Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Label for life?

There have been reported increases in the incidence of autism in the United States (as in other parts of the world).  Given the seeming ‘need’ to label children, is this any wonder? 
I had taken the boys along to the paediatrician for Nic’s fifteen-month and Luc’s three-year check-up a couple of weeks ago. 

The doctor asked if I had any concerns about the boys. I had none. He asked about Nic’s vocabulary. Nic has spoken a number of words, but with NO regularity. This is of no particular concern to Paul and myself as his understanding is very good and he has his own language – ‘babble’, or as Luc says “He is speaking French”. The doctor mentioned that he should have a vocabulary of about 6 words at his age. By eighteen months, he should have a vocabulary of 20 words… if not, then perhaps they would consider testing for autism
I was a little shocked at this – I have seen enough children to know that variance in language – extent of, and ability – can be marked. I am sure that Luc’s vocabulary wasn’t that great at the same age… and our doctors in Australia didn’t show the slightest concern or start travelling down the ‘autism path’.

I related my concern to my friend Polly. Polly recounted a similar incident. She had taken her son Callan in for a check-up last year, and happened to mention his then current obsession with completing jigsaw puzzles. Polly was shocked when the paediatrician mentioned that, given this obsession, perhaps they would test for Aspergers Syndrome. Polly, being British, was sure that in England, they would have given Callan a pat on the back and said “Good show, well done”. 

Perhaps given testing, the entire population would be diagnosed with autism, ADD, ADHD, or some other ‘condition’ – only the degree or extent of ‘infliction’ would vary. I wonder?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Birthday boy Luc

Last Sunday was a special day with Luc turning a grand three years old – and hosting his own Go Dog Go party. The theme of Luc’s party was decided by Luc last November when we held a One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish party for Nicolas. Perhaps Luc thought he was restricted to the Seuss school of party themes?! Guests brought dog friends or party hats and we had enough spare dogs and party hats to go around for those who didn’t.

We managed to squeeze some 24 people (parents and kids) into our small apartment for a morning party. Luc had a great time preparing for his party,  making and decorating alphabet cookies for the guest’s goodie bags and helping mix and bake his own carrot birthday cakes. I thought things were going to go south when Luc told me he didn’t want the (simple to make) bone cake that I had planned, but wanted a dog cake instead. A little subtle persuasion along the lines of avoiding dog-cannibalism seemed to do the trick and the bone cake endured. 

All the grandparents sent along some lovely books for Luc, but Grandpa and Nanna also sent along a Cherry Ripe (Australian chocolate bar). The Cherry Ripe produced nothing but envy from Paul and myself who each felt justified to lay claim to it. Luc has been eating the Cherry Ripe over several days (when we feel like we can cope with an extra energy burst from Luc). Not being able to stand the temptation anymore, Paul got online to order us some Cherry Ripes since our appetite for this special import has been provoked.  

See the movie of Luc blowing out his cake candles. 
Thank you Allen for the lovely photo of Luc at the top of this page and of Luc’s birthday cake. Photo of Nicolas’ birthday cake from last November. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Out of the mouths...

Nicolas has reverted in language. I know he can say words (as I have heard him use the appropriate word), he just chooses to use his own ‘digga digga digga’ ‘noy noy noy’ language – spoken as a song, and often with a little dance or head-shaking to accompany it. Nic can carry on quite a long conversation in his own language, and seeks a response to his questions, and comment on his discourse. 

This morning, Nic was gabbling away, obviously telling Luc and myself something of great importance. I looked at Luc and gave him a knowing smile, he smiled back and explained Nic’s language: “He’s speaking French”. 

Luc is also guilty of speaking his own language. He has several words including “Gangoll”, “Ba-Bah” and “Kinnemon”, that he uses frequently and with some (obvious) purpose. When Paul and I look at him quizzically and ask him what he means, he bursts into laughter as if we are just so incredibly na├»ve and clueless. I guess this is the harbinger of what to expect during the teenage years! 

Luc and I were making caterpillars out of playdough. As his crawled into the container chrysalis, I asked him if his was going to turn into a beautiful butterfly, he told me matter-of-factly “No… Buzz Lightyear”.

I looked over to see a spilled mess in front of Luc while he was tucking into a pasta meal. Luc noticed me looking at the mess and explained innocently “It was the bowl’s fault”. 

Thursday, February 1, 2007

No business like snow business

I had a problem on Tuesday that I had never encountered before, nor ever conceived of. It was a very chilly day -13°C (8°F), but the sun was out and it looked so beautiful that I decided to take the boys out (before we suffered extreme cabin fever). The boys bundled up in the stroller, with their winter clothes, jackets and hats in their Bundle Me’s and with the stroller’s storm cover, are very well protected against both the cold and wind (in fact, sometimes they are too hot!). Therefore, it is usually a matter of whether or not I think I can handle the cold as to whether we go out or not. 

We went to the Zoo and were some of the only people there apart from the zoo-keepers and a number of homeless who sit in the inside zoo exhibits to escape the cold. Several zoo-keepers noted that they were impressed that we were ‘brave’ enough to be out. While in the African Journey exhibit, we sat down to have a snack. I was just about to wipe the boys hands with some baby wipes that I keep in the bottom of the stroller. This is when I became aware of this ‘new’ problem. The wipes were frozen solid! Of course, as time went by, I needed to change Nic’s pooey nappy. I had to ‘defrost’ the wipes under a hand dryer and warm them before subjecting Nic to an experience that might have been somewhat unpleasant. 

It is a little hard to get my head around the fact that when the sun is shining brightly it can be bitterly cold outside. It looks so bright and fresh and still (with no leaves to hint as to whether there might be a breeze or not). Double glazing, central heating and well-insulated housing provides not a clue. I encountered somewhat of a similar problem when I moved to sub-tropical Brisbane. I would see an overcast sky and dress a little more warmly, only to swelter in the heat and humidity. Melbourne’s overcast skies meant that an extra layer, perhaps an umbrella were required – not good training!

Paul is Italy at the moment, which only exacerbates the feeling of cabin fever. Deb and Ann came to the rescue yesterday, dropping by with Emily and Rachel and Joshua to provide some adult company for me, and some playmates for the boys. I also met Polly in a local Starbucks this afternoon, half way between our houses. Only Luc and Polly’s son Callan ordered anything. I was very proud of Luc taking himself to the toilet. Callan went in to ‘help Luc’. By the time I got in to check on them, Luc was washing his hands and Callan was helping with the soap dispenser, and fetching a toilet seat cover for Luc to dry his hands. We left the coffee shop when the boys became a little too crazy and went for a walk to the Lincoln Park Conservatory (nice and warm inside), and then the Zoo. 

This morning Nicolas threw his breakfast bowl on the floor. I gave him the ‘mummy glare’ to show my disapproval. He looked back at me with big sorrowful eyes and a trembling lip. I almost felt sorry for him until he responded by blowing a raspberry at me! I don’t know where he picked this up from (if Paul taught him this then he is in big trouble).

Photo: Looking south towards the Hancock Tower from the Lincoln Park Conservatory - note snow!