It has been a busy month in the Curry household. School is in full swing and we are still taking Ryan to Speech Therapy three times a week. Ryan is also seeing his personal trainer, Lee from Special Strong, on a weekly basis now. He attends Religious Education (R.E.) class and Mass on a weekly basis and he continues to see Adriana Barriga, of RPM of Texas, three times a week at home. We also hosted Lenae Crandall of HEED RPM in the DFW area for 9 families at the beginning of this month.
We have seen a lot of improvements with Ryan. Here are a few:
- Ryan is able to make purposeful sounds with breath support practice at Speech Therapy and continuing practice at home (on a daily basis).
- Ryan goes through his workout with Lee without his iPhone and follows Lee’s instructions of each of the three sets of fifteen for each exercise.
- Ryan does not use or listen to his iPhone or iPad during R.E. Class or Mass and attends for 1.25 hours for class and 1 hour for Mass.
- Ryan can now wave to people. He tried to do this for years with ABA Therapy. I taught him this in one day. He can now do it when someone waves to him. I believe the difference is that it is purposeful for him now because everyone waves hello and goodbye (and it is not babyish). In an ABA drill, it does not seem to have a purpose (other than to make the child annoyed).
- Ryan had a dentist appointment this week and allowed the dentist to inspect his teeth and brush a little fluoride on them. Previously, Ryan had a difficult time even getting past the waiting room and has interviewed the dentist to get more comfortable.
(Just a quick note: I know that there is some controversy in the autism community about the use of fluoride. We have carefully weighed the options on this and have felt like this was important now for both of our kids who are prone to cavities despite diligent care of their teeth.)
- Ryan gets his haircut with no assistance from me and can sit and tolerate it. He has been seeing Ms. Susan for over 3 years now.
- With both Adriana and Lenae working with Ryan this past month he continues to make progress in purposeful movement and independence when using the board.
My plan for the rest of this month is to continue school work, plan some more field trips, and get Ryan back to 5K training since the weather seems to finally have gotten out of the 80s and 90s here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Ryan turned 12 on October 6th. He had a great birthday! This birthday got me thinking about how his birthdays were in the past compared to how they are now. If I am being completely honest, I used to dread Ryan’s birthday. I didn’t know what to get for him, I didn’t know if he knew it was his birthday or if he even cared. I saw it as him getting another year older and another year slipping away that I could not help him. This makes me extremely sad to type this. I know that there are some parents who are in my shoes today with these same thoughts. Here is what his birthdays used to be like:
Birthdays Ages 1-7:
- We weren’t sure if he was interested in his birthday.
- He had limited interest in presents and showed minimal facial expressions when he received a gift that he liked.
- He needed full physical assistance to open gifts and to stay attending and had to be brought back to continue opening gifts.
- He could not track reading birthday cards and often had to be followed around the house while reading a card.
- He celebrated with family.
- He wasn’t able to blow out his candles, so we blew them out for him.
- He wasn’t able to communicate whether he enjoyed his birthday or not.
What I want to tell those parents is, it doesn’t have to be like that! Ryan’s birthday is something that we celebrate with so much joy now. He loves celebrating too. The future is so bright for him and I truly believe that with hard work, the sky is the limit for him.
Birthdays Ages 8-12, with the end results being the observations this year:
- He wants to celebrate his birthday (of course!) and he commented first thing in the morning: MOM THANKS FOR DECORATING
- He made a birthday list and his face lit up when he opened the presents that he wanted.
- He had to be brought to the table and room, but once there, stayed with minimal verbal prompts to open his gifts.
- He tracked the wording on the birthday cards and read along.
- He celebrated with an indoor pool party with friends (including a best friend who drove in from out of town!) and family.
- He blew out his own candles all by himself!
- He told us that he loved his birthday!
I sound like a broken record, but RPM is more than just education and communication. Ryan’s whole demeanor has changed. It is not only a result of age and maturity as many other autistic 12 year olds would still exhibit the same observations that Ryan had prior to RPM. I believe the difference is his quality of life is due to RPM.
When I read this post to Ryan, he replied the following:
YOU CAN SAY THAT BIRTHDAYS USED TO BE REALLY HARD FOR ME BECAUSE I WAS SO LONELY. NOW A REAL BIRTHDAY OCCURS EACH YEAR. MOSTLY GRATEFUL THAT I CAN FEEL NORMAL WHEN IT COMES TO BIRTHDAYS NOW.
I am a firm believer that the world became a better place the day that Ryan Curry was born. I don’t think that I am alone in thinking this.