Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Both Morgan and Piper have been making some strides lately in a few areas. I don't think it's due to anything we've done differently, just your basic development, I guess...but I thought it deserved some recognition.

Morgan has had what I call a "burst" of listening skills. Possibly "receptive language?" Sometime last week I noticed her actually doing things when I asked her to, especially when we are away from the house. Much of the time I feel like I'm saying the same things over and over with no response, but maybe we're finally making some progress. This is also quite helpful during the times Piper was doing the complete opposite that I asked her...then followed by a meltdown.

For an example, as we've had our more frequent visits to the gym, I've struggled when asking the girls to stay with me once we leave the gym. I am really trying to get them to realize that it is not OK to run off without me and they must hold my hand when crossing the street in the large parking lot. Last week Piper decided to make a break for it and I told Morgan to "stay here" and I ran to catch Piper before she darted into the street. When I returned with a screaming Piper, Morgan had done just that...stayed where I told her to. Then she continued to stay close to me as we walked a mess of a baby girl to the car. Then Morgan got right in the car, into her car seat and waited patiently while I got Piper situated. Wow! It is very helpful not to have to deal with TWO screaming kids at once. That still happens, but lately Morgan knows that when Piper is having a tantrum in the car that she needs to do as Mama says. She did it again today after we left the grocery store. I'm hoping this continues as it will make it easier for me to take both of them to places like playgrounds or the children's museum on my own. If there is a lot more listening and staying with Mama, more fun things can happen!

Another area I've noticed improvement for Morgan is her use of pronouns. It is a common issue for kids with autism to misuse their pronouns and call a "he" a "she" or call herself "Morgan" instead of "me" or "I." She still doesn't have it consistently straight...but there is a marked improvement. She is also saying "mine" instead of "Morgan's" when defending her possessions from her sister. So, we've finally hit the "mine!" stage. I know this is a problem for some parents, but I'm thrilled that she is using this language correctly. I'm sure Piper is not far behind her!

Speaking of Piper, she is continuing to push the boundaries of her independence. Many times I try to help her do something she pushes me away and says "no!" She has to make sure she does it ALL by herself. I can't put her in the car anymore. She has to not only climb in the car herself, she has to climb into the car seat herself. This is quite a feat if you've seen her shorter-than-average legs! Also, she is in a convertible car seat that sits much higher off the floor of the car than Morgan's does. Often times if I help her with a step of something she will go all the way back to the beginning as to do it ALL herself (such as, if I lift her into the car she will climb OUT so she can climb back IN herself).

So, on the other hand, this burst of independence is causing an increase of tantrums on her part. Saturday was a doozy as she had several major meltdowns as well as three (unrelated) injuries to boot. She was a mess! She split her lip on the laminate floor (this WAS during a meltdown), skinned her knee and knocked herself in the head with a heavy toy. All in all, the increasing need for independence is developmentally appropriate and we are glad to see it...even with all that comes with it. Oh, and she is much more adamant about the word "NO" now. It sometimes even includes a bit of a stamping of the foot! I try not to laugh when she does it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Game On

We've finally got dates set to start the RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) program. We will be traveling to the Tri-Cities (Pasco, Kennewick and Richland, WA) on Thursday, June 30. We will combine this with a work trip for David and stay overnight. Thursday evening we will have our first session with our consultant and continue with another session on Friday morning that will include a base assessment of where Morgan is at. This will give the consultant the tools she needs to determine where we need to start.

It should be pretty intense. We need to meet with the consultant every two weeks. Hopefully she will be able to come to us once in a while so we don't have to make the drive every time. I think as we get further along in the program we'll be able to do some sessions via skype, so there will be less travel involved. Traveling that often may be difficult with school in the fall, but we'll take it as it comes. Sometimes I get a little annoyed that we don't have a consultant here, but I tell myself not to dwell on it and we're grateful that she's as close as she is.

So far, we're getting into a summer routine. I've been getting myself back to the gym and the girls have been adjusting to going to the gym child care. There are a lot of activities and toys we don't have, so it's fun for them. Piper is still having a little trouble when I drop them off, but today she was fine when I made the pick up. I heard some crying as I approached, but was glad when I realized it was not Piper. Overall it's a good social atmosphere for the girls and really good for my attitude as I know I'm working to get myself healthier and more fit. The endorphins sure help a lot too!

Other days we go on errands in the morning and we're hoping to plan some play-dates. Swim lessons start this Saturday and I'm researching some ballet classes for Morgan, either through the Y or elsewhere.

I think this summer is going to fly by, and that sounds really good.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Obviously we've been busy around here. Gram and Grandpa B came for a visit. David and I were able to spend a fun weekend in Seattle sans kiddos. We stayed with some friends and had a great getaway that included the U2 concert at Qwest Field. Awesome! We are already hoping to schedule another Seattle trip for a football game in the fall.

Just a little insight into Morgan's mind lately. Just as soon as Gram and Grandpa showed up she started saying "new toys!" At first I thought she was wanting to show them some new toys she'd gotten since her last visit, but soon it dawned on me that she was asking Gram and Grandpa for new toys! She has learned that when they come, she gets goodies! OK, funny...but a little embarrassing as well. Ultimately, she is right, when they come she gets some presents, but we will have to try to teach her that she cannot ask for new toys.

I was reminded of this today as we drove into the garage after our trip to the gym. Morgan pointed out the box with our artificial Christmas tree. She said "There's my Christmas tree, Gram and Grandpa bring presents!"

Lots more spontaneous language  for Morgan lately. As much as we like our routine, it's good when we have visitors or new activities. This helps Morgan be more flexible and her language skills improve. I am in the midst of signing her up for swim classes and finding a dance/ballet class to try. Even if they don't go well they are good for her development.

More updates on therapy, Piper and other items soon!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Look who's talking...

Piper has been surprising us with her language lately. Since Morgan developed her language very differently than most kids, we really still don't know what to expect from Piper at this point. She just turned 21 months...and to date she had somewhere from 50-70 words and is starting to use phrases. At this age Morgan still had less than 10-15 words, and didn't start using phrases until well after she was two, probably closer to two and a half.

Now, the phrases Piper uses are ones she hears often. Since Morgan can be somewhat repetitive, it's not surprising that these are phrases she hears a lot. She hasn't yet been able to "generalize" these phrases yet, but I guess that comes later. She does use them in the right context. Phrases we hear often are:

I want down! (While in her high chair, shopping cart or car seat)
I want Mama!
Here you go! (while putting something in our hands)
Here we go! (Backing out of the garage in my car)
What's that? (pointing to a picture or object)
Where's Dada? (or Mama, or Morgan)
Thank You
Oh No!
Oh Wow!
Oh Man! (I think I say this a lot without realizing it)

And she just chatters away all day. Except for these phrases and individual words, it's a bunch of gibberish to us. She has nowhere near the enunciation Morgan has, but Morgan is strangely advanced with this.We figure at some point we'll understand what else she is saying, but for now it's nice to hear her "practicing."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Words with Morgan

Out of curiosity, the other day I decided to see if Morgan could recognize any words. She learned her letters so early...but we haven't been looking at books as much lately, so I wondered where she was at with this. We had not played with her magnetic letters in a while and I wanted to give them a new purpose.

I started with "Baby" - Morgan looked and said "Baby." Good, she's been able to recognize that one for a while.

Next, I threw up some animals names, "Dog, Cat, Pig." She named them all correctly. Hmmm. Not too surprising, since she has so many books and toys with animals and their names.

Then I put together "Duck." I can't remember what she said, but it was not duck. It may have started with a "D" though. OK, I thought. She's not really reading, she just recognizes some words.

Then I decided to stop with the animals and try something new. As you can see I added "Fun" to the mix. I'm not sure why I decided to use this, but it was the first simple word that came to mind.

For the record. It's probably not wise to follow the word "Duck" with a word that starts with "F," followed by a "u".  I think you can guess what came out of her mouth....