Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Archive for March 2011

Wordless Wednesday 23 Mar 11

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I love this photo so much I don't even care if you see how messy my kitchen got on Yes Day!

 

 

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 23, 2011 at 6:50 am

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Say It Ain’t So

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Pudding learns language in a very different way to most kids.  I know this, and have known it for some time.  Yet it still continues to surprise me.  I still find it difficult and frustrating to tailor my language to her needs.  For the most part, I’m successful in getting her attention before I speak, and keeping my sentences short and clear.  But I’ve also been doing a lot of something else, and it is damaging to her communication.  I’ve been correcting her, over-correcting her, really.  Now I’m paying the price for it.

Pudding has an Asperger’s diagnosis, which might fool you into thinking that she doesn’t have language delays.  In fact, she has very significant pragmatic language delays, like many other kids on the spectrum.  One of the most instantly noticeable of these is her difficulty with pronouns.  Initially, she would substitute the pronoun with names for extra clarification.

Pudding wants Mummy to get Pudding a drink.

Then we began speech therapy.  She understands pronouns.  She knows that I mean Mummy when I say “I/me/mine” and Pudding when I say “you/your/yours” and Cubby or Daddy when I say “he/him/his”.  She understands we/our/them/their without a problem.  But when it comes to generating the correct pronoun herself, she struggles.

She went from using her name to using the word “you.”

You want Mummy to take you out.

I would correct her:

Say: I want you to take me out.

She would repeat back, always emphasizing the pronoun just as I had.  Then over time, she began to correct herself:

You want Mummy to take you out.  Say I want Mummy to take me out.

Now that “say” is stuck there.  Wrapped up in almost every utterance.  I hate the effort that she puts into correcting herself, only for it to be wrong.  I really hate that it is my fault for over-correcting her.

***

I turned to the experts in Pudding’s life.  First, her teacher who approaches things from a behavioral standpoint.  She recommends ignoring the incorrect request, and only responding to correct language. It is what they do in her Verbal Behavior classroom.  It works there.

But I can’t.

I can’t turn away any communicative intent.  I can’t ignore her language because it isn’t fluent, not when I know how hard she tries.

So I tried her speech therapist.  Her method was to find an alternative way for using “say”.  She suggested “try” or “tell me.”

While that suits my instincts better, I have a feeling that before long they’ll also be incorporated into Pudding’s speech.  I mentioned this to her therapist, who acknowledged it is a very real possibility.  Then when we went to leave, she said goodbye, but Pudding was outside focusing on a flower, and didn’t hear her.  Before I could stop myself, I called to her: “Say goodbye.”

These language habits are tough once they are instilled, for both of us.  I’m going to do what I should have done in the first place- let Pudding be.  Let her learn our language immersion style, my teaching methods are clearly useless.  That is something I don’t mind saying.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Lunatic

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A perigee moon.  Bigger, brighter, more special than usual, we only get to see the moon like this once every 18 years or so.  I became fascinated.  Where would we be the next time we saw it?  Who would we be?  I was determined we would capture the magic.  Everything aligned: it was going to be a cloudless evening.  The best time to see the moon was just after sunset.  I googled and found that sunset would be at 7.18 pm here.

No moon here.

Okay, that was a slight thorn in my side.  We put the kids to bed at 7 pm every night.  The kids are very early risers, and need all the sleep they can get.  Just as importantly, we need the evenings to ourselves, especially on Saturday night at-home date night.  But, I reasoned, we could just pop out quickly, look at the moon, and have them back in bed by 7.30.

We bathed them and dressed them in their pyjamas and told them we were going to look at the moon.  Fellow spectrum parents might expect meltdown at the abrupt change in routine, but my kids were excited.  We were out by 7.15.  The sky was not quite dark, and there was no moon in sight.

"I see the moon." He lied.

While we waited for the moon, the kids played.  They were so excited to be out of bed, they ran and jumped around.  They tried to evade capture, we chased after them.  And we all looked for the moon, but we couldn’t see it.  A couple of times Cubby told us he found it, but he lied.

Pudding began her soliloquy, which lasted the rest of the evening: Where is the moon?  The moon is gone!

7.43 We decided we needed a better vantage point, and made our way to the entrance of our housing development.  We were on top of a hill there, so we’d be able to see that moon as soon as she showed her face.  Here was a more dangerous territory, with a very busy highway.  The kids could no longer run free, and Daddy put Cubby on his shoulders while I held on to Pudding’s hand.  And still no moon.  The kids could only take so much waiting around.

8.17 We got in the car.  I noted the time, and Spectrummy Daddy asked if I was keeping a Captain’s Log.  Why yes dear, this is my journey to the moon!

We drove around for a while, but to no avail, and we decided to return home, disappointed.  Actually, I was the only one who was disappointed. The kids were just tired, and Spectrummy Daddy bemused that I was so moonstruck.  I couldn’t explain it.  It was special, and I had to see it.

We were almost home when we finally saw it.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

She was large, and orange-tinted, beautiful and mesmerizing.  The kids couldn’t care less.  I wanted to stay there and gaze.

I went to capture her image, and the results were unbearably disappointing.  They were blurry, the moon was small….and ordinary.  I captured none of her magic.  Then my battery ran out.  We put the kids to bed, and I vowed to return.  The moon would be higher, but I could still get her.  I was wildly possessed; I just couldn’t believe that there were other people around just ignoring such a sight.  They just didn’t get it.

8.47 I put Pudding to bed and went back out on my mission.  This was the best I got. I tried.  I stood in her thrall, and did my best to show her wonder, but I failed miserably.  I needed a tripod, and a paparazzi lens.  Perhaps I should have made a wish upon the moon for them.  The photo scoffs at her enchanting brilliance.  It looks so….ordinary, but I saw and felt how special it was.  I was mesmerized.

9.03 I returned home.  My photos disappointing, but my lunatic need sated.

There was a price to pay though, for chasing the moon.

It was too late for our Saturday night at-home date night.  We postponed until Sunday, but he woke up with Cubby’s illness.  We’ll do it soon though, we needn’t wait for the next perigee moon.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 21, 2011 at 6:06 pm

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Paper Cuts (at Hopeful Parents)

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This essay was originally posted at Hopeful Parents.


Hopeful Parents

Some say the child’s diagnosis is like a stab to the parent’s heart.  A shock, a blow that stops the heart from pumping, the world from turning, life from living.

I’m not sure it was entirely like that for me.  If it was, the wound wasn’t mortal.  Rather it was closer to the cut of a surgeon’s knife.  I anticipated the diagnosis, and knew it was necessary, prepared for it.  It was the recovery that took a long time.

I’d wanted to stop the bleeding quickly, put a Band-Aid on it, and heal.  But you can’t rush grief, it takes its own time.  I needed the stitches that came with experience.  I needed the tender care of those who had gone before me, applying balm to the wound.  First I felt numb, then I was sore, but it got better every day.

I healed up.  I dutifully worked through all the stages.  I wasn’t in Denial for long, though you could say I’d been in denial all along.  I was Angry for quite some time.  I Bargained better than the canniest of salesmen.  There was the Depression.  Short-lived, but miserable depression, anemia from the blood loss.  And then Acceptance.  Text book.  Glorious, wonderful, acceptance.  All the while I’d known that our baby was no different, no diagnosis would change my feelings.  But I’d changed, my life was changed irrevocably.  I’d formed a scar.  That needed Acceptance.

Only the thing they never tell you about grief, is that it comes around again.  Not so bad.  Not bleeding so profusely.  More like little paper cuts.

The sting reminds you of the bigger pain, as though you were ever likely to forget. I’m cut when my daughter refuses to hug her father, and only my cuddles will do.  I smarted when she spurned my parent’s attentions when they came to visit.  The nick when my younger child surpasses her development, or an overseas school refuses to include her.

Just little griefs; they sting, but they aren’t fatal.  Paper cuts.

I can dress my own wounds, and even when I can’t, they heal up on their own.  Give her time, she’ll get there.  Bandage.  She has come so far.  Ointment.  She is amazing in her own way.  Balm.  The paper that cuts me is a masterpiece still being written.  Salve.

Acceptance isn’t just getting through Grief.  It is learning that I’ll go through many griefs, and just as many acceptances.  No use in denying it.  Acknowledging that I’ll smart through every one of those paper cuts.  It is okay to be angry about it.  I can even try to bargain that one day my skin will be thicker, eventually dulled to the pain.  I can get depressed about it, but sooner or later I’ll accept that they will come as part of parenting.

Love hurts.  Sometimes a lot, more often a little.  If I can recover from a stab wound, I can get through these too.  Love heals too.

After all, nobody ever bled to death from a paper cut.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 19, 2011 at 6:21 am

Yes Day

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One of Pudding’s favourite story books right now is called “Yes Day.”  The protagonist enjoys one day a year when his parents grant his every request.  No wonder she likes it.  I get it.  I say no a lot.  Too much.  Don’t.  No.  Can’t.  Hardly inspiring and empowering.  Hardly the kind of mother I want to be.

So many things I make the kid do for her own good.  She has to go to school when she’d rather be with me.  She can’t eat her favourite foods because of her allergies.  She can’t wear light summer dresses because it is too cold.  She has to go to her therapies and appointments, week in, week out.  Reasonable nos.

But there are so many nos that aren’t for her, they’re for me.  I don’t have time.  It makes a mess.  We have to be somewhere.  This week has been tough for Pudding.  With Cubby sick and taking all my attention, she has had to find her own entertainment.  When she does, I get mad at the mess she makes.  She needed a Yes Day.

I couldn’t grant every request, but I could make some things happen.  She could have whatever she wanted for breakfast, so I fulfilled all three requests.  She dressed as she pleased, and was allowed subsequent costume changes.  I let her drink juice instead of water.  She could play Sesame Street games on the computer.  She could watch an Ernie DVD.  She wanted a morning bath, and I let her stay in until she wanted out,  45 minutes later.  Then she wanted to do water more water play inside, so we did.

Cubby, now fully recovered took advantage of Mummy’s positive mood, and ripped some books.  I really didn’t feel like saying no to him, but we don’t hurt books or people in this house.  You want to rip?  I’ll give you rip.  I found some construction paper, and we sat on the floor together and ripped.  It was so deliciously naughty that the kids lapped it up, I didn’t mention that it is a good activity for their fine motor skills.  Originally my intention was to make a picture with the torn pieces, but I’ll save that for another day.

We just had fun throwing it in the air like confetti, then pulling it out of each others’ hair.  We made a game of cleaning it up (who can find me a green one?  Three blue ones?) in a ziploc bag.  Then I hid small objects in there and the kids had to find them with their fingers.  Tactile seeking Pudding loved this, though she wasn’t able to discriminate what each object is.  Cubby liked it less, but he got a small exposure to a sensory experience he doesn’t normally like.

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When I put her to bed, can you guess which book she gravitated towards?  I asked her if she’d had a good day.  She answered with the word of the day: yes.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 18, 2011 at 6:40 am

Sick to Death

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I’d been looking to going out for my husband’s birthday for…..well, since whenever the last time was I got out of the house without the kids.  The fact that I can’t remember when that was speaks volumes.  This has just been a rough winter for our family.  So on Friday when Cubby seemed even clingier than usual, I hoped for the best.  I took his temperature and it read 103F.  Of course.

I stayed home.  Again.  There are now calls for my husband to take a photo of me with today’s newspaper to prove I’m still alive.  After all, anyone could update a Facebook or Twitter status, or write a blog post with the words “centre” and “colour” deliberately misspelled to look authentically British.  I mean, when was the last time you spoke to me?!  Of course, things aren’t that bad, but I do kind of miss the outside.

Apart from waking up a little extra in the night, he wasn’t so bad.  And on Saturday and Sunday he was just fine.  Perhaps a little off his food, perhaps a little cranky, but that is hard to detect in a toddler who delights in being both picky and cranky.  We stuck close to home just in case, and I got some spring cleaning done, like cleaning our very sticky dining room carpet.

On Monday I was getting Pudding ready for school, when he was suddenly violently sick.  Of course, on the dining room carpet.  It just looked too fresh and clean to belong in our house, I suppose.  I took him upstairs, and he was sick all over our bed.  I asked him if he was sick, but he replied that no, he was sad.  Poor boy.  I cleaned him up, sent Pudding off to school.  He took a nap, and woke up in time for a quick snack before we left to collect Pudding to take her for her speech therapy session.  I debated canceling, but we’d missed the previous two sessions.  Besides, he seemed fine after the nap.

He wasn’t.  He was sick in spectacular fashion on the way there, to Pudding’s fascinated horror, and then again on the way home.  I removed his clothes in the kitchen, and as I went to get a cloth to clean him up, he vomited again.  And then slipped in it and banged his head in it.  Sigh.  I gathered him up, and he transferred the whole mess to me and my hair.

He was the kind of clingy that meant even the briefest of showers had a background of screaming.  Only after I got out did I realize I hadn’t washed my hair.  Sigh.  In all this time, Pudding had precisely none of my attention, a circumstance that she was determined to rectify.  I poured a bath for Cubby, and she immediately stripped all her clothes off to join him.  I told her that there would be no bath for her.  Cubby was sick, and needed to get clean.

Pudding– PUDDING’S SICK!!!

Me– Oh really, Pudding?  You’re sick too?

Pudding– Yes, I’m sick.  I need some medicine.  You take medicine when you’re sick.

Well, she got me on that one, but I still denied the bath.

***

The next day I was still dealing with a sickly boy, when I got the call from the school to collect Pudding.  She was listless and asking to lie down.  I got her into the car, and asked if she was sick.  And this time, this time she replies:

-No, I’m NOT sick!!!  Cubby’s sick.  Cubby’s wearing pyjamas.  I don’t want to wear pyjamas, I want to wear a dress.  I don’t want to go to bed.  I’m NOT sick.

And then the rest of the day did a very good demonstration of how she was not sick, but extremely out of sync.  Eventually she developed a fever, so she is still home.  She is off her food too, which is most un-Puddinglike.  Perhaps this is the incubation period before things get messy.

***

Having observed my kids this winter, I think illness magnifies their sensory tendencies.  Cubby, my sensitive avoider, wants everything to be calm and quiet.  He is content to lie down (as long as I’m there with him) and read books.  He loses his ability to tolerate his sister’s closeness and noise-making.  Pudding, my underresponsive seeker, seems to be looking for yet more input to regulate herself.  As much of a struggle as it can be for them to be together when they’re well, it is so much worse when they are ill.  I’m right in the middle, trying to keep both of them happy, and not doing such a stellar job of it.  I just need to avoid catching it myself.

So that is where we are this week.  If I go quiet on the social media, you’ll know why.  But if a short post about colour centres hits your inbox, ask my husband about that picture with today’s newspaper, would you?

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 17, 2011 at 6:54 am

Wordless Wednesday 16 Mar 11

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Sensory Integration- my girl can never get too much at once. Right after this she went for a swing.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 16, 2011 at 7:40 am