Okay, so I’ve done worse than neglecting this blog, I let it die. But resuscitation is possible, right?
Roman is now done with the buspirone trial. I look back on a year ago and remember a little boy who hardly even attempted to speak. I reminisce about my son who was indifferent towards people, especially his peers. I recall a child who didn’t see any use for imaginative play. Today, that boy has changed. I have a boy who tries to talk all the time. He doesn’t get most of the words right, but he’s trying. He interacts with his peers when prompted and has strong relationships with certain adults. He plays with toy tractors instead of just spinning their wheels. He likes Little People and Mr. Potato Head. I don’t know if I can attribute it to the buspirone, and I realize that a portion of it is due to his excellent and intensive schooling.
There have been disappointments this year. Roman is still in diapers 100% of the time. He currently has no interest in using the bathroom. The high hopes I had for intelligible speech have not been met. But, after all is considered, we’re glad we did it. We even opted to keep him on the buspirone indefinitely.
Roman’s life was changed a few months ago when we got him an iPad. He was very advanced with PECS for his age, but he likes using the Proloquo2Go app better. He uses it at home to request things all the time. Instead of getting frustrated and throwing a fit when I ask him what he wants for a snack and he answers “ah” and I don’t understand, he sort of rolls his eyes and hops off the kitchen chair and retrieves his iPad. He enters the Proloquo2Go app and navigates to the “food” section. There, he simply hits the icon for “I want” followed by the icon for “apple” and the computerized voice announced “I want apple”. He is rewarded with his apple, and I marvel as he enjoys the snack he just asked for.
He has other apps, mostly age appropriate educational games. He has shown me that he knows his colors, matching (which he excels at), letters, numbers, picking out differences and puzzles. I never knew that Roman was age appropriate or better in his learning until the iPad. We knew that underneath the autism, we had a smart boy, but we never knew how much he was actually learning at school and at home.
I think the iPad is one of the most useful tools I have ever seen for children (and adults) with autism, especially those who are nonverbal or have speech difficulties. PECS is an awesome system for communication, but for some reason, if you throw in the technology, some children are just more likely to use it. Roman never had a problem using PECS, but I was always losing the laminated icons or forgetting to pull out his book and make him request using it. He never really went to his PECS book unprompted for me, like he does with the iPad. There’s just something about that tablet computer that bring out so much more in our boy than we ever did before.
So, in closing the update: Yes, we’re glad we did the buspirone trial. Roman has developed beyond our expectations. And, get an iPad if you’re thinking about it. You won’t regret it.