Saturday, 31 December 2011

Goodbye 2011. Welcome 2012

2011 has been quite a year for our children in many ways. Firstly Sue got preggers in (or around) March and spent the rest of the year getting larger and tireder. Emily celebrated her third birthday in March as well.

Emily also started her Dragonflies school in September, which has been a godsend.

Lastly, we welcomed Holly Grace into our little family only days ago (26th December).

Through the year, Emily has started to gain her own voice and personality. Things she used to do as a matter of us asking she now questioned and pushed back on (mostly food related). She also figured out how to be moody and angry and sulk (the number of times I've had to recently pick her screaming body off the floor in a shop, etc. are too numerous to count) ... and basically do all the terrible two things a child does at the age of two, a year late.

Emily still hasn't got around to accepting Holly, but that will come. I've taken great pains to ensure that Emily doesn't feel left out, and hopefully 2012 will prove to be quite a year for both our children.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

It's all in a name

We narrowed it down to Chloe, Olivia or Holly.

While Emily and I went for lunch, both Sue and I seemed to have the same mental conversation with outselves - that Olivia just wasn't "soft" enough for a little girl, the way Emily is. We could go for a Livvy or similar, but it just didn't take.

When we got back from lunch, Sue said it could and probably should be Holly as it was a nicer, softer name.

We proceeded to call her Holly from that point on. However, Sue had previously written the three names on pieces of paper ready to pull out of a hat to see which name would rule. In the meantime, they'd fallen on the ground.

We proceeded to ask Emily to pick up the paper and give them to Sue. We read them in the order Emily handed them to Sue - first was Holly, second was Chloe and third was Olivia.

Thanks to Emily's fate-driven hand, our child was confirmed to be called Holly, middle name Grace. I couldn't slip the comedic Holly Esther in there unfortunately.

Monday, 26 December 2011

New arrival

Our new arrival came at 11.45 this morning. She looks quite fine and is currently having a feed on mummy. We're still trying to figure out which of our name list she suits.

I had a nice 15 minute cuddle whilst they stitched Sue back up. There's a lot of newborn stuff I've forgotten. It's going to be quite the learning curve again.

Almost there

The doctor's been round, we've had a nice chat and we should be going into the operating theatre in the next 20 minutes or so.

Take two

We had a lovely Christmas with dinner, games and presents and we're now at the hospital again ready for Sue's planned c-section.

Not sure what time the op is but Sue's having all the prep work done at the moment. Here's hoping we don't have to wait all that long.

Friday, 23 December 2011

False alarm

Sue has been examined and it's definitely c-section. They gave us the option of today or boxing day... So we're coming in on Monday now. Gives us the chance to have a family Christmas after all.

We get to come straight into the labour ward on Monday and hopefully have a baby around 2pm.

Moved upstairs

They came to get sue and move her from Bubby purgatory up to the maternity ward.

We might see a doctor now!

Even longer now

The nurse came round to tell us Sue won't be seen until 1 or 1.30 at the earliest. She'll be assessed then and see if they want to break waters and start the 6 hour wait and see.

I feel we may have a Christmas eve baby at this rate.

Still waiting

All that rush to get here for 8am. It's 11.30 now and we're still waiting for a doctor to come by.

Fluids and blood pressure have been taken, but we want to get this show on the road.

In hospital

Sue called the hospital this morning at 7am to find out when to come in for her induction. Happily she was told 8 o'clock. We took it they meant am and not pm.  Two hours later and our journey has begun. Sue is munching on breakfast and we're just waiting to be seen by someone.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Emily's choice of verbalising discomfort

When Em gets upset, and this happens quite a bit now she's getting her own personality, she tends to start her yelling, crying, etc. and segue into snippets of her favourite nursery rhymes. You can see the tears streaming down her face, listen to the screaming cries and just make out "... all day long." (from Wheels on the Bus).

It's quite discomforting as it reminds of those films where people are being tortured and to take their mind off the hideous act at hand they sing their favourite songs and the like.

Before you call child services on us, we are NOT torturing her and she did not learn this behaviour from such films.

My big hope for 2012 is this whole episode will be replaced with her actually being able to tell us what's wrong, unless she is and "all day long" is actually code for "I'm constipated and my stomach hurts."

Monday, 5 December 2011

Potty training fail

We're making SOME headway with Emily as far as potty training is concerned. Some does NOT equal a lot. We put her on the potty and the toilet and she doesn't have a meltdown. She also doesn't produce all that much.

Having said that, the other night Sue had Em on the potty and turned her head for a minute to grab a new nappy. Before you knew it, all the "love" Em wanted to share was working it's way out from her new location, leaning up against a cream leather chair in the living room. 

Sue, thinking quick, dove under Emily with fully cupped hands and received Emily's chocolate gift open palmed. Looking for a plastic bag, and being fully preggers, Sue ended up chundering her recently finished meal into the sink. 

Seems both John women were eager to get rid of that night. 

Since then, we've pretty much been eagle eyed on Emily when she's on the potty, ensuring that what needs to come out on the potty doesn't come out anywhere else. 

It's a long, horribly messy and quite crappy job, but some day it'll be over... won't it?

Friday, 25 November 2011

Is Emily's condition my fault?

Every week there seems to be new research published on Austism, ASD and it's affiliates like Aspergers.

The latest, published in a copy of the Metro a week or so ago, postulates that parents in technology (check) and/or science (not check) could be passing on the gene that causes autism.

Hey cool. With another one on the way next month, that's really the kind of research I want to be reading!

The positive element from the article was the list of famous historical figures who had autism to some degree - including Albert Einsten, Andy Warhol and Charles Darwin. They all eeked about a place for themselves in history, so there is hope.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Emily and adult music

Tonight, Sue was catching up on her Glee on Sky+ (as one does when coming back from a weekend away).

The show's sponsor, who is imminently forgettable, uses Queen's "We Will Rock You" as the song during the ad.

Sue watched the ad once and then proceeded to fast forward through the actual ads. During the quiet minute or so, Emily proceeded to sing, in her little 3.5 year old voice "we will, we will rock you" a couple of times.

Sue and I were utterly dumbfounded, as we've never listened to this song with any intention of teaching it to Emily and are not really sure how many times - if any - Emily has actually listened to it with us.

We're wondering if Helen (or Dragonflies) is planning a children's version of the Queen/Ben Elton musical or what the actual reason behind Emily's new love of the Queen sports anthem actually is.

Now that I know she's getting into "adult" music, the race is on to teach her the first Duran Duran album.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Parent Teacher Meeting

Another milestone for Sue and I tonight. We had our first parent teacher evening.

You hear about them, you see them in sitcoms, but you never really know what to expect.

We went through the initial feedback regarding Emily and how she's settled in during the first half of the first term as well as the outcomes of initial Individual Education Plan (IEP) goals that have been set. Of the four goals, Em's excelling in 3 and needs help in the fourth.

Sue and I have some strategies we can try at home, including helping Em play more. We need to get more inset puzzles and give Em a more structured "play time", perhaps after dinner.

There was really two ways the meeting could have gone - a) your child is a no-hoper or b) things are looking good.

Thankfully, Emily's showing signs of improvement. There's no magic bullet getting her sorted out overnight, and we realise it'll be a long, hard slog but any encouraging news is ... encouraged.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

First school meeting

Had our first school meeting this morning.

Wasn't really sure what to expect, as I can imagine loads of parents actually work and can't really afford to take off 9.30 - 11.30, even if it to discuss their child's future.

As it was, I was only the second dad there, and there were about 8 mums, including our Susan.

The meeting was quite informative, as we discussed what do with regards to applying for school's next year.

The school impressed upon us that, as parents of Dragonflies, we're in a unique position as we have to apply for a mainstream position, but our child will also be assessed through the year to see if they qualify for an SEN, basically a legally binding document outlining the requirement for special educational needs.

The groundwork for the SEN is going to take place during the second half of the first term during action called the Statutory Assessment Process (SAP), where a number of professionals - doctors, therapists, etc. - assess our children and then write this report which recommends either further special needs education or moving into mainstream school.

We need to do the mainstream app online, and choose the best school closest to us. This application has to be completed by mid January. The SAP will continue well into next year and we might find our child has a mainstream place before the SEN decision. We were told to accept the mainstream place as an SEN may not be forthcoming at all.

A lot to take in, but we eventually moved to the Children's Centre, had tea and biscuits and a more informal get to know you, which was nice.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Don't be (nappy) rash

The last couple of days Emily's been battling the red raw nappy area.

It's been unpleasant for her, as well as Sue and I as we've been woken up through the night with Emily screaming in pain. I guess it doesn't help that she had the runs at some point over the last few days as well. That kind of effluence rubbing against any part of your skin is going to irritate after a while.

This brings us to the topic of nappies. We've almost run out of them today (there's about a day's worth left) and I was THIS close to going to Tesco this morning to restock, until I realised that Costco have their nappy deal on. That plus picking Emily up from Helen's equals after "school" excursion! Sorted.

However, during the day we had our supply of nappies arrive from the NHS. As Emily is now over 3, she qualifies for continence assistance. We have supplies to last until January now.

Quite fortuitous that my trip to Tesco was called off.

Back to the rash issue. Dragonflies have said they'd help with Emily's condition by changing her more often. Now we have our "stash" we can easily supply them a load at once, instead of the single nappy in the book bag which has been my solution to date.

Any type of "down under" rash is unpleasant, but when you can't air your area out, I can only imagine the moist pain farm Emily's been walking around with.

Monday, 3 October 2011

New words

Whether it's new school, or Emily's finally getting around to talking, she's actually coming up with new words. Some are helpful in her day to day and actually enable her to communicate - while others are just baffling.

Her books are on a higher shelf than she can reach and for a while now, she'd grab the hand of any available adult and drag them over to help her select a book. This weekend, however, she looked at me and said "Come. Help." and dragged me off to the shelf. I felt this was a real step forward in her ability to verbally communicate.

She's been saying "help" quite a bit lately, but it's not always in the best context. Out for lunch yesterday, Sue had to take Em to the loo. While in there, Emily started yelling "help. help." obviously to get Sue to help wipe her bum or her nose, or whatever. Thankfully, however, child services weren't alerted.

Emily's also been saying the phrase "A dog. A cat. A MOUSE!" quite a bit lately, and Sue and I are quite baffled as to the origin of this. It's not in a book and its not in a TV show or DVD that she watches. If it's her way of communicating, we're also stumped ... unless she wants some new pets and offering us her wish list.

She's still saying the catch-all "bread" for all manner of food, but she seems to understand in the morning that bread/breakfast/cereal means at least a trip down the stairs is in order.

We're getting there at a glacial pace, but at least the journey continues forward.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Disrupted sleep

First point - Emily never has a sleep during the day. She hasn't for a long time. If she does, she's ill.

Right, now that's out of the way, we went shopping yesterday and when we came back we were all in the living room - myself putting together purchases and Sue and Em lounging on the settee. Next thing you know, Em's fast asleep - it's 6pm.

My first thought is she's ill, she's not well, she's tired - i.e. she needs to sleep. Previously when she's gone to bed hella early she's slept all the way through because she's ill, she's not well, she's tired, etc.

At this point, we had two obvious choices - treat it as a nap, wake her around 8 for dinner and see where we go from there OR treat it like she's out of sorts and needs to sleep and wake her normal time tomorrow.

We went for plan B. Big mistake.

Around midnight we could hear chatter from her room and immediately knew that plan B was the wrong plan. SOMETIMES, she'll wake, chatter to herself and go back to sleep.

Knowing full well she hadn't eaten since around 3pm, I figured her chatter / fall asleep would work better if her stomach wasn't grumbling. I went downstairs and made her a sandwich which I took in to her. Even though she'd been asleep for 6 hours and had woken, she wasn't all that active - still laying quite docile in her bed and only really turning when I entered the room.

I gave her the sandwich and a drink, fully expecting at this point that both her and I would be in a state of restful slumber by 1am.


Come 5.30am when Sue got up to go the loo, I have it on good authority the party was still a rocking. Like a lightweight college student I was fully passed out next to party girl #1 who wouldn't take sleep for an answer.

This all changed at 7am when it was time to get up to go to school / work. Emily was fast asleep, having had probably about an hour's sleep in this spell. Needless to say, all attempts at getting her ready were met with crying and what I imagine to be a childlike sense of "what the hell? I just got to sleep." Needless to say, we couldn't send her off in this state - and all parties (council transport, Dragonflies and Helen) had to be notified this possibly ill girl was going to stay at home... and sleep?

If this episode has taught us anything, it's that even if Emily is ill we need to err on the side of caution and wake her, ensuring that she doesn't work herself into a new time zone by accident with her new body clock. Jet lag's horrible when you're travelling, let along when you're not.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Emily's new transport method - the piggy back

Emily has started to exhibit a strange new behaviour lately.

If she wants to be picked up, she'll normally get in front of you and put her hands up. If you're lucky she'll utter something obvious like "Up" and just make it incredibly obvious she wants to be picked up.

Lately, she's been walking BEHIND me. At first I really didn't get it, until I knelt down to tie my shoe and she hopped on my back.

Ah... penny fully dropped, I realised she's now wanting a piggy back, instead of being picked up in the front. I wonder if she's grown tired of my face and is much happier to look at the back of my head. Or if she sees this position as a happy in-between from the full on sitting on my shoulders.

Whatever the case is, her piggy back is not a proper piggy back in that she has no concept of actually holding on. It's more like riding the bucking bronco at a rodeo, but in this case I'm trying to keep her from falling off.

I discovered last night at Asda that the Emily Piggy Back (EPB) also makes it quite impossible to do any shopping as all available limbs are being used to ensure that Emily stays put.

Conclusion - good for the park, not for the shops.

Emily's first "full" day of school

Emily at Dragonflies.
Got Em to Dragonflies on time this morning. The transport (aka a minicab with a driver and a council "escort") arrived at our house later than it should have (about 8.40am instead of 8.20 - 8.30am), but we got to Dragonflies with time to spare.

It transpired the minicab dropped us at the wrong gate, so Em and I had to wait for the school to properly open before we could dart through to the Dragonflies room. Small inconvenience and teething issues with it being a new process.

I quickly found out, however, that our schedule was not what Dragonflies had in mind. I was under the assumption I would be there from 9-10am, to ensure Em didn't have a meltdown and then I could quietly melt away and be in the office by about 11.30.

As it transpired, they were expecting us at 9.45am for an hour, after which Emily and I would leave.


As it was, everything was fine and Emily had a full morning of schooling. I, meanwhile, was holed up in the staff room / library where I was able to crack on with some work on my laptop.

Thankfully, my woeful scheduling enabled me to have a half hour chat with Alison, the speech and language therapist. It was quite a good chat and I filled her in on Emily (as Em's "chart" hadn't arrived from the Robin Hood Lane Clinic yet), and Alison let me know how the next year will work with her and her assistant.

On the way back to the minicab the escort asked if Em had been coming to Dragonflies long. What I WANTED to say was "you're her escort, how long have you been escorting her?" but instead I chuckled and said something along the lines of, "today's her first full day, actually." I figure you have to keep on the right side of someone who's going to be responsible for your child.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Our baby is all grows up!

Emily, possibly in a school uniform.
Today marks the end of an era for Emily. The carefree toddler days where school is a distant memory and play, eating and sleeping are the order of the day.

Starting tomorrow, she starts to become a Dragonfly. Sure the first couple of days are light touches, but by the end of the week she'll be as full time as any other child her age (i.e. 3 hours a day).

I think Sue and I feel a pang hidden deep down that our baby is growing up so quick. Sure it's only toddler school, but give it a year or so and she'll be in Kinder Garden and then Grade One (or similar UK equivalents).

Still, come December we'll have three school-free years of baby number two to look forward to before s/he has to go to school so we shouldn't lament too much.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Dragonflies home visit

We had the home visit today from Dragonflies. It gave Em's key worker and the head Dragonfly a good chance to get to know Em, as well as let Sue and I know more information about the forthcoming year.

We were left with a couple of pamphlets to review, as well as a couple of forms that need filling out.

Em starts on 20th September for a 30 minute induction. The next day she'll do an hour. If all is well from that point, she'll do the full morning from the 22nd.

The one thing I was worried about was her toilet training status. Thankfully, with Dragonflies it's ok if Em still has no control. We just have to send along nappies, wipes and emergency clothing. I'd like to think that going to the loo with other children who are actually USING the loo might spur Em on to want to do similar, but in the back of my mind I just envision Em as a middle aged woman who NEVER learnt to go to the toilet. Probably a horrid flight of fancy, rather than a realistic scenario.

The Dragonfliers also asked about various likes and dislikes that Emily has - food, activities, noises, etc.

All in all, it was quite productive and not at all the horrible experience I kinda envisioned a few days ago.

Now, we just wait for Em's first day as a big girl at big girl school.

Blood curdling screaming

Still from the classic Next Generation
episode "Darmok"
Lately Emily has exhibited some odd behaviours. Last night on the way home from Helen's, we had to make a detour from our normal journey home to get some food at Sainsbury's for dinner. We took the normal route home, and then made a right turn where we'd normally go straight.

On turning right, Emily started sobbing and mumbling what I could only make out as gibberish and then... she stopped and let out a fog-horn style scream. 

What I get from this is she's trying to communicate through the gibberish and when I couldn't understand her, she got frustrated enough that she let out the scream. I tried to console her by saying, "it's good you're talking and communicating, but I can't understand you!" Obviously this worked like a lead balloon. 

I felt like Captain Picard in that famous Star Trek Next Generation episode "Darmok" where the universal translator failed and he was left to his wits to understand the Tamarian captain Dathon, who keeps muttering incomprehensible gibberish "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra".

Picard had to persevere and finally found a way to communicate; I just had a bellowing child who was only consoled by singing to her. I guess in a way, although I didn't understand what Emily was trying to communicate, I at least knew how to console / distract her... and no phasers were needed.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Dragonflies home visit

We have a home visit from Dragonflies this week, in preparation for Emily starting there later this month.

Neither Sue nor I are quite sure what to expect, but in the back of my mind I keep assuming it'll be a quasi "are you fit parents" meeting or a "should we take your child away" meeting. Obviously it's won't be, as they're not child services, but I imagine there might be a small amount of them looking around the house, jotting stuff down and tutting.

Talking about it jokingly today, someone mentioned we should try and cook some bread or similar to give the place a nice homely smell. That and get the potty out of the kitchen.

Friday, 26 August 2011

"Illness" and language delay

I THINK Emily's ill (maybe).

I don't know for sure as she can't communicate it to me. It's a bit like trying to diagnose a family pet - she's got a runny nose, screams when she eats and cries when she drinks, but she can't tell me if there's anything specifically wrong. She's not hot, per se, but she is warm and looks for cuddles when she's crying (which is quite often).

My 10 cent diagnosis is she has a sore throat. She can't tell me this, so I have to do my best Sherlock Holmes impression. Toast, which is rough, set her off when she had a bite. Apple juice, which isn't rough was OK. She did crack a mental when I proposed to dribble raisins on her cereal though... what the hell is that all about?

Again, she could either be ill with a sore throat (to go with the runny nose) or she could just be cranky and indignant.

Either way, it didn't stop her spilling a cup of apple juice on my parents' leather sofa. At least I could communicate to HER how annoyed I was at that.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Emily's communication

Emily's starting to make her intentions known, verbally which is good.

She's able to let us know she doesn't like something, which is better than nothing.

If we're reciting a song or a story to her and she's had enough, she'll start telling us "shh! shh! shh!". Likewise, she's started saying what sounds like "neesa" which we haven't fully understood yet, but believe it to be in the same vein - i.e. I don't like this and want it to stop.

Em's still communicating with more grunts than words, but telling us what she doesn't want is a step toward better communication.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Holy Crap!

We had quite a peaceful plane ride to Canada, which is nice. Em CAN be quite moody and unsettled sometimes when she flies.

There was ONE incident that was quite shocking. I took her to the loo to change her nappy, and there was only wee. I thought she'd like a baby wipe down the back to freshen up and as I did so, she opened the backdoor floodgates.

It was messy!

You can't really stop a child from pooping at the best of times, especially if they're standing on an air plane toilet seat while you're trying to change them. To say it went everywhere is not an exaggeration. I managed to clean everything up, but there were casualties. We had to spray her jeans with perfume to mask the smell and her sock was... well, she was standing in her bum chocolate, so her sock was DEFINITELY a casualty.

Apart from that stinker of an incident though, the flight went off without a hitch! We got our push chair just after we got off the plane and were able to wheel Em around while we waited FOR EVER for our bags, which is good because when we finally went through and met Nana, it was well past midnight UK time.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Travel to Dragonflies

Got a letter through the post this very morning from Sutton council saying they've accepted our claim and Emily will be provided transport to and from school.

This is terrific news and takes a burden off Sue's and my shoulders. However, we're not out of the woods yet. We need to ensure the eventual times work for Helen or we're going to still be in trouble as the paperwork provided clearly states they can't really change the times the child is picked up as the school run works pretty close to the bone.

Fingers crossed we get over this last remaining hurdle then.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Who's child is this?

Today I picked Emily up from Fennies and she was in high spirits. She was quite warm and I was told she had a bit of a temperature.

Gotta keep mum with this place or Emily gets banned for 48 hours at a time at the first hint of illness. I said I put it down to warm, clammy weather, not the stream of obviously infected green snot coming out her nose.

When it came time to leave, I mentally prepared myself for Emily to ignore everyone and leave the room... while everyone said goodbye... and I was left looking the lump.

Tonight, not only did Emily SAY goodbye, she walked up to each of the minders (are they minders? teachers? nursery workers?) and said buh-bye and waved her hands at them.

I just stood there gobsmacked, thinking who's child is this? Where's the one I dropped off this morning who wouldn't know a social convention if it crept up behind her introduced itself and asked for the time.

Every now and then I catch these glimpses of what I hope Dragonflies will be able to nurture out of our little Em.

There is hope once again for the future, a future I haven't said buh-bye to yet.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Emily's arse size (and other Eureka moments)

We were out shopping this afternoon in rainy Croydon and being the people who know Emily best, took ONE single extra nappy with us.

While waiting for our food to be served in the M&S hot food area, we discovered that Emily had let loose the bowels of hell. One scream-filled change later and we enjoyed our lunch, unabated.

As we were ready to go, Emily had that look on her face that Joey Tribbiani refers to as "fart acting" and we refer to as "poo making". It was with heavy heart that we realised Emily decided to top and tail her meal with a load.

Again, as mentioned, we brought with us ONE nappy. This was used pre-lunch.

Nappy-less, we decided to chance that the baby changing facilities, on the other side of the shopping centre, had a vending machine we could top up our depleted nappy supplies with.

They did.

However, Emily's arse had other ideas. By the time we got to the changing room, Emily's full nappy had emptied itself someone down the inside leg of her trousers. By the time we peeled her clothes off her she had an unholy "tan" down her legs, complete with peas and bits of carrots.

While I vended a needed nappy, Sue ran off and bought a new pair of trousers.

Later we ruminated on the hell we endured and surmised - in a Eureka moment - that while Emily fit the WEIGHT of a size 6 nappy (which is what she had graduated to) her arse area (hips, etc.) was probably not large enough to fill that size completely, thus with gaping holes all the lovely filling could flow down her leg.

This hypothesis was further proven as the vended nappy was a snug size 4 and when Emily backend let loose yet once again, the explosion was amply contained.

We trundled into Mothercare and bought a crate of nappies size 5, as we have now figured this Eureka moment could serve to alleviate further disruptive explosions and subsequent leg drippings.

The things we learn as parents...

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Paediatrician meeting

After what seems like a lifetime - and for Emily it was a large chunk - we finally had our Paediatrician meeting yesterday.

Sod's law dictated that, having waited 8 months, I would have to be on-site at a client meeting I couldn't get out of. The only silver lining to that cloud is Emily will have more Paediatric care once she starts at Dragonflies, so this wasn't the one-off it could potentially have been.

Anyway, on with the news.

Emily wasn't tested for Autism. Again, there's a few tests they could do, including brain scans, etc., but the treatment wouldn't change, so there's really no need to put her through that stress.

While Emily's not officially a card carrying Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) member, the doctor did say she was showing behaviours akin to someone with it. Sometimes you don't have to have all the facts to make an educated leap of faith. I guess it's sort of like saying, "I didn't SEE you drink 10 beers, but you are showing behaviours akin to someone who's drunk."

The doctor was concerned from the off, apparently, as Emily went up and gave her a hug - a complete stranger. At this point in her life, she should be wary of strangers, even though they're "friends you haven't met yet" (or whatever those cheesy greeting cards say).

I think the most important thing I got from Sue relaying the notes was that we do NOT overuse the word "no", else it will lose all meaning. It should be reserved for actions that would put her in harm's way. Almost like we need to say "No... priority one!", as opposed to when she's turning her milk upside down on the carpet or other mischievous activities.

This includes having her hands up to her ears. We need to let this one go, as it's most likely a defence mechanism and not her odd version of sucking a thumb. If the hands go up, she's in distress and forcing her NOT to do it only reinforces some bad behaviours.

One action point we can do is join Emily when she stares off into space, looking at the trees. We can then gently coax her into doing something else with the powers of distraction.

All in all, I get the sense that we're going to have to face facts sooner than later, but the doctor was also optimistic that Dragonflies will help her immeasurably. I don't think she'll ever be 100% non-ASD but hopefully with all this support and the strategies we're learning and implementing we can get her to a place where she can function as a non-descript drone in Sector 7G of some faceless corporation somewhere in the world... i.e. normal.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Claiming travel to Dragonflies and delusions

Who goes shopping in just a nappy?
Sometimes you can live in a deluded bubble. You think you're a supermodel yet you're so fat you can't fit through the door; you think you're a genius but need a calculator to work out 2+2; you think you can get away with white after Labour Day.

Sometimes I think I'm deluded about Emily. "Learning difficulties" is a nice tidy, fixable not too problematic issue. I don't know if I feel the same about "Autism", regardless of how mild.

It's really hit me these past couple of days as Sue and I have discussed and put together a claim to get transportation for Emily to Dragonflies. If we get it, a special bus will pick her up and drop her off, which is handy as neither Sue nor I could guarantee to get Emily to school everyday.

We had to fill out a form making Emily sound like some brain-dead spak. Saying things like "she can't get in or out of a car by herself" (which is - sadly - mildly true), and "she is a risk to herself" if put on public transport. (I would argue, though, that there aren't that many 3 year olds with the mentally acuity to ride public transport alone). The fact that she's still in (slightly ill-fitting) nappies is also a mild worry... but that's a tale for another day.

I think the worst thing Sue and I can do is let our positive energy turn negative, and for the most part we are quite optimistic. Optimistic that Dragonflies will help immeasurably; optimistic that Emily will be able to function properly in society; optimistic that one day she WILL ride public transport on her own and not come to harm.

I don't know how much of this is delusion on my part, but I guess come this time next year we'll see how much help Dragonflies actually was. Afterwards, we could always put her on a train by herself and see what happens...

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Dragonflies parent teacher meet and greet

We had our first meeting tonight at Dragonflies. A sort of pre-induction meeting to get us ready for the new school in mid-September. 

It was quite informative, which is always good at these types of things. They went through various aspects of what the children will be doing, what they can offer (things we already knew like musical therapy, occupation therapy and the like) and other sundry things like transport. 

The funniest thing is that Emily will have to wear a school uniform come September. It's not that much of a uniform tracky bottoms and a sweatshirt, but it gets her used to wearing one so when she graduates to big school, the clothing will be one less thing she'll have to get used to.

That brought up a question for Sue and I. As Emily is the muckiest mucky muck you'll ever meet, how many uniforms do we buy? One a day, two a day, 3 a week? We settled on 3 for the week, knowing full well we'll probably be seeing them in the wash quite frequently.. or else ban Emily from eating ANYTHING mucky. 

They went through quite a bit on parental interaction this evening as well, which was good. There's coffee mornings and home visits and regular meetings that it's highly suggested we attend. There'll also be weekly newsletters and information coming home from the kids. 

It really sounds like this is going to be excellent for Emily. We even met her new key worker Mrs. Watson. When we described Emily to her (she talks... sorta. Sings, but doesn't converse) she knew exactly what we were on about. This made me feel quite at ease, and that Emily's issues aren't that rare. 

In a way it's going to be strange with Emily starting school in September. She's growing up and it's just the start of a long progression of milestones that signal she's moving away from being my little baby girl... This feeling is obviously tempered by the fact that she's going to get some amazing help and I'm hoping that come this time next year there'll be quite a marked improvement. 

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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Taking a breath

Sue had a nice mini-break in Portugal on the weekend which left Emily and I to our own devices. Father - daughter bonding or father utter frustration at child?

Well, it was a mix of both. 

We went to an engagement "party" at a pub on Sunday and I spent the entire time chasing Emily and making sure she didn't get up to mischief of one kind or another... and she did. She constantly walked straight out the front door like she knew what she was doing. 

It was quite a relaxing feeling leaving really, as I knew she couldn't BUDGE from her car seat the whole way home. 

We're also TRYING to sort out this dreaded potty training. Trouble is she just won't tell us when  she needs to go - we have to almost be clairvoyant, judging her facial expressions and body language correctly.

Tonight she was doubled over, so I knew a brown loaf was brewing. Sitting her NEAR the potty elicited the usual squeaks and squawks she lets out when she doesn't want to do something. Moments later, her back end smelled worse than Wallington Asda (which is next to a sewage treatment plant and generally smells of it).

Speaking of Asda, we had some father - daughter bonding time there this evening, in between bouts of father CHASING daughter time. Sometimes I think I'm too old to be a father. 

Anyway, in between picking out loaves of bread and bags of peppers, Emily decided she wanted to do "whizzies", which is basically me holding her in my arms and spinning around. She looked right into my eyes (a good thing, from our speech and language therapy lessons) and said "one, two, three" at which point I spin us both around. This was met by bit smiles and laughter. Rinse and repeat about 10 times. 

When I put her down, she then proceeded to try and do "Ring a Ring a Rosie". Are there less subtle ways for a child to tell a parent they're ready to leave? I don't think so.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Emily and her Doors

Emily had this obsession for ages that doors and drawers need to be closed.

It came to a head a couple of time, when Emily couldn't close doors for one reason or another and proceeded to break down.

While we were on holiday in France last October she actually went out of her way to close doors as well. She'd be in the throws of having a book read to her, drink in one hand biscuit in t'other and then, out of the corner of her eye, she'd spy the door leading into the hallway was OPEN!

Quick as you like, the story and snack were quickly forgotten in order to save the sanctity of the closed door.

Lately, apart from ensuring all drawers are closed - sometimes while Sue or I are still rummaging in them - her anal desire to have EVERY door closed had abated.

In the last week or so it seems to have reared it's ugly head and Emily can't properly relax until the two doors in the living room are closed (or as closed as they can be). Any attempt to maintain their openness results in Emily breaking whatever activity she's engaged in - usually reading or jumping up and down to a Peppa Pig DVD - and ensuring the sanctity of the closed door.

With summer here, we're trying to maintain as much through breeze as possible and Emily's OCD door issues are really ensuring that the living room is breeze free. Thanks OCD, thanks a lot.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Potty training

Having spent a few weekends attempting to get Emily potty trained - to rather disappointingly wet results - this weekend we decided to give it another go.

Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If that's true, Sue and I were completely off our mental rocker this weekend.

However, it paid dividends. Whenever Emily looked the slightest bit perturbed "down there" we raced off to put her on her potty. FOUR times this weekend we were rewarded with a pot full of brown "reward" which we then had to duly dispose of.

It's funny, with potty training - either result is a disappointment. If they don't do anything, you're sad; if they do something, you have to clean it up and you're sad.

The funny thing now is that we were changing Emily's nappy when it reeked. With her business now being disposed of the proper way, her nappies are getting a lot heavier with wee as we can't really gauge, through smell, the best times to change her.

Oh and we need to train her to do number ones in the potty too. This whole training thing really sucks.

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Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Emily got into Dragonflies

Today was the day the decision team decided who was getting into Dragonflies and who wasn't.

From everything we've heard, seen and been told Emily would SERIOUSLY benefit from attending the school. Daily and weekly therapies and just an overall approach that benefits children who have disabilities.

It got to the point where we were becoming despondent thing about what would happen if she DIDN'T get in. There was a Plan B, but in the grand scheme of things it was more like a Plan R.

Thankfully, Sue called me this evening, slightly choked up, to give me the news.

Emily will be attending Dragonflies at Thomas Wall School, named after the sausage and ice cream magnate.

Needless to say, Sue and I are massively relieved and I may even crack open a beer to celebrate.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Toilet training - the forceful way

We've got a pretty slow weekend planned, so it was decided that we'd do some forceful toilet training with Emily.

We've put her on her potty with no nappy on and let her read books on going to the loo (loo, loo).

She's also wearing cotton kecks, so if she does ANY sort of business, she's going to feel it and be uncomfortable.

Well, as predictable as Emily is. She managed to do her first movement and it was a brown, sloppy, wet one. It's the kind of result that makes you want to stick to nappies indefinitely.

It's all cleaned up and she's in a further pair of cotton kecks, but we're careful not to let her near the carpet or anything upholstered. Thankfully, it's mercilessly hot day outside so we can live in the backyard without feeling like we're weather torturing the poor child.

More business news as it unfolds... or more likely "seeps" or "dribbles".

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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

More words and making herself understood - "hong wee"?

Emily's getting there making herself understood. It's still a ways to go though.

This evening while I was making dinner, she brought me a box of cereal, telling me what I believe was "hungry"... which obviously sounded a bit more like "hong wee".

She's still crying when she's thirsty, hungry, tired, bored, etc. but these little flashes are a good sign we're on the right track.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Slackass in posting - The May 2011 update

It's been about a month since my last confession... I mean post.

In that time, nothing of any REAL note has happened regarding Emily. She hasn't written a thesis or magically started talking on complete sentences, etc.

However, there have been marginal gains in her language and development issues. We've always recited books and sung songs with her leaving out the odd word for her to fill in. Recently we've been leaving more and more words out, to the point where some songs like "Baa Baa Black Sheep" she can sing all by herself.

This is probably an important milestone in her development, but she still blanks pretty much everyone around her - never saying hello, even when Sue comes home. It can be quite heartbreaking being COMPLETELY ignored by your own child... well, until she becomes a teenager.

We're currently in a holding pattern. 8 June we find out if Emily gets into Dragonflies, the specialist pre-school for children with "issues". If not, we fall back to plan B - the local montessori school, with minimal provision for helping the lessor developed.

I've also started a new job in the last two weeks, and the odd day calls for me to be in the office in Windsor. This has meant a bit of a role reversal for Sue and I - as I am now leaving early and arriving home late. Some nights I've not even seen Emily, she's already asleep. I really understand how Sue has felt the times she's come home and Em's been asleep. Sometimes going a couple of days without seeing her - if it's early mornings as well.

Tomorrow we're off to Legoland, so it will be interesting to see how Emily interacts with her surroundings. I assume she's find a bookstore and hole up in there until it's time to go.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Learning these little phrases

We've been in Oz now for a few weeks and Emily has had 24/7 mummy and daddy time (well, I was in the UK for her first week here). During this time, it's quite evident that she's come on leaps and bounds in certain areas of her development.

On the flight to Melbourne, she had tired of her books so we took out the in-flight magazine to look at. Always a winner with kids! We got to the menu page and Emily grabbed my finger and started pointing to various pictures for me to tell her what they are. On the facing page was an ad for watches, and an ad for coffee machines.

Somehow, over the Melbourne trip all I had to say (with or without magazine present) was "watch" and her face lit up and she attempted to say "coffee machine" which actually came out more like "cobbee machine".

On our camping trip, a similar thing happened with a Stuart Little 2 story book. We got to a page, the old point and tell happened and for the rest of the trip, we talked about "sky, whoosh, lady, waiter". Nanny Pat even got into the act and when Emily said "sky" she looked cheekily at Pat to say it in a funny voice.

Yesterday in the car as we waited to leave the campsite, Emily was babbling to herself - in that toddlerspeak that only toddlers understand - and I could clearly make out the odd line from one of her favourite books - "Hairy MacLary's Bone". She knows the book well enough to fill in the words I leave out when I recite it, but it sounded like she didn't need me at all to recite the book anymore.

Having had other kids around of similar ages while we've been on holiday, it's obvious (sometimes depressingly so) how much work Emily has to do to catch up to where she should be. There's been some good stuff happen and she's learned lots of new (arguably useless) phrases and proven that she's got a wicked retention for things. I'm just a bit concerned. As a father, I don't think that feeling ever truly goes away.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Disability allowance

A couple of months ago during a routine visit from Sheila from Portage, she raised the issue of Disability Living Allowance and whether we'd applied for it. Like any parent without a seriously disabled child (Down's syndrome, missing limbs, etc.) we didn't think we could get it. Having been told it's for any parents who go above and beyond what is considered normal to raise a child, we decided to apply for it. The worst that could happen? We're told Emily's too normal and get rejected.

It was rather bittersweet that I came home today to an envelope from the DLA to tell us that we've been accepted to receive this. I assume it's not as much as a child in a wheelchair or who needs round the clock care, but it's enough to offset speech therapy and some of the specialist things we've bought Emily to help her get over her language and speech delays.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Poop in the loo

It's a bit of a cheat, but tonight is the first time Emily actually dropped one into the loo proper.

She was bent over, as we all do sometimes, with a manic pushing look on her face. A quick check led to the affirmative that the turtle was trying to escape. As quick as you like, we ran up to the loo, dropped trou and proceeded... to wait.

A few songs later, I could see the little chocolate Hershey kiss (I KNEW there was a reason I didn't eat them!) dangling quite resolutely between cheeks and loo. A quick "shake" and the American chocolate's namesake was right where the American chocolate deserved to be.

I don't know what Emily got out of the first "I've done a poo on an actual toilet" moment. I fear not much. I praised her, like you do, but I think it's going to take a few more attempts to get her to really understand that what she did should be the norm, and taking a dump in a nappy should be the exception.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Toilet training - the beginnings

You get the books, you share tales, you watch videos, you do everything you can, but at the end of the day toilet training is just one of those rights of passage you wish someone else could do for you.

We're taking the first steps with Emily. We've got her in pull ups (although we just found a stash of 144 nappies so we have to pretend their nappies). We've also started trying to get Emily used to the loo. Her poo gets chucked in the loo from her nappy (if it's whole enough to roll out) and we're now sitting her on the a seat on the loo to get used to it.

A lot of story telling and nursery rhymes have been used to placate her sitting on what she must assume is a portal to hell.

I'm wondering when it'll just click with her. When she'll go, "ah... that's WHERE I drop a deuce, not in my nappy!" D'oh.

With most other children, they say hold off until they can tell you they need to drop trou. Em can't even tell me when she's thirsty (she cries, along with her need for everything else), so that's out. We also fear if we do wait until she can tell us, we'll run out of nappy sizes and have to move to Depends.

Toilet training. The fun of it.

Monday, 21 March 2011


You're not supposed to have a birthday celebrations for each year you are. That, however, is exactly what Emily's enjoyed over the last week.

On Tuesday, her actual official birthday, we had cake and presents and hugs and all the birthday things. On Saturday, we had a BBQ for all our friends without kids who wanted to wish Emily all the best on her way up the single digit year ladder. Sunday saw us have the party with the kids, the finger food, the Hairy Maclary cake and the bouncy castle.

I arrived at work today completely exhausted from the events of the weekend. This MAY be the reason people have kids earlier in life - to handle birthday parties.

The sad thing is, she doesn't even realise what's going on. Yesterday, although she was whipping round the hall we rented and having a grand old time, she was COMPLETELY unaware it was for her. She would have reacted the same if we'd gone to a soft play centre for afternoon play.

I guess at this age, parties are really for the parents. You start the get backs this early on. We went to their party, so they have to come to ours. It doesn't end until your wedding is full of people you don't know, but who's kids' weddings your parents went to and your wedding is just the last in a long line of "get backs".

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Now that we are three

It's been three years to the day since Emily entered our lives as a screaming, placenta covered newborn.

She's still at the age where events like Christmas, birthdays, etc. mean more to the adults around her than to her, but I guess it's the repetition and instilling into her that they are special times that makes them meaningful.

As a special birthday present to Sue and I, Emily decided to leave a number of brown presents in her bath... again. She was rewarded with a prison hose-down which she did not enjoy. Talk about being pampered on your birthday!

Overall, I think birthdays allow us to reflect on the past year or life to date and it's easier at three than say.. 38 to do, as you haven't done as much.

Emily's short life has been filled with a lot of travel, parents who have had to bring up baby with no real local support network and in all this, she's had to deal (rather obliviously) with a learning delay.

Birthdays for kids also brings out those "what you should be doing at this age" checklists, and I'm quite proud to say that Emily's doing almost everything she should be doing at two years old!

If  she's only a year behind, that's not too bad and in the past 12 months she's really really developed so here's hoping that in the next year that gap narrows even more.

We have to now open a bunch of cards and presents for Emily that she may or may not be aware are for her.

Come the weekend, we do it all over again, but with a bouncy castle.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Portage visit

Shiela from Portage came today to help Sue and I fill out a Disability Living Allowance form.

It took ages, but gave us time to talk to her about various other things about Emily - like why she jumps ALL the time, puts her hands over her ears, whether we should move her to a Sutton council-based nursery, etc.

We also got some more information about the specialty nursery Dragonflies. Apparently most of the kids there at the moment are "graduating" at the end of the school year so there should be quite a few spaces open for new recruits. It really sounded quite exceptional, low distractions, music therapy and hopefully some occupational therapy in the new school year.

It was quite an enlightening meeting, but it seems everytime Shiela comes round, it's quite a decent meetup.

We've also been told that Shiela will be seeing Emily again at least once after she turns 3 (Portage help children up until their third birthday) so it was good news all around.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Ill again.

Today was up and down.

When Em and I got home, we went through her "100 words" book. Using my finger as a pointer, she actually pointed out wheat and said the word.

Where the hell did that come from?

She got a few other words too, which are par for the course for her right now - milk, eggs, bread, cow, dog, etc. It's funny, about 6 months ago those words would have been major milestones, like wheat was today. Now they're expected. Hopefully we'll see enough progress from Em that in 6 months time, "wheat" will see insignificant.

The night went quickly downhill.

Em's been quite ill lately with a cold. Tonight when she went to bed (having fallen asleep on the sofa) she actually started screaming, in what I assume is pain. A few drops of Calpol later and she seemed to calm down. About an hour later, it was all stations Emily again as she woke herself up screaming. A few MORE drops of Calpol and she's (currently) fast asleep.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Wheat-free diet for Emily

We had a chat with one of Sue's friends over the weekend who suggested we start Emily on a wheat-free diet. Apparently there's quite a bit of research about wheat intolerance and autism and the correlation between the two.

It's not to say that if you have wheat in your diet you'll become autistic - I didn't and Sue didn't. It suggests that if there is a possibility of autism, taking wheat out can help tip the balance.

At this point, we're eager to try anything to give Em a chance. It's all rye bread and oat cakes from here on in, I guess.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Other skills

I realise we've been focusing an awful lot on Emily's speech development, but there are other areas that we are going to need to work on soon so she doesn't languish behind.

Potty training is at the top of our agenda. It's one of those things that just sounds like a pain, you don't want to do and you hope will just mysteriously sort itself out. We know it won't, we know it will be painful and probably messy but Emily will thank us for it in the long run.

This morning I was watching Emily eating breakfast and ... well, eating is ANOTHER area of concern. Anyway, Em had her elbows on the table as she was eating and it just made me realise that manners like this will be another area we need to get her to do.

We're trying with please and thank you, but no elbows, eating with cutlery (and not hands).

The list grows.

Em also tried to dress herself today. She took the wrong end of her pyjama trousers and tried to pull them onto her leg. A for effort, F for result. I tried to get her to do the same thing, the right way round, with her actual trousers but she was having none of it.

Teaching and training your child is a full time job. I realise that once over the hurdle of language delay we're not on easy street, but just the last day or so I've been realising how much there is to do, just in this phase of her life that's above and beyond her difficulties.

Being a parent's hard.

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Thursday, 10 February 2011

Double appointment day!

We're finally in full swing with appointments for Emily.

This morning we had our NHS appointment with the speech therapist and this afternoon was Portage. I wasn't able to attend both, so made it to the speech therapist, as we hadn't seen her since October.

It was more of a recap meeting that anything else. She was quite impressed with the progress Emily has made and felt that the various strategies put into place from the various other organisations was paying dividends.

We also asked about the paediatrician issue where we won't be seen for another six months. She let us know that a number of autism assessments aren't really optimal for children under 3 years old. Given the normal NHS back log, seeing us in May or June doesn't actually seem all that bad now. Just wish we were told this at the original meeting. Also, the doctor we WILL see is apparently quite good.

This all culminated in the should we / shouldn't we debate about going private. There's the concern, raised during the meeting as well, that we will put on a parallel course of therapy and it will be up to Sue and I to police it between the various organisations.

Although Em is still developmentally behind - she's only NOW saying words that a "normal" two year old should be saying - I'm quite happy that we are getting lots of help and strategies to help her and that (most importantly) she seems to be responding. I can only imagine if we were doing all this and there was NO improvement.
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Sunday, 6 February 2011

Grinders and the fine art of bruxism

Emily's been grinding her teeth on and off for the last few months, and when we've noticed we've tried to stop her. Emily's quite adamant at continuing and has even cried at some attempts to stop her.

This led me to do what every parent in this age would do - consult the internet. Sue and I fear that if she continues, she'll have nubs soon where she used to have teeth.

Of course, the Internet has proven this half-assed theory completely wrong. It's also given a name to Emily's new  habit "bruxism"! Apparently, the worst thing about Emily grinding her teeth is the noise we have to put up with.

The Internet, that bastion of truth, even said that Emily's not alone in her grinding and that kids generally start around 3 - 3.5 years of age. Finally, Emily's not developmentally delayed at something. Take that nature!

The quite search on the web has alleviated my fears that Emily's doing something that could be harmful, so I can go back to worrying about everything else. Yay.
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Friday, 4 February 2011

Fennie's development meeting

After the high of our visit with Portage yesterday, it felt that any more meetings regarding Emily could only be a let down.

It was nice to be proven wrong when we met with Fennie's and the Croydon Council worker who is going to help them initiate strategies to help Emily.

I came out of the meeting feeling that the tide seemed to turn and that people had Emily's best interests at heart - and not just going through the paces and offering bureaucratic rhetoric when it fit them.

The nugget of information that really solidified today is that Emily is really quite a fast and brilliant visual learner. Pictures, symbols, etc. really get her going. I'd like to think that Sue and I are doing a lot of this type of teaching, almost by accident, but it's stuck in my mind since the meeting and I'm going to try and keep my concepts and chatter with her as visually aided as possible.

Today, I feel positive. It's good. Oh God, Emily... what's that smell???

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Thursday, 3 February 2011

Portage second visit

We had our second visit from Portage today. This is an organisation that helps disabled and learning impaired children under the age of 3.

We had about 45 minutes of intensive learning-helping play with Emily where she had to choose, take turns and do other developmentally helpful activities.

Sue and I then listened to Sheila (from Portage) give us more information about services and help available to ensure that we do everything we can for Emily to get her over the current development issues she has.

There are schools we can sign up to (Dragonflies), government grants we can apply for to help with the cost of her private speech therapy and all sorts of other things.

As the icing on the cake, Sheila also left some of the toys she used with Emily so Sue and I can use them to coax her out of her shell.

We also have to enact "special time" which is where we let Emily play with a bunch of toys and mimic her while doing a football-style commentary ("Emily is hugging her bear.") I'm going to try and do this every night when we get home and see where this gets us.

I'm glad we're getting this help ... finally. Of all the people we've seen so far, the help and advice from Portage has been 100% invaluable. By far the best resource we've dealt with yet.

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Monday, 31 January 2011

Emily's new words

When she's not hacking up her dinner on my shoes and jacket, Emily's been reciting her new words to Sue and I.

As with most of her vocab, it's within the confines of her books and any real world application is still alluding us.

This morning, she's been reading her Dora The Explorer book and it takes place at night. All I've heard from her as she turns the pages is "moon" and "stars". Of course, if we go out on the next clear night and look up, I really don't envision her putting 2 and 2 together and making the real world application.

On the other hand, associating and understanding in ANY context is pretty good and I'm quite proud of her accomplishments in that regard.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Vomit times

We went into town today for a number of reasons. Mainly that I had to get a new coat with a credit note Sue had (my Christmas gift wasn't the right one).

We went to a Mexican restaurant in Covent Garden for lunch and then I treated myself to a few minutes browsing in Fopp.

Then the day went DOWN HILL.

When I came to pay for my goods, I couldn't find Sue or Em anywhere. A quick call from Sue and I found them in the lift, along with a pool of sick courtesy of Em.

The good people of Fopp were incredibly understanding, and in hindsight, it was better in a little used lift instead of all over product they might actually be able to shift.

We dressed Em in my coat, I wore my new coat and we headed off.

Emily, obviously under the influence of some horrid stomach bug, did not limit her wretching to Fopp's lift. We also managed to get a 38 bus soiled, just outside of Victoria station. This time, my new coat was also victim to the guttural stream of delight (as was my current coat which Em was wearing at the time).

When we got home, thinking - foolishly in hindsight - that all was well, we now have half our settee drying by the radiator having had a cushion mopped down to get rid of the sick.

At times like these you really want to point blame and yell at someone. Especially when you're nice, expensive brand new blazer is yacked on and you've not even owned it for four hours.

Like anyone being ill, it's not Emily's fault and I find myself angry at fate or myself.

Of course, Sue and I are really only concerned with her staying hydrated and getting better. We don't really want her going to bed in her bed as choking on vomit can be quite lethal - as we just watched a character in Breaking Bad die that way.

Here's hoping our collective Sunday isn't as brutally horrific as today has been.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Clingy klingon

Lately Emily's been rather lovely-dovey and huggy-wuggy.

I understand all kids go through a clingy phase and this must be hers. However, at some points the constant neediness can be quite distracting.

The last couple of nights I've had to put a DVD on for her, so I can steal away long enough to put the dinner on. Although, she generally doesn't stay in her chair when she eats as she reaches out for a hug and before toppling over, I end up feeding her from my lap.

I know I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, as when she's a moody hideous teenager I'll be wishing for any acknowledgement of my being, let alone a cuddle or a hug. It's just that too much is sometimes a little too much.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Teething pains

Em was in quite a mood today and it really finally dawned on me when we got home that she probably IS teething.

When we got home, she was incredibly clingy and wouldn't let go of me to even get a drink. We were watching a Smurf movie (Smurfs and the Magic Flute if you care - and the animation was TERRIBLE) and I kept having to check to see if she was awake as she wasn't moving all that much.

Over the last few days she's become so used to having Calpol that as soon as she saw the eyedropper filled with the medication, she was eager to take it.

It's sad that she even needs to know what it's for.

About 20 minutes later, she got up from the setee, announced "bed" and proceeded to climb the stairs. About 10 minutes later, sans dinner, she was fast asleep.

God-bless you Calpol.

All the signs now point to her teething - the pink cheeks, the blood curdling screams at breakfast as I know assume her cereal was hitting some open nerve. I imagine the fever and the rash over the weekend were symptoms of this now, and not anything swine related.

I can't remember what teething felt like and if she's in this much pain, I'm quite glad that's true.
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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Post paediatrician, back at square one

We had the developmental paediatrician appointment today and I have to say, it was a disappointment. We weren't expecting all our worries to melt away, but were hoping for more than what happened.

We sat there, and then went through the same thing we've done with everyone else we've seen - explaining what Emily can and can't do, she performed some tasks, etc.

The doctor then told us we would be seen in 4 - 6 months. Yeah, MONTHS. So much for any ongoing treatment, any follow up appointments.

They did rule out any physical issues and said that it was all developmental. Still, autism (in any part of the spectrum) couldn't be ruled out after only one visit and as the next visit isn't for another 1/2 year who knows what the hell they'll find.

To say I was disappointed on the way home is sugar coating it. Both Sue and I were quite devastated. Any faith I had in the NHS has had the final nail put through it today. We need to really come up with a plan B to get Emily's issues sorted out.

Paediatric appointment today!

After months of waiting and an episode where we ALMOST paid £250 per HOUR for help, we're finally off to see the developmental paediatrician today at St. Helier's Hospital.

We're not expecting a silver bullet solution to Em's learning delays, but hopefully it's the beginning of a course of treatments or visits that will result in her improving dramatically.

Watch this space!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Fever turns to rash

Sue and I MAY becoming those types of parents. You know the kind, every little problem is all of a sudden life threatening - her weekend fever MUST mean she has swine flu.

Today Emily woke up with a rash which was one of the questions NHS Direct asked us over the weekend when we phoned. I looked it up on the NHS Direct symptoms guide and tiny red pin prick rash was something they tried to rule out for meningitis.

So Emily's gone from almost (not really) having swine flu to now having meningitis.

NHS Direct feel it's probably whatever virus which caused the fever flailing around in its dying embers... or allergies. Although they did recommend she stay away from anyone with a distressed immune system.

I've already got a doctor's appointment booked for 11am, so I'm going to go down with her.

She's in really high spirits at the moment, although she's rather pale and thin from not really having eaten over the weekend.

I assume all is well and she'll be back with Helen by lunchtime.

UPDATE: Went to the doctor's at 11am and after a very brief review of Emily's symptoms, we got the all clear. It's just the last embers of the fever virus working their way out. Emily's still drained, listless and tired but she's definitely on the mend.
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Saturday, 15 January 2011

Emily DEFINITELY has the fever

Emily stayed home with Sue yesterday as she wasn't feeling well.

When I got home, I found them both in bed feeling rather exhausted. Emily was incredibly HOT! You could have fried an egg on her, she was that warm. 

We drip fed her Calpol and a few bits of food - blueberries, crisps ... the things she loves so we know she'd eat. 

Around 2am I got awoken by Sue asking to help with Em. She wouldn't take her next dose of Calpol and wasn't cooling down. Her hands were hot, her feet were hot. It wasn't good.

We were on the phone on and and off with NHS Direct, those guardian angels of healthcare, until about 3am ruling out meningitis and going through the procedures we needed to follow - make sure she DOES take her medicine, keep the room cool for her, etc.

People get sick. People of all ages get sick. It's a fact of life. However, while we were on the phone trying to get to the bottom of Em's illness and find out what to do next, my entire brain was screaming "swine flu" for a number of reasons not least being an acquaintance of Sue's recently lost her 5 year old child to the virus on Christmas Day. I was trying to hold off my paranoia and let the nurse on the phone do her thing. 

I still don't think Em's out of the woods, but at least she's taking fluids now (something she refused at 8 am this morning). She's lying in bed not moving, and occasionally singing lines from her songs. She's not in bad spirits, I just wish the same could be said for her body.

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Friday, 14 January 2011

Emily's got the fever

I picked up Emily from Fennies last night and she was in some new clothes as I was told she was really warm.

She was quite quiet and listless last night and actually fell asleep WHILE I was making her dinner.

Through the night, Sue went to the loo and opened the door to Emily's shining face. An hour later, they both finally got back to sleep. This was 4am.

At 7:00am, I could hear Emily singing to herself, oblivious of the fact that she was awake three hours earlier.

When I went to get Emily she was so hot, I could have dried clothes on her.

Needless to say, she's staying home with Sue today.

There's been a lot of talk and horror stories about the flu lately, and someone Sue knows has lost a child to it already, so there's a bit of paranoia that's probably worth holding on to at the moment. Unlike other things in my life, Emily really isn't very replaceable so I need to make sure I keep hold of this model.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Assessed for help

Picking Em up tonight at Fennies, they gave me the "good news" that she's been assessed by the council workers and she has been referred on for further help for her development.

Sue and I are to meet with the people next week to discuss a plan of attack, but Fennies were quite optimistic that she'll get the help she needs, they'll be able to get guidance on how to help her and there'll be funding to be had so things shouldn't hurt too much, financially.

All this help, I just hope there is nothing actually wrong with Em. All this time Sue and I are kept going by the thought that she'll get sorted eventually. I really hope someone doesn't actually turn around at some point and say "actually..."

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

More interactivity verbally

It's been a good year so far for Emily.

She's coming on leaps and bounds in her development. I spy her occasionally reading a book or reciting a book and I can actually tell what book she is reciting, which is cool.

She's still not engaging Sue or I in conversation or even requests, apart from "read", but Sue been able to augment that by saying to Emily "read please..." to which Emily responds "Mummy".

Emily is also saying "face" quite a bit when we say it's time to "wash hands". Although she's not creating verbal dialogue, something upstairs is putting various terms together, which is good.

We've been watching this DVD developed by learning development people called "Sookie & Finn" and trying to emulate some of the ways they discuss everyday objects. Hopefully with this video, our interaction and further mental stimulation we're close to a massive break through.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

New Year. 2011 here we are

It was nice having over a week off with Sue and Emily. Both parents got some excellent quality time with Emily.

Last time we had this much quality time was in October when we went to France. When we came back, Emily had made quite a decent amount of progress in her learning and development. She started using "read" to annoy any adult in earshot.

No such progress was made this time around, but she did shine in using her vocabulary. Well, shine for Emily. We visited with friends who have children of a similar age to Emily and they were comparatively scholarly in their speech etc, composing full sentences and actually making their needs and wants known, as opposed to licking their lips when thirsty and yelling "no" and flailing arms until you understood what exactly was needed.

Whatever progress Em is making, she's still behind what a 2.x year old should be doing. I keep hoping for the silver bullet that will let the words spill out, but sometimes I do wonder if that will ever be possible. I have to keep believing it is.