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.