June 2001 page 2 of 2
Saturday 16 June

"Open the lid" is now met (Dan's suggestion) by my opening it and then immediately closing it again. Not giving him the chance. Playing with his strange obsessive requesting. Works, at least some of the time. Becomes a game.

Another one: "kiss it better" for tears. Cute at first but gets old fast. Not sure what to do about it. Tonight I kissed his entire face, making it a silly thing. I'll try that again, though I suspect it may come to a showdown. Or maybe we'll just go along with it for a while and see if it eases off.

We went to the old house to clean up and get the last few bits and pieces. The electrician had been there; most of the outlets were bare wire. Which Damian wanted to check out: wouldn't you? Oy. He really seems okay with being there with no furniture. He did cry a little when it was time to get in the car, maybe his way of being sad about saying goodbye to the place.

Monday 18 June

I have no idea where yesterday went, though I do remember that Damian came into the bathroom while I was running the bath water and proceeded to strip down to his birthday suit. Completely on his own. That was kinda cool.

He seems to be settling in well here. He's discovered a way to run in circles around the house, though it involves more rooms (dining room to hall to our bedroom to study/guest bedroom to kitchen to dining room -- the other house was dining room to hall to kitchen and back through the dining room). He loves being chased, so this is very good.

Word retrieval problems continue. Particularly bad this morning; he really needed to be offered choices to find the right word. But he did ask me tonight to "turn on the fan" and when we were heading to his bedroom after books, he said "very very tired." So maybe they're coming back. No thanks to me, I'm afraid. I've been one spaced out mama, leaving Dan and his therapists to do all the floor time. I'm more discombobulated by this move than I'd expected.

Damian is having trouble with transitions. Doesn't want to go out when we're in the house, doesn't want to leave a store once we're there, doesn't like it when Jami/Gamma (his new floor time therapist) show up. I'm sure it's about feeling disoriented with the move; not wanting to deal with more change, no matter how minor.

Tonight after Dan went off to his acting class, Damian didn't want me to leave the room, not for a minute. We didn't have to interact, but I had to be there. Made it hard to get things ready for his bedtime ritual, but I understood the anxiety.

Tuesday 19 June

Wow. Dan was telling me how Damian had said "I'm thirsty" in the car this morning (I ask him if he's thirsty, but we've never prompted for it), and we started talking about how he has started to say "I'm hungry." Well, Damian piped up with "I'm hungry." I offered him some choices, he said "pudding." Dan got up to get it, said "I'll be right back." As soon as he left the room, Damian said, "Daddy went to get Damian's pudding so he'll be right back." Probably his longest original sentence to date.

Damian found a plastic bag with some markers. He ran off with them, came back with just the plastic. We asked him where the pens were. He replied, "I don't have pens here." (Also a wonderful original sentence.) Dan said, "Yes, we see that you don't, but do you remember where you left them? Can you show us where they are?" Damian slid down from the bed and ran off to my office. Sure enough, he'd scattered the pens on the floor there. This is a big deal. I've asked him before to show me things, but he either doesn't remember the sequence of events or can't process the question. It's thrilling that he could today.

More sentences: when we wanted to go run errands, Damian said "no!" So we talked him into going "to buy Swedish Fish." (Yeah, I bribe him with the concept of candy, got a problem with that? He eats healthier than most kids his age.) We were talking about getting his shoes on, and he said "I want to put your shoes on and go to the car." (He's been switching pronouns from "I" to "you" a lot lately.) Another long sentence. Cool.

He got upset with me at dinner: he wanted me to hold the pizza slice while he took bites. We've been tolerating this feed-the-kid routine for a while but it's getting old. It started, I think, as a way of closing circles -- he has to look, he has to ask, for the next bite. And sometimes he feeds himself with fork or spoon or picking up food himself. But he gets in these moods where you have to do it for him. Very aggravating. So I insisted he pick up the slice himself. He cried and kept saying "Mommy help!" Then he wanted me to "kiss it better." (Kiss his tears.) Dan ended up giving in and feeding Damian, though he didn't give prompts for requests and didn't feed Damian bites till he actually asked. He thinks Damian will figure out that it's way less bother to just feed himself. He's probably right. Avoids a power struggle, too.

After Damian got upset, he was much spacier. He started quoting from books, almost at random, and his eye contact went south. He withdrew into himself. After Dan pointed this out, I apologized to Damian for my strictness and said I knew he was feeling stressed with the move, and it was okay for now to have us feed him, though he'd have to feed himself pretty soon. But I was sorry for pushing him now. I asked if he forgave me. He said "yes" and gave me a sweet smile. Then I asked if we could hold hands. So we sat at the table and held hands. After that, he was more himself.

He was still a little spacey, though -- he was tired, I think. Dan said "all done?" and Damian said "Day is done" and launched into a rendition of Taps: "Day is done, gone the sun, from the lake, from the hill, from the sky..." Which is something I sometimes sing to him. I was tickled he remembered the words so distinctly, though the free association was a little odd.

Later he was playing with his marble maze and talking to Dan about what he was doing: full sentences about "marbles going down" and such. And still later, he started playing the piano and singing. We didn't catch the words, but he was definitely singing along to his own playing.

I'm so very glad to see more forward progress, and such a big leap. I hope he can sustain and build on this.

Wednesday 20 June

I forgot a cool little fillip from yesterday: Damian has started saying "please!" When he wanted his shoes on (to get Swedish fish), he said "shoes on please" (pwease). When Dan started his bath water, Damian said "Take a bath" as he ran to the bathroom and "please" when he arrived there.

Damian got bent out of shape in the car this morning. I'm still not sure why. First he wanted me to fix his shoe. I did (I wasn't driving yet), then he wanted me to "kiss it better" (ie: his tears, which I couldn't -- I was driving). He cried for a while, and nothing I said helped. I was able to hold his hand at stop lights, and that soothed him, but then he cried when I withdrew my hand to drive. But through his tears, he was very communicative: "kiss it" and "fix shoe" and then "hold your hand." At one point, he started dribbling juice from his sippy cup down the side of the carseat. So I took the juice away. He cried, said "I want juice!" and "give it back!" and when I gave it back, he said "wipe it." I finally clued in that he was probably hungry and offered crackers. Oh my yes. He cheered right up, ate a cracker, and asked for another. It was hard dealing with his intense negative emotion, but it felt so very good to hear so many truly communicative words pouring out of him. After he'd calmed down, I told him that I was proud he was using words so well.

The woman who's been doing dance classes in school stopped me today after class to tell me how wonderful Damian is, how well he follows along, how great his sequencing is and how aware he is. She's really taken with him. His teachers told me today that he's getting more relaxed and outgoing in class all the time. That he'll play with another kid if the kid initiates it (ie: one of the two highest functioning kids in the class -- the others aren't capable of that) or if a teacher does, but he doesn't initiate with other children, not yet.

Heidi told me that he really had a hard time in OT yesterday (Dan took him -- he did report that, but Heidi was more detailed). Things he likes were too hard yesterday -- the sling swing, for example. And tooth brushing was a major ordeal. Today went better, though still not as well as even last week. He's off kilter, so his sensory issues are flaring up. At one point, Heidi noticed that he was doing a lot of toe walking (tiptoeing) so she put ankle weights on him. That gave him the sensory feedback he was trying to get from toe walking and he walked normally after that. Think I'm gonna get me some of those! (I toe walk too, especially when I'm stressed.)

This afternoon, he ran into the bedroom, went for the floor fan, said "this is off" and then looked up at the ceiling fan and said "this is off too" and then said "they cannot blow." He said variants a few times ("it is off" and "the fan is off"), and then asked me to "turn on the fan." So I did. Then he did a round of "the fan is on" and blew at each fan.

Watching his nightly slideshow, getting near the end, Damian said, "Taking a picture of the bed waiting." And indeed he was looking at a picture of the bed waiting for him. Normally I say something like "and then he'll go to bed" or "here's the bed, waiting for Damian", so it was definitely not an exact quote.

Thursday 21 June

Damian said "Mommy, come" and led me to the guest bedroom a/k/a study. He wanted me to "turn on fan." (A window fan sitting on the floor in there.) I said "I'd turn it on for you but it's not plugged in. It won't work. I'll turn it on after it's plugged in." He ran off to my office, came back with two batteries. Gave them to me. He knew batteries make things run and wanted to help. Neat. Then I told Dan what had transpired, and Damian added, "Mommy has batteries, she can turn on fan." Very neat. He may have gotten individual words from what I'd said, but the way he put them together was all him.

He had his School District assessment today. A psychologist, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, and the intake coordinator I've been, um, coordinating with. Damian balked when he entered the room. I don't blame him. We eased his mind and he came inside. He did well, actually. Did most of the tests a/k/a games, and showed his stuff. I'm not sure if this is good or bad, though! He didn't come off as terribly autistic. The psych said he's at a 36 to 40 month level in some areas. The ST said he's at a 30-36 month level in receptive language and about a two year level in expressive language (and I think her receptive assessment was flawed -- she was asking him to identify pictures of people doing things he has no personal knowledge of, but I didn't correct her). The psych seemed inclined (if I read him right) to keep him at his current preschool, the ST didn't. Couldn't read the OT at all. The intake lady was taken with him -- he petted a picture of a cat and made his hands move through the air like a fish when he saw the fish picture -- she loved that.

Gamma (floor time therapist) told me she's getting him to talk more by doing things like stopping at the door and waiting for him to tell her what to do. Simple stuff, but I needed the reminder to do it. We get into habits and forget to challenge him in those constant small ways. Or rather, we do some of it but then forget to carry it over.

Gamma also told me Damian is fun to work with, that she looks forward to her time with him. She wants to bring him to the clinic once a week so he can get the benefit of the OT equipment there (swings, etc). This kid is going to get a LOT of OT mixed in with his floor time -- his other floor time therapist (she starts next week) is also an OT!

He reverted to book quoting a lot this evening. Tiredness?

He insisted on sitting on a lap to eat dinner, though he did actually use a fork and self-feed, at least some of the time. Didn't earlier when I gave him pudding, though. Makes me nuts, spoon feeding a three year old with a need to control, but the alternative -- a meltdown over a spoon -- isn't that wonderful either. We're trying to make Damian jump through more hoops to get that spoon-feeding to happen, though, but it's not an overnight process Does close more circles, though!

Friday 22 June

Damian was playing with Dan. I poked my head in the doorway. Damian said, "Mommy go away." This is getting old. I didn't go away. He came to the door and shoved me out. I let him do so, but as soon as he went back into his room, I followed and said "Oh no, Mommy's back!" He shoved me down the hall this time. I went, but came back like a boomerang returning to home. He pushed me down the hall all the way to my bedroom. By now he was snickering. I was pleased; I'd turned it into a game.

Just before Jami's arrival, I was priming Damian: "Jami's coming soon to play with you, you can show her your Brio track," etc. Damian ran into the living room, looking toward the door, and said "I want to see Jami, she's coming soon." And when she came, he was happy to see her.

She told me he said a few longer sentences with her too, also descriptive -- something about "Jami has the ball, Jami throws the ball." Something like that, but actually a little more sophisticated.

When he's with Jami and eats a snack, he sits perfectly happily in his booster seat, but when he eats with us, he has to sit in a lap.

Dan told Damian today that this is the last day we'll hand-feed him, that starting tomorrow he has to feed himself. Later, at dinner, I reiterated this. (He was insisting I spear his pasta with a fork and put it in his mouth. I hate that.) He thought about it and picked up his fork! He proceeded to self-feed for the rest of the meal. Well well well.

Saturday 23 June

Damian still enjoys his box of beans, stamping and sitting and digging in the beans, but he's developed an aversion to the beans sticking to the bottoms of his feet and keeps picking his feet up and brushing the beans off. I'd like him to get past this squeamishness but I'm not sure how to accomplish it.

We followed through on the "no more hand-feeding" deal today. No big deal for breakfast: he had a granola bar. But for lunch? Oh boy. He was so angry that I wouldn't spoon the yogurt into his mouth. So we cancelled lunch. Dan made a pb&j sandwich, cut it into quarters, and brought it out to us on the back porch. Damian wanted one of us to pick it up and feed him. No go. Stalemate. We talked about how great a skill it is to be able to feed yourself, etc. No dice. Finally I got a clue. I took a page from what I've seen Heidi do and I asked Damian if he could touch the sandwich. He did. Then I asked if he could pick it up. He did. Then I asked if he could take a bite. He did. We praised him for it. So what if he's done it a thousand times? It's hard for him right now for whatever reason, so it deserves recognition. After that, he ate the sandwich, though sometimes he still needed the conditioning.

Over dinner, Damian started saying "ai yi yi!" He got it from one of his books, but he subverted it, saying "ai yi yi, oh my goodness, oh no!" and then "ai yi yi oh no no no!" with this impish grin. Truly adorable.

Sunday 24 June

When we got out of the car at the farmer's market, Damian planted himself in the stroller and started to reach for the seatbelt straps. Usually he rides on Dan's back. I like when he shows such a decided preference. I also like that he's not locked into a specific ritual.

He wanted to take a nap. These days he usually falls asleep in the car on the way home from school/OT. And at night, he falls asleep lying on top of or next to me in his bed (after two songs' worth of rocking). So he's lost the knack of falling asleep while rocking, I think. He wanted me to hold him and he sacked out on my shoulder.

Major power struggle about self-feeding today. He really really wanted me to spoon feed him pudding. Out and out refused to do it himself. The gradual-introduction technique I tried yesterday didn't work at all. He touched the spoon but then threw it when I asked if he could pick it up. (It certainly fits the "pick it up" definition!) I asked if it would be easier if the pudding was in a smaller cup. He said yes. So we spooned some into a custard cup. Then I talked to him about how I knew it was difficult to do, and maybe a little scary, but I knew he could do it if he tried. And you know, he just picked that spoon up and fed himself. I guess it wasn't a power issue after all, more a confidence issue. We heaped praise on him and he grinned and ate and ate and licked the back of the spoon when he was done.

He wanted me out of his room when he was playing with Dan: "Mommy, go away." So I asked him if he loved me. He said yes. I said I loved him too. He melted; came over and hugged me. Then I was allowed to stay.

We played a silly game where he ran past me and I grabbed his t-shirt and said "oops, it's stuck!" and he'd have to say "let go" before I let him go. Funny part was when I did let go, he'd pull his shirt out to "catch" on my hand again and, if necessary, guide my hand to grab the shirt.

Monday 25 June

Damian came to bed at two a.m. I thought he might: last night one of his new library books was about a kid who came to his parents' bed during a thunderstorm. Damian was very restless for a short time, ending up perpendicular to me and then straight beside me again. He fell deeply asleep perilously close to the edge of the bed. I kept pulling him back and he kept inching over again. I didn't get a lot of sleep -- I kept waking to check on him.

Dan reports that Dance & Jingle wasn't a rousing success. Probably exhaustion. Damian didn't have the energy to do any of the standing-and-running-around stuff.

He had a bit of a meltdown after he came home. Gamma (floor time therapist) arrived in the midst of it. We weren't sure how to deal with that. But she just walked in, said hi, and asked if he wanted to play. He quieted, slid off Dan's lap and ran off to have fun with her. Wowza. She, like Heidi, has a magic touch. He's one lucky kid.

They wanted to pick the cherry tomatoes from the back yard. Gamma coached Damian to ask me for a basket. He had trouble remembering what to say, but she prompted him and he came out with it. A while later, they came into the kitchen and he presented me with the wood bowl, filled with the tiny, bright red globes. He was tickled to death that he'd done it.

He's been quoting books a lot lately. Acting them out some, which is a step forward, but the level of quoting bothers me. It had really dropped away. And his lovely compound sentences from last week are gone. It may be just that he's tired today, but maybe that language burst was just one of those ephemeral advances that disappear on the wind, so typical of spectrum issues. He did say "Mommy is watering the plants" today, though. So it's not completely gone. Just not as full-fledged and present. But language retrieval was a little harder for him today in general -- words were elusive. We had to keep reminding him to use words instead of tugging at us or pointing. That's something we haven't had to do for quite a while. Probably just tiredness, as I said, but what if it's not? Depressing thought, that.

Tuesday 26 June

Difficult day. Damian was hard to reach. If you asked him something, as often as not he wouldn't acknowledge the question or you. I tried to get him to look at me in Ralph's while he asked me a question. No dice. He simply couldn't look into my face. I had to give up. Words weren't readily available either -- we had to keep on asking him to use words and then often supply the words to boot. And he quoted a lot from books, not really in context either. He was just somewhere else today. Very upsetting. Very frustrating.

We went to Ikea. He loved climbing on chairs. Had to try out all the furniture. He climbed into a bed, pulled the covers over himself, and hid his head under the pillow, then played peek-a-boo.

He almost refused to use a spoon to feed himself pudding, but I reminded him of how proud we were when he did the other day, and he got off on the idea that I'd heap him with praise again. So he did it, and I gave him the requisite praise. I'm noticing that he's holding the spoon fisted, which makes it harder for him to get enough pudding on the utensil -- or, ,if he does, it slides off as he brings it to his mouth. Which is probably where his reluctance to do it comes from, knowing we can do it more efficiently

Wednesday 27 June

Better day. Thank god.

This morning he decided he didn't want to change out of his pj's. He parted with his pj bottoms under duress, and then ran around for a while in top and diaper. Later I removed his top but boy did he not want shorts or a t-shirt. So he enjoyed a good chunk of the day clad in just a diaper. He didn't get dressed till about three p.m. I got a kick out of it -- for so long he's been such a fiend about being fully clothed. I'd watch other toddlers run around naked and think "why won't he?" Now he will.

Na, his second floor time therapist, came today for the first time. She got to meet his semi-naked self. He fussed when she came in. It seems to be SOP for new people. But I asked him to show her around, and when I suggested he show her his room, he went running in. He climbed on the bed. Na asked if he was going to sleep. He sat up and mimed sleeping (head pillowed on hands). She went with it, then stretched and talked about waking up. He stretched too. After that, they were buddies.

Laura reported that he didn't seem interested in her box of toys and she had a hard time getting his attention until she sat him in a small chair facing her. He didn't like that. She got a lot of language that way!

She called me in to change his diaper because he seemed distracted and kept pulling at his diaper. It was fine. He's been fidgety and sticking his hand down the back of his pants lately, as well as pulling his shirt up and also chewing on the shirt material. I don't know what it's all about. Ants in his pants, part of being a kid, but I think also a in his case it signals a kind of neurological disorganization -- he can't pull himself together, so to speak, so he fidgets.

She got him to do something cool while I was watching: she offered him M&M's, eliciting various language (how many, what color, etc.). And then she brought out a baby doll. She had him hold it and ask it, "do you want candy?" And then Laura prompted for the doll to nod. The cool part was that after the first iteration, Damian asked the doll if it wanted candy, then immediately -- and in a different voice -- said "yes," making the doll nod at the same time. Then he "fed" the doll the candy before eating it himself. This is very age-appropriate pretend play, but he hasn't done that kind of verbal pretending before.

Laura offered Damian a milk bottle for the baby. He fed the doll and then spontaneously started swaying side to side -- rocking/soothing the baby. His idea!

After Laura's we went to the playground for some vestibular stimulation (ie: he needed to swing to break out of the Heidi's-on-vacation funk). When we got there, Damian didn't want to go on the slide or swing, just play with the sand. Much the way he was three or four months ago. I forced him to get into the bucket swing. The only way was to let him clutch me and hold him just above it. I was trying to get him to relax into it but he never did. All the nannies/moms were looking at me in horror (screw 'em). I took him to the older kids' area and sat with him in a big kid swing. We swang a long time. Afterwards, he happily climbed up steps and slid down slides. He even climbed up ladders.

In the car on the way home, I asked Damian if he wanted juice or goldfish crackers. He said juice. When he was finished, he said "all done" with no prompting (a first) and then a few minutes later asked for goldfish crackers. My playground OT worked! He was more responsive and present tonight too.

Thursday 27 June

Dante pushed out the screen from one of Damian's windows and escaped. Dan discovered this while Damian and I were heading out to meet Gamma at the clinic. Damian got very upset. He didn't want to go. I bribed him with vitamin gummies. He said "I want gummy bear" in this miserable voice, then stuffed the candy in his mouth and immediately asked for another -- and another -- and another. I told him Daddy would find Dante, it would be okay. He calmed down, but when Dan called me on the cell to say that he had indeed found the furry bozo, I told Damian and he beamed. He was really worried.

He adapted just fine to meeting Gamma at the clinic. We've been there just once before, for his floor time assessment back in April. I wasn't sure what to expect, but Damian got involved in playing with Gamma and was fine about my leaving him there. I did see Gamma offer the swing. He refused. Apparently she got him on one later. It's all about finding the right time. When I came back, Damian and Gamma were playing with trains with another little boy and his therapist. Gamma said it was basically parallel play, but that Damian was fairly comfortable and that was good.

He had three floor time sessions today: Gamma at the clinic, Na at home for an hour, and Gamma at home. It's make up time for missed sessions and is incredibly useful on a non-school, non-OT week. He was exhausted by evening, though. They worked/played him hard.

He really seemed to crave sensory input today. Dan said he watched Damian start to spin this morning and then spot his rocking horse and ride on that instead. Later, he got in the beans and Gamma said he refused to get out, so they played in there for a long time.

We brought home a smallish therapy ball for the week. I tried using it with him, but he was very nervous. I had to sit with him on it, even though I'd seen Gamma pushing him from side to side on it maybe ten minutes earlier. But later, after dinner, he found the ball and flopped over on it. Almost toppling over. I had to catch him and steady him.

He didn't want to eat pizza with his own hands, not until I realized the problem and cut it into a smaller piece for him to hold. It had been a kid-sized piece to begin with, but I think he doesn't trust himself enough to be willing to try. Once it was small enough, he had no problem feeding himself.

When he was done, he put the last bit of crust down on the plate, then rethought and brought it over to me. Dan thinks it's because he and I were talking about being nice to each other, and Damian wanted to be nice to me. Could be.

Friday 29 June

Damian trotted into our room this morning, in a good mood. He burrowed under the sheet and hid with Dan.

Damian and I stopped at a florist's on the way to see Laura. I wanted to buy her flowers as a thank-you for pushing to get our insurance company to keep paying (and for, I thought, cutting our rate -- more on that later). I told Damian I was getting the flowers for Laura. The man gave Damian a single orange flower in a small tube of water. Damian held onto it as if it was something very precious the whole way to the car, the whole car ride, the whole walk to Laura's office, and in the waiting room. When Laura opened her door, I gave her my bouquet and Damian solemnly presented her with his single blossom. I didn't know he was planning to do that.

Laura said she didn't get much language out of him at all. She seemed frustrated. Funny thing, he was more talkative afterward. Maybe he needed the prodding, even if he didn't respond immediately.

He's been in his own world lately, but not spaced out. He quotes books and sometimes plays out the actions, bustling around the house living out the tale. Dan thinks Damian's retreating to a bit of a fantasy world because it's comforting and things feel strange right now: the new house, a school and OT hiatus (through next week, unfortunately). I think it could presage a developmental burst. Maybe it's both.

Damian found a jar of bubble soap on the back porch. He handed it to Dan, who naturally asked what he should do with it. Damian said, "blow bubbles." When Dan did, Damian ran around gleefully catching them between his hands and saying things like "I catch the bubbles" and "I smack the bubbles." (Read that like: "I SMACK! the bubbles.") Cool in so many ways. His happiness is always cool, his spontaneous speech is always cool, but the fact that he was catching the bubbles in midair was totally cool. At playgroup mornings last year, sometimes someone would bring out the bubble wand. The other kids would run around like mad catching the bubbles. Not Damian. He'd just stand there. Enjoying them but not trusting his coordination or motor planning ability enough to give chase. Now he can. So gratifying.

Na came to do some floor time with him. She got him on the therapy ball, which was great (I couldn't yesterday). She got him to lie on it while she rotated it under him (she calls this "around the world"). She's good, though not as good as Gamma. I'm learning that some people -- like Heidi and Gamma -- have this almost magical ability to connect and make everything inviting as well as having the brains and intuitive ability to make every single moment of interaction work on a number of levels.

We went for a walk to the park. Damian ran across a parking lot driveway, didn't listen to "stop!" This is a big problem. Before, even though he'd never listen to those sorts of commands, he understood he should stop at driveways. Now he's getting more reckless. We scolded him. He acted like he wasn't listening, but then he dragged his feet instead of scampering ahead. I asked him if he was upset that we'd gotten mad. He said yes. We talked more about it and reassured him that we loved him. Hugs all around and then he scooted ahead, happy again.

The playground was crowded with rowdy older kids. I was ready to run away, I can imagine how Damian felt! But he stayed. Ended up getting on a bucket swing, much to my surprise, and going down a slide, and venturing an arched ladder. But when Dan told him we didn't have to stay, we could go anytime, he immediately headed out of the chaotic playground.

On the way home, he kicked a wadded up ball of paper. Then kicked it again, further down the sidewalk. He's gotten so much better at kicking in a very short time -- just a month ago, he couldn't really kick at all. The kicking and the bubble-smacking are related skills. A developmental milestone.

Dinner: Damian sat willingly at his own place at the table. Did at lunch too. The trick seems to be removing the booster seat. He likes to sit on the chair proper, apparently. At lunch I had to fill his spoon with pudding before he'd eat. This is how it's been since he started self-feeding again. At dinner, we mostly filled his fork with pasta for him, but I started talking about how soon he'd be using the fork to spear pasta , that was the next step. He thought about it and started trying it out. He ate at least a dozen forkfuls completely on his own. He's gradually getting more comfortable with things requiring manual dexterity.

Word retrieval is still iffy. He often needs choices so he can hear the word he needs. I think as his motor skills are coming up, his language is falling apart. Probably temporary.

Saturday 30 June

We went to the school district health screening this morning expecting a zoo. There were maybe three other kids there. Odd. Damian didn't quite master the auditory test. He seemed to handle the conditioning part okay -- she played beeps and asked him to drop a plastic egg into a bucket every time he heard the beep. But then she put headphones on him and he got upset and never quite got into the game again. He's tactile defensive around his head -- I should have thought of that and stopped the headphone-donning.

She said he's smart. Well, he is, but her reasoning sort of shocked me. Apparently the fact that he could properly identify nose and ears and eyes landed him ahead of his age group. Which is not even remotely true; what it means is that the kids she sees are waaaaay behind, even if they're neurologically typical. She said she's seen kindergarteners who can't point to their noses. My god.

Dan pointed out this morning in the car that we need to push for words, not let Damian get away with whining. I'm usually fairly good about this, but after he said it, I became extra careful to make sure he was saying "more" and "all done" (when he wants me to take the empty sippy cup while we're in the car) and so on. Doing so made it clear how much he still needs prompting, but actually, he was pretty responsive. He only needed one prompt and sometimes a reminder of the right words, and then he'd say what he wanted. He was more present today and more verbal than he's been in a few days.

Gamma pulled Damian around on a towel. She called it a magic carpet. He loved it. She had him say "faster" and "slower" and responded accordingly. The next time I saw them go by, he was pulling her. Heh. The amazing thing is that he could. She tried to say "faster" and "slower", but he didn't understand that this time she was giving him an instruction, not the other way around (he just repeated her as if she could sit faster).

Our friend Jen came over for dinner, our first houseguest in the new house. She hasn't seen Damian since the fall, I think. He was friendly to her. She said it's the first time he's smiled at her. She said the biggest difference she sees is that he's really happy now. The entire four plus hours she was here, he didn't cry once (and he laughed a lot). She says that too is a first, not crying. Hard to remember that he was so different, but I think he did fuss a lot -- it was his way of communicating his needs -- and he also was uncomfortable around other people, so he may well have cried some too. Funny that it wasn't my perception of him back then, but we have always had a good time together, at least enough to overlook the harder stuff.

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