Archive for the ‘Therapy: Good Blog Fodder’ Category

We had Miss M in one-on-one therapy this year for several months to try to get to the bottom of what, exactly, her attention-slash-social deficits are.

What she received was another adult who got to know her very well. She loved the one-on-one attention and got to creatively express herself. Over the course of months, things seemed to smooth out at school, but I wouldn’t necessarily attribute that to the therapy. Although who really knows?

Taxman and I also had a few meetings with the therapist. I was hoping to get a point-by-point plan to get her on to the “children would be best-advised to listen to their parents” notion, but what I got were two inquiries as to whether she had been tested for giftedness (lo and behold, she was later tested, through the national Dept. of Education, and she is). Also encouragement that we are doing the right things with her, being strict and repetitive and full of rules and constantly dragging her out from her fun little bubble of books to meet the rest of the world, replete with table manners and social cues and train schedules.

But, wow, I’m sick of it. I’m tired of the sound of my own voice. I’m tired of a five-minute task being dragged out to one hour. I’m tired of the morning song-and-dance. I’m tired of the threats to take away stuff. I’m tired of negotiating showers. I am tired of her not seeing the big picture–that if she will just put down her book for 10 damn minutes and play with AM that he will stop whining and I will back her up for having made an effort.

Apparently there is no evidence that Einstein said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” but nevertheless I really want to try to apply that what I’m doing here, because Plan A (or B or C or whatever the hell plan we’re on) isn’t working.

I kind of want to just let go of everything, let her dishes pile up at her place at the table, let her laundry pile up on the floor, let her dirty socks and papers and dust bunnies populate her room, not enforce bedtime, let her go to school without putting on sunscreen (although this would cause me guilt in extremis–it is like the surface of the sun out there lately).

I want her to be easy. Just to see what that would be like. I mean, I’d probably think she was now a zombie or a Stepford Wife, but it might be pleasant. And not attract the attention of the neighbors with all the yelling all the time.

So…let us see if I can, just a smidge, let go.


Read Full Post »


Today AM and I got back together with our summer speech therapist, G.

She is awesome.*

She does some work through an agency, some through the schools, some private clients. Her schedule is packed to the gills, but she squeezed us in because I referred her to a friend.

I am so glad because I could finally relax.

Our experience at the college clinic this semester had its ups and downs. His clinician, C, promptly fell in love with the cuteness. She definitely had an easier time that his student in the spring, J, who was dealing with a non-verbal, behind-the-curve, sometimes oppositional client.

But by the fall semester, AM was used to the whole routine, the room, the toys. He consented to be left for a minute if I had to use the bathroom or make a phone call. It wasn’t as exciting for me–I spent most of the November and December sessions buried in the New Yorker; how many oral-motor exercises can you watch?

Of course by the end of October I had decided I wanted out. The schedule was killing me–noon to 1 twice a week, smack in the middle of what should have been naptime. C also was a far cry from our experience with G in the summer.** Her technical skills were good (as far as I could judge–the professor, watching from a control room, didn’t interrupt her very much), but she wasn’t great at dealing with AM’s toddler ways. She had no idea how lucky she was; a lot of other two and a half year olds would have chafed at sitting for entire 50-minute sessions, regardless of the puzzles and books, and certainly would not have stood for being put back in the chair at the table two, three, four times after sliding off to go in search of something else to do. We managed to get through the entire semester without a temper tantrum, which is remarkable–I certainly wanted to throw a few on his behalf. C just seemed so impervious to his body language, so unknowing of 2 year old psychology (what 2 year old likes to be told to wait for anything; never mind “First we have to do tongue exercises”?!), so clueless of what was developmentally appropriate for him beyond the speech.*** In the most surprising twist of all, unlike most of the other grad students, C has children older than AM (early and middle elementary school years, I believe).

After all this, I had to give C a critique to her face. To which I gently said, “I think there was too much sitting and not enough response to his non-verbal cues.” And she promptly told me that she had been working more with him on the floor…yes, that was true, but it shouldn’t have taken 10 weeks to get there.

Anyway, G walked back into our life today, thrilled to see the progress that he’s made and asking if I had had him re-evaluted for Early Intervention. “No,” I admitted, “I didn’t bother.” “Oh,” she exclaimed, “he’d never qualify now!”

G is just as friendly and self-effacing as ever. AM kind of “directs” the session, but she is constantly paying attention to what he is saying, how he is saying it, what his lips and tongue are doing. What I love about her the most is that she is so tuned into whatever feedback he’s giving that she molds the session to him. She’s never about sticking to plan A to achieve her objectives, because she has plans B, C, D…however many it takes.

It’s just nice to have him back in such capable hands.

* She charges accordingly, but our insurance reimburses 60% and he’s already made his deductible for the plan year.

** There is no doubt that our experience this summer ruined me for anything else. As my mom put it, sometimes you get what you pay for. (The college clinic was only $150 a semester.)

*** C somehow took his ability to play Go Fish, which I think is fairly unusual for a kid his age, and took that to mean he could play with flash cards that showed opposites. He is smart, but he’s not 4!

Read Full Post »

First of all, have you ever had one of those days? When it’s grey and nasty and you don’t really have a good reason to go out, but your neighbor is coming over to borrow a carrot. And it’s 10 o’clock so maybe you should consider getting out of your pajamas, so you throw on whatever. Then you realize you’re not sure when the library books are due, better safe than sorry, so you manage to get shoes on you and the kid and get out–you are smart enough to drive the 2 blocks instead of walk because it starts pouring.  And since you’re already out with the car you go from the library to the bakery, and while you’re waiting on line (because omg could this guy behind the counter be any slower?!) you stop and LOOK at what you’re wearing. In public. And it looks like you got dressed in the dark. Using someone else’s closet. Because really, you had no intention of being out of your living room, but here you are.

No takers?


This post is really about AM. And how fabulous his speech is these days. He is a total chatterbox, and speech therapy has moved on to things like tongue and mouth exercises, which he really does not like. When he and the clinician are done with those she tries to get him to speak in full sentences by asking direct questions and expanding on his answers, which is, in my opinion, beyond what he “should” be doing at 2 1/2. He can use full sentences, six or seven or eight words at a time. But it’s not natural to give an expansive answer to everything–I don’t, and I’m 33.

Because the rise of his speech was so rapid (really, six months ago, he had about 4 words and a bunch of animal noises), everything seems condensed, the turnover so rapid. Once he started with the words, suddenly he had hundreds. Then singing songs. Then sentences. He’s remarkably better with pronouns than Miss M, who used second person to refer to herself for months “Nurse you!”; he uses me or I to refer to himself. “Me do it, Ema! I did it!”

He did develop a couple of adorable toddlerisms, which of course I’ve forgotten already, except the one that surpassed all others. “Carry me up!” –the brilliant conflation of “Carry me!” and “Pick me up!”  All the time: to see things out the window; to express fatigue, crankiness, or the need for a snuggle; to be demanding and shoehorn himself between me and just about any other human being. You could count on it a couple of times a day. “Carry me up, Ema.” “Carry me up, Abba.”

We did nothing to dissuade his use of it. But just as he stopped calling Miss M “YA!”, “carry me up” is on the wane.

Walking on the sidewalk the other day, he planted himself in my path, held out his hands, and said “Pick me up, Ema.” No. Nooooooooooo. MY BABY! Don’t do dat!

I thought maybe it was a fluke, until I was standing at the stove the next day, stirring soup. He wanted to see. “Pick me up, Ema.”

I thought it was maybe just my idiocy. But yesterday I mentioned to Taxman that “carry me up” was being supplanted with a more “correct” expression. And Taxman’s face fell. “Oh nooooo,” he wailed. So, no, not just me.

Quit growing and changing for just “two minutes!” (Another favorite expression, borrowed from me.) Please let us catch up to you.

Read Full Post »

I haven’t blogged about speech therapy in a while. AM has been seeing a very sweet young woman once a week. She’s quite enamored with him. As usual, he tries to run the session, but he’s willing to do what she wants, so everybody wins.

He’s no longer silent.

He’s parroting everything, trying new words every day, and still making me laugh. This morning he was repeating something I didn’t understand. “Buh. Buh.”

“Bug? Did you see a bug?” I asked him. (He points them out when he sees one.) “I don’t see one, honey.”

“Me eedah.”

Later, at Target, he was about to stage a coup because we were low in the snack department. I ran over to grocery and picked up some raisins. He raised holy hell because I was slow to open the packaging. “Don’t shout at me,” I admonished him. “That’s not nice.”

“Ema, more ree-rees [raisins] peese.”

So yeah, things are coming along.

But the crowning achievement so far is a nod to Taxman’s German heritage. We taught him to say “Ach du lieber!” Particularly when he’s having a messy diaper changed. The grandparents are going to go nuts over that one.

The university speech clinic starts again in about four weeks. There’s clearly more to do, but he’s definitely not the kid he was in May.

Read Full Post »

  • We’ve reached that lovely point in the toddler life cycle in which 5, 5:30, 6 in the morning equals an acceptable, nay, perfect time to get up for the day. No matter that it is pitch dark, that others are sleeping. Well, why not play with trains before dawn? You only live once.
  • The advantage of having an older child is knowing that as much as stage x sucks, it’s not forever. (There are many days when Miss M sleeps until 6:45 or even 7.) It will be replaced by a stage even less likeable. But maybe not as exhausting.
  • I almost screwed myself over in the most idiotic way ever this morning. I was in the bathroom. (Again! I know!) AM came to visit. He brought Wolfie, his little stuffed wolf that he snuggles in bed and generally drags around. And kisses and nurses from his belly button. “You brought Wolfie?” I said, jokingly. “Does Wolfie need to go potty?” “Yah!” he exclaimed. And turned on his heel and ran top speed to the other bathroom. Ohhhh, this was not good. “AM! AM! Come back!” I heard the toilet flip up and the sound of the potty ring.  “No no no no no!” I got there just in time. But really? Still kicking myself over the potential Wolfie crisis.
  • I haven’t talked about speech therapy in a while. It’s going. Slowly. But it’s going. To my ears, AM is more imitative of speech, and will even do at home, when he thinks nobody is watching, what he refuses to do at therapy. He’s even starting to ‘fill in the blank’ of some of his favorite Laurie Berkner tunes, along the lines of…”The elephant sneezed…Ah, ah, ah-choo!” Mucho cuteness.
  • I am pretty lazy when it comes to housekeeping, but when it comes to doing right by my children I try to step it up. Because they are my kids and need my advocacy and support. So I am totally confused by another mom at preschool. Her little one is about two months younger than AM and does not speak at all. I offered her my Signing Time videos a few months ago, but she said no. She told me today that he qualified for speech therapy and was going to start in a few weeks, and it was a good thing because he spends a lot of the day crying, she assumes, out of frustration. I re-offered my video collection–he is at an age when he has the fine motor skills to pick up signing really quickly–and she said that he wouldn’t watch on his own and she was “too lazy to watch with him.” Too lazy to watch TV? I can’t even imagine. I also can’t imagine just being ok with waiting when he is obviously in such distress.* My heart just aches for this little boy when I think about how much we all “talk” with AM. Really from the second he wakes up in the darkness and tells me he wants to nurse. Then he wants to play with trains. Then he wants a glass of milk. And cereal. And an orange. What if he couldn’t?
  • [Update!] SQUEEEEE! Rachel Coleman (or someone writing her emails) left a comment on this post. THE Rachel Coleman, creator and star of Signing Time. I feel the burning need to tell Amalah, because she would fully appreciate my starstruck babbling, although she has like 40,000 readers and probably would filter me out as spam. All I need now is Laurie Berkner to pop in and say hi and I will rule the toddler universe!

* I am totally down with Caramama‘s idea of being less judgmental of other moms. But really, when a mom says she can’t be bothered about something that I personally feel could turn this kid’s entire world around? What if he hadn’t qualified for speech therapy? What then? I am not trying to hold myself up as Ideal Mother, not at all. We found something that works. But if my child was reduced to tears over something as basic as not being able to communicate at an age appropriate level? I’d be trying to find a way. Mind reading, tea leaves, anything! And you’d think she knows because he is in physical therapy, but speech therapy is not a panacea. Progress is slow at best and measured over a course of months. So that’s a long time to have such an unhappy little one.

Read Full Post »

AM does, in fact, appear to be saying his friend T’s sister’s name. He yelled “Ay-ya-ya!” (let me translate for you: “Ariella!”) across a vestibule crowded with 3-year-olds and their accompanying din at preschool pickup.

This very morning he and Miss M were bickering over a toy in the kids’ bedroom. She started chanting “mine, mine, mine.” Then we heard a little voice pipe up: “mi, mi, mi, mi.” I scuttled down the hall from the kitchen and Taxman poked his head out of our bedroom. We looked at each other quizzically, as if we had just dropped in from Mars. “Is he saying ‘mine’?” Uh…maybe?

In speech therapy today he was a total pill. Ornery and uncooperative pretty much from the word go. Finally at the end of the session, I was getting him into his outerwear and telling him we were going to go to the store. “And what do we buy at the store?” (This is a whole routine. He acts it out by himself at home, complete with a shopping bag and/or cat backpack. We’re taking it on the road soon.) He signed “banana” and then, deviating from the script, quickly followed it up with “orange”–he is rather addicted to clementines. The grad student said to him, “Oh, you’re getting bananas and oranges?” And he started babbling “ba, ba, ba, ba.” “Is he saying ‘banana’?” she asked. “I didn’t know he can say ‘b’!” I confirmed that he does say ‘b,’ but as for the rest…I don’t know. He never does this.

Anyway, the funniest thing coming out of speech therapy recently was when the grad student asked me if it was ok for her to try to get AM to say “no.” “Professor L specifically wanted me to get your permission.” Which is so funny to me, because Professor L has told me that she has kids–twins, no less. I laughed and told her that he has plenty of ways to express no without actually saying it. He shakes his head, he makes disapproving noises, he “goes boneless,” he throws himself on the floor, he ignores you entirely, giving you a vision of him as teenager. A week later, I still think this is so funny–I mean, what 21-/22-month old only has one way to say no? How about a random sample? Michaela? B? CCW?

Read Full Post »

  • File this under “things I now know that I wish I didn’t”: If your order at Lands’ End is more than $200, you pay a flat rate for shipping.
  • But I did get really good deals on parkas for the kids, hopefully to fit each of them for the next two winters. Although I could not find a “boys” sale parka I liked for AM, so I wound up with a “girls” one for him. In green. I figured why not, seeing as how I bought Miss M’s parka in yellow (excuse me, “honey gold”) fully intending that he will wear it when she outgrows it. What are the styling differences at this age, anyway? Just the zipper on the opposite side? It’s not like a 3T parka is going to come with a pocket to secret away a lipstick and a tampon!
  • I seem to have survived a week of preschool vacation. Barely. But whoo-hoo!
  • Honestly, last week would have been a wash anyway. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (if I were adhering to the school “health policy”) would have been sick days, and Friday surely would have been a snow day.
  • AM’s progress in speech therapy is, well, slow. He says “more” now, and “in” (sort of), but it’s a struggle to get him to focus beyond the toys.
  • He did appear to imitate one of his little friends saying her sister’s name the other day. Her mom–my neighbor, who knows almost as much as Taxman about the current ins and outs of my life–was here when he did it and she (all 39 weeks pregnant of her) just about fell off the couch in surprise. I spent the next two days attempting to get him to repeat it.  
  • The most fascinating thing about therapy for me is that he totally knows the score. As in, he can walk all over the grad student, but when her professor pops in to offer advice, he snaps to attention. Looks her right in the face, tries to imitate her facial movements. Then she leaves and he goes back to his own agenda: “Cars, cars, I want more cars!” How he understands the power balance in that relationship I have no idea. But clearly he was not born yesterday.
  • Am I a crappy mother because I don’t cut Miss M’s grapes? (And only cut AM’s if he’s going to be wandering around with them instead of eating them directly in front of me?) She bites them. I don’t let her have chewing gum or hard candy, if that changes your opinion. I ask because I saw a kid who’s over four years old having her grapes cut for her. And this was with everyone sitting around the table, including Taxman (the EMT).
  • Finally, I have to link to the funniest thing I have read lately: Amalah‘s description of pregnancy hunger. Language is R-rated, if you care about that sort of thing, but it is beyond hysterical. Excellent riff on Girl Scout cookies included. (CCW, in case you have extra boxes to sell?)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »