Max, on the quilt
So I'm super excited that an essay of mine just went live on AOL's ParentDish! I wrote about how the quilt I made inspired my toddler Max to (finally) start talking. Because of a little copyright thing called exclusivity, I can't reproduce the essay here, but you can read it here at ParentDish!

I can give you the gist though! In a nutshell, it's like this: Max seemed behind (in my very un-objective view) on his language development, and I was obsessing over getting him to just flippin' talk already. Then, unrelated, I made a big patchwork quilt for my bed. And suddenly Max had something to talk about and bam, his language development kicked in. Okay, I say it better than that in the essay, I promise. I have to give props to my friend, Kristine,  for suggesting that I write this essay. I posted about the quilt to my little writer's group, and she was like, um, duh, you're a writer and you need to write about this (of course, she said it much nicer than that).

I really do love this quilt. I made it fairly large, enough to cover our queen bed, plus have extra for overhang. I think the finished dimensions are something like 96 by 104. I just know it was a whole lot of fabric to deal with. But the assembly was easy: I just cut out bunches of 9" squares and patch-worked them all together. I would have loved to have sent it out for professional quilting, but the straight-stitch machine quilting will do. I backed it with a pretty seersucker.

The definition of random patchwork!
Marilyn Damato
8/7/2010 04:43:59 am

Your magic quilt is fantastic! So glad that Max enjoys seeing all the patterns and colors.
I'm a grandma and have made texture floor quilts for all my 5 grandchildren and a grand niece and a grand nephew. The reason for these quilts is not to cover a crib or bed but to put the quilt on the floor for the baby to play on and feel all the textures (corduroy, fake fur, silky, flannel, etc.) as well as see different colors and prints. Some squares were simply texture but many of them had outlines of animals that were appliqued on to the background square.
Perhaps your next quilt could be for your new baby and include not only your beautiful stash of fabric but also texture.
My texture floor quilts were all machine sewn and quilted.
All best wishes to you and your family.
Marilyn Damato

8/7/2010 05:33:40 am

Marilyn, yes, a texture quilt for floor play IS a great idea! We had those books with different textures (fake fur, satin, etc) but truly, they always seemed gross, and I didn't let Max play with them too much! Using a bunch of different textured blocks (of fabric you know you can trust) sounds like a much better idea. Maybe I'll do that for the new baby! Thanks for the nice comments and good wishes!

Cindi Johnson
8/7/2010 06:21:17 am

Hi! When I saw the first words of your article, I stopped...that described my son exactly. He had only said mama twice at 18 months, and only began to speak at 27 months. HE HAS AUTISM!!!
I'm sorry to say this to you, but have your son evaluted for this ASAP because early intervention helps enormously. Please have him checked...
Cindi Kalin Johnson, MD

Erin Ferdinand
8/7/2010 07:10:37 am

Hi Judi,

Just stumbled on to your website today after reading your article on AOL. Thank you so much for doing this! I'm a novice sewer who's been looking for a resource exactly like this for awhile now -- I can't wait to read your book.

Happy thoughts to you, Allen, Max and your baby!

Your pal,

Chris C.
8/7/2010 07:33:25 am

I just read the story of your son beginning to speak on AOL. Oh my...our 36 year old daughter did the same thing when she was little. She said no real words until she was 2 years and 4 months old. Her first words were "outside" and "slide." (She had gotten a swing set for her 2nd birthday.) By age 3 she was talking as well or better than others her age. She was beginning to read by age 3 1/2.

She was eventually diagnosed with "hyperlexia" a neurogolical disorder affecting the right brain. Ironically, her early spontaneous reading and her great memory are positive parts of the disorder. She lives on her own (with some support from mom and dad), works, has friends, enjoys life and has a college degree + a year of graduate school.

I wish you guys and Max ALL THE BEST! What an adorable little boy he is! And what a wonderful story...
Chris in Texas

8/7/2010 09:08:38 am

Even though my "baby" is now 24, I can relate to your experience. My boy didn't speak, just grunted and pointed, (no problem communicating! We understood perfectly!). The experts were frightening me, a young, first time mother, but my dad didn't speak at all until he was 3 years old so I tried not to worry. He started talking and then we couldn't shut him up! (Me: Let's play a game...can you be quiet for 30 seconds? 10 seconds in, my son: I'm doing real good at being quiet, right Mom?!) He is now in grad school becoming a food scientist.

I am a longtime quilter and fully understand there IS magic in quilts!

God bless you and your family!


8/7/2010 09:14:22 am

I just read your essay on AOL. WOW what an amazing, inspiring, and CUTE story! I love to hear about people's pations and it was really nice to hear how it tied together with your adorable child! Thank You, Brandon.

8/7/2010 12:41:02 pm

It's great to hear that others have similar stories! Honestly I didn't expect people to respond so strongly (especially in the AOL comments).
And Cindi, my heart goes out to you and I hope your son is doing well. Though Max was a slow-to-start talker, he never exhibited any other signs of autism. I probably should have made that more clear in the essay because I've gotten a lot of similar responses. He is a super social, super engaged, and super communicative little boy. He just communicated in other ways for a while (as someone pointed out, I made it easy for him to NOT talk because I was often talking for him and interpreting). But he's pretty much in love with talking now!
Thanks everyone for your lovely comments and compliments on the quilt!


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