Well, by now you pretty much ought to know her difficulties fairly well. She is the 5.5 year old child who is the subject of many posts about selective mutism, emotional regulation, and spd. She’s in preschool at the moment.
What you may not know about her is that she is one of the most creative children I have ever known. From an early age, she has been known to sing songs she’s heard as well as create her own little songs about the most ordinary things. She has been known to sing about a toy shark she had, and she even made up a song about toilet paper once.
I found something very curious on her dry erase board not too long ago. She drew musical notes on it – a lot of them, backwards at times, but they were clearly musical notes. In this picture, some of the notes on the right are messy because it got accidentally erased and she tried to fix them, but they look messy. We have sheet music, but really, she didn’t copy from it – there was no sheet music around her. I do notice that it’s in an A-B-A-B pattern.
One thing I did notice too the last time we were in church (and we don’t go to church regularly at all) was that she was very interested in the music sheet given to us that day. She watched interestedly as I used my finger to show her the words under the music to a Catholic song that was partly sung in Latin – Exsultate Jubilate was a part of the song. My oldest child was disinterested, my youngest child was disinterested, my K was fascinated and kept looking at the words while the choir sang the song. Of course, when the were sent out to the children’s church, the music was forgotten about.
She loves playing dress-up. Anything pretty or sparkly or soft and fuzzy or silky or frilly and girly she adores. She is sensory seeking when it comes to touch, so I have a box of different textured fabrics for her to play a matching game with. She loves doing many Montessori sensorial activities because she is very in tune with her senses. I have been collecting remnants of many different kinds of fabrics when I go to the fabric stores, because they are so much fun to feel and she loves touching them a lot. She also likes using the blindfold and trying to match the pairs them using only touch and not sight.
The very same thing that has given her issues with sensory overload, also cause her to be very perceptive about the world around her. She notices things that the other girls don’t and revels in the details of things.
She delights in our nature walks and is always wanting to touch the bark of trees, the moss on the ground, and look for treasures for our nature basket. I wrote a post of the first time we went out to collect nature bits on this post: My little Nature Girl. She pretended her treasures were characters from Little Red Riding Hood and she re-told the story with them. I think I have that on video somewhere on this computer.
She loves to read. She used to make up the stories using the pictures for context before she could actually read. The first book she ever tried to read to me was Green Eggs and Ham when she was 4.5 and she’s been reading ever since. Every night she’ll read me a book and she is reading about the 1st/2nd grade level from what I can tell.
She’s also very interested in math and patterns and making up games. We had a math day not too long ago, and she came up with a memory game for us to play using different dice and a newspaper page about the Harry Potter Exhibit. She also likes to line up and sort her toys according to different criteria. We went to a toy store once and she and her younger sister organized the stuffed animals that were randomly placed in a bin according this way: dolls, bears, dogs and cats in a line on the floor. I don’t see this as an obsessive thing, but I do think she enjoys making order out of chaos sometimes. She had no issues with having to put them back into the bin.
She did this when she was 4.5 – placed polished stones, acorns, shells and other things on a placemat of presidents. She loves to sort and has for a long while. I’m told the propensity to line things up isn’t always indicative of autism, but it did make me wonder for a while. The neurospyschologist has assured me she doesn’t have autism. She does it for fun, to be sure, but I don’t think she does it to the degree that is of concern. She does have some similarities with her sensory issues, her mutism, and her need to see everything in black and white at times, but I think she has enough differences to lie outside the spectrum (even if barely).
She’s doing much better with her selective mutism, at least in the school setting. There are still many times where she will have to whisper to me when she is uncomfortable around adults and in new situations, but I feel that so much progress has been made, it will be only a matter of time before she will have conquered it in all areas. She’s come so far in a year. I am so much more relaxed about her transition to kindergarten in the fall and I feel much more confident she will do much better than I hoped for a year ago.
Needless to say, when she’s not in meltdown mode, she can be a very delightful child and fun to be around.