February 2001 page 2 of 2
Friday 16 February

Most days get better as they go along. Damian gets more alert, more interactive, more verbal, more fun. Today was the opposite. We started out well: the gardeners were here and I first enticed Damian to the window, then brought him onto the porch to watch. I narrated everything they did and he repeated it all after me with great interest. Then a gardener offered him a rake, and Damian raked the lawn, the driveway, the path, all with me narrating (and his little voice repeating my words) and also me directing ("want to rake underneath the car now?") and him happily following my requests. That was fun.

We went to the ST appointment. It started out fairly well, but he lost interest partway through. He doesn't want to follow Laura's lead, he'd rather go his own way and definitely would rather lie on the floor and shut her out. She and I talked about the fact that he's so hard for her to engage. She said she thinks it's the situation. How often does he have a new person who's intent on getting him to interact? A new person who is pushing him to do more than he feels comfortable doing? Usually people let him go his own way till he warms up. I thought that was interesting, in fact enlightening. He's been more shut down recently than I've ever seen him. If he'd acted like this six months ago, we would have rushed him into treatment. Dan and I think it's a reaction to feeling overwhelmed with all the changes in his life: Laura, our floortime involvement (like playing but with more intent and definitely more demanding for us and for him too), and school on top of that (and the stress in the house, which we try to damp down around him but probably not terribly effectively). Once he adjusts to the new status quo, he should do much better. So I'm feeling better about Laura as his ST. He'd probably react this way to anyone pushing him right now.

He did say "yes" to a question from her today, though. (At her prompting, but it's still significant.) That was pretty cool. He said it twice more tonight to questions from Dan. (No prompting.) So the therapy does seem to be working.

We had one of our two Early Intervention evaluations today, this one from an older woman who came to the house to do a psychosocial evaluation. Damian cried the moment she walked in the door and avoided dealing with her as much as possible. I don't think her conclusion was much in doubt. She gave me tips on pushing the results through as fast as possible, which was cool. (It boils down to: call early and often.)

He was pretty damned far inside his head after that. Very hard to coax any reactions out of him. Dan and I took turns. He did warm up, but it took a long time. He's still feeling the tail end of his cold, I'm sure that doesn't help, but it's got to just be too much for him. Honestly, I know the feeling. Sometimes I want to curl into a fetal position and shut out the world. But I'm the mommy. I can't.

Saturday 17 February

We went for a walk around the block this morning. Damian was so much like his old self, completely engaged and charming. It felt very very good. I think the stress, plus his cold, have really gotten to him. He's a lovely kid when he's not stressed. Lots of great eye contact, lots of interaction, very present. Not much speech.

Well, hardly any. When I was trying to rock him to sleep for his nap, he made it clear he wanted to lie on his bed instead. I lay with him and asked him why. He said "I wanted to" and then I didn't quite catch the rest, but I know it was a complete, complex sentence. If he just spoke a little louder, I'd have known why he wanted to lie on the bed. But hey, at least he told me. Not his fault I didn't understand. Actually, I sort of did. He picked up his stuffed salmon and started playing with it. This is one of the first times he's ever picked up a stuffed animal to play with.

Our friends Julia and Ann showed up around 7:30 (they're visiting from the Bay Area -- not staying with us, fortunately -- that might be too much for Damian right now) . Damian did NOT want them in the house. He warmed up very gradually. Went from crying to fussing to quiet in my lap looking at books. Cried when the restaurant delivery guy came. Didn't want him in the house either. He's got a real stranger-in-the-house issue right now. An invasion of his safe space? Probably.

He wouldn't eat at the table with us but he did eat (Dan sat with him in the armchair). And then he and Dan played in his room after dinner. He came out after a while. When he saw me, his face lit up and he said "Hi, my mommy." Then he stood with me as I pointed to Julia and Ann and he pointed and repeated their names in a whisper.

Sunday 18 February

We spent the day with Julia. We went to the library, the grocery store, the park. We sure showed her the high life, huh? Damian was completely comfortable with her. She played peek-a-boo through his trains and he responded to her with a grin. In the evening, when Ann came, Julia went outside to greet her. When they came in, Damian smiled at them. Our little antisocial boy being social and friendly.

Monday 19 February

Damian fell asleep on my shoulder last night at 9. I put him down in bed, still asleep (a rarity -- maybe a first), and he slept 13 hours straight! Amazing.

He was very quiet today, I attribute this partly to the fact that we haven't been stressing language as much while Julia and Ann were here. We worked on it today, though.

He's been getting more volatile, more upset when things don't go his way. It could be that he's being challenged more, pushed more, and therefore life feels less safe.

We went to the mall today (it was raining). We were in a card shop, looking at things. I pointed to a school bus clip and said "what's that?" Damian said (rather indistinctly), "school bus." In his world, this is major. To answer a "what is that?" question without being led. I was delighted.

A few minutes later, we were sitting on the floor playing with easter eggs. A little girl sat down next to us. It was Tyson from Damian's class. I said "Damian, look, it's Tyson." He looked for a moment, made eye contact with her. Then looked away. But still. To have looked at all is something. And when I said "can you give Tyson the pink egg?" he did. He's still got a long way to go for full interaction with another kid, but for him right now, that was good.

When we got home, Damian refused to let us take off his heavy jacket. He told Dan, "I am mad!" When we did anyway, he wailed. I sat him on my lap to try and soothe him. I tried offering him things: "Do you want juice?" (or book or rocking or singing...). He shook his head each time. I said "what would help you? Point or take my hand and lead me to it." He stopped crying and thought about this. Couldn't come up with anything, I guess. Then I said "hug?" and he shook his head. I said "I would love a hug." He considered it, and then settled against me for a hug. And stopped crying. So sweet. Dan and I both had tears in our eyes. It was a real extended two way communication.

Tuesday 20 February

Tired this morning. Almost skipped school (I figured he should sleep in so he'd be fresh for his EI appointment). Glad we didn't skip it after all. Damian had a semi-rocky start. No crying, but lots of "Mommy must sit right next to me. No, over here."nonverbal commands going on. But he warmed up later. By yard time, he was running away and to me with a big grin on his face and letting one of the teachers play with him (well, as much as he ever does). He clearly enjoyed being there after a week away. I know it's a lot for him to handle, but it's clearly important, and he thinks so too. Reassuring.

We took off a little early for the second of his Early Intervention evaluations today. This one was with a psychologist at the Regional Center. I was worried. Unneccesarily, as it turns out. Damian was fine, if a bit restless and irritated at being cooped up in a small room with almost no toys. But he exhibited plenty of autistic behavior (obsessively playing with a cough drop he'd unwrapped, lying on the floor, looking at the ceiling, rocking gently back against my chair, ignoring us when we asked him to do something...) while nevertheless being somewhat engaged and definitely strutting his stuff as a smart kid. In fact, the guy said Damian showed cognition skills beyond his age level in some cases. He also said Damian's inquisitive and sweet. And that I'm a good parent. But yes, he's clearly high functioning autistic, and we will absolutely qualify for the program. A mixed blessing. It's great that we'll be getting the help we need, but so wrenching that it's necessary, that he so obviously qualifies. But, as this guy reminded me, there are plenty of autistic doctors and lawyers out there. It's not going to hold him back, not in the long run.

When Damian woke up from his nap, he was dismayed to find Jami there instead of me. I had to come out and hold him to calm him down. I slipped away once Jami started reading to him, and they were mostly okay after that. But I heard when Damian ran down the hall heading for the bedroom (and Mommy) and Jami intercepted him. She made it into a game and he went along with that. I heard him laughing. He's been so mommy-centric lately, though -- really needing to touch base with me amongst all the changes and stresses. So of course he tried again. He enticed her into his room and closed the door on her, then trotted down the hall to come find me. Pretty clever. She intercepted him again and ran around the house with him. Thank god for Jami and her cheerful ingenuity.

Damian isn't into having his hands washed. I offered tonight, after I changed his diaper and washed my own hands. I put the stool by the bathroom sink but he turned me down flat. But later, when Dan was running the bath, Damian came in and got up on the stool. He turned on the faucet (didn't know he could do that) and filled a cup with water, then turned off the faucet. Then dumped the water into the sink, turned the faucet on again, and so on. Then watched Dan wash his hands. Didn't do it right away, but then he did wash and dry his hands (and said "wash and dry my hands.")

Before his bath, Dan and I were talking about how great baths are and how much Damian loves them (theory: make him think it's his idea). Damian didn't act like he was listening but then he came and found me at the fridge and said "bath" and "bathtub" a few times, and led me to the bathroom. Then got cold feet.

Wednesday 21 February

School pretty much sucked today. Damian was so not into it, he tried repeatedly to drag me out to the parking lot during yard time. It took a lot of work keeping him there and keeping him relatively connected to what was going on. I gritted my teeth several times. I understand that it's hard, but it's just not optional.

There were good moments, though. As Miriam pointed out to me later, Damian smiled more yesterday and today than he has so far at school. I think it's our floor time with him paying off. Not sure exactly how, but that's my guess.

E.G., Tyson's mom, has made a point the past few days of talking to Damian and coaxing him to respond to her. No success so far, but she knows it's a slow process. I'm wowed that she's trying. Now I know where Tyson gets her emotional intelligence.

Miriam read to Damian after class. When she asked if he wanted "another book, yes or no?", he whispered "yes." He answers her more consistently than he does us, but always in a whisper.

He had a good ST session, or so I hear. Dan was in the room with them, I sat in the waiting room (and got work done, yay!). Laura said he gave her lots of good eye contact and was responsive to her overtures. She clearly got a charge out of that. He was apparently still quite quiet, though, but words will come later. She says it's significant that he's getting quieter, actually. In a good way. He's dropping the echolalia and his words are more often communicative.

Good evening. Lots of fun floor time. LOTS of eye contact and engaging play. We're starting to work on teaching him problem solving skills. This means setting up a game and then throwing in obstacles. It's neat to see him figuring out how to deal with the curve balls. But it wasn't just about that. We had fun. This is bringing us closer, all three of us. Ultimately a very good, very maturing thing. Just sometimes hard as hell.

Thursday 22 February

This morning school went much better. Thank god. It started out well. We ran into Tyson and her mom on the way in. Her mom suggested Tyson hold Damian's hand as they walked down the hall. Tyson did. Damian didn't exactly clasp her hand the way he does ours, but he accepted her handhold, which is a first. They walked into the classroom together. Very sweet. I think it made the transition much easier for him.

Miriam made a point of spending some one-on-one time with Damian at various points during the morning. I think that helped too. And I'd told him beforehand (he got scared in the parking lot) I'd be there the whole time (as if I'm ever not!) and he could come sit in my lap as much as he wanted. He availed himself of this, checked in periodically.

Sammy's best friend Jasper is gone for ten days. Sammy tried to befriend Damian today, wanting to play with trucks side by side. Damian wasn't into it, but I hope Sammy keeps trying. Tyson's persistence is the reason he's now responding to her.

Another small breakthrough: Damian was playing with what Miriam calls an ocean bottle (colored liquid with sparkles in a soda bottle). Tyson asked him if she could have it. Damian didn't relinquish it and wander off like usual when confronted by another child. He shook his head "no" and kept the bottle. Claiming it. Also communicating directly with a kid.

At lunch, he checked out what was in everyone else's lunchboxes before sitting down to eat his own. I've never seen him do that before, though the other kids all do.

Miriam told me today that Damian often hums along with the music tape. Just very softly. And he stops when he sees her listening to him. But apparently he keeps the tune. I had no idea.

Damian and I had some great playtime when we got home. Dan and Damian did too, when Dan came home for lunch. Damian didn't want to take a nap. Transitions are becoming a problem (nap, bath, school, diaper change, even dinner sometimes). We do what we can. I think it's a two year old issue, not a PDD issue.

Speaking of two year old issues, he's finally entered the terrible twos stage of saying no all the time. And I love it! He's letting us know by shaking his head what he does and doesn't want. It's not always negotiable, but I try to pay attention when it is. For instance this afternoon, I told him I was going to change his diaper and then put his sneakers on so we could go out. No to both. I did the first (a necessity) but not the second. Damian didn't want to go outside so I cancelled the trip. I want to empower him. That's way more important than some overdue library books.

Damian's looking at me so much more now, and maintaining eye contact for a good long time. And I realize how long I've waited for this, subconsciously not aware of what I was missing. Not that he never looked at us, but I don't think it was often in a sustained way. I'm drinking it in.

He's starting -- just starting -- to respond when we say his name, too. Still a long way to go on that, though.

These are becoming essays in and of themselves, aren't they? There's just so much to record. Now that I know. Now that things are changing in subtle but important ways.

Friday 23 February

Damian was low energy today, a little harder to engage (though not impossible by any means). But he spoke more. At ST this morning, I heard him respond to Laura several times. He uses a whisper, though. She said we need to ask him to use his big boy voice. We can try. I told her I'm just so glad to hear him say anything, even in a whisper. She knows what I mean, but said it doesn't count as communication if other people can't hear him. Good point.

After our appointment, we were walking down the street and he said "walking." I've been singing the preschool walking song a lot lately. I think he heard it in his head.

He subvocalized "juice" pretty clearly tonight. First time in a while.

Today at the playground, I noticed two deep pink flowers on the sand. They'd fallen from a tree. I was sitting on a step and asked Damian, "Give mommy the pink flower?". (I ask him to do as many things for me as I can come up with these days -- interaction, responsibility, engagement). He wouldn't. I think he was nervous about them, because he finally came over to me, took my hand, and guided my hand to pick one of the flowers up. Once I had, he felt comfortable. I gave it to him to hold. He looked at it and gave it back to me. He said "give mommy the pink flower." Echoing. And then he went to the second flower, picked it up and said "give mommy another pink flower." Not an echo anymore.

I bought some glitter glue today. Damian liked smearing it around on the paper with a brush but absolutely refused to put any bits of paper down on top of the glue. He has a phobia. I'd hoped the glitter would help. I cut out a star and a moon from construction paper to make it more fun. And I showed him how by example. But no go. Something to work on.

Dan worked hard tonight to engage Damian (who was zoned after his nap). Damian kept lying down to play (this is not tiredness, this is shutting the world out). Dan used a technique he read in Greenspan: he pretended it meant Damian wanted to take a nap. He turned out the light and put a blanket over him. Damian got upset and sat up. Dan had to do this at least a dozen times. It's a hard habit to break, but an important one.

I forgot to mention something kind of cool from yesterday. We've been working on getting him to say "yes" without much success. Well, Dan said, "Dinner's on the table. Do you want pasta with snow?" (we call parmesan "snow"). Damian ran to the table saying "yesyesyes!"

Saturday 24 February

Damian's starting to expect us to play with him much of the day. Requesting it, either by taking us by the hand and leading us to his toys or by coming over, making funny faces or grinning like a cheshire cat and then running away, hoping we'll chase. It's adorable. Also exhausting.

We've started playing the hallway game again. Damian's been insisting on it. He leads me to one end of the hall, yanks my hand to make me sit, then leads Dan to the other end, yanks his hand down, then runs from him to me, throws himself in my arms. I fall backwards and have him sit up and fall down on top of me a few times, then he gets up and runs to Daddy, who lifts him in the air repeatedly. Then he runs to me again for a reiteration. He loves it. It's a great opportunity for family time and Damian stays very connected. Laughs a lot. We've started adding twists to it -- Dan has Damian press his nose before he'll lift him, for example. Setting up obstacles and variations. Helping him learn problem solving techniques. It's been fun. It energizes him and that's lovely to see.

We finally had a playdate today with sweet, gentle Ella from Damian's class (sickness has made us cancel twice in a row). It went better than I'd expected. Damian didn't offer Ella any toys, but he took the toys she offered, he made good eye contact, and he played with the same toy at the same time. He watched her. He even spoke a few times. He only lay down once, and got up quickly with no fuss.

A specific moment: Damian went to the corner to check out a wireform toy with animals on the wires. Ella came over and picked the toy up, bringing it into the middle of the room. Instead of shifting to another toy and shutting her out the way he ordinarily would, Damian got up and came over to play with it some more. Alongside Ella.

He impressed Ella's parents by being a whiz with a very complex shape sorter that Ella's not able to handle yet. Kid's smart, no doubt about it.

Damian helped us empty the dishwasher tonight. He's done this before, but we asked him to do more of it tonight and he did willingly (spaced out once, though -- had to work to engage him again). And I've figured out a technique for getting him to transition smoothly to bathtime: get him to put the epsom salts into the water himself. He loves being responsible and useful, having real life tasks.

Sunday 25 February

A difficult day. Raining for the second straight day. Damian's been spacy and irritable. So have we. He's been very active, though, running around the house like a Tasmanian Devil. This morning he was racing around the living room, coming over to me with a big grin, then racing off again. I think he was trying to woo me into chasing him. So I did.

Damian was in the armchair looking at a book. I walked by with two sippy cups of juice (preparing to go out). Damian smiled as he saw them. I smiled back. He clearly thought I was going to give him one. I walked past him to set them on the couch. He whspered, "juice" and hopped down to fetch one. I don't know if it was a direct request or a comment, but I was pleased. It was a verbalized intent, and that's important.

We went to the downtown library this afternoon. Damian freaked at the idea that Mommy might have to stand on a line. He refused to go off with Dan. We switched. Same deal. Refused to go off with me. He wanted both of us, and he insisted that he hold both our hands, to boot. So we went to the children's section. Dan settled in with Damian and a pile of books. Damian got engrossed and I slipped away to get my microfilm copies.

When I came back, I sat with them for a while. I watched a little black boy, four or five years old, and his gray haired caucasian caregiver. He caught my eye because she asked him a question and he answered with an overemphatic head shake. It reminded me of the way Damian shakes his head no. This kid sat in the woman's lap as she read to him, then ran off to get a new book and came back. Expressionless. Mute. He looked at her maybe once in the ten minutes I watched. And at one point when he went to fetch a new book, he first put all the other books back in the basket, then got the remaining book and brought it back. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this boy was on the autistic spectrum. It saddened me. I hope Damian doesn't look like that from the outside. I think he does sometimes but mostly not. He's far more expressive, for one thing. For another, I could see that this caregiver doesn't know how to work to bring the kid out of his shell, which leads me to suspect the kid's getting far less training/education than Damian is and will be getting. Still, it shook me.

We then went to Toys R Us, a regular stop these days -- we need more toys we can use for pretend play and fun interactions. Damian fell asleep in the car just before we got there, so Dan went inside and I stayed with Damian. Who woke up after a few minutes and panicked because he didn't see his daddy. It was pouring out, and Dan had taken the umbrella. I tried to shelter Damian with my jacket. He wasn't thrilled about that. So we got wet. But boy was he thrilled to see his father in the store. It was completely worth it. On the way back, though, he got soaked by huge puddles (he was walking between us) and then his pants and diaper fell down to his ankles! In the dark, in the pouring rain. We got into the car and did an emergency diaperectomy, but he had to stay in his wet pants till we got home. He recovered far better than I'd have expected from the trauma.

Dan worked with Damian tonight on nodding his head yes. He succeeded a few times. He's discovered that the trick is holding the desired object up to his face and getting eye contact, and then nodding his own head. Then Damian responds in kind. Yes has been much harder than no so this is a good trick to try to instill it.

More words the past few days. Whispers or repeating what I say or subvocalizations, but something's going on in there. Some new processing. And he's not quoting from books anymore. No delayed echolalia.

Monday 26 February

Today was as happy as yesterday was bleak.

Damian didn't want to go to school, though. He went to the car under duress, and cried when Daddy walked away. Dan reminded me to talk about emotions, and I did. I told Damian that I understood that he was sad that we had to say goodbye to Daddy and that he was scared about going to school, and then I went on to talk about how Daddy had to go to work and we'd we'd see him later, and about how I'd be with him the whole morning at school and he could sit in my lap the whole time if he wanted. The usual stuff, which never really helps when he gets in this funk. But the talk about emotions was new. And it helped. Immediately. He quieted as he absorbed that what he was feeling was called "sad" and "scared."

We had the usual issues at school: he walked right past the room, protested about going in, wanted me close at first... but he had more fun there once things got going. He was okay with being surrounded by kids; he didn't lie down. He got upset about something (wanted something? I don't know) and didn't come running to me to fix it -- he let the teacher who was sitting with him take care of the problem.

And we were in the big hall upstairs to see an art exhibit (toddler art, natch). I pointed out that everyone was leaving and it was time to go back downstairs. He looked. He saw his classmates heading out. He headed out too. This is very significant. He followed the social cue and saw himself as part of the group.

I've been bringing him over to the circle for story time. This morning I didn't have to. He went over on his own and then decided I should be there too!

Late morning, end of class: for some reason the other three kids still there were all nodding their heads. I think it started in answer to a question, but it became a game. Damian joined in!

Afternoon: Today was Kimberly's first day as his new babysitter. Jami's still coming, but only every other Thursday. Her schedule's gotten too busy. I was VERY worried about how he'd react to a new presence in the house.

He was fine.

To repeat: he was FINE.

We hired her because he had good chemistry with her during the interview. He still does. She worked to bring him out, but she succeeded. He enjoyed her. I stayed in the living room with them but I actually got quite a bit of work done. I stayed right with him for the first half hour or so, then segued over to the dining table. He ran to me a lot, but then ran away and willingly ran back to Kim with a grin.

He also spoke a lot. Kim was looking at a book of animals with him, asking, "what's that?" And he was answering. Whispering almost exclusively, but still. Ane one time he ran over to me, he said "hug." So I hugged him.

He's been practicing nodding his head. Running through the house, nodding his head like a marionette. It's a new motor skill. We sang an impromptu song: "yes yes yes yes yes no no no no no yes yes yes yes yes" etc. (while doing the head movements). Damian joined in the appropriate head movements. And then ran off down the hall.

Dan noticed today that when he played the "tickle spider" game with Damian (hands as tickle spiders coming to get you), Damian responded immediately if Dan either moved the spiders slowly or made a warning move and then moved in, but if he moved fast and unexpectedly, Damian couldn't respond fast enough. Which seems to indicate some kind of visual processing or motor planning issue.

Tuesday 27 February

Damian didn't get to bed till 12:30 last night. Thus he was exhausted today. Funny how that works. He did pretty damned well at school, considering. Not terribly interactive, but not overly clingy and mostly present. The main highlight of my day: I left the room without him (had to move the car). Didn't tell him I was going -- didn't want to upset him ahead of time. I was hoping to be back before he noticed. Miriam played with him while I was gone. When I came back, he was still happily playing. She told me he had indeed looked over and seen me gone, and she'd said I'd be right back. He was okay with that. Amazing. I did it again later, ran in to get something when we were in the yard. Same deal exactly.

And he painted today. Only the second time he's done that in his two months at school. I squirted glitter paint onto a mask (for Purim) and Damian happily smeared it around.

Another small/big thing: he got on the bicycle merry-go-round and let me push him around. Other kids got on. He was absolutely fine about being part of the group that way. He fussed every time it stopped for someone to get on or off, but was content going around for a loooong time. (Miriam took over pushing after a while -- my arm hurt.)

The teachers are starting to step in and stand up for Damian when the other kids want to take his toys and such. I'm relieved to see that.

Frustratingly few head shakes or nods or words today. He did warm up around 6 and started talking, but all echoes of our words. No instigating words. He did subvocalize a few things, though. That's something.

Wednesday 28 February

Small breakthroughs today. At school, Damian sat near Jonathan, who was running cars down ramps. Damian ran a different car down a different ramp. Jonathan switched to run his car down Damian's ramp. Damian didn't leave. That was a plus. I said, "Look, Jonathan is going to crash your car!" (This being a game we play at home.) Damian let him. I made appropriate crash noises. Jonathan went to do it again. As his car headed toward Damian's, Damian moved his own car to crash into Jonathan's. I swear, I think this is the very first time Damian has taken an active role in playing with another kid. In fact, it's the first time he's done more than parallel play.

Gym class depresses me. Damian doesn't have any interest in sitting with the other kids, doing the warm-up exercises (the teacher makes it fun). He instead runs around the room, exploring everything and getting his ya-yas out. It's like he has no sense of social appropriateness, it doesn't mean anything to him that they're all sitting in a row involved in something. I don't know if this is because he truly doesn't notice or if it's that he's uncomfortable in the somewhat unfamiliar situation and this is his way of coping.

On the other hand, he was very interested in trying to climb up to walk on the balance beam. And did very well at it (after an initial "boy am I up high!" hesitation). I held one hand and Sylvia, the gym teacher, held his other hand. We helped him jump down afterwards and all the teachers clapped. Damian beamed and clapped too. Then (with prompting) he raised his arms up high. The gym teacher commented later that he has good motor abilities to be able to balance that well.

What else? Tyson wanted to take a toy from Damian. He shook his head and moved it away. Claiming it. This underlines his progress there.

ST today. Laura said he's doing better in a number of respects: he accepted her hand and trotted right into the room, he was okay with being further away from me in the room, he followed objects with his eyes much more consistently and readily (more completely present). He also said more. It's all of a piece. Engagement and communication. She talked about how when we're trying to elicit a verbal response from him, we have a window of opportunity from when he seems interested to when he either loses interest or loses patience. I've seen this myself. He gives up after a certain point. The trick is to gradually extend that window, teach him to try longer.

After we left Laura's, Damian was very responsive to me. It was remarkably easy to elicit words, though they were mostly echoes of what I'd said (my prompts). Which I see as a kind of bridge toward non-prompted language.

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