Friday, March 29, 2013

Goodbye Elder & Sister Wengert!

On Wednesday March 27th, my family came up  here to drop Jessie and Derek off at the Provo MTC. We went out to eat at Tucanos before- a tradition that strangely started after me with Devin.... haha, jk. It was so sad to see them go and a few tears might've been shed but it was good for them to finally start this new experience! They have no idea what they just got themselves into!! :) It'll be awesome though and fun to see their growth and hear about their exciting new lives. 

My cousin Kole came down to go out to eat with us- he's been home for about 2 weeks from the Hawaii Honolulu Mission. He's awesome- I love this kid!

Last glimpse of Jessie before we was taken! Good luck Jess and Dery! See you in 18 months and 2 years!!

And because a post isn't complete without a little boy in it....

Ty and I played this signing game the other night- he knew every single one, saying it verbally and signing it! I was impressed!

I asked him what his favorite one was- this is him signing "car" very enthusiastically! Silly boy!



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Baby




My baby boy is going to turn THREE soon!! How did that happen??! 
It seems like yesterday we were so relieved to be bringing him home from the NICU. 
Yet so much has happened along those three years as well. 
I have learned soooo much as a parent and know I am just at the tip of the iceberg of it all. I love being this little boy's mom and am excited for his continued growth and progress. 

Once a kid turns three, they move from Early Intervention services and get turned over to the local school district for services, which in our case is Alpine School District. Last week we went in for the big assessment that determines which services he qualifies for. This is kind of a big deal since it sets the stage for what comes next and whether you have to "fight" for more services if you feel your child isn't receiving enough. Plus you always wonder how your kid is going to do or "perform." They had this train set in the waiting room and Ty didn't want to leave it plus he had a stinky diaper as soon as I got there (I left the diaper bag at the baby sitters with Levi) and so it was kind of a rough start. But after we got over that and borrowed a diaper Ty did really well- I really was surprised! They wrote that "Tyrell was cooperative, compliant and followed directions well. He did not initiate interactions with the evaluators." There's the autism in him coming out. :) But overall he did great.

He ended up scoring in the 6th percentile for expressive language- which is what we expected and considered a significant delay. 
He scored in the 23rd percentile for comprehension of language- much higher than we all expected and is considered in the average range. This makes his overall language scoring to be in the 10th percentile which is considered only a mild delay, making speech therapy optional and up to me. Of course I wanted it. But surprising that most kids in the 10th percentile don't even qualify for speech. 

He scored in the 88th percentile for cognitive thinking!!!! This was a HUGE surprise and the director was blown away by it and called him "a little genius" and said that is almost unheard of when you have such a delay in expressive language. This is considered waaay above average overall and that he is understanding way above what is expected. I didn't realize he's such a smart little boy! He's also way above average for gross motor (physically).

The director qualified him for servies under the Speech/Language category instead of the Autism Spectrum category since without the speech delay he wouldn't even qualify for any services at all, regardless of his actual PDD-NOS diagnosis! She is confident that he will outgrow the autism diagnosis and be mainstreamed by kindergarten. Of course, I was very encouraged by this news.

Overall this is very good since we are already receiving services with Bridges preschool which will go until summer of next year. I thought we'd qualify for the school district preschool or the autism preschool but we didn't even come close to that. For now he will just go to the local elementary school once a week with an appointment with the speech therapist there. Next year we'll have to figure out what to do next, once Bridges ends, since I might have to fight for some sort of preschool/ABA therapy since he's starting to be on the cut-off point but for now we'll just take one day at a time! Good job Ty Ty!

Easter Eggs

 This year I decided to be brave and dye Easter Eggs. It really is kinda fun now that the boys are getting older and understanding more that we can do real kid stuff! Ty is having so much fun with easter stuff so far this year and had a blast finding eggs at his grandparent's house. It's neat that he's starting to "get" holidays. 
Both boys loved dying the easter eggs for Family Night. And amazingly enough, no major catastrophes occurred! We ate cookies after and then snuggled on the couch watching HOP, a little easter kids movie. It was a fun little night all together. 



They loved the shrink wrap Micky Mouse eggs :)







Wreck it Ralph has taken over our lives!! I can quote almost the entire movie, including the movie credit songs at the end. Levi has held the DVD movie case for 2 weeks straight- I'm not even kidding. This poor case looks trashed already since it has to be at the dinner table while we eat, sit on the bathroom counter during baths, goes everywhere in the car with us and has endured many Costco and Walmart trips already. He always says, "Raff!" when he needs Ralph or drops it. I'm curious as to how long this will last....


Ty showing us his "TY egg"- the egg that has his name written on it. Lately Ty is obsessed with the alphabet and specifically the letters T and Y. They practice writing their name everyday at school and so he knows those are "Ty letters." We'll be in the grocery store and he'll just sit around looking for T, Y, L, D, and M's- for Ty, Levi, Dad and Mom. It's pretty funny. 

The Dentist and Aunt Vanney

The boys had their first dentist appointments. I really was very hesitant to take them, especially Ty, as to how they would tolerate it but it was free for kids 2 and under and it was at a pediatric dentist so I figured they are used to difficult kids. It was a really neat place- they laid flat with these headphones in their ears to watch whatever movie they wanted on a ceiling TV and there was a train that circled around overhead around the entire building. The boys loved it and I was so impressed with how well they did!!! They each did AWESOME!! Plus, no cavities and dentist said their teeth look great. I always worry about that since little kid's teeth are so hard to brush! But good job boys!

Levi mesmerized while watching Cars :)



Each boy got a prize afterwards but Ty just liked his new toothpaste. :)



TJ's sister, Vannessa, came into town for a few days and brought the three girls that she nannies for in New York/Florida- Rayna, Clara, and Tessa. These girls were hilarious and so fun to have around, let alone beautiful with gorgeous skin!! If this Mormon thing is wrong and we come back reincarnated I want to be half black!!! :) jk. We did family stuff all weekend and had a great time. It's always so fun to have Vanney around- she's the life of the party and we miss her!



 How my boys play skee ball:


Every time Ty would "make it" into the bottom hole (the only one he could reach) he'd jump up and yell, "YES!!!" and then do a happy dance. It was pretty funny. These boys love being with their cousins and playing. When we were walking in, Ty stopped for a second and said no while shaking his head like he didn't want to go in. I told him I'd hold his hand and so he kept walking and went inside as all his "fears" disappeared instantly- he had a BLAST. I love seeing him overcome things and do things he wouldn't normally do. Bridges preschool is helping so much and he continues to amaze us with his progress. :)



Monday, March 18, 2013

Farewells!

This weekend, Levi and I took a very quick trip down to Arizona for Jessie and Derek's Farewells.  I had a voucher for a free flight so we left on Saturday morning and flew into Phoenix and then we drove back very late on Sunday night with Devin and Teddi who drove our car down. Dallin and Amy followed behind us in their car. It was neat that all of us could be together one last time before they report! They all are going to California for a few days but us married kids couldn't leave again with work/school stuff. I'm so glad we went! It was so fun and I loved being there!!!

They both leave for Argentina and England on March 27 and report to the Provo MTC. 

2013- All of us siblings!
Tara- 27, Devin- 24, Dallin- 22, Jessie- 20, Derek- 18, Jordan- 15, Janae- 13, Tanner- 11


2002- All of us siblings- a lot has changed!! Thankfully my bangs sure have.
Tara- 16, Devin- 13, Dallin- 11, Jessie- 9, Derek- 7, Jordan- 4, Janae- 2, Tanner- newborn


This is Preston, Teddi's little brother. He loves Levi and it was so cute to watch them together! He'd follow Levi around with a protective little arm around him the entire time until Levi would push it away, haha. They liked playing on the iPad together during the Ensemble. The Lindsey family has literally become family and it's so fun to have them around and get to know them better. 

Jessie, Preston and Raban


Toni was a life saver and took Levi outside and played with him for hours. He hardly slept this trip and was very grumpy, especially during church!! He was such a bum! I was in and out a lot during the farewell talks until Sister Ashcraft came and took him- I was so grateful!!!




Nice face Jordan!
Lots of the Wengert clan showed up from Arizona and New Mexico.




 The 4 new missionaries in the Wengert family! Derek is going to Argentina, Skylar is going to Samoa, Jessie is going to England and Easton is going to Peru! So awesome!!

Levi had kinda a hard trip on the way home but since we didn't leave until about 3:30 pm (we got home at 4:00 am) so he slept most of it. Yes, he is squishing his banana between his fingers and covered in cheetoes. Yum!


Friday, March 15, 2013

Early Intervention


I was recently asked to write down Ty's story and our positive experience that we had with Early Invention and Kids on the Move so that they can use it to help other families, advocate for much needed funding and use it on their website. I thought that was pretty cool! This is what I sent them:

"When my son, Ty, was about 18 months old, my husband and I started noticing he might have some speech delays since he had zero words up to this point without any imitation or spontaneous speech. I started talking to some friends about it and “comparing” my son’s speech (or lack of) to other kids his age.  After about 2 weeks I came to conclusion that we needed help. My one friend recently had her daughter assessed with EI and gave me the info. I immediately called and soon had Ty set up for home visits since he was in the 6th percentile for speech. Up to this point I thought he was only delayed in speech and nothing else. He was a tricky kid but he was my first and so I didn’t know any better. From the day he was born he was a poor sleeper, not able to self soothe, and was difficult to console after about 1 year old or so. By the time he was 14 months old he was having melt downs 5-10 times a day, was a super frustrated little boy, unable to communicate what he wanted and would literally just RUN off the second his feet touched the ground. I thought he was just starting the Terrible Two’s early. To make matters even more complicated, Ty’s little brother, Levi, was born at that time as well so it soon became apparent that we needed help. Ty was not a “normal” little kid but the word autism never once entered my mind. I just thought we’d get speech and that would help with the tantrums and lack of communication.

Ty did really well with the Child Developmental Specialist, Cameron, that came once every two weeks and soon had a Speech Therapist, April, coming as well. He was thriving with them and making progress but still struggled in some areas such as eating and behavior. Soon we added an Occupational Therapist, Gary, as well to assist with the eating aspect since he was very sensitive to many foods, would only eat 10-15 types of food, extremely picky (Resistant Eater) and gagged extremely easy. All of these interventions helped immensely but I still felt Ty needed more social interaction to help with behavior. That is when he started with the Bridges Preschool program and since then progress has been phenomenal. We still struggle and have our hard days but all of these things combined was exactly what Ty and our family needed.

When he was 2 ½ years old and after being in Bridges Preschool for almost 3 months, we decided to have Ty tested for any Autism Spectrum Disorders. He ended up being diagnosed with PPD-NOS, or Persistent Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified. He qualified for that with his speech delays, social/behavior difficulties and hypersensitivity to oral input. I am so grateful for this diagnosis, as hard as it was at first, because this led to our acceptance into the Bridges ABA Therapy Program which is funded by a government grant (worth over $27,000/year). Ty now goes to his “school” 20 hours a week and is making wonderful progress. Our life compared to a year ago is ten times better- for our whole family and for him. I am so proud of his progress and how far he has come. He has and will continue to overcome huge challenges and I know there is absolutely no way he could have done that without Kids On The Move. I get emotional whenever I think about how much they have done for our family and about the individuals who have all worked so hard and genuinely care about Ty and helping him progress. Not only is Ty involved with the services I mentioned but he also goes to Courage Reins, a therapeutic horse riding center once a week. My husband and I have also participated in many different classes offered by KOTM, including Positive Discipline, Floor Time and autistic related classes as well. These have been beneficial for the entire family. It is also so wonderful to get to know other parents who are struggling and experiencing the exact same thing as you at the exact same time.

Looking back, it’s amazing how one thing lead to another to finally get Ty where he’s at today. I attribute it all to Kids on the Move and Early Intervention Services. When we started back in Feb. 2012 I had no idea I would become a very passionate Mom of an Autistic Spectrum child. Who knows when Ty would’ve gotten the diagnosis without services that started so young? Research shows the earlier the better for therapy and intervention and I’m grateful Ty was diagnosed at such an early, early age. Even though we still have our struggles, I am at peace each day knowing that Ty is getting exactly what he needs right now and that there is nothing more that I could be doing for him.


I know it is extremely difficult being a parent of a special needs child and that autistic kids bring their own individualized set of challenges. But there is help and interventions out there that make a world of difference. Facing the diagnosis- the actual words on paper that states that your child is not like all the others- is the hardest part. But with that piece of paper comes so many more opportunities and doors that can be opened. Ty is about to turn 3 years old and now has about 75 spontaneous words and can say and sign most of those, is putting together 3 word sentences, has about 0-2 meltdowns a day, enjoys quiet time while reading books or playing on the iPad, understands all directions given to him, has a love for all types of animals as well as Cars, trains, anything Disney, books, puzzles, and he smiles, laughs, hugs, and snuggles with those he loves. I have become very passionate about Early Intervention and the difference it makes. We are living proof of that."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tyler

This is Tyler. He was one of TJ's YM teachers (a young man in our church youth group who TJ worked very closely with) that lived a few houses down from us. Last week we got the tragic, shocking phone call that he had committed suicide by hanging himself in his backyard. We couldn't believe it! Honestly, you couldn't find a sweeter, kinder, genuinely loving 15 year old kid than this guy. He was always super smiley and happy and frequently would get up to bear his testimony. Definitely my favorite youth that my husband worked with. Everyone loved Tyler. TJ had talked to him 2 days before and I had had a nice conversation with him the Sunday before! It rocked the entire community and especially the jr. high school where he went. :( Isn't he such a cute kid??!




We aren't exactly sure why or what happened. He did have some bad things happen to him as a kid and a rocky family/parent situation. He came to live with his grandparents 3 years ago and was doing amazingly well with the change. But obviously, he still had some internal struggles and makes us all desperately wish we had known or could've helped more or done something different?? He left a goodbye note to his brother and best friend, saying he was sorry and that they needed to serve an extra good mission for him. :) That part broke my heart. The entire community/ward has been wearing orange ribbons in memory of him and they are everywhere up and down our street. 

My husband struggled a little with this since, amazingly enough, this is the closest person to him that has ever died! I've lost a grandma, brother, two cousins, an aunt- all pretty tragically and too early. It still made this difficult- death is never easy- but my heart hurt for my sweet husband. 

The funeral was very well done and our bishop and stake president who spoke did an incredible job. I was impressed how they flat out talked about suicide and said that yes, it was wrong of Tyler. He made a dumb mistake, like we all do sometimes. Was it his time to go? No. Did Heavenly Father call him home? No. Did He welcome Tyler home with open arms? Yes. :) They also quoted a lot from an Elder Ballard's talk about suicide which is excellent and the link is below. I know that all will be made right in the end and that we'll see Tyler again. Elder Ballard said this, 

“Obviously, we do not know the full circumstances surrounding every suicide. Only the Lord knows all the details, and He it is who will judge our actions here on earth.
”When He does judge us, I feel He will take all things into consideration: our genetic and chemical makeup, our mental state, our intellectual capacity, the teachings we have received, the traditions of our fathers, our health, and so forth.“ 

http://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/10/suicide-some-things-we-know-and-some-we-do-not?lang=eng

Monday, March 4, 2013

As of lately...

Last week was free zoo day at the Hogel Zoo so even though it was a little chilly and we were all bundled up we ventured up to see "all the animals." The boys got so excited. My boys both are obsessed with all types of animals but especially zoo animals so it was worth the trip. Plus, you can't beat free! Ginger and Parker met us there and it was fun! Levi and Parker get along so good. They seem to have similar personalities- very chill, kick back, go with the flow little boys- which is always a plus, especially since Parker is going to be a BIG BROTHER in August- soooo exciting!!! 


Kissin Cousins



Ty did not appreciate having his picture taken at this time- well, actually, the entire zoo trip. :) That is my excuse for lack of good pictures. 

These two kept holding hands whenever we'd walk- it was so cute!! 





Since Levi has been getting his Pulmicort nebulizer treatment everyday since August he's gotten to the point that he can almost do them by himself! Even though it's kinda a pain it's been totally worth it since we haven't had any respiratory issues since August. I'm hoping by May I can ease off or stop but we'll see. Ty is always willing to help and often has to take a turn as well :)






Both boys wanted to relax and watch a movie and after a while of silence I walked into this :) Poor Ty is very tired out on Tuesday and Thursdays which are his long days at preschool. He works HARD on those days and is ready to relax and chill out.

I'm continually amazed at the link between Autism and puzzles. Ty does 24 and 36 puzzles easily and quickly and totally independently, even with a brand new one. It's amazing how their little brains are wired so.... interestingly!