After being in the public school system for a year, we were not seeing a whole bunch of improvement at home. But with each teacher conference, we always got rave reveiws of how good he was doing in school. We decided that I would observe him in class. I actually had to wear a wig and not talk or he would have recognized me and been a VERY different child. I saw that he followed direction, sang songs (approximations; he did not have speech that anyone could understand, but made sounds that went along with the music) and participated in activities. I was very surprised. He did none of this at home. But then again, my husband and I did not place any demands on him because we assumed he couldn't or didn't understand. After observing him at school a few times, it started to dawn on me "P.J. is a lot smarter and understands much more than we give him credit for". One day I picked up a wad of paper and was going to put it in the trash. P.J. happened to be right beside me. I took his arm and said "P.J., put this in the trash." I gave him the wad of paper, and to my amazement he put it in the trash can! Just to make sure this was not just a coincidence, I gave him another wad of paper and said the same thing. He did it AGAIN! I thought: Wow! He understood me! What else can he understand? After that, anytime I had a free minute or two I would pull out a book with P.J.and say "Where's the dog?" "Where's the tree?" "Where's the elephant?" "the duck?" "the cat?" "the car?" "boat?" "house?"... He could point to almost ANYTHING I asked him to. I would do colors, numbers, letters, household objects, animals...I could not believe what I was seeing.
During school, P.J. was able to use a computer. The teacher told us about the web-site so P.J. could play at home. Once we set up a computer for him, we were floored! The games and puzzels he was doing were Kindergarten level and beyond! Eventually, HE found other web-sites on which to play and learn. He LOVES his computer now. He is able to turn it on, get to the internet, and navigate to a variety of web-sites. Sometimes, notices or ads will pop up and it doesn't faze him. He just clicks the "X" and moves on. He knows which button to click to "play", "go back", "switch levels", etc...He is our little "whiz-kid"!

Not long after realizing P.J. understood a heck of a lot more than we gave him credit for, he started saying a few words. One day I was pointing at pictures of myself and saying "mama", then I pointed to a picture of daddy and said "dada". Lo and behold, P.J. started repeating me! It was the first time he had said anything that you could understand. He had always made sounds, but none of it was intelligible. This was definitely "Mama" and "Dada". A month or so later we decided to put P.J. in speech and language therapy through our insurance (instead of just through the school system). Jada (the speech thearapist) identified P.J. as having apraxia (a motor speech disorder). He has a lot of trouble making the right movements of the mouth that are needed for intelligible speech. After four months of speech therapy P.J. could finally say "Kerri" and "Danny"!

Since P.J. could understand now, we decided that it was time to try ABA therapy again. During the school year 2010/2011 P.J. went to public school 3 days a week and an ABA academy 2 days a week. This time P.J. was ready and able to understand what the therapist wanted. No crying or throwing tantrums. And I was able to learn some things. Like how to get P.J. to do things I wanted him to do. It was called INCENTIVES. Everyone has some sort of incentive. P.J.'s happen to be Doritos or Skittles. It wouldn't work all of the time but it was a start.

The absolutley most terrifying thing that has happened to date: Around 1pm on Sunday, October 17, 2010 the black metal door that we installed last year was left open. The first question was "Where's P.J.?". Adam ran through the house; no P.J. He went outside and asked Kerri if she had seen P.J., she said no. Adam then ran up the street yelling for P.J.; no luck. He got all the way out of our development to a main street; no P.J. At this point Adam called 911. "911, What's your emergency" "My four year old autistic son got out of the house!" "Can you describe your son?" "He has red hair, about 3ft tall, wearing a blue t-shirt, denim shorts and barefoot". "Hold one minute...we have your son." "Where?" "The southwest entrance to your subdivision" Adam was at the northeast entrance! He ran and met up with the officers who had P.J. The officers explained that a motorist stopped when he saw P.J. crossing the street back and forth. The patrol car happened to be nearby. The officers took P.J. to find where he belonged. For the next few days we could not stop playing the "movie" in our heads of P.J. being taken, or hit by a car. On Monday we had the big metal door fixed so that it closed all by itself.

P.J. LOVES to write the alphabet and numbers. He has written numbers up to 41 and typed numbers up to 98! He can type the alphabet on a QWERTY keyboard speedy-quick!