Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Toddler Years...

Toddler years equal toilet training time!

Milly never took to the 'potty', so a toilet step and the 'big toilet' it was.  I honestly can't remember if we bought a toilet seat or not though.

What I do remember is that Milly was slow to train, but not excessively so.  The constant need to have to ask her if she needed to 'do a wee' seemed to last for quite a while, though!

Bowl training was not so straightforward, however.  You're talking about a child whose hand I often had to hold whilst she 'pushed'...  and when we moved on from that stage we still had to 'keep her company/tell her a story' whilst she did 'her business' on the toilet.
This stage lasted for a long time (two or three years)...  and night time bladder/bowl control was later than most children of her age, too.

Milly was still a very affectionate child at this stage.  Not excessively or indiscriminately so, but she loved her kisses and her cuddles from her parents and freely gave them in return.

I do remember her kissing her dad's naked, wriggly toes once though...  and when we took her on holiday for the first time she ran over and kissed the 'fridge!

Milly's first night's sleep on her first holiday was traumatic, and by that I mean she just wouldn't settle at all.  And there were plenty of tears.
We learned from that and on future holidays we always took along night glow sticks as well as her plug in night lights and 'Glowie Bear' (a soft white cuddly bear that's battery operated.  Not only did it glow in the dark; it changed colours, too).
Obviously, we also took along her usual bedtime toys.  She just wouldn't sleep without the comfort of those - even at home!

In hindsight, it's easy to see that although Milly coped fine with a new 'holiday home' in principal, in practice it was a different story.  At night, and in a dark unfamiliar room, Milly didn't have the reassurance of her familiar surroundings for comfort.
But the unspoken fears of a new bed to sleep in only ever lasted the one night, so we didn't think anything of it.


Milly loved being read to...
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Little Beaver And The Echo, We're Going On A Bear Hunt...
these were all firm favourites.  She also adored Little Quack, and I think she shared a special affinity with his scared little character that I didn't pick up on at the time.  You see, Little Quack is afraid to go in the water.  Mama says, 'You can do it'...  and he replies 'No, Mama. No.'  Then off one of his siblings goes instead until eventually (four duckling's later) he does it, and a very proud Mama Duck says 'I knew you could'.   (I haven't read that book in over twelve years and still remember it very well)!

You see, Milly was anything but brave.
Hesitant, Apprehensive...  I think these words described her best at his stage.  It took a long, long time just for her to be brave enough to go into the next room by herself to get a toy.
But nobody tells you that that's a sign of Autism and it's certainly not the kind of thing that ever got brought up at the doctors.
It was just who she was.


As Milly got a little older, we started buying her DVD's to watch.
And can you guess what typical Autistic behaviour she would demonstrate to us once the DVD was finished?
(Well, if you said she wanted to watch it again you would be right)!
But again, we didn't see this as Autistic behaviour.  We didn't know enough about it back then to see the clues.


Do any of you know what Pom Bear Crisps are?  If you don't, they are basically bear shaped potato crisps.  I remember very clearly taking Milly out for a walk in her pushchair to Woolworths (an old home ware/toy/stationery/DVD shop) one day, and suddenly turning around in the shop to see why she was crying.
My poor baby was devastated because one of the bear's heads had fallen off in production.
How do I know?
Because she was holding it up for me to see whilst sobbing her poor little heart out...


I can't remember what happened in Pingu (Pingu's a programme made specifically for the toddler age group in case you've never heard of it before.  It uses animated penguins made from plasticine, I believe), but there was one time when Milly did a similar thing during an episode and just burst out crying.
All I remember is that the storyline had something to do with the baby of the family.

Nobody told us that our delicate soul of a daughter was Autistic at this stage, either.

How would they know?

Friday, 28 October 2016

Right back at the beginning...

Milly was a beautiful baby...
Now I know a lot of parents say that, but she really was.  Lots of people used to stop and tell us - even one of the midwives during our six day stay in hospital.

Six days?  Yes.  You see, Milly had jaundice and I had complications from the Epidural's they had given me.  I couldn't empty my bladder at all after giving birth.  It would fill (as they do), I would get the 'needing to pee' signals...  but no action.  I had five catheters over four days, and it felt like peeing razor blades for months afterwards.
But I still drank plenty as I was breastfeeding and that's just what you have to do.

When we went out shopping as a family you could guarantee that while I was in the shop and Husband was waiting outside with Milly in her pushchair, people would stop by and say 'hello' to her - much to Husband's annoyance as he really didn't like random strangers coming up and talking to her (or him)!
Like I said, she really was a beauty.  Still is, in fact.

But even beautiful babies have their quirks, don't they?

From what I've read, it's highly unusual to diagnose a child with Autism before three years of age unless there's a strong family history of it.

But retrospectively speaking, I do wonder how many 'clues' we had even way back then that might have helped us get Milly diagnosed sooner.

She was the baby who never napped in the day.  You could only cut her nails if you took her out for a walk in the pushchair (yes, I really did go for walks around and about with baby nail clippers in my pocket and I really did just stop 'willy nilly' on the pavement to cut them).

She was always fragile and clingy when she woke up.  I used to just have to sit and hold her until she felt 'right with herself' I guess.  Anywhere from five to fifteen minutes would normally suffice.  She would sit on my lap and be held with her head next to my chest.
Maybe listening to my heartbeat helped, I don't know...  but a definite 'shift' took place once she was ready to face the world.

Housework rarely got done.  The vacuum cleaner scared the (beep) out of her.  Husband's sneezing reduced her to tears...  and she was such a slow eater - even right from weaning.
I kid you not, a small bowl of Puffed Wheat (by small bowl I mean about a measuring cup in size. Puffed Wheat's like Sugar Puffs without the coating) could be started at 12 noon and still be being sucked to death an hour later.  I just got used to doing things at her pace - which was very slowly indeed.

She never crawled.
If she wanted something out of reach she would just make this pinching motion with her outstretched hand and we would get it for her.

And those bouncy chair things you hang in doorways?  She never bounced.  She just balanced very gently on one toe and swayed gently from side to side.

When she was about fifteen months old, I sat her in her highchair and gave her her first crayon and piece of paper.  I showed her what to do first...  and then she made a few crayon marks on her own fresh piece of paper.  Husband then picked up the crayon and scribbled a small circular blob on her page, which resulted in Milly bursting into tears.  As soon as I scratched it away (not that I could get it all of, but being crayon meant at least some of it could disappear) she stopped.
Even way back then things had to be done in a certain way.


Toddler years are when shopping equalled coming home with a ball...
Every single time - for a while.
But she was such a delight that we didn't mind.  We absolutely adored out beautiful, gentle little soul of a girl and it was just a passing phase.

And she really was a delicate, gentle soul...  even way back then that was obvious to see.

I just wish we'd know about Autism in girl's way back then...