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 www.starfall.com 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
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