Monday, February 11, 2013

Silver Linings

Sometimes you're leery of making an announcement too early, in case you jinx it. This is one such. But as it's been little over a month, I'm hoping it is safe enough to let the cat out of the bag without undue consequences.

No, I am not pregnant. And no, we did not win the lottery. But this is a priceless prize I am about to share, so it may be just as good, for our little family.

In the light of the bullying debacle (outcome to be announced next week, I hope) that led to Little A's sudden hysterical fear of going to sleep at night, I decided to move him into his own room, with the hopes that he wouldn't associate sleeping in there with anything negative.

He's been sleeping on a mattress on our floor for some time, despite getting his own bed for his fourth birthday. The reason for the room share was partly to defray electricity costs (just one instead of two air conditioners running a night) but mainly because Little A, since birth, was never the longest of sleepers.

Unlike other newborns who clock 3 hour naps and 5 hour nightly sleeps, Little A woke up every 45 minutes to feed as an infant. This blog chronicles our sleep dramas and traumas, among other things.

By the time he was 5, Little A would sleep a 7 or 8 hour stretch, but also log in around two 5 hour nights a week.

When he'd wake up between 3 and 4 pm, he obediently stayed in bed, as he was told getting up before there was light out wasn't allowed - not that he didn't try, in the beginning, to turn on the lights and start playing. But it always took him 2 hours to fall back asleep, and then I would wake him up at 8am to start the day properly.

The unexpected silver lining to the bullying and crying himself to sleep was that he suddenly began sleeping longer night stretches. Combining that with giving up his naps meant he actually got a proper night's sleep.

Apart from maybe 3 times he's woken up before dawn this past month, he's been going to sleep cheerfully at 10pm and waking promptly at 7am or so. He's our little alarm clock, always reliable.

They say things happen for a reason, and that something good may come out of a negative experience. Here, then, is a perfect example.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Drowning Daddy

Pushing Daddy's head under
Checking for bubbles
Making sure he's still underwater

Swimming away

Undewater hug
 Swimming days are here again. Happy happy joy joy for Little A. Even when the water was still a bit nippy, he happily jumped in. The first couple of swims of the year were careful ones as he never strayed far from the edge. When the water warmed up though, and his confidence returned, off he went like a fish, underwater, backwards, sideways.

When Big A was teaching him how to blow bubbles last summer, Little A discovered it was more fun to see how long his dad could stay underwater. (The answer: Quite long, thanks to his decade or so of training as part of the National Swimming team.) These days, he likes to play what I call the "drowning game," and never tires of it, even looking for other willing victims when his dad isn't in the pool with him.

Summer is not yet officially here, though the weather seems to be saying otherwise. Sundays are pool days, then, and this is one of them. We're off now, to the water.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Is, Has

A small L serves as apostrophe

Phoenetics - they "coudin" put Humpty back together

Ronald was a farmer, you know
Along with spelling, Little A is learning grammar. Apostrophes perplexed him as he knew the ABCs and could read, so I would explain that sometimes an apostrophe was short for "is," as in "It's raining," "It's sunny," since the first apostrophes he regularly encountered were when observing the weather during therapy sessions.

Logically, "are" also contracted therefore into 're, as in "If you're happy." So he happily went and constructed those phrases, with or without an apostrophe.

Before I could explain possessives properly, however, he observed the Golden Arches all over town, and figured they meant "McDonald is." And since his favourite nursery rhyme, after Humpty Dumpty, is that of the farmer and his animals, he sometimes turns Ronald into a farmer. He always precedes this with the proper spelling of Old MacDonald, so I know he is aware that they aren't the same. So we need to get cracking with the next grammar lesson.

Use Your Words

It's been said that language is what separates us from the animals. Mere communication isn't enough, there must be language development. After all, human infant communicate by crying, and later on with gestures. But it isn't until they begin to use language purposefully that they are considered properly "evolved."

For non-verbal individuals, such as Little A, language development is considered retarded. I can't say I agree entirely. My child doesn't speak, but he does communicate, and works hard at it, too.

Ever since, at about age 2.5, when I discovered quite by accident that he could read, we've been encouraging Little A to spell out things with letter tiles. He types much faster than even his father does, adeptly finding out what he wants to view on youTube by spelling things phoenetically or from memory. I catch him in the car, as we are driving to school, looking carefully at the building names, and then later spelling out at home "ChinaBank," "ToastBox," "StarbucksCoffee" or "DeutscheBank" with no prompting or help whatsoever.

These days, his therapists are advocating magnetic words, as Little A's receptive language is astounding, and it takes too long to spell each word of several phrases out letter by letter.

As the photos indicate, he's gone from words to phrases to sentences. We now have over a dozen alphabet sets combined, as he still does like spelling things out letter by letter, as he enjoys forming the words. He's even grasping the nuances of the language - more on that later. Most importantly, he doesn't simply parrot back what he sees. He adds his own little bits of humour at times - "Humpty Dumpty great fall oh no."

Almost daily, I catch him spelling at least one new phrase I've never seen before. He answers questions as well, with minimal prompting, and always initiates activities using his word cards. At the height of the bullying at school, he would spell out on the classroom floor, "No More Clapping" and "I want to go to the bookstore."

So we are not entirely giving up on his speech emerging, but for now are actively working on developing this alternative method of communication to become more efficient, as this is the best way he can be tested as to how much he knows. And really, he does know rather a lot.