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developmental delay

Being Mum Featured Parenting Special Needs

Managing challenging behaviour

Challenging behaviour is behaviour that causes problems for people around the person

No Fighting, No Biting, No Screaming – Bo Hejlskov Elvén

Probably not unfamiliar for families of children with or without additional needs, in fact Sebastian occasionally shows frustration by throwing his toys around the room. Challenging behaviour for us has manifested in many ways, while we can use many of the usual techniques with S so far very few of the standard methods (distraction, calm redirection, talking it through) really work for A.

Where to begin?

Emotional Intelligence

Right now our current method involves using two cards, one with a red block of colour and a sad face and another card with a green block of colour with a happy face. You can read about working on emotional intelligence here.

What we are looking to achieve is firstly understanding of feelings that one behaviour causes another to feel sad and secondly the start of self regulation. Can we get A to stop and think about her actions and how they impact someone else.

This method has been incorporated reasonable well, A seems to understand one thing can make her or someone else feel red or green, we never modelled the cards as ourselves but she has taken the abstract thought and applied it to us rather than just her behaviour. For example If S is feeling sad she might say “S is red” and this has allowed us to further enhance with other words, S is sad, S is feeling angry, S is feeling happy.

It’s very simple but has allowed us to cross a barrier in communication, due to A’s incredible visual memory she took to the cards within a day which is much quicker than we or nursery had planned.

At first it was treated like a game and I wondered if we had made a mistake, she wanted to see the cards all the time but slowly the novelty has worn off and we are even adding a “I can calm myself down” card too.

Working together – School, nursery and at home

Both us and nursery are using the same technique, which is incredibly important to enable children to generalise. It hasn’t stopped all of the challenging behaviour but it’s a start to understanding and learning, which I think applied in the right way – visually and logically A quickly can apply to social situations.

One of our biggest barriers is cognitive rigidity, that is simple that once you know this is the way we do things it’s hard if you have cognitive rigidity to then change that way up. Having worked in Information Tech I know how reluctant the general population are to move away from what is comfortable, the know is easier and fosters a resistant to change, this was one of the biggest considerations when changing any system.

The known is safe, expected and thus anxiety is kept to a minimum in A’s case. So I thought about it and what would I do in a business context to navigate change? Well I would normally talk to a person and explain what I’d like to happen, what I’m expecting of them and how discuss through any concerns or questions they have.

When it comes to children with complex social communication challenges that is not something that is easy or even really possible to do always. The red and the green card along side a visual timeline of events allows us to try and navigate that in a way that can be understood, reducing anxiety, reducing surprises and hopefully reducing challenging behaviour longer term by giving A the tools she needs to start paving down expectations.

Changing your outlook – Why?

People who can behave, will.

Bo Hejlskov Elvén

Let me take you back to a situation that arose a few weeks ago, we had a hospital visit planned which would wipe of the whole days schedule for A. Taking both children to the hospital anyway is quite an event, A really doesn’t like hospital much anyway – who does! Although things have improved a lot (with the help of visuals and staff understanding her needs).

The day before I tried to prepare A that she would not be going to nursery that day, that morning I arranged her visual timeline to show that we would be going to hospital, I explained again that she would not see her 1:1 today.

All was going reasonably well and just as we were about to leave, our new cleaners arrived – I had intended to leave to avoid this as I knew seeing new people would be a risk. A coped reasonably well and other than yelling “HELLLOOOOOO” and “BYE, BYE” on a loop (she was waiting for them to say bye back in the way she likes) we headed out the door without any stress.

The morning other than a few surprises was going reasonably well, certainly better than I had anticipated. At the hospital we managed to park nearby, which was again great, part of the challenge can often be waiting in the car while I try to find somewhere to park which I can lift A out of the car.

Dealing with the unexpected

We arrived into outpatients and I went to check A in for her appointment. No appointment in the system, at about this point I realised something was not quite right but meanwhile A wandered off down to play with the toys, this being a very well known outpatients for her she initiated her usual routine. I spoke with a member of staff who kindly told me that the appointment had been rearranged until the following week.

I explained that we were not seeing the doctor and in fact we were going back home, A took it better than I expected. I suppose in hindsight she probably wasn’t too keen to see a doctor anyway, but I had a problem. I couldn’t just go home because I had expected our clean to be done while we were out that day, A really dislikes vacuum cleaners.

It was raining and I thought while driving, I’d brave going to a supermarket. This was the very worst choice I could have made, it turned out that A was not over the fact that she did not get to see the doctor. I offered her ice cream to go inside but she thought we were getting ice cream from a very specific store locally which sell the ice cream in a tub with a flake on top. To her great displeasure upon reaching the back of the store, which she had repeatedly said ice cream over and over to get to it was not the kind she wanted and she became distressed.

Staying calm

Remaining as calm as I could possibly manage I told A that we would need to go home if she wanted a different kind of ice cream, it was at this point that she said “Next is doctor”. I realised she had something very different going on in her mind than that I had, she had not let go of the fact that she was expecting to go to the hospital and instead we had a delayed reaction.

After this point while trying to get her to leave she had a very public melt down, which involved biting, hitting me in the face, kicking and hitting S. All while S is throwing his snack everywhere in the pram yelling in distress, I felt very sorry for A because in her mind she was going to the hospital, she had spent that morning worrying about going to the hospital only to get all the way to the hospital and not go.

This alongside the fact that she also wasn’t attending nursery that day due to the hospital appointment it tipped her over into chaos. It was that day that I decided we definitely need an extra pair of hands!

Reflection – How could I have managed this better?

In hindsight I should never have taken her into a supermarket, which to date we very rarely go into with A unless I am in desperate need. I should have realised that she would eventually need to vent her frustration at the change in routine and ultimately I needed to manage and adjust my expectations to enable A to achieve success that day.

There is always a trigger and a reason for a meltdown and I have found it much easier to divert before we tip over the edge to avoid a meltdown than managing the cleanup situation afterwards. I see similar tantrums with S but he is much easier to distract and he is able to communicate his desires so it’s easier to avoid, also he does not have the same limitations in his environment and is not as triggered by sound, touch/texture, social interactions and routine. It means it’s less frequent and less restricting overall.

Methods? So what do I do?

I’ve had to really change up the way that I look at parenting with A, no matter how many times I say “use gentle hands” and yet, we still have very non gentle hands. Ditch out all the things traditionally we are taught from my own upbringing.

My parents would probably have used persuasion or bribes for example “If you hit you won’t get X” or “Don’t hit, nice people don’t hit” neither of these work on A and I would encourage you instead to look at why they are doing it. What is triggering that challenging behaviour, what are they getting from it? What are they trying to communicate?

Simple techniques to avoid tipping over

I have learnt that there is a very small window of opportunity before the behaviour switches over into aggression and a fight or flight response emerges, just before this I try:

  • Talking calmly to understand what is causing the challenging behaviour
  • Use the red and green visual cards discussed above to communicate that the behaviour is not appropriate, offering a chance to learn
  • Lowering down to A’s level and making sure I am to her side rather than directly in front of her, if she takes a step back I try and distance myself also
  • Avoid too much eye contact while still appearing interested
  • Using simple phrases and makaton
  • If I need to touch A I will limit this to the shoulder area
  • If it is obvious to me I will try to stop whatever is triggering the behaviour or guide A out of the situation
  • If we are at home A’s bedroom has lots of sensory calming lights which really help, but this is not always practical.
  • Compromising, A really loves ice cream and if all else fails I will compromise with something to transition. Before researching and reading this is one of the things I was reluctant to do in case it increased the challenging behaviour for reward, if you are concerned about this I encourage you to read the book I’ve listed below.

When all else fails..

If the above do not work then it is a matter of damage limitation, making everyone safe

For me always there is a reason, whether it be lack of structure, changing in routine, poor sleep, pain, difficulties in understanding cause and effect, mental overload, sensory input (sound, touch, vision), too many or too little demands in life, relationship conflicts (siblings, parents, friends) or just an effect of the mood of others around A.

When we first started this journey and I was asked “Are there any warning signs” I said no, but now I can see that there are many warning signs indeed. I think these are unique to the individual and I’ve found it very helpful to read around the subject.

Expanding your knowledge base

For more in-depth reading I can recommend “No fighting, no biting, no screaming” by Bo Hejlskov Elvén.

It’s a work in progress for us, challenging behaviour continues to be a real challenge but I feel equipped with the tools and understanding, which on the days when we are on our sixth meltdown and I’ve been bitten several times and with more unsuccessful attempts than I can count. I can reflect and know why it happened, learn and try to adjust for tomorrow.

Being Mum Featured Parenting

Your tribe

Long before birth, while Ariella was still kicking away inside a little bump and I was ignorant of what awaited me; I prepared myself for what I thought that narrative would be with research. Books on parenting, blog posts, second-hand experience from other mothers who had babies that frankly seemed quite foreign to me.

Once she was here I thought I’d read emails on development, read about weaning and potty training, behaviour and beyond the terrible twos. But instead I was invested in medical journals, specialist groups, therapy books – I unregistered from the developmental emails and let go of any vision I had of the future to accept what appears in front of me. Children do not come with a manual but when things get rough or you hit a difficult spot usually you can find somewhere to reflect on the “phase” of life that you and your child are going through. Whether that be a blog, a social media group, a collection of friends with shared timelines like NCT – there is always somewhere you can go to ask for help. Is this normal? Did your child do this? Why is mine doing it? Will this stage end? How do I navigate around this? One way or another these people be it online or face to face become your tribe. Your backup for reflection when faced with challenge, these things do not correlate with a child who has no diagnosis.

We have specialist areas of tribes, we have epilepsy, we have the coeliac crowd, we even have global developmental delay. We have social media groups of children born the same month, we have the families and children we met on the way but the questions never quite line up because overall things are not the same because the overall picture is different. It doesn’t mean you don’t continue to try to bring advice and concepts in but they don’t always quite fit, for example I really admire the gentle parenting approach. I feel like had things been different this approach would be much more successful and harmonious, simple the general principles being respecting your child – not forcing their hand and giving them choice. Trying to be empathetic with your child, listening and modelling empathetic behaviours to encourage them to achieve them later in life. Giving choice and respecting the child’s opinions, giving them attention and accepting their limitations.

Now trying to apply this to the day-to-day for Ariella, every week we have appointments and today was no exception. Ariella dislikes certain textures, cold wet jelly on the skin certainly being one of them but today she had an echocardiogram. I explained in advance what would happen, that there might be sticky pads and there would definitely be cold jelly on her chest. That the doctors would be looking at her heart and we would be going to the hospital. But when it came to the procedure how do you approach that gently? I try as much as possible to offer choice but for her best interests she needed the procedure done, she did not want to be there and was restrained while screaming and crying. How do you approach this gently? Who do you ask, where is the tribe?

With Sebastian getting older deciding on an approach that will work across both, be fair and consistent is going to be a challenge. Already I am able to ask for him, is this normal? And I’m able to look at a variety of resources to know it is. Already I feel more confident in my choices with him, but as he grows and learns their will be more complexity and working out a method that fits both children may require understanding on his part. Although there is a lot of calm there is also a lot of strongly felt emotions as Ariella works her way through toddlerhood and that can manifest itself in aggression, screaming, meltdowns and repetitive phrases. The household rhythm is chaotic and unpredictable, I try to apply good routine but how can you do so when the next seizure can clear your weekly schedule and mean another extended stay in hospital? It is really mentally exhausting.

I should clarify that when I talk about the tribe I don’t mean friends of which we have many very supportive friends instead it’s about having a group of people going through the same situation as you at that moment in time. Being able to relate, support and empathise, with each other and solidarity – it’s why we sign up to due date groups, pay for NCT friends, go to mother and baby classes. There is an element of safety in numbers, entering always the unknown together it doesn’t seem quite as difficult to navigate when you always have tribes people.

I think when you are put in a position of uniqueness, you can only really put your sail up and go your own way. Sometimes your child’s health and mental wellbeing dictate their way, weaning for example requires mobility and all the developmental and structural normality to swallow. We were fortunate that we could try baby led weaning, Ariella had the mobility to do so – but what if she had not? Well then we would have sacked off my vision of how I wanted to wean her and accepted spoon-feeding puree, a completely acceptable weaning method but not the choice I had made for my child. This one tiny element would have excluded us from participating in baby led weaning but what happens when your child’s development is completely out of line from their chronological age? What if they have a medical condition that lands them living in hospital for months? I think you do the best you can to parenting how you choose to. I think that you just have to accept solidarity and find comfort in the pieces of guidance that you can apply, ignore any self-doubt and know that you are doing the very best for your child.

It is a challenge, when you consider well covered areas in terms of available guidance material like potty training. Yet potty training requires developmentally a child to be in the right place, to understand what is being asked of them (or for you to understand their cues) and those things are not always in line together with children whom are delayed in development. One area might be delayed while the other is not, suddenly all the guides and books don’t apply to your child and both of you may be frustrated. How do you overcome this? With Ariella I try my best to go at her pace and adapt whatever activity for her, we tried potty training back when Ariella was chronologically 2.5 years old yet she wasn’t mentally ready for it. Now she is mentally 2/2.5 we will try again soon, but she may still not be mobile enough for it (she cannot squat or pull to standing from the potty yet). Recognising these limitations and adjusting my expectations has really helped me to appreciate that while part of our “tribe”, that’s to say the group of parents with children born the same month as Ariella are mostly potty trained and discussing other more developed issues I am not at all surprised that we are not there yet. I no longer expect to be there and instead I look at Ariella as her unique self and consider what her needs are rather than what society expects her to be doing. This is particularly relevant during the run up to attending preschool after Summer in which there will be no hiding from the current, Ariella at the moment has not moved onto the next room at her nursery so is with children who are around her developmental age.

It’s nice in many ways to be removed from the pressure and competition between parents and their various parenting styles, I really have not had to deal with this and it’s lovely to be removed from it. In many ways I am very glad to have had the experience I have, it’s really taught me that we are unique as individuals and actually perhaps our educational system and the early years can be far too rigid. Ariella is a wonderful creative, happy, non compliant little girl and I expect absolutely nothing from her other than for her to be happy. I couldn’t possibly tell you what she should be doing at 3 and a bit years old and it’s wonderful.







Being Mum Lifestyle

A little update – Walking, looking to Autumn and where is the time going?


If you follow the Unruffledmum on Instagram you’ll have noticed a few shots of Ariella walking as of late. It’s been a really difficult journey to watch as her parent, she started walking holding on hand on the 28th of March and then in June she amazed us by walking from room to room all by herself for several days. The day I announced this great achievement on my personal Facebook she stopped and she stopped completely, refusing to walk the smallest of steps between two people and certainly not by herself to a location in the room.

The lag coincided with some of my sickest weeks with my current pregnancy and It definitely seemed rather daunting that I may end up with two children come January who cannot walk, not ideal at all given we have eighteen steps from our door down to ground level. But you come up with ways of coping and certainly I began to rethink how to cope in that scenario.

After about eight weeks of not a huge amount of progression gross motor wise we realised she wanted us to sit down, she would only walk between us if both of us were sat and if one of us tried to stand up while she walked between us she would immediately stop walking and fall to the ground. So we did this every evening, with Ariella pacing the hallway back and forth – slowly Jamie would shuffle backwards (while still sat!) further and further and bit by bit Ariella gained confidence. Ariella really finds the outside scary, she cries if she has to walk on or touch grass. We would take her to the park and sit down further and further way from each other making her walk the long stretches between us. Eventually we moved to disappearing still sat down behind rooms, over time walking clicked in and sometime in August just before we headed off to Barcelona she could walk.

At present she walks from one point to another, she can stop midway and stand for a few seconds, she often prefers to walk and her walking over time is becoming less awkward looking and more fluid. She has learnt to turn herself while walking, turn herself while standing to – set off – by herself rather than needing to hold our hands first. Sometimes I catch her walking in the corner of my eye and I’m still surprised, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet – we’ve watched every single piece of her development down to the smallest detail piece itself together. I think that’s one of the best things about developmental delay, you don’t miss a thing.

Although the last two months have been a bit regressive in terms of gross motor she has progressed so much in other areas of her development. Pretend play has exploded, I often now see her playing with her dolls, talking to them and putting them to sleep. Making pretend food in her kitchen, making soup, cutting vegetables, drinking from her tea set with dainty fingers. Her happy land set has seen a renewed spike of activity, with Susie and Savannah showing their faces once more – we even purchased a red bus for her as her reward for staying in bed until the sun came up using her Groclock. It’s so much easier to live with her at the moment when she is showing an interest in her toys rather than just throwing them around, I’m sure it’s less frustrating for both of us.

Ariella has a fantastic memory, it’s definitely her thing. She remembers numbers, counting, the alphabet, object flash cards very quickly and it’s lovely to see these things spreading out across her play. Social development too has just blossomed, she loved spending time with all the adults around her in Barcelona – taking home many of the funny things they shared. She is still shaking items in her hands left and right now and often talks of each of our friends in turn.

In short its been a really uplifting month a brilliant end to Summer 17′, I’ve been feeling better and Ariella has been making huge leaps in progress developmentally. She’s lovely nursery, she is really changing from a baby to a little girl and her development is either catching up or progress which is all we can really ask for! I’m so looking forward to Autumn, my next goal is to crack her anxiety and aggression. Some of the routines and anxiety behaviour is really limiting her outside play, I’m hoping that her occupational therapy assessment next month might help us understand which area to focus on to help. For now however we continue to just compared sizes of bites between us and hope that eventually this too will change.




Being Mum Parenting Weekly Update

22 Months Old – All wrapped up

In two months time I can stop counting in months, when someone asks me how old Ariella is I can just say. Two, she is two. That should be a lot easier to remember! This week Ariella turned twenty-two months old but that’s not the only thing that occurred this week. We had a handful of firsts, the first time Ariella has stacked a block of cubes and the first time Ariella has ever used her potty. Every week we see progress but some weeks are more remarkable than others, I think this is a remarkable week. Not only have we seen obvious big milestones but we’ve seen these leaps in fine motor and problem solving/understanding cascade over a multitude of different activities.

In preparation for her two-year review I wanted to introduce Ariella to lacing beads, these are particularly tricky for children with hypermobility. I started by asking Ariella to hold the bead while I thread the lace through and then I took over holding the bead while I asked her to pull the lace the other side. I picked the Melissa and Doug lacing bead set as it had numbers and I try to incorporate numbers in to any activity I can with Ariella, numbers seem to be her key enjoyment and engagement is really key.

Practicing lacing beads

On Monday had a completely free day, so I took Ariella shopping for some more swimwear it was cold but we ventured out wrapped up warm. In the afternoon we went to a new park with two of Ariella’s little friends. All the toddlers were wrapped up warm but in the end I think the chill won and we all headed home, it’s been pretty cold here in Surrey I should have known that this was the start of the dip in temperature again, which could only bring with it snow.

A mixture from Gap and Next

Fun at the park with friends

Tuesday we had another music class in the morning, Ariella’s new-found love for her music class is so relieving. Her little monkey has proved it’s worth, she takes him with her every week and holds on to him throughout. She is also getting much better with passing the instruments back to the class teacher, now that she gets the monkey in return. I’m so glad we didn’t give up on the classes as we really nearly did, she enjoys it a lot and it’s helped hugely with fine motor. In the afternoon caught up again with one of Ariella’s friends at a local soft play centre, she amazed me further by showing some confidence with playing outside the “baby” area which she is too old for now. She enjoyed being in a bigger pit of balls than normal and we spent lots of time walking holding hands around where previously she would be quite anxious and want to be held

Ariella had some repeated blood tests to contend with on Wednesday, the day itself was pretty rammed with activities. We had an early Brunch due to the schedule of the day in a local Sainsbury’s cafe then went to Hydrotherapy over lunch time, straight after swimming I put on some magic cream ready for her blood test. She did so well I don’t know if it was because she was strapped in to the car seat or because this time around I didn’t try to use clingfilm (the nurse suggested it!) instead opting for the patches that the pharmacy could easily have provided. We drove to the Hospital, parked up and alas Ariella was fast asleep in the back – it was bound to happen as Hydrotherapy wipes her out and it was way past her nap time. Begrudgingly I scooped her up into her Stroller and headed off to the children’s department hoping she might fall asleep again as we were early.

Sitting outside the room waiting for our turn all you could hear were the cries of the children before you. I’m so proud to say that Ariella when having her blood taken she didn’t cry, she didn’t move, she looked directly at the needle which is more than I can ever do on myself. Both of the staff looked completely shocked, so was I – last time we took Ariella she cried and struggled so this was very unexpected. They put a nice little cartoon plaster on and attached a bag to catch a urine sample. I’m expecting her results to come back okay, they are just checking to make sure that the last abnormality was due to just a virus at the time.

Needless to say Ariella did not wee in the bag while we were in the Hospital, we were sent home with some spare bags and a tube just like last time. All in this is the reason that my Thursday morning started with me holding a bag of wee in one hand while trying to funnel it into a tube in the other at 7am.

Friday morning Ariella had a physiotherapy session which went well, as normal Ariella showed signs of progression and we’ve been given a body wrap to wear around her tummy to help her with her core. She doesn’t need to wear it all the time as it’s important that she get time without it to strengthen fully but we intend to do more walking practice with her wearing it as it should help. In the afternoon daddy came home earlier and this is when the magical block building occurred, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone over stacking blocks. Often she would try one and find it difficult to manipulate the blocks enough to get it to sit in a stable way. During the last week since the big emotional leap she had, learning of “self” her interest in objects has really come on too. I think given how she has been spinning cups and tipping bags of toddler crisps out on the floor I should have known she might have been showing a big change in fine motor abilities.

This evening Ariella announced for the first time that she needed to do a “poo”! It was the quietest announcement she has ever made but Daddy heard it and we leapt into action, grabbing the potty and sitting her on it. I can’t say I was really looking forward to potty training, much like weaning it’s just another thing to clean. Part of the reason why I never prevailed with teaching the cats to use the bathroom instead of their litter box too, it’s all a lot of mess.

Here we are at the weekend, I wonder what tomorrow has in store for us – so far it’s impromptu potty training!

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”
–  Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie

Being Mum Featured Lifestyle Parenting

Ariella Update – 19 Months old today

Every morning we start the day with breakfast and BBC News on the TV, this morning the news was distracted with the victory of Donald Trump. As we sat watching it together while eating breakfast in the kitchen, I wondered exactly how this was going to impact England. I won’t pretend to know the ins and outs given it’s not my own country I don’t tend to worry too much about things beyond my control, I don’t afterall get to vote. But perhaps today is not a day for progress.

The weather here was rather fitting, we watched Trump take the lead while it “rained cats and dogs” seemingly as if the world itself had turned upside down.

The last couple of weeks have definitely felt like Ariella has taken onboard some new concepts, she could sort shapes and was showing an interest in her toys. It’s really be great to see her cruising the furniture most of the time, pulled to standing on every height. But this week so far feels like the decline of the peak before the next big jump, either that or she isn’t feeling well.

Instead of my suggested activities Ariella wanted to play on her iPad, of which she has plenty of toddler friendly apps to play. We’ve installed various educational games which encourage learning, animals, sounds, shapes, fine motor skills. My view on technology is that it’s important for her to have an understanding as we live in a world built on technology. To not embrace the positives of what is on offer would mean that she would not have the life skills “of today’s world”. Ariella has one of our old iPad’s, it’s not very fast but it doesn’t need to be, it plays the apps she needs just fine. Definitely buy yourself a good case though, this one allows her to grip it well and protects it when she frequently drops it.

I tried to encourage a few other activities during the morning, using her Grimms Rainbow friends. However she showed no interest in matching the friends with their cups today, she reverted back to throwing the pieces and putting everything into her mouth.  We also tried some stacking blocks, building with her Mega Bloks to no avail today.

We bought the little Grimms friends for Ariella on her 1st birthday and today she is nineteen months old, I cannot believe how quickly time seems to go when you are the adult and not the child. I fondly remember childhood seeming like a “very long time”,  it still baffles me how this can be so.

Rather than face the rain outside (I need to buy a good all in one rain suit for Ariella) I decided to setup a painting activity for her once she had woken from her nap. We use these Galt Toy Squeeze and Brush paint pens which are great. She has been getting better at not putting things in her mouth and we hadn’t tried it for a while, a rainy day seemed the perfect opportunity. However Ariella had other plans, all day she has been looking at me and saying “up”, so I would pick her up but then she would become upset and wriggle back down to the floor. I’ve had my suspicions for a couple of days now that she is coming down with something, a suspicion which I think may be correct!





Pretty much straight away she started to protest, soon as the paint hit the paper. Promptly after looking with disgust at the paint brush she looked me dead in the eye and said “up”. I asked “Would you like a cuddle?” And she said “yes”. Yes, definitely coming down with something.

Tools Down!

Other than the iPad, today was all about “pretend play” which she is very excited about right now, this is great news as pretend play is expected during the next stage of development between 12 – 18 months. She started playing properly with her Happyland Cherry Lane Cottage set, sitting them at the table, giving them a bath and taking a large interest in the little animals. The two girls are called Savannah and Susie and Ariella quite often likes to wander around holding them in each hand.

Here you can see what is expect between the development stage 12 – 18 months:

Increasingly, these children can walk without support. However, they are still unsteady on their feet and their walking resembles toddling more than mature heel-to-toe walking. Now they want to explore everything; though their curiosity far outweighs their judgment for predicting outcomes or foreseeing dangers. They are trying out a variety of basic gross- and fine-motor skills, and are gaining confidence as climbers. They can sing to themselves and will move their bodies to music. Since they are more mobile, they can self-select toys that were once outside their reach. They find basic grasping easier, and can manipulate toys that require simple twisting, turning, sliding, and cranking.

Through trial and error, they continue to explore cause-and-effect relationships like dumping and filling activities, and now they enjoy a variety of actions with objects, such as pressing, pushing, pulling, rolling, pounding, beating, clanging, fitting (for example, fitting a round peg into a round hole), stacking, marking, scribbling, carrying, and poking their fingers into objects. They delight in the many effects their actions cause, and enjoy toys that take advantage of this by the use of, for example, various sounds, blinking lights, and spinning wheels.

Children of this age can recognize the names of familiar people, objects, pictures, and body parts. Long-term memory and the development of simple vocabulary using one-word utterances now provide the foundation for make-believe or pretend play, however these children do not make clear symbolic connections until about 18 months of age. These children often imitate common actions they see – such as talking on the phone, “drinking” from a bottle or cup, or putting on a hat – but only in brief, sporadic episodes. They can defer imitating something for up to a week, and can also do so across a change in context (for example, away from home). Simple toys that encourage pretend play, such as dress-up materials, dolls, stuffed animals, and small vehicle toys, are appropriate. –

This does seem to be where she is heading, she really can’t fit a round peg into a round hole reliably yet. We work on stacking, shape sorting, marking, exploring objects every week and it’s great to know that soon we might see some progress with these challenges. When looking at the stage previous to this one, I can see exactly why the paediatrician reviewed her to be 10/11 months old (apart from speech and communication). If I was reading through that’s exactly where I would have understood her to be also.