The joy of being three

July 9th, 2016

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P.S.  Photos above were taken by fond older sisters.  <smile>

We’ve accumulated a large number of photos so far this summer, thanks almost entirely to Mindy.  Hoping to plunk them into a post over the next several days so that we’re caught up here on the blog before we go on our big road trip to northern Michigan.

 

Annie is home!

July 9th, 2016

Thank the Lord, Stephanie, Sasha, and Annie are home!  Now begins Brian and Stephanie’s journey of learning to know this new gift to their family and to love her well!  And now begins Annie’s journey toward fulfilling the good plans God has for her life–bonding, healing, learning, growing, becoming all He designed her to be.  Praise the Lord for what He has done and will do for this fourteen year old girl.

No longer an orphan!

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Little Doodle Q & A

July 2nd, 2016

Question:  You caught my attention when you started talking about potty training….and you mentioned initiation training…How is [Verity] doing now??  I was just curious if you feel the time and diligence it takes to accomplish this method is worth it.

Answer:  After doing some research, I ultimately decided to try the RTT (Rapid Toilet Training) method with Verity last September after Katie started back to school, an intensive, motivator-based method that is highly successful for children with autism and other developmental delays.

The RTT method I used was explained by Katie Rinald, MA, BCBA (links to videos below).  When at the end of the two week intensive training time Verity stopped self-initiating, I emailed Ms. Rinald to find out whether she could give us further advice.  Unfortunately, the amount she charged for a minimum of a half-hour phone consult was way above our price range, so I decided to be content with the progress Verity had made and re-visit self-initiation at some point further down the road if/when we felt we had enough time and resources to invest in it.

After we have done our best, I have to be content within the limitations of this life God has given us.  I hope to write more about that in a future blog post!

This extremely intensive potty training method helped Verity gain bladder control, as well as training her in the complete toileting routine, but that’s all the farther it took her in two weeks.

Before that training time period, we put her on the potty at regular times throughout the day, but she would often sit quite a while before going, almost accidentally. We were really just catching it, and she still wore diapers full time. After the toilet training, she could do the whole pottying process independently and gained control of her bladder, staying dry for many hours while waiting for us to remind her to use the potty.  She’s been in panties full time since then, a big step that I was very happy about!

She still has occasional accidents, mostly bed-wetting when none of us remembers to wake her to use her potty before we go to sleep.  As I said above, the self-initiation Verity did during the training time stopped when we stopped actively training her. But we just could not possibly continue to keep it up. Laura and I tag-teamed, and whoever wasn’t potty training was running the rest of the household. It was pretty grueling.

Then suddenly, over the past couple of months, she began initiating more and more, and now is initiating it herself maybe 75-80% of the time. She typically says, “A potty,” “Need a potty,” or “I need a potty,” when she needs to go. I was impressed recently when she stood up where she was coloring with sidewalk chalk on the back sidewalk, and started walking toward the house, saying, “I need a potty.”  She subsequently went all the way in and used it herself.  Over the past two days, she has been quietly taking herself to the potty every time she needs it without any reminders from us!

I suspect that her recent progress has to do with how much stronger her cognitive processing ability has grown under her Hope and a Future neurodevelopmental program.  This is in spite of the fact that since last fall, we’ve struggled to accomplish even 50% of her ND program and are seriously considering taking a break from it until Nathaniel is a bit older and more independent.  (Unless God sends us help in the meantime!)  She has also been showing more self-initiation in other areas of her life, from play to self-care.

It might be worth mentioning that on the advice of her neurodevelopmentalist, I have been using the Sleep Talk method with Verity about using her potty by herself when she needs to.  Despite the fact that I’ve only managed to use it sporadically, it seems to contribute to her success in this area; I plan to continue to use the method as time goes on to target other areas where she has behavioral difficulty.

Verity sometimes forgets to wait to be wiped after a bowel movement (stands up and pulls her pants up), so that’s our immediate pottying goal. Also, she didn’t get past her reluctance to do her bowel movements in the big toilet, and still uses her small potty for that.  I hope to transition her from using the small potty to using the toilet 100% of the time over this next year.

So she’s not all the way there yet, but my goodness, a year ago it felt impossible that she would ever “get it” because she hadn’t made any progress in three years of me putting her on the potty after eating and sleeping.  I am so thankful for how far she’s come since last year at this time!  Demanding as it was, we would do that training method again if we could go back and make the choice over again, as it seemed to fast-forward her to a point it might have taken her much longer to reach without it, if that makes sense.

 

Part 10:  Intro of the Short Way (Rapid Toilet Training) and Getting Ready

Part 11:  Implementation of the Short Way

Part 12:  Short Way — Accident Procedure and Q & A

Part 13:  Short Way — Self-Initiation Training

Part 14:  Q & A with Dr. Merenda and Katie Rinald

 

Verity is always gentle and affectionate with Nathaniel and brings him toys to play with.

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Question:  We got [a Super Spinner swing] for our six year old with Down syndrome for Christmas. I know this may sound silly but do you hang it so it can spin? J. loves to spin and swing and we don’t feel like we’re doing the spinning part right!

Answer:  Joe bought hardware from a nearby hardware store and installed it without trouble.  We chose the hardware components with the highest weight-bearing capacity they had available.  Here’s a photo.

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Question:   Did Verity enjoy her birthday party?

Answer:  Verity seemed to understand her birthday for the first time this year.  The week beforehand, I asked her how old she was, and she replied, “I’m five.”  Then I asked how old she would be on her birthday, and she answered, “Birthday!  Six!”  On the day of her birthday party, she said, “I’m six now!”

At her birthday supper, Peter had set his card for her in front of her place.  At one point, one of her brothers was fiddling with it, and she put it back into its place and said, “My birthday, okay?”

When it came time for singing and cake, she beamed throughout the birthday song (without singing it to herself!), and waited until we were finished singing to blow her candles out, all without being prompted.

 

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She opened her presents nicely, put all the paper into the wastepaper basket (“Verity, where does the paper go?”  “In the trash!”), said thank you to each giver, and went on to the next gift.

Her favorite gift?  She was pleased with all her gifts and smiled happily when I held her new clothes up to her, but she was absolutely enthralled with Joseph and Lindsay’s gift, CDs of Romans by Psallos and Psalms by Sandra McCracken.  We know that she’ll memorize and sing along with all the lyrics, as she does with her three beloved Hidden in My Heart CDs.

It is rewarding to see her move into a new stage of more independence, and we’re excited to see the progress she continues to make!

Six is one hand and one finger!

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“How old are you, Verity?”

“I’m six!”

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