Today was Samuel’s first appointment at the Kennedy Krieger Autism Institute in Baltimore with a behavioral psychologist. It went very well! Since it was the initial evaluation, most of it involved her asking me questions and me trying to explain to the best of my ability how autism impacts my son, how he functions in daily life showing the best of his strengths and the worst of his weaknesses to get the most effective solutions.
I told the psychologist I felt horrible for saying so, but I hoped he would be at his worst so she could see some of what we experience at home. She assured me saying that they actually hope for the same thing so they can give proper diagnoses and give the best treatment. I would say his behavior was fairly mild. He did show some of cute quirks though. Being one-on-one with me sets a completely different stage than when his brothers are with him. He likes being alone with me or Kyle and is most calm in a small setting. He did pretty good with the psychologist too, playing with his cars and trains on the floor. She had to address him a couple times to get his attention, and he walked away while answering her questions and looking around the room. He was incredibly adorable though! He made us laugh with his funny faces and random questions interrupting our conversation, and he charmed yet another therapist. I haven’t met one therapist or teacher yet that hasn’t commented on how adorable he is. I’d have to agree!
In the end, she made suggestions that we bring him however often we’d like at our comfort level – whether once a week, twice a month, or once a month. She was highly impressed with his current ability levels in communication and had some suggestions to begin implementing at home for his behavior. She also suggested bringing him in either alone for therapy, but also encouraged us to bring one or both of his brothers so we could work together as a family. A main goal of therapy for now is for him to be able to self-regulate his behavior and interpret his emotions to be able to prevent meltdowns rather than dealing with the aftermath of one.
Step one of achieving this goal is creating a “Calm Down Area” (cuter name to be developed) that will be used as a non-consequential place to take a breather prior to when emotions begin to escalate. If it escalates to a meltdown, he’ll be moved to his room for a time-out where he is removed from the situation and other people until he is ready to rejoin the activities. She suggested using it for the other boys as well so he can generalize the space and not feel like he is being punished being the only one to use it. I think I have a good space for it, but it means rearranging my sewing space. I haven’t been using it as regularly as I had been, so I think we can try it out and see how it goes. I have some ideas, so now I just have to put it together.
Updates to come!