Monday, June 11, 2012

It has been over six weeks now since Sebastian started having ABA sessions at home. We have amazing team of volunteers: Shaza, Hue, Jaclyn, Leah, Vennesa and Daniel.  Donna Chaney is our most qualified psychologist with decades of experience of working with autistic children who is designing programs and supervising our team. Donna is not only Behavioural Institute professional. Vennesa is working there too and in the future she will take charge of the tasks Donna is doing now. Sebastian is a very lucky boy!

We got the finest group of people you can ever meet. All of them are smart, gentle and enthusiastic. Things are going surprisingly well. Sebastian is improving with each session. Each session is an exiting event. Sebastian is inventing new strategies to get the biggest amount of reinforcers for the least amount of "work", it is endearing to watch indeed, but we are staying ahead of him and i that short time his requesting, washing and drying hands, and brushing teeth has improved already. Another noticeable thing is that Sebastian seems to have better eye contact, his attention and problem solving improved too. That does not always work to my advantage because he is figuring out how to do things i would rather have him not do :)
Jaclyn and Sebastian during one of the first sessions.

Inka is always big part of the picture trying to help with whatever is going on :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Paul Ceretti brings great news!

2011 was very good to us. It was year of the dog. Not is chinese calendar but in our house. We are bigger, happier and more complete family now when Inka is part of it.

2012 began with big changes. Sebastian moved from catholic to public school and things are going good so far. It did not start without trauma on day one when Sebastian has bitten his fellow student. But since then there were no such incidents I know of, and Sebastian enjoys himself on frequent day trips and outings.

The Friday the 13th was the day when we had the most exiting and luckiest news delivered personally by Paul Ceretti. Paul is well known in local Hamilton autism community as powerful advocate who does not take no for an answer, but for people who do not know I will try to introduce him. Paul is the father of autistic twins Delanie and Mackenzie similar to Sebastian in age. They were also denied IBI. His struggles are portrayed in documentary "benchMARKED". When pushing government to do the right thing by courts and media did not bring desired changes Paul did not give up. He came up with the idea of Autism Assistance Program based on volunteer work of students from McMaster University who can provide therapy after receiving training by professionals from Behavioural Institute. Students benefit by getting experience and credits. Cost of running of such program is only a fraction of the regular IBI therapy but it was still too high for me to afford at this time. And here comes the miracle: Behaviour Institute Children's Bursary decided to fund one child a year for this program. And Sebastian was qualified and chosen to receive it. So that was the news Paul brought us last the most lucky Friday the 13th. I am exited and overjoyed. As art of the program I will go through training and God knows I need it very much.

Our house it is going to be hectic in near future and it is going to be a very very good thing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dog Summer

This was the first summer Inka spent with us. We had the entire vacation to adapt, get to know and fall in love with each other.

We had a couple of uneasy moments. In first days, Sebastian poked his finger in Inka's eye unintentionally as he was passing by her, and she did not even flinch or duck to avoid him. That made things more difficult because I had to have them supervised when they were together. Then when Sebastian did not want to walk, he got very upset and it looked hopeless for a minute because he was grabbing Inka's tail and face same way he was grabbing therapists, teachers and my own hair faces and hands during his tantrums when he was younger. But this behaviour did not last long. Now things go much smoother. We walk go for regular walks all together. Inka makes us get out more. With her, every outing is an adventure. Yes, it is sometimes more difficult since we are not always coordinated, and depending on Sebastian's moods, I have to be in control of two and not just one unruly creatures. But Inka brings a calm and rhythm and enthusiasm to our endeavors.

We visited the farm couple of times, and Sebastian seemed to be interested in goats and other animals more than ever before.

Yesterday, I saw Sebastian for the first time hug Inka. He approached her several times. He was giggling and putting his weight on her, and reaching to her face and ears. She patiently stayed put, and when it was getting too much for her she would just move a bit - she seemed to enjoy Sebastian's awkward attempts at showing affection. Inka - the best dog in the world!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Inka is Now Part of the Bunda Family

Our family expanded. It is official, and we have papers to prove it. Inka stands now for a hefty 30% of our family members. She is also the best behaved.

I will never be able to describe or even fully understand what happens at the Lion's Foundation between humans and dogs. I will also never be able to express my gratitude to the people that work for that amazing organization, with a devotion and charisma difficult to match anywhere else. The impact dog guides have on people's life is unmeasurable. There are no scientific instruments to detect the change in the quality of life that dogs bring. But we all can feel the impact of what they do.

My gratitude extends to all people involved in breeding, raising and training the dogs. They selflessly contribute countless hours to welfare of dog recipients. Foster families raise the puppies till the one year old and ready for training. It must be heartbreaking to raise the puppy for a year and then give it up. Professional trainers, volunteers, fundraisers, administrators, and not to forget the cafeteria staff - all people I have met in Oakville at the Lions Foundation - are kind smart, patient, and have a sense of humour that was able to lift up many awkward situations. We had quite a few belly laughs, and bonded with our benefactors. The trainers were patient with their trainees, both the canine and human kind. Here is a link to pictures posted on Facebook from our June training session in Oakville.

Have I mentioned that I feel grateful? I do. Thank you Lions Foundation of Canada!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

At Queen's Park - day 86

When I was driving on the familiar, stressful route to Queen's Park I felt the same way I did two years ago, and a year ago, and whenever I was going there. It was like moving back in time. Amazingly, not a lot had changed there. Buses spilling pictures snapping tourists, familiar guards who still remembered us, manicured lawns and indifferent statues.

We cheerfully joined Ontario Autism Coalition protesters at the edge of the lawn . Things were going great for a while but we were very close to fast passing cars and buses, and fire trucks and ambulances, and sirens were going by often and it startled Sebastian a bit.

We went up away from the traffic, and joined picture snapping tourists for a while.

We came back to hold the signs and get people to honk at us. Sebastian decided after a while he had enough and let me know about it in a way that could startle people who are not familiar with him, but he calmed down as we started waking away from the traffic. It was time to go home.

Inka was a star all the way, though it was not easy for her to keep from being distracted: there were a lot of squirrels running around, new fragrant grass, loud sounds, and all those friendly people!

On our drive home I was thinking my old familiar frustrating thoughts, and I thought that sadly, unless protesters start doing something outrageous we will never get attention of the media and politicians. I think we need to get advice from somebody with fresh and ingenius ideas.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ontario Autism Coalition protest

I have been living under the rock recently, and partly it was my clear intention do not know what is going on in the big world around me. I retreated to my solitary world like wounded wild animal that can not bear the harshness of the jungle till it gets stronger. But here it came the event that is resounded like echo from our past.
Here is Ontario Autism Coalition announcement:
Join the Ontario Autism Coalition as we wrap a huge puzzle piece banner around the south lawn of Queen's Park to protest the ever-increasing waitlist for IBI therapy in Ontario. Together, we will demand that all parties in the upcoming provincial election announce their policies related to autism. Our home-made puzzle piece banner, constructed from strips of cotton bedsheets and decorated with spray-painted puzzle pieces, will easily stretch from the MacDonald statue all the way up to the Whitney Block, which houses the Premier's office. Please feel free to invite your friends! We'll need lots of hands to hold the banner and some other protest signs while we catch all the northbound traffic. Let's cause a scene!
Queen's Park / Toronto, ON, South Lawn--meet at the Sir John A. MacDonald statue
Wednesday, August 31 · 4:30pm - 6:30pm

It happened that I had to cancel three appointments I had this day. I am not that busy, but Wednesday was the only day I had any appointments this week. Watch out! We are coming back to our old stomping grounds at Queen's Park.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sebastian and Inka's first, tentative contacts

That was Sebastian and Inka's first eye contact when we came home on Thursday.

Gentle touch.

Sebastian likes touching Inka's fur. The marks on his hands are calluses from him biting his own hands, which he does when he is frustrated, or when he is overwhelmed by sensations that he can't deal with. The calluses are softening and getting smaller since he is not biting himself so much anymore.

Inka has soft ears.

Sebastian was feeling Inkas paws with his toes. That is also an exploration.