Are we at an onset?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Andy, Apr 19, 2008.

  1. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I just joined this forum this evening and have already received help! I will check out The Explosive Chlld. Thank you Marguerite! :)

    My 10 yr son had a bad dental experience this last Summer followed by a panic attack and then went downhill after that. He was unable to go to school without me (and usually didn't make it through the day). I fortunately have a great job with understanding supervisors (even a new supervisor I didn't know I was assigned to and who didn't know me). We had lined up a psychiatic appointment the end of November when on a trip to a large shopping center the middle of October, my son went into a breakdown begging me to get him off the third floor. He turned 11 yr old in September. His body was telling him to jump from the balcony. He was sooo scared (me too!). We were on vacation and I called his doctor to get in touch with the psychiatric's office to beg for a sooner appointment. I told them this was urgent and can not wait another month. They got me in the middle of the week (about 4 days away). On the way home, he told me he didn't feel safe at home because he knew where the scissors and hammer were. When we got home, he gathered them up and gave to me to hide.

    At the psychiatric appointment, my son felt he needed more help than a once per week visit. His self harm thoughts were so powerful he couldn't handle them so we went down the street to a children's psychiatric in-patient facility. When he found out that we couldn't call each other, he was very upset but I reminded him that he had said he would do anything to get over this. He had only been away from mom and dad overnight once or twice in his life. He asked that I stay at a hotel in town instead of going 1 hour home. I did for him and also I don't think I could have been home without him for the first several days. I then went home to get his personal items needed and tell my husband about the admission. It was so hard to tell my husband and relatives - this was sooo unexpected. We did not know what was happening and this was an acute admission. I would visit my son 6:30 - 8:00 pm, check into a hotel, drive home in the morning to work, and back up to the facility for visitation.

    During a day pass, my son told me, "Do you know what I hate the most about being in here? It's that you can't watch me grow up." One day I stopped at his small day school to get homework assignments, a little girl ran out and said, "We don't know were your boy is!" I assured her that I did know where he was and he would be back soon.

    He was discharged after 2 weeks with fluxotine and clonazepam for anxiety disorder. He was much much better. I then called the doctor to ask for a referal to a neurologist. My son had a MRI and EEG (both negative). He is diagnosed with a migrant varient but because his auroas are only 2 -3 seconds which indicates epileptic disorder, we scheduled a 48 hour EEG to try to catch an epileptic activity. This was scheduled for the day after Easter. I ended up cancelling it because his symptoms have discontinued. I had found in research that clonazepam is also a medication given for epilepsy. So, I am waiting until we start taking him off the clonazepam (hopefully in June) and see if the symptoms return. If so, we will reschedule just to cover that base.

    My son is having some difficulty with being part of the school that he grew up in. He has such different interests than the other kids who will not play the games he wants to play. He has become the self proclaimed referee at group games and can be heard stating the actions of the games (like what is being played, who is it, ect). He is very stuck on rules leading me to look at scrupulosity Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). He actually refused a teacher's directive to go to the back of the line one day. He was at the front of the line when a girl tried to push him off his spot. The teacher came in during the argument and told them both to go to the back of the line. My son refused saying, "As a person, this is my place. Rosa Parks did not give up her spot on the bus so I shouldn't have to give up this place." It took me all night to try to get him to understand that teachers do have the right to take away your space in line if they believe your behaviour is not good. He should have obeyed the directive and then later went to talk to her about it. However, at that point, he was only looking at his view of justice and wouldn't consider the whole picture.

    My son is getting more and more defiant. It may just boil down to my bad parenting skills. I just never know how to handle disobedience. I asked the therapist for a test for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) before we increase his medications for that purpose. I don't think ODD is it - ODD includes aggression which there is none.
    We will continue to work with the therapist and who knows where this is all going to?

    A positive for us is that my son and I have always been real close. His ability to confide in me about his self harm thoughts was such a positive. We are also able to discuss what is happening outside his defiant moments. We have discussed that we are both scared of what will happen if he doesn't stop defying authority (mainly mom - only that one time with a teacher) or not accepting teacher's directives. He thinks because his dad is school board chair, that he can have any teacher fired that upsets him. (another issue we are working on) I think if I can find the right tools, he will make it through this and be able to keep control.

    My husband and I have both been super opposed to having a dog - neither of us want that responsibility. I have started to believe our son does need a dog so I have allowed our 17 year old daughter to purchase a bichon frise puppy. Our son is in charge of mornings and gets to play with it whenever sister is gone or gives approval which is a lot. I see that it has helped him release some stress. I still hate having to take care of it at times but it is something my son needs so I guess I will continue.

    I also just had his hearing checked. He had a ton of ear infections as an infant and a hearing loss at age 5 which cleared up and was helped with tubes when he turned 6. I have his hearing checked almost yearly. I think it has been 2 - 3 years since this has been checked so took him in last week. He has a new hearing loss (high frequency - nothing too dramatic at this stage). We will go back in July to verify the loss and check on changes.

    So, that is our long story in the short form. Any advise will be appreciated. Especially, how do you handle a defiant moment - such as refusing to leave sister's room when told to?
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Adrianne, good to see you on your own thread.

    Something seems to be happening, there are three versions of this, so I'm only posting to this last one.

    First - I hope the book really helps you, with both your kids. It's a fairly simple technique in principle, but it does require an almost 180 degree shift in parental thinking. I also think something else you will get from the book is a different perspective on why he is doing some of the things he is doing.

    The Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) stuff, and any Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) stuff COULD also be related to Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) in some form, such as Asperger's. What makes me sit up and take notice - the description of his rule-following. For example, the way he was reporting on the game, and also his refusal to go to the back of the line (since in his mind, HE had done nothing wrong, it was the other girl).
    This meticulous attention to the rules and insistence that they be followed exactly - I've seen this in all of my kids but especially the younger three. difficult child 3 is extreme and got into a lot of strife at school with it. Teachers who didn't see the original encounter like an easy solution and will often deal with a problem by punishing all kids involved; the average kid will take it, but a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kid will often have a tantrum at not being believed.

    It was really good that he told you - that also fits with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) (and other things too). How honest is he? Part of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is either an inability to tell lies, or at least being very bad at it (and always getting caught). difficult child 3 for example might try to lie by saying, "I didn't do it," but he could never give a false detailed explanation such as, "I didn't break the window with my ball, it was a car going past that threw up some gravel from its tyres and that broke the window," because he just can't invent anything complex, that fast. It also is not in his nature to even contemplate lying.

    because he's so bad at it, difficult child 3 has learned to not even try to lie. Same with difficult child 1 - he used to try to lie but generally got caught. Even when he didn't get caught immediately, he felt so bad for 'breaking the rules' that he often ended up confessing anyway.

    The rules - it's not always the OFFICIAL rules they follow, but the rules as they perceive them to be. For example, we told difficult child 3 that it is an important rule to not hit people. It was also a school rule. But difficult child 3 regularly observed that other kids were hitting (usually hitting him). But if difficult child 3 hit them back, he generally got caught and was punished. So in difficult child 3's mind the rule became, "hitting is OK for other people to do, but not for me. If I get hit I just have to put up with it." He got tot he point where he wouldn't even tell teachers that kids were hitting him, because in his mind the kids weren't breaking any rules.
    He also learned that kids would start by calling him names or being rude to him, then they would start hitting. One day at a new school a boy pushed him aside rudely and then called him a mean name. difficult child 3 stood in front of the boy and said, "aren't you going to hit me now?" The boy, thinking difficult child 3 was aggressively challenging him, to his credit ran and got a teacher. It was the principal who then talked to difficult child 3, worked out what was happening and sorted the problem out. He later told me about the incident. difficult child 3 never mentioned it until I asked him, and he explained, "Kids always say mean things first and then start hitting. I just wanted him to hurry up and get it over with."

    Defying authority - if it's Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), the problem here isn't defiance, it's not recognising authority in the first place. Again, difficult child 3 as an example - he was in his first year of school. A teacher (who should have known better, but we've had problems for years with this person) happened to be standing behind difficult child 3 at the instant she began to ring a hand bell, loudly. difficult child 3 never could cope with sudden loud noises and was startled and upset, so he turned round and shouted at her, "EXCUUUUUSE ME!!"
    The teacher disdainfully replied with, "No, you're supposed to excuse me," but by then difficult child 3 had turned his back and walked away, leaving the teacher with considerable loss of face (to the glee of kids watching, who reported the incident to us later - this teacher isn't well-liked because she uses sarcasm a lot, she belittles and demeans kids).

    difficult child 3 sees all people as equal. He is not awed by anybody, he was never nervous about talking to a teacher any more than talking to another student. He will walk up to a total stranger and begin talking to them. The downside of this - he learns the rules by observing, and ANYBODY who expects him to understand that some people should be shown more respect than others just goes over his head. And when the people demanding respect do not in turn show respect to him, he either ignores them or is rude to them (the previously-mentioned teacher, for example).

    The trick we learned - we treat him with respect so we can then say, "I require the same level of respect from you, that we show to you." And generally, we get it (unless he's raging). We ignore rages during the rage and discuss it afterwards (Basket B).

    It also means we help him develop his own rules so that they are also the rules we want him to follow anyway.

    For example, going into his sister's room uninvited - we actually had to write that one down. "Your personal space is your bedroom. Your sister's personal space is her bedroom. A person is entitled to have privacy in their bedroom and ask someone to leave. You like being left alone when you request it - please show the same consideration to others."

    Trying to get siblings to be polite to one another can be a nightmare. (I suspect with your son his sister isn't always polite with him). difficult child 3's sister needs to learn that he is likely to treat her the same way she treats him. In doing this, he's not deliberately doing "t it for tat", he's actually trying to follow what he thinks is an example set for him on how normal people behave.

    Your son sounds like he's got a lot going on. Whether it's truly all connected to Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), whether there is an epilepsy component instead (or as well) or whether it's something completely different - you need an expert to sort this one out. But in the meantime, there are ways to manage and perhaps improve the way it all presents.

    All we can do is work with what's workable. We change what we can, we ignore what can't be fixed. We don't discipline what the child cannot control. For example, difficult child 3 often says some hurtful things purely because he doesn't think before he speaks. We had just taken Grandma home to her house and were leaving, when she asked him, "Are you going without giving me a hug?"
    He came back and gave her a lovely hug, saying, "How can I refuse a hug from my Grandma when she asks? which would have been lovely, if he hadn't continued with, "...because who knows when it might be for the last time?"
    Luckily she understands him pretty well these days and wasn't offended, but as we walked back home difficult child 3 said to me, "I shouldn't have said that last bit, should I?"

    To handle defiance - try to not see it as defiance, try to see it as extreme rule-following (his rules). To deal with it you need to prepare ahead of time and lay some groundwork. Also try to avoid ANYBODY getting heated. No ultimatums, not sarcasm, but always polite communication. Instead you say, "She wants to be alone in her room, she needs privacy. If you want to visit or stay in her room, you must have her permission. And if she wants to go into your room, she needs your permission. That is fair. Right now, she doesn't give you permission, so how about instead, you come and help me with something?"

    Deflection. Distraction. Reasons. Calm. Balance.

    The more you do this, the more he will come to see that you are working to help him stay calm. He will value this and begin to work with you even more. It can 'switch off' any tendency towards him becoming oppositional. No more clashing with him automatically opposing you on principle, because he's learning that he gets more of what he wants by working in partnership with you instead.

    The book explains it well. If possible, either get all other family members to read it, or you explain it to them (which will help you really take the info on board as well).

    As for getting a good handle on exactly what is wrong with him, others her can perhaps give you more idea of who to see, re assessments etc. A neuropsychologist gets recommended often.

    Also, when you can, please do a sig for yourself (like mine, below) to explain in brief about the dynamics of your family. It saves you having to explain each time, gives us all a quick reference guide.

    let us know how you get on.

  3. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    Adrianne, there is no doubt that there is more than ODD going on here. I think your handling of your son is right on so far. You are learning and implementing what you are learning.
    It is terrific that you had him in a safe place when his anxiety was over the top and he was aware of his self harm type thoughts. I remember well the horrible feeling of leaving my son in a locked psychiatric ward. I don't think I have ever had a more lonely moment but it was for the best.

    The negative dental experience was just the trigger. If it hadn't been that it would be another trigger. It sort of goes that way.

    Your little guy seems to have inflexible thinking.

    Does he have friends?
    How does he do academically?
    What sort of things does he do at home for entertainment?
    Does he have unique interests?

    I love the Roas Parks comment. Sounds just like my difficult child who feels he is saving the oppressed. At 23, we call him a rebel without a clue.

    I'm glad you had a seizure work up. When I read about the anxiety that was the first question that came to mind. Is there any history of seizure disorder in the family lines?

    I hope we can help by sharing our collective experience.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. I would think of maybe taking him to a neuropsychologist. Have you done any reading on Aspergers Syndrome? You may want to take a look at it. I'm, like everyone here, a layperson, but it sounds like he has a lot of symptoms that Aspies have, including rigidity, black and white concrete thinking, social problems, often they are quite precocious and sound like "Little Professors", unusual interests, etc. NeuroPsychs are best at finding this elusive neurological disorder that can be helped tremendously with the correct interventions. Here's a link about it.
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Thank you! Looks like I really did find the right forum for some help. I created a siggy. I believe I have looked at Aspberger's but will revisit it. As my title states, I think we are looking at an onset of something(s) and need to keep revisiting possibilities as symptoms grow.

    We need to get ready for church now. difficult child helps me set up for Sunday School (I am superintendent). He has a good work ethic and enjoys helping out. The last few summers he really enjoyed helping me set up and run a concession stand. When it comes to helping, he really shines.

    I look forward to returning home and rereading your helpful input -

    Thank you again! :)
  6. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    I have a couple of things to add to what the others said.

    EEG's can only rule in seizure activity, not rule it out. It is estimated that only 50% of temporal lobe seizure activity is detectable by the current available technology. My EEGs did not record seizure activity "that rose to the level of an epilepsy diagnosis" yet there I was on the floor having grand mal (tonic-clonic) seizures. I have a friend who has had temporal lobe seizures for 50 years yet never had a positive EEG. The temporal lobe is deep within the brain and often EEGs simply can't pick up activity, even if the activity is occurring at the time of the test. The temporal lobe controls many things, including emotions. My son's temporal lobe seizures are, for the most part, emotional seizures (better known as "rages"). His most common auras are paranoia, feeling hot and nausea. His rages are of a predicable length of time from onset to return to normalcy (45 minutes) and so regular in length of each phase that I know when he's going to move from one phase to another (provided that nothing triggers a flair-up while the seizure is occurring). I have been aware of this form of seizure activity since before he was 2 years old. He has never had a positive EEG either. My friend, my son, and I all have other types of partial seizures which few people -- including way too many doctors -- would identify as seizure activity.

    Don't be too quick to label his behavior as defiant. Any child as anxious as your child sounds is going to do all in his power to control his environment so that he can feel safe enough to function. What you see as defiant may simply be his attempt to control his situations so that he can survive. School refusal isn't defiance, it's survival. The Rosa Parks comment isn't defiance or disrespect, it's intellectual rationalization needed to cover up his need to control because that's the only way he can function with his level of anxiety. He feels like he's drowning and he's surviving the best he can. You have one very scared child who feels like he is holding on by his fingertips.

    by the way, when the doctor prescribed the fluoxetine (Prozac) were you warned about what psychiatric side effects you should be watching for? They include increased suicidal ideation, mood swings and behavioral changes such as increased anxiety, agitation, aggression, anger, hostility, and even homicidal ideation. These side effects can occur either when the drug is started or after it has been taken for a number of months.
  7. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    We will keep open to the epilepsy possibilities. His anxiety has decreased considerably with the medications he is on. Also, no more self harm/suicide thoughts so for now they are working. I don't like using medications so am doing everything possible to determine the need for the medication before starting or changing it. We want to be sure that we are treating the right thing. So, medication is o.k. as long as it is needed and not just to mask a problem. Clonazepam is meant for short term so he needs to start getting off that soon. I am hoping to start when school ends - summer should be less stressful. I am thinking that any epilesy symptoms may also show when this is decreased.

    We are working with a psychiatirst, a pediatrician, and a neurologist NP. I feel good that the therapist will listen to my input and work with me. We talked about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and ODD this last week. When I asked about treatment, he stated it may be a higher dose of the flouxetine. I told him I would like a test to diagnosis Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) before increasing medications based on "looks like". He stated he will give difficult child an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) test. I am looking at scrupulosity which deals with rules and doing what is right. ODD just doesn't feel right at this time (no agression).

    I looked at the Asperger's site - still does not look like he fits the symptoms but I will keep rechecking it as his symptoms continue to emerge.

    Guess I should not say "onset" as if things are starting, it is more "onset" that symptoms are showing to start a diagnosis. Maybe he has been so good at hiding his symptoms and it is just getting too hard to do so? The anxiety was too hard to handle so that is now out in the open.

    Anyway, I will look more carefully at how I use the word "defiant". I know he is disobeying because he sees the situation different, not to actually oppose authority. I try hard to see things his way so that he knows that I do understand where he is coming from and use that as a basis to explain why it needs to be different but he also needs to try to see things my way so he understands where I am coming from. I have learned that it sometimes takes several hours for him to be able to try to understand the other view point. And of course, he needs time to cool off before being open to listen to my viewpoint and try to figure out a solution (Like, because you argued with the teacher, she had the right to remove you from the line. How could this have been different? Maybe obeying right away and then talking to the teacher in private later? Maybe politely telling the teacher what happened?)

    I am blessed with a great teaching staff at the school he is at. They are open to learning how to teach him and willing to modify as needed. The Rosa Parks teacher is really a great teacher - I believe what caught her off guard was how abrupt my son was. Once he said "No! That's not fair." very forcefully, it put her in a new situation. Teachers can not have students talking back to or arguing with them. If he would have reacted differently, maybe she would have taken a different route. It was so out of character for him that it probably shocked everyone around and she did what she thought was needed to end the situation quickly before it grew (which it did). He did apologize to her after school the next day.

    I have always tried to be positive with expectations. The teachers are always positive with disciplines and teaching strategies. His main teacher has a brother who difficult child reminds her of. She recognized a full blown migrane because her experience with her brother. She is open to allowing him alone time to "vent" by journaling his thoughts. difficult child is more open to talking to her. I told him to let her know when he needs a "break" to de-stress. He used these breaks when returning from the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) but I haven't heard of any in the last several months. He may need to start again?

    He is struggling in school this year. The two weeks at Residential Treatment Center (RTC) didn't help with school work. He wouldn't ask their teacher for help because their teacher spent too much time yelling at kids to get their work done. He didn't want to be yelled at so just stayed to himself. I would think they need a new teacher - you need someone with a lot of patience and encouragement to work with Residential Treatment Center (RTC) students. So, he basically just did the work without being taught.

    Even though he grew up in this school, it seems he is facing a "new kid on the block" syndrome. He just can't seem to get in the groove with the other kids again. They like different sports than him and seems to have different interests. difficult child loves to play outside but when friends come over, they just want to play our Wii. A friend has a gigantic Lego collection and talks about how much fun it is. However, when difficult child goes to his home, the friend doesn't want to play Legos (the one thing other kids want to do at his home). The other kids are also more flexible with rules which he has a hard time with - why have the rule if you don't stick to it? (I'm with him - maybe he gets some of this from me - my pet peeves are all around rule breaking - you know, liks cars cutting across a parking lot or going the wrong way out - the lines and rules are for a purpose even with no traffic around, you stay in the lines going the right way!)

    I have a teenage boy coming in this Summer to watch him while I am at work. This boy will keep difficult child active - bike rides around town, catch ball, etc. I think this Summer is going to be great for difficult child. This boy is a great Big Brother figure for difficult child.

    I will keep you up to date.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Sara, your description of an alternative way of looking at "defiance" - you said it brilliantly, I was trying to convey that and feel I didn't get it right. You did.

    Adrianne, the rule-following thing - the degree of flexibility of other kids' approach to rules was always a huge problem for difficult child 3, as well. it's just how kids play, in general - a group of kids in the playground can be playing a game such as cricket, with various small rules added such as "nobody gets out for a duck..." [ie no score] "... we let them have another go until they score, before they can be caught or bowled." Sometimes the rule hasn't actually been SAID by anyone, but if the boys regularly play cricket several times a week during the lunch break, they may have established these more informal rules some weeks or months ago and it's up to other kids to pick up on this by observation. part of social maturity which generally develops along similar lines with PCs, is being able to understand this almost instinctively. But not difficult child 3.

    Added to this, the problems would arise when the other kids playing, many of whom would have resented a few kids allowing difficult child 3 to pick up the bat and join in, changed the rules so they could as soon as possible eliminate difficult child 3 from the game. difficult child 3 may have been watching, saw they let another boy continue to bat after being bowled or caught, "...because Jack hasn't scored yet, he can't be out for a duck." But then difficult child 3 gets bowled or caught, and t he kids declare him out, even though he hasn't scored.

    A teacher comes over to intervene - from the teacher's point of view, the only rules he recognises are the standard rules of the game, and many top cricketers in World Test Matches get bowled for a duck, he tells difficult child 3.

    It's THAT degree of subtlety that causes the problem, especially as a child IS BEGINNING to be aware of the rules changing and is managing to at least partly keep up - the kid is making real progress but it still goes against him. This sends the message - it is because you are you.

    The rules can be that subtle, the rule shifts can also be non-verbal. A nod of a head, the wink of an eye, a grin, the roll of eyes - they all can communicate with PCs but often not with a difficult child who has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Or those gestures may mean nothing.

    difficult child 3 was playing chess with a good friend of his. Suddenly he accused his friend of cheating. From what I knew of this kid, who had stuck up for difficult child 3 at times when he could have been beaten up by other kids for doing so, I doubted he would cheat. So I broke up the game and took difficult child 3 outside. "Why do you think he is cheating?" I asked him.
    "He was grinning at me, that's what kids do when they cheat."
    I explained that is also what kids do when they are happy and enjoying themselves, and now difficult child 3 had spoiled the other boy's enjoyment of a good game with his friend.
    We talked some more - what did he think his friend had been doing, that was cheating? difficult child 3 couldn't say. He just suspected, because of his poor understanding of body language, that his friend was doing something sneaky.

    For difficult child 3, to identify a grin with someone about to take advantage of him - that was actually progress. The trouble was, he was indiscriminate about how he interpreted it. Luckily, his friend was VERY understanding. Unluckily, his friend's family moved out of the area a few months later.

    Adrianne, before you dismiss Asperger's completely, have a look at the questionnaire on Their Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire is informal, you can't use it to diagnose, but you can print the results and take them to a doctor for his opinion. If nothing else, regardless of the results they help gel ideas and concerns so the doctor can then address them.

    You do sound like you're doing a lot of good things in how you interact with him. You've already identified the conditions under which he CAN take a different point of view on board, and you're using role play to explore alternative actions. You['re doing the right things. It can still take longer than you would think, but I don't think there's any way to move him along faster. If his brain is just not ready for the next stage of maturity, then it's just not ready. When he is - you will have helped him along as best you can.

    With the teenage boy coming in - make sure he is well informed on difficult child's idiosyncrasies and also feels free to be open with you about any observations he has. Write stuff down, make notes, because you never know when something unusual but interesting can actually prove to be significant.

    For example - as a baby, difficult child 3 seemed fascinated with trees. He might be unsettled, a bit fretful, I would walk outside and stand next to a very leafy tree in the late afternoon, and difficult child 3 would suddenly go quiet and his eyes would be fixed on the leaves of the tree. I was noticing this as soon as I brought him home from the hospital, at a week old.
    Years later after the diagnosis I began to realise - I believe he was looking not at the leaves, but the flicker of the afternoon sunlight through the leaves. As the tree moved back and forth in the breeze it created an almost rhythmic flicker effect, similar to when an autistic child flaps his hand in front of his eyes. Yes, I believe my son was stimming, at a week old.
    He's never flapped his hands, but even now he will watch leaves on the trees, water droplets falling, rain on the window and has always begged for those toys where sand, bubbles and droplets fall slowly through viscous liquid. He will watch the diffraction of light through a crystal and now he's 14 is actually studying the way crystals break up a low-powered laser beam and trying to analyse it.

    Because I took notes, we've been able to go back and make sense out of what at the time seemed amazing coincidence. it's also helped me realise how active a baby's brain can be - it's constantly working hard to assimilate and understand the world around it. No wonder babies sleep so much - they must be exhausted!