7.26.2004

Leelo Lore

So much going on with the boy. Sorry I've not written of it much lately, I'm just friggin fraggin tired, and writing about him is draining.

He's still fun, maddening, all that. Sweet, sneaky, bouncy. Increasingly chubby and growing taller too, possibly thanks to his new non-vegan diet. Making great strides. Here's infomation on specific progress, courtesy of fabulous Supervisor M.

As always, it is difficult to see the progress ourselves as we live with him day by day by day. It it particularly brutal for poor Seymour, who comes home tired from work, and encounters a little man who only wants to cut loose and ignore everyone because he just spent several hours in grueling therapy sessions, dammit.

Seymour worries that reports like the one linked to above are optimistically skewed; I can only remind him that these reports are not interpretive. They are based on cold, hard data. The progress is real. It's the generalization--the applying of what Leelo's learned to the non-therapeutic outside world--that takes time.

People who don't see Leelo for long stretches continue to comment on how much he's changed for the better, which is always heartening. Mostly folks can't believe how well he now responds to requests, as he ignored them outright for so long. We now know for certain that he understands most of what we ask him, but frequently chooses to ignore us. Yes, he is a preschooler.

With Leelo, as with so many autistic kids, it's all about (lack of) motivation. He will fully disengage if he's not interested in a topic, and will toss out rote answers in the hope that one of them will be correct and we'll leave him alone. "Leelo, is this carrot purple?" "Yes."

These color questions are a particular sore point for me, specifically "What color is X" vs. "Is X blue, green, etc." He almost never answers the former question correctly, whereas with the second he has 80% success--again, depending upon his level of engagement. However, when I show him some chocolate and ask him what color it is, he practicall shouts "The chocolate is brown!" with great eye contact. He then gets the chocolate, even though it comes from my private Joseph Schmidt stash.

As you may have guessed from my baiting him with chocolate, his diet is increasingly mellow. I guess I didn't realize how stressful this part of his treatment had been, until the other day when Clyde offered him a tray of leftover snacks from Iz and Merlin's school and, instead of jumping in front and saying "No, no, Leelo!," I realized that he could eat it all. I almost cried.

His willingness to eat available foods, well, that's something altogether different. He rejected everything on the tray except the Cheeerios. However, the boy loves smoothies, and I can hide normally tossed-across-the-room things like carrot juice, tofu, and blueberries inside them. Excellent.

Specific dietary crap: We stopped giving him B12 shots last month after we reintroduced dairy. We'd never seen any results, positive or negative, from this very pricey supplement. We'd only kept him on them because B12 deficiency is a problem with vegan diets such as the one he'd kept himself to for the past 10 months.

We are still not giving him peanuts or citrus. I want to get his bowels stabilized before another onslaught. He still gets the trots from whole milk products (yogurt, ice cream) and too much fruit. Plus, the fruit gives him a bum rash, just as it did to his sister.

Which, as always, leads me to question whether or not the dairy reintroduction has anything to do with his current behavior. The therapists say absolutely not. He still has last week's minor cold, and that always means crazies. Specifially, his pronunciation is mush, and conversations have to be forced unless he initiates them. As I type, I can hear normally unflappable Therapist F having to call "Leelo, Leelo, Leelo" repeatedly to get his attention.

However, since I've now been blabbing, er, blogging about him for more than a year, I can go back through these archives and judge for myself. Or maybe one of you can tell me, if you've been reading the backlogs more recently than I.

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