Tristan sort of threw himself down our small set of stairs and tumbled a bit. I exclaimed, “Ouch, fuck!” and Tristan repeated it crystal clear. I just mused, “Pretty much!” and that was that. He did not repeat the word “fuck” and that’s the only time I’m certain he said that specific word. To be fair, falling down stairs warrants that word if anything does. But there we have it – he’s no longer a curse word virgin, but he doesn’t repeat things further that we don’t react to. Since anyone who knows us personally is quite familiar with our stance on curse words, I just wanted to reassure you that so far everything’s ok and he’s not becoming obsessed with my potty mouth, even though he’s repeating a lot of what he hears.
Tristan learned to pronounce the word “one” properly about two days ago. Will he manage three or seven next? It’s amazing how he’s improved his pronunciation of much lately, replacing approximations with way closer representations and being able to master three syllable words.
Some neat and/or cute things Tristan is doing lately: saying “p-apple” for pineapple, taking an interest in the word “people” and what people actually ARE, showing he actually understands phonics for real, and taking on counting all ninjalike. Oh, and when he tries to initiate conversation or complain, he says “A B C D!”
Tristan’s been using the Lakeshore fruit cutting kit in therapy sessions and is able to say the names of most of the fruits and vegetables in the kit. I love it that he tries very hard to say them, especially since he’s randomly balky about talking with me and/or in general. He’s really cute when he says “peeeeeeeeeeeee-APPLE!” and he persists because he knows we think it’s cute (he’s tried to say it correctly, but then jubilantly says it his way and we all smile..). Maybe we will have a produce lesson when he’s slightly older, with samples to chomp on if he becomes curious.
He learned the word “people” and thusfar recognizes at least stick figures (drawn by me, because I cannot draw friggin’ people), male/female restroom glyph style icons (in an iPad app called Magnetic Alphabet), and Little People figurines as being “people.” For the first time, he was interested in playing with the massive collection of Little People toys that I’ve been amassing for him since his first birthday. He did not remove the people from the vehicles immediately, although he did throw them all one by one (thankfully just from his chest to the floor) for a few minutes. We lined them up and counted them – it turns out that we have sixteen figurines currently present. Some of them are cats and puppies, too, and we identified those. However, cats and puppies still count as people.. at least he might grow up with a kind attitude toward animals.
Tristan has been randomly reciting the alphabet in phonetic form: aaah, buh, cuh, duh, eh, et cetera. He started that about two days ago. I knew he was getting good with the phonics, but that’s the first real proof that he has that shit memorized.
So that makes:
– visual recognition of upper and lowercase letters
– fairly to very clear verbal identification of all of them although he balks at W and is still sloppy on G and J
– memorization of the sequence of letters
– memorization of at least the most common phonetics for each letter
– not too shabby at singing the alphabet song, although his tune is more competent than his enunciation of letters while singing
– shows a far better understanding of spoken words when paired with written representation, and remembers the written representation if he learns the word
Oh, he’s kind of bored with letters. Numbers are actually what he spends his time on lately. He indicates that there are “extra” people by counting them. He counts things often and randomly. He’s shown that he can count properly to 12 in his therapy sessions (with one-to-one correspondence, or one number per object and not getting messed up along the line and counting too fast/slow). He recognizes numbers.. wow, I’m not even sure to what extent. We’re used to him identifying 20 and below verbally. I wrote out the numbers from 1 to 90 on a big sheet of paper (would’ve gone to 100, but I ran out of room) and showed him how counting by 10s works to determine what comes next in the sequence (40 after 39, for instance – 30 and 40 are lined up on the paper, so it makes logical sense to Tristan). He’s been enunciating his numbers more recognizably – I think the current sounds are “uh, two, eee, fuh, five, six, seh, eight, nah, ten, ev-en, telve, tir-TEEN, fuhteen, fifteen, sixteen, seh-teen, eighteen, nah-teen, tunty.” Anyway, I wrote out the words for some of the numbers separately from the giant table o’ numbers, in this format:
and he made the distinction in pronunciation. I’m not sure he’s memorized them yet, but he certainly made sense out of the process. It’s easy to tell because he will not try to talk if he does not, and he most definitely talks about his numbers. It makes me melt to hear my little baby say the number 90 in his little toddler voice.
What a wonderful update! Which is good because other than these neat achievements, his behavior has made him quite the pain in the ass lately. Right now, in fact, it’s 5am and I believe James is in Tristan’s room calming him down because he woke up screaming *again*. Tristan’s been really clinging to me and overstimulated to the point of obnoxiousness by my presence. He’s been reluctant to entertain himself or spend much time hanging out in his own room with plenty of toys. He’s been reluctant to spend time across the living room from me, watching videos tailored to his interest and snacking on spicy chips. I must change my tune on two year olds: they ARE easier, but they’re giant pains in the ass. They become little teenagers, in essence.
Tristan has gotten into a bad habit of hitting when he’s angry or frustrated. Unfortunately, this is a difficult one to deal with. I’m sure every kid goes through the phase where they need to be taught one way or another to not hit, or just mature enough to get the hell over it.
Thankfully, he’s limiting the hitting to me and his therapists. He’s not trying to slap dad around, and he’s still very easygoing with other children (after all, other kids don’t make him mad – he just goes around them). However, because I’m a bit at war with this topic, I’m not having the easiest time just getting to the root of the behavior and nipping it in the bud.
Traditional parenting would say that a child who hits a parent needs punishment. Attachment parenting would say that a child who hits a parent needs love and redirection. I suppose my personal opinion comes somewhere in the middle – I don’t want to spank (because I get very angry, because hitting begets hitting, and because it’s not a nice way people who love each other treat each other), I don’t think time-outs help him, and since I get very angry, I have a hard time keeping a level head and delivering a consistent response. Actually, I know that the best remedy for it is to deliver a consistent NONresponse, but my “traditional” upbringing leaves me with the remnants or how I’m expected to teach my disrespectful child to BEHAVE.
This is a major point – not sure if it’s because of the autism, but traditional parenting techniques do NOT work with Tristan. Oh, I’m sure that if you make him swallow enough metaphorical bitterness that he will eat what food he is served and behave with perfect manners, but he’d be a really angry kid. I’m sure if we battle all day, every day, I can stop the hitting and instill an aversion to hitting a parent. But I need to remember to do it more like how I’d ask Samurai puppy not to jump on me, instead of viewing it as a breach of “respect protocol.” I need to deliver a consistent nonresponse. In doggie terms, that would include standing still, looking away, and resuming attention when the shitty behavior stopped. Now I need strength to stay calm enough to do that with my kid when he brings out the slappy paws.
Tristan will now say “Tis-tuh” or “Tis-TEN” depending on how we prompt him (I was asking him to say the number “ten” to help with pronunciation) to say his name. He’s not just “baby” anymore – he is permitted to grow up. Wheee!
Food time is still going well. We practice some spoon feeding, he allows me to spoon feed him, and he is well-behaved with the suckable pouches. Tristan still would rather drink milk instead of eat; I am not very upset about this as most moms of babies his age say their babies don’t want any or enough milk. He still regularly receives sippy cups and bottles, but I have to jam something in next to him in his high chair so he does not turn sippy cups upside down and soak his pants with milk or juice. The general guideline lately is that he gets a sippy cup in the high chair and a bottle when he gets a drink anywhere else. We will have to work on that one, as we recognize that he’s using the bottles for comfort and we sometimes take advantage of that. At least he’s stopped screaming bloody murder for his milk, for the most part, but that’s also because at home we’ve started to prefill containers and grab them from the fridge.
Tristan seems to have passed the “up up up” phase. Not sure what his next repetitive utterings will be.
For a month or so, we were able to mess around with Tristan’s naps and he’d take them whenever it was necessary, whether that ended up being a one or a two nap day. Suddenly, several days ago, he began sleeping in until 8:30 and sometimes 9 (much improved over the 7!), taking only one nap for about two hours, and going to bed around 10. This actually makes a lot of sense once we get it honed. We’ve still been trying to put him down for an evening nap for the past few days as well when he appeared tired, and he just did not fall asleep – instead, he played nicely for at least half an hour and then got upset. We’d get him from the crib and go out to a store somewhere, and he was in a perfectly fine mood. Then he’d go to sleep for that wonderful stretch. So I suppose tonight we may try to skip attempting an evening nap and just let him snore around 10, which gives us approximately twenty minutes to mess around online before I pass out.
Of language, that is! Although in this household, that’s not the only possibility. Tristan can say THREE syllable words very recognizably now. His pronunciation is improving in general. He’s starting to label colored objects by color, and is learning so many more labels for objects. He is REALLY starting to understand that people all have labels – their names. He’s a lot more confident in his speech and will imitate just about anything, even if he’s going to garble it up. That last part is fairly recent – for the most part, he just wouldn’t try to say it if he knew he’d fail.
The cutest word I can recall hearing him say lately is “tomato.” Granted, hearing a 2.5 year old say “tomato” is usually old news; I met a kid one month older than Tristan last night in the toy store who was telling me about how he was Superman and he sounded like a kid rather than a toddler. But that’s just it – Tristan has such a cute little voice, likely because he takes such delight in talking and getting it right. His “tomato” sounds like “toe-MAY-toe!” – complete with exclamation point. He’s still working on “potato,” but..
Tristan can say CIRCLE properly! NO MORE “GA!” Well, he says “ga” automatically and then thinks to say “circle.” He’s also saying “happy” properly – that one he used to pronounce as “hah-ee.” He learned the word “puppy” recently – and can apply it to the puppy, wheee! – and we used print to help him understand how to say “happy” with the Ps in place.
I really love that I can demonstrate a word for him in print and it helps him to understand it, at this tender young age. It helps a lot when he doesn’t understand a lot of the spoken instructions a typical kid his age does.
Without the print, he’s still picking up so much. Tristan’s ABA therapy sessions have included “labels” – they ask him to touch a particular card with a picture. I very rarely see him get it wrong these days, even as they are just teaching what the picture should be called. Not too long ago he would only get very familiar objects correct. I also think his pronunciation has been aided by an exercise they’re working with him on including Kaufman Cards. (The link includes pictures of some of the cards.) The child is asked to say something based on the picture and you go down the list until you get a derivative the child can say, and the derivatives are based on the way kids typically learn to say these words. A crafty person could probably make them; they are expensive, but seeing Tristan perk up languagewise like he has would retroactively make me spend that kind of money on them (which is not relevant to us right now, as we have a set on loan, but if this is something you are concerned about in your child, it could be a good investment).
For about a month, we’ve been trying to work on “not everybody is mommy or baby.” He balks on “daddy” some but is getting much better.. however, even yesterday when I labeled two figures as “daddy” and “baby” he repeated it back as “mommy” and “baby.” He’s trying really hard to say the names of just about anyone that I prompt him to try, and he’s particularly interested in the names “Mia” and “Emma” – two of his friends.. well, he does have several friends named Emma since just about everybody uses the name Emma, but we usually see them one at a time and in their own context. Technically, he can say my name as he can say “kiwi” – I find this amusing since he’s quite willing to say “mommy” but he has another word he says well that technically could refer to me.
In closing, I will digress. We met another child who likely had autism last night, right around the same age as Tristan (not the Superman kid from the earlier paragraph, but during the same mall trip). Unfortunately, that kid bolted far in the other direction before we could get any contact info, interspersed with Tristan bolting whenever the other kid was retrieved. so we did not. I’m really disappointed because I’d have loved to have them play together. The dad reminded me of us in a few ways – aware of the challenges and still having fun with the baby.