Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bacteria, pink, hands & feet, days of the week, smelly smoke

Tonight's bedtime conversation

He had a full day today without a nap - school, lunch, homework, fine motor activities, phonics, shower, Neurosuit physiotherapy, dinner, shower, bedtime - so I expected him to fall asleep right away. But I was instead treated to this conversation with him... I found it amusing! LOL

What’s toothpaste for?

It’s to clean your teeth, to get rid of virus and bad bacteria...

What’s bad bacteria for?

Excuse me, I’ve not finished


And it has fluoride to strengthen your teeth.

Are you finished now? (LOL! He can sound like a big boy, at times!)


What’s bad bacteria for?

Huh? We don’t want bad bacteria. We want to get rid of bad bacteria.

And sometimes you might die.

Yes, if your body isn’t strong enough to fight the bad bacteria, you might die. So it’s important to drink lots of water, eat vegetables and fruits, exercise and sleep well. Did you mean to ask about good bacteria?

Yeah. What’s good bacteria for and what’s LactoGG for?

Bacteria is a micro-organism (he watched a 30 seconds clip of it on TV). LactoGG has good bacteria (it’s a probiotic) that helps strengthen your immune system.

(He mumbles something I didn’t understand)

What’s “pink” in English?

Huh? Pink IS an English word. Do you mean...

Why need “k” in pink? (Sigh, there's his Manglish... don't blame him cos my English is getting worse!)

Do you mean “what’s ‘pink’ in Malay?” “Pink” in Malay is “merah jambu”. You need “k” in “pink” because that’s the way it’s spelt. Do you hear the “k” sound at the end of the word “pink”? If you don’t have “k” in “pink”, then it’ll be a different word! It’ll be “pin” which is something sharp that can poke you.

(silence for a new moments)

Why do we need hands and feets?

One foot, many feet, not feets. You use your feet to walk, to jump, to run, to balance (I know, that’s a technically wrong answer!)

And you use hands for this. (He stands up, then swings his right hand back and forth)

Oh, I see. Yes, you can use your hands for that.

(a moment of silence)

What day is it? (One of his curent favourite questions!)

Yesterday was Tuesday, so today is....?

(He thinks for a moment) I know the song!

Ok, can you sing it?


There are ... seven days... There are... seven days...There are days... in a ... week. Sunday...Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...

(His “Wednesday” wasn’t audible) What day is it after Tuesday?


Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...

Thursday, Friday, Saturdayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy (he laughs)

(That was the first time he “sang”/recited that song. After a moment, he's on to a different topic again)

Something smelly

Huh? (I had to ask him to repeat it several times cos I couldn’t make out what he was saying) Oh, smelly!

What’s that smell?

I dunno, my nose is partly blocked. What do you smell?

Smelly smoke again.

Are you sure? That was last night. Someone made a fire to burn something.

And tonight also. They are burning something outside. Is it working properly?

The air filter? Yes, I think so.

(And then he falls asleep!) : D

Monday, June 28, 2010

Parents Teacher Meeting

School was closed on Friday (25 June 2010) for the PTM. I was very happy that my husband took the time to come and meet his teacher.

The comments written in his report card were very brief. Verbally, she had more to say, in response to my husband’s questions.

I was quite impressed that almost everything that she said about my son were spot on. There was only one thing that wasn’t accurate (his reading progress) but that’s only because he had a “reading progress spurt” recently and she had yet to witness it.

I must say that she’s a very observant teacher even though the class is bigger than most kindergartens. I overheard her observations of another child to the mother and it’s true too.

Briefly, these were some of her feedback:

- He’s settled down well (I think she meant no more running and screaming, doing his own thing) and able to join in with the rest for circle time etc

- He doesn’t sing during music time but loves the “big movement” songs

- He’s only comfortable with a few specific kids – kids who are more gentle. (She’s probably referring to the Japanese girl who is indeed very gentle (and feminine).

- He’s sensitive

- His pencil grip has improved. He no longer uses the jumbo sized pencil, and his writing is darker (previously, it was very faint that you could hardly see it)

- He needs to talk more and have more confidence. The volume of his speech is improving which is good.

- His reading needs to be improved upon because he should have moved beyond needing to break down individual letters into their phonic sounds, then blending before saying the whole word. It’s ok to do so when a person just starts reading, but he must be much faster especially if he is going to a govt school. (This I’m not so worried about cos I think he just needs more practice)

- She prefers if I continue trying to distance myself from him, in order for him to open up and try to do things on his own. (I like this! Maybe by the end of the year, I don’t need to be his shadow aide?)

- She thinks in terms of cognitive ability, he’s about average. She says it’s hard to tell cos he doesn’t talk/answer her questions during circle time.

- He can follow general instructions given (e.g. teacher tells the class to take their exercise books and pencils) but needs one to one help doing the exercises in the workbook

- His maths (numbers) are ok

My husband had more questions to ask her but since the next parent was already waiting her turn we decided to leave.

Art and craft - Macaroni Party Hat

We made this together last Sunday (20 June 2010).

I got the idea from an episode of Higglytown Heroes, which isn’t about art and craft. It’s a kids cartoon about occupations in which they are depicted as heroes. They did not show how the macaroni party hat is made, but did show the kids wearing it. So I took it as a free-form-anything-goes type of hat. It took over an hour to complete!

Materials used:

Cardboard; craft glue; glitter dust; macaroni; paint brush (to brush the glue onto the cardboard); stars; roller stamper (and anything else for decoration e.g. paint, bits of coloured sweet wrapper); rubber bands (or ribbon to hold the hat onto the head)


To get the shape of the hat, I traced the outline of a large circular basin onto a cardboard. I was lucky that it turned out to be a perfect fit for his head. Fold it in half into a semi-circle shape and when you’ve finished decorating it, just staple the ends together.

I brought out Mickey roller stamper then went off to bring the Ikea bed tray for him to use as a table. When I got back, I was pleasantly surprised that he had managed to flip open the ink pad cover and was happily rolling the stamper on the cardboard, on his own! He didn’t do it “right” in the sense that he used it more like a brush, rolling it a little back and forth, instead of rolling it in just one direction, all the way to the end. But, I was still happy to see him doing it by himself. Being cone shaped, I merely flipped it over for us to work on the final piece.

The Ikea bed tray for us to work on as it’d contain the mess. It’s also about the right height for him when seated on the ground. That idea of using the bed tray is thanks to his CST therapist!

I helped him squeeze out a bit of craft glue unto a plastic container (the bottle was very hard even for me to squeeze) then he used a paint brush to brush the glue onto the cardboard (to glue the glitter dust and macaroni)

He chose the colours of the glitter dust. I had to help him scatter it over the wet glue. But now that I think about it, I could have instead have stored the glitter in tiny containers and have him pinch out a bit to scatter.

He chose to stick just a few pieces of macaroni. I think that’s because it was the last decoration item that we used. It also involved a few too many steps for him – hold the brush, dip in glue pot, paint, put down brush, pick up macaroni, stick macaroni, and repeat all over again for another macaroni!

He was happy with the end product. He showed it off to papa, and brought it to physiotherapy too!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cloud chart

We made this cloud chart about a week or two ago. It’s an extension of learning about the different types of clouds, through art and craft.

The objectives were:

- To give him practice on holding and using writing instruments (pencil, marker, colour pencils in this case) while making it fun

- To practice his handwriting. In this case I sneaked in double the amount of writing by having him write in pencil first, then trace with a marker. At that time, he still needed my hand to be touching his hand (for confidence I think), but he controlled most of the movement.

- To give him practice on other basic art and craft skills like illustrating things (mountains, sun, clouds), using a glue stick, colouring, placement of objects on a piece of cardboard relative to each other, etc

- To introduce the idea of labelling (often used in science)

- To introduce creativity/representation (use of cotton to represent clouds)

- To reinforce the names of the different types of clouds

- To maintain his interest in clouds

At his age, I wanted to make it as simple as possible, so only chose 4 types of clouds.

He enjoyed it and was proud when it was completed. Out of his own initiative, he searched for a suitable place to display it! There isn’t much space left in his room to display his works (I don’t allow it to be blu-tacked to the wall), so it’s currently on display in the dining area. : )

Pre-writing skills board activity

It’s been sometime since I took out the homemade pre-writing skills boards. So about 3-4 weeks ago, I decided to take them out. The countdown to his assessment date has started, so I’m a lot more motivated to work with him.

I still didn't see much progress in him using the pre-writing skills board. He still didn't rest the base of his palm on the paper. He still couldn't control the speed of drawing - he zoomed from the bottom to the top, then zoomed back down, then zoomed up again etc. His left hand wasn't holding down the board etc.

I usually try to make his activities (work) more fun, so after tracing the shapes or patterns out, I transform it to something funny. It’s important to make it interesting cos he needs so much more fine motor practice compared to a normal child.

The blue triangle represents the mountains that can be seen from his room. He chose blue because most of the time, it is a greyish shade of blue rather than green (pollution!). He chose to colour the sky grey because it IS usually grey. He still needs a lot of work in the fine motor area, so I my hand was over his, moving it to colour, draw lines etc.

The “squarish U-shapes” were made into buildings that can be seen from his room. I helped him use the ruler for the criss-cross lines. I drew the vehicles because by that time, he was tired (he was still weak from his bout of recent illnesses). I gave him the choice of what he wanted drawn.

This is still displayed in his room, but I may remove (relocate?) it soon.

I couldn’t think of what to transform that spirally-thingy into, so I made patterns with it instead. I wanted a contrast so held his hand to make the “W” shaped pattern.

Then I thought of introducing the concept of skip counting and pattern (maths skills) by putting in dots in alternating colours.

Since all this was done on the spur of the moment, I didn’t foresee the pattern getting messy as we worked towards the centre of the spirally-thingy!

Art and craft – trees

We watched a version of this activity from the “Art Time” TV programme on Playhouse Disney channel, but further simplified it. This was probably done about 2-3 weeks ago.

“Art Time” is a 3-5 minute clip on various simple art and craft activities done by pre-schoolers, and then animated very creatively into a brief story. I think he likes to watch it because it’s cute, funny, interesting and features real kids around his age.

I had to rush through this activity because just like the way “Art Time” is used to fill in bits of time between the regular programmes, this activity was a “filler” between lunch and his therapy : )

As a result, it’s a bit hard to tell what the different types of trees are, and the leaves are very sparse. LOL! Starting from left, we have the banana tree, a pine tree, a coconut tree, and a beringin tree.

I did this activity with him for the usual fine motor practice, presented in a fun way. To get in a bit of extra practice, I had him draw the trees out in pencil first, then trace over with a marker pen. As usual, I held my hand over his, as we drew together. That's to help him develop the correct pencil grip, and to check on the strength of his grip, and because he doesn't know how to draw anything else apart from circles, the sun, a smiley face.

I intended for him to learn to use the scissors with my help in this activity, but because of time restrictions, I cut out the leaves myself. It’s a very rushed job, resulting in not very nice looking leaves! But hey, I suppose he learns that it’s ok not to churn out almost perfect looking art. LOL.

Btw, this also happens to tie in to his kindergarten’s science theme of plants (sub-topic: trees).

Friday, June 18, 2010

Growing green beans

I’m sure you remember this simple activity from your school days. Get some green beans, and place them on wet cotton inside a container, then watch them grow.

This activity came about because I didn’t know what to do with the plastic water container that he brought home from school. You see, at school, the art and craft activity involved cutting a plastic water bottle in half, then cutting vertical strips which are then folded outwards. Teacher said it was meant to be a desk organiser, but I felt it was a little too flimsy for that task.

Anyway, it ties in with the kindergarten’s science theme of plants. I thought it would be good to show my son the roots. We see the other parts of the plants, but seldom the roots.

I wondered why green beans were always used, and not other beans. So in a different container (he brought back 2 containers from art and craft), we placed kidney beans, soy beans, black eyed beans. Well, those didn’t grow. Or perhaps I didn’t give them a chance to grow as they started smelling really bad after a few days!

I was more excited than my son to check out the growth the next day after planting them! My son coolly said, “Nope, not yet. Not so fast”. He probably learnt that seeds take time to grow from the various educational TV shows on Astro.

He also learnt what’s required for plants to grow (soil, water, sunlight) cos he was being silly when he asked me if he could plant the seeds on his blanket!

Leaf rubbing - fine motor activity

This art and craft started off as a totally different activity actually. We went on a bug hunt in the garden to find, observe and maybe catch some insects. We only found ants! A few years ago, there were a lot more insects like beetles, spiders, ladybirds, butterflies, tiny millipedes etc. So now you know, my garden has been sadly neglected!

We ended up selecting different types of leaves for a leaf rubbing activity. In a way, this ties in with the science theme of plants that his kindergarten was doing before the holidays. I thought it’d be good to show him real plants, the different parts of a plant, different plants etc to help him relate better to what was taught.

In kindergarten, a lot of what’s taught is from workbooks, or a drawing done by the teacher on the whiteboard, or from the e-teaching software projected on the wall. For this theme, she did bring the kids to the kindergarten’s garden to point out the parts of a plant.

I did the leaf rubbing activity with him because it requires the usual fine motor practice but one difference is in the way you hold the crayon.

I think this was the third or fourth time doing a leaf rubbing, over the last 2 years. It was clear that he enjoyed it the most this time. So, that makes me happy too.

Must I get down on all fours and grovel?

I had recently paid the kindergarten’s fees for Term 2 (the next 6 mths).

I was not looking forward to meeting the administrator. Yeah, the issue of the RM500 paid in June last year is still unresolved and each time I bring it up, she has a different thing (version) to say.

While waiting for another parent to finish with the administrator, the principal came out to ask my opinion about some special needs stuff (she freelances in helping special needs kids). That helped to distract me from the impending encounter, calmed my nerves, and gave me a bit more confidence.

I’ll just briefly go into what transpired.

When she saw the copy of the scanned cheque I obtained from my bank (oh the joy of technology!) she was silent. When I asked if there was a difference when the payee is the BM name of the school versus when the payee is the English name of the school, she finally broke the silence with a “yes”.

That’s when she incriminated herself. She changed her story. She says she would have allowed me to use the 500 for the holiday programme. Previously, she said school fees are different from holiday programme fees and can’t be used to pay the latter. There were other things she said too that contradicted what she told me in previous encounters.

Now though, she says she would never had asked me to write the payee as the BM entity. (The holiday programme fees were paid to the BM entity). Sigh. How else would I have known who to make the cheque out to if it wasn’t she who instructed me in the first place when I wrote it out in front of her in June 2009? Back then she had accepted the cheque after inspecting it and issued a receipt (which I unfortunately lost). Do you think she’s covering up for her mistake?

I got a lecture for causing so much trouble over this cos she now has to figure a way out and to explain to the auditors. She was “gracious” enough to relent but not before giving me an earful on how grateful I should be that they accepted my son and how much they went out of their way to accommodate my son.

She told me that she made it very clear to the teachers not to reveal that it was my son who had H1N1 and if parents insisted on knowing, then she would deal with those parents in her office. I thought that in the first place, it’s only professional that any kindergarten would not divulge such info. Granted that this is Malaysia though, maybe it is a big deal that she made that effort?

Anyway, I hope this is the end of the RM500 issue.

Now, more importantly, I want to share the following:

She said that there are NO places in Malaysia for kids like my son. There are schools for normal kids. There are govt schools that take in special needs kids but he doesn’t belong there either. There's nothing in between. She implied that I should be extremely grateful to them (her) for accepting my son.

I am grateful that my son has the opportunity to socialise and be familiar with a kindergarten setting. But, from this encounter with the administrator I have this to say to other parents of special needs kids...

- his kindergarten is by no means the ONLY kindergarten that accepts special needs kids. I know of a few other kindergartens (less than 5) who are open to special needs kids (email me if you want to know). It’s just that this was infrastructurally more suited to my son (lots of windows, spacious classroom, very near our home).

- It’s hard but don’t be discouraged in searching for a place of education for your special needs child. Talk to other parents. Find out. Don’t give up.

- Stand your ground on important matters. We should not be treated as second class just because our child has special needs. Of course, be grateful for all forms of help that come our way. I am. But it should not mean we MUST grovel for it.

I’ve been following this blog for some months
It has given me a peek into what it’s like for parents with disabled kids in US/Canada. The amount of help and support from the government, specialists, NGOs, etc is incredible compared to what we have here.

Perhaps by having more people know what we’re lacking in Malaysia (in this area), we can then initiate change for the better. Change can begin with one person.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My son’s bedtime conversations

My son tends to talk freely when his bedroom lights are off, he’s comfortable in his bed with his blanket, just before falling asleep. These are recent conversations that had me amused.


Eh! Eh! Move over. Eh! Move over. EHHH! Please” (It wasn’t in a demanding tone, more like a statement)

“What?” (I pretended not to understand)

“Move over. I want to sleep here”. (He usually wants to be very close to me before falling asleep, sometimes sharing my pillow, as in this case)

“Oh, you want me to move. Why do you want to sleep here? This is MY pillow.”

“Because I like you.”

“Hmm, you mean you want to sleep close to me because you like me?”


“Oh, you like me? Thanks! Why do you like me?”

(momentary silence) “Because I like you”

“Thanks, but why do you like me?”

(He moves around then repeats himself) “Because I like you.”

(Silence from both of us)

“I like cars, lorries, trucks, diggers, bus....I like trucks, lorries, cars....”

I was laughing inside my heart! The conversation jumped to something he likes, because he couldn’t answer.

We next talked a bit on something else, by which time I was already dozing off and couldn’t remember what he was saying. He however, was still tossing and turning trying to find a comfortable position.

(Suddenly, he gets up and makes an announcement) “I’m not tired anymore. I want to go outside. (he heads to the door) I’m going out now, bye bye!”

I was laughing inside my heart again, at the way he copied what I sometimes do. Sometimes, to get him to follow me when he’s too engrossed in some activity, I say “I’m going now. Bye bye!” and he usually stops whatever he was doing to follow me.

I was too sleepy to follow him out. I knew he’d be ok outside the room as my husband was in the TV lounge and my helper was in the dining area. Btw, I later heard a lot of laughter. The next day I found out that he was helping to wash a pot, and had carried it to show my husband how clean it was! LOL


“Itchy...itchy” (scratching some part of his body)

“What?” (I couldn’t understand as he didn’t pronounce the word properly)

“” (it was dark so I couldn’t see where he was pointing to)

“Why is it itchy? Is it a mosquito bite or is your skin too dry?”

“Too dry”

“Ok, I’ll get the lotion” (I apply the lotion to his leg). “There, is it still itchy?”

“Yes,” (I apply a bit more and rub it all over his leg, ankle, foot)



(I keep the lotion and get back to bed) “Much better?”

“What does it mean – much?”

“Much? Much means “a lot”. So “much better” means “a lot better” Is it a lot better?”


“No, bEtter, not bUtter!” (I emphasise the different vowel used, and spelt it out for him, and broke it down to the phonic sounds. It was strange the way he asked if it was butter cos it’s usual that I ask him if things were better e.g. when he falls, and I rub his bruise asking if it’s better. Maybe it was different this time because I added the word “much” before the word “better”.)

“What is butter?”

“Butter? That’s like margarine that we spread on bread. It’s made from milk, which comes from cows.”


“So, is it better?”

“It rhymes!”

(I pause a moment to figure out what he said cos he has never said the word “rhymes” before. I didn’t know that he knew what “rhymes” mean. I had pointed words that rhyme in nursery rhymes but it was just a handful of times.)

“Oh yeah, better and butter does rhyme!”

“Why? Why mama?”

“Why does it rhyme? Because the ending sounds are the same – “ter”” (I then emphasise the phonic sounds again of both words).


I love the way he’s learning by asking questions. There’s been a lot of “why” questions and “what is (a new word)?” which also make me think of ways to explain it in simple terms and in ways he can relate to.

I love how he figured out that it rhymes. It shows me that stuff that I’m exposing him to, is going in!

There were other occasions where he says things spontaneously and I love the way his speech is beginning to reflect his personality.

I love it because it reflects the progress he’s making.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Art & craft for Father’s Day

I’ve been doing a few art and craft activities with my son in the last few weeks. The aim was to have him practice various fine motor skills while having fun doing so.

This was one that we did as an early Father’s Day celebration. It was featured on the babycentre website. Here’s the link:

Making it certainly took much longer than the 30mins that they said it would! He had fun doing it, but mama had to finish it after he lost interest halfway. LOL

In the process, he learnt or was exposed to or had some practice on the following:

- Measure using a ruler, then making the mark on the cardboard

- Hold a ruler with the left hand while drawing the line with the right hand

- Align the ruler from a mark on one end, to the other mark

- Using a scissors (he’s very weak in this)

- Uncap the glue stick, then how to hold it to apply glue

- Align the cut wrapping paper to the cut cardboard, and smoothing it down to paste it

- Pegging the cut alphabets to the ribbon (peg was too hard for him)

- That we’ll be celebrating Father’s Day soon

When papa came home, he saw it and was happy. That made my son happy too. : )

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Progress in reading skills – Peter and Jane

It was maybe 4 months ago, that I first brought out the Peter and Jane Ladybird series, for him to read. Thank you very much YL for giving the entire set to my son!

Back then, he didn’t recognise the word “here” which is repeated very often in Book 1a. Back then, I had to coax him to read each page. Back then, he didn’t want to read beyond the first few pages.

He has gone from cover to cover of Book 1a, two or three times. Two or three times are just a few times over a period of 4 months.

It took a long time for him to finish the book initially cos he’d only read a few pages at each sitting. At each of the initial sittings, I didn’t want to force him to continue when he showed signs of losing his interest. So for him to finish reading the entire book the first time, it took him a period of maybe a month.

It was then about 2 months ago that I brought out the book for him again. He was able to read it from cover to cover in one sitting. To me, that’s an improvement. He did hesitate with several words. I did have to help him with some words. I did have to point to each word for him to read it aloud.

He has also now read Book 1b, from cover to cover. I’m happy with his progress.

Last night, I brought out Book 1a again, after a couple of months of not reading it. This time, he showed further improvements.

- He initially pointed to the words as he read it aloud. Then as he went on, he didn’t have to point, which means he could visually track the words.

- He also read it quite fast without much hesitation. It was choppy but I think that’s because of his dysarthria.

- He either worked out or remembered some of the high frequency words like “here” and “likes” without my help!

As he read more pages, his voice grew softer, down to a whisper. But I noticed that he was getting into a very slouched position where his chin was almost touching his chest. I remembered something his CST therapist said. So I tested it out. As I raised the book (in order to raise his head up), his voice grew louder. So for him, getting his body into the right position makes a big difference in his abilities.

Papa joined in the session shortly after he started and was most impressed by his abilities! Papa asked if he had memorised the book. I think he hasn’t read it often enough to be able to memorise the entire book by heart. I do think he has memorised some key words in there like “Peter”, “Jane”.

Maybe from now on, Papa will read a book a night with him before bedtime! : )

Progress in Neurosuit physiotherapy

He resumed his physiotherapy sessions in the Neurosuit last week. At the moment, it’s one and a half hours twice weekly, but would have preferred thrice weekly during the school holidays.

Some of the targets at the moment are to improve his balance and increase his strength. Already, I can see very good improvements.

These are some of the things he can do without anyone helping him:

- He can step over gaps that are 2-3 feet wide (from a half foot raised surface to a 2 inch mat)

- He can step up and down by himself across the step boxes, some of which are slightly over one foot high, and where the gaps between the boxes are about half a foot wide.

- He has better balance

- He is able to push off a 5kg sandbag quicker

The therapist understands my goal is for my son not to need a shadow aide when he starts school next year.

Strength is important in many situations, from being able to speak louder, to carrying his school bag, to being able to last a full 6 hours of school.

Balance is important in many situations too, from not being knocked over (cos kids push each other), to getting on and off the chair or toilet bowl, to walking up or down the stairs.

He is a real trooper during the sessions for continuing even though he’s tired (he has short breaks for water or the toilet during the session) and for overcoming his fears (e.g. on the step boxes).

His current physiotherapist, Adnan is just great at having the right balance of being firm while being able to motivate him, and of course knowing what my son needs to work on.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Toilet training progress

I think it’s been about 6 months since he was able to tell that he needs to shee shee. There’s been numerous accidents, tears and frustration, but since then, he’s come a long way.

He’s able to stay dry even when he has a daytime nap. That was in truth an unplanned development. There were several times, about 3 months ago, where I forgot to put him in diapers before he had his daytime naps. Fortunately, as a result of those wettings, after a few weeks, he learnt to wake up from his nap when his bladder was filled.

He has stronger muscle control although I noticed a recent tendency for him to visit the toilet shortly after arriving at whichever destination. That’s not something I look forward to given the common state of Malaysia toilets. On the bright side though, he is able to shee shee in dirty toilets (e.g. the typical yucky toilet of a coffee shop type of restaurant)

Recently, he’s occasionally able to stay dry at night! If he didn’t have too much to drink at dinner time and before bedtime, his diaper is very likely to be dry when he wakes in the morning. He has also on several occasions woken in the middle of the night, asking to be taken to the toilet to shee shee.

All of these occurrences have happened much faster than I expected, and I’m happy, happy, happy!

When it comes to poo though, the progress is slower. Lately, he finds it hard to poo and will need to go to toilet several times before it finally is excreted. I think it’s because he’s not getting as much fruit (seldom drinks a fruit smoothie nowadays) and water.

He also has difficulty balancing himself without a smaller kiddy seat on top of a normal adult seat (e.g. in a public toilet). But I believe that will come from practice and more physiotherapy sessions that strengthen his leg muscles.

He also has made some progress in pulling down and up his underwear and pants. It’ll still require loads of practice cos there are too many ways that the elasticised bands can get twisted or tangled together. He’ll need to strengthen his finger and hand muscles too cos some elasticised bands are tighter than others.

Overall, I think he’s doing well. The aim of course is for him to be able to be fully independent for all toileting needs, within 12 months. That’s because I’m working on him not needing a shadow aide by the time he starts school in Sept 2011 (that date is not in the least bit confirmed, but I’ve to work towards it).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

3 item pattern recognition

I was a bit worried why my son still couldn’t see patterns that had 3 items repeated, e.g. red, blue, green, red, blue, green, what’s next? I was worried that it might indicate he has problems with maths.

But I’m satisfied that he’s okay with other aspects of early maths skills e.g. recognising numbers at least up to 20 (and beyond that actually), knowing the concept of addition, knowing that +1 means the next number, that as numbers get bigger the quantity gets more etc.

So I wasn’t sure what to conclude. Several months ago, my husband voiced his worry about our son’s maths skill, thus I didn’t want to brush aside any concerns that I had.

Last week, I asked my friend who’s a kindergarten principal about this, and she thinks he’s fine in terms of his maths skills. She suggested presenting the pattern in a different way, using words instead since he’s stronger in literacy skills.

A day after consulting her, I tried a version of what she suggested. My son and I were messing about on the white board, when I tried this pattern on him:

2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6, 2, ?, 6 “What’s the missing number?” I asked him. He surprised me when he immediately answered “4”. He usually hesitates in answering 3 pattern questions, or says “I dunno”. I thought that question might have been easy for him cos he might have memorised “2, 4, 6, 8” from the closing song of the “Team Umizoomi” show that he watches daily.

So I tried another 3 pattern:

1, 3, 5, 1, 3, 5, 1, ?, ? “What are the missing numbers?” I asked. He surprised me again with the right answer! He took the marker and wrote “3” by himself (but looked almost unrecognisable) and needed help with writing “5”.

I decided to give this experiment another try, but this time I drew shapes (star, circle, square). Having given the right answers again, I now know that he’s alright with recognising 3 item pattern repetition. I’m happy, happy, happy!

But I’m still very curious why a week before the above exercise, he couldn’t do a different version of 3 item pattern repetition.

There are several factors that are different between the versions of 3 item pattern that he could do and those that he couldn’t do before this, which I’m very curious about.
- Does it make a difference if it’s written on a whiteboard versus using tangible objects versus pictures of objects?
- Does it make a difference if it’s presented in a larger size (my writing was large) versus the much smaller size of my printed pattern?
- Does it make a difference when the object used in the pattern is something he’s very familiar with?

Only one way to find out! : )

Friday, June 11, 2010

Visit to an International School

My husband, my son and I had an appointment to meet with the principal of an (affordable) international school today. It's the one that's very far away from our home.

We arrived very early because we wanted to walk around to observe the classes in session. Luckily they were kind enough to let us in early. In the end, we were there for 2+ hours!

We loved the very green setting that the school is in. The moment you turn off the highway, and go past their school gates, you’re greeted with lush greenery. I don’t mean beautiful landscaped gardens but natural, local trees here and there, many oil palm trees, vegetation...feels like being overseas. You definitely don’t get that in KL/PJ schools.

I was impressed with the cleanliness of the toilets, both at the canteen and at the main building. It reflects well on their attitude towards hygiene. Their small swimming pool was clean too as were the classrooms and common areas.

Kids in general seemed happy and well behaved in their classes. We were pleasantly surprised to see the level of enthusiasm of the kids in Mandarin class. They were so eager to be picked to go up to the whiteboard to answer the question.

My son was clearly happy with the place. He happily pointed out the football field. He happily walked around the library. He was happy to see the small kids in the computer room. He wasn’t cautious the way he was in the two other international schools we had visited in the past.

Normal kids who plan to enter Year 1 will not go through an assessment, but disabled kids will. Sigh. I can understand her point of view but I still would rather not have him assessed. The principal said that it’s not purely academic and is not formalised. As part of the assessment, they may even want to see how he copes in a classroom setting.

From what I heard from another parent, if he can’t sit still (not wander off) for an hour during the assessment, he’s very likely to be disqualified....and that really worries me. But I shall put my trust in God.

I didn’t state that my son needs a shadow aide, but they are open to it should he need one based on the assessment. I truly hope that by the time he enters Yr 1, he’ll be independent enough to not need one. I do not want him to be labelled by other kids. It’d be good to start fresh in a new school, without a shadow aide. That refuels my motivation to work on his gross and fine motor skills, and self care of course. I’ve a one year timeframe!

The classroom setting is simple and not fancy like the really expensive international school I visited. This one has a whiteboard in front, tables and chairs for kids and somewhat monotonous. In the expensive school, teacher uses a computer to teach, with the screen projected up on the wall! The expensive school also seemed to have more resources at their disposal lying around in the classroom itself (crayons, story books, maths equipment, art stuff etc) – it seemed more fun, colourful, inviting and pleasant. I think that’s important when you’ve to spend close to 6 hours cooped up in the classroom.

The classrooms are a little bit cramped (perhaps because tables and chairs are adult sized) compared to the expensive school (kid sized colourful furniture). But for the Year 1 class, it was more spacious even though they also use adult-sized furniture. Yr 1 classes had small-sized tables and chairs at the back of the room, which is good cos they are still rather young. Yr 1 kids are 5-6 year olds.

We haven’t submitted our application form to the school yet. They need medical report from doctor, CV of parents amongst other things!.

We’re hoping to visit a private school in Subang next week which accepts shadow aides. I still prefer to have him in an English medium (ie international school) but now that the govt has announced an earlier entry age for Primary 1, we may consider private schools. And that means more research on my part : )

Thursday, June 10, 2010

FGA’s PSG Picnic - 9 June 2010

We went for a picnic at Bukit Jalil Park yesterday morning (Wednesday). We were blessed with cool cloudy weather and only a few mosquitoes! It was a small, casual picnic with 6 other families.

In my mad rush to get there (we’re both not morning persons – he went to the picnic in pyjamas! LOL) I forgot to bring along his sippy bottle to make him his milk but did bring a doughnut (one of his favourite snacks). He didn’t want any of the other foods like bee hoon, fried mee, sausage buns, but that’s to be expected of him. When there are people whom he’s not familiar with around, it’s firstly very difficult to feed him what he does like to eat (very self conscious), and secondly, it’s even harder to have him eat food he’s not familiar with. I made sure he drank water so he doesn’t risk being dehydrated.

He enjoyed himself as he played on the rocking animals (or as I call them the weeble wobbles) but didn’t have the courage to play on the climbing equipment with two other kids who were around his age group. To be fair, the kids were on the equipment that were rather large, high up, and on top of a dome shaped triangular grid. It would have looked intimidating to him.

He was amused by one of the ladies trying out the hula hoop and the sepak-bulu-tangkis-thingy (coloured feathers attached to flat ring-shaped weights, which you try to keep in the air by kicking it up with the side of your feet like in sepak takraw). She later took it upon herself to play with him while I spoke at length to another mother.

I was really happy to observe that someone else could take care of him, and for him to enjoy himself without me around! I’m not sure how long it was...perhaps 20-30 minutes? She showed him how to play with a propeller-flying-thingy (a light wooden two blade rotor on a thin vertical stick). He played with a plastic version of that during Chinese new year at the in-laws, but couldn’t get it to fly. This time round, I noticed that he made progress. I’m happy to see that he can learn from someone else, and be willing to try! Maybe it’s because mama’s not in his range of sight (he didn’t see me, but I was observing him). Hmm, perhaps I should resign as his shadow aide and hire one instead! But I know that’s unlikely to happen as it’ll add to the financial burden...unless papa’s willing to consider?

I was happy to have adult conversation, and a break from errands, chores and therapies. I’ve to start clearing the errands during the holidays cos there’s a backlog from the time of his illnesses. Who was it that said that things come in threes? This week, I’ve had a leaking air cond, no water to all our toilets, and tonight, we have an aeroplane with its engine on in the kitchen (fridge is making an awfully loud rattling noise). If only it were an aeroplane ready to whisk me off for a holiday!

A big thank you to the organisers for a simple, casual, enjoyable picnic! A much appreciated break to catch up with you guys, and a break from routines!

Speech Therapy - 10 June 2010

Overall, the therapist was happy with his progress. In the past few months, I haven’t been closely monitoring his progress in speech (or other areas!) cos I’ve been distracted by other matters (settling into kindy, changing of helpers, his illnesses). But the therapist hadn’t seen my son for about 3 months, so she noticed a few things.

She heard him speak in a string of 4 words in a single breath. Actually, at home he can speak in a string of 7 or more words at a go, but it’s just that he doesn’t say much to outsiders.

She noticed that he is more stable on his feet. She noticed it as we were walking to the therapy room. I think she also noticed it when my son had to go to toilet 3 times during the session!

She noticed that he no longer has a wet/gurgly voice, which is good. She had wondered whether that wet voice would eventually disappear.

She noticed that his fine motor skills had improved. One of the activities was piecing together a number train jigsaw puzzle (he had to use his voice to ask for various pieces that he wants). I was a bit surprised that he was getting better at joining pieces of a puzzle. A night or two ago, I brought out a chunky large jigsaw puzzle and left him to it cos I had to cook dinner. When I got back to check on him, he had pieced 8 pieces together all by himself! That was a first!

She was also impressed that his reading skill has progressed so much in the 3 months since we last met. I was not surprised in this aspect because lately, he tries to decipher longer words (4 or 5 letter words) by his own, if he sees a leaflet lying around or on his milk tin etc. But I was surprised that instead of looking at the picture in the book to answer the therapist’s question, he tried to decipher the written word. It was a big picture book, on the A-Z of animals (e.g. “A is for anteater”). There were a lot of “I dunno” coming from him even though he knew the picture of a giraffe, a rhino etc.

My husband too noticed that lately, he says “I dunno” a lot even though it is something we know he knows. I reckon he says it cos he already knows it (as in “Hai ya, why are you asking me that la?! So boring”). Other times, he says it when he really doesn’t know.

The first thing she said to me when we met today was that he looks good. So when it came to the end of the session where both of us discuss about him, I asked whether it’s the haircut, or that he lost baby fat from his face (he lost 2kg during the H1N1 episode), or that he’s taller. She agreed that he looks matured, that he his taller (no longer needs a foot stool to stabilise him when he’s sat on that Ikea chair), that he looks more toned (fingers not chubby).

She thinks that shedding that weight might have been a good thing, and aided him in moving around better. She commented that he needs to work on strengthening his muscles. I shared that he’s doing more physio in the Neurosuit during the school holidays, and before his physiotherapist goes back to do his postgrad degree. She thinks that improvements to speech and fine motor (higher level skills) will come, when there are improvements in gross motor, balance (lower level skills) etc.

I raised my concern that he started to stutter when it comes to “st” words (stop, star, stair, understand). She explained that in his case of dysarthria, it’s not really stutter, but because it’s hard for him to plan his muscles to blend two consonants “s” and “t” with a vowel immediately after the consonant. It’ll resolve itself in due time cos he’s getting in the gross motor work. In the meantime, she suggested that I encourage him to purposefully lengthen the vowel (e.g. st-aaaaaaaaaa-r).

I was also concerned that he mispronounces the “L” by using “n” instead. She heard him say “peh-nee-sss” when it was “please”. She said it is common to use “n” for “l”. She asked if it happens with words that begin with “L” also. I said I didn’t think so but when I got home, I heard him say “nook” instead of “look” which is a common mispronunciation for him.

She isn’t too concerned about the “ck” sound cos she did hear him say it correctly at times, and at times not. She explained that so long as he can sometimes say it correctly, it means that he is able to, and we just need to remind him. She’d be worried if he couldn’t say it correctly at all.

As for the “r” sound, she says it’s ok for now as there’s a lot of other things that we need to work on. Hmm, I didn’t notice he has a problem with “r” but now that she mentioned it, it would naturally be tricky for him to curl his tongue to make the “r” sound. Perhaps I’m too exposed to Manglish to have picked it up!

We spoke about schools too. She was very helpful when I emailed her for advice a few months ago, on schools that take in special needs kids. She too thinks that Australian Int’l School is very open to taking in special needs kids. She pointed out that a private (not int’l) school in Subang takes in kids that need shadow aides. I might check it out later.

We next meet in Sept which is good news!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Types of clouds

He often likes to look at the sky, clouds and mountain from the bedrooms.

Living in a capital city that’s in a valley (and with far too many vehicles) means we often have days where the sky is a shade of gray or when the air is hazy. So I tend to notice when we’re blessed with days of (relatively) clear air, a blue sky and white clouds. I do so love such days and point it out to my son. So I think he too has taken notice of the sky and clouds.

I think all this started last year when we went to the park almost every day, if not twice a day, for gross motor exercises. I’d look at the sky to check for rain clouds before heading out, and again when we arrived at the park.

On Saturday, we were blessed with a gorgeous blue sky and a wonderful breeze that kept the temperature a tad lower. It didn’t feel like we were in KL.

For some time now, I wanted to teach him the names of the different types of clouds. But there were just too many things happening one after another. (Things on the home front are a little more settled now though I still wish I didn’t have to cook)

On Saturday, I finally had the time to get on the internet and find out the names of the different types of clouds. He was so happy to see the different types of clouds on those websites. The websites weren’t fancy, so I guess he was naturally curious and interested in the subject matter.

We spent almost an hour on this topic of clouds. He ran from room to room to check out the types of clouds he could spot, and back to the computer to find out the names. He asked me the names of the clouds of this or that cloud. He was really excited, and I was happy to have fuelled that interest.

I only visited three websites, and I found these two simple enough for me:

Specifically for kids:

Now I’ve to try to remember the names of the clouds to keep his interest up! : )