The call has been made

I put in a call to Early Start about Kirianna. She’s to be evaluated for services. It probably won’t happen for a month or so, but I just wanted to get it underway before she turned 2.

That being said, I’ve seen considerable growth language-wise from her lately. She’s getting better at listening to commands without needing a physical prompt or overt gesturing.

I can tell her “out” and she will understand and even start move out of whatever room I am chasing her from. This means I can relax with the doors a little bit.

I still don’t think she has any clue what the word “no” really means – she says it, she answers things that sound like questions with it, but it has no other context (e.g. “What time is it?” “Noooo”). She will still say “no” when she means any other word, so I’m not sure how valid that word is.

She says “ball” in perfect context and adores throwing, rolling, and kicking them.

She says “ah-si” for outside and she will use it as a request – saying it means “Can we go outside?” She loves to be outside – walking, being pushed on a tricycle, going to the park.

She still definitely knows cats and dogs and will point them out in a picture book. If there are several pictures of a cat on a page and you point and label one cat, she will point to the others. She doesn’t seem to do a lot of pointing outside of that one particular picture book. She’s actually far more interested in the page with the shapes and will interrupt whatever I’m doing so she can point to shapes on the page and have me label them.

She will say “set” when she wants some sort of play that usually pairs with Ready, Set, Go! She will also say “boooo” when she’s in a situation with a high probability of peek-a-boo.

She’s a happy kid, though. And she’s not too fast to keep up with yet. In the long run, writing this is mostly to show her where she was at what age, right?

Poor second child

Kirianna just will not have the luxury of looking back at detailed records of her babyhood. Hopefully she will forgive me for that.

Part of it is that there’s not a fuck of a lot to TELL. She’s here, and she’s doing pretty well, and she is developing. She is developing so gradually that it seems like she’s not changing much.

She recognizes her first letter! She can point to the letter O and say it.

She’s been saying ‘no’ clearly and as a response to any question anyone asks. She is starting to say some more words – in the past week, she’s shown interest in repeating words said to her and she’s begun to understand a bit more of what’s said to her. She’s been saying: go, shoes, and outside (ah-sii). She will walk into her room toward her changing table if I ask if she needs a diaper and she thinks she does (as long as I follow). She has no concept of asking for food or drink aside from going to the location drinks are kept and either removing one or looking inside intently.

She still doesn’t quite run yet but she has stopped tripping over the nothing as much.

She’s become very explorety. Doors must be shut because she will go hide in rooms she shouldn’t be in. She managed to get into the cats’ litterbox – I mean INTO the box, using it as a sandbox. (Thankfully I scooped all the shit that morning, or else that would’ve been an entirely different level of horrible.) She sort of understands what’s expected of her but will challenge that a lot.

Kiri is having trouble with shape sorters and similar toys. She can manage a simple chunky puzzle but isn’t interested in putting it together; instead, she will carry the pieces around. She always has objects in her hands.

And now she’s awake, so I’m going to go get her.

Negation

Suddenly, Kirianna is starting to say the word “no” clearly and actually in context. This is literally emerging as of this morning or yesterday evening. It’s really cute – she says “nooooooooo” in this very serious sounding voice. That being said, she still listens very poorly to the command “no” so I am hoping she picks up the context.

18 months old!

Ok, that went by very fast. You can tell how fast because there’s no time to write stuff about her, and then suddenly she’s this big baby.

I shall steal some milestone suggestions from here and discuss them in relation to one Kirianna. But before I do, I will say that she shows signs of being on the spectrum. Not severe signs, but I see differences. Note that being autistic in our family is not much different than being American or Californian or female – it’s part of a person’s identity and personality.

1. Social and Emotional
* Likes to hand things to others as play √
* May have temper tantrums  √
* May be afraid of strangers  √ √ √
* Shows affection to familiar people  √
* Plays simple pretend, such as feeding a doll  √
* May cling to caregivers in new situations  √
* Points to show others something interesting  √×
* Explores alone but with parent close by  √×

2. Language/Communication
* Says several single words  √
* Says and shakes head “no”  √×
* Points to show someone what she wants  √

3. Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
* Knows what ordinary things are for; for example, telephone, brush, spoon  √
* Points to get the attention of others  √×
* Shows interest in a doll or stuffed animal by pretending to feed ×
* Points to one body part  √
* Scribbles on her own  √
* Can follow 1-step verbal commands without any gestures; for example, sits when you say “sit down”  √×

4. Movement/Physical Development
* Walks alone  √
* May walk up steps and run ×
* Pulls toys while walking  √
* Can help undress herself ×
* Drinks from a cup  √×
* Eats with a spoon  √

(All things marked ambiguously are “well, I think she can do this but I haven’t seen it in practice lately.”)

So milestone-wise, she’s mostly ok. So, why would I think she could be autistic or have autistic traits?

* Has begun spinning in circles when overstimulated, i.e. vacuuming
* Still is very picky about food and avoids many textures that are commonly eaten by kids her age
* Avoids my eye contact when sought, although she makes good incidental eye contact
* Interested in the same sensory fun times her older (autistic) brother is; sensory seeker
* Stares at leaves moving in trees just like older brother did
* Is slow to talk

Shit, there are more. I see something every day that makes me think it. We need to complete the EARLI Study’s 18 month paperwork for her and then we will actually have a better idea. I am very happy that autism evaluation is something we can almost take for granted. (Like getting a job that requires experience or for you to know people?) So far, the evaluations have said “developing right on track.” Like her brother, her language progression seems to be slowing. We’ll see. He did experience explosions at the generally appropriate ages but that doesn’t make him any less on the spectrum.

So, about the ambiguously marked milestones:

* Points to show others something interesting and * Points to get the attention of others. Well, kind of. She has the skill. She does it sometimes. But I think her pointing is more to ask for something, and I don’t see it often. Not sure if she sees no need to point because Level 2 Parents can see what she is interested in before she’d point. I will have to ask about this.

* Explores alone but with parent close by. There are times she’s willing to explore without a parent very close by. She is getting better about being safe, though. But she will walk straight out of our yard and down the block if I am not careful. Maybe she trusts that I will come after her. Maybe she’s just learning to be more conscious. But it strikes me as odd that she wanders off at ALL considering the fact that she’s otherwise Clingy McClingypaws.

* Says and shakes head “no.” This is emerging. She can do both but it is not contextually correct 95% of the time.

* Can follow 1-step verbal commands without any gestures; for example, sits when you say “sit down.” I believe she can but I find that I either have to say it several times or that I am using gestures and context clues without realizing it. She is ahead of her brother by far at this for the same age range.

* Drinks from a cup. I assume this means open cup like an adult. She will pretend to do this with cups but she does not choose an open cup when drinking actual fluids.

And I’m going to finish this now, so I can get a shower ALONE while Kirianna naps (Sleep. Ha.) and so that I manage to generally finish this before she turns 10 or so.

17 month progression

Today I put Your Baby Can Read on for Kirianna and she surprised me by repeating the words ‘clap’ and ‘nose’ when they were spoken in the video. She also will clap upon hearing the word ‘clap’ and clap to If You’re Happy and You Know It.

She is also becoming VERY obnoxious lately; I assume this is her increasing competence but not wisdom as a growing toddler. Basically, she needs damn near constant supervision these past couple of days. If I need to use the toilet, she looks around until she finds me.. and then comes into the bathroom (I know better than to lock it if I don’t want to hear desperate screaming), shuts the door, and begins crying to get out.. and THEN starts climbing the stepstool by the sink but begins crying when she slips. For real, a person just wants to use the toilet in peace and not have to leap to perform life-saving actions.

And we’re back!

It’s been a long time since I’ve had an update. That’s partly because Kiri hasn’t had a lot of newsworthiness, but it’s mostly because every time I upgraded the software I used for the site, the damn site broke and I got sick of that.

So, Kiri is 17 months old now.

She walks well and kind of runs. She just learned how to climb down stairs (on her butt, thankfully) today. She ALWAYS wants to go outside.

Her hair is still relatively short because I’m cutting it to even it out before letting it all grow. She loves the shower and hates having her hair washed and trimmed but tolerates it. She’s a bit less squirrely when I have a scissor up to her head, which makes life easier. She loves hats; if you give her one, you must help her keep it on until she forgets about it or she will lose her shit.

She loves her big brother Tristan and doesn’t take offense when he bosses her around. She has taken a liking to the show “Phineas and Ferb” (her brother’s FAVORITE) and can be kept busy while it is on, as long as you’re not lazy in starting the new episode. She likes to carry around a lot of Tristan’s toys, including a plastic knife that’s supposed to be for cutting food. She likes to stack blocks, but I forgot how high she’s gotten them independently. She seems to instinctively know how to pretend to use items she sees usually as toys: brushes, cups, the like (big developmental milestone we were looking out for).

There aren’t many new words being said, but she’s started saying “no” a lot more lately (though not necessarily for any good reason) and I think she is saying “door.” She will wave “bye” on command, about ten seconds after I ask her to. She understands when I ask her if she would like to eat and goes over to her chair. If you say “shower” she has been known to walk her ass right to the shower, expecting one.

She is occasionally a drama queen but can be distracted easily. Sometimes she sleeps very well and sometimes she sleeps like complete shit. This week she’s done both – earlier this week, I spent about 4 hours during the middle of the night awake with her. She likes having a light blanket draped over her once she settles into sleepy baby position. We still need to stay with her until she passes out; I keep telling myself that if she’s done with that by age 4 we’re still ahead with her.

She has 9 teeth, going on 12, I think. She seems to be perpetually teething; I think all babies are until they’re 2.5 or so anyway.

She is still VERY clingy but also a lot more interested in exploring her environment. She likes to see me at all times and will follow me if she notices me leave. She still won’t let anyone but James and me hold her unless I’m just plain not in her thoughts.

First steps

Kirianna is now officially a walker! Well, technically. She will walk about two steps at a time and then plant it, but she’s trying really hard. We practiced with some Walking Wings about a week ago and she finally was brave enough to try it without help earlier this week.

We are also all done with breastfeeding. 13 months isn’t bad, and her transition has been positive. I was out during Kiri’s bedtime and her dad managed to get her to sleep. This meant that there was no last feeding of the day, but she managed to get to sleep. We took that and ran with it – we’re also working on getting her to sleep in her bed without needing to be sneaked into it asleep. Since the routine takes place in a different room, she’s handling it very well. (For the first time ever, both of us can interchangeably put both kids to bed! This is big.) She’s also been sleeping much better since that point, knock on wood.

And then there’s the “what the hell?” which is that Kiri has had hives all over her body for a week. We’re not sure why; the doctor thinks it’s a virus and it’s a natural possible symptom. The hives improve with Benadryl, but we try to give her periods of break from the drug. We’re also wondering if there’s something causing her allergic symptoms, such as laundry detergent or food.

Sleeping possibility

Kirianna’s sleep has been all over the place. Sometimes she sleeps through the night, sometimes she’s up for a few hours unable to get back to sleep, sometimes she wakes just once and will doze off while being held.

One commonality is that we’ve been unable to put her in her bed and just have her sleep. I do not want to drop her in and let her cry it out – it might buy us time now if it works, but it feels like doing wrong by her and also is no guarantee against future issues. In fact, big brother Tristan slept very well after being dropped in his crib and crying for 5 minutes, but he had issues from the moment he could climb out of his crib until he was 4 years old. Not only that, we have big brother Tristan’s current sleeping to think about, which would be quite disrupted by a screaming baby. So nursing to sleep has worked thusfar, but we’re getting ready to cut that out (which will end breastfeeding, as it’s the only time she gets a boob since we’ve cut out the last feedings).

However, I managed to get her to sleep in her own bed tonight! She was quite obviously very tired, but unable to go to sleep on the breast. I put her in her bed and put on a projector music box thingie. At first she wasn’t having any of it, but she was able to calm down while I petted her, and then while my hand was on her chest, and she finally turned over and went to sleep. I really hope that this starts the precedent for one baby sleeping in her own bed.

Food has been accomplished

Kirianna has suddenly figured out how to eat actual food! It’s kind of freaky. It clicked about a week ago when she saw me eating a chocolate covered graham cracker. She solicited a piece, I handed it to her, she put it in her mouth and chewed, and now she can be fed pieces of food. She will try most of everything put in front of her. She still prefers strongly flavored foods (ginger and garlic crunchy noodles seem to be her favorite) but she is trying so much freaking food that it’s amazing. I am so glad that she can eat. I can handle picky eating but she was beginning to scare me there!

We’ve also been having some success with milk again. Granted, it’s flavored chocolate and vanilla milk, but I’ll take it. Drinking is a lot faster than eating, and it gets very tiring (and she gets very poopy) when she needs to eat every hour because she only drinks water. She’s still reliably and independently drinking water from a toddler straw cup, which is very useful since water can sit around all day without compromising anyone’s health so it’s really easy to pack and have on hand.

Water demon

Since Kirianna learned to drink from a straw, she’s been sucking down water like it’s nobody’s business. That being said, she refuses to drink the following aside from a few sips to try it: milk, chocolate milk, Silk (soy milk), chocolate Silk, juice, and most of anything else I’d put into a baby. She tried some of my chai tea today, but just enough to sample. Since she’s been anti-milk, she’s been gobbling up yogurt with about as much gusto as water. She probably ate about 15 ounces of it today, no joke. She’s also refusing most of the pureed foods she’d been sucking down so well, but has been more experimental with actual solids (this is ok; you can hide purees in yogurt). She ate part of a saltine, tried some pepperoni but couldn’t chew it very well, tried some pizza dough but spit it right out. Like her big brother, she leans toward foods that are a bit spicy – her favorite things to try to eat include jalapeno flavored Cheetos and pizza flavored potato sticks.

We are down to two breastfeedings per day: afternoon and night. I cut out the morning session after realizing I could wake her up without it. She’s really freaking cranky by the feeding times, whether or not she’s eaten enough. Poor kid just likes to suck. Thankfully, she gets some practice with her straw so it’s not just on me, literally.

She spent a day standing by herself in 20 second intervals, but hasn’t been interested in it since.

I think she’s cutting two more teeth and that’s distracting her from, well, life. She currently has 4 on top and 2 on bottom.

Today she picked up a baby doll and held it on her shoulder just like we hold her, and then started patting its butt. She then snuggled her head down to it. It was seriously the most adorable thing. I should have the camera around more often in order to record it.