Adoption Interview

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2012

Monday, April 20, 2009

I Have a Question

Lately Hannah's been saying, "Mommy, I have a question. . . . " and then proceeding to either ask me something or tell me something that is on her mind. Sometimes she uses it as a stalling technique to delay doing something she doesn't want to do, but other times it's just her lead in to tell me what is rolling around inside her little head. The cute part is that before each new question or thought that she wants to tell me she repeats, "Mommy, I have a question. . . " Tonight before bed she asked about an unusual sound we heard coming from the apartment next door, decided it might be either a dog or a wolf, asked where wolves live and when they live there, asked if wolves lived in apartments, if they just lived in forests at night, why they also lived there in the daytime, told me wolves were like dogs, but they were scary, that wolves howled and woke up bunnies (have no idea where the waking up bunnies part came from), and finally declared that wolves were cute and that it was most definitely a cute wolf next door that would wake up a bunny and her when she tried to sleep. All this transpired just in the space of brushing her teeth and washing her face and of course before each new segment came the words, "Mommy, I have a question. . . " She even pauses for dramatic effect which cracks me up.

Yesterday at church Hannah had a fantastic day. She sat quietly and read her Bible or colored during the whole first part of the service before they released the children for children's church and then walked by herself with the class over to the other building where their classrooms are. After church there was a whole congregation lunch and hymn sing. Kyle told Hannah to find one of her friends to sit by. She immediately said, "I want to sit next to Jasmine." I was blown away. She actually chose a child to sit next to and then when we walked over there she really did want to sit right next to her. All throughout the meal she chatted with Jasmine and colored with her and shared her books with her. At one point Jasmine turned to me and said, "Can Hannah come to my house and play?" Hannah just got asked on a play date by another child!!!! It wasn't orchestrated by me or Jasmine's grandma, JASMINE asked if Hannah could come play and then several minutes later she asked Hannah, "Hannah, will you come to my Ariel birthday party?" (Jasmine will be 5 next month) and Hannah answered, "Sure!" I was almost in tears. During the hymn sing, Jasmine asked to sit next to us and she and Hannah read her Bible and Hannah's church social story together and Hannah kept scooting over closer and closer to Jasmine and then she started giving her hugs! She must have given her 15 hugs! Then she said, "I love you Jasmine." and kissed her on the arm. Jasmine just smiled and they both giggled. Then Hannah, sensing acceptance pushed it a bit too far and kept on hugging and touching Jasmine over and over and finally Jasmine had had enough and moved to sit next to her grandma instead of Hannah. She must not have held it against Hannah too much though because when it was time to leave she waved at Hannah and said she'd see her next week. I was so happy for my little girl. I think she has a genuine friend. We'll definitely have to continue working on boundaries and appropriate touching, but it was a big thing for her to even want to touch or show affection for someone other than family and an even bigger deal for her to do it unprompted. We worked for almost 2 years to get her to hug her best friend from Indiana either prompted or unprompted so for her to just decide to hug (repeatedly) a girl she has only known a month and only seen on Sundays was a HUGE deal.

Today Hannah had both speech and OT. At speech this morning the SLP gave her a standardized language test that they need to pass along to the public school system once she transfers out of early intervention at 3 years old in July. Hannah did a fantastic job and scored well above age level on the test. It was funny because Tracy, her SLP, was giving the test without even looking at the testing booklet until she reached a certain part and then she said, "In all my years working here I've never made it past this part. I'm going to have to read the book now!" She intended to test Hannah until she hit the ceiling of the test (basically maxed out as far as what she knew), but Hannah grew antsy and needed a break before that since she'd been testing for almost an hour straight and we were also out of time for her session so Tracy just ended the test there. When she stopped Hannah was at 4 years 7 months. Tracy said that she guessed (in her professional opinion) that Hannah would have maxed out at 5 or 5 1/2 years old! She's only 2 1/2! That really blew my mind. I knew Hannah was ahead of other kids her age verbally and even had an inkling that she was way ahead of other kids, but I had no idea that she was light years ahead of the curve. Three years ahead in language skills is quite a bit ahead I would say. The interesting thing is that although verbally Hannah has such a firm grasp on language, she has very little ability to decode (or even notice) nonverbal communication (this doesn't count sign language though, she's quite good at sign). Another thing Tracy discovered that she said is very typical of people with Asperger's is that she interprets language very literally. Idioms, metaphors, sarcasm are things that she will probably have trouble with down the road. She already displays a below average grasp of idioms. For example, Hannah coughed a really nasty sounding cough (remnants of the pneumonia) and Tracy said, "Do you have a frog in your throat?" Hannah looked at her like she was an idiot and said, "No, I have a cough in my throat." She was dead serious. Tracy explained to me that while at Hannah's age she wouldn't be expected necessarily to know exactly what "a frog in your throat" meant, she should understand that Tracy did not mean did she literally have a frog in her throat. We've noticed Hannah's literal interpretation of language for a long time, but never thought too much about it. I always just figured that it was developmentally appropriate for her age and left it at that. Apparently not in all the cases.

At OT Hannah got to try out several of the swings they had in their OT room. Kyle and I had planned to buy Hannah one of the therapy swings once we got settled into our new house and had even picked out one we thought would be good for Hannah. It turns out that they had that exact swing, along with several others and they let Hannah take them all for a test drive while they did a few informal tests on Hannah to get a sense for where her sensory needs lie. Hannah swung or spun on one of 3 swings (mostly she gravitated towards 2 of them) for 50 minutes straight without ever wanting to stop! They asked me if she can ever get too much swinging or spinning input and I told them that I had never managed to give her enough that she wanted to stop. I always wear out well before she does! I had told them before that she was pretty much insatiable and I don't think they believed me. Now they are definitely believers! For one of the tests they did, the OT spun Hannah very rapidly for several minutes and then stopped her suddenly and studied her eyes. I don't remember all the technical words she used to explain it to me, but basically in a normal person your eyes would continue to shift back and forth for a little while after you stopped until your body caught up with the fact that you had stopped spinning. If your eyes either don't shift back and forth at all or shift for too long then it is a sign that there is something off with your vestibular system. Apparently Hannah's eye shifting was very delayed and minimal. The OT said this explains why Hannah craves that kind of input and can tolerate all that spinning and swinging without getting nauseous or dizzy. When we were leaving the OT's assistant said good-bye to Hannah and asked her if she could see her again next week. Hannah shook her head and said, "No, I just want to see Stacy." Stacy is the head OT. The assistant, Katie, made a sad face and said, "Aww Hannah, that's too bad I really wanted to see you again because you are very intriguing." That made me smile because I thought it was a very good way to describe my little girl. It seems like all medical professionals, therapy providers, and educators find Hannah intriguing in some way or the other and I definitely find her intriguing! She intrigues me every single day!

Yesterday we finished fully implementing the Nurtured Heart Approach to discipline with Hannah. The consequences part of the approach has been rough for Hannah. The past two nights she has managed to spend all of her credits that she had saved up for bedtime privileges (books and song) on refusing to go to or stay in time out and having to be escorted there or helped to stay in the chair. I do think her empty bag of pennies each night has been effective and quite the eye opener for her. She has known each night why there were no books or song and I haven't had to be the bad guy by taking away privileges. She simply hasn't had any credits left at the end of the day to buy any bedtime privileges. It's too soon to say exactly how this is going to work for Hannah, but I have a hunch that it's going to work quite well. I'll keep you all informed on how it goes.

On a positive note, we've had several nights in a row where Hannah has stayed in bed once we left the room. There have been no incidents of intentional wetting, pooping, or throwing up in over a week and screaming has slowed down a bit too. Again, it's too soon to say if this is a definite trend or not. She tends to cycle through rough and easier(I can't say easy, but at least easier) patches of bedtime behavior, but maybe just maybe we are starting to get a handle on this and maybe the surgery actually had the physical effect we were hoping it would have.

Now, for my autism blogger of the day, JoyMama who writes Elvis Sightings. She writes about her two daughters and their life. Her youngest daughter, Joy has autism and is mostly nonverbal although she communicates quite effectively with picture cards and a switch with prerecorded choices programmed in. Her posts are always eloquent and sometimes even heart wrenching. Please check her out. Today I also have another favorite autism blogger to give a shout out to because her most recent post today made me bawl like a big ole baby. I honestly don't know how anyone can read it and keep dry eyes. So, please also head on over and check out Rhema's Hope who writes at Autism in a Word. I can promise you that you won't be disappointed.


Unknown said...

I think intriguing is just the right word too.

Quirky Mom said...

I think our kids could be twins (you know, except that they aren't).

Apple went through a long "Mama, I have a question..." phase. She still asks a ton of questions, but they don't always start that way. This blog post is from her "I have a question" phase. All of those questions I listed would have that phrase tacked onto the beginning back then. LOL.

And the spinning/eye reflex you're talking about is called (I'm pretty sure) post-rotary nystagmus. When Apple had an OT eval done last year she performed almost exactly the way Hannah did. Only the OT wrote in her report that Apple had minimal sensory issues and that they were "not interfering with her motor development" or something like that. We were denied services...

Apple's speech eval was much like Hannah's as well. Except again, denied services. UGH!

We're still without diagnosis or therapy, and it makes me a bit insane sometimes.

I'm adding you to my blog roll. I'm intrigued to keep reading about Hannah!

Diane said...

as an adult with aspergers i can definitely relate with a lot of what you are witnessing in your little girl, as far as communication goes.

as well,both my daughters are on the spectrum so i get to see it from that angle too.

my youngest was never taught to read, she's just always known how. these things, even to me, are simply amazing!

my youngest is also the one who loves to spin and spin.

and i love when they make friends! this won't be the last time this happens for your little girl - its just the beginning. you keep doing what you're doing and she's gonna do just terrific!

and thanks for the other blog suggestions!

Anna said...

Eight months ago, when Joely first was assessed, one of my fears was that she wouldn't be liked or have friends. I can relate to your joy of Hannah having a friend - what a gift!

Our girls seem like two peas in a pod with the sensory. Hannah seems so much older because of her speech (I'm still in shock of how well she tested). Joely's speech delay and her size make her seem younger in our eyes and unfortunately we treat her that way too.

I am so glad things are going well in therapy.

Rachel said...

I love reading your posts about Hannah's development and amazing personality. As an adult Aspie, I can definitely relate to her language skills beind ahead of the curve. Actually, I'm kind of an odd case, because I didn't speak until I was 2 1/2 (late), but then when I did speak, I started speaking in full and complete sentences, and always scored several years ahead of my age group in school. I've somehow always known how to read and I very rarely used a dictionary as a kid, for spelling or for definitions.

Don't worry too much about the literal nature of Hannah's understanding right now. I honestly can't remember whether I was a literal thinker as a kid, but I definitely understand and appreciate nonliteral language now. I know other adult Aspies who have an excellent sense of word play. We develop as we get older.

Quirky Mom said...

What Rachel said is true. We adult Aspies do understand nonliteral speech... But just the other day someone called me literal girl about something I said/did. LOL. I couldn't even deny it. She was totally right. (She's also a Mom of an Aspie, so she knew what she was talking about.)

Lanny said...

Intriguing indeed!
I'm a little surprised by what the therapist said about literal thinking...not that I'm saying she's wrong at all--she's the professional, but I know Linus took things literally for quite a while. She still does if it's not a saying she's familiar with. So do my nieces. In fact, we had the exact same 'frog in the throat' experience--at a speech eval! :) My favorite, though, was when I said I was going to jump in the shower and I got corrected, "No, Mommy, we step in. No jumping in the shower. It's dangerous." :D

Rachel said...

Speaking of idioms, an author named Marvin Terban has a number of children's books out that explain all kinds of idioms, with great pictures, too. We have a couple of them: "In a Pickle and Other Funny Idioms" and "Mad as a Wet Hen and Other Funny Idioms." I used them when I was homeschooling my NT daughter. Apparently, even NT kids need to be taught what an idiom is and how it works. Anyway, they're very fun books and Hannah might enjoy them at some point.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Thanks for the shout-out! Your Hannah is ADORABLE! I'm so happy to read that she has a genuine friend.

My younger NT daughter is also doing the "question" thing, but she says "Mommy, Can I ask you a question?..." And it's also a stall tactic or a way to get my attention. It's so cute.

Chun Wong said...

I was so happy to read that Hannah had found a true friend and that the friendship and play date arrangement didn't need any intervention from you - it's fantastic news-

kia (good enough mama) said...

"I have a question..."

I get that a LOT and I mean a LOT from my own Little Man. It's crazy! Wild, serious, intelligent stuff, just like Hannah. Way too deep for bedtime, toothbrushing conversations...

Patty O. said...

Wow, how wonderful that Hannah has found a friend at church. Developing friendship is something I worry about a lot with Danny, but I am not even sure what is "normal" so I don't know how to measure his progress. Though I am happy that he seems to get along well with kids in his class...