May 2002 page 2 of 2
Thursday 16 May

Bad night. Damian woke up crying around midnight. Still upset? Hurting? Maybe getting sick? Dan lay down with him for a long while, but Damian refused to let him leave, so Dan brought Damian to our bed. He protested the whole way: "I do not want to sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed, I want to be in MY bed." We gave him some juice and he calmed right down. Fell asleep snuggled against me and slept reasonably well. Woke up fine this morning. I still don't know what triggered it. Can it all be related to getting pulled out of the bath so abruptly? Is it that his brain now returns to the incident, that it gets under his skin more now that he processes experiences more completely?

Dan and I did a lot of yard work this afternoon. Damian came over to me and asked, "Can I help?" So I let him snip the ropes of dead morning glory stems. I love that he wants to be involved. He also watered the front yard, picking up the hose and swishing it around. Dan called him the Damian Sprinkler. (We have an Elmo Sprinkler that does the same thing, tossing water around in a circle.)

Tonight Damian was goofing around near me in the living room. He suddenly ran to the other side of the room, announcing, "I did NOT poop." Aha. I checked his diaper. Yup. A good sign, in its backwards way. He almost never offers information about the state of his diaper unless he's asked. Even a disavowal -- hell, call it what it is: a lie -- even that is progress and awareness.

We've started a subtle campaign to get him comfortable being naked. We forget to put his diaper back on after a diaper change. Used to be he'd insist on getting his diaper and pants back on IMMEDIATELY. Now he's content to lie on his table for a while, chatting and playing, but when he's ready to get off, he always reminds us to finish getting him dressed. It's a slow process. We're hoping to get him to go bare-assed by summer so we can try the "watch yourself peeing" potty training method.

Friday 17 May

I got to school early to meet with Cheri (getting IEP advice). I saw some boys I knew playing with their floor timers in the bike yard. I was disappointed that Damian wasn't part of that group. Damian was having a snack in the grass yard with Callie. He spotted me and wanted to come in too, but we successfully persuaded him he'd have more fun outside. I commented to Callie that it looked like the boys were having a good time and went inside.

When I came out half an hour later, Damian and Callie were in the bike yard. They'd played with Bobby and Cory (two of the kids I'd seen earlier), racing their ride-on cars. (Yes! My hint worked!) When Cory left, Bobby joined Damian for a snack. Bobby asked if he could have some of Damian's animal crackers. Damian said okay and asked if he could have some of Bobby's cinnamon bread. So they shared. I asked Callie to describe exactly how Damian worded his query. Apparently he looked at Bobby but spoke of him in the third person (ie: ostensibly to Callie): "Can I have some of Bobby's bread?" He still has trouble with direct communication with another kid, but this is a step in the right direction.

We've been having trouble with transitions, and we end up using the "three minutes to go" method. Damian therefore sometimes asks for "minutes." ("I want minutes." or "It's minute time.") Today he seemed happy at school, but rather than give the warning, I said, "Are you ready to go now or do you want to go in a minute?" He said "I'm ready to go now." So we left. May be a sign of his rigidity easing off.

We took him to a typical preschool for a "play date": kid checks the place out, director checks the kid out. He was quiet, not terribly responsive. Interested in checking things out but not in interactions. Not too surprising, I guess. He was in defensive mode. A couple of kids tried to befriend him. One girl in particular wanted to show him around. We worked to get him to pay attention to her. He did, sort of. Enough, I guess. Streak met us there and took over trying to get interactions going. I think she had about the same success we did. Not a whole lot of interest in other kids on his part, but other kids interested in him and Damian passively accepting this. It all made me a little sad.

Saturday 18 May

This morning Damian asked me to get "the block truck" down from the top shelf. It's a wooden truck with spikes on the flatbed and a set of colored blocks that fit on the spikes. He played with it in the dining room while I ate cereal. He told me one of the blocks was a cereal box, another had lettuce, and a third had brocolli.

I said, "Is it a grocery truck?"

Damian said, "It's a grocery truck bringing groceries to the houses." He asked me if I wanted the cereal.

I said yes and asked how much it cost. He said "one dollar" so I gave him a pretend dollar, then said "What else have you got? What's in that box?" (pointing to another block)

"Chips are in that box."

"Can I buy some chips? How much are they?"

"Two dollars."

(exchange of pretend money and the yellow block)

"Can I buy something else?"

"Macaroni and cheese."

"How much?"

"Three dollars."

(exchange of pretend money and the blue block)

"I need more groceries. What else have you got?"

"Brocolli is in this box."

"How much?"

"Fifteen dollars."

"Fifteen dollars! That's too much! I'll give you two dollars."


The whole sequence made me happy. I didn't have to lead him with choices or anything else. He gets ideas on his own all the time, but to consistently make up food items like this and dollar amounts, that takes a somewhat different kind of imagination and mostly trust in himself that he'll get it right, so to speak, that there's no wrong answer.

Damian was out of it this afternoon. Non-responsive, seeming to either not hear us or not care to answer. Some stimming (shaking his head, running in circles). Putting his fingers in his mouth to suck on. I think it was mostly tiredness/hunger, but I worry a little too. But it's atypical these days, so I don't worry too much.

We strolled around the mall, went into a toy store. Damian played at the Thomas train table. A three year old boy joined him there. Damian didn't like that much. Kid took a toy away from Damian and I had to prompt him to ask for it back. But then later Damian took a toy away from the kid! So he wasn't completely in passive mode.

Listening to the kid, both Dan and I were struck by how much he sounded like Damian. Transition issues (negotiating getting him out of the store), the type of language he used and the kinds of things he talked about... Damian may not be a two year old inside, he may be a three year old. And a fairly typical one in many ways. This is encouraging. I'm okay with him being behind in his emotional development as long as he's on the curve, you know?

Dan was carrying Damian on his shoulders. Damian was snuffling. Dan said, "You sound stuffed up. Are you having trouble breathing?" Damian responded, "Yes, I'm a little congested." I know we've used the word but that he used it himself accurately in context impressed me.

Sunday 19 May

The obvious highlight of the day was Damian's self-determined trip to the potty. I had no idea he would have bladder control without going through a dozen intermediate steps. It really does pay to wait till a kid is ready, but how do you determine that readiness? We got lucky.

We took Damian to his first theatrical show. Lion King. In retrospect not the best choice. I think a simple, small puppet show might have been a better bet. Such a huge theater (Pantages). So many people in the theater. And the show itself was so abstract. Dan had wanted to rent the movie again before going, but we didn't get a chance. I think that would have helped, but it still would have been too much. Damian didn't cry or demand to leave, it wasn't like that. He sat on our laps and watched the show. But he wanted to talk about the curtains, not the actors or the action or even the production design. He kept saying things like "What's that, Mommy?" (pointing to the curtain) or "What are you doing, Mommy?" while I was clearly watching the show. Over and over, the same questions. It was a little freaky. He was stuck in this loop like a record repeatedly skipping back to the same groove. Finally, during the second act, he fell asleep. I was relieved.

Before the show started, a boy behind us started asking Damian questions. Damian, of course, only answered softly and tentatively. This boy said he was four and a half years old. It was depressing to listen to him. Damian won't be at that level in six months. He's still got quite a way to go before he can think that flexibly. His thinking is still pretty concrete. Sobering to realize. On the other hand, this boy couldn't really handle the show either. His main concern was that the blackouts between scenes were scary, and he wanted his grandparents to tell him when it was light again. But he didn't talk about the action at all -- I doubt he followed much of it.

When Damian went to bed after the show it was late and he was clearly exhausted. But he wouldn't let me leave him alone in his bed. He'd literally wake himself up when he felt me sit up. He wanted the comfort, I think. It took over an hour, and he only fell asleep after Dan told him he'd be coming into our bed. Of course, once Damian was asleep, we left him in his own bed. I think he'd forgotten by morning. I felt bad that he was so discombobulated by the show that he felt that insecure.

Monday 20 May

Damian insisted on staying home this morning. I'd said last night that he probably should, because I thought he'd need the sleep. He woke up on time but remembered what I'd said and insisted on it. So he stayed home (well, until OT time). I think it was good for him. He had floor time with Dan, Silver and me. More good quality interactions than he gets at school, I'm afraid. At least until July, when he moves up to the Jumpstart class, he's almost better off at home. Frustrating but true. By tonight, he was talking more easily and eloquently than he has in days.

Dan and I are focussing our floor time play on two main issues: dealing with emotions and bridging sequences, extending a single scenario instead of jumping around between shorter sequences. I had my mouse get really upset and mad when his mouse tossed mine out of the cherry picker. My mouse said things like "You don't like me! You hate me!" and so on. So his mouse agreed and yelled back, then changed his mind and came down and kissed mine. So they were friends and rode the cherry picker together. Only then mine got seasick and said it was gonna barf. But his barfed first. Then the cherry picker bucket was yicky and stinky, so his mouse turned it upside down to empty out the barf (which I thought was clever, actually). And so on. I had a blast playing with Damian. He's so receptive these days. Really runs with what you give him. Best not to compare him to typical kids his age. On his own timeline, he's doing great.

More on the potty front: I took his diaper and pants off when he got home from OT, around one p.m. They stayed off till about six, when it was time for dinner and he insisted on proper attire. Five hours bare-assed. He used the potty four times! Three times he told us he had to go before he did and we led him into the bathroom (or, in one case, I brought the potty to him). The fourth time he started to pee, stopped himself, then asked to go. And had enough left in his bladder to fill the pot. I was impressed with his bladder control, that he could stop midstream.

Tuesday 21 May

Damian didn't like playing with Gamma today. He kept coming into my office, wanting to play with me instead. He told her to go away. Dan and I think we should probably tell her to stop working with him. She was wonderful at first, really knew how to engage him. Later she was very open to learning from our example. But now it feels like she's not sure what to do with him, how to help him develop to the next stage, and he resents and resists the way she wants to work with him. It makes sense that some people would be stronger at certain parts of the process, but it's sad too to have to say "It's not working" to someone who's been pretty good and who obviously cares.

Potty update: I had to change a poopy diaper when Damian got home from school, so I had to use the changing table. I was worried that Damian would revert to the usual post-changing table pattern (ie: wanting diaper/pants on when he gets down) but he just climbed down bare-bottomed. I guess it's becoming the norm now: he doesn't wear diapers at home. And yes, he consistently tells us when he has to pee and we go to the bathroom together (though he doesn't need assistance, he does seem to expect the company).

Wednesday 22 May

I talked to Nadia about the OT portion of the upcoming IEP. She's touched base with Heidi and Rivka. She says his fine motor ability is up to speed, albeit a little shaky. He mostly still needs upper body strength so he can have more control/pressure. She hasn't seen him stim in class. She says she's going to have a hard time justifying keeping the two hours a week that he gets, but she'll ask for it for six months with another assessment then. She told me that a school district observer watched her working with the class the other day (she runs group OT sessions once a week) and the woman pointed out Damian and said, "That boy isn't getting OT, is he?" She thought he doesn't need it. Which is cool in a way but not in another, because he still needs the SI part of it, though admittedly not as much as he once did.

He's gradually dropping the whole "hold my hand" routine. Robin worked on it today, having him run lots of errands up and down the school hallway without holding hands.

We bought Damian a small stuffed lion today. Dan and I took turns voicing it. It interacts well with small catnip mice. When I played with Damian, his mouse (Mousey, the gray mouse) said he was "king of the jungle jive." Lion was very put out by this, of course. They had a roaring contest -- whoever roared the loudest got to be king. Mousey eventually won.

Earlier, when Lion was trying to step on/eat/scare Mousey, Mousey put a small toy can on his head -- protecting himself. I thought that was clever.

Earlier still, I was playing/voicing a beige mouse. I asked Damian what my mouse's name was. He said it was Peeper. My mouse (voiced by me) got indignant that I hadn't asked her directly. I had a little dispute with my mouse. Damian thought this was extremely funny. I'm glad. I did it so he could see the difference between characters we animate and us ourselves, even though I have a feeling he does get the distinction.

When I was getting dinner ready, Damian came over and asked if he could help. So I drafted him into service as best I could. I love when he asks.

Potty update: same. Diaper comes off when he gets home, he runs around pants-free and pees in the potty. Zero accidents. He asked once if he could have his diaper back on, but was easily distracted and didn't ask again. The next step is underwear. Tricky.

Thursday 22 May

This is a big one. Probably worth a full-on entry. Maybe later. The short version:

Picked Damian up from Robin after school. She said she'd worked him pretty hard (her words). She had pushed him on the holding-hands thing, and he tried to get her to pick up his snack bag and carry it for him. She wouldn't, so they left it in the classroom for a long time. She told me, too, that Laura had reported to her that Damian was acting out in class. The only specific I know was that he climbed on the table! I think the rest was about ignoring requests, that sort of thing.

When we left, Damian wouldn't give Robin a goodbye hug (just ran off) and told us "Let's not come back to school again soon." (He's been saying "Let's come back to X again soon" lately, so this was his way of fitting "I don't want to be here" into his current phraseology.)

He was a pill all afternoon. We drove around a bit, he kept telling us to stop talking. At a plant nursery, he couldn't keep still, kept running off.

When we got home, he fell apart. Dan changed his diaper and left it off, per usual since Sunday. Damian insisted he get a new diaper and pants. Dan didn't acquiesce. Damian cried. Came out to the living room, sat in my lap, cried some more. Watched a video together. Refused PJs and then finally accepted them. We got him to bed an hour early, figuring he was tired. He probably was. But even after he was clothed, he would periodically burst into tears for no discernable reason. Like in the middle of reading books. Or the middle of rocking. We couldn't get him to talk about it.

He did fall asleep, but woke up after an hour. Crying. Dan lay down with him. Didn't help. We brought him in to lie down with me. Didn't help. He cried every ten minutes. Finally around one a.m. we tried to really talk it out with him. Talked about Robin and how she'd challenged him more and was he upset? He said he was. We talked a bit about how it's part of teaching him to be strong -- that he is strong and we're very proud (and so is Robin) and we want to help him get stronger in more ways. He calmed. Then he fell asleep. Which makes it clear that this was what was bothering him.

This actually started last night -- he spent the night in bed with me and woke up four or five times crying. Tonight was like that but amplified. He worked with Robin -- and got challenged by her -- both days.

I have a lot of thoughts about this, but I haven't yet sorted them out.

(Entry coming...? Yeah, I think so too.)

Friday 23 May

The first day of a four day weekend. Thank god. Kid needs it.

He slept in. Dan ended up spending the night with him. Said Damian woke up half a dozen times, fretting but not full-out crying. Like it had become habit more than real angst.

When Damian woke up, he and I had fun together. He was in a good mood, very high affect. It seems the storm has passed. Mostly. Still some dark clouds, though. He got out-of-reason upset about small things. His control of his emotions, which has been getting better and better, was shot by the turmoil from the past few days. He used to go from calm to wailing in a heartbeat but hasn't been like that lately. Except for today. You could see him calm down through the course of the day, though. We had a very low key day. Stayed home all day. Playing and hanging out.

Callie came to work with him in the morning. She seemed to have trouble engaging him, because he came into my office to be with me. Dan went in to play with the two of them. Reported that Callie seemed a little lost with the pretend play. EG: Damian shot Callie with a laser gun. She didn't react. Damian then shot Dan. He pretended to be dead. Seems sort of obvious, doesn't it? I think it's possible that she just freezes a little when she's got an audience (ie: Dan). She has a shy persona. It's also possible she hasn't gotten enough training and still feels a little lost. The latter worries me.

Tonight Damian stole the cucumber-tomato salad bowl I'd made for dinner. Put it on the floor by his train track and had Mousey ride the train to it, then eat the salad and barf it up. He's finally finding gross-out humor funny. Which pleases me. It's so developmentally appropriate.

Potty update: I was worried after yesterday's freakout, but when I took Damian's diaper off this morning, he didn't mind at all and ended up spending the entire day pants-free.

Saturday 25 May

Bad night last night. Bad, bad night. Damian came to our bed on the early side. Around midnight, I think. And whimpered and fussed and cried, again for no reason. Again impossible to soothe. After half an hour of this, I couldn't take it anymore. I told him if he cried again, I'd have to go sleep in his room. Not real bright move on my part. Also known as how to upset him so much he inevitably does cry again, and louder. So I left. He wailed. I came back. He still wailed. Dan left at one point. Damian wailed. The details are hazy, but I do remember he kept asking for juice and wanted to sit in one of our laps and drink juice to calm down. Which worked. For about five minutes before the wailing started again. We were both worn down after the preceeding two nights of this, knowing there was no way to talk it through or help him feel better. At one point, he wanted to watch TV with Dan. We said it was night, night was for sleeping, not TV. He insisted it wasn't night, it was day.

Finally around 3:30, I told him if he cried, I'd still stay. I wouldn't go. And that helped. He repeated my words a couple of times and finally calmed down enough to catch some semi-interrupted sleep. And then he woke up at 7 am, perfectly perky and ready to play. Unbelieveable.

Needless to say, today was very low key. Dan and I napped as much as we could. Damian napped too. He didn't want to, but, well... I said I'd rock him. He said no but I did anyway. I said if we weren't going to rock then we needed to get dressed and ready to go run errands. He decided he'd rather rock. Then he wanted to read books together while rocking. So we did. I guess that made him feel enough in control. He put his head on my shoulder when I asked him to and fell soundly asleep.

Potty update: Not much to report. Went diaperless for a few hours. Didn't pee. All that soothe-me-with-juice activity last night was already out of his system and he wasn't thirsty for more.

Sunday 26 May

We kept Damian up late so he'd be tired, left the soft revolving light on in his room, and prayed. He slept through the night without a single whimper. Thank GOD.

When I wanted to get Damian dressed, he told me it was nighttime, not daytime. IE: he should still wear his PJs. He gets points for effort.

We bought Damian underpants. He liked picking out which ones to buy. Seemed interested in the whole endeavor. We shall see...

Potty update: spent most of the day out and about, so very little bare butt time. No pee either.

Monday 27 May

Another good night, this time without the extra light. We seem to be past the terrors. For now.

Damian is in "I want to help" mode. He sprayed plant food on every plant and tree in the yard. He came with me to move the cars out of the driveway. He swept leaves into piles for me. He's been helping out in the kitchen some too. Does that mean he puts his toys away? Yeah, right.

He had Mousey arguing with him at one point, just as I'd done a few days ago.

He now has his animals asking each other how they are. The other creature responds, variously, "I'm fine" or "I'm very well." Funny to see him trying on polite phrases. He asks us the same questions all the time right now. He had Mousey make a phone call on the FP Little People garage phone (turns out all the Little People stuff we bought is the perfect size for these catnip mice). Mousey called Dante and asked him how he was! Damian voiced Dante, too. Good thing, because the cat in question was sacked out on the changing table, not about to have a chat.

The underpants: Diaper came off. Damian was fine with that. Peed in the potty. Dan then asked if Damian wanted to see what underpants felt like (figuring that since he'd just peed, he would therefore not be worried about soiling them). Damian said yes. So we made a big deal out of opening the package and letting Damian choose what he wanted to wear (a red-banded Bob the Builder one). I then offered him pants. He eagerly said yes. I think he was relieved to have clothes on again after so many days of semi-nakedness. It does get problematic if you want to play somewhere you wouldn't want to sit your bare butt down.

He came running out to me ten minutes later. His pants were streaked with wet. He was really upset, but I was matter of fact about it and explained what you have to do when you wear underpants. He sat on the potty and finished peeing (he'd stopped when he realized he was wetting himself). It's so natural for him to forget the first time -- he's used to "I'm wearing something" equating with "it's safe to forget about my bladder."

Next time, he caught himself before he peed and came to ask to use the potty. Which he did. He had only one more accident and was in underpants all day, from about 9 am to about 8 pm. Pretty damned good. Two accidents out of a good dozen potty runs.

Tuesday 28 May

I touched base with Laura. She told me that last week when Robin was working on pushing Damian, she did it very calmly and appropriately. I thought so but it's good to have confirmation.

I also talked to Bird about Damian's IEP. She wants to continue working on social language, giving Damian joint sessions with another kid so he can get practice. I'm all for it. She's going to recommend he continue getting two hours a week ST. I'm glad. It could be argued that his speech is up to speed, and it is in one way but not in others.

I told her we were concerned with helping Damian's language become more abstract, with more understanding of complex concepts. The example I gave: This morning Damian said "Mommy's car is red." What I think he really meant, if he'd had the concept for it, was "Mommy, I'm not used to riding to school with you in your car. This feels strange." How do we get from the simple/concrete to the complex/abstract? She said the way to work on this is like everything else, in stages. Help break down processes for him. Give him the next step. So I might say "Yes, Daddy's car is blue. It's different riding to school in Mommy's car, isn't it?"

He tried to get me to hold his hand leaving school/walking through the yard. I said "Do you hold Bird's hand in school? Do you hold Robin's hand?" He agreed he didn't, and I said he wouldn't hold my hand either. He protested but gave in.

Potty update: Damian refused to wear underpants this afternoon. In fact, he insisted repeatedly that he wanted his diaper back on. I caught him straining a couple of times. Later in the evening (safely diaper-clad) he pooped. I think he wanted the familiar diaper on to poop, but didn't know how to say so.

Dan brought underpants to Damian's session with Heidi. Damian was fine about wearing them there, but said "I wear underpants at Heidi's but I DON'T wear underpants at home." Dan said okay, but tomorrow you'll wear underpants at home. Damian agreed.

Wednesday 29 May

Damian fell asleep today toward the end of his session with Robin. It was the second time (last Wednesday was the first) that he's been at school from 8 till 3. I think it's too long a day for him. He didn't have the stamina.

He used imaginative turns of phrase this afternoon. I can't remember any right now, but they all showed a bit more flexibility in his thinking.

Wait, I remember one. Damian chose ravioli for dinner. I put it up. Then we hung out in his room. He told me, "Mommy, ravioli is a snack." Um, okay. "Sure, Damian, ravioli can be a snack." Also known as Mommy Took the Bait. Damian followed it up: "I can eat ravioli in my room." He can have snacks in his room, but dinner only at the table. Kid was negotiating with me, setting up the scenario and following through. Fairly abstract thinking there.

Potty update: Damian was true to his word from yesterday. He wore underpants without any fuss, and let us know every time he needed to use the potty. What he says changes day by day. Today's phrase was "I'm ready to pee." Yesterday's was "I'm starting to pee." He's also said things like "I'm feeling like peeing." I don't know why I find this so interesting. Maybe it's just that I like that it's not a ritualized phrase.

Thursday 30 May

Picked Damian up from Robin at one p.m. They were playing Kerplunk with another kid and his floor timer. Damian wasn't engaged with the other kid, just with the game. Ditto for the other boy, I'm afraid. Apparently Damian played with Bobby and Cory earlier, building a town on a table and building a marble maze. Apparently Damian mostly engaged in parallel play, being near them but not really with them. Frustrating, especially because Robin talks about this glowingly, as if it's a wonderful step forward but we've seen him do so much more with Sophia and that boy William at the barbecue.

Potty update: changed into underpants shortly after we got home. Was fine with it. His phrase for today: "Mommy, I'm ready to pee." Next step: wearing underpants at school. Laura's trying to get him used to the idea by having him take potty runs with Percy. They're roughly at the same developmental level; it could help Damian to see that Percy's in underpants. And last night Damian said he wanted to wear underpants at school today. But he chickened out this morning. I don't see any reason to rush it, so that was okay.

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