It’s been about 6 weeks since my last Stone update so I thought this would be a good time for a quick post.

The big news in June has been POTTY TRAINING! Yes, even though he is 4 1/2 years old , Stone has had to continue wearing pull-ups to take care of business. This is very common for children with Autism and it’s obviously tied to the various developmental delays they experience. We had tried a few times off and on the past year or so (as Ty was becoming potty trained) to get Stone on the toilet but he would fiercely resist and didn’t want to have anything to do with it.

Stone enjoys his own Oreo cookie picnic in Port Townsend June 5th

Recently though (like in May) we noticed that he was starting to sit on the toilet by himself (still fully clothed). It was clear that the toilet didn’t freak him out too much any longer. And his teacher also mentioned that when it was time for the class to use the restroom it seemed that Stone was trying – but couldn’t quite get the plumbing to work. But he was clearly aware of his peers being able to use the toilet and he wanted to emulate them. All good steps.

And then we finally had our  breakthrough earlier this month. We decided to choose a weekend and let him run around the house without his pull-ups figuring that if and when it had to go to the bathroom he would let us know – we knew he wouldn’t go in the house or anything like that. And sure enough it worked – that first morning he pulled me into the bathroom and let me sit him on the toilet so that he could do his first non-pull up tinkle. It was a thrilling moment – and it was clear he was also very proud when he was finished. And while he used to hate the loud sound of the toilet flushing – he now loves it (a little too much actually). He wants to flush the toilet again and again and again – we had to tell him that he could only flush it if he did potty in the toilet. So what did he do? He would sit on the toilet and let out a small trickle – and then jump off to flush it. And then jump back on with another tiny trickle (you get the point). In the scheme of things, it’s pretty funny and certainly a positive step – much better than the alternative!

And to make matters even better – we had our first poop successes with him on the toilet this past weekend. He clearly gets it – but he’s still making the adjustment from pull-ups to the toilet full time. When we have pull ups and pants on him, he can still be lazy on some occasions but we are seeing a gradual change. More than a few times now he has (on his own) gone to the bathroom and pulled down the pants/pull ups to use the toilet. So we are on the path and can finally start seeing that distant light at the end of the tunnel when we’ll no longer have to automatically buy huge boxes of pull-ups at Costco.

Stone is also making progress with his speech as he continues to slowly add words to his vocabulary. Not surprisingly, one of his favorite words now is “ice cream” (he says simply “cream”). We hear that request a lot. We are also teaching him to call out our names when he wants/needs something – not simply yelling (which has been his mode of operation for years now).

But obviously it’s not always all positive steps forward when you’re dealing with a child with autism – we have had a few setbacks as well. We have noticed the past couple of weeks that he’s been having more tantrums than normal. Actually, we’ve been extremely lucky with him (and Ty) as neither have been huge tantrum throwers – not even during the famous terrible twos. But this has NOT been the case the past 2-3 weeks as he has had a number of outbursts that have been quite loud and intense. We suspect it is partially tied to the developmental breakthroughs he’s going through but we also think it’s more likely tied to his diet. We have not been as strict about keeping him to his gluten free/casein free diet since our huge family reunion earlier this month and I think we’re all paying the price for it now.

In addition to the tantrums (and probably also related to them) Stone has been having more diarrhea, nasty poops and tummy aches – all signs of a messed up intestinal system. So I/we need to get better again about buying/providing him with better/healthier meal and snack choices and get him back to where he was in May.

Stone and Ty are scheduled to begin swim lessons this Saturday morning and Ty could not be more excited (we think Stone will also like it once he gets into the water and starts splashing around). Swim lessons are always important for all children but they are especially so for children with Autism. Tragically, drowning is one of the most common forms of death for children with Autism so we want to make sure Stone knows how to handle himself in water.

Next week both Stone and Ty begin a special summer school/session at Baby Power Forever center in Everett. The woman who runs the center specializes in children with Autism and has had remarkable results with many previous students/patients. Because her work focuses on various areas of developmental delay we also think it will help Ty a lot as he is still behind when it comes to his speech and communication skills/capabilities. I’ll be sure to document the progress both make during the program – we’re very excited to see the impact it has on both boys.

In the meantime, we’re going to help our (awesome) new Au Pair Hany cope with having to take care of the twins all day/every day for the rest of the week. It’s difficult keeping both boys entertained and active throughout the day – especially when the weather is not cooperating (as has been the case this June in Seattle) but Hany is doing a terrific job.

More later….

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