Friday, March 29, 2024

Story Study Strategy for Language Learning

So, I’ve mentioned that I’m trying to learn and teach several languages to my daughter, which I’m at varying levels of fluency in. Japanese is probably my worst of these languages. I’m pretty decent at PSE but not great at ASL grammar yet, in Dutch I can read beginner reader books and usually understand most of the story, and in French I’m probably around 4th to 5th grade level - that’s when I stopped French immersion, and when I look at free online materials for French immersion students, that’s about the level that feels challenging. In Japanese, meanwhile, I can mostly follow Yuki’s Comprehensible Japanese series if I focus.

Anyway, lately I’ve hit upon a self-invented strategy for studying Japanese that I’m finding fun and engaging and also seem to be learning from. I’m tentatively calling it “story study”, and I thought I’d share it with you.

So, I started by ordering a book online, called 小学校学習漢字 1006字 漢字童話, which Google translate tells me is “elementary school learning kanji, 1006 characters, kanji fairy tales”. I don't think you need this specific book, just one that's just a bit too hard for you to read independently, but the content is interesting for you. This book in particular is designed for Japanese elementary school students, and is an anthology of short stories, one for each grade, that feature all the Kyouiku Kanji for that grade. (Kyouiku Kanji is an official list of Kanji that Japanese elementary school students need to learn. Basically like the Japanese equivalent of the Dolch sight words list for English speaking students.)

I took the first story, called ダバラン王 (King Dabaran), and typed it up, and then put the whole text into NihongoDera’s text analyzer, a free online tool that takes a Japanese text as input, and outputs a list of words in that text. It’s not 100% accurate (it struggles to figure out where one word ends and another begins, especially if the text is mostly hiragana) but it's close enough to be useful.

So, now I have a list of words. I next used an app called StudyQuest, which is a game for practicing languages. It's kind of like a cross between a turn-based fighting RPG and a tile-matching game, where you charge up attacks with a tile-matching minigame, then have to solve language quiz questions to keep the attacks charged, and then attack monsters with it. Pretty basic idea, but since Memrise got ruined, it's the only app I can find that gives you varied question types from a user-submitted study list of vocabulary. (Mostly it's just a wasteland of low-effort flashcard apps that just show one side of a simple two-sided flashcard and then ask you if you answered correctly. Why do people even bother making those?)

Anyway, StudyQuest gives you only 100 in-game currency to start, and charges you one coin per word, so you either need to pay real money or slowly grind to get more. So I wasn’t able to enter the full wordlist from NihongoDera into StudyQuest, but I did enter a good chunk of it. And I was studying that for a few days and starting to get bored and wondering how long it’d take before I’d learned enough to read the story, and then I got an idea. StudyQuest also lets you input a sentence to each vocabulary entry (it’s supposed to be an example of that vocabulary word in use) and that opens up new question types you can select for that entry that involve putting the words of that sentence back in order. I decided to start slowly entering sentences from King Dabaran onto the entries of words contained in those sentences.

And here’s where it started getting actually fun. I’m slowly discovering the plot of the story (it’s about a scary but secretly kind and lonely monster who lives on a mountaintop in a kingdom with a greedy oppressive king), and each time I practice rebuilding a sentence, my knowledge of the context of that sentence makes it way more fun than most sentence-building exercises in language apps. I’m also practicing more complicated sentences - after all, this story is intended for first-language Japanese-speaking 6 year olds, who have a much better grasp of Japanese grammar than I do.

And the process of entering the sentences is educational, too. I first type up the sentence in Google translate. It’ll often suggest that I add more kanji into the text, and I’ve found it’s usually a good idea to follow that suggestion. Then I look at the translation, and if it doesn’t make sense, usually I need to tweak the kanji it suggested and find other kanji that are homophones to that one. (The Japanese keyboard I have on my phone does that for me - you type hiragana with it, and use predictive text to get kanji and katakana.) Then, I assess how long the sentence is, because really long sentences kinda break StudyQuest’s display. If it’s too long, I futz around breaking it up into shorter sentences or phrases at the most meaningful breakpoints I can find, while changing as little of the sentence structure as possible.

Lastly, in order for StudyQuest to give me a sentence-rebuilding task, I need to segment the sentence into words. Japanese text doesn’t use spaces, but Google translate spaces out the romaji at areas that roughly correspond to word borders. This romaji spacing can also help troubleshoot incomprehensible translations, because they’re often due to splitting up words incorrectly. I also find this segmenting helps me piece together which parts of the sentence mean what. I also enter both kanji/kana mix and the kana-only versions of each sentence, because if you do that, StudyQuest will give you furigana on some question types. I find kanji with furigana easier to read than hiragana-only text and kanji without furigana, so it helps focus my energy on sentence-building and also allows me to include kanji I can’t read and give myself passive exposure to it in context.

Sadly, the one thing that StudyQuest can't do is prompt me to practice writing the kanji. I do have an app called Kanji Dojo that lets me input sentences and select kanji from those sentences to practice, but I find that app a lot less fun, so I'm still tooling around looking for a fun way to do that. One thing that'd help is if Kanji Dojo let you put in the translation of the sentence and showed it alongside the text, then I'd be more reminded of the story as I practice. I've also been considering trying to do fanart with quotes from the text as captions, but we'll see if I actually get motivated enough to do it.

Lastly, I just recently figured out that ChatGPT can help, too. If you ask it to “analyze the grammatical structure of this sentence” and give it a sentence in Japanese, it'll give you a breakdown of each of the parts of the sentence, what they mean and what grammatical role they're playing, and then give you a translation of the whole sentence that seems to be more accurate than Google translate. I've been using this to help with some of the more confusing sentences that I'm struggling to recreate, and it seems to help.

Overall, this strategy seems to be working for me. I’m having fun, getting invested in the slowly-unfurling story of poor lonely Dabaran who lives on a mountaintop, and it’s getting easier and easier to put the sentences back together and remember the meaning of the words. I’m also finding that the more I study, the easier it is to find the spot I left off when I’m looking to get the next few sentences of the story. I’m starting to actually be able to skim King Dabaran and still keep track of where I’m at, instead of having to slowly read from the start. And just recently I was watching an anime and recognizing words that I'd learned from this story, so it's transferring to other contexts as well.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

18-24 Month Educational Goals

Things have been hectic, so I’ve taken so long to write the 18 month update that I'm basically skipping past it to the 21 month update. These updates are getting harder to write, I'm considering splitting them up and doing half-updates (eg only some of the subjects) every three months from now on. We'll see if that appeals to me better when her 2nd birthday comes around.

Life Skills


15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals she was working on for eating:

  • Drinks from cup held to lips

  • Reaches for and picks up cup

  • Returns cup to table

  • Drinks from a straw

  • Feeds self with spoon

  • Feeds self with fork

  • Opens packages, plastic wrappers and containers

  • Transfers materials with a spoon

  • Uses utensils to eat

  • Rinses fresh fruits or vegetables

  • Cuts with knife

  • Gets drink from faucet

She's developed an obsession with dipping her fingers or food in the cup, and as a result, it's gotten harder to get her to drink properly from it. However, she has been drinking from cups sometimes, especially if I get her started. I also was gifted a 360 cup recently and it seems to be working well for her.

In addition, we lost our previous Honey Bear straw cups, so I got some more recently to see if that would work better than open cups right now. However, the new batch don't have as snug a fit between the lid and the straw, which is a problem for two reasons: firstly, because the lack of a seal means that squeezing the bear doesn't make liquid go up the straw (the main selling point of those cups), and secondly, because she's realized that she can pull the straw out, and now that's all she wants to do with them. My dad just recently got some juice boxes and she's had a bit of success with them, but she's very messy.

I haven't really let her have forks much, because I lost the baby fork we had and she's a hazard to herself and others with an adult fork. (She has tried to stab me with a fork just to see what would happen. The answer is: mommy yelps, gets mad and takes the fork away.) However, with spoons, butter knives, and basically anything similar, she will stab at her food, and the rare occasions I let her use a fork she tries to stab food with it, too. Even if it's something like spaghetti that requires a totally different fork technique.

She's been opening object permanence boxes with drawers, her lockbox's hook-latch door and knob door, and once pulled open the scrunchie top of her bag of cloth flashcards. On the other hand, recently I let her play with a sealed bag of Cheezies and she spent ages trying to open it with no success. So there's still room for improvement.

I haven't been trying to teach her to rinse fruit or cut with a knife lately.

18-24 Month Goals

Here's the one new goal in this area:

  • Dips food in liquid or sauces.

I mentioned dipping above as something she's been doing instead of drinking from cups, and while that's annoying, dipping is also a life skill in its own right. Since I didn't have it already, I added it.


15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals she was working on in this area:

  • Allows nose to be wiped

  • Wipes own nose on own hands or random objects

  • Cooperates in washing and drying face

  • Cooperates in washing and drying hands

  • Cooperates with brushing teeth

  • Holds toothbrush to teeth

  • Washes and dries face 

  • Dries off with a towel when wet.

She's been making good progress on toothbrushing, for several reasons. Firstly, I bought her a cute dinosaur toothbrush with actual bristles, which she loves. Secondly, I set a task on my phone to track whether or not I've brushed her teeth each day, which has helped me be more diligent about it. And thirdly, I've developed a habit of brushing my own teeth right in front of her while she's holding her dinosaur toothbrush, because around the same time I set the task on my phone, it occurred to me that I couldn't remember if she'd ever seen anyone else brushing their teeth before. As a result of these changes, she's gotten more used to me using the fingerbrush on her teeth and doesn't really object to it anymore, and occasionally she'll even try to brush her own teeth with her dino brush. I'm marking the cooperation goal as mastered, and holding a brush to teeth is still in progress.

She's less cooperative with nose-wiping, washing her face and especially her hands, but she's been getting better with those, too.

She hasn't tried to dry herself with a towel lately, but I also haven't given her much chance since I'm usually drying her myself basically immediately.

She's been trying to wash her face occasionally with wipes on the potty, which I discuss in more detail in the toileting section. I haven't noticed her wiping her nose, though, more her eyes and mouth.

18-24 Month Goals

Here's the one new goal in this area:

  • Brushes/combs hair

Very often she will attempt to take over when I'm brushing her, my or someone else’s hair, and also when I just hand her a brush to play with. However, she doesn't understand the difference between the side with the bristles and the side without bristles, and even if she picks the right side she doesn't use enough force effectively enough to actually remove tangles. Still, this is something she is showing interest in learning, and she's definitely making the attempt.


15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals for toileting for 15-18 months:

  • Cooperates with being placed on toilet

  • Only urinates in toilet

  • Only defecates in toilet

  • Shows awareness of toileting accidents

  • Goes to toilet unprompted to urinate or defecate

  • Toilets on a scheduled time with prompt

So, she went through a major toileting regression recently, which I think she's starting to finally come out of. It started with her getting a gastrointestinal illness, and just as she finally got better, I got sick, so toileting was on the backburner for awhile. When I started trying to get us back into the routine, she started fighting me, and I was getting frustrated. So finally I decided to scale potty attempts way back, and shortly afterwards, she started using the potty again. I'd say we're still having less success than before she got sick, but at least we're making progress again.

I've since decided to collect basically all of her potty-related books next to the potty, and I read two or three of them to her at each potty visit, which seems to be helping.

The one area where I can say there's been unequivocally definite progress is reacting to accidents. She doesn't mind a mild mess, but she frequently complains or tries to undress herself when her diaper leaked, it's poopy and causing a rash, or when it's so saturated it'll be leaking soon and she needs to pee. So she's definitely making progress. On the other hand, she's also starting to fetch her own diaper and try to lay it out on the floor when she's sick of sitting on the potty, which is a sign of learning but not necessarily in the direction I'd like…

This does raise an interesting research question. If you had a child who was never potty trained - for example, a child who is  congenitally physiologically incapable of continence - what would be the progression of skills towards independent self-diapering? And among kids who do get potty trained eventually, how many of them achieve some milestones towards independent self-diapering before they are potty trained?

18-24 Month Goals

Here's the new goals in the area of toileting:

  • Wipes self

  • Gets toilet paper

So, I got a book about the Montessori toilet training method, and one of the things they recommended was putting wipes near the potty spot for the child to use. At first I got a container of disposable wipes, but she will pull out and waste an entire pack's worth of wipes if not prevented, so I was keeping them out of reach and handing her wipes. I've since gotten her cloth wipes, and I don't care if she pulls them all out because if they didn't get dirty I just put them back and if they did, we can wash them.

Anyway, with both kinds of wipes, she's been wiping her face, as I mentioned above, and she's also been trying to wipe her genitals. She's not really able to do the motion right, yet, so it turns into more just stuffing the wipe in the potty while pushing it past her genitals. But it's progress!


15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals for this area:

  • Pushes limb into clothes

  • Takes off/puts on hat

  • Removes shoes

  • Assists in the removal of clothes by pulling limbs out of garment

  • Removes pants/shorts without fasteners

  • Fastens stuff with velcro

  • Unfastens stuff with velcro

  • Put a carry strap for a backpack or similar thing on.

  • Puts on pants/shorts with elastic waist

  • Puts on shoes

  • Puts on t-shirt, dress, or sweater with no fasteners

She's been consistently helping me dress and undress her by putting her limbs in or out of her clothes while I hold them for me, so I'm marking those two goals as mastered.

I've been using hooded jackets more than hats lately, both because they're warmer and because she can and will easily remove a hat. However, recently we've developed a game of using random objects as hats, and she's able to put on and take off those "hats" on her and my head, so I'd say this is basically mastered.

She's also gotten very adept at removing her shoes. All her shoes are all easily removable for her, but she does seem to be starting to figure out that if she's outside in the cold, wearing boots is more comfortable.

Just recently, she's started undoing velcro straps. This is a new development, and she's not able to consistently do it with all velcro straps, but she's definitely making good progress. She's also just starting to put velcro back together, too.

She's helping me get her backpack leash on, but she's not able to do it independently - and anyway we haven't been going on many walks lately because it's cold and because I got shaken by a bad experience with someone who called the police because she thought my kid was going to get frostbite at 0 Celsius. So we'll probably work on this skill more when the weather is better.

She is trying to put shoes on, but so far has only succeeded with my shoes, not her own. She helps with putting pants and a shirt on but is nowhere near being able to do it independently.

18-24 Month Goals

Here's the new goals in this area:

  • Takes off mitten or gloves

  • Puts on a diaper with side flaps (not pull-up style).

  • Removes on a diaper with side flaps (not pull-up style).

  • Takes off front opening garments.

  • Puts on mittens

  • Puts on socks

Taking off mittens is already mastered for sure. She's been doing this for quite awhile. She's just starting to figure out how to put mittens on, too, even though I originally thought that would be a 3 year old goal! Same for putting on socks - I'd thought that was a 2 ½ year goal, but she's trying to do it already. She can get her feet in the socks but can't pull them up yet.

She's made a few attempts to put on her own diaper, but she's nowhere near being able to actually do it yet. However, she has successfully removed her diaper on several occasions. She can't do it consistently, though.

She's also removed her jacket twice and a button up shirt twice, only needing me to undo the zipper or buttons. However, she has also gotten stuck sometimes trying to do this.

Tool Use

15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals she was working on in this area:

  • Understands that medicine helps them feel better

  • Turns on lights when in the dark

  • Practices caution around steps and stairs

  • Fit multiple objects efficiently into a single container

  • Uses an object to affect other objects

As before, she hasn't needed medication enough for me to observe any development there. I think I gave her Tylenol once for teething and that's it for the past three months. I also haven't given her much opportunity to turn lights on or off lately.

She has a fascination with stairs lately, but despite the occasional misjudgement (such as trying to go down the library staircase facefirst and having to have mom grab her by the ankle as she faceplanted on the steps) she does seem to understand that stairs are potentially hazardous and she should be careful when playing with them. She'll generally wait for me to be next to her before trying anything new on the stairs, and practice a skill with my support several times before she tries it without me. She's safe enough now that last time I went to the library for a toddler activity, I wasn't worried when she spent the majority of the time climbing up and down the steps to a little side room. There was another little girl doing the same thing but with far less concern for safety, and she did faceplant a couple times while my daughter didn't. So I'm marking this skill as mastered.

She's still fascinated by containers. She's been trying to figure out which stacking cups fit inside which other cups, and whether it's possible for cup A to fit in cup B and cup B in cup A, or whether those two are mutually exclusive. She's definitely not mastered this yet, but she's eagerly working on it.

She hasn't been using objects to affect other objects much lately.

18-24 Month Goals

There's one new goal in this area:

  • Pushing buttons to operate electronic devices.

Recently, she saw me using a microwave and tried to push the button to open it, but didn't push hard enough. A few days later, she pressed a button that switches modes on my breast pump while I was pumping. Grandma has bought her a Christmas present of a boom box with buttons to turn on the music, and she was pressing the buttons on that too.


15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals we were working on in this area:

  • Wipes tables

  • Sets table - brings utensils to table

  • Sets table - brings drinks

  • Puts dishes away

  • Keeps personal area organized

  • Put clean laundry away

  • Puts letter in mailbox

Most of these I haven't had any occasion to work on with her for the past three months. I haven't tried to get her to wipe or set a table or mail a letter in that time.

She does sometimes find dirty dishes on the floor, and if I ask her to hand them to me she usually will.

She is far more likely to empty containers than fill them, and this includes containers full of clean laundry. So keeping organized and putting laundry away are still very much not mastered.

18-24 Month Goals

Here's the new goals in this area:

  • Turns faucets off and on

  • Rinses dirty dishes

She currently tries to turn the tub faucet on or off by pulling on the switch that puts it in shower mode. So this is a work in progress.

Just recently, I started doing dishes with her - I sit on a chair with her on my lap at the sink. She loves it, and often has a tantrum when it's over. She's not much help yet, and she splashes a lot, but she does understand that you're supposed to put things under the tap.

Motor Development


15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals in this area:

  • Rolls a ball to another.

  • Attempts to kick a ball. [while standing]

  • Pulls toy behind them while walking.

  • Walks carrying large and/or heavy objects.

  • Climbs stairs carrying objects.

  • Begins to run stiffly.

  • Walking up or down stairs instead of crawling.

  • Goes from standing up to sitting on a chair accurately.

She’s been running around a lot lately, so that skill is mastered. She also regularly crawls up stairs with toys in both hands, so that's mastered.

She hasn't been rolling a ball yet, but has occasionally kicked a ball. She has pulled a toy behind her a few times.

She likes carrying full Gatorade bottles, which are pretty heavy for someone her size.

She can't walk up stairs yet, although she's done it a few times holding my hand. She's more likely to try to step down than up, though. She can't consistently climb down stairs yet, and doesn't seem to have decided whether she's better off crawling or walking down.

There are no new goals in this area.

Hand Control

15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals she was working on in this area:

  • Pokes with index finger.

  • Holds large objects with arms.

  • Increasingly precise work with hands.

  • Uses hands for purposeful work.

  • Tries to imitate scribbling.

She's been working on poking at objects, but she still struggles to activate the intended target on a touch screen, so this skill is still in progress.

She seems to have gotten a lot better at judging how hard it'll be to pick up an object before she tries. Last time, I commented that she often tried to lift things one-handed that were way too heavy or bulky for that, but she hasn't done that in quite awhile. I'm marking this skill as mastered.

She just recently started scribbling with pens for the first time! I'm not marking this as mastered because she just barely started doing it about a month ago, but I'm pretty excited about it.

I'm getting sick of these vague goals, so I'm deleting those two really vague ones and reassigning all the examples I put on them to more specific goals. I'll get into those in a moment.

18-24 Month Goals

Here's the new goals:

  • Building a tower of three small blocks.

  • Putting rings on a stick.

  • Turning knobs.

  • Painting using whole arm movements to make strokes.

  • Putting shapes into a shape sorter without assistance.

  • Flipping switches.

  • Builds structures with interlocking pieces.

This is what I'm replacing the two vague goals with. Most of this list comes from the Kid Sense list of fine motor milestones. I've also moved down a school-aged science goal to cover one of the examples from her vague fine motor goals, so we'll discuss that one later.

She's been building towers for quite awhile, and can consistently do about two or three blocks, so I'm marking that one as mastered already.

She's been putting rings on her ring stackers. However, she has the Slide and Stack Ring Puzzle from a Kiwico Panda Crate, which has a couple of horizontal bars to put rings on, and that seems to be harder for her.

Just recently grandpa was playing electric guitar and my daughter was turning the knobs on his guitar as he played. I haven't seen enough examples of this to say for sure she's mastered this skill, but she's definitely started turning knobs.

She is sometimes able to fit shapes into a shape sorter, but sometimes she gets stuck trying to force a shape through the wrong hole or the wrong angle.

She hasn't really had the opportunity to try to paint yet, so I don't know how well she can. However she was “painting” with a gravy-covered fry recently.

I added the switch flipping goal because I saw her trying to flip the pickup switch on grandpa's electric guitar. She initially failed, and then tried again and succeeded.

I also added the interlocking pieces goal. Recently, at a toddler event at the library, we were playing with a set of interlocking balls and sticks known as Crazy Forts, and she was trying to put them together but didn't have enough strength. The next day, she was putting baby carrot into the top “tree branches” part of a piece of broccoli.


15-18 Month Goals

Here are the goals for swimming:

  • Water adjustment for child to feel comfortable in and out of the water.

  • Blowing bubbles and getting face wet.

  • Learning front and back float with or without support.

  • Developing arm and leg actions in the water.

  • Introduction to appropriate water safety skills such as entry/exit.

So, since her swimming lessons ended, the only time she's gone swimming since was when a friend of ours invited us to stay with her at a hotel for a couple days for her birthday, and the hotel had a pool. Other than that, we haven't gone swimming because it's cold and I don't want to get wet and then have to walk outside. We'll swim more in the summer, hopefully.

Anyway, I'd say comfort in water is mastered, because at the hotel pool she was so eager to swim that she was hard to keep hold of. The rest of those skills are still in progress. She seems to hate being on her back in water, and has no idea how to blow bubbles. She’s been inconsistent at moving her limbs when trying to swim, and she sometimes gets impatient and tries to leap into the water before I give the signal.

I won't be adding any new goals for swimming until she starts taking the next level of swimming lessons.


Receptive Verbal

Here's the goals she was working on:

  • Responds to "no" by briefly stopping activity and looking at adult.

  • recognise and respond to greetings, farewells, and introductions

  • Complies with simple requests such as "Give me".

  • Can identify (by pointing) various body parts.

  • Can comply with simple requests containing action and object (Fetch the toy, hold my hand).

  • Identifies pictures of objects/animals/people in child’s environment

  • Follows two part requests e.g. go to the door and open it.

  • Answers yes/no questions.

  • Answers questions (ex: where, what)

She's getting better at responding to commands, but overall I think she's still working on all of these skills. I've actually gotten her development assessed and she's lagging behind in some areas, including language. It's strange to think that since she was very ahead in expressive language for the first year, but she kinda stalled out for several months. She's got a developmental specialist visiting her every couple weeks now, which she finds really fun.

She hasn't been assessed by someone who diagnoses developmental disabilities yet, but I suspect that she's autistic. I'm excited. I was hoping for an autistic kid, and even scored the sperm donor profiles using a scale I came up with, tallying autistic traits and things genetically correlated with autism (eg STEM careers, left-handedness, etc). But I feel like I spent so much time preparing myself for the thought that she might not be autistic, especially when I met her and started realizing that she's a very sociable kid who loves making eye contact, that I was kinda thrown for a loop when I realized that she was actually behind in pointing and joint attention skills. Since then, I've been getting more used to the idea that she's possibly autistic, and I'm feeling more excited about it.

But there's another element that has surprised me. When I was trying to conceive, I wasn't sure if I'd be a good parent, but I felt totally confident that being a single mom by choice and trying to have an autistic kid were the right choices for me. But when my baby was born, I suddenly started feeling insecure about the fact that she doesn't have a dad, and worrying that maybe all that nonsense about kids needing two parents was right after all. And since I started thinking about her being autistic, I feel like I had a similar crisis about that.

It's partly been fuelled by my mom's insecurities too. When I scheduled my daughter's first meeting with the developmental specialist, I mistakenly thought she was someone who diagnoses kids and we'd find out if my baby is autistic from her. My mom, hearing about this, got anxious and kinda had a trauma response about what it was like for her when my school kept saying that there was something “wrong” with me and referring me to ADHD assessments, and was really worried that I was going to go through similar stuff with my daughter.

And it brought up a bunch of feelings from my childhood for me, and I started feeling scared that my daughter will have the same kind of mistreatment I've had. I know it won't be the same because I'm going to be homeschooling from the start, so she won't have school trauma, but I just imagined her going to various children's activities where she's always “the weird one” and feeling left out. I don't really want to be normal and have a normal family, but it's still hard being the weird one all the time. I know how to mitigate that, but the fear is still hard to shake.

Anyway, I suppose that was a fairly off-topic discussion. Back to receptive verbal skills, there's no new goals in this area, so we'll just keep working on the above list.

Expressive Verbal

15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals she was working on in this area:

  • Uses exclamations such as "uh-oh”.

  • Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs.

  • Says "no" with meaning.

  • Strings words together to communicate more complex ideas. e.g. "more juice", "Mommy go".

  • Has words for most objects in environment even if they are not all recognizable or correctly pronounced.

  • Responds to spoken "bye-bye" by waving.

  • Waves bye-bye [spontaneously]

  • learning to use subject pronouns verbally

  • repeating simple questions and statements

She also stalled out a bit in expressive language, but just recently she's been talking more again. One of her favorite words lately is “bah” for ball, usually said while handing me a ball, but once she also said it while pointing at pictures of round fruit in a book. She's said other nouns like “bed”, “baby” (looking at her own reflection), and “bootie” lately as well. I wouldn't say she has words for most objects in her environment yet, but she's getting there.

She's also been using some verbs lately. She's starting signing want lately, mainly when we're holding a food item she'd like to eat.

She's still mostly using single words with the occasional sentence thrown in for variety. Recently she made her first fully ASL sentence, signing “more food want” when she finished the food on her high chair tray. Apart from that, all other sentences she's used have been English or English and ASL. She seems to have picked up on the fact that I often sign and speak simultaneously, and has occasionally done the same. Two examples include signing “love” while saying “I love you”, and signing “drink” while saying “milk”.

She's waved bye-bye a handful of times in response to verbal farewell, and never spontaneously. She has never said “uh oh” or “no”.

She has said several sentences starting with “I”, and used that pronoun correctly to describe herself. I'm going to watch how she's doing as she starts using sentences more often, and also wait for her to use other pronouns correctly. But this goal is definitely in progress.

She's been repeating stuff more and more lately. Most of the time she'll only repeat one word, not the whole sentence. She's started using echoing to answer “do you want” questions by repeating the name of the object to indicate that yes, she does want it. She'll also sometimes repeat verbal routines, for example trying to say “here you go” while handing an object to me after I've just handed several things to her using that phrase.

18-24 Month Goals

Here's the new goals in this area:

  • Use the most frequently occurring prepositions.

  • translate a word from one language to another

  • Use frequently occurring adjectives.

  • Use the most frequently occurring prepositions.

  • I can tell you what I'm going to do.

  • express and respond to apology and thanks

  • Subject + Verb sentences

  • Verb + Object sentences

  • Subject + Object sentences

  • Question + Word sentences

The last four are from the QUAD profile.

Recently while playing with the developmental specialist, she said “in” for the first time, so her first step on using prepositions.

A couple times she's spontaneously said the English word for something in response to someone else saying the word for that thing in another language, but she definitely can't do it consistently yet.

She's used a few adjectives, but she's still mostly using nouns and verbs.

That time he signed drink while trying to say milk could have been a verb + object sentence. She also used an object and verb in reverse order when she said “giggy tickle tickle tickle” after grandpa scrubbed the cat's belly in her presence.

Recently, she explained what she was about to do and gave me a subject + verb sentence: “I pway”. I asked if she wanted another mexi fry at lunch, and she accepted it but explained that she was going to play with it rather than eat it.

I haven't observed any subject + object sentences or question + word sentences yet.


15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals she was working on in this area:

  • Listens with interest to stories and rhymes.

  • Shows interest in illustrations in books.

  • Holds books and turns pages. [cloth or board books]

She's consistently able to turn pages of cloth and board books, so that's mastered. However, she's been so busy exploring that she doesn't really care about books much lately, so she's not making much progress on the other two goals.

There are no new goals in this area.


Here's the goals in this area:

  • Points to self and objects in his/her environment

  • Joint reference (ex: parent and child look at same object)

  • Responds to an adult "pointing" at something.

  • Have an effective way to communicate choices?

  • Begins to point at things with index finger.

  • Uses negative headshake alone.

She hasn't made much progress in this area. She's still not consistently pointing or responding to points, and I often struggle to get her attention to show her things. She's not consistently shaking her head communicatively, though she does do it occasionally. She has been communicating choices sometimes, but the difficulty I have in getting her attention on demand often impedes my attempts to ask her opinion on options.

18-24 Month Goals

Here's the new goals in this area:

  • Recognize when they need to take a break?

  • Recognize when they need help?

  • Actively engage in activities and interactions with teachers and peers.

  • In structured group activities, imitate others, follow the group and avoid being distracted by irrelevant activities.

  • Understands that other people can have different likes and dislikes than their own.

  • Recognizes that her reflection in a mirror is her.

Lately, when she's getting tired and needs a nap, she'll sometimes spontaneously go looking for a comfy spot to lie down. She usually doesn't stay there long, though - it's like she knows that she needs a nap but doesn't have the impulse control to stop herself from leaving her chosen napping spot. I usually take that as a cue to put her in her crib or car seat.

Her default approach when she's unsure if she can do something is to just try it and trust I'll help her if she's struggling, rather than asking for help directly. However, there are times when she pauses and asks for help before trying something where failure could be painful.

She's been very sociable in group activities. She's still mostly doing parallel play or watching others play, but she loves to offer people things as a way of initiating interaction, and this has led to back and forth play several times with both adults and other children.

Structured activities are more difficult. Technically her swimming lessons were a structured group activity, but her ability to move freely was constrained by the situation since she can't swim independently. Her first experience with a structured group activity where she could choose to move freely but is supposed to inhibit that impulse, on the other hand, has happened recently - she's started Kindermusik.

Since I first heard of Kindermusik, I assumed that she'd love it, because she loves music. But contrary to my expectations, she spent most of her first Kindermusik lesson crying and resisting because she was so unused to being prompted to do what an adult tells her to instead of just playing however she wants. I was very discouraged, but I decided to try it again, and in the meantime, play a structured game one-on-one with her to get her more used to the idea.

The game we have been playing is called Roll & Play, and involves rolling a cube with various colored sides, picking a card of the same color, and doing a task written on the card. She'll sometimes roll the cube, and about half the time she lets me physically guide her through doing the task I've picked out. And I don't know if it's made a difference, but her tolerance for direction in Kindermusik has been going up, and she's also starting to pay attention to what others are doing and imitate them without my prompting occasionally as well.

As for recognizing different likes and dislikes, I noticed once that she tried chicken dipped in mustard and didn't like it, and then shortly afterwards, offered the mustardy chicken to grandma on request and then dipped another chicken piece in mustard and gave that to grandma, too. So she's starting to realize that people don't always like the same foods.

She's been very interested in mirrors for awhile, but I don't think she knows it's her. I have two examples of behavior I see as a sign that she doesn't recognize herself. Firstly, I did an informal test where I “hid” a toy behind her when she was in front of a mirror, and despite clearly noticing the reflection of the toy, it never occurred to her to turn around to find the real one. And secondly, at one point she wandered over to me holding a large reflective metal bowl and pressed her face into it while saying “baby”, which I think was her commenting that she saw a baby in the mirror.

Pragmatics - Shares Knowledge/Imaginings

15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals she was working on:

  • Nonverbally compares and contrasts qualities of two objects, actions or situations

  • Nonverbally role play as/with different characters

  • Nonverbally role plays with props (i.e., banana as phone)

  • Provides a nonverbal description of a situation which describes the main events

  • Provides a description using 1-3 words of a situation which describes the main events

She still hasn't shown any clear pretend play to me, but there's been some ambiguous examples. For example, I got her a toddler-friendly Lego set that came with a couple of little people, and she was banging those people on the table while humming. I asked if the people were dancing and she paused, gave me a look, and then resumed banging the Lego people. I don't know if my guess was correct, or if she was just trying to make music (which she often does). She's also been stacking her smaller baby dolls on the larger ones, which grandma thinks might be her seeing the bigger one as a caregiver to the smaller one. She also looked like she might be getting some orange slices to have a conversation once.

She does compare objects regularly. She doesn't do it on demand yet, for example if I ask which one is more X (bigger, smaller, holds more/less, etc) or which one is the same as the one I'm holding, she often doesn't respond or responds incorrectly. But she's been playing a lot with puzzles that involve comparison and doing well.

For example, she's completely mastered the knobbed cylinder puzzle that came with one of her recent Kiwico boxes, as well as the bottom slots on her slide and stack ring puzzle. The latter took a lot longer, though.

I don’t know if it’s because the knobbed cylinder puzzle has deep/narrow cylinders vs shallow/wide whereas the ring puzzle only has width differing between the pieces, or if it’s because the tops of the cylinders and bottoms of the holes are matching colors, but for whatever reason, the knobbed cylinder puzzle seems to have been easier for her than the ring puzzle.

The anecdote I gave above about her announcing that she was playing with a mexi fry instead of eating it would be an example of describing a situation in simple language. She has also commented on ticklish sensations multiple times now by saying “tickle tickle tickle”. I’m going to say she’s skipped the nonverbal version of this goal, but the version with 1-3 words is still emerging.

18-24 Month Goals

Here's the new goal in this area:

  • Role plays with props (i.e., banana as phone) using 1-3 words

Pragmatics - Personal

15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals she was working on in this area:

  • Blames others nonverbally

  • Identifies feelings nonverbally (I’m happy.)

  • Offers an opinion nonverbally with support

I haven't seen any indication of her blaming others.

She occasionally responds to “do you like (name)?” by showing affection to that person, but otherwise I haven't really noticed much signs of her identifying feelings nonverbally. I've tried pointing out facial expressions on the tokens for the Emotion Stacker game she got from Kiwico, but she hasn't shown much interest.

I haven't really seen any signs of her offering an opinion on stuff yet.

18-21 Month Goals

Here's the new goals in this area:

  • Explains feelings nonverbally (I’m happy because it’s my birthday)

  • Provides excuses or reasons nonverbally

  • Complains using 1-3 words

She's complained verbally a few times, with the most encouraging being a recent rough night where she said “owie” and touched her mouth to let us know she was teething. Otherwise, she isn't doing any of this yet.

Pragmatics - Interactional

15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals in this area:

  • Interact nonverbally with others in a polite manner

  • Interact with others in a polite manner using 1-3 words

  • Nonverbally uses appropriate social rules such as greetings, farewells, thank you, getting attention

  • Initiates a topic of conversation nonverbally

  • Ends a conversation nonverbally

  • Nonverbally makes apologies or gives explanations of behavior

  • States a problem nonverbally

  • Disagrees with others nonverbally

  • Compliments others nonverbally

  • Revises/repairs an incomplete message nonverbally

  • Nonverbally interjects appropriately into an already established conversation with others

  • Requests clarification nonverbally

  • Maintains a conversation (able to keep it going) using 1-3 words

  • Criticizes others using 1-3 words

  • Interjects appropriately into an already established conversation with others using 1-3 words

She's said “thank you” a few times. She's been getting really into saying hello, but will only say goodbye while watching Teletubbies say goodbye (and therefore has said “au revoir” and “dag” more than “goodbye” because I usually show her Teletubbies in French or Dutch).

I'm marking initiating a topic nonverbally as mastered. For quite a while, she has been initiating interaction by handing interesting objects to people, which I think is partially motivated by wanting to hear what we have to say about that thing. She's also starting to hand me books to request that I read them to her, and actually waiting around at least a little bit to hear what I have to say.

As for ending a conversation, she still just abruptly runs off while you're mid-sentence talking to her, rather than giving any sort of ending signal, so this is still a work in progress.

A few times she's hugged me right after I got mad at her, which could be an attempt to apologize.

She's not really doing anything I can pinpoint as “stating a problem nonverbally”. She also doesn't seem to be expressing disagreement - she does protest things she doesn't like, as I've mentioned above, but I haven't really had her express her disagreement with a statement of fact, as opposed to an action or inaction.

On the other hand, I've decided to mark nonverbally complimenting as mastered, because she'll often smile at us and show affection to us, including stuff like responding to “do you like (person)?” by hugging them. It's pretty clear to me that she has a good opinion of her family members and wants us to know that.

Revising/repairing is another area she's struggling with. When I don't understand what she's trying to tell me, she tends to either give up or get more emphatic, rather than switching tactics to communicate. She doesn't seem to understand yet that I don't always know what she's trying to tell me, and instead seems to read me not doing what she wants as me deliberately refusing to do it.

She's also still working on interjecting appropriately. Often when she sees other kids playing together, she'll just stand there and watch them, unsure how to join in. When she does try to join in she often mistimes it or ends up bothering them (eg taking a toy they were playing with) and sometimes she misses attempts by other kids to invite her in. She does often end up getting to play with the other kids (especially if they're a bit older) with a bit of help and patience. Even 3-4 year olds seem to get that a 1 year old can't be expected to relate on the same level as them.

If she doesn't know what someone said, she just ignores them, she doesn't seek clarification yet. Probably because there's so much she doesn't understand yet that she'd be asking for clarification non-stop and probably not understand our attempts to clarify things either. It's a bit like how a lot of the beginner reading material I've found for language learners recommends that you not use a dictionary while reading - just read it as best you can, skip bits you don't understand, and if you're understanding so little that you're totally lost, set it aside and find an easier book. She's basically doing the equivalent with listening to spoken language.

She's saying a lot of words and short phrases, but generally in isolation. So far I've only had one conversation with her where she used language for multiple turns, and that was at 11 months (she signed milk, I gave her milk and she said “ak-oo” for thank you). She has a lot of gibberish conversations with us, though.

She was saying “mean mommy” a few times when having tantrums, but I stopped sarcastically calling myself that and she stopped imitating it. Now she tends to say “angy” during tantrums instead, which is easier on my feelings.

18-21 Month Goals

Here's the new goals in this area:

  • Uses appropriate social rules such as greetings, farewells, thank you, getting attention using 1-3 words

  • Revises/repairs an incomplete message using 1-3 words

  • Compliments others using 1-3 words

She was saying hi a lot when she was under a year, and said thanks a few times around a year old, but I haven't heard her say either in quite awhile. She has been imitating “goodbye” in various languages from Teletubbies, but not using them meaningfully yet.

She's said “good dog” and “good cat” a few times, but otherwise she hasn't really done much verbal compliments yet.

Pragmatics - Other

15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals in this area:

  • Asks questions nonverbally to get more information or out of curiosity

  • Nonverbally gives description of an object wanted

  • Requests help using 1-3 words

  • Makes requests using 1-3 words

I'm starting to suspect that sometimes when she hands me things, she's hoping I'll explain what they are (which I usually do). I'm not really certain what her intentions are, though, so I can't mark this as complete yet.

She hasn't really given any description of what she wants yet, as far as I can tell.

She's requested help verbally a few times, but hasn't done so in a while. Mostly she just requests help nonverbally - for example, recently we were playing at a mall with one of those coin-operated rides (without spending any money on it) and she kept wanting help climbing on and off of it, and indicated that she wanted on by trying to climb on and then giving up and looking at me, and indicated she wanted off by grabbing at me. That's the sort of thing she usually does to request help.

She has been making other verbal requests, though. She's not doing it consistently yet, but she'll often label an object she wants, or else sign WANT or MORE. She also consistently says “tickle tickle tickle” to ask for tickles, and once she said “boo!” while running over to a thing of drawers that we like to play peek-a-boo around.

18-24 Month Goals

Here's the new goals in this area:

  • Nonverbally gives directions to play a game

  • Gives directions to play a game using 1-3 word statements

  • Makes choices using 1-3 words

  • Gives description using 1-3 words of an object wanted

  • Asks questions using 1-3 words to get more information or out of curiosity

  • Expresses a specific personal need using 1-3 words

She hasn't really done most of these yet, but she has said or signed “hungry” a few times.

Language Specific Goals


15-18 Month Goals

Here's the ASL-specific goals she was working on last update:

  • First ASL signs using simple handshapes (ex: c, a, s, 1, 5) (VCSL 30)

  • Recognizes name signs of family members (VCSL 23)

  • Recognizes own name sign (VCSL 22)

  • Recognize common high-frequency signs (C.FS.K.3a)

  • Has some recognizable words. (L.S.18)

There hasn't been much progress with ASL lately, she's mostly been focused on learning English. However, I have been working on ASL using core vocabulary songs. Basically, I took the Year of Core Vocabulary set 1, and looked for YouTube videos of core word or sight word songs for practicing those words, and have been watching them over and over with her while PSE signing along. However, she seems to be engaging more with the video itself than with my signing so far. Her favorite is the Stop core vocabulary song by Speech and Language Songs, I think because she likes the yellow car in the first verse. She has said “stop” and “yellow” while we're watching this song, but hasn't signed in response to any of the songs yet.

There are no new goals in ASL yet.


15-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals I was focusing on in French:

  • Recognizes common household words. (L.H&U.12)

  • Has some recognizable words. (L.S.18)

  • Says "mama" for specific person. (L.S.15)

I ordered Mon Bébé Sait Lire, the French version of Your Baby Can Read. It came with a set of DVDs, flashcards and books for teaching kids to read words by sight. I don't think it's actually going to teach her to read (I could see a hyperlexic or highly gifted kid learning to read from that, but not most kids), but she's been watching the DVDs over and over and is starting to follow commands and imitate sounds (especially trying to sing along to the songs) so she's definitely learning some French. She's also been watching French Teletubbies and imitated “au revoir” (goodbye) once.

There are no new goals in French yet.


15-18 Month Goals

The goals we were working on in Dutch are the same as the ones in French:

  • Recognizes common household words. (L.H&U.12)

  • Has some recognizable words. (L.S.18)

  • Says "mama" for specific person. (L.S.15)

We haven't been doing as much work with Dutch lately, but she has been watching Dutch Teletubbies sometimes. She said “dag” (goodbye) once when the Teletubbies were saying it.

There are no new goals in Dutch yet.


15-18 Month Goals

Here's what she's working on in Japanese:

  • Recognizes common household words. (L.H&U.12)

  • Has some recognizable words. (L.S.18)

  • Says "mama" for specific person. (L.S.15)

  • Can identify (by pointing) various body parts. (L.H&U.17)

  • Can comply with simple requests containing action and object. (L.H&U.18)

  • Can identify (by pointing) objects in pictures and books. (L.H&U.20)

  • Names at least 3 colors (VCSL 44)

I've continued to do the thing I described earlier where I practice a Japanese sentence structure while playing with her. I found a routine for spaced practice and have been practicing each individual sentence structure that way. So far she hasn't shown many obvious signs of understanding Japanese, but she does seem to understand that saying something followed by “kudasai” means I want her to hand me something. Overall, she hasn't shown much progress in Japanese lately.

There are no new goals in Japanese yet.

Sensory and Science


12-18 Month Goals

Here's the goals she was working on:

  • Discriminate objects by sight (0.SS.021)

  • Discriminate objects by the sense of touch (0.SS.032)

  • Experience timbre, rhythm and beat (0.SS.041)

  • Identify objects by sound (0.SS.043)

  • Experience and identify different foods by smell, taste and sight (0.SS.051)

She's started singing along much more to songs - usually mostly-on-tune babbling, but she consistently says “yeah yeah yeah” along with She Loves You by the Beatles (and also requests that song by singing “yeah yeah yeah”).

She's also getting better at telling by sight what will fit inside what. She's mastered the bottom slots of her slide and stack, and she's making less mistakes putting stacking cups together.

She often notices us eating food and stares at or reaches for it, and cries if we don't offer it to her. She also clearly communicates nonverbally if she wants a food offered to her or not (and while she's still far from a picky eater, she does refuse some foods sometimes). So I think this skill is mastered.

There's no new goals in this area.


12-15 Month Goals

Here's the science goals we were working on:

  • Begins to associate names of objects with images.

  • Matches objects to pictures.

  • Pairs identical pictures.

  • Pairs related pictures.

  • Sorts objects by shape.

  • Sorts objects by color.

  • Begins to use objects for their intended purpose.

  • Can remember and follow simple one- to two-step routines (such as brushing teeth and combing hair after breakfast).

  • Sorts objects by category (e.g. buttons, animals, beads etc.).

She's recently shown us that she knows that we need to get outside clothing on her and then she needs to get in her car seat in the morning. She knows the sound of her high chair and comes running if she's hungry, and will also try to put her tray on the high chair to tell us she's hungry. Recently, when we were getting ready to do dishes, she realized what was happening and ran over to the kitchen and started trying to climb on the chair we sit on to do dishes.

I tried to show her a game of putting toy animals on pictures of those animals, but she had basically no interest in it. She hasn't had the opportunity to try to match different pictures together yet either.

She hasn't shown much interest in sorting objects in any way lately.

There are no new items in this area.

Executive Functioning

This is a new subject area with just one new goal:

  • Transition times rarely incite tantrums/excessive anxiety.

She's just starting to show progress on this goal. I mentioned above that I've started doing dishes with her. The first few times I did it, she consistently had a tantrum when it was time to stop. However, the most recent time we washed dishes together, she whined and looked disappointed when we stopped, but didn't have a full “flop on the ground and scream” tantrum about it, and readily settled into looking at a book on the potty afterwards. So I think she's starting to learn some basic ability to cope with the end of a fun activity.

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