Friday, 30 November 2012

So. That is that.

One week ago we had Phoebe's diagnostic assessment. It was horrible, we were asked to stay silent during it so they could artificially create all the situations possible to test her. At first she was reasonably ok with this but after almost 30 minutes she started to get upset and cross. Finally after about 50 minutes they went away for a 10 min deliberation. 45 minutes later they returned and confirmed that yes, Phoebe does indeed have an ASD. They broke things down into understandable chunks for us and we are waiting on the more detailed report.

At least now we know and we can all move forward. In that vein we had parents evening on Wednesday and had our first look at Phoebe's IEP (independent education plan) so we can work on lots of ways to help her manage her behaviours and issues at school. Hopefully this will start to help really soon as she is struggling to manage how she feels with other people currently. She hates to hurt anyones feelings so puts herself at the bottom of the pile but by doing that her self esteem suffers and we end in a vicious cycle of her worrying about being bad. One of the worst things I have ever heard from her is that we should just starve her to death, this isn't something you should ever hear from your 6 yr old and it breaks my heart each time I hear it.

Anyway, onwards and sideways we have Phoebe's birthday next week so we are all getting ready for that and all the fun that will bring. Then Yule which we all look forward to as we enjoy making the house beautiful and our Yule treat (Circus this year!) and finally Christmas. We have a cunning plan involving the Portable North Pole videoes we have bought and the girl's favourite movies....

Saturday, 29 September 2012

BAM.... well, actually it would be more accurate to say SLAM.

So after the saga of FifIII and having Paul back to help with the morning. I was delighted to take the girls to school on Friday to end the Egg Traumas. Phoebe ran on ahead with FifIII whilst I got Clara out of the car and collecting all the various bags required for a day at school. All was going so well until I closed the back door.... alas my little finger was still in it.

Now I am not a wuss, I have had 2 children with minimum of pain relief and can cope with stubbing a toe without requiring copious amounts of swearing. But I screamed... loudly. Probably not helped by Clara's one and only comment on the situation of:

"You shouldn't have done that Mummy."

No shit sherlock.... I think that wins the prize for understatement! Anyway, naturally no bugger came to help me and so I got my finger out and cradling my hand Clara and I headed in through the gates. As we walked past the teacher outside I literally couldn't hold in the tears any longer and burst into floods on poor Ms H! They were awesome though, took over getting Clara to class for me and got me an ice pack for my hand (which was rather impressively swollen by this point!) then went to make sure the girls had settled ok for me. I managed to drive home one handed and took myself up to the walk in centre where the nurse looked at it, checked I could bend it and declared it Not Broken. Phew. Of course they had no plasters to dress the cuts for me so I staggered back home to dress it myself and gobble many many painkillers. Currently I have splinted it to my ring finger to help support it as it is still flipping painful!

The upside was that the mahoosive amount of pain I was (am still) in allowed me to let out all the emotions from the week. Poor Mum got to field a sobbing phone call from me. The fact that Phoebe's ASD has been confirmed really hit home and the sore finger was just the straw that broke the camel's back I guess. Whilst it is what I wanted, I think a part of me would have liked to have been proved wrong. Having to admit something isn't right with your child is a really really hard thing to do and having a Doctor confirm that something isn't right always comes as a shock.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to change anything and I am still relieved things have been confirmed. It is going to make Phoebe's life so much easier in the long run. But she is still my baby and always will be and I want life to be as fab as it can be and this is a hurdle she will have to manage all her life. People will try and judge her on her problems and I know that some people won't be able to see past the quirks to see the awesome child she really is!

Oh. And adding insult to (did I mention painful) injury Fifi has come home from the weekend.... hmph!

Thursday, 27 September 2012


After last nights squish-a-rama drama I confessed to Phoebe this morning. Well I say confessed... I mean of course I blamed the dog (ha, like you wouldn't?!). So after school Phoebe, Clara, Jasper and I walked down to the market and purchased 18 eggs. 1 new Fifi and 17 "just in case".

We got home and whilst the girls had tea I hardboiled and decorated (in exactly the same way as the last ones...) Fifi the third. Seal of approval was made and when it was bed time she was lovingly placed in her handbag bed whilst we read the last chapter of Treasure Island to Jasper. Jasper got bored and vanished half way through but we kept going and were relieved to find out that all ended well and Jim got home safe and sound.

Then we noticed.... No FifIII. She wasn't in her bed, she wasn't on the floor.... where could she be? Where was Jasper... he was very quiet and not nicknamed Klepto the wonderdog for nothing. A quick investigation of his bed revealed a, thankfully still intact, FifIII.

Thankfully Phoebe found this all very funny and FifIII was tucked back into her handbag bed and put in the drawer!

I am sure the Yr 2 teachers thought this would be a nice, easy, fun project and not one that would cause a large amount of stress to all the poor parents!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

More adventures of Fifi.

Today Fifi2 survived going to school. Then she had a nap and then she went swimming with Phoebe. Where she witnessed Clara swim at least 10M for the first time. Then she had a little ride home in my handbag and over the course of the evening going squished.


I am out of eggs and the shops are now closed.

Double Shit.

I am a bad bad bad bad Mummy.

The Egg-citing adventures of Fifi.

I pick Phoebe & Clara up from school last night and Phoebe presents me with a letter and shows me an egg with a face on it:

Said egg is called Fifi. And Phoebe has to look after it and write a diary for a week. Hmmmm.

Last night it got caught in the rain and it's face washed off. We couldn't go home for emergency repairs alas as we had to go to Ballet much to Phoebe's distress. I told her that Fifi must have gotten car sick and that is why she was so pale (nothing like parenting to teach you to think on your feet!). Fifi then watches as Phoebe plays "adventures" with her two buddies R & J while Clara has her ballet lesson. When it is time for Phoebe to go to her lesson she takes Fifi with her and Miss Penny very kindly gives Fifi a bit of a make over. All well and good tra la la la la. Then... Oh My Gods... then Phoebe tells Clara she can carry Fifi out to the car. Hands up if you can guess what happened next:


Thankfully Phoebe is skipping ahead with Jasper so I swear Clara to secrecy on pain of removal of all things pink from her universe and scoop up the remains of Fifi and stash her in the boot so she can be "safe" in my coat. We then swing by Fat Rons for their tea (oh shoot me, it's once a week and after at least 45 mins of dancing!). I ring Paul and ask him to hard boil me an egg whilst I run in and grab the food. The girls stay waiting with the dog and I then stash the food with Fifi in the boot.

When we get home the girls are allowed a Big Treat of eating in the living room and we shut ourselves, the dog, the broken egg I have secreted back into the house, the newly hard boiled egg and my entire art box. I then set about putting Fifi back together so I can copy Miss Penny's beautiful handiwork onto the new blank egg. I succeed with reasonable success and then when the new improved Fifi2 is bought up to bed Phoebe is none the wiser (and I am in need of a stiff drink!).

Fifi2 spent the night in a mock retro clip handbag lined with a flannel and a hankie as a sheet and went off to school with Phoebe today. Tonight we will be walking the dog, watching Willy Fog (the cartoon from the 80s) and then going to our swimming lesson with Fifi2. I don't want to think about having to make Fifi3. Mostly as I am on my own tonight and we are out of eggs....

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Breathing Out.

Oh I have been a naughty naughty blogger haven't I. Whoopsy! But in defence life got hectic FAST.

So let's see my last post was about getting a dog. Said dog is now sat in my living room aged 16 weeks and is currently chewing a dog on a lead toy that he probably shouldn't be chewing but at least it isn't a table leg! He is white and black, lots of fun and is called Jasper (or Klepto the Wonderdog depending on how much is missing):

He is also the most gorgeous dog in creation naturally and he loves ME best!

We started Puppy School last week and he is a total smarty pants swot who will do anything if there is cheese at the end of it. And I did a PAWS course in August this year so we could train him to help out with Phoebe when she gets whizzy.

On the subject of Phoebe getting whizzy. Today we had our initial assessment with CAMHS and they have concluded that she is, indeed, on the spectrum. Right now I am mostly relieved that we weren't seeing things or imagining things. The full weight of the implications will hit me in time I am sure but I am determined to keep looking at all this as a positive thing because it is going to be an invaluable tool for us and we are all going to benefit from it. Phoebe remains non the wiser about it and was mostly thrilled that she got to sit in a room with toys all to herself and she got chocolate. Until we have a formal diagnosis we are planning on keeping it that way.

I do have massive thanks to do for my friend Karen who shared a fab report on her lovely boy which helped me write a similar one on Phoebe and then checking it over for me to make sure it read well. To MyBecky for her lovely report on Phoebe as a Pre-Schooler, Miss B & Miss M for their report on Phoebe the school child and Miss Penny for her report on Phoebe at ballet. Without all of these things and their unfailing support of both Phoebe and myself I am not sure we would have been able to be so conclusive. And, without wishing this to sound like an Oscar speech but not wanting to miss anybody out. I also want to thank Jane and Mike for being fabulous trail blazers for us. Seeing how ace Lexi is and how you have worked his ASD into life has been hugely inspiring and given us confidence in seeking help for Phoebe. All of our parents for being their usual supportive loving selves and Emma for standing by us and letting me rant when I need to!

We have a long road ahead still but with the constant love, help and support I know things are going to be OK. And really you couldn't ask for more! We feel we can breathe out a bit now, we aren't holding our breaths waiting for now. What ever happens, what ever the diagnosis we will get there.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

We have a new member of the family En Route.

The decision to get a Dog at some point started at the beginning of the year. We had been happy with our 2 newly bonded bunnies and our 2 cats. Then Turvey the bunny died suddenly at the beginning of the year and we couldn't bear to replace him. So we moved Poppy inside so she would have us as company. We started mulling the idea over and with the additional issues of Phoebe's potential ASD we decided that a dog would be the next best family pet for us. When later in the year Little Brown Cat's kidneys gave up the ghost and she departed this world too we started looking in earnest for a dog.

I checked out all the local shelters but it became apparent that none of them would rehome a young dog to us with 2 young children. Especially as one of those children has special needs (not in relation to dogs... she is like a mini Dr Dolittle!). So I started looking online for pups that would be homed around September time. Then I came across an advert for pups ready mid August and the picture of the dogs Mum was just lovely. I got that good feeling that usually means I am onto something so I emailed them and after an exchange of emails we got to go at the top of the waiting list for Izzy's pups!

At this point we hadn't told the girls anything but as the due date got closer for the pups I got more and more excited and we told the girls about it last week. Then on Saturday I got the email I had been waiting for, Izzy had given birth to 5 beautiful pups on Thursday night by Emergency CSection. 3 boys and 2 girls:

We get to pick which one will be our pup on the 14th July and I can't WAIT. So far I have toys, blankets, a crate and a nice soft cushion for the pup to snuggle up with. I have a few more things on my list before the pup comes to live with us when we are back from Greece. I will update as soon as we have chosen the pup and can do a proper introduction!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Puppy Trial Run....

We have two furry visitors here at the moment. Mum's schipoo puppies Lolly and Poppy are here for the weekend whilst she and Rob are away visiting family. The girls have been ecstatic since their arrival last night and the puppies have been incredibly well behaved too!

Most excitingly this is a bit of a trial run for us as we are planning our own furry friend in September. We must be utterly cracked to think about this seriously but we have done all the research we can do. We are looking into puppy prep classes so the girls will be prepared properly. And we are hopefully going to do a course with PAWS so that the dog can be a companion for Phoebe to help her deal with anxieties (give her a focus) when we are out and about. With that in mind we bought Phoebe the RSPCA How to look after a dog book and she is has been reading it voraciously since then. We are going for something a little bigger than these pups and are looking at Cockapoos. I am ridiculously excited and might already be planning names!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

9-10 Months....

9 to 10 sodding months. Before we even have the initial appt for CAHMS to assess Phoebe. The referral co-ordinator was meant to be calling me back, I am still waiting a week later. It is so unbelievably depressing. All I want is a few answers and for a pro to give me their opinion of Phoebe so I am not blindly flailing with her and constantly on damage control.

I am lucky that I have a very supportive school for her and they are constantly coming up with ways for helping her cope. She is able to take herself off to the time out table any time she wants if she is getting "whizzy" and they have her ear defenders so she can put them on when things get too much. They are as confident as I am of what the problem is. But with her moving her into Yr 2 soon and the lessons being much more rigid I worry she won't cope so well. Especially as now the girls are getting older socialisation starts to become much more key and I worry she will start to stand out as an oddity where she doesn't blend with other 6yr old girls.

The ear defenders are a bloody revelation. The improvement is instantly visible when she puts them on. They were an utter God send in the Natural History Museum trip we took with school last Weds. She only needed them in short bursts but the difference they made was amazing. She was instantly calmer and more able to focus on the task at hand. On the trains she was less shouty and twitchy whilst wearing them too. Amusingly she has also started wearing them in tap class as all the tapping gets to her but she does love to dance! To be fair dance class is an hour and 15 mins for her, 45 mins of ballet a quick break with a snack and then 30 mins of tap so by the time tap comes up she is tired and distinctly more whizzy! I really must go and buy a few more pairs so she can have one set at school all the time, one in her dance bag, one in my handbag etc etc. Also massive not-red ones would be good, a little more subtle perhaps!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Literal translations....

Yesterday we were at Phoebe's friend Nathan's birthday party. It was held at a football place near the kid's school. Phoebe and Clara had a fab time running around and playing football. Phoebe decided she was captain of Team England and lead them in a 7:7 draw with the other side (team Chelsea apparently).

After the match they were told they had played a really good game and should shake hands. All the other children started to move to do so. Phoebe stood stock still and did "Jazz Hands". If you are unaware of the jazz hand move then this vid demos it nicely!

Thankfully Phoebe wasn't so camp although she was still very amusing!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Week from Hell & Happy St Georges Day!

Last week can be summed up in 3 words. Clara Chicken Pox. Oh my good lordy lord... Mariah Carey could take Diva lessons from Clara! Add to that the fact we had to say our goodbyes to our beloved Little Brown cat and it does not a good week make. We were all glad when it was over and we were able to do a little recovery over the weekend.

On a happier notes today the girl's school was celebrating St Georges day. They were allowed to wear red or white, be a princess or a knight. Clara was predictable and was in her Princess outfit like a shot. Phoebe surprisingly wanted to be a Princess too, unusual I was convinced that she was going to want to be a knight (which btw... thanks to Monty Python is pronounced Ker-niggit in my head!). Anyway Princess dress was located in TK Maxx complete with cape.

So this morning came and they donned costumes, did hair and were ready:

As it was St Georges day I was invited (read Shanghai'd) to stay at school to join in the fun activities the school had planned. The school assembled on the field where, rather inconveniently, a dragon had laid a massive egg! Loads of activities were planned around the school and the girls took part in making a dragon puppet, creating a dragon rap (well... sort of, on account of the drums, Phoebe and I spent that session sat outside), making masks and writing news stories about St George's triumph over the dragon

(I shouldn't be left alone with computers and writing applications....) and making dragon scale handprints to go on the massive dragon. They had lots of fun and then I got to go home and they went off and had a picnic in the hall (was meant to be on the grounds but...well... it's april, in England. It rained!).

Hopefully they are both wiped enough for an early night as I am shattered. Reading until 3am is never a good thing to do before embarking on a morning at school with children!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Gogoi and the Lost Teddy. By Phoebe.

This was Phoebe's Easter Homework and she was so proud she wanted me to share it. She had to plan and write a story and here it is... warts and all!

One sunny day Phoebe and Gogoi were walking through the orchard. Suddenly Gogoi stopt and yeld  "I'ev lost my teddy!" Phoebe said "Don't wury lets make posters and put them up". Phoebe did the draring because she was best at it. Gogoi did the riting and photocopying.

Weil Phoebe and Gogoi were putting the posters up. Mum saw a poster so she asked if she can help. Mum looked on the grawed because she was ufraid of hits. Phoebe lookied in the midel. Last but not least Gogoi looked at the tipetop of the trees and there was ted!

"Teeeeed" thay cheered. Phoebe climd tall tree and down with ted. She gave ted to Gogoi whoo gave ted a big hug.

The End.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sleep Overs...

Phoebe had her friend N over for a sleep over tonight. They started off in her room but N took issue with the blue wall in there and when I came up to comfort him he played his ace. He declared he wanted his Mummy, alas I knew that wasn't a possibility so I played the only card I could think of and suggested that they might like to watch Wizard of Oz (oh thank you timely Love Film!) in my bed and try and go to sleep in there. Thankfully that worked like a charm and by the time Paul and I climbed up the stairs to go to bed they had both fallen asleep!

Paul moved them back into Phoebe's room without issue thankfully!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Seriously Impressive Bruising!

Clara has a shiner. I should be horrified for the poor wee love, she thwacked her face on a slide in softplay last week. And I am, I really am. But still you HAVE to appreciate a good bruise and oh my, it is a good one. Starts on her cheek bone and then works its way up to her eye with a myriad of colours as well!

I mean is that not a seriously impressive bruise?! It is the Clara Way, if you are going to do it... do a Good Job of it!

The Kamikaze Kid rules supreme!

Oh and I have absolutely NOT been telling her to tell people that the Easter Bunny beat her up... No sir not me!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Do you know the BEST thing about having Phoebe?

She has absolutely no "they are a bit different" radar to speak of.

Take yesterday when we went to our friend Lexi's birthday party, she fitted right in with the boys who all have autism or something along those lines. She was in ecstasies about the lego figure in the party bags and about all the lego Lexi got for his birthday. She didn't make any comment on the fact that J was wearing Ear Defenders (something P does voluntarily when things get too much for her anyway!). It was also great for her as no one batted an eye that she didn't want her pizza because it wasn't round and pizzas are meant to be round (I have to say these friends wouldn't have batted an eyelid anyway but it was nice to be at a party where quirky was the norm!). Or her mild panic that the sugar in the cake would make her sick!

My particularly proud moment came when we headed off to the SEN play session at a local soft play area. There was a boy, lets call him O, who came running out of there as soon as our lot entered saying they shouldn't be there. We explained that they were autistic so it was allowed and that settled that. It transpired that O likes hugging little girls so the 3 non quirky girls were prime hugging material so spent a lot of time running away from him. Phoebe once she realised that he just wanted to be friends went and hugged him, took him by the hand and played with him beautifully! His Mum was really quite touched and Phoebe is still talking about O today.

Phoebe has loads of quirks that make her stand out alone amongst her peers a lot of the time but she also has a massive all encompassing heart and absolutely no fear of showing it. Once she has someone pigeon holed in her head (I think she has an internal naughty / nice list) she will be unfailingly kind and loving.

Next week's party will be more interesting for her as it is Rowan's birthday and this means hoards of 6-7yr old girls! I am predicting Phoebe and Lexi, iphones and headphones! Still Clara will have a ball, her and Rowan are so close it is lovely to see. It is nice for them to have each other too as they both miss out on the traditional sibling interaction on some levels.

There are a few negatives to opening your eyes to the fact that something isn't quite right with your child. But some of the benefits are amazing and Phoebe's massive heart and willingness to use it is definitely one of them!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

We got the letter.

Phoebe has been accepted to CAMHS (Children and Mental Health Services) for review. This is the first hurdle in identifying what is going on with her. It was up in the air as to whether she would get accepted because a, they have next to no money and b, she is fine educationally (more than fine in fact, she is doing brilliantly!).

We also have the school on our side because whilst she is coping well in the class we have had lots of moments where she obviously hasn't coped. Memorably there was the day that Miss B moved PE from the start of school until after break and it threw Phoebe off kilter big time all day. Then there was the school trip to the transport museum. Went brilliantly until the presentation and the actor they had showing us around told us that we would be going back to the past via the medium of a pop up play tunnel. Phoebe took this literally and panicked, major tears and shrieking that she didn't want to go... clinging onto me. It took me and Miss B to calm her down (every time the phrase "go back to the past" was uttered it set her off again!) despite our giggles! However this has given us a few tools to abuse if / when the Ed-Psych comes to review her at school. Miss B is going to change things around to set Phoebe off knowing that she will demonstrate her panics.

I actually cannot praise the school enough, as soon as I mentioned my thoughts on Phoebe they said it was like someone had clicked focus and suddenly they saw it too. She has been in less trouble as they are more understanding that she often cannot help shouting out and that it is often easier to just go with it rather than fight it. Miss B is fantastic with her and is able to see and help her struggles in the play ground (it is un-structured so that is where she gets a bit lost). Educationally they keep pushing her where she needs it and appreciating her views on things. I feel very lucky that she has such caring staff. And to think I was worried about her going to this school... large slice of humble pie to table one please!

Personally though I am struggling a bit. Managing her behaviour and balancing that with making sure Clara is also feeling secure is exhausting. I feel like I am walking a tight rope a lot of the time and mostly just want to curl up and have a good cry that my baby is struggling and I can't make it all better. I have to get over this and remember that what ever happens Phoebe is just the same fabulous little girl she has always been and that, really, I am very very blessed with my girls.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Reasons I love my husband.

Even though he is working this weekend (yes people, he is working on Mothering Sunday). He is fabulous and wonderful and I am a lucky lucky girl to have him.

This weekend gone he worked hard (with my help... lets not forget my part in it!) making the garden pretty again. He built an area in the corner that is now home to a bench and a metal arch that will have clematis growing up it (when it arrives). I painted the back wall of the garden pink and we cleaned and sorted the patio. He took on the behemoth that was the rabbited Forsythia and dug up the root ball (and with a tap root the size of my arm it really was an impressive feat!) and transplanted a Yukka Tree in there. He also moved his raised bed to a new location and therefore all the dirt contained there. Oh and he built a bike area at the back of our shed which frees up a lot of (much needed) space in the shed. I stained the decking a nice colour and sorted out the girls garden toys.

Is this why I love him so? Well yes but mostly it is because he didn't mind me waking him up with a mammoth fit of the giggles on Saturday night. He caused the giggles admittedly by turning over and sleep talking in my ear. In the past we have had awesome sleep comments from him, my favourite being about a flame thrower and how he would like a go. This time the words he lovingly muttered into my ear at midnight were:

Damn Those Fucking Vampires!

I seriously couldn't breathe for laughing at him and I had tears running down my face!

Oh how I love him!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Mummy... Where did you live when the earth was built...?

Asks Phoebe en route to swimming!

I told her I wasn't alive when the earth was built as it was made millions of years ago. She thought for a minute then asked if I was dead. I explained I wasn't dead as I hadn't been born yet. She paused a little whilst thinking about this and then asked...

Where did Granny live then?!

That'll go down well then!

Friday, 10 February 2012

I can now officially put my elbows on the table!

I became an Aunty today so, according to my Mother and Aunt at least, I can now rest my elbows on the table with a clear conscience!

In all seriousness my lovely sister Jennie and her husband Shane welcomed their twin girls Roisin and June today! I am delighted for them and really hoping that Jennie will be well enough for us to go and see them and the babies soon!

My two girls are thrilled and were desperate to meet them today! Clara thought they should be called Cinderella and Pinky though but I am sure she will come around to the fabulous names the girls have!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

I can feel the "where do babies come from" question coming..

My sister is about to have twins. The girls are ridiculously excited about this and we have had many many conversations about how and where they themselves were born (Phoebe in hospital and Clara at home... much to her shock (and mine, Phoebe remembered details that I didn't think she would!)). They know babies come out of "tummies" or "rooms" (Clara interpretation) and that all women have these special places to grow babies. They know that a period is me getting ready to redecorate my room for a baby but that I am not having any more as I have a special thing in there that stops them (Yay for the mirena). Although Clara is currently still demanding that she wants a new sister called Cinderella... dream on kid... dream on!

However thus far they haven't asked where the room is and where the exit is. Or, most crucially how the baby gets in there in the first place. Now I wouldn't normally worry too much but Phoebe is a very particular little girl who generally isn't fobbed off with "special cuddles" and the like. She likes specifics and is fairly used to an honest approach by us. So do I take the scientific approach and say that Mummy has a special egg and Daddy has a special egg and we put them together and that makes a baby and hope that the semantics of the situation become forgotten in the whole "There are eggs in your tummy?!" or better yet "so that is what those funny things by Daddy's willy are!" (sorry dear!) and hope she puts 2+2 together and makes a number somewhere int he vicinity of 4. Or do we go with the whole basics of sex thing... if she is anything like me her response will be similar "what you have to take your knickers off!".

At least one thing is certain, if I know my girls the question will be posed at the most inappropriate time they can find.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Aspergers... Here we go.

My gorgeous big girl Phoebe has always been a little, well, tricksy!

When she was born we had problems with breastfeeding and she screamed and screamed when presented with the breast. After just a few days of this we ended up moving to formula. It nearly destroyed me as breastfeeding seemed as natural as breathing to me and I couldn't do it. I didn't fathom that Phoebe didn't have the tone in her mouth to be able to do it effectively. Then she was on formula and it became evident she suffered from reflux, badly. When a 3 week old can get her toes wet with sick whilst lying on her back it is fairly obvious there is a problem. The GP's wouldn't help though as she was gaining weight. Then there was this weird rash on her cheeks... my research suggested it might be cows milk intolerance but again no one listened. Then one morning I was changing Phoebe and felt a lump on her back... we were at the walk in centre within minutes and seen quickly. They prescribed antibiotics as they thought it was an infected sting. The first set did nothing, she was allergic to the second set and I refused a third and insisted on a paediatricians appointment for her. Thanks to the choose and book system I was able to  book an appt for shortly after a feed and, as I hoped, she barfed beautifully for the paediatrician who diagnosed reflux on the spot. The lump turned out to be a cavernous haemangioma and totally benign (it has now all but disappeared!). Thankfully the reflux and the rash calmed down once she hit 6 months and we started weaning.

We had a nice normal 6 months then, Phoebe was a late mover (no rolling, no crawling until 10 months etc) but nothing out of the ordinary and she was all caught up by the time she was 12 months old. We were so proud of our little toddler that at first it didn't register that she didn't babble at all. She made noises yes, shrieks etc but no Dada or Mamas. She said her first word "shoes" but then forgot and didn't say anything for a long time. When we got to 2 I was concerned but was assured she was "normal" by the HV and it was only just before she went to preschool (a few months before her 3rd birthday) that she was referred to the speech therapy for lack or talking. At that point she had maybe 8 - 10 words. Once she was at preschool she picked up language fairly quickly from the other children around her. It was wonderful to communicate with her without the aide of signs. I remember being nearly in tears at my sister's wedding when the staff thought she was deaf because she signed what she wanted rather than said it. Once speech started coming properly though it came thick and fast and again she caught up so I didn't think too much more about it except for a few pronunciation problems.

Phoebe loved preschool and LOVED her teacher Becky. But she never came home talking about who she played with or who her best friend was. It turned out she mostly played with the boys which was fine and she was happy so again I didn't think anything more of it other than it was a bit sad that she didn't seem to be making friends. She was doing well in everything else and coming out with some corking phrases. I took her on playdates with Mummy friends and I was told that their children always remembered the girls and asked to see them again, I returned the compliments but Phoebe never ever mentioned anyone she had met or asked to see them again. The one exception was Rowan and Lexi but I think that is mostly because she had seen them so often and loved their house almost as a second home! Throughout this period she would watch programmes to the point of obsession, her first one was Brum. She absolutely ADORED that little yellow car and her constant refrain was "More Bum?!". Others included Come Outside, Cars and Horses.

When Phoebe graduated out of Preschool and into Primary I sensed there would be problems as the school was moving at half term. I already knew then that Phoebe did not do change, it upset her and her behaviour deteriorated rapidly if she wasn't prepared properly. I was assured that it would be ok but it wasn't. As soon as the school moved to the new location she started getting warnings and time outs like nobodies business. Teachers were confused and it took about 2 weeks to sort this out. Then they changed the discipline system and we were back to warnings and time outs through the nose! This had thankfully settled by Christmas. Over the break we kept seeing Phoebe watching TV and her eye falling in. We also noticed she had no patience for reading or any other close up work. So we took her to the optician where it turned out that she was hideously long sighted (+6.5 & +7). The difference in her as soon as she wore glasses was amazing.

From the age of 20 months Phoebe got her sister Clara. We always joked "There is something about Clara" as she was just so much more personable than Phoebe was. She smiled easily, she talked early (oh boy did she talk...) and she would come home from Preschool with tales of who she played with and who was her best friend etc. It started occurring to us that actually there wasn't something about Clara, more that there was something about Phoebe. She just wasn't like other little girls her age who were already having the girly dramas of friendships. I bought this up with her reception teacher who assured me she was ok and it was probably because she was so intelligent. I buttoned my lip for a while and watched her. I raised it again with her Yr 1 teacher who said no she didn't have specific friends and flitted between groups of children and really enjoyed doing her work often begging for more!

All the while Paul and I kept talking to each other with our worries about how Phoebe just wasn't like any other 6 yr olds we knew (and there are a fair few!). The thought of going to the docs got more and more necessary. She is obsessed with Harry Potter, doesn't really like making eye contact and most importantly shows no desire to play with other girls her age. She still had made no friends except those that I have cultivated for her. At friend's parties she could usually be found with an iphone sitting quietly in the corner perfectly happy. At her own party she was happiest watching Harry Potter in the living room whilst wearing eardefenders and ignoring her party guests who were all running around screeching as little girls are want to do. We started to suspect that maybe she had Aspergers Syndrome and started to research it. I had watched a program ages ago about Aspie children and, knowing my friend's little boy Lexi who has Autism, I knew it a, manifested differently in girls and b, that Phoebe wasn't autistic in the traditional sense. After discussing things with Paul we both agreed it was sounding more and more likely that this was the "something".

The crunch point came last week. Our lovely rabbit Turvey died suddenly and I found him dead in his hutch. I bought the body in and told the girls the bad news. Clara took it as you would expect with tears and demands of "WHY?!" but Phoebe was very calm and detached, she stroked his body and then asked to look in his eyes to make sure he was really gone. She was able to tell me that her heart turned over and broke a little but she seemed unable to connect this to an actual emotion. I made the call and booked an appt to see her GP. That night Paul and I wrote a list of her "quirks" and we made it to 2 sides of A4 paper with them. I took them with me to the appt and went through them with the GP who agreed it sounded very likely and that she would refer her to CAMHS.

So this is where we are today. Waiting to find out if CAMHS will accept the referral for diagnosis. We have been clear that this does not change her at all. She is still our funny, happy Phoebe who we love all the more for all her quirks! She is so bright and intelligent and usually an utter joy to be around. I love how she speaks in grown up sentences that just don't seem right when they come from a 6 yr old, it makes people stop and laugh. She is the top reader in her class and top in almost all of the subjects they do! She loves to do homework and read books. She loves listening to Harry Potter audio books and playing with her HP lego. There isn't one teacher who knows Phoebe in a negative light at school, I have been sought out to be told how fabulous she is in the past! Her Preschool keyworker is still one of her biggest fans! We have a few problems with her over reactions to silly things but if dealt with calmly they don't last long and thanks to careful managing we don't see many of them.

You may wonder why if we don't have any problems now are we seeking the diagnosis. Well cast your mind back to your own puberty. Remember how hard it was and how confused you were? Imagine that but with a "something" about you that sets you apart a little bit. Harder right? We want Phoebe to understand who she is as she grows up and we think that identifying this part of it will help her do that and enable us to help her manage it in a way that opens more doors for her. It is not a label as such, more an tool we can use as and when we need it.

So this is the start of our journey into a hopeful diagnosis. The first steps on what is hopefully a relatively straight forward path!