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My Mystery Man

September 22, 2011

Yesterday was really busy.  New activities, therapy here and a screening test.

We started our day with cookie and milk with bear.  This was after Evie was napping.   Pretend play is something we’re lacking so I get to attempt to be a 2 year old to figure out what would interest him.  This activity worked pretty well.  I gave him his milk and cookie first, then sat bear in his high chair.  I asked him what bear wanted to see if he could guess this game.  No response. I then got out a plate and told him bear was hungry. This prompted him to give bear a cookie.  He tried to feed him (that’s a major plus).  I got out an empty glass for bear.  A little difficult to reach bear so cookies and milk may need to be at the coffee table next time. This game sort of just happened which I think is good.  Children’s play is random.  When I got out the straws, Rett put one in his glass. When I asked him who the other straw was for he just wanted to use that one for himself also.  He never did understand that it was for bear.  But I think 2 year olds and selfish go hand in hand.  Overall.. I think we need practice.

We’ve been working on color sorting for a few days now using the wooden shapes that you string.  Rett can do all four colors but often gets bored. He likes to pretend he ‘accidentally’ miscategorized a color so he can say ‘oops!’ and present a big dramatic save on that one to put it in the right glass.   This may be an activity I can use when he gets frustrated with something else because its easy for him and he likes it.

One thing you have to do to teach pretend play is plan out a play ‘script’ and set it all up. Where other children just create play naturally, its a really really hard task to do as an adult. Its also really boring.  I got his little people farm out with all his animals. They recommended that I start out with either a scene from a movie or cartoon as a springboard.   This was our major fail for the day.  I was going for the Wonder Pets episode where they save the cow off the roof. He mostly wanted to hit the cow across the room.  This is called a ‘strange play behavior’ which I’m supposed to stop. I modeled the mama cow saving the baby. He then wanted to put both cows on the roof and hit them off.  So I changed to the animals going to sleep. This introduced doors which is his major weakness. Another ‘strange play behavior’ to stop.  I got the tin that I keep the animals in out to see if he would pretend it was a swimming pool.  This made him want to put them all in the container and close the lid.  So I then gave up.

After all of that excitement, the therapist came to the house.  She brought along the speech therapist this week to observe. Another week of them telling me they have no idea what’s wrong and no ideas to help.  She gave me some activities which were way too simple for Rett.  Things like pointing people or objects out in books and photos. Yah he’s been doing that since he was.. 18 months old?  We are trying to work on ‘where is the bird?’ and he answers the tree or the sky or whatever.  The speech path said she thought he’d either be extremely high functioning or have something else going on.  Evie impressed her though with her animal sounds.

Then after THAT, I took Rett for the STAT screening.  This test just measures if he is at risk or not.  Its basically a scripted test where they have a bag full of specific toys that a child is supposed to demonstrate they can play with.  She also tries to elicit responses or communications from a script.  I have to sit in the room but give no response or not say anything. If he hands me a toy, I have to give it back to her.  The test measures four different things.  I can’t remember them all.  I think they were mimicing, communication (asking for help) pretend play and being able to call their attention to things in different ways.  The test really didn’t take that long. 20 minutes?  Rett tested at risk by 1 question.  The 1 question that she asked my opinion on and I told her to err on the side of caution. Not that it changes anything.  He’s still got the same difficulties that he had before we took the test. But this does qualify him for more free help from the state within their autistic program.  So far the free help has been the quality that you don’t pay for. We’ll see. I asked the test giver what her opinion was.  She was there during Rett’s initial screening by early intervention when I was just seeking answers for his speech delays. She said that she thought he had come a long way since the last time she saw him. I think he was just having an off day the first test.  She said during the first screening she wouldn’t have thought it was a possibility.  This screening she saw some red flags but he definitely didn’t fit in the box.   So I now have to decide if I want to take him to the developmental pediatrician for an official diagnosis.

At this point, I’m not wanting to do that.  I want to figure out who is going to help us and get some ideas. Work on this awhile and see how he responds.  I’m still hopeful that a lot of his issues are revolving around his speech and once we get that fixed, his pretend play may fall into place.  Also genetic testing or whatever else they want to do sounds ridiculous.  Rett does have some pretend play. Rett is talking.  He’s not doing anything out of the ordinary. He’s happy and well behaved. He listens and gives hugs and kisses. He has interests, he has fears. He has things that get a smile on his face and things that make him nervous.  He seems like a pretty typical little boy that just needs to work on a few things. Don’t we all?  So for now, we’re seeking the opinion of the Speech School in Atlanta to see what their director thinks.  And finding out all the possibilities of help that exist.

So for now I’m relearning how to play like a 2 year old.   Pirates 101!

I’m really lucky to have a great online baby board full of girls who’s kids are the exact age or maybe a month older/younger then Rett. Here are some of the things they said their children are doing if you are looking for examples of ‘normal’ 2 year old play. I asked them if their child was playing with figurines or being ‘in’ the scene more. All of our kids are a few months from turning3.

He uses his figures and pretends that they are doing things – mostly crashing into each other or “boom booming” each other (sadly we already have tank battles around our house) although he also will say things like, “it’s ok giraffe, your water is right here, you can drink from this cup” and act as if he is talking to the giraffe.

We also re-act movies…like Nemo touching the boat. We will use a bath toy and I’ll say, “Nemo, don’t touch the boat” and he will swim his toy up to the boat…then I make funny breathing noises and pretend to be the SCUBA diver and take Nemo to another part of the tub which is now the fish tank. WE’ve als been pretending that he is cutting my hair lately…he has his pliers from his tool set and he will “chop” my hair…I will move my head all around and have taught him to tell me to “sit still”. After he tells me, I’ll move my head again, and he’ll tell me to sit still. Then I’ll pretend to cut his hair and he’ll do the head motion. I’ll pretend to cut his ears or will tickle his neck like the hair trimmers. Then he will do my hair again…most of his pretend is just copying what I’ve done. It’s only recently that he has started to actually play act on his own…probably in the past month or two at the most.

We do have a boat, but we use a frog or a duck as our nemo. I think he knows about firetrucks from having seen them at the firestation, and then we have a “Mighty Machines” DVD set that is all about firetrucks, and a book about the Fire Rescue Bears. Sometimes we will go out and I’ll use chalk to draw a house that has flames coming out the window on the driveway so that he can “put the fire out” with the hose.

She has to “change the baby because she has a poop”, I need to feed the baby and things like that. But she will also play with her Little Peoples house and say things like “it is time for you to go potty sit on the potty now.” She is also into narating everything she does.

She is usually in the play lately although she did go through a phase of having her animals do things like eat and drink. Now she acts out skits like last night she pretended to get hurt so she could ride in a fire truck Then go to the doctor for a bandaid. She would tell me when I had to play a part and what I should do like “Make the bed in the firetruck so she can lay in it”

I can’t tell if he is in his stories or not. I will tell you that his imaginative play started with taking bites of food and thinking the leftover food was different things, then he moved to clouds, etc. And narrating his trains, which seems to mimic things he hears from us and he does more and more as his language continues to develop (he was a late talker too). He did these on his own. He especially likes to comfort hurt trains, book characters, etc like a baby when they are hurt. And at school he and his friends have little shopping carts and they “shop”.

I think little girls play differently than the boys. She is definitely in her pretend play. She has a sister who “taught” her though. She is always a princess, mommy, or someone. Lately she is always Scooby Doo (I can’t stand that dog). She also plays consistently with her figurines. Her favorite right now are the Smurf figurines and mushroom house. She feeds them, argues with them, etc.

He is really only just beginning to narrate his play. He’s not much of a talker in general, so it’s usually just moving things around. However, the other day he ‘built’ his friend (who he hasn’t seen in a long time) out of legos and we built a house and the lego man was him and ‘X’ invited ‘X’ in and was saying “oh, nice to see you, come on in” and he did that a few times. Also, we pretend to be in caves a lot, he loves shadows so we’ll get a flashlight and make shadows and call things scary things, like the dog will be a bear, or the cat will be a scary monster.

We have a road play rug that I got at ikea and he and I will race the cars around and stop at the various spots on the town and do things like get ice cream, play at the beach or drive into a cave. After I start he will follow and take his imagination from there. Telling me what kind of ice cream he wants and pretending his car is eating it, or what they are doing at the beach or if there’s a monster in the cave. He is not very verbal (rarely more than 3 words at a time).

He does both. He’ll make his toys act out things and then sometimes he’ll be the one acting. What he does lately is, he has a fishing pole and I tied a fish to the end of it. So he’ll cast it off and then, one time, I pretended to be a bear that’s trying to steal the fish off the line. So now every single day, at some point, he will have me hold the fishing pole so he can be the bear. A lot of his imagination play, I have instigated. It will only take one time, but if I get the ball rolling, he’ll take over. Another example is, after one time of me saying “get on the boat (the couch), there’s a shark coming!”. Now he’ll run around pretending to swim away from a shark or a whale until he jumps onto something he thinks could be a boat. Other than stuff like that, he will take his fire truck toy or something and make it drive around and he’ll make siren noises and say stuff like “hurry, it’s time to put out a fire!” that stuff I know he got from reading books

She does both. She also does more realistic pretend like making me drink “milk” when she is taking a bath. She fills up a cup with water again and again. She also likes to change diapers, do tea parties, and have her animals knock on the door to her doll house.

One of the shows she is allowed to watch is Sid the Science Kid. They do a lot of pretend play. She learned all about getting shots from the free public service episode and acted out getting her own shot the day before we actually went for the flu vaccine. So, even TV can help if the characters play pretend a lot.

He only watches a little PBS while I shower a couple times a week, so he doesn’t do anything based on TV. He does seem to haved a good imagination just based on what he sees others do. He takes his plastic golf clubs and pretends that they are weed eaters. He loves to pretend to cook and eat with play kitchens/dishes. He sometimes plays with baby dolls, but I couldn’t tell you what he does with them. Because of watching his older brothers, he will fake die if you shoot at him. He makes car noises and drives cars around. He loves the grocery carts with the cars attached and pretends to drive those.

She plays doctor on her stuffed animals, treats them like babies-feeds them, says things like “Monkey’s hungry” . She puts them in time out and put them to bed and makes them food. She pretends there are alligators, or lava and has to get on the couch to be safe, she plays monsters are going to get her. She pretends anything and everything is an instrument. Empty boxes are wonderful things- she pretends they are boats or trains and gets in them and tells us “all aboard!” She wants to do a lot of the things that are on curious george or other shows she watchess.
I have a really hard time playing with her, like really playing. I get too distracted with everything else, and of course the new baby doesn’t make it any easier. However, DH is AWESOME at playing, and he’ll build houses out of legos and play house with her friends (her little mickey and minnie figures and other random figures). She’ll sometimes play kitchen and tell us she’s made us breakfast. I am actually going to make it a point to do a little more pretend play with her.
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