Update on the latest of the perennial assessments of various aspects of the children:
10th September was Jamie's latest orthoptist appointment. It was a joint appointment with the ophthalmologist, which meant it was on a different day of the week from usual and hence at a time when I was at work and had to leave this one to Barry. As much as I love being involved in every detail of my children's various assessments, not being at this one did have the advantage of sparing me a confession; my excellent intentions of persevering with the patch had almost completely gone by the wayside, for the simple practical reason that getting him to keep it on for more than a second or two is now a feat of near-impossibility. He can rip it off faster than I can replace it, and more often. Since this involves pulling his glasses off as well, and he doesn't put them back on after ripping the patch off them, this means that putting the patch on him was not only not resulting in him wearing it; it was resulting in him spending less time wearing his glasses. Since correcting his vision is also important for keeping his left eye working (if he can't see as well out of that eye, his brain is more likely to tune out the image), my attempts to patch him were actually backfiring as far as his future visual acuity was concerned.
Of course, I could have tried harder. I could have found time to hover over him intensively, putting every effort into stopping him from removing it and distracting him onto other things. While doing this for the prescribed hour a day would simply not have been possible short of leaving Katie to fend for herself during that time, I could have managed a bit more than I did. Mea culpa; I gave up on trying. Pat had, after all, initially said that we could have a go of not using it for a bit; how important could it really be? I was, it seemed, about to find out. So I awaited the verdict from the appointment with some trepidation.
The verdict, fortunately, was favourable; I'd made the right choice. His left eye was still doing OK, and we could move from dispensing with the patching unofficially to dispensing with it officially. We have also been told that his lens prescription has changed. This may account, at least in part, for the fact that he has recently developed the habit of taking his glasses off all the time, even when we're not trying to patch him. This has also been rather a problem given that when he takes them off he tends to chew the nosepieces – those little rubbery translucent things that cushion the seat of the frames on his nose, due to child-shaped noses not holding spectacles as well as adult-shaped noses. When they're chewed, they often come off (or split). So we spend a lot of time groping round on the floor trying to find missing nosepieces, or making trips to the opticians for spares. Fortunately, getting his new glasses does seem to have diminished his tendency to do this at least somewhat. (And who cares? We no longer have to put eyepatches on him! Hooray!)
The other recent assessment-type thingy was Katie's eight-month check-up (at least, I think that's what it was officially called, although she was more like nine months and change by then), which was on September 16th. I hadn't realised that eight-month checks still existed locally – I'd thought that they'd gone the way of the three-year checks, into the black hole of Insufficient Funding. However, it seems they've survived, although somewhat abbreviated from what I vaguely remember them being back in the days when I had to learn about them for the MRCGP. It pretty much consisted of the health visitor putting a couple of small cubes down on the table in front of Katie to observe her reaction. Katie duly grabbed them and played with them appropriately, demonstrating such behaviours as hand-to-hand transferring and whichever type of grasp it is that babies learn just before learning pincer grasp (there's an official name for it, but I've forgotten it), and was pronounced in fine shape developmentally.
"With Jamie in mind," Carol added, "her looking for approval is absolutely spot on." I'm not keen on that particular phrase – 'looking for approval' has undesirable connotations of being excessively dependent on the opinions of others – but, in this context, it refers to the way a child will look up at the adult interacting with them, checking in, sharing the experience. One of the many clues to Jamie's ASD diagnosis was that he did very little of this during his assessment with her. The fact that Katie does do this is a significant sign that – as we already thought – she probably doesn't have ASD.
Carol asked us if we had any concerns (we did not), gave me a copy of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to fill in (it's a screening test for postnatal depression), and gave Katie a bag of books from Bookstart, which Jamie immediately ransacked. (He found a laminated placemat with nursery rhymes on it and promptly started reading them aloud, to Carol's surprise – she was impressed with his reading skills.) We then went out to the main waiting room and weighed Katie, who is now approximately 19 lb 10 oz, or approximately 8.88 kg if you want to be metric about it. You may notice that those figures aren't even exact conversions of each other, which gives you an idea of how approximate the weighing process was – getting an exact weight would have involved her sitting still for a minute, which was not really on the cards, plus I forgot to take her nappy off when I undressed her – but they're ballpark figures. She is, in any event, still trekking comfortably up the 50th centile, her growth going as nicely as everything else.