do I sound defensive? Or normal? (And do I even want to know the answer to that?)

Yesterday rocked my world in good ways and bad.

The Good
I woke up grouchy and decided to lie in bed for a while. When I finally dragged my butt downstairs, I found that Dave had cleaned up the house. All by himself, without my asking. THEN, he went out to run errands and took Catie with him so I could have some quiet time alone. And when they came home, the two of them brought me flowers. Which was Dave’s idea, but he let Catie pick them out. Her response when he suggested it? “Yeah, that’s a great idea! Flowers make Mommy happy!”

I seriously started to wonder if he’d been replaced by some type of cyborg husband by the end of the day, but I decided not to question it. Because my cyborg husband rocks.

The Bad
I got an email from Catie’s daycare provider that she’s worried that Catie has Sensory Processing Disorder (a disorder on the autism spectrum). I realize that it must’ve been very hard for her to write that email, because it’s got to be very awkward to discuss this sort of thing with parents, but still. Even knowing that, my initial reaction upon reading it was, “You think there’s something wrong with my precious little baby? ROAARR, MAMA BEAR ANGRY!!!!”

And I think I can say with absolute certainty that Catie does not have SPD, but I do think her behavior at daycare is very different than her behavior at home. These are the things that Nicole has observed while Catie is at daycare:

1. She doesn’t engage in imaginative play or seem to want to get involved in playing with other kids. This is COMPLETELY opposite of how she is at home. She is constantly running up to me and saying, “Mommy, you Dorothy! I Toto!” Earlier tonight it was, “You mama cow, I baby cow.” And when she’s playing with her toys, they have entire storylines that they act out.

And as far as getting involved with other kids, she interacts with her cousin Elizabeth when they play, so I know the ability is there. And I have seen her run up to a random kid she doesn’t know and say, “Hi, little girl! Wanna play wif me?” I’m not so much worried about her social development.

2. Her fine motor skills seem underdeveloped. Yes, this is a problem. This is also almost entirely my fault. I haven’t taught her how to use a spoon to feed herself because I hate messes and I’m lazy. So I feed her & save myself the clean-up. Yes, it’s bad, and we’re working on it. I guess it’s the curse of being an only child, I still think of her as a baby, so I don’t push her to try to do all the major self-sufficient things (like dressing herself).

3. She has issues with food textures. Yeah. She does. So does Dave. She’s getting a lot better about it – like, she’ll actually pick up a PB&J sandwich now – so I’m not terribly worried about it.

4. She freaks out at the playground. This is true. She doesn’t like swings, or slides, or any of it. I don’t get it at all, honestly. Maybe it’s because she feels out of control? When my in-laws were here, her Grandpa Roger wrapped her up in a blanket and swung her around in it like a hammock, then lay it flat and dragged her all over the house like she was on a magic carpet, and she loved that and couldn’t get enough of it. So… I don’t know. That one’s a big question mark.

5. She often seems to be on the verge of crying, and can get set off into tears at the drop of a hat. This confuses me, because it is SO opposite of how she is at home. And it would make me worry that maybe this daycare isn’t a good fit for her, except that she acts like she loves it and asks me every day, “I go to Miss Nicole’s house today?” And she gets mad if it’s not a daycare day. So, maybe it’s that only going two days a week isn’t enough for her to really get comfortable acting like herself there? Or maybe Nicole is trying to engage her in some activity that she’s not interested in, and rather than protest, she’s trying to be on her best behavior, so she’s just sort of disengaging and acting sad/pouty? I don’t get that one at all.

So, after I read and re-read her email a few times (and calmed down), I think that if these things were symptomatic of Catie’s behavior all the time, then it absolutely would be cause for concern, so I understand why she brought it to my attention. But I think – and after talking with Catie’s pediatrician about it today, I’m even more certain – that it’s less likely a sensory disorder, and more likely a major case of anxiety. Which I’ve long suspected. And lord knows it runs in her family, on both sides.

The problem is, I don’t know how much you can do for anxiety in toddlers. It’s not like they make pediatric Xanax, and she’s too young to talk to a therapist about her feelings. So I think we just have to keep doing what we’re doing, which is:
1. Reassure her constantly, and
2. Praise her like crazy when she tries something outside of her comfort zone.

stylin' girl

Personally, I think she’s going to be fine. I mean, girls with that kind of fashion sense can’t possibly go wrong.

11 thoughts on “do I sound defensive? Or normal? (And do I even want to know the answer to that?)

  1. On the plus side, you appear to have a very caring day care provider who sees something in the short time she spends with Catie. On the minus side, because she only sees Catie twice a week, she has a limited perspective on what behaviors she sees. As you have pointed out countless times, Catie gets anxious in new surroundings. She is, also, 2 and that means, like most 2 year olds, she doesn’t want to play with other kids a lot. If you ever want to talk 2 year olds, give me a ring, ok? You’re doing great, give yourself a break too ok?

  2. You’re doing great. You are defending your daughter, but that’s what moms do. You’ve talked to your pediatrician about it, if he/she isn’t too concerned about it I wouldn’t be either. She’s 2 and I’m sure she’ll grow out of most of it.

    I’m totally wearing that same outfit today! LOL


  3. Not defensive. You sound normal to me. As does Catie. The thing is, kids are all different. Not all kids like the same things. I have a kid who gets anxious. All you can do is make their routine as normal as possible and know that when they get comfortable there, they will act more like themselves.

    I think that if your doctor sees no issue, she is fine. However…um, I’d keep getting her to be more independent. Sorry. 🙂

  4. When my sister was in pre-school (age 3 or 4, so a little older than Catie), the teacher called my parents in for a conference and told them they thought my sister Amanda was profoundly mentally retarded. Specifically, the teacher had a picture Amanda had drawn that she felt demonstrated this. She thought the picture showed my sister struggling to keep up with the other kids, “drowning” in her inability to catch up with them, with squiggly lines in the middle that were “goals my sister subconsciously knew she would never achieve.” My mom sobbed hysterically.

    My dad took the drawing home and asked my sister what she drew. Amanda explained that it was an aerial view of the swimming pool at the YMCA (where she took swimming lessons with my dad in a “Daddy ‘n Me” class). The squiggly lines were the plastic ducks in the middle of the pool that divided the deep end from the shallow end. She was so far away from the other kids because she was swimming in a race and she was winning. The teacher had been holding the picture upside down.

    My point? Ask Catie. Maybe she doesn’t engage in imaginary play there because the art table is all kinds of awesome. Or maybe there’s a mean girl who always insists on being The Mommy whenever she tries to play house and it’s no fun if you never get to be the mommy.

    As for making her less anxious, what about setting up a playdate with Catie and another kid who is there the same days she is? Maybe having a wingman will make it a little easier.

    It seems to me that a lot of the SPD stuff is trending pretty high on people’s awareness right now, so caregiver/teacher types are going to be thinking about it a lot, just like interpreting children’s drawings for meaning and symbolism had its heyday in the late ’70s. SPD spectrum issues are valid concerns, but not, perhaps, for every child who comes through the door and cries when they see an unfamiliar Lego set.

    Maybe you can observe Catie (without her knowing it) at daycare and see if you can see what the teacher does. If you can, then maybe you can brainstorm with the teacher for ways to help Catie adjust. Otherwise… bless her autism boogyman-invoking, emailing heart. 😉

  5. Thanks. The problem is, it’s an in-home daycare, so it’s just this lady (Nicole) who keeps Catie & 1 other child (a baby) along with her own 2 girls. Of her two girls, one is Catie’s age (and Catie *adores* her – she tells me all the time that she loves Kiersten) and the other is a baby, around 1 year old. My understanding is that Catie mostly ignores the 2 babies altogether (except for one instance in which the 1 year-old crawled over & pulled out Catie’s barrettes – not to be mean, just “ooh, pretty colors! GRAB!” But Catie still talks about how, “Carissa pulled out my hair clips and it hurt and I CRIED and CRIED, Mommy! I had tears in my eyes!” This is WEEKS later. Child does not believe in forgive-and-forget, clearly.)

    My suggestion to Nicole is that maybe if Catie seems like she isn’t too into whatever the activity is… maybe it’s ok to let her play by herself? I mean, god. She’s an only child, so that’s sort of what she’s used to at home. And she knows HOW to interact with kids, so I think it’s just that there are some times when she isn’t in the mood.

    Honestly, I think there are 2 main things going on here:
    1) Catie is probably a bit more tear-prone on daycare days because we have to get up earlier to get here there in time, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, bedtime is a problem and I need to start getting her to bed at a reasonable time so she’ll be all rested up for daycare.
    And, 2) As much as I like Nicole, and I think she’s really kind and sweet and lovely, she also strikes me as just a tiny bit rigid with her SuperMom tendencies (case in point: she’s currently potty-training the 1 year-old), so I think she overreacts a little bit about kids like mine, who have a boatload of their own little quirks and don’t necessarily fit into some parenting book model.

    So, there’s that. We’ll see how things go from here.

  6. Hi, I am an occaisonal lurker on here, and decided to be brave and comment since this is a topic I know a little bit about.

    I think your plan to contact your doctor is a good one, as that is a good place to start whenever you have a concern about your child. If however you and/or doctor are concerned about your daughter’s anxiety, you might consider looking in to some play therapy for her as that can be a very helpful and appropriate tool for a 2-3 year old. You can find a registered play therapist in your area by going to the Association for Play Therapy Website ( They have them listed by city and state I believe.

    Also, know that if your daughter did have SPD, it would not mean necessarily that she was on the Autism Spectrum. A lot of kids on the autism spectrum have SPD, but there are also plenty of kids with SPD issues who are not on the autism spectrum. SPD is diagnosed and treated by an occupational therapist, so if you and/or your doctor have concerns, try to find an OT that is well versed in SPD for an evaluation.

    That is probably way more information than you want or need, but I just thought I would pass it on, just in case.

    I really enjoy your blog by the way!

  7. That outfit is made of complete win. Definitely can’t go wrong with fashion sense like that!!!

  8. I am not trying to be a ‘b-word’ here, but I think while Nicole may be a nice lady, don’t listen to her for one second! I mean, come one! Anyone who is potty training a one-year old is a little neurotic, at least IMO.

    I think you are doing all the right things with your little girl, and although you should keep an eye on anything that you may think is cause for even a little concern, the best person to talk to is your doctor, not a daycare provider. Does she have any training with kids with SPD? Is she even a credentialed teacher? I really wouldn’t worry too much about what someone thinks who probably got her medical degree from Google University.

    Again, I’m not trying to be mean, and I’m sure this woman is lovely, but as all mommies know, every kid is a little different. It sounds to me like your daughter is completely normal. Also, it might be a little confusing for her to be at an “at-home” daycare situation- it isn’t school, so it isn’t totally structured; it feels like being at home, or at a friend’s house, where kids can do what they please and aren’t expected to participate in activities they aren’t interested in, and, like you said, she is going early when she is not completely rested. All of those reasons could account for why she is not herself at this woman’s daycare.

    My advice is to not freak out, and take this woman’s “diagnosis” with a grain of salt. In the meantime, consider looking into alternate arrangements for daycare.

    There’s my 2 cents! 😉

  9. SPD is NOT “on the austim spectrum”. What it is, is a PDD (Pervasive Developmental Delay) which is the umbrella that autism is also under.
    Imaginative play is not an issue of SPD.
    SPD is NOT a bad thing. Having food texture issues is NOT a bad thing but can make life challenging and nutritionally unbalanced.
    If she gets freaked out about slides and swings, wouldn’t you want to do something to help ease that anxiety and let her have some more enjoyable times at the playground? It’s not a bad thing, and no, it doesn’t have to be ‘fixed’ (I get through life just fine without roller coasters!)but it can have lasting impact on her vestibular development.

    Anxiety and SPD often go hand in hand because these kids sensory systems are often on high alert. You can lessen their anxiety by learning how to accomodate their sensory needs (loving being wrapped up in a blanket but hating swings is SO common! Burrito wrapping is actually therapy for children with poor proprioceptive awareness and/or tactile defensiveness).
    I highly recommend that all parents should read “The Out-of-Sync Child”, even if you just think your child is ‘quirky’ because their parents are, LOL (I am!), there are ways to help them organize their sensory needs and enjoy much more of life. THere are also some great books on what to do with kids with anxiety–but if you know the cause is sensory…
    However, a daycare provider should not be diagnosing, especially since she doesn’t have all her facts straight. What would be wrong with an OT evaluation? It doesn’t hurt and can be very insightful (even with ‘normal’ kids). I want one for myself 🙂

  10. Potty Training a one year old? FOr most of the world, that is normal. It’s only the ‘modern’ world that teaches babies to pee/poop in diapers and then a few years later try to teach them to do it in a toilet, LOL. Elimination communication is a new ‘trend’ in parenting, but it’s actually historically, the way babies were taught to put their pee/poop in a potty from birth. If I could do it all over again, I’d give EC a try for sure 🙂

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