Sunday, November 21, 2010

We love our Veggies!

Veggie Tales that is!
The boys went to their first live show on Friday. Auntie Amy, Uncle Jackie, Caroline, Sophie, Auntie Kiki and Auntie Nancy joined us for a live performance by the Veggie Tales. For those who are unfamiliar, Veggie Tales are a bunch of vegetables that sing and tell stories all with a Christian message. So Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber and their friends came to our church to sing and dance to some of their fun songs.
The boys haven't watched much of the Veggie Tales but love to listen to their CDs. You should hear Peyton spontaneously break out in singing "This is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it." It always brings a huge smile to my face.
So the drawback was that the show coincided with nap time. We had a few whiny moments but the boys were mesmerized by the giant veggies on stage and were excited to see them. They clapped along and did a little dancing too. Brett seemed to enjoy it the most and they even performed a couple tunes from the '80s, which we parents enjoyed!
Several days later Jackson said to me "Thank you Mommy for taking me to Veggie Tales". It was so out of nowhere and oh, so sweet!
The boys weren't too cooperative with photos but here are some photos but here are a few anyway:

Jackson & Brett couldn't stop looking at their concert shirts (thanks Auntie Kiki!)

Peyton checking out the Veggie Tales poster before he knew Bob and Larry were actually there!

What we've got here is a failure to communicate

Brett using a switch to play music and activate a disco ball during a communication evaluation

This past week Brett had an evaluation for assisted communication - technically known as augmentative communications.
What is that?
In a nutshell It is technology used to help those with speech issues communicate with the rest of the world.
Brett has about a dozen consistent words that help him communicate through the day and he can say names occasionally and sometimes out of nowhere he will say a word as clear as a bell - like one night he said "Blackhawks" and he said it again the next morning and we haven't heard it again since. The brain is a mysterious thing!
There are many times when we feel bad because he will say the same thing over and over with the same sounds and inflection, but we can't figure out what he is trying to tell us. Sometimes it seems to frustrate him and most times it breaks my heart. The number of things that tumble out of my mouth each day with little effort - we take talking so for granted. But I think we've all felt that frustration when you couldn't make someone understand something you are explaining - directions, an idea...
Therapists all believe Brett's communication will continue to grow, but it is hard to know when it will all connect for him.
Until than we are seeking ways to help him communicate his needs and wants - basic things like "I'm hungry" or "I want to play".
We have a great friend who is a speech pathologist and she has recently helped us use a "switch". It is a big button that allows us to make a recording and he can hit the switch to say simple things like "Hi!" or"Amen".
So I was praying that Brett would have a good day during his evaluation. He is SO smart but just can't communicate his knowledge like other children his age. When he is having a bad day mostly he just communicates his unhappiness (don't we all :)
But Brett had a great day. He easily showed off all the skills he has learned and all the things he knows such as his animals and how to use his switch. The therapists testing him at Easter Seals put him in front of a computer where he used switches to scroll through choices. For example the computer would speak the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty and then would say Humpty got back on the wall and he was hungry. Should he eat French fries, pizza or ice cream? Brett had to hit one switch to scroll through the choices and another to make his choice. Even though we've never done multiple switches at home within a few minutes he was doing it like a pro. They also put small switches on his chair next to his head and he was able to make the choices using his head just by moving his head slightly from one side of the chair's headrest to the other. I was skeptical of this at first, but within 10 minutes he had mastered the skill and was loving the computer games. Tears were streaming down my face as I watched him enjoy the games and communicate with the therapists in ways he's never been able to before.
He played "Brett says" (like Simon says) and had us putting our hands on our heads, singing songs and leaving the room and coming back. For two hours Brett amazed and delighted me over and over.
We are going to be getting him an additional "switch" so he can begin communicating with others more and the therapists made recommendations for several things from special communication devices to computer software. Please pray that the state will approve the recommendations and we will have them quickly. Brett will age out of the state program when he turns 3 and we want to have plenty of time to receive the equipment and be trained on the technology so we can help him expand his communication.

And while I'm bragging about Brett - check this out:

Brett has physical therapy in the pool once a week where he has began to kick his legs. Here he is walking over to me with the help of his therapist.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Spooktacular

Here are some pictures from our Halloween Spooktacular! Everyone dressed up - it was awesome.
The boys are getting the hang of trick-or-treating even though they can't eat any of the treats - they don't know the difference. I think the kids also enjoyed answering the door and giving out the candy - which has always been one of my favorite parts of the holiday as well.
Enjoy the pictures and Happy November!

Auntie Rhonda, Grandma and Granddad with Peyton, Jackson & Brett

Brett, Peyton, Jackson

Peyton & Jackson




Auntie Amy, Sophie, Caroline and Uncle Jackie

Auntie Kiki & Auntie Nancy