Emma’s Update

Our littlest lady has definitely taken off in the developmental area of things.

The biggest milestone?  Well, that would be walking.  She isn’t quite to the point of just taking off all the time, but she’ll walk a few steps here an there to get where she wants to go.  The max at this point is about 4 steps.  It’s so funny.  She could go way farther, but just lacks the confidence.  Most of the time, she gets to those 4 steps, then lowers herself to the ground (completely vertically, she has great balance and her legs are super strong) and then just takes off crawling.  She’s SO fast!  Our pediatrician commented at her last well-check that we should look out for her speed.  She told us that tiny babies are often much faster.  She wasn’t kidding.

Emma is also getting much better in the speech department.  We decided before she was born that we would be teaching her sign language.  I have a 2-year-old nephew that was born deaf so it really was important to us that we could communicate with him and wanted Emma to learn quickly as well.  So far she can sign, “more”, “eat”, and “all done/finished” clearly, with about  2 or 3 more signs that we understand but need some clarification before others can.  She also says “Mama” and “Dada” on a regular basis, and occasionally “done”, “yeah”, and “huh?”.  The latter is my favorite (other than “Mama”, of course!).  She is so cute when she does it.  We’ll ask her something and she will turn towards us, raise her eyebrows, put her hands up and say, “huh?” and then waits for us to ask again.  It always makes me laugh.

Right now I’m kind of at a crossroads when it comes to feeding Emma.  She is really starting to pull away from eating pureed foods, and sometimes even refuses to eat things that are more textured.  She will always eat foods that I cut up and put on her tray, but she can’t always eat what we’re eating.  She only has the front 2 bottom teeth, so I’m a bit leary of giving her foods that require more chewing.  This last week we went on a family camping trip for Evan’s family reunion.  Because I didn’t have access to a freezer, I bought commercially prepared baby food for Emma.  Bad idea.  She would AT MOST eat 3 bites before refusing it.  I ended up driving into town to buy Greek yogurt (a staple in Emma’s diet), frozen peas/carrots that could just chill in the cooler, and packaged oatmeal for her to eat.  We filled in the holes by just giving her whatever we were eating.  Even now that we are home, she doesn’t want to eat the remainder of the baby food I bought.  She’ll still eat the baby food I make, but only about 1/2 of what she used to take.  She’s not picky at the types of food I give her, just as long as it’s “big people” food.

Now if only she’d get a few more teeth!

She is still super small, but is she ever mighty!  At her 9 month well-check (that was actually at 10 months due to the Dr.’s schedule) she was 15 lbs. 3 oz.  and 28″ tall.  Her pediatrician has been really happy with her growth because she has actually been sticking to a trend.  Over the winter months she was so sick with so many viruses that it actually kept her from growing.  Now that she’s been healthy, she’s growing at the correct rate – meaning, she’s gaining the correct amount of weight between checkups.  It’s likely that she’ll stay tiny for a while, but I think she’ll catch up eventually.

Luckily I’ve been able to continue nursing.  I was worried for a bit because it seemed like she wasn’t getting as much as I’d have liked.  Of course, the Dr. wasn’t worried seeing as her growth as been steady, and the lactation consultants all assured me that she probably just had an efficient tongue that drained the breast quickly.  I’ve been trying to relax, but I still don’t feel quite right about it.  There’s always something to worry about.

So, there you have it.  Emma in a nutshell.  Life is good.

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Excuses, Excuses and Update pt.1

Okay, I could sit here and ramble off a million and a half reasons why I suck at blogging.  But who really cares?  So how ’bout I skip that, and just get to part 1 of my updates, eh?

In my last post, I told you how there were some things in the works as far as testing Lucy for Asp.erg.ers.  Well, the long and short of it is that our “smart, quirky, girl” has indeed been diagnosed with this form of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Yeah, I’m still wrapping my mind around it.  I’ll give you a minute to process…

We good?  Okay.  Continuing…

So far, we have had 2 separate opinions that confirm this diagnoses, but just for good measure we will have a third in November.  Meanwhile, we are doing weekly counseling sessions to try to prepare for the upcoming school year.  When I say “we” are going to counseling I really mean WE.  We are going as a family so that we can learn and adapt together.  We have been going for about a month now, and have already seen a reduction in Lucy’s meltdowns.  Honestly, I’m not quite sure if this is more because of the counseling (I sometimes feel it’s a waste of time… but it’s still early.) or just because she’s out of the classroom and no longer dealing with the conflicts that came from being under the control of a teacher that just didn’t “get it”.  Even after Lucy was diagnosed, it seemed like the teacher was actually provoking Lucy.  She did things that she KNEW would cause a meltdown, and told Lucy that she had to just “deal with it.”

I am so glad the school year is over.

So far we have learned a lot about Lucy that we never really considered.  We have always known that she does much better with a schedule and routine.  She doesn’t deal well with change – but it’s actually much more than that.  She picks out the details and stores them away… things that you and I wouldn’t even think of.  For instance, one of Lucy’s biggest complaints during this past school year was that her teacher would staple things in her planner so that I was sure to see them when she came home.  This almost always ended up with Lucy in a full-blown temper tantrum, and absolutely ruined the remainder of her day.  She begged the teacher to stop, but the teacher refused to find another method of communication with me (although she would email me anyway to make sure I got her notes.  UGH!!).  I always assumed that Lucy’s gripe was because it was HER planner.  Not the teacher’s.  HERS.  She viewed it as if the teacher was ruining the planner page by stapling something to it.  But that wasn’t the whole reason.  What also bothers Lucy, is that the teacher never told her that adding things to the planner was possible.  At the beginning of the year, the students were told that the planner was to be used as a daily journal and reminder for nightly assignments and upcoming deadlines.  Remember — Lucy is in a full-time Gifted and Talented program, (ironically named, Spectrum).  These students have a lot to keep track of.  At no point was it made mention that the teacher could add to the purpose of the planner.  This is a BIG part of the problem for Lucy.

Of course, with this much rigidity, you’d think that Lucy was as straight-laced as they come.  Can’t break the rules, right?  Well, kinda.  Lucy obeys the rules she understands.  But it’s difficult.  This is an issue that will probably take the longest to correct.  This is hard to explain, so please bear with me.

Lucy KNOWS the rules.  She can repeat them, nearly verbatim, every time she is asked.  But applying them, is something completely different.  For Lucy, she MUST understand “why”.  And the justifications that we give her aren’t enough.    In other words, no two situations are alike, so the rule may not always apply.  Lucy cannot generalize well.  If I tell her to stay out of my make-up, I must explain what constitutes “make-up” and what I mean by “stay out of”.  There must not be a gray area.  So if I tell her that she can’t play in my make up, but then I catch her with say, a tube of lip gloss she found on my dresser, she may say, “but I wasn’t in your makeup drawer!”, or “I didn’t know lipgloss was makeup!”

Make sense?  Can you see why this is so hard for us as parents?  How will we ever know what behaviors to punish?  If it is out of her control, it certainly isn’t fair to punish her for it, but if she is simply CHOOSING not to follow a rule, then by all means – groundings are in order.  It is a very fine line because as with any ASD, behaviors can be corrected.  Lucy can learn to apply rules.  She HAS learned to apply rules, but it is hard for her.  It doesn’t come naturally.  But – because we have already been teaching her cause and effect, she does understand some of the time.  And then there is always the typical childhood fibs.

There is so much more we are learning, but it would honestly take another 2 weeks of blogging everyday to fully explain.  What it boils down to, is that we are in a major transition point as a family.  We are determined to help Lucy adapt to these challenges, and are committed to being the best parents to her that we can be.  This is not going to be easy for any of us, but we have to learn more patience in order to teach Lucy.  Luckily we have nearly 2 more months before she will be back in school.  We have this time to come up with a plan of action that we will put in place before school starts.  Our psychologist is on board with coming to the school and offering a bit of training to Lucy’s next teacher to hopefully help create some stability for her.  (We have to make her school-life and home-life as consistent as possible, down to the very words we use.  This will be interesting.)  We will get an IEP in place as well as an updated 504 plan, for those of you who are familiar.

We are in the early stages of all of this, and we are still trying to let it sink in.  Of course, I will try to update as we learn so that we can maybe share some knowledge to help others.

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Okay, next time I will tell you all about Emma and the developmental leaps and bounds this girl has made.  It’s brilliant, really.  Quite impressive.

Stay tuned…