So, where do we start?

Ok so we are new to America and how things work so what do we do with the information that Elliot has social pragmatic skill issues and a potential speech and language delay.  I say potential as Simon and I don’t really believe he has an issue with his speech.  Whilst we decide we fill out paperwork to get him signed up at the purposeful play program to get started with the social play issues.  Now I am thinking Aspergers I don’t want to wait I want to get Elliot as much help as possible so I decide to speak to the paediatrician and tell them what Paula discovered after observing him and what she recommended.  They gave me the details of a few specialists in the area.

One of which was Paediatric Therapy Services. I have heard really great things about Christine Bacon at PTS so decided to give them a call.  I explained Elliot’s issues and she suggested an OT (Occupational Therapy) and SLT (Speech and Language Therapy) Screening so that they could decide what would be the best plan of action for him.  I discussed with her that we were thinking maybe Aspergers and she said there were lots of children in the bay area like Elliot.  Apparently because there are so many engineers and “techies” here there are more confirmed causes of autism in this area than in the whole of America.  This was nice to know at least we wont be on this journey on our own.

Great news we got in at TSSV (Teach Social Silicon Valley). We start 7th March hopefully Elliot will enjoy the group and get a lot out of it we certainly hope so, as it is $125 per session!!!

Even Better news follows on Friday, all the hard work had paid off with Elliot, after being told that he wouldn’t pass the entrance exam for Mulberry he passed and got into the JK programme,  Well done big guy we are so proud of you.

Elliot has settled well to joining the purposeful play programme he seems to be trying to join in with his peers but needs constant facilitation from the group leader.  At least he is trying to join in which is a start, below are the session notes, the cheers are the bits he has done well with and the challenges are the bits he is finding hard.

Elliot: Session 1

  • Cheers: first day with the group. He joined right in and followed along with the imaginative play and structured play. Was a little quiet, but was actively engaged in the group activities. Did not hesitate to act out the story with friends. Was willing to be the leprechaun; did not want to wear the hat – this is fine – many of my little friends don’t like wearing props (sensory thing, new thing, unexpected, etc…) I never force a child to do something he does not want to do – rather I act as though he will do it when he is ready and I always leave the opportunity open for him to change his mind without losing face. Example: “you might want to try later, I will leave it here just in case”
  • Challenge: maintaining group peer play

Now we just need to co-ordinate diaries with PTS (Paediatric Therapy Services) and get him assessed so we can see what the experts think

I guess now is a good time to start considering our options for summer programmes.  Mulberry have lots of great summer camps available but will these work for Elliot?  I check in with Bonnie and Paula and ask their advice.  I suspect that they will be very busy and quite chaotic, all things that Elliot really struggles to deal with.  Bonne and Paula confirm this and feel that the environment is not going to be beneficial to Elliot.  OK so this is not a huge but school finishes June 10th and doesn’t start up again until September.  I need to find something to do with Elliot.  Just at this stage in pops an email from TSSV offering an intensive summer programme.  It consists of 2, 2 hour sessions over 4 weeks, sounds great right?……….crunch time it’s $1600 wow wee open that check book again :o)

In the meantime the session notes from his March sessions at TSSV are below:

Elliot:  Session 2

  • Cheers: he wore the leprechaun hat today! No problem at all, even wore it over his face for the surprise “guess who” picture. With prompting and choice of 2 able to add to the “fill in the blank” story. He knows the answers, just is quiet and needs time to respond. He does use gestures and communicates with the group – he is aware of what is going on around him. He needs to develop confidence in social interaction, and he is in the right place for that! Shared his Woody Lego with his friends and let his friends try it.
  • Challenge: maintaining group peer play, social confidence, using a loud enough voice

Elliot:  Session 3

  • Cheers: Was so happy with the snow ball fight – he had fun, did not hesitate to throw the snow balls (wadded up paper), smiled and a little quiet laugh – he really enjoyed himself. Used his body to throw – really got into the play. Able to use the grabber without instruction. Listens to direction, listens to peers, adds comments with his body – becoming more comfortable with the group and using his voice. I do not push for using voice – this just makes the child more anxious, rather I act as though “of course” he will talk when he is ready. If someone says “he is shy” it reinforces to the child that he does not need to talk – I like to say “he will talk when he has something to say” this reframes it to a positive goal rather than a challenge.
  • Challenge: maintaining group peer play, speaking to peers


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