen.  And I told her that if we put her two baby teeth under her pillow, the tooth fairy will come.  She became very excited.

That evening, she and one of her therapists had a conversation about it and they wrote a letter to the tooth fairy.  All the words underlined were her exact words on the Tobii.  The tooth fairy found it when she was picking up her baby teeth and putting money under her pillow. And it made this tooth fairy extremely proud!!!

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A different kind of learning

Lily continues to impress both her home-based and school-based teachers and therapists (all 15 of them). This kid is super smart and silly, and most days she’s doing amazing things with communicating on the Tobii. Just the other day she had a conversation with her home teacher Denise to tell her that she was ‘angry’ and ‘greedy’ at school because she couldn’t play with the computer when she wanted to. And Denise explained that Lily can’t always get what she wants when she wants.

Oh, the perils of being an only child, raised in a single-parent home and having special needs on top of it. Creating boundaries and holding to them, reminding her that yelling is not nice, that sharing is important; I’m doing the best I can. But sometimes I’m not sure it’s enough.

She continues to be (mostly) sweet and loving and loud. I’m pretty sure that most parents of 5 year olds question their parenting skills and are driven mad by the noise and the insubordination. This brings me a strange sort of comfort. Makes me feel almost ‘normal’.

But I digress. Learning. It’s different for girls with Rett Syndrome. Some days this kid is on fire – engaged, communicative and creative. But there are those other days, the days when she didn’t get enough sleep or something else Rett related is going on, that she really struggles. I’m grateful that she, and I, have such a great support system who understands her ups and downs and are so creative in their approach.

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Admiring her artwork – and her favorite ‘literary’ characters

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Snapshot of her play/therapy room (PS someone got her first big-girl tooth!)

The Beauty of Technology

A friend posted the below link on his Facebook page yesterday.  I began to open the link knowing that I was opening myself up to an avalanche of self-pity and ‘what-if’s’. So I closed it down.  But the title of the article, well, it stayed with me.  I woke up this morning and had to add my take to his somewhat smug post (which, by the way, I totally get and likely would have posted similarly had I not found myself in my unique parenting situation).

Here is the link: Stunning photo series shows what it’s like to grow up without technology’.  

Here’s my comment:

Just reading the title of this article fills me with a level of jealousy I never knew existed. I have two iPhones, two IPads, a tablet and a $20,000 eye gaze device that I rely on to not only speak to, but also educate and comfort my child with Rett Syndrome. And because of this technology, my 5 year old nonverbal child told me (through technology) last night that she wanted a jacket because she was cold. I don’t think anyone could truly understand how amazing that moment was – to hear her express her basic needs – unless they have to live through it. Not all technology is bad and not everyone can follow the ‘ideal life’.

I dream of the day when Rett Syndrome will no longer be our reality.

 

Participating

Lily has had a fantastic few weeks at school.  She’s been independently using the Tobii at circle time to interact with the teachers and students.  She’s been identifying letters and numbers (through the Tobii).  She’s also been speaking independently… saying things like ‘hurry up!’ and ‘hi!’ and ‘Woo back!’.  The last phrase is a horseback-riding term her hippotherapists try to get her to say when she is asked to stop the horse.  Oh, and Lily has been doing great with using a utencil too to self-feed.  Woot-woot!

Keep it up kid!

Using the Tobii to participate during circle time!

Using the Tobii to participate during circle time!

 

A good week indeed

Lily came home from school today in such a great mood!  Likely because today was the first day that she had a Tobii at school (which took a year of advocating). Using the Tobii, she told her teacher today that she loves her cousin and grandma and that she wants to go home and play with the nanny.

A good week indeed!!!!  My kid has a voice at school.  Finally!!!!!!!