While reading one of my favorite blogs this morning, (grr ipad won’t let me link but if you haven’t been there yet I encourage you to check out http://www.emmashopebook.com ) I was reminded to look back at the past few years. In doing so, I realized just how much the word and concept of “slow” are relative. Sometimes in day to day life, things appear to be at a standstill, or moving at an excruciatingly slow pace. And sometimes it can put quite a damper on hope…you start thinking of all the things you wish would happen that just don’t seem to be, “am I going to be changing diapers forever?” “Will he ever use his talker for anything more than requesting snacks?””will he….?”. It can direct your focus to things that aren’t happening rather than those that are, and can even steal your joy.
And in the midst of all those “will he”s, you remember to look back. Those things you questioned a year ago are now happening, and you realize just how far things have come! And you realize all those small, seemingly slow things together add up to light year speed progress!
Let me illustrate:
Just two short years ago Ethan seemed to have no concept of…well almost anything honestly. He seemed to understand a few words, but not the idea of communication, eg it say, point, or otherwise indicate my needs and someone answers. And I use the word appeared because we may never fully know what went on inside his little mind or what he was capable of understanding because he had no way to show us. He didn’t really interact with people or things, didn’t even seem to realize anything that went on around him. He seemed basically to be that infamous autism stereotype of “locked in his own little world”. He also had fairly severe problems in other areas too…couldn’t navigate steps on his own, could barely run, and couldn’t jump. The list of all the things he “couldn’t” do went on and on. For all intents and purposes we were told most of his skills including cognitive (thinking and problem solving) ran from a 4-12mo level.
So now, fast forward two years…which in all reality is a tiny slice of time in his life…he still scores low on the tests, may always, because those tests weren’t made for him, but let me introduce you to the Ethan he is today…
He knows colors, shapes, numbers, and letters…has for quite some time now, he is trying super hard to master counting on his fingers, he can spell his name, dinosaur (that was a shocker for sure), and god only knows what else. We believe he recognizes some words but have no real way to test it. He’s learned to operate the glider on the swing set, and even the age old climbs up the slide backwards lol. He can climb stairs, jump on his trampoline, and give us heart attacks climbing in and out of Sean’s loft bed. He is learning to use an AAC to communicate, or if he doesn’t have that option, can find alternate ways of communicating what he wants or needs. He can operate an iPad better than anyone in the house, taught himself in about 10 min when he first got it (Around 2 1/2), including finding particular scenes in his favorite shows on netflix in seconds. He can do 20 PC puzzles on the iPad too. He interacts with those he’s close to, and sometimes will spend an hr or more in my lap. He understands lots of phrases like throw that in the trash, or go get a diaper. The list of things he CAN do could take up many more pages than what he can’t do ever did…but I’ll spare you a more exhaustive list lol.
The point is this…sometimes progress can seem so slow…but sometimes, looking back can give you that perspective shift that you need to keep moving forward.