November 2001 page 2 of 2
Friday 16 November

Around four a.m., Damian cried out and came running down the hall to our room. Still crying. I cuddled him in bed and asked if he had a bad dream. He didn't respond. I rephrased: "Did you have a scary dream?" "I had a scary dream," he agreed, and added, "It was a scary sound." Thus marking the first time he's ever told me the content of any dream. No, it didn't altogether make sense to me and yes, I wanted to quiz him more, but he needed reassurance more than the third degree. I soothed him, he lay down and fell into an uneasy slumber.

So he stayed home from school today. I know there will be a point when he has homework and such when this won't be quite so easy, to give my kid a personal day, but right now it's easy and gives him a breather when he needs one.

At one point today, I was on the phone, talking to a friend who hadn't seen him since May or June. Damian kept saying, "Mommy, get off the phone!" I could hear her reaction. She sort of gasped and said, "Oh my god!" She's always been encouraging about his progress, but now she doesn't have to be kind. Her surprise meant a lot to me.

When I did get off the phone, Damian took it away from me and started playing with the intercom button. When I looked for the phone later, I discovered that he'd hung it up on the base station. Something I rarely do. I was amused.

Jami came for the first time in over a month. Damian was nervous when he saw her. I talked to him about his feelings. He relaxed a bit but got tense when I said I was going to go to a restaurant and leave him with Jami. So I said, "I'll be around for a while, getting ready to go. Why don't you show Jami your toys and see how you feel?" He got excited at the prospect of showing off his toys (and, of course, getting to play with them). When I went to say goodbye, I found them in his closet, playing happily.

Saturday 17 November

Jami said yesterday that Damian can do somersaults better than other (typical/normal) kids his age. That he rolls forward with an even balance, just as he should. Kids this age, and even four and five year olds, tip sideways as they roll. I guess the OT work is paying off, even pulling him past his age group in some ways.

This morning we were all grumpy. It sounds like Damian didn't have a great floor time session with Bonnie, though they did some fun stuff. She thinks we need to have more blank-slate types of toys -- blocks, shoe boxes, paper towel rolls -- a box of that kind of stuff that doesn't set the stage for any particular type of game, which the barn does and the dollhouse does and the fire station does. She wants to stimulate his imagination to come up with stuff from scratch.

I found myself depressed after talking to her: she made Damian sound like he really doesn't have many dramatic play skills. She doesn't see them, I'm sure that's true, but I do. Dan does too. They're nascent, just budding, but that's her job (and ours), to bring the level up more consistently.

We went for another haircut with Hugh. Damian remembered the video game station and asked to play the racing game. Hugh, reading Damian's anxious body language, thought this was a good idea, that it might ease him into it.

Hugh didn't remember Damian from July (no reason he would). At one point, he started talking about how it's especially important to set his special needs kids at ease -- the way he phrased it he clearly didn't include Damian in this category. I said "Yes, he's one," and Hugh was surprised. That felt good, that a guy who does work with a lot of spectrum kids didn't recognize it in Damian.

Damian didn't want his hair washed, even after Hugh washed Dan's hair to show how it goes. He sat in my lap and watched a video while Hugh spritzed, combed and cut his hair. He cuddled against me, clearly scared. Which he acknowledged when we asked. We reassured him and I talked periodically about what was happening and how much better he'd feel with the bangs off his forehead (though I love those bangs, he kept brushing them aside in frustration). He clearly hated the clips of hair falling down on his hands and around his face and neck. He especially disliked Hugh working right at his neck. His sensory defensiveness is most acute around his face. I felt bad for him. But he did very well, was very brave, and afterward he played another round of the race car video game and wandered through the room, checking things out, reluctant to leave.

Dan reports a very nice floor time session tonight, very much Damian-led. Farmer Jose (A Little People person) mowed grass in his tractor, then took a nap (tried sleeping on his tractor but switched to a bed) and got back to work. Then he took a break to ride on the see-saw in town but got awfully lonely (Dan voicing him), so Officer Pat joined him. (I love play time: all these toy stand-ins for grownup official types can act like silly kids.)

The highlight of the day, though, was the moon ladder game and zooming to school. That totally made our day.

Sunday 18 November

We went to see Monsters. Inc. I have no idea how much of the plot Damian grasped (the story mechanics seemed rather advanced for any three year old), but he definitely enjoyed it. He periodically spoke up, commenting on the action. I couldn't always hear him, but I was glad he was that degree of involved. He likes monsters. To him, monsters are fun: fuzzy sweet Sesame Street monsters and Nightmare in My Closet monsters that get scared and silly monsters in counting books. He wasn't even slightly scared.

We saw the movie at El Capitan; they seem to have some arrangement with Disney (maybe they're owned by Disney?), and they have this party setup next door, with Monsters Inc themed games and so on. Damian enjoyed some things: he liked shouting into a megaphone to have his "scream" amplified, he loved standing against a shadow wall (a bright light flashes and your shadow stays visible for several seconds afterward), and a few other things. But the crowds and the noise and the chaos -- he was zoning a bit, and when we left the building, he had a meltdown over something very small (he wanted to hold Dan's hand AND my hand at the same time and I had my hands full). He kept it together in there but fell apart afterwards. Too much. Sensory overload.

We went to a laid back afternoon party. People sitting around watching football. We went out onto the patio. Damian glommed onto the watering cans. He "watered" a cabinet. He "watered" one can with the other. He even "watered" a plant. He picked up a broom and started sweeping. The hosts were impressed. And amused. I brought out some toys from the coffee table -- cars, a boat, a fish on a rod. Damian enjoyed them for a while, then brought them back inside and put them back where they belonged. Neatnick.

When something big happened during the game, and everyone shouted in response, Damian got excited and shouted too, mimicking them. At one point, they shouted "yes!" so he shouted "yes!" too, and then someone inside picked up on that and shouted "yes!" back to him. They went back and forth a few times. Very cute. Very charming.

Monday 19 November

When I got to school, the kids were in the grass yard. I saw TA Kenny holding Damian's hand while chasing another kid. Getting Damian involved in the game. It's what I'd asked for. I was pleased about that but disappointed that he couldn't find a way to do it that got Damian enthused. Damian looked more like this whole chase game was a big chore.

When I went inside to get Damian's snack bag, his new teacher Linda told me that another kid tried to grab a shovel from him and Damian refused, saying "I want the shovel!" I was so happy to hear it. So very happy. I think that's the first time he's verbalized that "no, it's mine!" issue with another kid, standing up for his rights.

At OT, one of Damian's exercises involved pulling himself across some bolsters. The last time he did it, he ended with an impromptu somersault. I was amused.

We stopped by Whole Foods on the way home. Damian enjoyed a snack of dried mango while I pushed him around in the cart. He took two pieces and stuck them together perpendicular to each other, forming a cross. Then he zoomed the brand new mango airplane around in the air! Clever. Really clever.

I had to change a poopy diaper while Jean was here. Damian wanted me to change it in my office. I give him choices with wet diapers, but not poopy ones. He knows this, but he had a meltdown anyway. It was hard to calm him. He ended up wanting to sit on my lap and drink juice (clad by then in a clean diaper) and then wanted to go to my bedroom together so he could play the steamroller game and roll across me. He voiced his desire in almost those exact words. Jean and I went into our room, lay down on our bed, and let Damian roll across us. He then wanted me to roll over him. Jean pointed out that he knew he needed the sensory input -- the deep pressure -- to regulate himself and he asked for that. This is a good thing, to know what you need and then go about getting it. I commented that he's also found a way to get it while being social (ie: using Mommy as a deep pressure tool instead of just lying on the floor or pressing himself into the cushions).

After five minutes of the steamroller game, Damian was happy to run off and play some more with Jean. Organized once more.

I'm starting to recognize when he has some underlying issue: he gets bent out of shape about something small that otherwise doesn't bother him at all. Usually it's some ritual kind of behavior, like wanting to get his diaper changed in a particular spot or needing his pants pulled down all the way. If you address the underlying problem, whether it be something emotional or regulatory, the surface stuff falls away. I imagine this is the root of the control-freak rigidity of people with severe versions of autism. They can't get the underlying issues resolved so they feel discombobulated all the time and latch onto the small stuff with every ounce of their beings.

Damian has this small balloon on a stick. He picked it up and asked me for juice and said something I didn't follow about blowing bubbles. I thought he was going to ask to go blow bubbles in the back yard, honestly. I brought him the sippy cup. He pulled the balloon off the stick, stuck the stick in the sippy cup's straw, creating a very fucking long straw, and blew into it -- blowing bubbles in the juice. He'd planned out the whole thing when he picked up the stick. I was rather impressed.

Damian locked me in his closet and told me to be a monster, so I roared out at him. We got under the covers and were bears in a cave. I wanted to chill and watch him play, but he insisted we play together and what's more, he didn't wait for me to come up with the games. He did. The times they are a changin'.

He played the going-to-school and ladder-to-the-moon games again. This time we both dropped the moon off the edge of the couch and I said "Splash! They fell in the water!" Damian liked this. So we dropped more in the water and then he went to fetch his booster seat, which became a blue boat rocking in the ocean. Once again, his idea-making in action.

Dan playing with Damian in the bath. Damian played with a dinosaur. He said it was hungry. Dan asked what it wanted to eat. Damian said an apple. (He doesn't eat them himself.) Dan got a plastic apple, fed it to the dino. Dino was still hungry (this part was Dan, voicing Dino). Damian decided it wanted to eat a banana this time. Idea making again. Amazing.

Tuesday 20 November

Linda, his teacher, said Damian had a great morning. Very verbal, three to five word sentences. I guess that's a lot for school. There were fewer kids in the class today, that may have helped. He colored a cornucopia, coloring the different fruit appropriate colors and apparently naming them. When I asked him about it while she and I were talking, he rattled off (pointing to the various fruit): "Orange is orange, apple is red, grapes are purple, banana is yellow, pear is green." That was a wonderfully long answer to a question. Mostly when he's answering a specific question, he only uses one or two words.

Boss Lady came over for a long-overdue supervisory visit to reset Damian's goals for the Regional Center part of the program (he gets floor time from two vendors, school and this other place). He was cranky while she was here. I was a little embarrassed because I felt like his self-regulation was terrible. He kept getting upset at the drop of a hat. But she said that actually she thought this was real progress, that she saw him being very assertive, stating in no uncertain terms what he wanted (and then crying if I didn't give in right away -- the hard part). When she used to see him at the clinic with Gamma during the summer, he was much more passive. And it's true, he's taking charge more and more. Especially with us, of course, but I do think it's bleeding over into other settings.

I told her what was discussed at school, about pulling back on demands and questions, following his lead much more. She said that was very good to know, because otherwise she'd have suggested more semi-structured play, pushing more in that follow-my-instructions lead to ready him for school situations, etc. But because I told her about his anxiety level, she understood that would be dead wrong for him right now. So we're all on the same page. One of our goals last time we met was to incorporate more emotional situations into the pretend play scenarios (having a character be upset, mad, happy, etc.) and setting obstacles for him to overcome/solve. Gamma had apparently told her that Damian withdrew from pretend play when she did that, so she dropped the goal from her floor time. I wish they'd talked to me about it first. I think she was coming on too strong, pushing too hard, and that's why he withdrew. There are ways to do it that are gentler and therefore less scary.

While Boss Lady was here, Damian started putting a shopping bag on his head and peeking out. We played peek-a-boo for a while, then he said something about hiding in a shopping bag. I repeated him, and he talked about shopping with a shopping bag. So I said, "What a great idea! We're out of food, the fridge is empty." I thought he'd go get some of his plastic food from the drawer. Instead, he went into the kitchen, got a container of rice from the fridge, and put it in his bag. He trotted back to his room with it. Took the container out of the bag and ate some rice. I think Boss Lady was impressed with his initiative.

After she left, I rocked with him for a while. That seemed to reorganize him, and he played happily. I got ready to go to Heidi's. He came running into the kitchen with the skunk puppet on his hand. This particular puppet is the cat's arch enemy -- he loves to attack it, and we play "grab the skunk" games. Damian likes to say "the skunk is tackling Dante!" So when Damian came into the kitchen with the skunk, he had an agenda. He wanted me to grab the skunk, ie: he wanted me to pretend to be Dante!

He had a great session at Heidi's. After a gliding session, she pulled out the finger paints. She painted his hand and he put it on the page and made a turkey handprint. He called it a hand turkey picture. Then she brought out the shaving cream. Uh oh. She had Damian sit back down at the small table and spritzed the parts of a face: eyes, nose, mouth. Then she smushed the nose and asked Damian to join in. He said no. She smushed a little more and asked him again. He did. I swear, I don't know how she does it. It's like she doesn't hear the "no" and so he sort of shrugs and goes with it. They ended up smearing the whole picture and then squeezing shaving cream in their fists and letting it ooze out between their fingers. She said this gave him some proprioceptive input (the squeeze pressure) to counter any gag reflex. Smart. She drew an A in the shaving cream and Damian traced a circle around it, then "erased" it with his hands. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. She's SO good.

Wednesday 21 November

Low key day. Damian had a floor time session with Bonnie at 9 this morning, approximately fifteen minutes after he woke up. Sounds like it went well. She was jazzed because I brought out a box of blocks and they got to play pure imaginative games (since the blocks don't represent something specific). She says she got a lot more interaction and communication and original thinking as a result.

At one point midway through, Damian came into my office to join me. He wanted to sit on my lap. He's been doing this a lot, wanting to ditch the floor timer du jour and retreat to mommy. This time he seemed to want some kind of sensory play -- steamroller or standing on Mommy's legs, something with organizing input. I asked if he wanted to jump on the trampoline. He decided he would if I came too. So Bonnie held one hand and I held the other and he jumped vigorously, then ran off with Bonnie, happy to continue with floor time. Maybe that's what's been going on -- he needs to rebalance and wants me to help him do it since he doesn't know how to ask for their help. He and I have (subconsciously) developed sensory regulation games that he can ask for.

Shortly after she left, he fell apart with little cause. I got him to the rocking chair, rocked him for a while, and he pulled himself together nicely. We went off to the park after a while for some more vestibular input (eg: sliding and swinging). Funny how these outings have shifted focus for me. Playground as OT. The park was crowded. I was pleased to see that he eased his way past a traffic jam of kids on the jungle gym instead of backing off. I was less pleased to see that he had no defense when a little girl snatched away a sand toy. He did tell me he wanted it back, but he didn't tell her. He seemed stunned, honestly. I was too. Her mom was right there but far too busy with her cell phone call to even notice her daughter's rudeness.

I was pushing him on the bucket swing. A woman put her ten month old daughter on the swing next to Damian's. The girl was scared. The mom was trying to coax her out of her fear. The girl flapped her arms, a fear reaction. The mom asked if she was a bird. Damian picked up on this, saying "I'm a bird!" and flapping his arms. Then he held his arms out and said "I'm an airplane!" Then he said, "I'm a helicopter!"

We had a pleasant afternoon and evening. The park did the trick. He was very well regulated.

At dinner, he unfolded a napkin and stuck it to his mouth. I said it was a beard. Damian got a kick out of this and played with his "napkin beard" for a long time.

He's growing addicted to computer games. He plays with Daddy, so it's a together activity.

He also tried a painting program on my computer for the first time. He drew on the drawing tablet and chose colors and brush textures. What was great was that I could correct his hand positioning without his getting discouraged and giving up the way he does when I do it with his markers. So he started finally getting the hang of the tripod grasp. He made one picture with dark blue and black scribbles. He said it was night, I think referring to the fact that it was dark outside, but I said it was indeed a picture of the night. He liked that. Then I suggested he do a picture of the day and asked what color day should be. He said the sun, so I said great, yellow. And he used yellow. Then he wanted light green but quickly switched to dark green, which I said stood for trees. He said the green was leaves and wanted brown for the branches. (his words) I was pleased that he was able to make the imaginative leap with me, because the drawing was in no way representational.

Thursday 22 November

Dan took Damian to the park, said it seemed like a low organization day for Damian. He wouldn't play with sand toys in any imaginative way, just wanted to fling sand. I noticed this at home too, that he seemed more perseverative and sensory-seeking than usual. Not a good place to be for Thanksgiving, since we were headed to a big dinner party.

He did moderately well. Considering. He was extremely quiet and he mostly stayed away from the other kids there. He amused himself with toys and shut the world out. Not a great thing to see, but I don't know what else he could have done under the circumstances -- he's not yet able to actually play with other kids and it was a very noisy, busy environment, which in itself is hard on him. He wasn't wildly stimmy or massively clingy, and he did seem to enjoy himself while he was by himself.

At one point, he sat to play with a big dollhouse. Another boy, Jackson, came over and wanted to play too. Damian, of course, wanted to leave. I persuaded him to stay. He kept wanting to move away from Jackson. Jackson was trying to play with Damian, which Damian was either interpreting as hostility or was nervous that he wouldn't be able to respond. At one point, Jackson took Spiderman and had him knock on the dollhouse door. I prompted Damian "Someone's knocking on the door!" and he opened it. Jackson had Spidey climb the stairs and go up to the roof. Damian went back to ignoring him but got scared and upset when Jackson brushed against him to put Spidey on the roof. Can you tell I'm frustrated and upset myself about Damian's lack of progress in this area? I am. But there was one good moment. Jackson had one character after another knock on the door so Damian could open it for them. At about the third iteration, Jackson had a pink Power Ranger come inside. I suggested Damian pick up the yellow one. He did. He had it climb the stairs too, and then had it flop on the second floor. Jackson did the same with his pink one. Then Damian had his go back to the stairs and fall down. Jackson did too. The dolls got stuck in the stairwell. The kids pushed them through. The dolls fell on the floor in a pile. Damian laughed. For that single moment, he was interacting normally with another kid.

Friday 23 November

Damian enjoyed sweeping the driveway with me and the back yard with Dan. He had trouble with the concept that the leaves have to stay in the pile, not get swept out of the pile. I think he was hurt that Dan was upset. Damian was on edge for a while after that. He seemed to feel inadequate. About an hour later, we were in his room. Dan had pulled Damian's dresser drawer onto the floor upside down so he could fix it. Damian tried to sit on it. I said no, so he went to his (empty) captain's bed drawer, pulled it out and sat down in it. That was okay. Then he stood up and started jumping in it. I said "No!" He stopped. I explained that it was not okay to jump in the drawer, it might break, but that he could sit in it. He sat, said "I'm not going to jump in the drawer," and started to cry. I felt horrid. I could tell he felt like he just couldn't get anything right. So I talked to him about it, as did Dan. We told him everyone makes mistakes, and learning what's okay and what's not is part of growing up, and it's what we're there for, to help him figure it out. You know? He calmed down and was on a pretty even emotional keel the rest of the day.

Tonight I was on the phone, sitting on the floor in Damian's room with him on my lap. I asked Dan for a diaper so I could change Damian's diaper. Damian lay down on my lap and said he was getting his diaper changed on the Mommy changing table. I thought that was pretty clever. And funny.

Dan has been playing a computer game with Damian every night. Tonight he pulled out the Earobics CD. This game was recommended by Dr. Red to help with Damian's auditory processing and sequencing abilities. It's designed to help with pre-reading skills. The last time Damian played it, back in the spring, it was much too hard and he gave up quickly -- he got to the point quickly where he refused to play it. Tonight he did MUCH better. Some of the games he did stunningly well, in fact.

Saturday 24 November

Bonnie worked with Damian this morning. We heard her playing some board game with him; she was being very directive and he clearly wasn't into it. Later, though, he was laughing and clearly having a lot of fun with her. We talked to her afterwards. She told us that he was very insistent on playing the board games even though she kept trying to switch to something else, but then he was shutting down as they played. We talked through what the school-based floor time approach has become (follow his lead, don't push, don't direct at all or pepper him with questions -- let him feel confident in his own idea-making). She realized that the board games are essentially semi-structured play and to play them the way they're meant to be played, you have to stay with the program, which involves a lot of directing. And she saw him withdrawing, not just from the game, but from her. I suggested if he wants to do it again, she let him do what he wants with it. Sometimes he likes to play tea with the "I'm a Little Teapot" game -- he pours from the teapot into the cups and pretends to eat the cardboard cookies. If it happens, I think we should just go with it. There's some overall value in his learning turn-taking and rule-following, but not right now. It's much more important to just stay engaged with him and help him feel confident and comfortable. Everything else will follow.

Otherwise, a laid back day rainy day. He played computer games with Dan. At one point, Dan set him up with a toddler CD, which is good for Damian's confidence level, since he can ace everything. Later, he drew some pictures in Painter on my computer. He's getting more consistent with the tripod grasp. I can see him working on making it happen now that he's got motivation (he thinks it's the only way to make Painter work properly (heh)).

He seems pretty set against potty training right now. It's unfortunate. I think we're going to have to use bribery. I hate doing that, but listen, whatever works. I think we kind of blew it by having him sit on the potty till he peed, even if it took an hour. We tried to make it cozy by staying and reading to him, but what kid wants to sit there for so long? I think it's time for a new strategy: regular potty visits, but only ten minutes at a time, and a Starburst if he actually pees. Tune in tomorrow to see if I actually followed through... or maybe the next day... or how about Tuesday? (Yeah, I'm not looking forward to this.)

Speaking of pottys: we were out at a restaurant. Damian came to the bathroom with me. He was very eager to see me pee. I said I had to change his diaper first. While I was changing it, he was chattering about how I was going to pee in the potty. I asked him why (I was curious what he'd say). He said, "Because I'm going to flush the toilet." Good reason: he was telling me exactly why he was so eager.

Sunday 25 November

Damian wanted to roll across me like a steamroller this morning. He told me he wanted to steamroll the breast mountain. Ha.

He and I did a lot of running around this morning. He was better regulated today than yesterday. Maybe a coincidence. May be that Dan and I were in better moods. Damian is a mood sponge. He regresses when he picks up tension.

This afternoon he wanted to play steamroller again. I didn't. I said I wanted to play with his racecar game. He said he wanted to play barnyard bingo. So we did. I remembered Bonnie talking about how hard it was to engage with him with the structured game, but I didn't find it so. I think it's all about how playful and upbeat (high affect) you are. I was making the animal chips moo and teasing him for cheating. (He was! Kid wants to win and is willing to cheat to do so.) He stayed involved and enjoying it the whole way through, even though I did have to do some directing ("your turn" and "you don't have blue, you have to put it back in"), but I did it as much in the spirit of a two way game as I could.

Dan commented that he enjoyed watching us play the game, and that he was playing with Damian similarly this morning, a fun back-and-forth with Damian fully engaged, and he realized that this would have been a Floor Time triumph a few months ago but now it feels like, well, playing with our kid. It's like Damian's woken up. And that's what it's all about.

Wednesday 28 November

Why I haven't been writing: I got a cold Monday. Got over it by the end of yesterday, but I promptly pulled a muscle in my shoulder blade. Hurts. Couldn't type. Can type now, but not much.

Damian doesn't like the restriction. Makes me realize how much he uses me as a jungle gym. Not good for me, but I'm kind of his home OT playland, I think.

I gave him yogurt for lunch yesterday. He started stirring it with a spoon. Said "I'm making yogurt." I said, "You're cooking it!" He said, "I'm a good cook." Then I suggested he taste it, said all good cooks taste test their food. He spooned a little up and blew on it before eating. Just like when I made the chicken soup the day before.

He played with shaving cream again yesterday at Heidi's. This time she had him add uncooked rice and beans, giving it a double texture whammy. He was uncertain but went for it, and ultimately did quite well with nary a gag reflex in sight. He didn't look like he was having a whole hell of a lot of fun, but he didn't pull back either. Seemed like it was more fun by the end of last week's session, but then he didn't have the rice-y texture to deal with.

Dan stayed home to be Damian's caregiver today because of my shoulder. He said Damian did exceptionally well at My Gym. I saw the pictures: it looked like Damian was listening really well. Dan said that Damian knew what to do when it was his turn to do the exercises, more so than the other kids. He'd been paying better attention. This is a very positive thing.

When he gets upset, Damian has a tendency to shout/scream his desires: "I want a tissue!" "I want juice!" "I want to sit on Mommy's lap!" It's hard to take. We -- but especially Dan -- have been working on getting Damian to lower the volume to a more normal tone. It's clearly very difficult for him to do. I think he wants the tissue/juice/lap to help him self regulate, but now we're asking him to do so first. I think it's important, though. Dan's been offering him hugs -- another way of helping him get regulated, obviously, but also of course an emotional touchstone. Today he asked Damian if he wanted a hug and Damian held his arms out. He really wanted one.

Tonight while I was rocking him, I told Damian I loved him. He immediately turned his head toward mine and kissed me. That's number one in my list of top ten reasons to become a mom.

Thursday 29 November

I picked Damian up from Robin after school. She told me that she worked on finding ways to help him handle his frustration better: he has a tendency to go from zero to sixty far too quickly, starting to cry/shout after a small setback. So she's trying to find ways to bring him to the verge of that meltdown and then pedal it down, so he can see how it feels to stay in control when it felt like he was about to lose it. Good thinking. She also talked about how she's not asking him questions (not putting him on the spot), and trying to elicit spontaneous language. She said she picked out an easy puzzle, one she knew he could do in his sleep, and then playfully thwarted him as he put it together, flying the pieces around and trying to fit them in the wrong slots, etc. He was puzzled at first but then got into it, she said. I asked if she got any language. She said no. It puzzles me so much. In a similar scenario at home, he'd be chattering away. Sounds like the same thing is true in class: he doesn't talk unless he's requesting something or answering a question. What can help him break this barrier? How do we make this better? I'm clueless. I talked to her about the fact that I felt his issues were mostly (wholly???) SI. She didn't seem to have a real grasp on what that meant, but I bet she'll look into it now. I need to talk to everyone about it, I suspect.

Tonight I came into the bathroom to find Dan blowing bubbles. Damian sat in the bathtub in a sea of big shimmering bubbles. He asked for a cup. We offered him a green one. No. He wanted the other cup. The yellow cup? Yes. "I want the yellow cup to stop the bubbles." (stop=catch)

Friday 30 November

He had his first floor time session with Sally today: she's replacing Jean, who couldn't handle the commute. Neither can Sue; she's seeing him at school after hours. She said he was fine about heading out of Bird's (ST) office with her, and it sounds like they played nicely together. When I got there, he was being comfortably verbal and having a very good time with a ball chute game. I have no idea what her knowledge or analytical abilities are, but she seems good at establishing rapport. She seems like a comfortable person.

He started rolling on a peanut shaped therapy ball and didn't want to leave. Threw a bit of a hissy fit, hitting me and shouting. We calmed him down together. I diagnosed exhaustion. Sure enough, he fell asleep in the car. I'm starting to want to give him more time to be a kid without all this intensive therapy, but at the same time, I know how far he still has to go and then I feel guilty for the downtime we do have.

He was asleep when we got home. Bonnie was here. He woke only grudgingly and of course wanted to snuggle with me on the couch. She won him over with a book (my suggestion). He adores a book he calls "the sock book", a matching book about a sock who is searching for its mate. (The real title is A Pair of Socks.) He loves finding the sock pairs. So that drew him away from Mommy's arms. After that, it sounded like they had fun. Bonnie told me that he only warms up to imaginative play -- idea-making himself -- in the last 20 minutes of an hour-and-forty-minutes session. She's hoping that with time, he will get to it five minutes sooner and then five minutes sooner, etc. I hope so. She's also trying to incorporate jumping on the trampoline into a ritual opening the session, to get him revved up and interacting with her. She said something, too, about how much he feels the need to be in control. That he wants things just so, and that this is exacerbated when he's tired like today. It was a little depressing to hear that he's this way. I mean, I know he is, but I thought not ridiculously so. It's an autistic trait. It's also, I think, a three year old trait. But Bonnie knows three year olds, so that implies Damian is more rigid that way than most. Not what I want to hear, though it's hardly the most important issue in his life.

We were in the rocking chair. I suggested reading Damian a book and asked which he wanted to read. He told me, "I want to read the frog book." Well, there's no frog book. At least I didn't think there was. I listed off all the books on the shelf. He got frustrated. Nearly lost it. I finally realized: he's got a book called I Can Go Potty. Starring Baby Kermit the Frog. The frog book.

We were halfway through an interactive reading of Fox In Socks (the blue goo is sweet, according to Damian) when Dan came home. Damian jumped off my lap and raced into the living room with a huge, exuberant "DADDY IS HOME!" I suddenly realized he's finally able to express his excitement in words and tone instead of flapping, dancing arms.

He was looking at the pictures in Dan's MacWorld magazine. Flipped to an iBook ad. Said, "It's a computer." Then, "I want to buy a computer." Err...

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