For those of you that don’t know, Archer has been attending the Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre (ASELCC). At the time I posted my last post about Archer, he had been going to the centre for a couple of months, and we were waiting on an official diagnosis.
Well, I decided it’s about time I give everyone an update. Archer has been at ASELCC for just over a year now, and his improvement since he started going has just been phenomenal. Back at the end of May 2016, his daycare was featured on the local news, I managed to get a recording of it and will embed it below. It will give you an idea of what the facility is like, and how much good it is doing for kids like Archer.
For a start, he is much more responsive to people besides Kayla and I. He will now start to look at other people, and especially other children when we are out in public (shopping for example). He recognises the people at his daycare when we go there, and can even tell which of the adults are the ones who look after him. As well as this, he has gotten so good with his eye contact. When he looks at us, he looks at us in the eyes. While this might only be for a few seconds at a time, its much better than not at all. He is a much more cuddly child now. A year ago, he didn’t really like being held or touched at all, but through repeated gradual exposure, he’s more than happy to come up and give us a cuddle when asked. He even fell asleep cuddling Kayla the other night, whilst watching Finding Dory. This was a big deal for both of us, as he’s never done that before.
His fine motor skills are getting better too. He can clap his hands, and delights in showing us when we ask him to. He also claps his hands when he’s excited about something (me getting his night-time bottle, for example). It’s been so amazing to watch him grasp this skill, you can almost see his brain thinking the motion through as he’s learning. Also, last Christmas we got him a big bag of Mega-Bloks. He didn’t get the concept at first, choosing to smack the blocks together and throw them across the room for us to pick up (a game he still quite enjoys, to be honest); but recently he finally got the hang of sticking two of the pieces together as they’re designed. He even removes them from each other and tries stacking them the other way around (top becomes bottom, etc). From there, he has progressed to stacking 3 or 4 blocks on top of one another.
He has also discovered light switches, and takes great delight in climbing up onto whatever piece of furniture is closest (couch, dining chair, etc) and switching the lights in our house on and off. In the kitchen and bathroom, he doesn’t need to climb anything, so whenever we’re in those rooms, he will spend a few seconds flicking the switches on and off. To counter this (because we can’t have him switching powerpoints off, especially if he gets to ones our server is attached to) we have given him toys that have switches on it. There’s a house toy he loves, that has a big switch on the side of it and a little LED light inside that lights up when the switch is flipped. As well as this, I recently bought a Fidget Cube (though not one of the official ones, because you simply can’t buy them at the moment). This golfball sized cube has a different mini-activity on each side. One of those sides is a switch which can be pressed repeatedly, with no ill effect. I was a little unsure if Archer would like this, as he much prefers the cause and effect toys like the house, however he seems to like it, and has even chosen it when presented with a selection of other toys on one occasion.
Speaking of cause and effect toys, we’ve found that he is getting really good at toys that ask him to find certain buttons. This Christmas just gone, my aunt got him a tablet-type toy that had the full alphabet, numbers 1-10, and a few pictures on animals. Each one of these was a button, and there is a mode in the toy that asks him to find a certain button. In a little more than a week, he was already quite proficient at it, finding numbers and animals with ease. The letters came a little later, but I would say that he knows half of them by now. The toy makes a happy noise when he finds the correct button, and he laughs and jumps around with joy when he hears it.
He loves books. He’ll quite happily sit and flip through the pages of a picture book, stopping to look at each page. He’ll also rotate the book around, seeing how the pictures change when viewed at different orientations. He still likes to have a chew on books after a while, so we have to be mindful that while he has a book, one of us is around to keep an eye on him.
I hope you enjoyed this Archer update. I’ll have another one for you before the end of the year, as I’m sure his development will be leaps and bounds ahead of where it is now by then. Our next goals with Archer are to getting him communicating in a way that is convenient for everyone. He is still non-verbal at this stage, but is getting much better at using the picture exchange cards (PECS) system to ask for things he wants. He is also quite good at dragging either Kayla or myself across the room and putting our hand on or near something he wants.
As much as I’m writing this post to update everyone who is interested, I’m also writing this for myself. So that in a few years time, I can look back at this post and remember exactly what stage he was at.
Thanks for reading