Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Anyone Curious About George?

Waunita Hot Springs Pool, CO
It has been over a year since I have updated George's Blog. Time sure does fly!  A lot has happened in George's world as you will see below.

  • 2 "worst" nightmare scenarios with George, thankfully they turned out well.
  • Moving...ah...need I say more.  Still organizing!
  • Huge progress with George and eating!
  • New health information, 2 new changes and results!
  • Progress working with our therapy center, Enrichment Alternatives in Springfield
  • A generous donation from Bear Paw Creek for Autism Awareness month! 
  • Our FIRST family vacation with all the kids to Colorado, June 2017! Waunita Hot Springs Ranch
  • Approval of our first waiver for George which will allow me to self-direct his services and pay my helpers more!  Should be up and running by the end of July. Partnership of Hope
  • Better connections with potty training, thanks to alarm system and chiropractic care.          DryBuddy alarm system
  • George continues to grow in his interactive play and is currently working with 6 different individuals throughout the month.  I'm using all my training from Natural Play Therapy!
In November of 2016 we moved back across the highway to our new home that my husband rebuilt after our original home burned down in December of 2014.  We still have things to finish up, but we are there and it is a much safer environment for George.

Two days before our move, two of my worst nightmares occurred: George escaped from the house, was found 'playing' in a ditch by the highway and CPS greeted me the next morning.  Thankfully, George was not hurt and I guess CPS could tell I was a 'fit mother' and never opened a case.  I was not home and that made it even harder getting a call while on my way home!

I am continuing to look for fence grants.  I have been denied 5 times by one organization in which that is their specialty but they just don't have enough funds to help everyone.  I was denied through another organization as well, but I will keep at it.  A fence that he cannot climb and we can see through is over $5,000.

George gained a self help skill!  He went from high anxiety and flinging any food put before him to self-spoon feeding, beginning to chew and looking for more food on the table!  He only has smoothies now when I am in a hurry or traveling and it reduces my stress to do so!  I still do some blending because I can get a huge variety of food in him that way but he is spoon feeding himself everything, and enjoying it!

I attribute George's feeding progress to 3 things:  More helpers to help with consistency including feeding therapy every week from our Speech therapist, chelation therapy and chiropractic care.  We have done 40 rounds of chelation therapy.  This is removing heavy metals slowly and safely from his body and brain.  It takes 100-300 rounds to free most children of their autism symptoms.  A round is typically 3 days and nights (dose every 3 hours round the clock), then you take a 4 day break.  So 52 rounds would be 1 year.  We had to take a break when we moved but I am gearing up to start again.  This is the only way to chelate that I would recommend.  It is called Andrew Cutler Chelation.  There is lots of information on the web and some very helpful private Facebook groups.  This is a pretty good link if anyone wants more information. Cutler Success Stories.  I highly recommend the book Fight Autism and Win.  It lays out very simply how to chelate safely.  I am chelating myself as well.

It was while chelating that George started to be more comfortable with being spoon fed and seeing food in front of him.  It was not until we started chiropractic care that his brain was finally able to help his body make the connections and do the motor planning involved to actually spoon feed himself.

I had done some chiropractic with George in the past using different practitioners.  Then in January of 2017 I was forced to seek care myself due to my right hand going numb and shooting electrical charges up my arm. My regular chiropractor was closed and I had to get in ASAP so one of my wonderful caregivers referred me to Dr. Isaac Murphy in Carthage, MO.

As he was helping me I decided to have him check George out.  I kinda noticed his spine was looking odd to me but it wasn't until my occupational therapist mentioned his spine that I thought I must have seen something.  After evaluating him he wanted me to get some X-rays.  Come to find out George has scoliosis which explained a lot.

This is his before X-Ray as if we are looking through him from the front.  You can see how his spine is curved to his left side. He has always favored his left side.  The spine grows to the stronger side is what I remember Dr. Murphy saying in layman's terms.  All the black fuzzy stuff is gas.  Both radiologist and Dr. Murphy commented on how much gas build up he had in his belly.  Poor guy.  So his spine has affected his digestion, food absorption and all kinds of brain connections.

I really wasn't expecting to see a lot of other changes in him with chiropractic care after everything else I had tried.  However, he is already showing improvements.  He gets adjusted twice a week and he hops right up on the table.  That was another big change, no more videos/music and coaxing to get him to lay still.  He gets adjusted like a big boy and you can tell that he knows it is helping him.

You can visually tell his spine is straighter and it was after George started chiropractic care with Dr. Murphy, that he began to feed himself.  He is also relating better with people, more curious and beginning to follow one step directions such as "come here", "wash hands" etc... I said beginning, so not every time, but this is huge in our world for me to say lets wash hands and he comes to the sink to do it!  Super celebration!  We have had better connections with potty training as well.  He will go most times when we put him on the potty and he actually pulled his OT (occupational therapist) to the toilet last week and went!!!!!  Wow, looking forward to more of that.

 Dr. Murphy has been amazing working with me to help get to the root of George's issues.  He takes time and really explains anything you want to know.  He also consults with other colleagues about George, particularly one out in California that does chiropractic neurology that works with kiddos like George all day.  He has sure been a blessing!  If you are in the area,  I highly recommend him.  Click the link above and it will take you to his Facebook page, he has a webpage as well. You may even see a picture of George there.

I have been blessed to have found Kari Done and Enrichment Alternatives in Springfield for our Occupational Therapy and Speech. We go once a week and work on our 'homework' throughout the week since we live 45 minutes away.  All of the people we have worked with there have been excellent.  They are there to help the whole family as we adjust to life with our special kiddos and help us to learn about other resources that may be helpful to us.  George happily trots in the door when we arrive.

George picking his activity for Occupational Therapy
One of my goals for this summer is getting George an outdoor play-set to work on his gross motor muscles.  My friend, Janet Stephens, from Bear Paw Creek donated a percent of her April profits for Autism Awareness month to George's Trust Fund.  So we are half way to our goal.  There is more information under the Fundraiser button with a picture of the play-set.  A big thank you to Janet for thinking of us and supporting us!

I will wrap up this blog with what will probably be the highlight of our year, our first family vacation with all our boys, 15, 13 and 9. The last vacation we took our older boys were 3 1/2 and 13 months old.

We went with my brother in law, sister in law and my niece to Colorado.  I finally felt George and I could handle it and he did very well.  He was a great little traveler.  He peed on many different toilets and fed himself in different locations, thanks to ITunes.  Yeah, I know everything we are doing is helping George to be the best he can be.  Seeing him smile, learn new skills and enjoy himself just fills me with joy!  He is such a huge blessing to me.

Waunita Hot Springs Ranch, CO - George riding Danny. June 2017

Monday, March 21, 2016

How's George?

My last blog post was 2 years ago!  I can't believe how fast time flies.  I have not written anything since my last post about our Natural Play Therapy classes.  So, what have we been doing?  Playing of course!

  October 2014    

After our classes ended I started to incorporate some different activities that I could enjoy with all my boys. We purchased a YMCA family membership and travel once or twice a week (45 minutes away) to go swimming in an amazing pool.  George loves to swim and go down the big slides.  He also gets great physical therapy climbing the 34 steps up to the slides and pulling himself up on the Lilly pads in the pool.  Likewise, my big boys have fun with all the pool features which include a climbing wall in the deep end.  After our pool time, George goes to a Kid Zone area with other little ones.  The workers have been great with him.  This gives me time to play with my big boys.   We rock climb, play pool, ping pong or exercise together on some of the equipment.  

We also added trips to the Silver Dollar City family amusement park in Branson.  We used the boys' Christmas money from family to get some season passes.  This was great fun and we will be doing it again this year.  There is something for all the boys.  George loves movement so all the rides in the little kids section are a hit with him.  He is also happy hanging out in his big stroller while his brothers ride the big rides and once again I get some exercise.  It is a very hilly park, especially when you are pushing 40+ pounds.

Currently we have 2 days a month we travel about an hour for our speech and occupational therapy.  We incorporate some time together here as well.  Lately, we have been going to Skyzone for an hour of jumping on all the trampolines.  Then we eat lunch and go to therapies.  Both boys help as needed with therapy time to keep George engaged and interested, plus George wants them to play with him at this time too.  That is nice to see.  We know this because he grabs their arms to join him.  The last couple of times he didn't need his brothers and actually tried some new activities and it was with a new therapist.

As far as goals, we are still plugging along.  Communication has been a big goal for years and while we would love to "hear" his voice, it just isn't happening right now.  That doesn't mean he is not communicating with us. With Natural Play Therapy (NPT)  I have learned to be at peace with where he is at and I truly am. While we still model some sign language, George's brain really struggles to make his body do what he wants.  We are addressing that issue with some detox protocols and primitive reflex integration therapy.   I will discuss that in another blog in the near future since that is a big part of our lives as well.

This year our speech therapist helped us to obtain a NovaChat communication device for George.  He is learning to tell us his wants and needs with it.  Like everything it is a slow process but he is understanding more and more every week.

George is choosing what he wants to do in the playroom.

I have noticed recently that George seems to be following directions a bit easier.  He has done a couple of simple tasks at our requests that he has not done before.  He is also learning to play games on an IPAD whereas before he would want us to do everything and he would just watch.  We are working on matching objects on the IPAD now and it is going well so far.  It is definitely motivating for him and he is using his fine motor skills.  He loves anything with music, so the apps with music are a big hit.

We are going in to our fourth year of using the Natural Play Therapy approach and I truly consider it our foundation.  I can pull other therapies in as needed and make them NPT friendly.  The way it has strengthened my relationship with George and his relationships with his NPT team is priceless.  When team members come over he gladly leaves whatever he is doing and takes their hands to go upstairs to his playroom.  I had a neighbor come over one time when a team member was leaving and George looked at her and figured she was there to play with him.  He took her hand and took her up to his playroom.  It was adorable!

We don't really have any 'behavior' issues with George.  I do believe if we were trying to force goals on him that he was not ready for or if we were placing too much emphasis on what we thought he 'should' be doing then we could possibly have some behavior issues.  I don't consider him not staying with me in public a 'behavior' issue.  I believe he is doing the best he can and he, for whatever reason, does not respond to his name and come to us.  I don't believe it is defiance though.  Thankfully, I have seen some small improvement in him as far as staying with me and not darting everywhere.

We have other large goals that George has not met such as potty training and working on touching and eating food. We are still putting him on the potty daily.  It is hit or miss if he goes and there is no connection with him needing to go. I work on spoon feeding him off and on instead of his smoothies.  I am not doing this as consistently as I would like.  As a mom, home schooling 3 boys,  I can only tackle one major issue like this at a time.  To work on all of them everyday is totally overwhelming, so I am giving myself permission not to do it all right now.  I do believe we are still working on these areas with our detox protocols and reflex therapy.

We will be moving, hopefully, towards the end of summer.  I am looking forward to getting settled and making some new play areas for George.  I am hoping to create lots of areas for climbing, movement and play.

I finished my NPT classes in 2014 and am very comfortable in using what I have learned.  I still want to have an NPT outreach once we are settled in our new place.  There are many more Natural Play Therapy classes available now and it is good to know there is support out there when I need it.  My biggest hurdle is finding people in our rural area, but I am confident we will get there.  I just need to get more creative and I will when the time is right.

George is currently getting 18 hours of scheduled 'play' a week.  I have 13 more hours I am looking to fill right now.  We can pay people now, which is really nice.  We are always open to volunteers coming if students want to build their volunteer hours, even if it is just once a month.  It is so helpful for George to interact with different people.

We are so blessed to have our 2 amazing Team Members, Rachel Bates and Rebekah Alger, working with George every week.  They both have such a playful spirit and give him much love and support.

George showing Rebekah what music he wants to listen to as they play.

Rachel and George coloring for a couple of minutes which is HUGE!
George used to run the other way when we took out the
coloring books and crayons.

Thank you for reading and for your interest in George's progress.  Please leave comments below with any questions you may have or anything you would like to add.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Natural Play Therapy Class Review

Rachel and I have completed our series of 14 Natural Play Therapy (NPT) interactive web classes this week.  A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this possible for us!  We had a great experience and learned so much that we are applying as we work with George. Rachel is using what she has learned from NPT with the clients she works with in the community.   I will share a bit about what I specifically learned and post my last video I made for class.

This is a picture of my classmates.  Julie Sando is the top middle and her co-teacher is Kristen Lee Langelier.
Kristen is in the second row first picture.

We had a great mix of volunteers, parents with children on the spectrum and former certified NPT child coaches.  Our group represented three different countries, Australia, Canada and 3 time zones in the USA.   Technology at its best.

I learned valuable information from all of my classmates, from their stories, experiences, perspectives and the videos they shared.  I fell in love with their amazing children and thoroughly enjoyed watching them work with and learn from their children.  Not only did I learn about working with people in a respectful, non-judgmental way, but I learned so much about taking care of myself and relationships in general.

We also watched some videos from our NPT instructors working with children.  The videos helped me a great deal and were amazing to watch how they gently integrated their goals for the children into their play in such a fun, respectful and non-judgmental way.  Our children on the spectrum are so sensitive and pick up so much of our thoughts and feelings without us even speaking. All the more reason to be coming from a place of respect, love and acceptance for where they are at and who they are at this point in time and celebrating all their accomplishments no matter how small they may seem.

Speaking of celebrating, I have been celebrating since yesterday the fact that George is now putting the bubble wand to his mouth, sometimes in his mouth.  It sounds so trivial but it is a step along the way to our goal for him to blow a bubble off the wand on his own.  He had such an aversion to doing this for years then yesterday while I was blowing bubbles for him, I set the container down and he pulled the wand out and instead of giving it to me he pulled it right to his mouth and kept doing it, taking turns with me.  Today he did the same.  Yeah!  Small steps reaching towards our goal.

During the time span we were taking our classes, I had some exciting play sessions with 4 children other than George.  I would have loved to do more but it was not realistic right now.  Maybe in the future I will be able to work with other children and parents.  What I can do now is share our story and how NPT is helping us to connect with George and realize our goals for him.

I will look forward to taking more NPT classes in the future as the time is right.  I am so impressed with all the people I meet involved in NPT.  Their love for people on the spectrum and their positive attitude is contagious.  It sure beats having people tell you how worried they are about your child and that no one in the area we live could help him.  I know someone who can....ME and my amazing helpers at Team George including his brothers and Dad.

Below is my video I submitted in my last NPT class.   I had several goals I was working on in this segment, at the same time I was watching George to gauge if he was connected and if I could request more interaction from him.  One of the goals I was working towards was for George to touch a food item, pasta, on the palms of his hands.  The idea is for him to get used to touching all different foods beginning with dry and moving to different textures like crumbly, wet, foods he could mash on his own etc...  The goal is for at some point for him to start bringing the food to his mouth on his own with no pressure.  So the pasta was the beginning and he did awesome even using both his hands.

Another goal I was working on was having him follow my directions.  There was a natural opportunity to teach him to shake and he happily followed my lead and let me show him.  I also went into the activity hoping to allow each of us to get what we wanted, his current joy of pouring and watching the movement and my desire for him to happily touch a food item and follow instructions.

Take a look and see what you think.  I believe we had a good balance.

It felt amazing to share this interaction with him.  He was engaged and interested in what we were doing.  He also added a twist to the activity by letting me know he wanted his feet in the tub.  When he was done, there was no pressure and we went right on to the next activity and had some more fun together.

Please leave a comment below sharing your thoughts on the video and/or blog, ask a question or share an experience of you working with your child.  I would love to hear from you.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mommy & George in the Playroom!

I am so thankful to have two young ladies helping me with cleaning two times a week.  This is freeing me up to play more with George.  One of the young ladies is also volunteering to play with George 2 hours a week. Awesome! So glad to have Rebekah playing with George.  I am excited to watch them build a relationship!

I took a couple of clips from my last play session with George.  George and I spent 1 1/2 hours together in this session.  Below are two clips that I especially liked.

In the first video I played with clapping.  George will not clap on his own to songs but likes it when we do. We are working on him participating more.  It is as if his brain struggles to tell his body what to do.  In this clip I wait and give him plenty of time to respond and 'help' me to clap.  I play with him to anticipate me being silly too, which he really likes as you can hear from his precious giggle.

Some of you may notice the same music cd as in my Moments in the Playroom video.  George looks through our cd case and picks what he wants.  He picks this one on purpose and is really into in right now. That is another new thing he has started to do.  Yeah, love to see his progress!

I just love to hear George giggle in that video!

This second video is an example of something we do in the playroom called recharging and deepening.  We do this when George is less connected and doing solitary play.  Sometimes we join him and explore what he is doing and do some parallel play, but other times we do what feels right to us, which may mean giving ourselves a break like he does.  

I had been putting a wooden train track together for quite awhile as he was turned away rocking back and forth on the mattress.  I created even more space between us by turning my back to him.  When the video begins you can see him start to spectate and check out what I was doing.  

I didn't put any pressure on George to come interact with me.  Also, very important, inside my mind I wasn't expecting him to come join me.  I was going to have fun playing whether he joined me or not and be happy with my decision.  With this mindset I don't feel guilty if he doesn't come interact with me, feeling like I am not accomplishing anything with him.  Him watching me and practicing in spectator play is an accomplishment, however if he remained rocking in solitary play that would also be an accomplishment.  He is being treated like a person in any real relationship.  Sometimes I want to be alone and other times I want to interact with people. This is huge as a parent to be able to ENJOY just being with my child and not feel like I have to MAKE something happen and teach him something amazing when I am with him and feel like a failure if it doesn't happen.

So take a look at how my recharging time went.


I had a great time and look forward to more time in the playroom with George!

Please leave any comments, questions or share your experience while playing with your child/children!  I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Watch Us Play!

I have put together a video of short clips from George's amazing team members playing with him.  Before you watch it, I wanted to give you some background on the stages of play.  Then watch the video and see if you can pick out some of these stages.  I had a lot of fun doing this.

In Natural Play Therapy (NPT) we have the opportunity to give George a chance to work through the 5 developmental stages of play that we all go through and they continue into our adult relationships.  The five stages are:

Solitary Play - This is present in infancy but we do this all our lives.  This is when people may be in the same room 'together' but are each absorbed in what they are doing.  Typically people with autism spend a lot of time in solitary play even though it may not look like 'play' to us.

Spectator Play - This stage typically emerges about 2-2.5 years of age and goes into adulthood.  This is observing others doing activities but not interacting.  In NPT we have ways to allow George to learn by being a spectator and not pressuring him to interact with us.  This is something that is missing in other therapies.

Parallel Play - This may start around 2.5 - 3 years old and go into adulthood.  This is when people may be doing the same or similar activity in the same area, maybe even copying some of their actions but not interacting with them.  We do a lot of parallel play with George in the playroom when he is less connected with us.  We take it as an opportunity to explore his world and take an interest in what he likes to do.  We are working to create a 50/50 relationship and taking an interest in what he likes is part of that.

Associative Play - This may begin around age 3-4 and go to adulthood.  This is playing a game or doing an activity the way it should be done with someone, talking or interacting with one another but not really working together to create something.  This stage allows George to start taking an interest in what we like and working towards that 50/50 relationship.

Cooperative Play - Around ages 4-5 and into adulthood you will see cooperative play.  This is playing cooperatively with others.  This play is organized and structured and you are communicating as you work towards a common goal.  This is when children learn to respect others' property, realize they need to ask permission to use their things and are more willing to share their things.

There is not one stage that we are aiming for in NPT.  They are ALL important and in a play session you will go in and out of many of these stages just as you would if you spent a long period of time with a friend. Adults do not spend all their time in parallel play.  We all need 'down' time and the freedom to go in and out of all of these stages.

Typical children also spend a lot of time in solitary and spectator play and may not exhibit lots of eye contact playing with their friends.  Sometimes parents of children on the spectrum may have been led to believe that their kids don't have ANYTHING in common with 'typically' developing children.  Not true.

Have fun watching these video clips and see if you can pick out the different stages of play!

I would love to read any comments you may have about the video or play stages.  Please post below and add to the discussion!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's Official---George is Tooting Now

I have tried to get George to blow for several years now.  It is a skill that helps with speech.  I even ordered the whole 'blowing' speech kit with all sorts of blowing objects that are to be done in order of difficulty to refine this skill.  I lost interest in the kit when I could not get him to blow at all.

When we started Natural Play Therapy last year we just had fun modeling blowing by using bubbles, whistles, recorders and harmonicas.  Sometimes he would mouth the recorder but not blow.

Just about a month ago he began blowing.  I was hesitant to announce this because at first I thought it was a fluke and it may have been that he blew it accidentally at first.  I remember when my boys saw him do it in the living room and they got so excited.

Now he blows the recorder in the playroom with Rachel pretty regular now.  He blew on it with Caleb the other day and Caleb was surprised.  

The video below shows George blowing back and forth with me for the first time.  He was kind of having a fussy time when we were trying to video.  Nothing was really clicking.  Then I just sat in the corner to watch him play with Rachel and he joined me and we had a special moment of blowing!

Our next step will be to transfer this skill to blowing bubbles and other objects.  It will be fun to watch him make the connection that he can blow other objects and make things happen.

My next blog will feature video clips from all of George's wonderful team members!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Life Changing Opportunity

We are looking for individuals in search of a life changing opportunity.  This opportunity has the ability to transform all of your relationships, enrich your life and who knows what else it may lead to.

We are looking for volunteers to come and PLAY.  How great is that?  Leave your worries behind and escape for a couple of hours.  George is a very affectionate guy who gives amazing hugs.  His hugs are the best medicine for just about anything!  Come get yours weekly, monthly, whatever is best for you.  

What is so great about Natural Play Therapy is that George gets an opportunity to learn how fun and unique people are and the more variety the more opportunity he will have for learning.  Everyone plays differently and has different gifts to offer him!  More volunteers means a larger 'Team George' that can brainstorm ideas to best help him.  We will learn from each other as we use Natural Play Therapy guidelines. We will learn and practice 5 stages of play in the playroom that correspond to normal human development and they actually continue into adulthood.

Many therapies use rewards for a child to 'get through' the therapy with the therapist.  Once the child does the required task then they are rewarded with what motivates them which may be stimming on a toy in their own world or eating some candy etc....  In Natural Play Therapy 'WE' are George's reward.  We don't want him to have to 'perform' for us we want him to WANT to interact with us.  We reward him daily by giving him respect, building his trust and giving him space.  We actually are very careful with making requests of him until he is ready and motivated.

Think about your relationships.  Do you like to be manipulated?  Can you feel when people are manipulating you and trying to get you to do something you do not want to do?  Are you more motivated to do something for others when it is your idea and you really WANT to do it because of the relationship you have with that person?  I don't think anyone enjoys being manipulated and even people like George can sense when they are being manipulated.  I want George to learn to have real, healthy relationships based on trust and respect.

I often hear people talk about kids with special needs and about their stubbornness in a negative way.   I see it more as a positive because it means they want to take some control of their life.  In our playroom we can give George control, something that he has so little of in other areas of his life.

Come be a part of Team George and please share with others that you think would benefit from this opportunity.

I would love to write recommendations for students who volunteer who may be able to get some school credit or scholarships for this experience.

Please check out the FAQ's section of my blog for more information about what volunteering may look like.  We live about 20 minutes north of Mt. Vernon, Missouri.  Please email Yvonne Marshall at or call 417-569-2147 if you have an interest in this volunteer opportunity.

Come watch George climb some more milestones!