This is an update on Elizabeth, our strong-willed and affectionate 2½ year old. She is more than likely autistic and has a pretty substantial speech delay as well as sensory issues which cause serious meltdowns, but we are learning her and she is overall healthy and happy.
She is getting better about interacting with her 11 month old baby sister. She will include her in play when I am involved, asking her to come with us, or for me to pick her up and bring her with us.
She has pretty much stopped screaming about Isabella crawling in her direction. Sometimes, when she is already upset or cranky, she will scream about her (especially if Izzy is trying to touch her or gets too close) but most of the time she takes her presence in stride.
She loves rain and she loves wind. Feeling either or both in her face makes her smile.
She will happily sit at the table and eat dinner with us most nights. She rarely gets up and walks around with her food anymore. She seems pleased to be sitting like we are.
She gets upset when I get her dressed in the morning but it’s no longer an all-out meltdown like before. We have a routine and that’s helping, but I also bought her a capsule wardrobe and put everything else away for Isabella (for when she’s older) so the clothes Elizabeth wears every day are very comfortable to her and quite similar to her pajamas. She wears either gray or navy jogging pants and a cotton t-shirt in either mint or pink. I change her clothes and diaper in my room in the morning and into her pajamas in the living room in the evening.
She started getting upset about leaving the house recently because she wanted to walk in the yard or into other areas of the house, etc instead of getting in the van. So I had to start carrying her to the van again. (I had let her walk on her own for a few weeks to see if she could, but she’s not ready.) But even carrying her doesn’t work if I put her shoes on in the house because then she fights to get down and walk. So I have to put her shoes in the van and then carry her out there and THEN put her shoes on. Then everything is peaceful and happy.
She is putting words together to make choppy sentences. She says things like, “Mama. Come-eer, book, yes!” This means she wants me to come with her to read a book and she’s excited about it. I’m happy she’s getting more of her point across!
She enjoys placing sheets of colored felt on the floor and playing on them. She walks, or jumps, or puts her stuffed animals on them. At first, we talked about the colors and made a path with them but now she does her own thing with them.
She is consistently answering “no” when asked about something she doesn’t want which is great. She will usually answer “come-eer” when the answer is yes, but we’re working on getting her to follow that with “yes.”
She has begun wearing her hair in a ponytail or half-bun, which is really cute and helpful for keeping the majority of her hair out of her face. But it’s causing a big problem in regards to taking a bath because she doesn’t want the “bun” (what she calls it) EVER undone. So instead of giving her a bath every other night (or more, if needed or wanted), it’s now usually every third or fourth night.
She burrows her head in her blanket to go to sleep. Usually, she only exposes her mouth and nose. Sometimes, I have to move the blanket once she’s asleep because her whole face is covered.
She is singing songs a lot of the time. She’s in tune and you can definitely tell which song she’s singing, though some of the lyrics are hard to make out. She especially likes songs that have extra sound effects or noises thrown in. She enjoys CocoMelon and Super Simple Songs on YouTube.
She has moments that she seems absent; almost like zoning out but different. She doesn’t respond to her name and she stops doing whatever it is that she’s doing. A minute or so passes and then she “comes back.”
She repeats phrases and segments from shows, sometimes using them appropriately “Bubbye, see ooh later!” when she doesn’t want to talk to someone anymore (like the doctor), but also saying random things that don’t fit.
She loves going to Publix to shop with me. She lets me wipe down the cart handle, put her in the seat, and she is happy. While shopping, she will sometimes want to look at whatever we’re buying so I let her hold if I can (yogurt, yes but raw chicken, no) and then when she’s done she throws it in the cart behind her. We go to the bakery and get a cookie with sprinkles when we’re nearly done and this helps her to be occupied while in line.
When someone asks her a question in public, she doesn’t respond. She doesn’t act like she hears them even if they ask something that I think should grab her attention. For example, when the cashier asks, “Is that a good cookie?” there is no response. I’d think hearing the word ‘cookie’ would alert her but it doesn’t. I have to make eye contact with her, say her name, and then ask. Even then, she will just look at the cookie.
She still signs a lot but she also attempts to say the word as she signs.
She has started asking “(such and such), whey ah you?” when she is looking for something.
She doesn’t seem to make or keep intentional eye contact. It isn’t that she won’t look at me, it’s just that she looks away or side-glances almost immediately. When she does look at me for more than a second, she seems to be thinking about something else instead of making a connection.
She is still unable to play catch or roll the ball. She will bring the ball to me and hand it to me but she doesn’t understand how to roll or throw it.
She doesn’t look to me for approval and she never has. When there is something going on that she is unsure about, she goes into herself or runs away, she doesn’t look for my reaction or feel comforted by me.
She has started to include us in her play sometimes. She will hand us something like what she’s playing with (she might be playing with a small toy animal, so she has one and gives us another) but then she does her own thing, she doesn’t play with us.
She has pretty much dropped her afternoon nap. She feels good physically when she gets up between 8:00-9:30 and goes to bed twelve hours later.
I’m the only one who puts her to bed now. Maggie was doing it before, or we were taking turns, but she started asking for me. To go to bed at night, I first take her three stuffed animals into her crib. I carry her, her blanket, and her water next. She has started asking for her milk cup recently; I’m not wanting that to continue for the sake of her teeth (but currently it isn’t worth it to battle so I’m not). She takes 5-30 minutes to fall asleep most nights.
She is pretending more now. She will wash her hands at her play kitchen’s sink, and position dollhouse people in chairs and feed them at their tiny table.
Timeout is happening only a few times a day most days (some days it’s several and some days none at all). It’s really only used when she is ballistic and needs time away from us. Whenever she starts getting upset now, I will talk to her and really try to figure out what is setting her off; if I can help I do but if she’s upset about something typical of a cranky toddler (vs an emotional response due to sensory overload), she goes to timeout.
We’ve been working on teaching her emotion words/concepts. She initially liked seeing me and Maggie make the faces for happy, sad, angry, and surprised but she did NOT like seeing faces on flash cards with strangers exhibiting those same emotions (even though she normally loves flash cards). Then, we began labeling how she seemed to be feeling by asking if she was sad/happy. Shortly after that, she began saying “oh, sad?” once she was recovering from a meltdown. Then, a day or two later she started walking around or randomly saying, “happy” when all is well in her world. Both words really seem to help her make sense of what she’s feeling.
We’ve been taking her to a park that is fenced in so she can have freedom without her leaving (which is what was happening at a few other parks in the fall). She enjoys swinging the most, but she also really likes slides. She doesn’t pay attention to the other kids unless she hears a lot of laughter/giggling or she happens to catch a glimpse of a child doing an activity that she wants to try.
She still really enjoys looking at and lining up flash cards. She says as many of the words as she can and it keeps her occupied for a long time. She’s open to hearing and repeating ones she hasn’t yet mastered.
She has started spinning while side-glancing in our living room. I see her doing this every few days or so. I worry that she’s going to fall from dizziness but so far she hasn’t.
When we give her something new – something she should really like – like a Barney book or a Baby Einstein dvd, she looks very interested but then leaves. She runs and hides behind the couch, or covers her eyes, or runs into the other room. She seems intimidated and almost afraid of the new thing. Eventually, she will ease into its presence and explore it fully but it takes her time to come around to its awesomeness.
She removes paper from crayons as soon as we give them to her. She loves coloring and lately she has started drawing lots of little circles in a line. She likes involving us in coloring and will hand me, or Stephen, or one her older siblings a crayon, announce its color, and then expect us to color/draw something. She likes drawing on top of our drawings afterward.
She asks to get in the high chair in the kitchen a lot. She colors there, or plays with stickers or playdoh, or eats, and/or watches a show on the tablet. Sometimes she sits in it for hours at a time. I ask her every twenty minutes or so if she wants to get down but usually she says “no” and keeps doing what she was doing.
She says “me” when she sees a photo of herself.
She still confuses many words that sound similar and uses signs for both. For example, she signs “peach” while looking at pictures of the ocean (beach) but she also signs “peach” while identifying a peach. She says a word that is a combination of “pink” and “pig” whenever she sees either one, and then signs “pig” and says “oink, oink.”
She has started having times of zoning out that seem like she’s having to recharge or something. They last a minute or so and then she comes back.
She asks to have her diaper changed every time she has soiled one. She says “poop, poop” and then “dipper.”
She has started covering her eyes with her fists when there is something on a screen that she doesn’t like. Sometimes, she screams as well but she used to JUST scream constantly about it so this is a huge improvement.
She’s doing better about sunlight, too. She used to have a meltdown when the sun would be in her eyes at a traffic light, but now she usually just covers her eyes. Of course it also depends on how she’s feeling.
Thanks for reading. See you next month!