Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Idle hands make the Devil's work

...so we've been keeping ours busy lately!


Matilda is really enjoying her swimming lessons. She swam half way across the pool with no buoyancy aids yesterday. Apparently she keeps saying she's scared, then her teacher throws a toy in the water and Matilda gets brave and swims in to save it.

She is also working hard on her writing skills... Writing is Matilda's weakest school subject. Part of it is that her fine motor skills just aren't that strong. Another part of it is that she reads so quickly, and she has such an active imagination, she finds writing frustratingly slow. I was the same at her age. (I also found spelling completely pointless... You could still read it, so why the fuss?) I guess being a liiittle bit lazy and looking for shortcuts is another thing my girl gets from me! Anyway, we're working on it and here is a postcard that she wrote to ger Nanny and Pop Pop after we visited the Aquarium a few weeks ago. (She told us what she wanted to write, we wrote it down for her and she copied it on the card.)

She was talking to my mum on the phone about her visit to the Aquarium too:
"Yaya, we went to the Aquarium, and we saw a big tank with predators like sting rays and sharks, and some other fish in there for their snack!"

Matilda has been asking for ballet lessons for months, since she started reading Angelina Ballerina books. She spent ages watching dance videos, and practicing. Finally last week we told her she was going to go to her first ballet lesson. Here she is warming up:

She started slow:

But then got more and more excited:

Ta Da!


Philip is getting ready to start school in September (Gasp! Sob! My baby!) He got a place in our first preference school so I'm feeling a bit happier about that. We've also met some mums with kids going there, two of the boys actually have Asperger's syndrome, and they were very happy with the school. So it all looks quite promising at the moment.

Here is Philip modeling his new uniform:

He looks a bit more casual usually!

Philip also started seeing a new SALT (Speech and Language Therapist,) who has a lot of experience working with children on the higher functioning end of autism. We're very happy about that, I can tell you! He had his first session yesterday and she was very good at interacting with him and seemed to "get" gim a lot more than other professionals we've seen.

We have gotten used to the idea of Philip's diagnosis now that we've had some time to digest the information. It's nothing, he is doing very well and actually has a lot of strengths that will make it easier for him to learn to manage it very well, we think. He is VERY sociable, and really tries to interact with people. He has a very good imagination and can do pretending games quite well. Both of those things can be a problem with Asperger's, and we think having Matilda around has helped him learn these behaviours that might otherwise be more difficult to him.

But he does have several "aspie" traits that...well...are not so intrusive, so we just didn't notice them, or didn't think too much about them if we did. He is not very good at eye contact. He can look people in the eye, more easily the people he is most familiar with, and if you ask him directly he will make eye contact. But it never lasts for long, and he does try to avoid it if he can. He has the speech delay, of course, but he also has trouble with interpreting things like tone of voice. When the SALT asked him a question directly, he answered it immediately. But when the question was implied by her tone of voice, (for example, "This girl is crying because.....?) he never once answered the question. That is quite typical aspie behaviour (and he can learn to understand that sort of thing, but it will just take him a bit more of an effort.) He can be quite sensitive about things some time, especially sensory things. I mentioned the hearing test incident back in January I think. Last week we were trying to measure his height and to do that he had to stand against the wall and have a book touching the top of his head. He didn't want to do it, but I told him he had to, so he made himself do it, looking quite tense and wide eyed... As soon as it was done he went and hid behind the sofa (how on earth he managed to fit in there I don't know,) and cried for 10 minutes. Talk about feeling guilty... But it's not always possible to know when something is going to bother him that much! Luckily most of the time he is a very happy boy.

During the session the SALT went through a book of pictures, asking Philip questions about the pictures as part of the asessment. Here are a couple of the answers he gave -very "Philip."

Picture shows a boy standing near a lake, reaching out to get his toy boat. From his position and facial expression, he is obviously about to fall in the water.

SALT: What is going to happen next Philip?
Philip: He will ask someone to come with a net and get his favourite boat for him. Or maybe a dolphin will throw it to him with his tail, or with his nose. (like I said, nothing wrong with his imagination!)

Picture shows a teddy bear standing between two giant teacups. Yes, don't ask me why.

SALT: Philip, where is the teddy bear?
Philip: *pointing* There.
SALT: Good, but you have to tell me more. Try again, WHERE is the teddy bear?
Philip: *thinks ofr a bit, then says very deliberately* The teddy bear is there.

Philip really loves Teddy. He's always playing with him and singing to him.
Disclaimer: No babies were hurt during the making of this video. It looks like Philip is not being very gentle, but he was really, and anyway, Teddy was loving it!


Teddy has made a LOT of progress recently. He can now:
  • Weightbear on his legs. He'll only do it on my lap, any other surface is too risky as far as he's concerned. But after his last Physio appointment, the PT decided that he is going to get a standing frame to help him improve his standing skills... He also got some special shoes called Piedro boots, that will support his ankles when he is standing. I was ridiculously excited about it all. I know, sad, but he looked so grown up standing on his standing frame with his big boy shoes on!
  • Balance on hands and knees, crawling position, and rock back and forth. He usually needs me to place him in that position, but once he even actually managed to get his knees under him on his own!
  • Sit without propping himself on his hands. He still finds it difficult though, and generally refuses to do it unless he is very motivated by a toy.
  • Sign milk.
  • Pick up his bottle, put it in hs mouth and hold it there until it's empty.
  • Play peek-a-boo.
  • Wrangle with the dog. :)
He had such a wonderful time playing with Bingo yesterday I just couldn't stop taking pictures. Later, when I was looking through them on the computer screen, Teddy was looking at them and laughing. Too precious.

Here he is again, with Marilena. See his smile? He had just seen his Daddy coming in. He's such a Daddy's boy.

You can see Teddy signing "milk" in this video. Look out for his hand opening-and-closing, that's the makaton sign for milk.

And here he is playing Peek-a-boo:

As for the pets...

Bingo and Domino are getting on really well together, and can often be found playing. Scrabble still prefers to skulk around and shoot Bingo hateful looks, but we're still hoping...

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